Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Swing Dance Lessons

On Thursday, December 2, members of the Loyola community gathered for swing dance lessons taught by the LIEP students of the New Orleans Culture Class. We began with the basic swing dance step sequence, upon which all other movements are based. For men, this is a long step to the left, a long step to the right, quick step to left, quick step to right. Women begin on the right and do the same sequence of steps, mirroring the men.

Below, James Zhang and Kevin Li show a chart they have prepared to illustrate the steps.

James also illustrates the sequence of steps with gestures.

Then, James demonstrates the step sequence as learners watch.

After the demonstration, we engage in some slow individual practice. Below, Shelly Zhang works with John Ellison on the step sequence.

Finally, we form lines, couples join hands, and all begin to dance!

Below are some especially attractive swing dance movements.

Near the end, Jack Suzuki and Jonathan Lam catch their breath by enjoying a snack and soft drink.

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! We look forward to reporting again in January on our Spring Semester 2011!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Telephone Interview with Author Frank Schaeffer

A highlight of the semester for our Advanced LIEP Reading & Writing class was an interview by speaker-phone with author Frank Schaeffer on December 1.

The class had read Frank Schaeffer's novel Baby Jack, about a young man named Jack Ogden from an upper-class family who enlists in the Marine Corps right after high school against the objection of his parents. Baby Jack deals with thought-provoking themes of life, death, war, loss, grief, family, social class, coming of age, service, God, and love. It provides rich material for discussion and writing. It also draws upon the author's life experience: like the fictional Jack Ogden, Frank Schaeffer's own son surprised his upper-class family by enlisting in the Marine Corps right after high school.

Frank Schaeffer is a gracious and friendly author who enjoys interacting with his readers. During our speaker-phone interview, Frank spoke openly about his experience, his thoughts, and his writing.
  • WRITING FROM LIFE. Frank helped us to see how an author uses his or her own experience to create a work of fiction. While the fictional story of the Ogden family is very different from the true story of the Schaeffer family, the seed idea for Baby Jack comes from Frank Schaeffer's life.
  • BEING OPEN TO CHANGE. Like many members of the upper class, Frank initially believed that the military was not a good enough choice for his son. But when Frank saw his son's tremendous growth in maturity and the Marines' depth of love and sacrifice, he did not cling to his original opinion but had the humility to change his mind. "Because of my son's service in the Marine Corps, I changed my opinion about the military," Frank said.
  • SERVING ONE'S COUNTRY. Frank drew a sharp distinction between serving one's country in the military and agreeing with the politics behind a particular war. To help us understand this, Frank used an analogy: a police officer will rescue a person trapped under a wrecked automobile whether the trapped person is an upstanding citizen or a hardened criminal. Frank also emphasized the importance of living a life of service in any walk of life.
  • BELIEVING WITHOUT CERTAINTY. Because God appears as a character in Baby Jack, we were interested in Frank's religious beliefs. Frank told us that he had created the character of God in a certain way for his novel and that he does believe in God. But he stressed, "I don't know what God is like." Frank explained that he had grown up in an evangelical Christian missionary family with very definite ideas about God but that he now prefers to practice his faith in the Greek Orthodox Church, which emphasizes the mystery of God. 
Our class awaits the moment for our telephone interview with Frank
Jane Nguyen of Vietnam asks Frank a question
Mariel Colon and Amalec Perez, both of Puerto Rico,  review their questions for Frank
Jinhee Lee of Korea listens intently to Frank
LIEP instructor Karen Greenstone listens closely to Frank
It was exciting for us to talk with the author of a novel we had read and to learn about the experience and thinking behind the novel. Thank you, Frank Schaeffer, for talking so openly with us about your life and your writing.

Our next post will feature the exciting swing dance lessons taught by LIEP students to other members of the Loyola community.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Class Observation Project - Fall 2010

The Class Observation Project is one of numerous opportunities for our Loyola Intensive English Program (LIEP) students to use their English in a real-life situation. We cancel our intensive English classes for two days so that our LIEP students may observe classes at Loyola University New Orleans. Many aspire to matriculate at Loyola or another university in the United States, and  this project gives them a glimpse into the life of a U.S. university classroom. It also gives them a realistic appraisal of their English skills. Especially important is the welcome they receive from the professors and other students, as this draws our LIEP students yet more fully into the larger Loyola community.

This semester we held our Class Observation Project on Thursday, November 18, and Friday, November 19. Besides observing Loyola classes, the LIEP students produced written and oral reports on their experience. Four of our intermediate LIEP students from China would like to share excerpts from their written reports with you.

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On Thursday, November 18, I observed Introduction to Physics taught by Dr. Martin P. McHugh. I really disliked physics before I observed this class. However, after I observed this class, I changed my mind. I think physics is a very good subject for our daily life. It relates with our earth, such as the greenhouse effect and global warming. I also learned new knowledge about quantum physics.

Dr. McHugh taught us about the greenhouse and global warming with questions. For example, ice in the Antarctic is . . . ? The answer is "melting," confirming global warming predictions.

After a quiz, Dr. McHugh taught us about the atom. I felt confused, but Dr. McHugh showed PowerPoint pictures to explain. Those pictures made us understand the difficult knowledge, such as the nuclear model of the atom.

I especially enjoyed this class, and I changed my mind about physics. I enjoyed learning about a new topic. I thank Dr. McHugh because he made me not be afraid of physics.

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On Thursday, November 18, I observed Chemistry in Art taught by Dr. Kathleen T. Crago and her son Dr. Edouard Louis Crago. The topic of the class was chemical interactions that can be used in art. I did the experiments with the professors and classmates.

The first experiment was to imprint a pattern onto a sheet of copper. I put a sheet of copper into a liquid solution for one minute. Then, I put it into a cup of water for thirty seconds. Hydro wax covered the copper sheet. Next, I drew a pattern on the sheet of copper with a needle. After this, I repeated the first two steps and then put the copper sheet into another liquid solution. After thirty minutes, I removed the copper sheet, stripped away the hydro wax, and washed the copper sheet. The experiment was successful. My pattern was on the copper sheet.

The second experiment was to change the color of aluminum strips to make them beautiful and use them in art. Dr. Edouard Crago put an aluminum strip into a liquid solution. He changed the temperature of the liquid, and the aluminum strip became blue. We can change aluminum to many colors by changing the temperature.

I was interested in the experiments, and I learned a lot easily in this class. We can make beautiful things in the Chemistry in Art class.

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On Thursday, November 18, I observed Business Communication taught by Dr. Frankie J. Weinberg. On that day, the professor didn't teach. Instead, the students presented the websites they had created to introduce themselves to the class.

The first student's website looked classical. He had put some pictures about himself wearing a suit and shaking hands with people. He said that he likes boxing and watches all the boxing matches. His website showed a video of himself boxing. He also shared experiences about his first job and about how to study.

Other students presented their websites. But one student's website was different. This student used hip-hop style to present his website. The student sang a song about himself. It was so cool. The professor was so surprised. I liked it because this student created something different, not like the other students' websites.

After class, the professor was friendly and helpful. He chatted with me and welcomed me to join his class. This gave me good memories.

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On Friday, November 19, I observed History of Western Art Music taught by Dr. Valerie W. Goertzen. I arrived early and introduced myself to the professor. Realizing that I am Chinese, Dr. Goertzen told me that in her childhood she studied at a U.S. American primary school in Taiwan.

The professor talked about opera in western art. Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text (called a libretto) and a musical score. Opera is part of the western classical music tradition. Opera incorporates many elements of spoken theater, such as acting, scenery, and costumes, and it sometimes includes dance. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble. It is popular in western culture.

I like this class because in my country we did not study music in school. At Loyola, you can study pretty music.

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Our next post will describe the advanced LIEP students' reading of the novel Baby Jack by Frank Schaeffer and their telephone interview with the author.