Thursday, April 21, 2011

Our Visit with Novelist George Bishop

On Thursday, April 9, novelist George Bishop visited our Advanced Reading & Writing class at the Loyola Intensive English Program. We had spent the previous weeks reading and discussing George's novel Letter to My Daughter, and we were eager to talk with George about our responses to his novel and to learn more about how he had composed it.

Letter to My Daughter is about a troubled mother/daughter relationship. Laura's fifteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, has run away from home in anger, using the family car. While awaiting Elizabeth's return, Laura writes a long letter to her daughter describing her own struggles at age fifteen. Through this letter, Laura hopes to connect with her daughter and to help Elizabeth navigate the challenges of adolescence.

Letter to My Daughter encompasses the themes of coming of age, parent/teen relationships, social class, teen friendship, first love, sexuality, the Vietnam War, and early loss. It provides rich material for reflection, writing, and discussion

During his visit to our class, George Bishop recounted how he received the inspiration for this novel. It happened while George was living in India and working diligently on another novel, writing and rewriting, working for the clearest expression of his ideas. Then, George decided to take a guided camel tour into the desert. The trip was hot and tiring, so George easily fell asleep that night. And he dreamed. He dreamed the story of Letter to My Daughter. All the key elements were there, especially Laura's clear and distinctive voice. George jotted down the outline of the novel's plot as soon as he awoke.

George told us that, with this outline and the clear images from his dream, the writing of Letter to My Daughter went very smoothly. But he also let us know that writing most often requires hard work and persistence. George is currently at work on a novel about a father/son relationship, and this novel is requiring full days of nitty-gritty writing work. George emphasized that writing is most often a slow process that unfolds gradually.

We enjoyed talking with George about his own experiences of growing up in the Baton Rouge area, some of his experiences as a teenager, and his perceptions of the mother and daughter in Letter to My Daughter. We also discussed our ideas about what does and does not help teenagers as they grow into adulthood.

Thank you, George Bishop, for your insightful novel Letter to My Daughter and for sharing your thoughts and experience about writing, growing, and living with us.
Our class with George Bishop (standing, second from right),
as we hold editions of Letter to My Daughter in English and in Chinese

In our next blog post, we will share with you an unusual writing project completed by the LIEP Intermediate Reading & Writing class taught by Jess Haley. This project creatively combines art, film, and the written word.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Our Loyola Photographer, Mr. Harold Baquet

Michael Drake
Mr. Harold Baquet, our photographer at Loyola University New Orleans, is well known for the skill and artistry of his photographs. Michael Drake of Venezuela, an advanced student in the Loyola Intensive English Program, has interviewed Mr. Baquet and written the sketch below.

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By Michael Drake

Mr. Harold Baquet
Mr. Harold Baquet has been our photographer at Loyola University New Orleans for over 25 years. He says that his passion for photography grew at a very young age when he took pictures of his loved ones and of scenes he liked, but he did it as a hobby.

Mr. Baquet truly knew that he was good at taking pictures when he was a young boy and took a photo of one of his cousins. He thought that he had taken a cute little picture of her. She was very shy and she didn’t like having her picture taken. Then, a couple of years later, his cousin died, and his family used the picture that Mr. Baquet had taken to exhibit at her funeral. He felt affection from the older members in his family because of this photo. From that moment, Mr. Baquet started to look at all his surroundings to see what was important or would be important for someone. He felt that a picture could tell something about someone, like a narrative of the moment that the person is experiencing. He didn’t miss any event that he thought was worthwhile to photograph.

Mr. Baquet feels that his childhood was so lucky for growing up in New Orleans because of all the music, the culture, the social movement, and especially the people of New Orleans whom he describes as free and colorful.

Mr. Baquet came to Loyola after working in the mayor’s office as a photographer at City Hall. He saw the opportunity of working at the university. The previous Loyola photographer, Mr. Cresson, was retiring after many years at Loyola. Mr. Baquet describes Mr. Cresson as a legend who was very famous all over the city. Mr. Baquet felt that it would be an honor to work at Loyola with its rich tradition. He describes the difference between working at Loyola, which he calls the best job, and working at City Hall, which gave him many opportunities and good memories. He says that at Loyola he sells the students’ life style, which is calmer and which involves far less pressure than working at City Hall, where he had to sell New Orleans and the mayor's life style. But still Mr. Baquet says that working at Loyola is very hard work.

Mr. Baquet compares photography when he was younger and now. He says that nowadays it may be more competitive, but back then photography was more complicated and difficult. Today’s technology makes photography easier.

A recent exhibit on the fourth floor of Loyola's Monroe Library featured Mr. Baquet's photography. Mr Baquet says that he feels very proud of recording an important moment in a person’s life, as was seen in many of the photos in this exhibit. One photo, for example, shows Muhammad Ali in one of his most epic moments. Another shows the Manning family of football fame in New Orleans when Eli and Peyton were just kids. Archie Manning takes center stage in this photo, but now it is Eli and Peyton who are superstars.   

Mr. Baquet has exhibited and taken pictures all over the country, but he says his favorite place is New Orleans. He loves to take pictures of New Orleans and Loyola’s life.

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Please use the link below to see some of Mr. Baquet's photographs:

Our thanks to Michael Drake for introducing us to Mr. Harold Baquet and his wonderful photos of life in New Orleans and at Loyola University. Our next blog post will describe the visit of author George Bishop with the LIEP Advanced Writing & Reading class. We invited George Bishop to talk with us about his novel Letter to My Daughter after we had read and enjoyed it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Nearby Restaurants

James Zhang
James Zhang of China, an advanced student in the Loyola Intensive English Program, has explored some of the many restaurants near the campus of Loyola University New Orleans. He will introduce you to these restaurants below.
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By Xiang "James" Zhang

Right within walking distance of the Loyola Intensive English Program, you can find many wonderful and diverse restaurants: Cajun, Chinese, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Thai, Vietnamese, and dessert. Loyola University New Orleans has an excellent dining room, the Orleans Room, but it's also good to get off-campus from time to time and try one of the many restaurants nearby. You can walk from Loyola to any of the restaurants below.

Audubon ClubhouseCajun 
6500 Magazine Street - 504-581-4629
This restaurant is open when the weather is nice. It is a buffet with such tasty foods as fried chicken, vegetables, fruits and cakes. There are waiters, who will take your order and collect your plate. Everything I have had at this restaurant had been perfect. If you like playing golf, you can do so after lunch. This restaurant is in the beautiful Audubon Park, just across Saint Charles Avenue from Loyola. But be careful when you order because this restaurant tends to be expensive.

Jazmine CafeVietnamese
614 South Carrollton Avenue - 504-866-9301
This Vietnamese restaurant is really good. It is inexpensive, but the food is delicious. I like the beef noodle soup, which costs eight dollars. The spring roll is also excellent. Other dishes I enjoy are grilled sliced pork, grilled shrimp, tofu and avocado, and jazmine seafood noodle.

Basil LeafThai
1438 South Carrollton Avenue - 504-862-9001
A favorite dish at this Thai restaurant is mussaman curry, a beef dish from southern Thailand. I also like mee crob, a dish of crispy rice noodles and a sweet sauce flavored with lemon or lime. This restaurant is a little expensive, but worth it.

1434 South Carrollton Avenue - 504-281-4127
This is not an expensive restaurant, but the food is very good. I recommend the shrimp quesadilla, the fajita mixta, and any burrito.

Vincent's Italian CuisineItalian
7839 Saint Charles Avenue - 504-866-9313
This restaurant has very good Italian food. Artichoke Vincent, corn & crabmeat bisque, shrimp fettucine, filet mignon, and herb crusted salmon are some favorites.

O’Henry’s - Irish and U.S. American
634 South Carrollton Avenue - 504-866-0002
O'Henry's is like an Irish pub serving U.S. American food, such as hamburgers and french fries. If you go there on your birthday, you can get free steak. I like wasabi roast beef and Miss Mary’s chicken salad.

Babylon CaféMiddle Eastern
7724 Maple Street - 504-314-0010
This restaurant is not expensive, but you can get a lot of food. The hummus is amazing!

Little TokyoJapanese
1340 South Carrollton Avenue - 504-485-5658
The sushi here is quite big but not expensive. This restaurant also has good ramen and beef bowl. My tutor, Daniel, goes to Little Tokyo often. He has lived in Japan and says that Little Tokyo has authentic traditional Japanese food that he likes very much.

Camellia GrillU.S. American
626 South Carrollton Avenue - 504-309-2679
I went to this restaurant recently. It was delicious. The western omelette with fries and hamburger was perfect and inexpensive. All the customers sit around a counter, and the cooks prepare the meal in front of you.

La MadeleineFrench
601 South Carrollton Avenue - 504-861-8662 
This is a French cafe. The French onion soup is especially delicious. The quiche Lorraine, the spinach quiche, and the croque monsieur are also very tasty. The desserts, too, are wonderful, especially the Sacher torte and the fruit tart.

China OrchidChinese and U.S. American
704 South Carrollton Avenue - 504-865-1428

This restaurant serves Chinese and U.S. American food. I enjoy the traditional Chinese seafood and eggs. The service in this restaurant is perfect.

Cold StoneIce Cream
624 South Carrollton Avenue - 504-218-8900
This ice cream store is very good. You can order several kinds of ice cream and toppings and mix them together.

As you see, there are many restaurants around the Loyola campus. These are just some of them. So if you come to Loyola, don't worry about the food. No matter where you are from, you can find food that you like around campus.

If you want to order food from these restaurants and eat it in your own room, you can do so through this link:

When the food is delivered, please remember to tip the delivery person. This is the U.S. American way! The tip should be about 15% of the cost of the food.

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Our thanks to James Zhang for acquainting us with so many wonderful places to eat off-campus. Our next blog post will introduce you to Loyola's photographer, Mr. Harold Baquet, and his passion for his work.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Portrait of Our Office Manager, Susan Dempsey

Sister Mai
This post will introduce a person who is very special to us in the Loyola Intensive English Program: our office manager, Susan Dempsey. This portrait of Susan was written by Sister Tuyet Mai Nguyen of Vietnam, an advanced student in the Loyola Intensive English Program.
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By Sister Tuyet Mai Nguyen

Susan Dempsey with daughters Ginger (left) and Katie (right)
on vacation in New York
Susan Dempsey has worked at Loyola University New Orleans for seven years. Her favorite task at Loyola is working with the students. As office manager for the Center for International Education, Susan works closely with students in the Loyola Intensive English Program, other international students at Loyola, and U.S. American students preparing for Loyola’s many Study Abroad programs. It is a great assignment and fun. “I get the energy that comes from this job,” Susan says.

Susan’s job is multi-faceted. She performs multiple tasks: she answers the phone, greets people who come in (both students and staff), completes immigration documents, takes care of all the bills in the office, and generally does all things required. As Susan expresses it, she does “a piece of this and a piece of that on a busy day.'

“I love the interaction with the students in general, being an international coordinator, any exchange with the students -- I love this,” Susan says in an excited voice. When she first started in this job, Susan sat in a side room. She realized that she did not deal with the students a lot; she just did this work without students’ exchange and interaction. However, as a person who greets guests, she needs to be right in the front. Therefore, eight months ago, in October 2010, it was decided to change the whole set-up in the office. Susan now sits right at the office entrance; she can be much more involved with the students and knows all of them by name. “It is happy energy,” says Susan.

When Susan is interrupted, it does not make her upset or frustrated because she enjoys helping people when they ask questions or need something to be fixed. She is happy to stop working to help them and takes her time to finish work later.

When Susan is not in the office, she enjoys being at home, which is a happy and safe place. She spends time with her two lovely and sweet teenage daughters. She also does the garden work, reads a lot, and visits with women friends. Mostly she likes to be with her daughters and their dog and two cats.

“My goal is trying to be helpful as much as I can because to come to another culture, especially in this country, it has to be daunting and unsettling. I cannot say no with the students,” Susan says. As a mother, she can imagine her daughter in another culture, meeting somebody who is warm, gracious and helpful. “Mostly, every day, I find that I love to help students,” says Susan.

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We in the Loyola Intensive English Program deeply appreciate Susan, her friendliness, and all that she does for us. Thank you, Susan.

Our thanks to Sister Mai for this portrait of Susan Dempsey. Our next post will introduce you to some of the many wonderful and diverse restaurants within walking distance of Loyola's campus.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Our LIEP Mardi Gras Celebration

At the Loyola Intensive English Program (LIEP), we devoted the morning of Friday, March 4, to our Mardi Gras celebration. We played Mardi Gras games, baked a Mardi Gras King Cake, listened to Mardi Gras music, and crowned our own King and Queen!

LIEP Instructor Jess Haley organized three games that were fun and educational. First came MARDI GRAS TRIVIA, where interesting facts about Mardi Gras were unearthed. Did you know, for instance, that the word "carnival" comes from Latin words that mean "goodbye to meat" or "goodbye to the flesh," since abstinence from meat and denial of the flesh are common practices during the season of Lent, which follows Mardi Gras? Below, LIEP students record answers to Mardi Gras Trivia questions.

Next came a game of MARDI GRAS DOUBLOON TOSS. Cups of various sizes and at various distances were taped to a long table, and we had to toss Mardi Gras doubloons (colored coins thrown during carnival parades) into the cups. Each cup carried a number of points, depending on its size and its distance from the thrower. Below, you can see the Mardi Gras Doubloon Toss table in the background.

Finally, we played MARDI GRAS SCRAMBLE, where we had two minutes to form as many words as possible from a longer word or expression that is typical of Mardi Gras or of New Orleans. Below, we see LIEP Instructor Jess Haley writing the word LAGNIAPPE on the board for us to form smaller words with.

Lagniappe means "a little something extra," such as a piece of candy given by a shop-keeper when we make some other purchases. What words can you form from LAGNIAPPE in two minutes? Let's see: lap, pal, nap, pan, . . .

Besides our Mardi Gras games, our celebration featured the baking of a KING CAKE. King Cake is eaten in New Orleans during the Carnival season. A King Cake is shaped like a ring, or a donut. A small plastic baby is baked into one of the slices. This represents the Baby Jesus, whom the Three Kings, or Three Wise Men, were searching for. Whoever gets the slice of King Cake containing the plastic baby becomes the King or the Queen of the day!

Below, you see two King Cakes. The one at the top, topped with colored sugar, comes from a bakery. The one at the bottom, topped with almonds, is the one we baked at our Mardi Gras celebration. Both were delicious!

Here is the recipe for our King Cake.

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4 cups flour
6 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
some cinnamon
16 almonds
1 small plastic baby


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in sugar.

Beat eggs. Heat butter and milk until butter is melted. Add beaten eggs and butter/milk mixture to the dry mixture, and mix thoroughly.

Knead gently for a few minutes.

Roll out on a floured surface to make a 1/2-inch rectangle.

Sprinkle the rectangle with cinnamon.

Roll up the rectangle so that it resembles a long rope (as you would roll a jelly roll). Join the ends of the rope together to form a ring, or a donut shape.

Place the unbaked cake carefully into a greased and floured 10-inch by 13-inch baking pan or onto a greased and floured cookie sheet.

Insert the plastic baby from beneath, making sure that it gets up into the center of the dough, and place 1 almond on top of that spot.

Place 15 more almonds around the top of the King Cake at regular intervals. When you serve the King Cake, you will cut the slices so that there is an almond in the center of each. This will help to insure that you don't slice through the plastic baby!

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes.

Serves 16 people. Enjoy!

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Below are pictures showing us baking our King Cake.

Meet our King Cake baking team, from left to right: Merve Babayigit from Turkey, LIEP Instructor Karen Greenstone from the United States, Coco Zhao from China, and Sister Kim Dung Bui from Vietnam.
Merve mixes our ingredients.

Merve prepares to knead the dough gently.

Kneading produces doughy hands!

Merve and Sister Dung roll out the dough.

The team begins to roll up the dough, which has been sprinkled with cinnamon.
We place the cake into the greased and floured pan, join the ends, and shape the cake.
Our King Cake has just emerged from the oven!
As we enjoyed all this activity - games and baking - we listened to the sounds of "Mardi Gras Mambo" and other Mardi Gras songs!

Finally, as we ate our delicious King Cake, we learned who had earned the most points at the Mardi Gras games. These two Mardi Gras game champions were crowned King and Queen!
Our Mardi Gras Royalty: King Sung-Uk Jung of Korea and Queen Merve Babayigit of Turkey!
Our next post will introduce you to a very special person in the Center for International Education at Loyola University New Orleans: our friendly and helpful office manager, Ms. Susan Dempsey.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Visit to Destrehan Plantation

On a chilly but sunny day in February, the LIEP Culture Class climbed into the Loyola van for a trip to Destrehan Plantation on the Mississippi River. The theme of the Culture Class this semester is life along the river, and the class had been studying Louisiana plantation life, slavery, and the cultivation of indigo and of sugar cane -- all of which could be found at Destrehan Plantation, about 25 miles upriver from New Orleans.
On the way to Destrehann
Destrehan Plantation
Destrehan's columned porch
We were impressed with the interior of the plantation house: beds with mosquito netting, smaller beds for daytime resting, a bedroom prie dieux at which to kneel for prayer, an elegant dining room with chandelier, men's card-playing area, and a massive bathtub.
Bed with mosquito netting
Small bed for daytime resting
Bedroom prie dieux for kneeling comfortably at prayer
Dining table
Men's area for playing cards
Massive bathtub
The slaves' cabins were far more austere. Slaves worked not only in the fields but also in the house and kitchen. The kitchen was built apart from the main house so that the heat from the kitchen fires would not become oppressive to the inhabitants.
Slave cabin
Kitchen, apart from the main house
Sugar tub
A highlight of our visit to Destrehan was Ms. Mamie's demonstration of her indigo crocheted items. We also saw weaving in progress on a loom with yarns of many colors.

Ms. Mamie with her hand-crafted indigo items
Loom and yarn of many colors
After our visit to Destrehan Plantation, we enjoyed a wonderful seafood lunch at Middendorf's Restaurant -- famous for thin fried catfish -- in the small town of Manchac, Louisiana, before heading back to Loyola.
Middendorf's Restaurant in Manchac, Louisiana
Middendorf's menu
Eating a wonderful seafood meal at Middendorf's
Upon returning to Loyola, the Culture Class continued to build on what they had seen and learned at Destrehan Plantation. The students created a video in which they took roles as members of the plantation-owning family or as plantation slaves in the early 1800s. The video depicts plantation life as experienced from these two perspectives.

Our next post will feature our LIEP Mardi Gras celebration, where we played Mardi Gras games, baked a Mardi Gras King Cake, listened to Mardi Gras music, and crowned our own King and Queen!