Monday, October 27, 2014

Country Fair 2014

The Country Fair
By Ryota Kojima

On Friday, October 24, 2014, the Center for International Education at Loyola University New Orleans sponsored a Country Fair on the Peace Quad. In this fair, many international students prepared a table to show other students their countries’ culture, food and music.

Students enjoying the Country Fair
I also participated in this fair with Mr. Hikaru Yokoyama and Ms. Azusa Kurosawa, representing Japan.

Mr. Hikaru Yokoyama, Mr. Ryota Kojima, and Ms. Azusa Kurosawa, who organized the Japanese table at the Country Fair
Hikaru, Azusa, and I made Japanese traditional noodles called SOBA. But we forgot the fact that noodles become soggy as time goes by. Therefore, when our Soba was eaten at the Country Fair, it had become very soggy. We wanted our fellow students to eat better soba. In spite of that, many students came to our table and said to us, “This is really good.” I think I can say that many students enjoyed our Japanese table as well as other countries’ tables. Also, some U.S. American students who are interested in studying in Japan helped us to cook soba and set the table. We really appreciated all their help.

I ate many countries’ food in the fair and that made me want to go to those countries to eat the real food there. In particular, the croissants served at the French table were very good. I suppose that those were better than the croissants that I ate in Paris last year. Also, many countries arranged a picture display at their tables to show various aspects of their country and culture. It was fun for me to see the pictures of festivals of every country. Those pictures made me think of participating in those festivals someday. Everyone who took part in the Country Fair seemed to enjoy learning about cultures with which they had not been very familiar.

At the end of the fair, samba dancers wearing showy costumes danced on a stage. That was the first time for me to see samba, and I was very surprised how swiftly they could move their bodies when they were dancing. Many students were facsinated by samba. I want to go to Brazil to see the real samba carnival.

Samba dancers at the Country Fair

By having participated in the Country Fair, I felt several things. First of all, many more people are interested in Japan than I thought. When we were serving Soba, some students came to us and said that they had been to Japan or that they would go there. Also, a U.S. American student who came to our Japanese table had Kendama, a traditional Japanese toy with a wooden handle, three shallow dishes, and a pointed tip that the player uses to catch a wooden ball. This student showed me that he could play Kendama very well. I was glad about it. This made me want to tell others about Japan more.

Secondly, all the international students take pride in their countries. For example, when I visited the Spanish table, a student told me that she had tried hard to make nice tortyilla because she loved Spain and wanted other students to like her country. Also, Brazilian students wore the unifrom of their national soccer team. This is because they love Brazil. I think this is a very good thing. I have not been proud of being Japanese very much, but I thought I should know Japan more and tell international students with confidence that Japan is a good country as well as their countries.

All the students who participated in the Country Fair seemed to enjoy themselves talking with international students, eating food they had not tasted before, seeing pictures of various countries, and watching samba. It was wonderful that people from different countries and cultures had a good time together, laughing.

* * *

Mr. Ryota Kojima of Japan
Mr. Ryota Kojima is an exchange student from Sophia University, a Jesuit university in Japan, where he is majoring in international law. This semester, as an exchange student at Loyola University New Orleans. Ryota is in the Pilot Program of the Loyola Intensive English Program, where he takes two credit-bearing courses in English skills as well as two courses in other fields at Loyola,

Thank you, Ryota, for giving us this overview of the Country Fair!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Collage Self-Portrait: What is Beauty?

In the Advanced Listening & Speaking class of the Loyola Intensive English Program, students discuss a different social issue or concept each week and conduct projects to creatively express ideas about these issues. Last week, we explored the concept of “beauty.” We discussed the different cultural expressions of beauty and the influence of the media on concepts of beauty. We looked at fashion and entertainment magazines to identify ways advertisers use “beauty” to compel consumers to buy their products. Then we “dissected” the media’s definition of beauty and discussed the truly “beautiful” qualities we see in the people around us.

After a brief lesson on collage art, students explored the “beauty” they value in themselves by creating collage self-portraits from images they found in magazines.

Our LIEP Academic Director, Ms. Jess Haley, explains the project to the class.

LIEP students work on their collages: In the foreground Sister Pauline Phan of Vietnam (left) and Sister Theresa Le of Vietnam (right), and in the background Ms. Ana Pereira of Brazil (left) and Mr. Tom Almeida of Brazil (right).

Mr. Murtadha Almohammed of Saudi Arabia (left) and Ms. Ingrid Rodriguez-Fierro of Guatemala (right) work on their collages.

Ms. Ingrid Rodriguez-Fierro of Guatemala proclaimed, “At 45, I’m a very unique person with many beautiful parts!” Her collage is very busy because her life is very full – of family, charity work, food, flowers, and nature. She even represented time in her collage because, she said, even though she and time are not friends, it is an important part of her life.

Collage created by Ms. Ingrid Rodriguez-Fierro of Guatemala

Mr. Murtadha Almohammed of Saudi Arabia focused on family in the creation of his self-portrait. At the top of his image is the word mom. “She created me. She is me and all happiness I express is because of her.” Murtadha discussed his love of children, especially, of course, his daughter. “When you see your family, you see yourself.”

Collage created by Mr. Murtadha Almohammed of Saudi Arabia

Sister Theresa Le of Vietnam organized her collage components to resemble a face. The face is made of words and the image of a smile. “Even without a perfect face, with a smile, you will always be beautiful,” she said. Beauty, according to Sister Theresa, is trying to be the best self she can be right now.

Collage created by Sister Theresa Le of Vietnam 

Mr. Tom Almedia of Brazil made a very clever collage. "The main shape is my beard. I am known for it, but it also makes me think of something where secrets can be hidden and then brought out into the light." Tom explained that there is a lot going on in the beard--experiences, choices, travels, family--you can't identify just one thing because that's how identity is. Tom loves cocktails and food as well, but the other important component of his collage is the curved shape of words on the side--like an ear. "I'm becoming a better listener. It's a happy portrait because that's what I have in my life."

Collage created by Mr. Tom Almeida of Brazil

Sister Pauline Phan of Vietnam wanted to include two major aspects of her personality in her portrait – her life in Vietnam and her life in the United States. That’s why she created a face with two parts. She also surrounded herself with people. “My job and my mission are to go beyond myself. I like all the people.” She didn’t put a lot of elements in her image because, she said, we should try to express ourselves simply.

Collage created by Sister Pauline Phan of Vietnam

Mr. Marco Frick of Switzerland chose only a few very important elements of his identity to share on his collage. He chose foods that represent his dedication to health and family. The globe represents his passion for traveling as well as his admiration for his parents, who are both career travelers. The jacket represents his future in service and the special goals and commitment he has to that.

Collage created by Mr. Marco Frick of Switzerland

Ms. Ana Pereira of Brazil was very careful to create a human shape for her collage – she did this intentionally because she said, in Brazil there is too much emphasis on physical beauty. So, she added the words, “You are more than your shape,” and included the things that she feels make her beautiful – food, nature, and a baby to represent her daughter, who is “the biggest love in life.” At the base of the image, she added images of travel and study because “that gives you a cultural perspective and with that you can go anywhere in the world.”

Collage created by Ms. Ana Pereira of Brazil

A huge thank-you to our LIEP Advanced Listening & Speaking class for sharing their collage self-portraits and concepts of beauty with us!

The LIEP Advanced Listening & Speaking class with their collages

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Learning about Love

The Intermediate Listening & Speaking class of the Loyola Intensive English Program has just completed a unit on love. We have discussed ways of meeting a lifelong partner, benefits of marrying and of remaining single, advantages and disadvantages of marrying someone from a different culture or religion, and even the science behind the hormones associated with love.

Earlier this week, each student gave a presentation to the class on some aspect of love. Below are summaries of three very interesting presentations.

Mr. Dong-Joo Lee of Korea spoke about four signs that can help us know when we are in love. To know if we are in love with someone, Dong-Joo explained that we can ask ourselves these four questions.

  • Do I find myself speaking habitually about him or her?
  • Do I want him or her to be with me to share experiences?
  • Do I desire to give gifts to him or her?
  • Do I find myself waiting for him or her to call me on the telephone?

If the answer to these questions is yes, said Dong-Joo, then I am in love.

Ms. Katya Dashkovskaya of Russia spoke about the love of fans for their team or idol. Katya described fans' state of mind, as fans seek to wear clothes featuring their team or idol, to imitate their idol's appearance, and even to know their idol's biography better than their own life story! Katya distinguished between two kinds of fans.

  • Quiet fans meet to talk together about their idol.
  • Destructive fans may break objects and injure people to show their loyalty to a sports team.

Ms. Zoe Lu of China told the true story of the Australian kangaroo Lulu, who was found orphaned on the road and taken in by a human family. The human family loved Lulu, and Lulu loved her human family. One day, Lulu demonstated her love when a family member suffered a life-threatening injury. Lulu screamed to call the attention of others, and she used her legs to hold her injured loved one in a safe position. Zoe saw this true story as an illustration of the proverb: One good turn deserves another.

Thank you to Dong-Joo Lee of Korea, to Katya Dashkovskaya of Russia, and to Zoe Lu of China for excellent presentations on very different aspects of love!

Mr. Dong-Joo Lee of Korea, Ms. Katya Dashkovskaya of Russia, Ms. Zoe Lu of China

Friday, October 3, 2014

An Excursion to See the Play BROOMSTICK

On Friday evening, October 2, Loyola Intensive English Program (LIEP) student Azusa Kurosawa of Japan and LIEP instructor Karen Greenstone went to see the play BROOMSTICK by John Biguenet, who is also Chair of the English Department at Loyola University New Orleans. Two posts earlier, we wrote about Professor Biguenet's visit with our LIEP Advanced Reading class to discuss with us his short story "I Am Not a Jew" from his short story collection The Torturer's Apprentice. At that time, Professor Biguenet also told us a little about writing BROOMSTICK.

BROOMSTICK is a play about an old woman or witch who lives alone in a cabin in the woods. She tells us stories from her life - stories that are funny, wise, sad, insightful, powerful. At first the witch seems to be the personification of childhood fears, but soon she begins to talk about her earlier life - her feelings about her parents and their behavior, her first love, her experience of deep loss. The play is both lightly enjoyable and deeply moving. It helps us to ask ourselves questions about personal power, about perception and misunderstanding, about justice.

Azusa and Karen were very impressed with the witch's story, with the skilled acting of Liann Pattison who portrays the witch, with the realistic yet magical stage set depicting the interior of the witch's cabin in the woods, and with the ability of the playwright John Biguenet to capture the strength and the vulnerability of the witch in words.

BROOMSTICK is the first play in the 2014-2015 theatrical season of Southern Rep Theater in New Orleans. It is being performed at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center through November 2, 2014.

Azusa and Karen recommend BROOMSTICK to you! A huge thank-you to John Biguenet for writing this powerful and moving play, to Liann Pattison for her spell-binding acting, to Southern Rep Theater for producing the play, and to Ashé Cultural Arts Center for hosting it!

Asuza Kurosawa of Japan and LIEP Instructor Karen Greenstone