Monthly Archives: November 2009

No. Music. Period. (well just for a day)

No Music Day was on November 21, just a few days ago. I know what you are thinking… how ridiculous does that sound? But in fact it goes much deeper than just alleviating music for the day. It’s about taking out the headphones, looking around and recognizing others with a little old-fashioned eye contact and a smile. When traveling especially (or in high school hallways) there seems to be two skinny white wires peeking through every girls’ long  hair, or behind a Burton hoodie. What if the headphones were out, what if your iPod was dead? Then what would you do? How about turning to the person next to you on the train and striking up a conversation, hey that person might introduce you to her hot-as-hell niece who is studying the same thing as you at university and maybe that very niece will be your future wife… just saying, it could happen. If you have the headphones in, that serendipitous situation just might not occur. Now, by no means am I anti-music, AT ALL, in fact I appreciate it in all capacities, I do, however, support the notion and the effort in enjoying social interactions, slowing things down a bit and striking up a conversation with a stranger. The quiet man in his late 70s (who didn’t have his iPod in) next you in seat 4C en route from San Francisco to Philadelphia just might be the neighborhood physician from your husband’s hometown in South Africa, what a small world! Afterall, it happened to me.



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I recently read an interview with Clint Eastwood in GQ magazine. He is the director and producer of Invictus, a movie coming out in December about the 1995 South African rugby team; I blogged about it a few posts ago. When the article asked why he was driven to do this movie, he mentioned that the way South Africa was fourteen years ago reminds him a lot of the United States in present day. Not in every way of course, and not literally. But he is right. The state of mind is a bit depressed this day and age, wouldn’t you say? I know the recession is a reality and for many has been life altering in a negative way, but I think we can use a bit of optimism and learn from some other nations who have really been through the ringer. Mr. Eastwood says, “We’re becoming more juvenile as a nation. The guys who won World War II and that whole generation have disappeared, and now we have a bunch of teenage twits.” Now I certainly don’t wholeheartedly agree with this statement especially since I’d like to teach those so-called teenagers he is referring to, however, I do think that we shouldn’t give up on our youth and that we can still mold them into responsible human beings who will take this country far. As teachers it is important to encourage our students to see what it’s like on the other side of the fence and especially to know that the grass isn’t always greener. It takes a lot of experiences, and many times mistakes, to realize this. Last week in my Educational Psychology class there was a question about our responsibility as teachers, specifically, should there be a curriculum requirement for service learning. I responded with a zealous, “YES, OF COURSE!” naively assuming that everyone felt that way. I wrote how it is our responsibility to shine some light and open some eyes for students who don’t have the drive or resources to see what else is out there. My professor explained that he believes service learning is a great experience for students, but that you just aren’t going to save everyone. He is a school psychologist here in South Jersey and he brings up the issue of social services in schools quite often. Perhaps I have lack of experience and as my years a teacher go on I will see things more frankly, but I can’t help but think that exposing students to others’ cultures and circumstances will only do more good than harm for them, and for we teachers as well. Let’s not be discouraged by the text messaging maniacs, but show them what is hard in life, how to deal with it, and how to conquer it.

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So, do you agree?

I recently found the following article posted on Vagablogging a site dedicated to long-term travel. The author discusses the misconceptions of why we do, or do not, travel as much as citizens from other countries. Do you agree with what the author is suggesting? Please comment!


The world according to Americans. Photo posted by Switch

Although there are a lot of people in other developed countries who don’t travel, Americans tend to get singled out as the worst offenders. Backpackers love to repeat the statistic (myth?) of how few Americans hold passports as proof.

This article from Brave New Traveler, Are Americans afraid to travel? tackles this recurring phenomenon. In the comments,  readers named some of the main obstacles to travel. Here are some of the usual suspects:

–U.S. media overstates the danger of foreign countries.

–Misconceptions about the cost of travel.

–Puritan work ethic discourages travel as a waste of time.

–Materialist culture encourages consumption over travel.

–Americans have less vacation time compared to Europeans.

–Americans have to spend more of their incomes on health care, education, and other social services, because the U.S. government provides fewer of these. This leaves less money for travel.

–America lacks the “gap year” culture that is popular in other countries, e.g. Australia.

I could go on forever, but I digress. When we eliminate the external factors like those previously stated, are Americans themselves just plain not interested in going outside their own country? (FYI: I’m American)

Would you say there are other developed countries who also have lots of people who don’t want to travel? I’ve had friends from countries other than America say that they also felt like outcasts back home for traveling.

On a more humorous note, some travelers have said they actually like the status quo. If even an extra 10 percent of the American population decided to travel abroad every year, that would be about 30 million more people clogging up planes and hotels. That’s the equivalent of almost the entire population of Canada hitting the road.

Worldwide tourism infrastructure could collapse under the demand of that many travelers. And would we really want to run into a hometown neighbor when we’ve climbed to the top of a mountain for that magical sunset?

So maybe we should just keep those exotic cultures and beautiful landscapes for ourselves? Just kidding! Posted by Marcus Sortijas

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Making a difference.

This article from a website dedicated to the good news from South Africa (shouldn’t all places have that!) discusses how the anticipation of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa is helping to help underpriviliged children overcome social problems. It is just one example of how sports can heal. Below is an image of the Alexandra township in Johannesburg.

Alexandra Township- Johannesburg

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Sports. They bring us together.

So for the last two weeks in a row we got out of our Wednesday Educational Psych class early. Why you ask? For a little reason called the Philadelphia Phillies. Am I the biggest Phillies fan around? Certainly not. Am I complaining about getting out of class early? Certainly not. I actually asked my professor after class if he was a big Phillies fan, the truth is, he isn’t either, but it’s the idea of the masses that sways him to dismiss us early. He says he’d get trampled if he didn’t let us out early. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I’m not going to cry over it. The idea that people come together through sport is a really interesting concept. It can bind together those who do not usually see eye to eye and it can certainly polarize others. On December 11th there is a movie coming out about the 1995 Rugby World Cup; it highlights this unification on a grand scale. The tournament took place in South Africa a year after the end of Apartheid. The country was on show for the rest of the world to see and it had a long way to go to earn the trust of other nations. South Africa was mistrusted and considered a racist country up until that point. It was at this tournament that South Africa had to prove its readiness to move on from a tainted past. The movie is called Invictus (the title of one of Nelson Mandela’s favourite poems) and it is about South Africa’s journey as a country to this tournament. It tells the story of a rare relationship between a black man and a white man in post-Apartheid South Africa. It takes us on a journey of how the universal language of sports can bring together those who at one time were filled with such resentment and hatred. I think this story can be transcended to many corners of the globe where there is an abundance of conflict. It takes something that all can relate to for people to be unified. Sports are a great way to emphasize teamwork and conflict resolution; they can bring together those who would not normally interact and can bring peace and healthy competition to places of previous unrest. Take a look at the trailer for Invictus; see you at the theatre on December 11th.


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