Posted in Photography

A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Sleep

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http://suellewellyn2011.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/a-word-a-week-challenge-sleep/

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Posted in Weekend Chat

Weekend Chat 28 April 2013

215561_10150156966756445_7044587_nGrab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat and discover some my favourite blog posts, films, etc from this past week.

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Things to watch

I have only just discoveredThe Villageon the BBC, the story of 20th Century England played out through a family in a Derbyshire village.  Definitely not rose-tinted and thus quite tough to watch in places, but so far absolutely worth it!

Things to read

Earthquake Expert – a moving account of the recent earthquake in China from an almost-eye-witness.  Coupled with a very amusing story, illustrating the perils of language.  Expert and expat – so close and yet so far…Read for yourself!

“Lu Lingzi was living the dream of practically every student that every English teacher in China has had in his or her class. We know them well: the young man who wants to earn an MBA and make his millions; the young woman who wants to become a scientist and discover the cure for cancer.” Very interesting reflection on the dream that brought Lu Lingzi, who died in the Boston Marathon bombings, to the US.

Things to listen to

Very interesting programme on “Crossing Continents” on BBC Radio 4, talking to staff and students at a Belarussian university in exile in Lithuania.

Posted in Culture, Uncategorized

Through the Mist of a Waterfall

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(picture from http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/islandblogging/blogs/000017/0000010839.shtml)

The walls demarcating cultures are not made of brick; rather they are like a slow-moving  wall of water. Like the objects at the bottom of a river, a person on one side can hazily see people  on the other side, they can even put part of their body through to experience it, but to completely move to the other side would require some kind of death and rebirth.

What a beautiful quote from an amazing blog I only recently discovered!

Isn’t it just so true?  We encounter another culture, and we see it as if through the haze of a waterfall.  We catch glimpses and try to guess what might be going on.  It looks intriguing and draws us in.  Or we see things we don’t like, things that offend or annoy us, and we want to walk away.  Sometimes rainbows form – beautiful to look at but distracting us from seeing what is behind the waterfall.

We might be sure of our conclusions and yet we have only seen through the mist of a waterfall.

“a person on one side can hazily see people  on the other side”

It happens all the time.  Not just when we move overseas, but every day.  We travel on the underground and observe an immigrant family.  Our neighbours have moved here with their jobs and don’t know yet what’s expected.  We travel abroad on a well-deserved break and struggle with things being different.  Or we enjoy the strangeness of it all.

“they can even put part of their body through to experience it”

Sometimes we’re brave and “put part of [our] body through to experience it”.  We enter into an experience, a relationship.  We are invited into a home, a life.  The mist might not immediately clear (it might even feel like it’s getting more dense), but we do see more clearly, understand more deeply.  We see more of the real thing, not the hazy image.

“…to completely move to the other side would require some kind of death and rebirth.”

So true!  It is a kind of death, a letting go of parts of who you were, of roots.  At the same time a rebirth, discovering who you are in a new context.

Here’s to lots more waterfalls to take a peek behind!

Posted in Weekend Chat

Weekend Chat 21 April 2013

215561_10150156966756445_7044587_nGrab a cup of coffee, find a comfy seat and discover some my favourite blog posts, films, etc from this past week.

Propaganda: North Korea is a “Socialist Fairyland” and Expat Life is Glamorous!”  Entertaining and thought-provoking blog post, reflecting on how we’re often tempted to embellish the expat life, leaving out the hard bits.

Reflections (and great stories!) on the unique nature of friendships in the expat community.  The joy of sharing life much more quickly, and the sadness of continuously saying good bye.

Posted in Culture

What’s ‘Excuse me’?

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There’s an old joke in which a reporter says to an Israeli, a Russian and an American, “Excuse me, can I get your opinion on the food shortage in Africa?”

The Russian says: “What’s an opinion?” The American says: “What’s a shortage?” and the Israeli says: “What’s ‘Excuse me’?”

Nothing like a good old stereotype!  Are they so infuriating because they are so true and yet so totally off the mark?  Because so many individuals act in ways that negate them, yet when looking at a whole culture, we do have to generalise?

Either way, really interesting programme/article on the BBC’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent” this week.  “Getting behind Israeli ‘frankness'”.

Why?

It’s the ‘why’ that fascinates me.  Why is it that British English is full of “Thank You”, Excuse me”, I’m sorry” and “Would you mind…”?  Why is it that Germans are fairly comfortable with silence, whereas Americans are not?  I know, stereotypes again.  And yet…  What shapes these cultural differences?

In the programme, Raffi Berg attempts an explanation of the famous (or infamous) Israeli frankness.  Is it due to most people having served in the army?  Did niceties get lost in the huge influx of immigrants with different cultural and language backgrounds?  Do the harsh realities of life (geographical and political) in the Middle East shape even this?  Does the frankness serve a bigger purpose, i.e. to get things done and move forward?

I don’t know but I find it so intriguing to try and look behind the obvious, to try and understand and make sense of what has shaped a people and a culture!

What discoveries, however tentative, have you made about the culture you are living in? 

What might be some of the whys?