Monday, January 21, 2008

Upcoming and beyond

By the end of the week I'll be in New York, NY for a couple of days, getting acquainted with the GAPP Exchange Program that I inherited from the former German teacher at Enloe High. She worked hard to create the exchange with a school in Schwetzingen, German, who are looking forward to a visit this summer from a group of German students at Enloe. At their website, linked above, the Hebel Gymnasium has a nice log of their time spent in Raleigh North Carolina. It's in German, but any translator could render it in readable English for you, if interested. I'd recommend I am working hard to get things in place for this monumental visit. International travel I am familiar with, but carting and supervisors teenagers overseas I am not; regardless I am moving ahead. The kids who've expressed an interest in spending three weeks in Schwetzingen and German are excellent students, however, so I forsee no problems at all. The picture to your left is one I took the last time I was in New York, in 2004. Looking forward to another visit to that grand city.

So if I do go to Germany this summer, I'd probably skip again travelling to Ramallah, Palestine, which had consumed my summers of 2005 and 2006. Those were fantastic trips, but last summer of 2007 I chose to remain stateside, for various reasons. Travelling to that region, however rewarding it always has been, can be difficult for many Americans. An utter irony, given the fact that Israel, recipient of unimaginable financial and diplomatic largesse frm American taxpayers, controls the borders to the Palestinian territories. Click the picture to the right to see a short collection of photos I took of Ramallah, Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the Summer of 2005.

Speaking of that wretched part of the world, I take issue of course with our Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice pusing for a UN Security Council resolution against Iran's alleged nuclear program. Even after a National Intelligence Estimate concluding that Iran had halted its drive to acquire and develop nuclear weapons, America still wants to beat the drums of war against that Islamic Republic. All the while Israel maintains a squeeze on the open air prison that is Gaza and while Hamas hardcores continue to launch crude homemade missiles into southern Israel. I mean, how about a UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to the siege of Gaza's 1.3 millions Palestinians and an immediate start to negotiations that would result in a peace treaty between Gaza, the West Bank and Israel? Resolution to that age-old conflict would do more to strengthen our security than provoking Iran into a war with us. Clicking the picture to your left will lead you to a Yahoo! Slide show of the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel.

Monday, January 14, 2008

January is here, 2008

Two-thousand and eight is already shaping up to be a great year. I ushered it in after a fantastic visit to Michigan for my brother's wedding, and now I am chest-deep in teaching German at Enloe High. Which by the going great....what kinds of things are we doing in the five levels of German I teach? In German 3, we are learning key vocabulary in reminiscing, for instance, at class reunions or family reunions, and they're also studying elements of searching and securing a job. We also played a terrific game, Hansa, that purports to simulate sailing experience in the Hanseatic League of the 13th and 14th centuries. We'll continue to read about the Hansa in our class. As far as grammar goes, double infinitives with modal verbs, past tense, indicative and subjunctive, of said verbs, etc.

AP German are lampooning our current crop of American presidential candidates; they deserve to be ridiculed and also praised; their lampoons will include their platforms expressed in German key phrases and statements.

German 4 are preparing a skit between a therapist and patient who is having doubts about his current family situation. I hope to get audio recordings of their efforts online shortly.

German 1 are writing postcards describing an eating establishment in the German city of Mittenwald, learning how to order food and drinks from an ice cream parlor, and future tense.

German 2 are writing postcards about a sojourn in Düsseldorf while preparing a skit concerning a visit to a department store.

It's a crazy week, in that I want to finish these chapters and projects before the end of the week, which thereby ends the semester, so I am driving the kids fairly hard in class. They ar eup to the task.

More news? I ran across an article written by John Mearsheimer, who along with Stephen Walt wrote a devastating critique last year of America's relationship with Israel, and this new article by the bold Professor states eloquently what I have said all along: American politicians unwavering support, uncritical support of Israel does no party involved in the conflict any favors. Instead of coddling Israel's failed leadership while supporting its economy with billions of American dollars, we should be smartly pressuring them to make peace with the Palestinians in a two-state solution and do it NOW. American should not tolerate breaches of agreements by Israel and should assist them them in making a secure and lasting peace. It'll do the world many a favor. The name of the article is Candidates’ Unconditional Support Isn’t Right for Jewish State and is a good read about the nefarious nature of America's special relationship with this rather belligerent state in the Middle East. And if you want to read the critique they published about America and Israel, then zoom to Amazon and read about the book they created from their paper. The actual article, The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy, is also available online.

Because in the end, solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict equitably would largely deflate Muslim animus toward America and the West, despite what the pundits want to tell you.

By the Mearsheimer article was found at an interesting left-leaning website called - Breaking News and Views for the Progressive Community.