Boston. The city where I attended New England School of Law for two years, where my sister died on the 20th floor of Massachusetts General Hospital of breast cancer on April 21, 2005, and where my father was located yesterday. My father, Edward Csizmar, is a born again Christian. After his daughter lost her life to cancer, my father decided to “give back” by driving patients into Massachusetts General for weekly cancer treatments because they cannot drive home after chemotherapy. So, while I was in bed recovering from a nasty bout of the flu, I woke at 3:10 PM and turned on the television. That is when I witnessed this horrible atrocity which has injured so many and killed three, the youngest, an innocent eight year old who only wanted to see greet his father after running in the Boston Marathon. Not only is this an annual race between people from all over the world, but it was Patriot’s Day, the holiday that I grew up with and just assumed everyone else did too. As I watched the screen flash at that point in time, 23 injured and 2 dead, I decided to call my mother to see if my Dad was still at the hospital. I just assumed that he was.
“Mom, hi,” and of course a short moment of silence on the other end. I just turned on the television since I have been sick all day and I cannot believe it,” I exclaimed! “I know, it’s terrible,” she remarked. “Is Dad home yet, or still in the city?,” I asked in concern. “Oh, he just walked in the door,” she replied. “Yes, I am glad that he got home before a traffic jam prevented him from returning so late, she explained. Oh, he wants to talk with you,” she said. “Hi, Mel. I was going over the bridge when the police sirens were signaling by me and I thought, well maybe there was another robbery. We’ve had some continous robberies in Boston lately,” he told me. As he is explaining this, a flash from the movie that took place in Charlestown is running through my head, The Town. He continued as I listened, “But then when I heard the second one and the third, I thought, something serious is going on here.” “Well I am glad you are home safely as I was thinking that you would be at Mass General when the ambulances were bringing in many people,” I continued. So after we hung up our phones and I continued to watch the blood, the courageous citizens, visitors, policeman and fellow family members, running with wheelchairs in hand, tears ran down my eyes. I could only think of the Charles River song whose lyrics go like this, Love that dirty water, oh Boston you’re my home.”
My home, yes, the city that I loved and still do even though my sister died there on the critical condition floor, the 20th, where some of the most seriously ill people are treated. Thanks to the nurses and doctors, they did an amazing job with her but God just chose not to heal April. I know the pain of losing someone there, so I feel for the people whose families and others are being treated at Mass General, Children’s Hospital and some of the others-some of the best hospitals this country has and the world has ever known.
Other flashbacks that came into my head were the days that I stood in front of my students at a private, Christian school, and the announcement came over our loud speaker and into my classroom, that the Twin Towers had just been careened into by two airplanes. As a class we prayed and the next day a male student came into Spanish class and explained that his uncle was on his way to the Pentagon on 9/11. He was retiring from his career that day and fortunately his alarm went off late. Because of that and maybe our prayers around that same time, he got to work late and was not in the Pentagon when the crash has occurred. Wow! That was an amazing story we all thougt as a class.
Amazing stories are difficult to really perceive and understand though when you know that the enemy, whatever you might want to call him, is right out your front door. The bully is right there everyday waiting to take you down whether you believe he is in person, a ghost, a phenomenom or the Devil himself disguised in everything from the Boston Marathon atrocity to 9/11, or to your only sister dying of a disease that could not be healed. And although that enemy stands strong, remember the scene that he could not take away as it plays over and over again on your television set and in the minds of those who were present at the Boston Marathon yesterday. To the left was the American flag standing tall and proud, its red, white and blue waving in the wind. To the right, was a long line of flags from all over the world. Then there was our President who said yesterday in his Press Conference, “Boston is a tough and resilient town and so are its people.” So Boston, as you cry, mourn, and clean up the mess while doctors and nurses continue to operate on and save the lives of those who are injured, remember this, Carry On, Despite the Bully Out Your Front Door! You are not only Bostonians but Americans and don’t ever give up the fight!
Good Friday. What comes to mind? To me, this day is as important as Christmas Eve and day because it was the birth of Jesus. Good Friday on the other hand, is the symbolic day that Jesus was betrayed by his disciple and would soon be nailed to a wooden cross that he was forced to drag to Calvary. A crown of sharp thorns was placed on his head thereafter, and when he was thirsty, a wet rag doused in vinegar, was raised to his dry, scorched lips. Not exactly the nicest way to die, but if not for His death and rising, this Christian holiday would not exist. Now I am aware that not everyone believes in these Biblical principles, but to tell my story today about culture, food and faith, it is essential to recount the aforementioned as well as a bit about my personal background.
I was raised a Protestant, mostly by my mother, since her father was born, raised and worked in the coal mines of Wales until he was twelve years old. I suppose he was tired of this dangerous and difficult life and like many, moved to America, and eventually met my maternal grandmother, a woman of English descent. I am sure that my own cultural background is why my mother believed in the faith that she did and raised us as such. The only thing was however, we did not attend church. So, my first church experiences were from my Catholic neighbors who had five children in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where I was born. So from them, I learned church songs that they sang in the Catholic Church and then I often mimicked them as I played church at home with my sister. We used the bathroom hamper as the pulpit in our small hallway.
When I was eight years old however, my parents moved us to a small, waterfront city in Massachusetts. There, most of my friends were Catholic and of Polish, Italian and Irish descent. A small percentage of them were Jewish and Jehovah Witnesses. So in this small, New England city of roughly 17,000 people, everyone knew everybody and no one cared what your background was. The multicultural, multireligious group that I hung with in mostly middle school, just wanted to do well in school, be in student government, have sleepovers on Friday nights and eat pizza at the local Papa Ginos when there was nothing else to do. My upbringing and childhood friendships provided me with such a culturally rich advantage, that I suppose this is why it is my choice to take my daughter to worship in a Catholic Church every Good Friday. Additionally, her biological Dad was of Polish and Czechoslovakian descent and he was raised Catholic.
I have always wanted my daughter to be aware of her roots on both sides of her family. So, starting in about the 6th grade, although I was teaching in a private, Protestant, and very Evangelical School, and she was attending there, we started driving to Hamtramck to delight in eating Polish food at Under The Eagle, and then buyng my birthday cake and other goodies at a local, Polish bakery. From there, we attended a Catholic Church that was having a Good Friday service. This has been our tradition for nine years now.
Today, my daughtger ate the Polish combination plate as I delved into the stuffed cabbage at The Polish American Restaurant, Wawel, at the corner of 15 Mile and Dequindre. We we sat in a large, square room with paintings hung high above us of Polish leaders for various decades. The elegant crystal chandeliers and other old, fashioned lighting towered above our heads. There were several window displays on one wall adjacent to us with samples of Polish, dance dress, dolls in authentic, Polish costume and an accordion. I said to my daughter, “See if you were raised in Poland, you would know how to play one of these fine instruments.” She did not appear as impressed as I was with the display as I was snapping away with my camera. We paid while admiring the ostentatious, I assume, hand carved, dark wooden entrance that appeared to be a twisting grape vine with delicately, carved wooden bunches of ornate grapes. The cashier said, “Thank you” in a very thick, Polish accent. The sound of her voice made my heart sing as I thought in my head, “I just love this part of Michigan. So many cultures right out my back door.”
We left and drove directly across the street to the Polish Market. Wow, of course it was incredibly crowded as we spied the long line to the left of us while looking at each other in surprise. My daughter said with excitment, “Come on Mom, you have to be part of the Polish experience.” So instead of trying to hunt down that Martha Stewart recipe for homemade pierogis in Living magazine somewhere on my shelf at home, we walked over to the frozen food freezer, opened the door and started repeating aloud, “Look, mushroom, cheese, potato and cheese,” when a woman behind us tapped my daughter on the shoulder. “You know, she said, there are homemade pierogis over there at the end of this cooler.” “Really,” we exclaimed. “I take a bit of bacon, some onions and sautee them together. Then I add the pierogis to it and put it all on a cooking sheet in the oven to heat it up.” So, that was soon the end of the frozen food freezer as we slammed the door and with a, “thanks so much,” dashed over to buy a dozen potato and cheddar pierogis. Next we walked and checked out the back room with its innumerable jars of sour cherries, “good for gout I thought,” and other jams, jellies and chocolate, liquer filled cups. We found our knotted egg rolls and and whole grain Warsaw bread while waiting in the long line and chatting at the same time with the other ladies in line. “Is is just me, I asked my daughter, or do you notice how other woman delight in the pastries, breads, rolls and lamb shaped butter more with their hands than with their eyes?” I could tell by her expression that she better understood my fascination with good, food from around the world. The line went fast and in a New York minute, we were on the road trying to find St. Blase.
“Gee, I said, I have never seen this neighborhood before as a sign for Sterling Heights popped up to the right of us. Darn, I passed it and of course, had to turn around.” The parking lot was packed and as we entered the back door. We knew we were late. Some people were sitting outside the churches glass doors, so we sat and listened to the sermon through a loudspeaker system. As others came in and decided to enter into the chapel, I said, “Let’s go in.” There are some seats over in the back. We sat, kneeled, prayed, sang and worshipped for an hour. I will admit that we did not take communion from the communal cup, since we are both concerned about germs and illness especially during a bad flu season. This is no disrespect to the Catholic Church, just a cold, hard reality in this Michigan, March season. As we were singing, I looked across the aisle and there was one of my former customers that I had taught Spanish to. She smiled as we silently mouthed a, “hello.”
We ended the day at home by baking carrot cake cupcakes with creamed cheese frosting. Then we decorated the cooled cakes with the new fake, green grass made of sugar, water and food coloring, jelly beans and yellow, marshmallow Peep chicks. I prepped the onions, caramelized them with sugar, Worsteshire sauce and a bit of bacon I crisped up in a frying pan. My daughter took a nap while I made sure the table was fully set with fine, china passed on by my mother-in-law, elegant wine goblets, and a basket filled with dyed eggs and a white bow made of taffeta.
Another Good Friday that may not happen next year, since my daughter is attending Western Michigan University in the Fall. I thought, “At least I have exposed her to her background and set the tradition for her to pass on for as long as she has lived here at home.” I do hope that she passes on the cultural experience out her back door with her children.
Hello, Hola, Bonjour, Buon giorno, Hallo,
Now available for download either per song or the entire CD on CD Baby. If you are interested in purchasing the entire CD from my website, please press buy now at the top of the screen. The link will take you to a PayPal account. You do not have to have PayPal to purchase a CD.
Would you agree that the Internet has provided
instantaneous opportunities for a connection between people and places who
would not otherwise be reachable through your back door? The World Wide Web, Skype
and Social Media are only a few examples of how society communicates with
others who live anywhere from hundreds to millions of miles away from one’s
homeland. Although the common language
in business is English, if you could communicate with professionals who work in
foreign markets in their native tongue, imagine the impact you would make upon
the people in your industry as well as in the country of your intended sale. The
reaction you might receive after repeated interaction with others in South
America, Germany, Italy, China or another country, just might ring, sale!! Of course, we all know that in business a
trusting relationship has to be developed between seller and buyer regardless
of the industry before a sale can occur. So why not develop that mutual relationship by
speaking some expressions or whole sentences and paragraphs to your clients in
their native tongue. Although bilingualism gives business people an edge in the
global marketplace, there are some underlying reasons why second language
learning is not always taken advantage of.
One reason why an individual might engage or disengage in
becoming bilingual according to Howard Gardner, the Harvard graduate who
invented the idea of multiple intelligences, is one’s attitude toward the
target language and culture. For
example, when you think of Italy, do you remember that tasty pasta primavera or
meaty lasagna you consumed over a candle lit table with your significant other
on your last anniversary celebration?
Do you remember the pristine, blue water you dove into in your hotel
pool in the Mayan Riviera? Or on the
other hand, do you remember the last time you were at a grocery store and two
women were conversing in a language other than English and it annoyed you? You might have felt that only English should
be spoken despite the native tongue of those chattering adults. Other factors abound as well according to
Do or Do Not Study a Modern Language
Such considerations include a person’s language
abilities, motivation, intelligence level or the stress associated with
becoming bilingual. In my own experience
as owner of a language school, adults do not invest in second language classes
because of time constraints or they think that if they are not going to use the
language, why learn it? That is a valid
point. According to a September, 2012
edition of The Rotarian magazine,
in an article entitled, Facts of the
Matter, Languages, however, the
more proficient a person is in a second language, the greater the chance of
dementia setting in at a later age. Bilingual people have also been found to be
able to ignore distractions better than monolinguals. Adult students from my own experiences take
language classes for a myriad of reasons.
The most popular reason are for travel purposes, grandchildren and
children adopted from Central America, academically oriented clients who want
to take on second and third languages or because learning a second or third
language is on their bucket list.
and Elementary Aged Children Should Engage in Second Language Learning
The aforementioned are only a few reasons why adults study
a modern language. On the other hand,
let’s talk about when and why children should and do take a second
language. Research supports that ages
zero to three are the best years for young ones to learn a second
language. Additional, impressionable
second language learning years are ages two to seven, and last, ages ten to
thirteen. The message therefore according
to research is, if a school system, parents or guardians are going to introduce
second and even a third language to a child’s daily curriculum, the earlier the
Why then are local school districts in the United States lacking
in early foreign language learning on the whole in comparison with countries
like those in Europe and many other parts of the world? Budget cuts may be the
reason, not to mention the fact that some parents may want their children to
learn a second language but the concern I have often heard is, “he/she needs to
be able to speak English first.” These
concerns are understandable, however because most of our children in the United
States are immersed in half or all day English-speaking daycare or school
programs, therefore the chances are that English will be learned regardless of
exposing children to a second language. Additionally, my personal experience as
a teacher has been that children learn language when they are cognitively ready
just like any other subject matter. It
is amazing to me how one week I might be working on the pronunciation of color
words in Spanish with sixteen month old children in groups of for example eight
or more at a time, and only two will be able to repeat the words as we sound
them out phonetically. Two weeks later,
perhaps three of the eight children are now able to pronounce new Spanish words. In three months time, most of the speakers are
now pronouncing the Spanish vocabulary that I teach. The progression is slow at first, but every
child is eventually able to learn the second language and be fluent in English
Teens Who Take a Modern Language
For tweens and teens, most are taking a second language
because they have to but most importantly, The Michigan State Board of
Education, The State Legislature and former Governor Jennifer Granholm passed
the two credit World Language Other than English requirement. The two credit mandate states that starting
with the graduating class of 2016, at least two credits of a world language or the
ability to demonstrate a two year proficiency
Despite the educational benefits of the modern language
requirement which are highly beneficial to Michigan students, think about why perhaps
the Michigan educational standards increased at the time of our former
governor’s time in office. At that time,
not only was Michigan the first state in the country to set the two credit
minimum for second language learning, but four years of math and English and
three years of science were also mandated.
My personal belief is that because the economic climate of this state
was in crisis mode and politicians were fearing that our high school graduates
were at risk for few employment opportunities, educational standards were
increased so that our Michigan graduates would be able to be hired after high
school and college graduation. That was
back in the year 2006.
Educational Standards In Danger of Being Reduced
Six years later, in an article entitled, Algebra
2, foreign language would be dropped from Michigan graduation requirements
under bill debated in House committee, published online in mlive.com on
May 30, 2012, written by Dave Murray, Lansing politicians are now debating
about whether to allow flexibility in districts by dropping the Algebra 2 and
foreign language mandates. One reason is so that students who are more trade
school oriented might be able to skip these requirements and concentrate on
subjects that interest and better prepare them for careers in a trade like plumbing,
electricity or auto mechanics. Two state
Board of Education members Eileen Weisner and Nancy Danhof disagreed however.
Weisner specifically stated that eighty percent of the fifty most fastest
growing jobs will require skills beyond high school. Forty percent will require a two year degree
beyond high school and about sixty-six percent of jobs will require a college
education according to the aforementioned online article.
Why is Lansing suddenly talking about the dropping the
foreign language and Algebra 2 mandate? I
have heard people in general say it is because not all students can learn a
second language or can handle the rigors of Algebra 2. Are these subjects now possibly not going to
be mandated by the state because the economy is slowly on the rise and job
shortages in 2012 are not in the imminent danger that they once were back in
2006? Is it because we have a new governor and the political climate has
changed since Governor Granholm? It seems in my opinion that an increase in
educational mandates rises and falls according to the economic times. When the economy is good and Michigan
citizens have jobs, then our educational system must be doing okay. When the
economic climate is in a desperate state, maybe we need to look at how
unprepared our school system is in this state? Is anyone out there seeing a
pattern like I am? Either keep the
mandates in this state or do not.
The above article seemed to sum it up well in my
opinion. State Representative Lisa Brown
of Bloomfield Hills said, “The odd thing is that just a couple of weeks ago
this committee had a unanimous vote to recommend districts start with foreign
languages in elementary schools. . .
The inconsistency is frustrating.”
I’ll say. If it is frustrating for those in Lansing,
imagine how difficult it is for those of us who teach modern languages and the
message we are sending our children.
Write back and tell me
what your opinion is? Do you believe that Michigan’s educational two credit
modern language mandate and its algebra 2 counterpart should remain or be taken
away and why? You can write me back on
my “La Blog” at www.languagecomplete.com.
Articles referred to in writing my article:
1.) Second Language Acquisition-Is a Vital Tool that Every Individual Needs To Have, downloaded 0n February 5, 2013,
2.) Motivation as a Contributing Factor in Second Language
Acquisition, by Jacqueline
Norris-Holt, jacquijapan at hotmail.com, Aichi Shukutoku High School, (Nagoya,
http://iteslj.org/Articles/Norris-Motivation.html, downloaded on February 5, 2013.
3.) Smithsonian, July/August 2010, Special Issue, 40 Things You Need to Know
About the Next 40 Years, Ready, Set,
Grow, pp. 60-69.
4.) Algebra 2, foreign language would be dropped from
Michigan graduation requirements under bill debated in House committee by Dave Murray, Published: May 30, 2012 downloaded on
March 5, 2013, http://www.mlive.com/education/
Would you agree that the Internet has provided instantaneous opportunities for a connection between people and places who would not otherwise be reachable through your back door? The World Wide Web, Skype and Social Media are only a few examples of how society communicates with others who live anywhere from hundreds to millions of miles away from one’s homeland. Although the common language in business is English, if you could communicate with professionals who work in foreign markets in their native tongues, imagine the impact you would make upon the people in your industry as well as in the country of your intended sale. The reaction you might receive after repeated interaction with others in South America, Germany, Italy, China or another country, just might ring, sale!! Of course, we all know that in business a trusting relationship has to be developed between seller and buyer regardless of the industry before a sale can occur. So why not develop that mutual relationship by speaking some expressions or whole sentences and paragraphs to your clients in their native tongue. Although bilingualism gives business people an edge in the global marketplace, there are some underlying reasons why second language learning is not always taken advantage of.
One reason why an individual might engage or disengage in becoming bilingual according to Howard Gardner, the Harvard graduate who invented the idea of multiple intelligences, is one’s attitude toward the target language and culture. For example, when you think of Italy, do you remember that tasty pasta primavera or meaty lasagna you consumed over a candle lit table with your significant other on your last anniversary celebration? Do you remember the pristine, blue water you dove into in your hotel pool in the Mayan Riviera? Or on the other hand, do you remember the last time you were at a grocery store and two women were conversing in a language other than English and it annoyed you? You might have felt that only English should be spoken despite the native tongue of those chattering adults. Other factors abound according to Gardner.
Such considerations include a person’s language abilities, motivation, intelligence level or the stress associated with becoming bilingual. In my own experience as owner of a language school, some adults do not invest in second language classes because of time constraints or they think that if they are not going to use the language, why learn it? That is a valid point. According to a September, 2012 edition of The Rotarian magazine, in an article entitled, Facts of the Matter, Languages, however, the more proficient a person is in a second language, the greater the chance of dementia not setting in at an early age. Bilingual people have also been found to be able to ignore distractions better than monolinguals.
These are only some of the reasons why second language learning is highly beneficial whether you are an adult in business, learning for fun, travel or to stay young in the mind into your later years. Stay tuned for more information on this article next week, posted in La Blog on my website page, www.languagecomplete.com.
Articles referred to in writing this article:
1.) Second Language Acquisition-Is a Vital Tool that Every Individual Needs to Have, downloaded on February 5, 2013, http://www.articlesbase.com/business-articles/second-language-acquisition-is-a-vital-tool.
2.) Motivation as a Contributing Factor in Second Language Acquisition, by Jacqueline Norris-Holt, jacquijapan at hotmail.com, Aichi Shukutoku High School, (Nagoya, Japan), http://iteslj.org/Articles/Norris-Motivation.html, dowloaded on February 5, 2013.
3.) Smithsonian, July/August 2010, Special Issue, 40 Things You Need to Know About the Next 40 Years, Ready, Set, Grow, pp. 60-69.
Thanks, Gracias, Merci, Grazie, Danke Schon,
Melanie Hendrick, Owner of Language Complete, Michigan Certified Spanish Teacher, MA in Teaching, WSU, Daycare Spanish Teacher in the Detroit Metro Area, Adult Spanish Enrichment Teacher in the Rochester School District, Ambassador to the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Member of the Auburn Hills Optimist Club
Hello, Hola, Guten Tag, Buon Giorno, Bonjour,
This is Language Complete’s Blog for the week of March 12, 2012. It is a poem written by the Owner, Melanie Hendrick, @all rights reserved
Feliz Día de San Patricio as well. (Pronounced, Fay-leeze Dee-uh Day Sahn Pah-tree-c-oh)
Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Well, almost.
For “Hello,” the Italians say “Buon giorno,”
The French utter, “Au revoir,” which means “Good-bye.”
Now did you know, “Hola” signifies “Hello” or “Hi?”
And if you visit Germany, “Tschuess” is the informal for “Good-bye.”
Why do I need to speak these foreign phrases you might ask yourself?
For Pete’s sake, if I ever need them, they’re in a book upon the library shelf.
But have you ever asked yourself what makes this world go round?
A smile may be international but world peace may come when you repeat someone else’s sound.
So learn a foreign language no matter what you do,
And when you are fluent, remember good things will come to you.
A job abroad, new friends or a higher score on a standardized test,
And remember when the benefits unfold, you’ll be a head above the rest.
Tengan buen fin de semana. Have a nice weekend.
We are offering packages that let you pre-pay for a number of weeks of lessons.