Tuesday, November 17, 2009
LONDON June 12-19, 2010
Many Americans have the feeling of coming home when they discover this land that is the mother country to many of our ancestors. Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge, Westminster Abby, Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Globe Theatre, some of the most amazing museums in the world, the Tube, the River Thames, cream tea, shortbread, meat pies, homes of some of English literature’s greats, and on and on!
PARIS June 19-26
Often called the Pearl of Europe and the City of Lights, this gem has probably inspired more songs and literature than any other city. Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, the Palace of Versailles, the Latin Quarter with its sidewalk artists, the Arche de Triomphe and Champs Elysées…not to mention the obligatory sidewalk cafés, croissants, pastries, baguettes, cheese. (Oops, got a little side-tracked there.…) One evening will be spent with local Parisian friends over dinner, comparing our impressions of each other’s culture, laughing at ourselves, and learning to appreciate the inherent beauty of every culture.
AMSTERDAM June 26 - July 3
One of the most charming cities in all of Europe, Amsterdam has a character all its own. Journey back to the Golden Age of the Netherlands, when Amsterdam was one of the largest and most powerful commercial cities in the world. Visit the world-famous Rijksmuseum, home of the Dutch Masters, as well as the amazing Van Gogh Museum. Take a boat ride on the city's intricate canal system while admiring the charm of the 17th and 18th century row houses that line the canals. Visit the historic home of Anne Frank, as well as the Ten Boom house in Haarlem, made famous in Corrie ten Boom's moving book, The Hiding Place. Experience the world's largest tulip fields and greenhouses, as well as the home of the famous Delft Blue China. And spend an evening over dinner with local Amsterdammers and learn the meaning of gezelligheid (hint: coziness to the max).
As mentioned above, travelers will have the choice of joining us for one, two, or all three consecutive weeks in three of Europe's greatest cultural capitals.
It's time to start planning (and saving) now! To get on our mailing list to receive updates, just click here and enter your name and e-mail address in the form on the right side of the page.
Join the culturally curious for an unforgettable adventure!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I was living in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, where an American associate of mine told me of a time when she had gotten lost on a weekend outing in Germany. This was back in the late 60’s, when far fewer Germans spoke English than do today. She would stop in each village and look for someone who spoke English and could point her back to her intended route. At each stop, she would ask (in a much louder voice than necessary – something many of us tend to do, as if the other person were hard of hearing):
“DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?”
– only to be answered with “Nein, es tut mir Leid.” (No, I’m sorry.) This went on for some time, until finally, in one last desperate attempt, she approached a middle-aged gentleman who she thought surely knew at least enough English to bail her out of her predicament. In an emphatic and over-articulate voice, she pleaded,
“SIR, DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?” -- to which the gentleman replied with matching emphasis and intensity:
He was with the American military and stationed in southwestern Germany, one of the largest American communities outside the United States at the time.
Let’s face it – English speakers do not enjoy a reputation of being particularly multilingual. After all, they don’t need to be – take the Americans, for example: their neighbors to the north speak English, to the east and west is ocean, and to the south – well, there are enough Mexicans in the tourist industry who speak English that it’s not a necessity to speak Spanish. And what of the thousands of Hispanics who now call the US home? Well, they have to learn English if they want to survive, right?
Compare this to the Dutch, for example, in whose country I lived for five and a half years; if they want to be understood anywhere outside their small country (with the exception of Belgium and a handful of Caribbean islands), they have to learn at least one other language. This is most often English, followed by German and French. In fact, many European high school students study more than one foreign language at a time.
There’s no question that one can get by with English in much of the world – which is a fact that doesn’t exactly have a motivating effect upon anglophones to learn a foreign language.
Now let’s be honest – most of us have hidden behind this fact as an excuse not to study a foreign language. Not only that, we have also somehow convinced ourselves that Americans (and while we’re at it, we may as well add Brits, Australians and New Zealanders, all island nations, interestingly enough) are simply not good at learning another language.
This is not necessarily true, nor does it have to be.
In the 21st century, where globalization has reduced the size of the planet we live on, our excuses not to learn another language hold less and less water. The only reason we’re not good at it is the mysterious and formidable power of suggestion; and if we are capable of convincing ourselves that we’re a lost cause, then surely we are capable of the inverse. As a matter of fact, there are lots of us who are living proof. We’re also proof that learning a foreign language not only opens up new microcosms of the brain, but also opens up a whole new macrocosm waiting to be discovered and explored. Learning another language isn’t simply about forming sentences like assembling a machine with a new set of tools; it’s about discovering entire cultures behind the language. The more we resist the idea, the more we deprive ourselves of untold riches.
It’s like suddenly being able to see in vivid color what you once only saw in black and white.
What follows are some tips on how to approach learning a foreign language that will not only make the process make more sense, but also make it a little less painful, and – who knows – you may even find yourself hooked for life, as is the case with yours truly. Some of the tips might seem like no-brainers; but you might be surprised how a simple mental shift can make a world of difference.
(The above content is copyrighted material and may not be used or reprinted without written consent from its author.)
Friday, October 9, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
When music producer Mark Johnson came across street singer Roger Ridley's soulful voice in Los Angeles a few years ago, he had a brainstorm: record and film Ridley's raw and powerful rendition of an international hit such as "Stand By Me", then add voices and instruments from around the world to the arrangement. 40 people, to be exact -- from nations ranging from Nepal to South Africa, from France to India -- who have still never met each other. The "Stand By Me" video has gone viral on YouTube and is one of ten songs on the collection called Playing for Change, all produced by Johnson with his extremely mobile recording equipment.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
One of my favorite travel hosts is Rick Steves, mainly because of his infectious passion for discovery and his admiration of cultural diversity. In his latest blog, he talks about being inspired all over again by his daughter's current travels through Spain -- and 'their unbridled fun -- not gumming the culture, but tearing into it with carnivorous teeth and selfish abandon.'
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Artist Luke Jerram wants to awaken Londoners from their humdrum daily routine and add a little music to the urban atmosphere. Jerram has had 30 pianos placed at well-known locations such as St. Paul's Cathedral, Millenium Bridge and the Liverpool Street Station. Called "Play Me, I'm Yours," the project is produced by a nonprofit called Sing London and City of London Festival. The pianos are intended for passers-by to perform impromptu recitals -- whether beginners or accomplished pianists -- anyone inclined to tickle the ivories. The instruments come complete with songbooks and are locked to the nearest bench or railing. They are also customized to fit their surroundings; at the Royal Exchange, for example, the piano has money printed on it.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
One of the services we offer through World to the Wise is a travel portal where you can get great deals on flights, hotels, cruises, rental cars, condos and more. It works just the same as the other travel sites out there -- only if you use this site, you'll be contributing in your own way to World to the Wise and our upcoming projects.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
The one person who posted an answer on this blog guessed what you might expect: the US. You may be surprised to know that per capita, the US is number five on that list -- with Austria in first place. Numbers two, three and four, respectively, are: Cayman Islands, Denmark and New Zealand.
In total numbers, however, more people do die of obesity in the US than any other nation, followed by Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Austria.
Today the only relief was that none of the royal family were injured when an unknown Dutchman drove his car through the parade barricades as the royal family passed by in an open bus. Four people were killed, however, and several more injured.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Imagine the hustle and bustle of morning rush hour and the accompanying noise -- like any other day -- being suddenly interrupted by the wail of a siren. The overpowering sound of the siren then gives way to complete silence, as drivers get out of their cars, pedestrians stop in their tracks, and all that is heard is the wind as everyone stands stone still for two long minutes of silent remembrance.
That's exactly what happened today as Israelis, joined by other Jews around the world, stopped to remember when the unthinkable happened. Thousands -- Holocaust survivors, teenagers, Jews and a few Gentiles, joined in the March of the Living at Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland, where 1.1 million people, 90% of whom were Jews, were exterminated by the Nazi regime.
Any Jewish parent wants his or her children to know about and remember the Holocaust.
How about you, my Gentile friend?
Monday, April 20, 2009
What European country is nicknamed the "singing nation"?
In this country, it is unusual to find a single person who has not sung in a choir or some other kind of vocal ensemble. Every few years, all of this country's choirs gather together for the Song Festival with thousands of singers present.
The daina, or folk song, has defined this nation's identity for hundreds of years. Dating back well over a millenium, over 1.2 million texts and over 30,000 melodies have been identified.
What country is it?
Friday, April 17, 2009
Who knew ten years ago that a yellow sponge who lives in a place called Bikini Bottom would become a staple of American pop culture? One week last month, nine of the top twenty top TV cable spots were occupied by the bipolar Bob and his friends Patrick, Squidward, Sandy Cheeks and others.
I was drawn in a couple of years ago when my son, now 17, was becoming a fan. Part of the genius of this creation by former marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg is its multi-layered humor that appeals to every age group. According to Nickelodeon, 45 million people over the age of 18 are regular watchers. SpongeBob is the second longest running Nicktoon ever, after The Rugrats.
Click here to see a great video on the actors behind the voices of Spongebob Squarepants, or if you're reading this on facebook, go to http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103170924.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
If you're considering joining us for the inaugural World to the Wise Cultural Tour, here's something else to tempt you: step for a day into the magical microworld of Alsace, the region in the northeast corner of France which has gone back and forth between Germany and France for generations.
Alsace is a region like no other: although it is part of France and everyone speaks French, the German influence is everywhere -- including the storybook architecture seen in this photo. And even though all Alsatians are French, they have managed to preserve their own language over the years, which actually resembles Swiss German as much as anything.
The largest city in Alsace is Strasbourg, dubbed the Crossroads of Europe. This gem of a city is indeed of crossroads of diplomatic, high-tech, educational and religious communities: it is the seat of the European Parliament, the University of Strasbourg, and, as far as France is concerned, a rare coexistence of the Catholic and Protestant traditions.
And we won't set foot in Alsace without sampling the famous tarte flambée (flammekueche in Alsatian) -- a delicious, thin-crusted pizza with crème fraîche, bacon and onions, baked in a wood-burning oven.
Care to join us? Visit www.worldtothewise.net to find out more!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Would you like to be part of our very first group experience? Years later you’ll be able to look back and say, “I was there!”
DATES: May 15-25, 2009
We’ll spend the majority of the time in Paris, taking in the sights Paris is obviously known for — the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, Eiffel Tower, etc. — but we’ll also benefit from specially planned events where opportunity is given to interact with some of our Parisian friends — music, dialogue and laughter are essential ingredients at World to the Wise! As we discover more about French culture — its past and present, we’ll find ourselves understanding our own culture better as a result.
In addition to taking in the City of Lights, we’ll also take 2-3 day trips out from Paris to show you some of the diversity of the nation. It would be a mistake to assume that all of France is like Paris — just as Americans would be quick to say that New York is not representative of the rest of the US!
This is a great time to travel — the US dollar is in a relative position of strength and will go farther than it would have even a few months ago. The total cost, including airfare, is $3250. In addition to airfare, this includes 9 nights in a boutique hotel, ground transportation both in and outside Paris, two meals per day, museums, and special events.
Because of the shortness of time (for which we sincerely apologize — many of the details have taken some time to fall into place), we need you to reserve your spot as quickly as possible. You may do so by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by leaving your name and e-mail address in the comment section of this blog. We must have at least 10 participants register by Thursday, April 9 in order to make this happen. Half of the total cost will be due at that time. We will communicate all details, including flight and deposit information, immediately upon hearing from you.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you do not have a passport, you should apply for one IMMEDIATELY. Get information here.
We look forward to hearing from you and creating this adventure together!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
For the first time, Melea will be performing a live tele-Storynight tomorrow (Thursday, Feb. 26) at 9:00 pm Eastern time. No matter where you are, you'll be able to listen in -- from your car, your home phone, or your computer. Melea has such an engaging manner about her that adults as well as children are drawn in -- and you'll find her stories charged with meaning.
All you have to do is go here to register.
Make a fire and some hot chocolate, gather the kids or friends, unplug the iPod and tune into Melea instead. It will be one of those moments suspended in time.