New Orleans

New Orleans French Quarter Architecture

New Orleans is one of the most unique, distinct and cultured places you can find in America.  It has been infuenced by French, American Indian, and African traditions.  You can find this in the various styles of music from New Orleans, most notably Jazz, which has its birthplace in the Crescent City.  You can also see these influences in the styles of architecture, the food and the language.  I continue to see many similiarities between New Orleans and Bahia, which would make an interesting presentation in the future.

Although New Orleans has a rich and vibrant history, it has also suffered through many tumultuous periods.  Most recently New Orleans was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, which cost countless of people not only their homes but also theire birthplace as they had no choice but to move away from New Orleans in search of beginning a life elsewhere.  The federal government did very little to help them to return.  They failed miserably in the wake and aftermath of Katrina.  This is the subject of the excellent documentary we viewed in class, When the Levees Broke by renowned filmmaker Spike Lee.

Nevertheless, Many have the feeling that New Orleans will–and has already–begun to flourish again despite Katrina.  Knowing its history, I agree that will happen.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit some places in America, make sure New Orleans is one of those places.

Louis Armstrong

Presentations!

boring-presentation

Friday

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend Friday’s class.  However, I must thank Ken for providing this synopsis.  You the bomb!

The Giboski sisters, Giovanna and Camilla, provided us with an interesting and insightful look into a state in the south of Brazil that they call home: Rio Grande do Sur.  Giovanna and Camilla took us through an historical journey which discussed serious issues, such as nationalism, colonization and war.  Afterwards, they wet our tastebuds with images of churrasco and wine.  Finally, they opened our eyes to the rich culture of the south, filled with festivals and traditions whose roots began in Europe.  The sisters gave an excellent presentation and I’m sure the office of tourism for Rio Grande do Sur thanks them.

Thursday

On Thursday, Carol delivered an informative and uplifting presentation about something good that McDonald’s does.  Even though they are known for some questionable labor practices, it was good to find out they do have some outreach programs, such as Ronald McDonald’s house which provides support to families who children are undergoing medical problems.  She explained how the organization provides homes for families to stay in while their children are being attended to along with many other services which they provide.  I was surprised to find out how many countries have Ronald McDonald houses, over 24 serving 6000 families.  Thanks Carol for teaching us about this, and maybe next time you go to Mickey D’s you can drop some money into the RMD house.

Our second presenter for Thursday was Guillermo, talking about International business in the context of globalization.  He provided us with a brief history of the exchange of business between Europe and the Americas in the 1500s.  Next, he led us through the world of Merck, a pharmaceutical company known around the world.  After that, he discussed both the positive and negative effects of international business, including the generation of new technology and environmental destruction.  It was a well thought-out presentation, and Guillermo’s oratorical skills really impressed me

Wednesday

Rodas, mestres, berimbaus, jogos e gingas.  Well, Andrea isn’t from Bahia, but the Afro-Brazilian art form —CAPOEIRA– is.  Again I can only say that these presentations have all been excellent.  Andrea took us on a little historical ride through one of the most beautiful of Brazil’s cultural products. We learned about the origin of Capoeira, how it began with the slaves who were trying to defend themselves from the Portuguese, how the elements of dance and music were introduced, how it was first shunned, then accepted by many Brazilians.  He also taught us about the different schools of Capoeira.  Then we watched a video and we got to see exactly how beautiful and precise the rhythms of this mysterious and ancient art form are.  I’d like to thank Andrea for his professionalism and for teaching us all about Capoeira.

Tuesday

Today another great presentation was given.  Our speaker today was the man from Bahia: Karib!  Karib spoke about hunger programs.  He incorporated a very funny and ironic video about tomatoes, thumbs and human intelligence whose main point was human beings are celebrated for their intelligence, yet given a a dire situation such as world starvation and all of a sudden we look pretty stupid because of our lack to lend a helping hand.  He supported his presentation with a lot of interesting statistics including a law which I hadn’t heard of before that protects people from being liable shoud they donate food which  ends up not being good.   Perhaps the best thing about his presentation was the ending when he gave us the names and numbers of some local food organizations who will collect extra food from you and redistribute it to those who need it.  Thanks so much for that information Karib.  I hope everyone can put it to good use.

Monday

This is the week I know that you’ve all been waiting for: Presentations!  Ha!  Yesterday we had our first presentation given by Nelio Cruz.  I thought it was a really interesting, informative and academic presentation about the topic of Ethnocentrism.  He spoke about the history of ethnocentrism from the time of Colombus, continuing hundreds of years later with the Second War, and finally, making a connection to the present time arguing that just because we live in a globalized world does not mean that we have gotten rid of ethnocentrism.  I would like to thank him for all the time and effort he put into his presentation, but mostly I would like to thank him for those delicious sandwiches!  I hope the rest of the presentations continue to be this interesting…and tasty!

History of American Music

For two of the class days this week we listened to songs from the 1930s up to the early 60s.  Most of it was blues based.  For example, we head a song called Stop Breakin’ Down Blues by Robert Johnson who was one of the first blues masters.  He was from Mississippi.  So was Muddy Waters whose song Rolling Stone inspired a group from England to take the title of that song as the name for their group.  We also heard an old country song by Hank Williams called “Jambalaya,” which sounded radically different than the previous two songs.  The next day we heard Frankie Lymon, the original Michael Jackson.  His voice was powerful for a boy of 13 years old.  I’ll post those and the other songs we heard here.  Please feel free to leave your comments and opinions concerning them.