Open Forum 1
Hi! I’d like to welcome all of you to the international student orientation at Norwalk College. I hope that your travels from your home country have been easy and that you all are settling in well. I believe I’ve met everyone, but just in case, I’m the director for international student affairs—the person you can come to if you are having problems with your classes, your housing, visas… even if you just want someone to talk to. You are always welcome to stop by my office.
We’ll have several short workshops today and will be talking about some common issues that international students face. The first one that I want to deal with is about communication, and in particular, non-verbal communication.
Now all of you have been studying English for some time. You have a good vocabulary, and you probably know all about verb tenses and modals, and can ask directions, and order from a menu. But communication is not only verbal. That is, talking is not the only language we use to communicate. Another way we communicate is through non-verbal communication, or body language.
The term body language means the movements we use and the facial expressions we have (like smiling or frowning), the way we sit or stand, the way we touch or look at someone, the distance we stand from another person. Some psychologists say that more than 60% of our communication is actually done through body language. We do it without thinking, or without ever having been specifically taught what the gestures or expressions mean. The problem is that body language is a little bit different in each culture and this can often cause some problems with communication.
Here’s an example. In many places it may be a little rude or disrespectful to look at another person directly in their eyes as you talk with them, so many international students will avoid this eye contact. But in America, we expect it. We think of eye contact as a sign of honesty and straight-forwardness. American parents actually encourage their children to look people in the eye when speaking. Just imagine a conversation where an international student was trying to be respectful by not looking into the eyes of her American classmate. The American might wonder why her classmate wouldn’t look directly at her, and the international classmate would be wondering why she was being stared at. The end result is an awkward and frustrating interaction.
Here’s another one. Americans shake hands ﬁrmly when they greet each other because to Americans, a ﬁrm handshake signiﬁes strength and power. But a soft or limp handshake is considered a sign of weakness. In some cultures, handshakes are less common, or a gentle, soft handshake is acceptable. So students need to know that when shaking hands, it’s important to be ﬁrm.
In America, a “thumbs up” sign—a thumb raised in the air—is a sign of a good job. Also, a thumb and forefinger together with the other fingers straight means “okay.” Be careful though. In other countries like Germany, Brazil, or Japan this “okay” symbol can have other meanings. So be aware of who you’re talking to when you use this gesture.
Here’s another important one. In America, holding hands and kissing are reserved for people in love. In fact, Americans generally do not touch each other, and they like to keep distance between them and the person who they’re speaking with. But there are many exceptions. For instance, friends, especially women, might hug when saying goodbye, and small children often hold hands.
I’m going to hand out a list of some common examples of non-verbal communication that are specific to American culture. Now, I don’t want you to panic. You don’t need to know all of these examples of body language. It’s more important just to be aware of differences in body language between cultures. If you’re not sure what a gesture means, it’s okay to ask.
Oh! I forgot an important example of body language. If ever you’re worried about your ability to communicate, there is one gesture that is the same in every country. Everywhere around the world, people use the smile to communicate pleasure and happiness. So smile as often as you want to, because it is an expression understood by everyone!
Now, our next speaker is Molly Wilcox. She’s the head of the ESL department. And she’ll tell you about the ESL courses and the placement exam. Thank you very much for your attention.
A = Teacher, B = Student 1, C = Student 2
A: By now you should be finished reading all of Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. So today I want to review the play and focus on one of the characters: Juliet. I think that Juliet really makes this love story interesting and I want to talk about why.
A lot of people think of Shakespeare as an author who wrote novels that people read. But Shakespeare never actually wrote books; he wrote plays meant to be acted. So as we look at Romeo and Juliet, I want you to imagine that the story is performed by actors, not read quietly to yourself.
As you know, the story of Romeo and Juliet happens in Verona, Italy and is a very old story. Two important families, the Montagues and the Capulets, are enemies. They’re very angry with each other. Romeo Montague falls in love with Juliet Capulet. So from the start, we know that this relationship is going to have some very big problems. And it does.
Can anyone give me a quick summary of the story?
B: Well, Romeo and Juliet… they get married… secretly. And only Romeo and Juliet and their priest know about the wedding. After the wedding, Romeo gets in a fight and kills Juliet’s cousin and so he has to leave Verona. Then Juliet’s parents tell her that she has to get married to another man, a guy named Paris. So the priest and Juliet make a plan.
A: And what is their plan?
B: Well, Juliet will pretend she’s dead to avoid the wedding with Paris. But unfortunately, Romeo doesn’t know that she is actually alive, and he rushes back to Verona. When Romeo sees Juliet’s body and thinks she’s really dead, he kills himself. Then Juliet wakes up, and, when she sees Romeo’s dead body, she kills herself, too.
A: Good. Very good summary!
Now Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s earlier plays. It’s really a favorite of many, many people. Both Romeo and Juliet are very well developed characters. They have real emotions and personality. They come alive as we watch or read the play. So, let’s take a closer look at Juliet. What did you think of her?
C: I really liked her. I was kind of surprised how strongly she loved Romeo. She went against her whole family so she could be with him.
A: Exactly! But notice that she doesn’t start off as this strong young woman. Juliet changes in the story. When we first meet Juliet, she’s a 13 year old girl. She’s quiet and she usually does what her parents want her to do. At the beginning of the play she’s a ”good girl.” She wants to please her family. But by the end of the play, Juliet moves from being this young girl to being an independent, mature young woman. Juliet’s independence is almost shocking. For instance, she tells her parents that she will not marry Paris, the man they’ve chosen for her. She questions why Romeo must be an enemy to her family. Juliet even asks Romeo to marry her! All of this was very unusual for a girl in the sixteenth century. But Juliet knows who she loves; she is even willing to die for her love of Romeo.
Here’s another thing. Juliet grows more mature in the story. She knows the danger of her relationship with Romeo. For instance, Juliet tells Romeo to be careful when he is outside her balcony talking of love. Juliet also realizes that their relationship can never be happy. Several times in the play, she even refers to her own death. It is Juliet’s growing maturity and independence that make her such an interesting character. She’s changing… becoming stronger each day.
Now Romeo and Juliet is a tragic, horribly sad story. But it has some universal themes of love and youth. It’s been produced many, many times for stage and cinema. And it’s my opinion that the strong and beautiful Juliet is the character who makes this love story so popular.
Now can anyone tell me…
A = Radio announcer
B: Dr. Jennifer White
A: Today on The Natural World, we’re proﬁling the naturalist, Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, who passed away on May 17th, 2004, at the age of 97. Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer was the naturalist who discovered an extremely rare ﬁsh called the ”coelacanth” in 1938 and introduced it to the scientific world. With us is Dr. Jennifer White, a biologist from New Haven, Connecticut. She is going to talk about Latimer’s discovery. Welcome Jennifer.
B: Thank you! Well, Ms. Courtenay-Latimer was a really wonderful woman, and she lived a long and interesting life. She was the curator of a small museum in the town of East London in South Africa, and during her life, she collected many, many kinds of animals. But her discovery of a coelacanth was truly amazing!
A: Tell us what she found.
B: Well, the year was 1938. She had an agreement with a local ﬁsherman that she could look through his catch- that is, the ﬁsh that he caught during the day—and if the ﬁsherman caught anything interesting, she was allowed to take it for her museum.
So one day she went down and she looked through the pile of fish and found nothing. Just as she was leaving, she saw an unusual-shaped blue-colored ﬁn poking out of the pile. She pushed away the rest of the fish and pulled this large blue fish out. Right away, she knew that this fish was different. She asked to take it back to her museum. Apparently she had a hard time convincing a taxi driver to let her bring this 5-foot dead fish in the car!
A: Did Marjorie know what she had found? Did she realize how important her discovery was?
B: Well, she knew it was something special, but she didn’t know what. When she got back to her lab, she couldn’t find anything like it in her books. She wondered if it might be a coelacanth, but the idea seemed impossible. According to her books, the coelacanth no longer existed. They had been extinct for 65 million years! She wrote to Dr. Smith, a professor interested in ichthyology—that’s the study of fish—to see what he thought. She drew a little picture and described it as a 127-pound fish with thick scales and fins that look like arms and legs. She wrote that there was no skeleton but that there was a soft, oil-filled tube in its back.
A: What did the professor say?
B: He was very excited when he got the letter and he came down to see the fish. And he decided that it was in fact a coelacanth. He named it Latimeria Chalumnae after Marjorie Latimer and Chalumnae because that was the name of the river near where it was found.
A: Tell us what a coelacanth is and why it might be important.
B: Well, coelacanth fossils are dated to as much as 400 million years ago. So coelacanth are even older than the dinosaurs. They seemed to have disappeared around the same time as dinosaurs… about 65 million years ago. It’s just incredible that an animal assumed to be long gone could actually still be living.
The coelacanth is a very strange fish, though. It’s got some things that are quite different from modern fish. For instance, it has a jelly-filled organ called a ”rostral organ.” This is the only living creature with this organ. It also has an incredibly small brain—smaller than any other animal we know of. I suppose the small brain size hasn’t hurt the fish, since the coelacanth has clearly survived for millions of years.
A: So do coelacanths only live off the coast of Africa?
B: Well, we thought so until not too long ago. In 1998, an American couple was on their honeymoon in Indonesia when they found a coelacanth at a fish market there. Instead of the blue color, as the fish around Africa were, this fish was brownish- gold colored. Again, it was an amazing discovery. Scientists offered a small reward for coelacanth and asked to be notified if a fisherman ever caught one. Ten months later, they were told of a coelacanth that was actually still alive. They had a chance to swim next to it before it died.
A: Incredible! Thank you so much for sharing this story of an amazing fish and the woman who first discovered it. I want to let our listeners know that there are now organizations to help save the coelacanth from being killed by fishermen. Instead of finding new coelacanths for research, we are trying to preserve the ones that are alive.
A = Student 1
B = Student 2
A: Hi! are you busy?
B: No, I just finished watching this really interesting documentary on TV about a guy named Clive Wearing. He’s a man from England with terrible amnesia.
A: You mean he forgets things?
B: Right. He lost his memory. He had encephalitis— this virus that destroyed the part of his brain that controls memory. It happened over 20 years ago. Since then, he can’t remember anything further back than about 7 seconds.
A: Really?! He can only remember things for seven seconds? Does he know his name?
B: Yeah, He knows his name and he knows who his wife, Deborah, is. I think he knows that he has kids from his first marriage, but he doesn’t recognize them or know their names. He lives at a center for people with brain injuries. It was really amazing, though. He has signs around his room reminding him where he is. And he can’t really leave the center because he might get lost or hurt. He has to have someone to care for him all the time.
A: That’s so strange, and it’s so sad too. Does he know what happened to him?
B: Kind of. He knows that he was sick, but to him —since his memory pretty much erases every seven seconds—every moment feels like his first moment following the illness. So, like, he wakes up in the morning and is excited to be alive. He writes in his journal: “7:30, I’m awake for the first time.” Then a few minutes later, he has forgotten his previous waking and now has a new feeling of being awake. So he crosses out the earlier sentence and writes something like, “7:38, hooray! I’m really awake now.” And then he’ll cross that out and write, “7245, now is when I’m truly awake. “And over and over.
In this program, he saw the cameraman and the producer and said, “You’re the first people I’ve seen in 20 years.” And then his wife came in and he was excited because he thought he hadn’t seen her in 20 years either. They hugged and kissed as if it was a 20 year reunion. But really, she’d been there just a few minutes before.
A: Wow. That’s crazy! I can’t even imagine what that must be like for her.
B: Well, she was only in her 20s when he got sick. They’d just been married for around a year! I would’ve thought that she’d leave him, but actually they’re still very close.
A: That’s amazing that they are still together. I don’t know if I would be able to do that.
B: I think she spent a lot of time with him for the first 10 years or so. She organized charities and tried to get good treatment for him. Once she got him into the new center, she decided she had to move on. She moved to the U.S. and got divorced from him. I think she dated other people but she was never able to get Clive out of her head. I guess she finally accepted how much she loves him and how she can’t be with him and can’t be away from him either. She moved back to England. A few years ago they got married again. Now she visits him all the time. He always asks when she’s coming and asks her to “Please get here at dawn. Get here at the speed of light. “They’re still so in love.
A: That’s so sweet. What about his kids? How do they deal with their father?
B: Well his kids are adults now. They said that it’s hard to visit him. He enjoys their company when they visit, but he can’t actually remember who they are. And, of course, he doesn’t remember that they ever came. So in a way, it doesn’t matter much whether or not they do visit.
A: Wow. What does he do all day?
B: Well, he doesn’t read books because he has trouble remembering the sentence before. It’s the same with television programs or movies. He can’t follow a story line. But he does like to watch sports since he can enjoy it without remembering the previous events.
One other really interesting thing. He was a brilliant musician before he got sick. Amazingly, after the encephalitis destroyed his memory, he still had his musical skills. For some reason, he can still play the piano. He spends a lot of his day at the piano. It’s actually music that gives him a lot of comfort and satisfaction in his life.
B: That’s an amazing story! I hope I can see the program sometime.
A = Professor
B = Daniel
A: Thank you. That was a very interesting presentation on Louis Leakey. Just give your report to me at the end of class. Okay, Daniel Acosta will be giving our final presentation of the day. Who will you be presenting on?
B: I’d like to present the famous anthropologist, Margaret Mead, to our class.
A: Excellent! Take it away!
B: Margaret Mead is well-known as one of the world’s most famous anthropologists. She brought cultural anthropology to the American public. She helped us to understand the importance of culture and I think she’s truly worth learning about.
Margaret Mead was born in 1901 in Philadelphia, and she was the child of well-educated parents. Margaret didn’t attend elementary school but was educated at home. For instance, her mother and grandmother would ask her to observe nature to learn about science or to record the behavior of her sisters to learn about psychology. This early education set her on a path towards the social sciences. Later, she entered Barnard College and began studying psychology. She earned her PhD in anthropology from Columbia University in 1929. At Columbia University, Margaret met Frank Boas and Ruth Benedict, two very famous anthropologists. Dr. Boas and Dr. Benedict saw that Margaret was very intelligent and interested in anthropology, and they encouraged her to become an anthropologist too.
During the early 1900s, there was an American and European idea that Western civilization was better than other civilizations. Many western people believed that American or European culture was advanced and that other cultures were very basic, primitive, and immature. The other cultures weren’t valued or respected by westerners. Margaret Mead did not feel this way; she was a cultural relativist. That is, she believed that anthropology should be scientific, and that anthropologists should observe cultures neutrally. That means anthropologists should study other people and other cultures without judgment, without the idea that they weren’t as good as western culture. She believed that all cultures were valuable.
Although it was unusual for young women in the 1920s to travel alone, Margaret convinced her professor’ Frank Boas’ to let her study Cultures in the south Pacific islands of Pago Pago, Samoa, and Papua New Guinea. During her trips to these islands, she observed everything. She learned the language, took notes, and interviewed many people. This way of studying and describing a culture is called” ethnography.”
Margaret Mead found the Samoan culture particularly interesting. She studied girls in Samoa, and learned that the girls there had a less stressful life than American girls. In many ways, the Samoan girls had more freedom. She found that becoming a woman was different in Samoa than in the U.S. because the cultures had different ideas about what girls and women should be like. She found that culture affects and changes our personalities. Mead published a book in 1928 entitled Coming of Age in Samoa. Usually ethnographies like this are only read by other anthropologists, but Mead’s book was a bestseller. She became very popular after this book was published.
Mead became a professor of anthropology, and she also worked for many years in the American Museum of Natural History in NewYork City. She was the head of several important anthropology and science organizations, and she published over 20 books. She was very popular in her time and is still well-known as an important anthropologist. After she died in 1978, President Carter awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
One thing that makes me really like Margaret Mead is that she was very progressive. She was in favor of freedom and tolerance of all people. She supported civil rights and believed that humans could do really good things if they work together. She thought that ideas of racism or war were cultural and that people could learn better ways to live. Most importantly, she strongly believed that modern Americans could learn from other cultures. In 1928 she wrote,” As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate lovingly, our own.”
A = Financial Advisor
B = Stacey Lloyd
A: Good afternoon! How can I help you?
B: Hi. My name is Stacey Lloyd, I’ve been a member of this bank for about five years. I’m interested in opening an investment account here, but I don’t know much about investing.
A: Okay, well I’m the right person to come to. I’m a financial advisor and I help people start investing in stocks, bonds, CDs, mutual funds…
B: I don’t even know what half those things are!
A: That’s okay. That’s what I’m here for. Tell me a little bit about your goals. Then I can tell you about some of the options.
B: Well, I just got a raise and I want to start saving some money. I want a better place to keep my money than my savings account.
A: OK. So you already know that your money in your savings account doesn’t earn you very much interest. It’s very safe, but it’s not a good place to grow your money. What are you saving your money for?
B: Well, I know it’s a long way off, but I’d like to buy a house one day—maybe in five or ten years.
A: Okay! Now’s actually a very good time to begin saving for a big expense like a house. Before we talk about that, do you have any debt—credit cards or loans? Money that you owe?
B: Yeah, I used to spend a lot of money with my credit card. I’m still working on paying it off.
A: That might be the best place to start, then. Almost always, people with credit card debt should pay it off before investing their money in other ways. The interest, that’s the amount of money you pay your credit card company for the use of their money, is very high—often 10 or even 20 percent. You really can’t invest your money in stocks or bonds and expect to do better than just paying off your credit card.
B: Really? I never thought about it like that. But that makes sense.
A: After you pay off your credit card debt, look for accounts that will keep your money safe while it grows. If you are planning to use the money in less than 5 years, I recommend a Certiﬁcate of Deposit—a CD. You can get a CD at any bank. Right now you’ll earn about 4 percent. It’s always changing though. I’ve seen it as low as 1 percent and as high as 8 percent. CDs are not very exciting, but they’re a good, safe place to keep your money. You invest in CDs for a certain amount of time—6 months, a year, two years. The problem is that you can’t take your money out until the time is done.
B: So I can’t write checks from it. What if I need the money sooner?
A: No, if you want an account where you can easily get to your money and use it, I’d suggest a money market checking account. That’s an investment account that you can use like a checking account. The problem is that the rate isn’t usually as high. Right now, it’s around 1 or 2 percent.
B: OK. What else is there that is safe, but earns well?
A: Good question. You could also consider a U.S. Treasury bill, or note. Those are investments you make in the U.S. Treasury. Some can have pretty good interest rates. And again, you need to be able to leave your money there for a length of time, just like a CD.
B: What about stocks? I heard you can earn a lot of money fast with stocks.
A: Well, it’s possible, but you can also lose a lot of money fast. Stocks are a great choice when you want to invest for a longer time. But if you hope to buy a house in a few years, you really need something safer. The stock market can be a big risk—you could win or you could lose very quickly. However, you could definitely consider investing in some stocks or mutual funds as part of a retirement account.
B: Retirement! I’m only 25 years old. I’m too young to think about that.
A: Well, you’re not actually. If you want to retire with a good income, now is the perfect time to get a retirement account started. Some people like to have a part of their paycheck directly put into their retirement account so they don’t have to worry about it.
B: Okay. That’s good to know. So, you recommend I pay off my credit card debt first, and then invest in a CD, and maybe get a retirement account started?
A: Right. I know there’s a lot to think about, but you don’t need to make a decision today. I’m here every day if you have any other questions or if you want to get started on any of the investments I’ve suggested.
B: Excellent. I’ll do that. Thank you so much!
A: No problem. It was pleasure talking to you.
A = Reporter, B = Doctor, C = Jerome
A: Tonight’s topic—stress in the schoolyard. America’s teenagers are getting unhealthy, and not from fast food, but from a fast pace of life. We investigate why. I’m standing outside the Benjamin Franklin High School in downtown Philadelphia. Franklin High is a good school. The students here work hard, get good grades, and go on to good colleges and universities. But behind the success lies a growing problem. Here’s Dr. Jane Carson of Philadelphia Children’s Hospital.
B: I see a lot of patients from Franklin High, and I believe that high school can be an unhealthy environment for teenagers.
A: Really? Are you talking about weight problems or lack of exercise?
B: Sometimes. But the biggest danger is stress.
A: I see.
B: Stress is everywhere in high schools—in the classroom, on the sports field, and in the schoolyard. And it’s having a seriously detrimental effect on the health of our children.
A: I’d like you to meet Jerome. He’s 17 years old and he’s a student at Franklin High. Jerome was a straight-A student. He played basketball, and had lots of friends. Then, last year, everything changed. Jerome, would you tell us what was going on?
C: I was just really stressed at school. The classes were really hard, and my parents and teachers were always talking about choosing a college. And I knew that if my grades went down, I wouldn’t be able to get into a good university.
A: So, what happened?
C: Well, the stress was really bad. I couldn’t concentrate anymore because I was always so worried about the future. I started getting Ds and Fs in my classes. And that meant I was dropped from the basketball team. I loved basketball.
Playing sports helped reduce my stress! So, the situation just got worse.
A: So bad, in fact, that Jerome’s parents took him to see a doctor. Dr. Carson, what did you think about Jerome when you first met him?
B: When I first saw Jerome, he was depressed.
A: Is that unusual for a bright student like him?
B: Unfortunately, no. When a young person has a lot of stress from many different sources—school, sports, parents, friends—he can easily get depressed.
A: Why is that?
B: At this age, it’s difficult for most teenagers to set priorities—that is, they don’t always know what’s important and what’s less important. So, sometimes, everything in their lives becomes really important. You know, the brain has limits, too. If you’re thinking about too many things, you can’t concentrate on immediate needs.
A: So, that was Jerome’s problem. His chronic stress made him unable to do his schoolwork. And because his grades were low, he couldn’t play on the basketball team. And because of that, he didn’t see his friends on the team as much.
B: That’s exactly right.
A: But, how common is this problem, Dr. Carson? Does it only exist at top high schools and in top students?
B: No, not at all. I was at a conference last month with doctors from all round the U.S. and Canada— Chicago, NewYork, Los Angeles, Toronto. Everyone had similar stories about stressed and depressed teenagers. This is more than just a local problem, and it’s affecting students from all different backgrounds.
A: So, what’s the solution?
B: There’s no easy cure for depression! But, I believe that we need to change the social environment first. So, I talk to the parents and encourage them to put less pressure on their child. It’s good to ask about grades, but not to emphasize them too much. I talk to teachers and coaches to help them understand their students. If they know that a student is depressed, they can help a lot. For example, a teacher can give a little more time for an assignment. Finally, I encourage the student to schedule some time for relaxation—to listen to music, or go to the movies, or just talk with friends.
A: Back here at Franklin High, Jerome is feeling better, thanks to Dr. Carson’s help. Jerome’s story has a happy ending. He’s applying to colleges, and his parents, teachers, and friends are supporting him, not pressuring him. But the problem of stress isn’t going away. For more information on stress and our young people, visit our Website at…
A = Susan, B = Adam, C: Helen
A: Adam! Come and sit with us!
B: Hey, Susan. Hi, Helen. What’s going on?
C: Not much. We were talking about the local elections today. You know, the elections for the city council. I just came back from the voting station, and Susan here is still deciding who to vote for. Did you vote yet, Adam?
B: I didn’t know there were any elections today. Anyway, I don’t think I’m going to vote. I don’t usually vote in local elections. I don’t know what I’m voting for! I don’t know the people or the issues. I mean, who cares about the city council? I don’t even know what they do.
C: Well, I have to disagree with you, Adam. I think it’s important to vote in every election.
B: Yeah, well, I vote in some elections. I voted for the president, but this is just a local election. It’s not important. What do you think, Susan? Do you think local elections really matter?
A: Well, I agree with you to a point, Adam. A local election is less important than the general election—we’re not choosing a president—but it’s the idea of voting that’s important to me. You know women couldn’t vote at all a century ago. I feel I have to vote. I have to use my right.
C: Exactly, Susan. But I think you’re both wrong about local elections—they are important. The city council has a lot of control over this city. They make decisions that can affect all of us. For example, do you know that one of the candidates wants to cancel the Independence Day parade this year?
A: Really? That’s terrible.
B: I thought you hated parades.
A: Yeah, I do. But it’s a tradition. You can’t just cancel Open Forum 1 the Independence Day parade!
B: I don’t see why not. Nobody goes to it anyway.
C: That’s exactly the problem, Adam—and you too, Susan. People in your generation just aren’t involved in the community. That’s why you’re not interested in voting in the local elections. When (3 had a stronger community. Everyone went to the Independence Day parade, and it was so much fun! When I was a teenager, I volunteered at the parade—I collected money for local charities.
B: The world’s a bigger place now, Helen. look at the modern world—the Internet, international airline travel, 24-hour news channels. The local community isn’t just your small town anymore. Who cares about a dumb Independence Day Parade when there are wars and famines? I vote in the general election because the president has power in the international scene. The city council can’t do anything important. They’re only interested in silly parades.
C: I’m not saying the international scene isn’t important, Adam. Come on—you know I’m majoring in international relations. But I believe that the global community starts with local communities. And you have to vote to have a voice in your local community. I know the world has changed since I was a kid, but what worries me is that you young people aren’t trying to improve the community. You can’t just say that local politics aren’t important any more.
B: And you think that voting today will make the world a better place, Helen?
C: Yes, I do.
A: Well, I do too. I’m going to vote, and I won’t vote for canceling the parade. Adam, want to come with me to the voting station?
B: Nope. I still say it’s a waste of time, and besides, I have class now.
C: What class are you going to?
B: Social studies…
A = Lynne, B = Nathan
A: Welcome back to Round the World. It’s been raining here on the East Coast all week, and I’d love to get away to somewhere warm and dry. And, well, my next guest happens to have just returned from the driest place on earth. Nathan Simms, welcome to Round the World.
B: Thanks, Lynne. It’s good to be here. And believe me—I’ve been enjoying the rain this week!
A: I’m sure! So, tell me, Nathan—where is the driest place in the world? Africa? Siberia?
B: No and no. I’ll give you another guess.
A: Well, it has to be a desert, right—a hot, dry place with very little rain. So, where is the driest desert?
B: Well, Lynne, the driest place in the world is in South America. The country of Chile, in fact.
A: Really? Is there a desert in Chile?
B: Yes, there is. It’s called the Atacama Desert. It’s in the north of Chile and stretches between the coast and the Andes Mountains.
A: The Atacama? That’s probably new to most of our listeners. Could you spell it for us?
B: Certainly. It’s A-T-A-C-A-M-A. Atacama.
A: So, how dry is the driest place on earth?
B: Well, Lynne, it almost never rains there. Officially, the driest place is the very center of the desert. At the center of the desert, there are a few millimeters of rain per decade—that is, a few drops of rain every 10 years!
A: How interesting! Is it possible for anyone to live there?
B: Oh no. In fact, almost nothing lives there—no plants, no animals, no people. Maybe there are some really tiny living creatures in the soil, but scientists haven’t found any yet. In fact, I didn’t actually go to the very center of the desert. It’s very difficult to reach, and the temperatures make it very dangerous.
A: So where do people live in the Atacama Desert?
B: Well, remember that the Atacama Desert reaches to the sea. There are towns along the coast and about one million people live in them.
A: One million?!
B: That’s right. It’s an amazing place. I visited a few small towns and villages, and the people were very friendly.
A: How do they survive without water?
B: Well, they do have some water. There are some water sources, and water trucks bring in more water from outside the region. And, of course, the people in the Atacama have become really good at saving water, because there isn’t much of it around. They’ve even learned a way to make water out of fog.
A: Water out of fog? How is that done?
B: Well, it’s very clever! Think about a fishing net— you know, to catch fish? But a very fine net with very small holes between the threads. Well, they put up very large nets and when the fog touches the nets, water forms. The people then collect the water. They can do this every morning near the coast because there’s almost always morning fog.
A: Is that a Chilean invention? A traditional skill?
B: No, actually, the idea came from Canada. The Canadian government gave money to set up the first fog catching project in the 1990s.
A: That’s an amazing idea—simple, but effective.
B: Absolutely. They use the water for growing plants, for washing clothes, and even for taking showers.
A: They must have to collect a lot of water.
B: Well, in one village, the fog-catchers produce 10,000 liters of water a day.
A: How much?!
B: 10,000 liters.
A: Wow. That’s a lot of water.
B: Not really. According to the United Nations, the minimum amount of water a person needs is 50 liters a day. That is, to live comfortably, you need access to about 50 liters of water. So, those 10,000 liters can only support 200 people.
A: Well, Nathan, thanks so much for joining us to share this fascinating story. Next week…
A = Narrator, B = Dr. Higgins, C = Dr. Rooks
A: Today, the islands of Hawaii are a popular tourist destination. Visitors from the United States, Europe, and all over the world come here for the beautiful weather, the perfect beaches, and the fascinating culture. Americans come to Hawaii for honeymoons and exotic destinations. But many people forget that Hawaii is part of the United States. It became the 50th state in 1959.
However, Hawaii doesn’t look or feel like part of the United States. The people, language, stories, and culture of Hawaii reveal a mysterious history of immigration and settlement. We’ll investigate this history tonight.
The first stop on our trip is at the University of Hawaii. Dr. Emily Higgins is an expert on immigration to Hawaii. So, Dr. Higgins, who are the native people of these islands?
B: The one thing we know about native Hawaiians is that they’re not really native to Hawaii. They came from somewhere else.
A: Where did they come from?
B: That’s an interesting question. The ﬁrst European to ﬁnd Hawaii was the famous English explorer, Captain James Cook. He arrived in Hawaii in 1778, and he noticed that the native people were similar to other people he’d seen in the other islands of Polynesia.
A: And Polynesia refers to a number of islands in the South Pacific Ocean.
B: Right, including the islands of Hawaii, as well as New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and the Cook Islands… which were named after Captain Cook.
A: So, what do Hawaiians have in common with other Polynesians?
B: Well, one way to ﬁnd the origins of an immigrant group is to look at their language. Languages exist in families—just like people. So, if you ﬁnd two languages that are related—brother and sister, for example—you can guess that they have the same parent.
Although most Hawaiians today speak English, there is a native Hawaiian language. Cook noticed, and modern linguists have confirmed, that the Hawaiian language is related to other Polynesian languages. This suggests that the languages come from the same place, and that the Hawaiian people came from another Polynesian island. We don’t know exactly where, but one idea is that they came from Tahiti. Of course, there’s only one problem with that theory: Tahiti is 2000 miles from Hawaii, by sea!
A: The story of the settlement of Hawaii is truly remarkable. According to some experts, the first immigrants to Hawaii from Tahiti and other islands arrived around the year 400. That’s 1300 years before the first known European contact with Hawaii. Those first Polynesian fisherman and explorers built canoes—simple boats—with the most basic materials. To find out more about these people, we spoke with John Rooks, the director of the Hawaiian History Museum.
C: The Polynesians probably built their boats from tree trunks. We think that they would chop down a tree and then cut a canoe from the center of the tree. Then, they used coconut fibers and tree sap to ﬁll holes.
The brilliant part of the construction was the idea to tie two trees together to form a double canoe—again, with wood and coconuts. This made the boats more stable so that they could travel these huge distances.
A: But how did these earlier migrants navigate? How did they ﬁnd their way to Hawaii without getting lost?
C: These explorers had amazing knowledge of navigation. They used the sun, the stars, and the winds. They memorized distances and directions. They sailed across thousands of miles of empty sea. It’s an amazing achievement.
A: There is another source of information about the first people of Hawaii: the stories, myths, and legends of the Hawaiian people themselves. According to Hawaiian tradition, the father of the Hawaiian Islands was a man called Hawai’i Loa. He was born on an island far from what we now know as Hawaii. But Hawai’i Loa was a famous ﬁsherman, and he traveled far across the sea. One day, he discovered an island with many trees, fruits, and vegetables. He gave the island his name—Hawaii—and brought his wife and children to live with him. To this day some of the other islands in the Hawaiian group of islands carry the names of Hawai’i Loa’s family members.
Coming up on Mass Migrations, we’ll look at some research that may lead to new theories of how the Hawaiian Islands were populated.
A = Museum Docent, B = Visitor 1, C = Visitor 2
A: OK, everyone, if you’d like to come over here to our next exhibit. OK, so we’re continuing to learn about the history of the home computer. Now, does anyone recognize this amazing machine? No? Well, anyone who grew up in Britain in the 1980s would immediately recognize this. It’s the famous BBC Microcomputer. You’ve all heard of the BBC, right?
B: Of course, it’s the television company in England.
A: Right, the British Broadcasting Corporation, or BBC is Britain’s national, state-run television and radio network.
B: So why did a TV station make a computer?
A: That’s a really interesting story. It starts in the early 1980s. BBC television showed a program called” The Mighty Micro” in which a professor, his name was Dr. Christopher Evans, he predicted the importance of the microcomputer—what we today just call the computer or the personal computer. Now, you have to remember that in 1980, there were no computers in homes, in schools, in libraries. Computers were big and expensive, so they still weren’t something that a family or a student would go out and buy. But Dr. Evans made a prediction—a guess about the future. He predicted that computers were going to get smaller. Technology was making it possible to build a whole computer in a box that could fit on your desk. That’s why the first home computers were called ”microcomputers”—”micro” meaning ”small.”
OK, so Evans argued that the microcomputer was going to change everything, and that Britain’s children needed to learn how to use a computer in order to be prepared for the future.
Now, it just so happened that a lot of important people watched that program, and Evan’s predictions caught the attention of many people in Britain. In fact, even the British Parliament—the government—ended up discussing the program and Evan’s predictions.
So the BBC decided to start a new project: to build a computer that was affordable, but that had lots of functions—text, graphics, sound, music, programming, even artificial intelligence. The BBC planned to sell its microcomputer to homes and especially schools around the country.
C: So the BBC made the actual computer?
A: No, actually they didn’t. The BBC was… and still is… in the business of making television and radio programs, not computers. So they wanted to find a computer company that could make the computer and put the BBC’s name on it. In Cambridge, England—home to the famous, old university—a small company called Acorn heard about the project. It just so happened that Acorn was already making its first computer, but it wasn’t quite finished yet. The Acorn employees worked through the night and ﬁnished that ﬁrst computer. It was called the Proton. They showed their brand new creation to the BBC and won the contract. It’s really an amazing story of a small company beating all the bigger corporations.
The first BBC computer—they called it the model A—came out in 1981, and the model B came out not too long afterward. And that’s the computer you can see here—the BBC Model B Microcomputer.
The computer was an immediate success, mainly because schools in Britain bought many of them to teach computer skills to students.
B: Excuse me, what could you do with a computer like this? I mean, what was it capable of?
A: Well, the Beeb—that’s the nickname for the BBC Model B Microcomputer—was an amazing computer for its time. You could write programs, draw pictures in 8 colors, write music. The computer could even speak words in English! And you could play games. Today you would find them very simple, but they were pretty cool in the early 80s.
There was also a lot of educational software- programs that taught children English, math, science, and history. Math teachers loved the BBC Buggy—a robot that you could control using a BBC computer. And of course you could use the computer for word-processing. It was really new for most kids to type their essays and then print them. It was very exciting.
B: Was the BBC computer used in elementary schools?
A: Eventually, yes, but not at first. I have British friends who first used this computer when they were in middle or high school.
Things have certainly changed, right? I mean nowadays some children are using computers even before they go to elementary school!
Ok, any more questions before we move on to the next exhibit?
A = Attorney, B = Mr. Brenton
A: Good afternoon, Mr. Brenton. Welcome to our offices. I’m glad you could come in and talk in person.
B: How are you? Yeah, I took the morning off to come in and speak with you.
A: Good. So I read the email you sent me, but maybe we should just review the situation. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on.
B: Sure. Here’s the situation. Around ten months ago, we—my wife and I—we hired a company… a small construction company to remodel our bathroom. You know, they put in a new ﬂoor, new walls, a new shower. Basically, they made our old bathroom look brand new.
B: So, we were happy with the work, at first. But once our family started using the shower, we noticed that it was leaking water. Water was coming out onto the ﬂoor.
A: So did you call the company back in to repair it?
B: Sure. Of course. They came back in and fixed it… or so we thought. They did some work on it, but it still continued to leak. So…
A: One second. What’s the name of this construction company?
B: Advanced Builders. Advanced Builders, Incorporated. The owner is a man by the name of Steven Collins.
A: OK. Sorry to interrupt you. Go on. So what did you do at that point?
B: Well, we called these guys back in. In fact, we went through this three times. They’d come back in, work on the bathroom, and we thought it was fine. But then a couple of days later the problem would start again. Water all over the bathroom ﬂoor.
B: Finally, the last time they came, they really seemed to have fixed it. I mean, it seemed like the problem was gone. And we were thrilled.
A: But let me guess: you weren’t thrilled for very long.
B: Exactly. Here we are several months later, and it turns out that water is leaking through the bathroom ﬂoor and into our kitchen directly downstairs.
A: Not good.
B: Yeah, it looks like we have serious water damage now in our bathroom ﬂoor and in our kitchen ceiling. I mean, part of the ceiling looks like it’s going to drop any second.
A: OK. Let me ask you a few questions. Did you or your wife sign a contract with this company… before they started working? I mean, did you sign a written agreement with them?
B: Yes, we did. I have it here, with me.
A: Good, and did you pay them already, in full for the remodeling work.
B: Yeah. We paid them as soon as it looked like the work was done, before we found out about the leak.
A: OK. And did they give you a receipt for the payment.
B: Yes, they did. I have that here too.
A: Alright, now I’m assuming that you don’t want this same company to come back in and try to fix the problem again.
B: No way. I mean, we’ve given them plenty of chances to fix it already, and they couldn’t do it.
We’d like to get someone else in to fix it. But I don’t think I should have to pay for that. I mean, we paid this company to do the work to begin with.
A: Right. Here’s the process we need to follow. First of all, Advanced Builders is responsible for the problem. They’re liable. And you’re right—you shouldn’t have to pay for the repairs.
The first thing you need to do is call another construction company. Call someone else and ask him to inspect the damage in your bathroom and have him give you an estimate for the work—a written statement of how much the job will cost.
How much he would charge you to make the repairs. And please fax that estimate to me.
Once I receive it, I’ll write a letter to Mr. Collins, the owner of Advanced Builders, explaining that you plan to have your bathroom repaired, it will cost this much, and you expect him—Mr. Collins—to pay for it. OK? So just make sure you leave his address with me. I’ll send you a copy of the letter as well.
Now, if Mr. Collins agrees to pay for the repairs, then it’s all very simple. We’ll receive a check from him, and you can hire someone to do the work.
But if Collins refuses to pay the estimated amount for the repairs, then you’ll have to go to court.
B: Oh great. The last thing I want to do is go to court. I just want the problem fixed.
A: I understand that. And I’m hoping to avoid court altogether. But it all depends on their response. For now, get me the information I need, and I’ll write the letter.
B: Alright. I’ll do that. Thanks very much.
A: No problem, Mr. Brenton. We’ll get this all worked out.