So, the other day, as I had assembled the required components, I made my way to the passport office. Here in South Bend, for the curious, this office is located in our main post office downtown. I felt slightly like a medieval alchemist about to concoct something mysterious, something undiscovered. It was an intense, heady feeling; all those undiscovered countries in the world were suddenly about to become accessible (at least in theory). Of course, they’re all actually “discovered.” All the nations of the world have been mapped and trod and settled a thousand times over, but not by me, not a single one of them, and that’s an important distinction. This passport would be one of the keys to traveling out in the world, a key I had up til now not possessed.
An even better thing was about to happen, however. When I passed through the post office proper, and stepped into the small room with its very government-looking “Passports” stenciling, feeling like the very first sojourner ever to go that way, I saw a familiar face already there. One of our very own professors from IUSB was there with his wife, applying for passports so their two small children could come with them on a trip this summer. I’ve had several classes with this particular professor, and we passed the time with some small talk waiting for our respective turns to approach the counter and unburden our ingredients. Even in a medium-small-sized town such as South Bend, I have only met professors by chance outside of campus perhaps once or twice. To encounter someone in such an unusual place was a wonderful, chance meeting, but there was more to it than just an opportunity to say hello to a great teacher. A familiar face in the passport office brought this incredible reality home to me, the realization that I was joining a certain kind of fellowship, a society of world travelers. It’s an interesting conundrum, a side-effect of international education, perhaps, that it seems to bring people together in a way by sending them away, far from home and out to the far corners of the world.
Please join us Wednesday, October 23 at the University Grill for a special international cuisine event. The event will begin at 1 pm and is slated to continue until 2:30. The Japanese Club at IU South Bend will be giving a demonstration in the proper techniques for making (and, we hope, for eating) the traditional dishes mochi and sushi. While a typical midwestern American tendency might be to think of sushi as raw fish and nothing else, both mochi and sushi are primarily rice dishes, each using different, specialized kinds of rice. The demonstration is free of charge and open to all students.
The historic Driers meat market (http://www.driers.com) in Three Oaks, Michigan is celebrating a century in business this Saturday, the 19th of October. They’ve declared a Wurst-Fest for the day, to run from noon to seven pm.
Even vegetarians will likely find something notable (we might say tasteful) and enjoyable about the shop and its owner, Caroline Drier. The Drier family is originally from the city of Bremen, a large river-port town in northwest Germany perhaps forty miles from the North Sea coast.
The traditional family recipes used today in preparing the food and smoked meats at Driers still carry notable characteristics of that region. In 1976, the store was recognized as a National Historic Site. It has been in the Drier family since 1913, and a meat market since 1875, shortly after the end of the Civil War (prior to that it was a wagon repair shop, of all things).
I find this festival intriguing and compelling because there is a complex set of things being celebrated (German-American heritage, the history of the town itself, the longevity and unique historic perspective of an unusual family business) all at once, and all herded in under the heading of delicious smoked meat products. By the way, if sausages and wurst are not the best choice for you, there are other options to be had in the village of Three Oaks.
It appears (via strictly informal sampling) to have the highest per-capita number of art galleries and funky-cool resale shops of any town in the midwest, as well as a theater featuring live shows, a refurbished corset factory, and bespoke whisky:
Music Week in Berlin, Germany happened September 3-7 this year.
If you can imagine a week-long celebration of music with a dozen or more festivals all happening simultaneously in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, you can appreciate the grand vision of the organizers of this year’s Berlin Music Week. This year’s event was the 4th annual Music Week, and it appears to grow larger every year. This year there were country, hip-hop, folk, rock, and electronic musicians performing virtually side by side. One music-industry executive even praised a young singer by saying his style was “unquantifiable,” defying categorization. Pop quiz: what iconic songwriter (and which of his songs) are the organizers referencing by naming the segment devoted to discovering new independent talent “First We Take Berlin?”
This festival is only one example of Berlin’s citywide devotion to building a culture of authentic creativity. There are also Art Week, two light festivals, and too many “film weeks” to count. You can’t get to Music Fest 2013 (because it’s over), but you can get to Berlin this summer with an International Programs group. Once you see the city firsthand, you might find yourself booking a trip back here for Music Fest 2014. It already has its own app.
There were 20,000 people in one venue alone, plus 400 international delegates to the industry “Word on Sound” conference in the Postbahnhof, a former postal train station which now serves as a club and concert venue.
Me hablo bastante un día.
Me parle assez un jour.
Mir reden ziemlich 1 Tag.
The four phrases above are the title of today’s post, replicated in the four languages taught at IUSB through the magic of Google Translate. I specifically used Google to do the translating work because all our language professors encourage us to not use it. They want us to avoid using these translation programs because they might assist us in getting the words “correct,” but in doing so, we might entirely miss the sense of the words, the actual idea we are trying to get across.
Today’s post shares a title with a great essay by David Sedaris about his adventures in France, where he went to live for a month in order to learn the language. There’s video of him reading an excerpt of the essay here. You can buy the book of essays by the same name here. Yes, it’s funny, and I’d hazard a guess that there are some events he has even exaggerated to heighten the comic effect. But buried in the laugh track is the idea that, in order to really get French, he wanted to become immersed in the culture of France, not just the language. Does this sound familiar at all? This is one of the goals of our study-abroad summer semesters. There is an idea that a language (or even a dialect of a certain language) is really nothing more than a culture expressing itself in sound. After a summer abroad, every language class you take back in the ‘friendly confines’ of an IUSB classroom will be filled with the smiles of the people you met while you were there, every word you look up in your dictionary will carry the scent of the air and the food you breathed and ate. That’s the only way I can think of to really truly talk pretty.