Showing posts with label Prague friends. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prague friends. Show all posts

Friday, July 19, 2013

After the Trayvon Martin Verdict: Here are Ten People Who Helped Me Expand "My Circle of Compassion"

Trayvon Martin

Sometimes events at home are so dismaying I can hardly bear them. Such as it was with the Trayvon Martin verdict. This blog post is dedicated to him, my fellow American, 17-year-old, unarmed Trayvon Martin, who was killed while walking home by a white, armed, male adult.
President Barack Obama said: 
"... we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities.  We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis.  We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this.  As citizens, that’s a job for all of us.  That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.  
One of the things President Obama asked Americans to do to deal with their pain after the Trayvon Martin verdict was to continually work to expand their circle of compassion. By listening to voices different than our own, we may come to understand what it is to walk in another person's shoes.

One of the great things about Twitter is it allows us to listen to voices different than our own in a really non-threatening way. If you're a white American who wants to do as your President humbly requested and imagine other people's realities, here are ten black American voices I would like to recommend for you to follow on Twitter. These people have helped me grow and imagine life in someone else's shoes in the four years I've been on Twitter at @emptynestexpat.

I think we should listen not only as a spiritual thing to do, but as a strategic thing to do. As our nation becomes more multicultural, the better we are able to navigate and understand our differences, the less friction there is on forward motion in the future.

Here they are:

1) Charles Consult tweets at @Charles_Consult. He's a Wisconsin native, attorney, martial arts expert and enthusiast, now living as an expat entrepreneur in the Netherlands.

2) Dr. Blair LM Kelly, an American historian and professor teaching in North Carolina. She's the author of the book "Right to Ride" about streetcar segregation. She tweets at @profblmkelley.

3) Every teenage student should be lucky enough to have a teacher as cool as Brandon David Wilson. Brandon, tweeting as @Geniusbastard, is a not only a role model in the LA Public Schools as a teacher, but he's also a cinephile, activist, and thoughtful commentator on pop culture.

4) Courtney Young is a writer, a Spellman grad, and a board member of an organization I admire called Hollaback (documenting street harassment). She's an enthusiastic book reader (I love talking books with her), and founder of Think Young Media. She tweets at @Cocacy and at @thinkyoungmedia.

5) I can count the number of inspiring American math teachers I know on one hand (in Turkey, it would take both hands and my feet...but that's another post). How about you? Do you know a lot of inspiring US math teachers? Here's one who teaches in the New York Public Schools. He is, as his bio says, "the teacher Gotham deserves." Jose Vilson, tweeting at @JLV is a math teacher, writer, and activist. He hates that it in American culture it is ok to admit math phobia; he works tirelessly to get kids excited about math. Just for that, he deserves a follow!

6) Robin Terrell is a San Francisco diversity expert who has something big in the works called "The Global Mobility Project" that is supposed to debut this summer. I'm very curious what it is, but I enjoy her tweets right here and now at @robinlterrell.
Michael Twitty
preserving and promoting
African-American foodways
7) Somebody I just started following is @koshersoul. Michael Twitty came to a whole lot of people's attention with his open letter to Paula Deen. He's a black, Jewish Southerner and culinary historian who shares food photos that can make a happy expat like me, currently enjoying Turkish kitchen, wish to be right at a Southern table drinking sweet tea, eating barbecue and making room for blueberry cobbler. Michael also tweets at @antebellumchef. Here's what he says is the "best of his blog" for new followers.

8) Tinu who tweets at @blackgirlinprague rarely tweets. I wish she did because she always has something sassy to say. She's the one person on this list I know in person. But maybe if she had more followers, she'd be inspired. She's a tech professional, raised in America, now fluent in Czech, making the Golden City of Prague her home.

9) Someone researching black male performance in American education is Antonio M. Daniels. More power to him. Our education system is failing black males and I'm glad someone is trying to figure out how to fix this. The last American education system I worked in had a 17% high school graduation rate for black males. You can follow Antonio at @paideiarebel.

10) Jennifer Williams instantly telegraphs she is looking out for the next generation of young women who follow hers with her twitter handle @4coloredgirls. That sensitivity, and her desire to shield them from hurt, is something I learn from. She is a writer, professor, feminist and cultural critic in Houston, Texas.

Of course, there are many famous names, frequently in the media, whose bio I won't detail as they're all so easily findable. I learn from @oprah (she's really the founder of this category, isn't she?), @MHarrisPerry, @baratunde, @MsTerryMcMillian, @elonjames, @rebeccawalker, @ashong, @DonnaBrazile, @neiltyson, @ProfHolloway @cornelwest, @tavissmily, @marclamonthill, @MichaelEDyson, @NewBlackMan, @BobHerbert, @VanJones88, @hillharper and @chrisrock.

Truly,what choice do we have but to listen to each other better? Who wants to go through life in a world where we barely tolerate our fellow citizens that differ from us ethnically? Surely we can think bigger as citizens. Our advantage as Americans is that we have the world's ethnicities and cultures living right amongst us. If we choose to only honor people just like us, we're missing the whole point of America.

Dear friends in America, what's one action you can take to help heal America after the Trayvon Martin heartbreak? I invite you to also listen...and learn. Thanks to all the people named above for sharing their thoughts in ways that make me grow as an individual.

You might also like:

Listening to Dissidents

A near spiritual experience at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas

Why the Obama Presidential Library Should be Built in Springfield, Illinois

What's there to do in Wichita, Kansas? Why not see breathtaking art?

Topkapi Palace , Part Two: Harem Culture Shock

Enjoying Neil Degrasse Tyson at the UW Senior Sendoff

Yes, Empty Nest Expat is on Facebook. You can follow me there.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What's there to do in Wichita, Kansas? Why not see breathtaking art?

No matter where I go in the world, I swear I could find the most interesting things to do in any given town. Wichita, Kansas was no exception. In fact, there were so many interesting things to do around Wichita, I couldn't fit them all in.

Walt and Mary, my couchsurfing hosts in Columbia, Missouri, had recommended two attractions nearby in Mary's hometown, of Hutchinson, Kansas.

I didn't get around to seeing: the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center or the Kansas Underground Salt Museum. Why, you'd have to go all the way to Poland or Austria to see something similar to this salt mine! I didn't get it done. Next time.

I ask you, however, what is something really wonderful in your neighborhood you haven't yet experienced? The problem isn't finding interesting things to do - it's actually doing them! What are you waiting for? Go see it! There may never be a next time.
I am mesmerized with this Modernist view
from the main lobby in the Wichita Art Museum.
These pictures make me giddy!
One of the fun things my friend from Prague, Gulnara, and I did while I was visiting her in Wichita was go see the Wichita Art Museum. I love the surprise of finding this modernist museum in the middle of the prairie.

I was enthralled to find two fantastic exhibits there: the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African-American Art and another exhibit called "Visions of Mexican Art."
Surprise matters.
a Dale Chihuly glass sculpture
in the main lobby or entrance foyer
has become an American art museum cliché.

I say that respectfully, because I recognize
the energy, power, and majesty of his pieces.

Please surprise me, curators.
Is there a new way his works could be exhibited?
From the visions of Mexico exhibit:
a new representation of Chac Mool,
the ancient Mayan God.
Another artist's homage to Frida Kahlo.
Love her!
These paintings were from Mexico's innovative art-for-taxes program that allowed Mexican artists to pay their taxes with their creative output.

The African-American collection represented works from three centuries. I love African-American art and music, especially jazz. Two of my favorite American artists are Romare Bearden and Jean Michel-Basquiat. Romare Bearden is represented in the collection, yet there were many drop-dead gorgeous works new to me. How proud these collectors must be to have assembled this collection of extraordinary works on paper. Thank you for sharing it, Dr. and Mrs. Kelley.
Sharecropper, 1952
by Elizabeth Catlett
"Jitterbugs III," ca. 1941-42
by William Henry Johnson
"Dance Composition, #35," 1981
by Eldzier Cortor
"Anyone's Date," 1940
by Ernest T. Crichlow
"Thistle," 1966
by Walter Williams
an expatriate artist who lived in Denmark
during the 1960's.

You can see the Scandinavian influence
in the background, yes?
"Boogie Woogie"
by Charles Louis Sallee, Jr.

I loved the energy communicated
in just these few simple lines.
"Street Car Scene," 1945
by John Woodrow Wilson

What do you suppose he's thinking?
"The Carpenters," 1977
by Jacob Lawrence

Do you know any carpenters?
Lawrence completely captured
their stance, their energy, &
the dignity of their work.
I love this piece.

What I deeply appreciated about the Wichita Art Museum's mounting of these two shows is their highlighting of the best of the America's minority populations (here assuming that Mexican culture carries over into America).

All over the world, institutions are in crisis for breaking their social contracts with their publics, but I've noticed museums have really stepped up to help their citizens cope with change, prepare for change, and accept change.

In Wichita, it was these very visible celebrations of two ethnic groups that will make up a larger segment of American life in the future.

In Prague, I saw the City Museum of Prague put on a terrific exhibit explaining Vietnamese culture to the Czech population, because Czechs have a hard time relating to their new Asian immigrants.

In Istanbul, the Istanbul Modern Art Museum mounted a show celebrating all of the Armenian-designed buildings in Istanbul, generating recognition for Armenian contributions to the beautiful city people experience today.

I admire the work of these museums. Our globe thirsts for this level of strategic engagement. Acceptance of "the other" can't happen fast enough. These institutions, probably operating with very small budgets, are engaging their publics beyond the museum's artistic mission, to an even larger mission of cross-cultural understanding. Bravo!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hanging out with old friends in Wichita, Kansas

After my daughters and I spent a few days in Arkansas, my children and I parted. It was incredibly satisfying for me to know they were both now college educated. My oldest was on her way about to take the next step in life, getting engaged. My youngest daughter had a few days at home with her father before she started her new job as an Oscar Mayer Brand Ambassador and Weinermobile Driver.
Nhan and Gulnara
with her baby bump
My next step while I was home in America was to rent a car to drive to Wichita, Kansas. That may seem like an odd destination for someone to go to all the way from Istanbul, but I had wonderful friends from Prague living there (Gulnara and I had done TEFL training together) and I wanted to be present with them at an exciting moment in their lives. Gulnara and Nhan were expecting their first child! Oh, how my friend Gulnara had longed for this! It was wonderful to see her slow down and "listen" to this growing child inside of her.

I loved, loved, loved being pregnant and was so sad when my own second pregnancy was done because I knew it was the last time. It's such a wonderful time in a woman's life feeling a child inside growing, stretching, and kicking.
Gulnara and me
As always, one of the great joys of spending time with Gulnara and Nhan is their amazing hospitality. The first thing Nhan did when I walked in the door was chop open a fresh coconut with a big machete and hand me fresh, cold delicious coconut juice. How fun is that?

Every morning I enjoyed robust coffee from the Cafe du Monde in New Orleans that Nhan made me with their wonderful coffee maker. I remember when I was a little kid thinking that coffee was so dark no one could actually drink it and like it. How our tastes change over a lifetime! Now, thanks in no small part to Turkish coffee, I love deep, rich coffee. Wow, was that good.
Nhan cooking up
some crayfish
Doesn't that look amazing?
Vietnamese noodles
with carmalized onions on top
Peking Duck
Warren Theatre
in Wichita, Kansas
One night when Gulnara wasn't feeling 100% and needed to rest, Nhan and I went to watch "The Avengers" in 3-D on Wichita's IMAX screen, which is six stories high and 100 feet high. The Wichita IMAX theatre cost $7.2 million and features the largest digital screen in the country. I'm not much of a comic book girl but the movie was so fun and so engaging in 3-D, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I saw it with "overseas" eyes. Our entertainment industry gets so much admiration from folks in other lands, I walked out the theatre feeling very patriotic.

I look forward to hearing all about Gulnara and Nhan's child's development. Even though pregnancy reminds me of the wonders of life, it didn't make me want to be a grandmother any sooner though. I sure am loving this expat life!

You might also enjoy these other blog posts about my trip home to America:

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Start of a Week in Provence

My college friend of 35 years, Robin, called me from her home in Provence, France and said, "when are you coming to visit? Don't you have the time now? You simply must come." I begged off because I was hard at work learning Turkish and working on other projects. What is a girl to do, though, when your friend tries to call you three times in one day and says, "come!"  I had no choice. So off I went.
 I help out a representation of "The Kitchen Maid"
a famous Dutch masterpiece by
Johannes Vermeer (painted 1658)
There isn't a very direct way to get from Provence from Istanbul.  I flew first to Amsterdam, where I was able to experience an hours worth of my Dutch heritage.  In the very nice Amsterdam airport, there is a small gallery of paintings from the Rijksmuseum, the famous Dutch Art Museum full of Van Goghs.

Isn't that a fabulous idea - to have an art gallery in an airport? To share the very best of one's culture with people who are stuck in an building with no place to go?  I'm surprised there aren't similar art galleries in airports all over the world. Good job, Dutch people, you made me proud. And you made me want to come back.

From Amsterdam, I then flew to Marseilles.  It was an utterly gorgeous day without a cloud in the sky.  Southern France has the soft, balmy Southern California-type weather only without the pollution.  When the plane flew out over the Mediterranean and the Southern France coastline of majestic rocky fjords, it was simply breathtaking to take in the coastline, the sea, the sailboats and yachts, and the sun-washed city of Marseilles. I had no idea there was such a pretty, craggy coastline to Southern France.

I knew Robin would not be there right away to pick me up, having never once arrived on time to get me at any airport in the world. There is a comfort in knowing someone so well. I knew eventually she would show up and I would no longer have to loiter around the lobby, sneaking peaks at the amazing weather outside.

Robin and her husband live in Singapore now full-time where Robin has started a new job as a Senior International Government Affairs Advisor for a large oil company.  She has her hands full between her new executive position, two daughters, and her husband's health care. Robin's husband has been recovering the last couple years from the surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy involved with having a brain tumor.

While my friend Robin employs a terrific Filipino man to help her physically care for her 6'4" husband, I wanted to give my dear friend lots of love and appreciation and make sure someone was taking care of her. We had last seen each other in Prague when she came to visit for some serious girlfriend time and I dragged her to the Museum of Communism rather than letting her see the art she wanted to see (hey, she worked for the State Department then, I was doing my duty as an American citizen).
La Mourrade
Eventually, my beloved friend came to the airport and we packed ourselves off for the trip to Provence and her fairy wonderland home "La Mourrade."  Robin and Jim rent their home out much of the summer, when they do get to spend time there, they practically cry leaving the place, life is so beautiful there.
 My bedroom window
Overlooking the terrace, the Lubéron,
and the spectacular mountain painted by Cézanne,
Mt. Sainte-Victoire
Along with their spectacularly-sited La Mourrade provencal home, this is the beautiful lunch Robin had prepared that greeted me upon arrival:
 Oysters on the Half Shell
Al Fresco
A fresh, healthy Provençal salad
 Grilled Sardines Stuffed With Lemon
A life-long friend
is a blessing.
I am truly grateful for
my friend Robin.
Lemon sorbet
with Black Currants
and Cassis
and a sprig of homegrown mint
A beautiful cappuccino to end the meal
Later that night, while enjoying champagne poolside, Robin asked, "Now aren't you glad you came to Provence?" Yes, I was.  It was the start of an amazing week.
Poolside at La Mourrade

Friday, April 22, 2011

Prague's Anglican Minister: The Reverend Ricky Yates

Happy Good Friday readers! Today I was delighted to see my pastor in Prague, Chaplain Ricky Yates of St. Clement's Anglican Church, properly written up in the Prague Post and recognized for his work serving the English-speaking expat community in Prague.

Regular readers of my blog know how incredibly tight-knight I found the expat church community at St. Clement's and how Pastor Ricky was there for me and my friend Anna when we got in a tight spot with our visas.  I simply can't say enough about the community of people there and his leadership of us.  Click on my title to read the whole article. You can also look to the right of this post and see the link for Ricky's blog.  Best of all though, if you're in Prague, head on down to the church on a Sunday morning at 11 a.m. to tell him hello yourself.  You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I'm moving to Istanbul!

Today is a blur.  A sunny, potentially relaxing day in Prague but still a blur. I'm packing up my things because today marks my last day in Prague.  I hope it's "just for now." I realized when I came here this time that my love of the Czech Republic wasn't going to be fulfilled by just coming for a couple months and doing my to-do list of sites. It's not a "if it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium kind of feeling." This is a life-long passion for a country that has only increased, not decreased with my three months here.

My 90 days in the Schengen zone is up, and I need to move somewhere out of the Czech Republic to apply for residency.  I looked at Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Burma, and Russia in addition to Istanbul. Everyone raves about Istanbul.  And I have a friend there.  It made me count up how many times I've moved to a new place without knowing a soul: eight.

I have been truly blessed with incredible friends here in Prague, especially in my church home of St. Clement's Church.  They sent me off with much love!  Well, here, my chaplain tells it well. I'll let him tell it, you can read my plan, and I'll keep packing.  And returning library books.  And dropping off thrift items.  You know what these kind of days are like!  Click on this link to read my plan. 

Food and Views at the Prague Food Festival

On the tram
heading up to Prague Castle
from Malastranská

Last night was the start of the Prague Food Festival, taking place this weekend at Prague Castle. Elsie Pells, a Cape Wine Master from South Africa and Karen Parker, an Australian expat from Adelaide and I went out to enjoy the view and the food.

 Karen and Elsie entering the festival
set up in the Prague Castle Gardens

Karen and Elsie
are both very active members in the
International Women's Association of Prague

Just looking at the beautiful scene
we knew we were in for a wonderful evening.
Beautifully carved watermelons on display.

I was fascinated by these
suckling pigs on a spit

American food writers always say that Americans
are so far removed from the real source of their food.
I took a moment to take in the reality of this rotisserie pig
complete with his juicy eye sockets and seam up his belly.
I can see why meat gets sold in sterile packages.
It is a lot easier to face!

The castle gardens look over
all of Prague.

 I love this picture of Elsie.
She was our wine master
suggesting vintages for the evening.

Elsie is proud to represent a new
South African wine on the Czech scene
called Phant (short for Elephant).

Wouldn't a bottle of Phant
be a perfect hostess gift or
wine to serve during South Africa's
coming-out party - the World Cup?

This was my food selection:
salmon on wasabi potatoes.

The ladies had a beef burger
with fois gras tucked into the burger.
Our selections were from
the Kampa Group booth.

The light became golden as the sunset
slowly spread through the clouds
on part of Prague.
 The sun stopped short of the House of Tyn
But you can see the spires on the Old Town Church
with the Zizkov TV tower in the distance.

A rainbow appeared
over the incredible view of the city.
Pinch me.  I'm in Prague.
I'm at the Castle.
This is one of my last evenings in Prague.
I feel so privileged to get to see this.

We stayed until the festival closed.  It was sparsely attended the first night, probably due to the iffy weather.  We watched the full moon play with the clouds, finally it rose from behind it's cover and as large and as golden as a charger plate, it came out in full glory for our admiration.  What a setting! We slowly walked down the cobblestones stairs of Prague Castle, savoring every moment of aesthetic pleasure, and went home.

Related posts: Who Will Be the Czech "Jamie Oliver"?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet" Under the Stars at Letní Scéna

As soon as I read that the Prague Shakespeare Festival was going to put on "Romeo and Juliet" under the stars in the medieval open-air Vyšehrad theatre called Letní Scéna, I knew I had to go! "Romeo and Juliet" is, of course, the most romantic play in the English language and Vyšehrad, overlooking the Vltava River, is one of the most romantic places in a city overflowing with romantic places. It was such an inspired idea. And ladies, you don't always need a man in tow to appreciate the romance of the setting! Romance is a state of mind.

I forgot to take a picture of my date, Black Girl in Prague, who was her usual fabulous self.  I waited to meet her at the Vyšehrad Metro Terrace.  Since I forgot to eat before I came, I slipped into the little Thai restaurant there so I would have some food in my stomach.  Who wants their hunger to interrupt the balcony scene? Not me.  I expected no greatness from any restaurant situated within a metro station.  Indeed, the opposite.  After all, the customers are in a hurry, there is graffiti everywhere outside, what could possibly be aesthetically-pleasing about the experience? I even let the waiter pick my food out because I was too lazy to make a choice myself.  OK, so I was wrong. Greatness can reside in a metro restaurant.

Kaeng pet kai, rice, and green tea
at Yam Yam Thai Restaurant.
The open-air theatre
at Vyšehrad.
Can't you picture
all the people and performances
that have taken place here
over hundreds and hundreds of years?

We were lucky to grab one of the seats with a back rest.
Can you find me in the audience?

Prague theater director
Gordon Trufitt and his wife Eva
sat across the aisle.

I used to see my Prague blogging buddy
everywhere in Prague.
This was my first time meeting
Grant Podelco and his fiancee Daisy
 with young Emma.
It was a pleasure!
Grant gave me great blogging tips during intermission.
He writes two blogs: Gusto and Grant's Prague Bike Blog.

Mercutio was played by Guy Roberts.
Guy is the Founder, President and Artistic Director
and he was sooo good in his role as Mercutio.
David Fisher played the Nurse.
You know when you watch someone act
and you can just tell how much fun their having?
David Fisher almost stole the show
with his hilariously bawdy portrayal
of Juliet's Nurse.
Wow, could he project his voice too!
Romeo and Juliet
were played by
Kendrick Ong and
Lenka Fisherová-Novaková
Juliet had wonderful enthusiasm
and Romeo was appropriately dreamy.
We had great seats for
enjoying the ensemble on stage.

I loved the sword fights!

Letní Scéna (Open Air Theatre) was perfect
for balcony scenes.
Thanks so much to Guy Roberts and his artistic company at the Prague Shakespeare Festival for putting on an enchanting evening of theater.  It can't be easy in this funding environment. I for one, appreciated the opportunity to enjoy your gifts!  Prague Shakespeare Festival will put on the play "As You Like It" May 12-22, 2011 in this same theatre next year.  I'm impressed with the ambition for next year: ten days of performances!

Related Posts:

Prague Playwriting Contest Shows Off Three Finalists

Wonderful English Language Theater in Prague
Travel Sites Catalog All Traveling Sites Expat Women—Helping Women Living Overseas International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory expat Czech Republic website counter blog abroadWho links to me? Greenty blog