Showing posts with label Rotary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rotary. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Jubilant American Summer, Part One

Loving Life in Chicago
Summer of 2014
This summer I spent two-and-a-half months back in America. It was the longest I'd been home since becoming an expat six years earlier. It was fantastic to spend quality time with my family.
We called this
"Take-Your-Mother-to-Work-Day."
Since my youngest daughter had an internship in Chicago for the summer, I decided to make the city of Chicago my base. Chicago is so spectacular, so joyfully sublime, so wonderfully world-class, I was just pinching myself every day there.
My new Brazilian friend,
Isabela, from Sao Paulo,
whom I met in Chicago.
We explored the Magritte show
at the Art Institute together.
I have been to Chicago many times. My daughter had to work most days, so my friend, Isabela, and I bought City Passes (a packet full of coupons to get into all the top museums at a discount - a great value that I highly recommend) and thus I started on a summer of experiencing every single main attraction as it if was new to me.
It was scary to stand
 in these glass boxes.
The attractions were new too! Every main attraction had added something new to bring people back. For example, the Sear's "Willis" Tower, now has those glass boxes where you go out and stand on glass 100 floors up (that's a lot harder to do than it looks without freaking out, especially given that one of them had developed cracks the week before).
Magritte says "this is not a pipe."
It is, after all,
just a picture of a pipe.
The Art Institute had an amazing Magritte show, his first comprehensive retrospective in 65 years. 

I went to the Field Museum to see the show on the World's Fair, but was blown away instead by the exhibit they had created on bio-mechanics, easily the finest science exhibition I have seen in five years.
I literally paused in reverence
in front of this fantastic
American art form,
the root beer float,
created at the Museum of Science and Industry's
old-fashioned ice cream parlor. 
And then I ate it!
video
 At the Shedd Aquarium
(the largest and oldest aquarium
in the Western Hemisphere)
there was an exhibit where you
could touch sting-rays.
How cool is that?!?
 The Adler Planetarium
had state-of-the-art
shows about the cosmos,
but I found myself responding
to the original fixtures,
including these fabulous
art deco iconic representations
original to the building.

I was fascinated by this
old-time, low-cost
mechanical way of teaching people
about the night sky in their own city
at the Planetarium.
A box car of visitors
goes into the sphere
with a guide
who points out the constellations
made by the pinpricks of light
that have been punched into
the sphere.
They show up perfectly in the dark.
This contraption is 100 years old!
It's still going strong.

Look, World!
This is the planet's largest
public library building.
I can't even fit it into one photo.
Who built it?
My people, Midwesterners!
The exquisite Winter Garden
on the top floor of
Chicago Public Library.
Boo-yah!
This is the greatness of my country.
We are a marketplace of ideas
where the people themselves
are entrusted to evaluate them.
I was grateful to see
Senator William Fulbright's
words on the walls
at Chicago Public Library.
I fear his wisdom is being forgotten
Before becoming an expat
I wouldn't have noticed
or understood how wonderful it is
that this spectacular Chicago synagogue
doesn't require 24/7 police protection.
That is not true
everywhere in the world.
May it ever be so in my country.
While in Chicago,
I watched a Palestinian protest
about Gaza
go through the streets
of Chicago.
I was struck by how the police
led and followed the demonstration
protecting the people demonstrating.
After watching Turkey's
best-educated youth
tear gassed all year
for wanting
to protect
Taksim Square's Gezi Park,
I was so grateful watching how this
Chicago protest was handled.
When I stepped up to
the police officer to say thanks,
he said,
"we are all about the first Amendment
and the exercise of free speech in Chicago."
I immediately teared up.
I was so damn grateful
for this attitude.


Being an expat makes
my gratitude
for America's
accomplishments even greater.
Rotary International started in Chicago.
I've been in four different Rotary Clubs
across America.
If you're a Rotarian,
I'd just like to say "thank you,"
for all that
you've done to help end polio.
If you're not familiar with Rotary,
let me tell you.
Each Rotarian, around the world,
doing their small part,
has collaborated to eliminate polio worldwide.
Rotarians are almost done,
 since there
are usually less than
5,000 cases a year globally.
Know a Rotarian? Thank them.
Don't know what polio is?
Thank them again!
This is Jenn and Alex,
my very first AirBnB hosts.
Jenn and Alex
were fantastic to stay with
while I was in Chicago.
This is the typical Chicago beach
two blocks from their house.
They taught me about Uber too
while I was there.
Plotting my explorations of Chicago
in Grant Park.

I'll share my very favorite thing
I was able to experience in Chicago
for the first time.

First and last photos
courtesy of Chicago photographer
Peter Yankala

Sunday, May 4, 2008

My History with Czechs (part three)

One of the delights of knowing Czechs back in 1992, was hearing stories about Czecho love for Americans thanks to Patton's Third Army. An American man who had the pleasure of being one of the first Americans representatives in western Czecho after the Velvet Revolution gave a speech at my Rotary Club about what a privilege, an absolute utter privilege, it was to be one of the first Americans accompanying the American ambassador into Plzen when truth could be spoken for the first time.

All the Czechs greeted the official party with fantastic enthusiasm along the roadside waving flags and smiling. It was a love fest. All sorts of hidden American souvenirs came out of hiding from Czech attics and garages, even Jeeps and tanks, because the Czechs were not allowed to say that the Americans had done the liberating of Plzen in WWII -- not the Red Army. Here was the proof!

Little Lenka said Czechs knew it was a lie but that is what the Soviets demanded new generations be taught. She said one thing that proved to young people that it was not the Soviets who liberated Plzen is that the Soviets could never provide a decent explanation for who all the black people were in pictures from that time (American soldiers).

I love those stories. All of it makes me reverently proud of my country.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I Knees to Do This

Today my amazing and accomplished mother, age 72, goes in for a double knee replacement. She put off having it done curtailing her mobility, slowly and inexorably. Mom felt recovery from surgery might interfere with serving as a hospital trustee or her term as President of her Rotary Club. Last year when I saw her she wouldn't go into a grocery store to shop because of the pain in her knee joints. Finally, when she couldn't walk last week, she realized she had better go in and have it done. Her doctor hadn't even tried to talk her out of waiting for the surgery. The pain would do all the talking necessary. He just got a bemused smile on his face when she figuratively cried 'uncle'. "I guess Rotary will have to wait," he said.

How many years of great knees do I have? However many I have, I do not want to use them on the all-American trip from the car to the mall entrance. I want them in service helping me hike Austria hut-to-hut, or exploring some Czech national park I've never heard of, or pounding the pedestrian pavement all over Prague.

Already, I've lived three years longer than my father. I hope I have a good ten years until the grandchildren come and I am needed back home. I want to make every single one of those years count.
 
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