Educación y Arte

A colorful public mural in San Antonio,Texas encourages students to stay in school.  (...un mural público colorido en San Antonio, Texas alienta a los estudiantes a permanecer en la escuela.) 

Vibrant murals adorn many of the walls within San Antonio’s West Side. They celebrate the area’s Chicano culture and history with bright colors, beautiful designs, and empowering imagery.

 

 

The one above was painted by local artists Cruz Ortiz and Juan Ramos in 1994, to call attention to the gang violence within the West Side. Its symbolism speaks volumes…this student  has chosen her education over bad influences like gangs.  She is holding a banner in triumph over the skeletons and graves of gang members still clutching their guns.   Other symbols celebrate the population’s Mexican heritage like Aztec pyramids in the background and a flourishing agave plant in the sunrise.

Amazingly, the mural has sustained very little damage or vandalism over the years (although fading and cracking requires occasional restoration). The San Antonio Cultural Arts Program, a group of local artists dedicated to placing murals and artwork around the city, fosters a sense of community pride around the murals it helps create. Each new mural receives a religious and indigenous blessing. Block parties full of music, food, and art celebrate every new art installation.

This information comes from Atlas Obscura  a self-described “global community” who write about places, culture and food. Their mission is to” inspire wonder and curiosity about the incredible world we all share.”

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A 7 yr. old Refugee to England 1938-1939 – EXPAT Files (continued excerpts from Christian Zozaya’s draft memoir, Culture Shock)

When we left off Christian Zozaya was 6 to 7 years old and his family had evacuated to Barcelona because of the Spanish Civil War. Nonetheless he narrowly missed being hit in a bombing raid that killed another school-mate.   As German troops marched into Austria, Mussolini’s Italians increased their bombing of the Spanish coast and Christian’s school was badly damaged.

1938…and that was the end of the school year for us. (Mother’s friend) Molly Stephenson wrote, “Put the boy on an airplane and I will pick him up at the airport in London.

Molly lived in a small rented flat in Paddington fit for a single woman and it had a sofa in the living room in front of the fireplace. If you pushed a hidden button in the back of the couch the back folded down and you had a bed for your guest(s.) Molly taught me what toothpaste was. I don’t remember how I brushed my teeth in Spain but toothpaste was a luxury not available during the Civil War. She pulled out a tube of Gibbs toothpaste and taught me to put a little bit of it on my toothbrush and then brush my teeth with the brush moving in circles.

Molly’s brother took us out in his car for a ride around the town… it was a two-door, four-seat (convertible) with doors cut out at the top so that they sloped down backwards sharply. It was either a Morgan 4/4 Roadster or a Lagonda Tourer. Although I had ridden in cars several times including that famous overnight trip to Valencia I had never seen turn indicators. They consisted of two arms hinged to the top of their respective housings that rested vertically on the hood (bonnet in English parlance) on either side of the windshield. When the driver flicked a lever on the steering wheel toward either side the corresponding arm would flick up.

Chris with Molly Stephensen in England

The Manor House School was in Little Bookham, a town near Leatherhead (where Molly’s parents lived). Molly spoke to the headmistresses and Miss Green and Miss Wheeler invited us to discuss our situation over tea. The tea was accompanied by canapés which are itty bitty little sandwiches. I complained to Mother, “¡Mamá, es que estos sandwiches son muy pequeños!”   I was still hungry from the Civil War.

As a result of our visit Miss Green and Miss Wheeler agreed to cut the school fees in half. Molly was a generous and caring woman. She knew that my parents couldn’t pay the remaining half of the fee so she paid it herself.

I was to be a boarder and I shared a room with a boy named David. When I realized that I was going to be left at the school and that Mum was going away I started crying. It broke Mother’s heart because for all she knew she (might) never see me again, but she was doing it for my own good. She and Molly saved me from some very miserable times that Mum and Dad had to go through. That night I was allowed to play with my toy speed boat in the bathtub.

I had precious little knowledge of the English language and my home room teacher known as “Jane” did her utter best to see to it that I learned it. (A. Z. Granville-Johnson aka Jane was a former girl.) Nobody at the school spoke Spanish…but thanks to her efforts and Molly’s coaching, I managed to acquire a good knowledge of the English language.

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At breakfast I was introduced to such peregrine fare as herrings, and beans laced with sugar. I was also introduced during my meals to Marmite, a yeast extract with a very tangy taste. I believe it took the place of peanut butter in England.

Every Saturday the school lined up and we walked to Little Bookham. There was a store in the town where we could buy sweets and comic books. Molly gave me a weekly allowance of two pence; a comic book cost one penny and the other penny went for candy… this is where I first read of witch doctors and a plane which folded its wings and plunged into the sea to become a submarine. Nothing can beat science fiction

 

(His parents were able to visit 7 yr old Christian only once that year when his father attended an International Congress on Tropical Diseases in Amsterdam)… He and Mother were granted diplomatic passports. Many people in Spain thought that they would take advantage of the situation to leave the country but they’d always had a deeply ingrained sense of duty. They returned to wait for the final disaster.

On December 8th the school gave me a torch (i.e. flashlight) for my birthday; it had a red and a green filter that you could slide into place to change the color of the light. At supper time I found a cardboard castle from Molly.

At Christmas recess I spent a delightful vacation with Molly and Terry, the boy next door as my constant companions. Terry had all the accouterments to play cricket and he did his best to introduce me into the secrets of the game but I am afraid that I did not learn very much. My Christmas present was a pirate costume complete with eye-patch and wooden cutlass.

The Manor House School Magazine” was published in April, 1939. Everybody wrote an essay or a poem. I wrote about my situation as a war refugee… The situation was dire and it was obvious that the family would be forced to leave Spain.

In September my mother brought me to the Manor House School because there was a war in Spain.  I am still in the school because Franco has taken Barcelona and I have no chance to go back home.  My father is in Paris and my mother in Villa Pourcon.  My uncle, aunt, grandfather and grandmother are in Paris too.                                                                 Christian Zozaya (age 8) Form II.

… Like hundreds of thousands of others my family crossed the border into France; all they had with them were the clothes on their backs except for Father, who carried a packet of medical books in one hand and a violin in the other. Feeling extremely tired he pondered which one to drop. He figured that if the worst came to the worst he could always earn a few ‘sous’ by playing the violin. He dropped the books. For the moment I’ll spare you the details of their stay in an “internment” camp until they were taken in by some hospitable French people. At first only women and children were allowed to cross the border. ( CCM’s note:The couple was separated and endured more hardships before reuniting with Christian.)

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Eventually all my family managed to cross the puddle…my grandparents and my uncle and aunt boarded a ship and went to Mexico. As they boarded the ship Lady Astor, who was the head of the British Committee for Aid to the Spanish Republican Refugees, helped my grandmother to cross the gangplank and board the ship.

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I am re-posting this “EXPAT File #7” For those of you who may not have seen it originally – it was very popular. Let me know if you are interested in me posting the next segment of Christian’s disrupted early childhood as an expat.arriving in Colombia circa 1940.

15th Century Doors

This photo post is inspired by photographer Norm Frampton who has a regular feature on his blog call #Thursday Doors. Below are two ancient doors found in the historic King’s Manor at the University of York in northern England.

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A beautiful, if crumbling façade of an entrance to King’s Manor.

 

The remaining building dates from the 15th century and began as the Abbot’s House.  It survived the dissolution of the monasteries, although the adjacent St Mary’s Abbey was destroyed by Henry VIII. King’s Manor houses the departments of Archeology and appropriately, Medieval Studies (but not Renaissance studies?).

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Entrance Door to the Centre for Medieval Studies.

 

What better place to study the Medieval period than in the City of York which boasts incredible medieval architecture (see previous blog: historical-york-england).

A Pair of Ancient Doors

This photo post is inspired by photographer Norm Frampton who has a regular feature on his blog called  #Thursday Doors.  It hadn’t occurred to me previously that other people were as taken by doorways as I am; they can be interesting.

Stone dogs guard the entrance

I  came across this handsome entry way (above) in a small town east of Gloucester, England. I wish I knew more of its story to tell you.  It shall remain a mystery ( unless one of you out in the world happens to recognize it).

Below is the doorway to Schola Moralis Philosophiae (School of Moral Philosophy) at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford – not the main entrance of course.

Oxford University

The Bodleian Library is one of the oldest in Europe.  Oxford University itself dates from at least the 12th century. The magnificent architecture of the colleges include some of the more ancient buildings  along with those from subsequent centuries.

 

The Cotswold Region

I have always wanted to visit the Cotswolds and see the gardens, cobblestones and thatched roof cottages. We did one better – we rented an enchanting cottage that must have been built 200 years ago.

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Orchard Cottage

The beams were all rough cut, the ceilings and upper floor sagged – all adding to its rustic charm. Turns out Graham Greene lived here in the 1930’s.  (We rented through Honeypot Cottages my contact was Andy Smith:  info@honeypotcottages.co.uk  They even left us a delicious homemade cake to have with tea when we arrived.)

Ancient stone birdbath

Once a wealthy producer of fine wool, the Cotswold countryside is dotted with sheep and crisscrossed with walking trails. Most roads are hardly wide enough to pass another car without slowing to a crawl – a hardship to people used to driving on the other side of the road! However Main Street in certain towns, like the one we stayed in, were built wide to accommodate the carts and animals coming to market.

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covered market at dusk

The picture above shows the old market (middle right) built in 1627.

Below is the bell tower of stately St James church built 500 yrs ago…and do you suppose this was a dipping trough (right foreground) for sheep?

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All of the cottages and buildings throughout the region were built of the same honey-hued limestone and today it is required of new stone buildings.  Eight Bells Inn (below) dates from 14th century.ChippingC_pse0176

 

This is the oldest house in Chipping; note the wavy roofline. Back in the 1300’s, when the villagers lived in smoky, damp “wattle-and daub” huts, a  well-to-do wool merchant built this first stone home with chimneys, instead of just holes in the roof.

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There are a number of pretty gardens in the area; we visited well-known Hidcote Manor with gardens divided into a series of ‘outdoor rooms’, each with its own character. The manor house was built in the 17th Century as a farm house; and the garden and lawns were begun in early 20th century by American Lawrence Johnston.

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Manor

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The red border

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The Cotswold may have been the hi-lite of our trip to Great Britain – I guess we saved the best for our last week. Have you been there? Live there?

Charming Bath and Remarkable Avebury Henge

Set in the rolling countryside of southwest England, Bath hardly needs an introduction… it is famous for Jane Austen, its 18th-century Georgian architecture and the Roman baths. In fact it was founded in the 1st century AD by the Romans who used the natural hot springs as a thermal spa.

The main thermal bath

One of the excavated pools not open to the public.

View of the rooftops from our room.

Honey-coloured limestone has been used extensively in the town’s architecture, including the museum built over the original Roman-era Baths and the Abbey. We didn’t need a car.  Bath is compact and once again the hop-on-hop-off buses took us everywhere we wanted to go (although not quite as reliable and convenient as in other cities). Don’t bother with the secondary tour that circles above Bath in hopes of a panorama; the city views are obscured by trees etc. and you barely get a glimpse.

Historic Pulteney Bridge built in 1774 over River Avon (photos above and below). It is sometimes compared to Ponte Vecchio in Venice because of the rows of stores lining each side.  Pulteney Brdg,1774 AvonR _pse0159

 

A few people from early 18th-century, Jane Austen’s era:

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No visit to Bath would be complete without seeing the Royal Crescent. The 30 terraced houses with ionic columns, laid out in a sweeping curve and fronted by this expanse of green, have been seen in many period movies.

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We were lucky to be there when a dog was demonstrating how she could herd geese. In the 3rd slide below, she drove the whole gaggle across the red bridge.

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In planning this trip, we debated whether to see Stonehenge and decided not to.  (The actual stones are fenced off for protection, and somehow we didn’t think we would feel the “mystical power,” sharing our time with the crowds.) After all we’d already wandered through Castlerigg Stones in the Lake Country mists, so now we decided to visit the Neolithic Avebury Henge on our way to the Cotswolds.   The term “henge” applies to most of these stones monuments, but the definition includes a large circular bank and a ditch.  A path has been built over the surviving ditch in the photo below.           This prehistoric site, contains the largest megalith circle in Europe and features two inner stone rings. In fact to really appreciate the size you need an aerial view; note the mound around the perimeter and the excavated ditch just inside.  Incredibly labor intensive, it was constructed over several hundred years circa 3000BC.

AVEBURY STONE CIRCLE, (photo by English Heritage)

Avebury village first began cropping up around one edge of the monument during the Early Middle Ages, eventually extending into it.  In the ensuring centuries a large number of the stones were re-used as building materials, buried or destroyed because of their association with paganism, but many remain or have been restored.

Tom in Avebury

One nice thing about Avebury is the lack of gaudy commercialism that accompanies so many world class sites.  We could hike among the stones and wander through the village. Do you think we made the right choice?  We do!

 

Pourquoi le Français ?

I went to France with Sue, my francophile friend last year. She is there once again studying French – as she is every year – and writes this (bilingually).
“A common icebreaker in French classes is to explain the motivation for studying French. The responses are as varied as the people. For some, it’s a love of French food and wine, for others, it’s because someone they love speaks the language and they want to communicate with them in their own language. Still others have a family connection with France.”

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Sue sur la Pont Neuf_

“Une entrée en maniéré courant dans les cours français est d’expliquer la motivation pour étudier français. Les réponses sont aussi variés que les gens. Pour certains, c’est l’appréciation de la cuisine et du vin; pour d’autres, c’est parce qu’on aime un français et on voudrait se parler dans sa langue maternelle. Encore d’autres ont un lien ancestrale en France.”

It’s difficult to explain my obsession with French. I love the sound of the language and the culture but this would be true of many other languages. Before I began my study of the language, I had no french friends, no french lovers, no french connection that I knew of.”

“C’est difficile d’expliquer mon obsession avec le français. J’adore la culture et la poésie de la langue mais ça serais le même cas de beaucoup de langues. Avant que j’ai commencé mon étude de la langue, je n’avais ni des amis français, ni des amants français, ni des ancêtres français.”

My (CCM) response: No other language has the melodic sound and poetry of French. This must be the reason why I have taken a class once a year for the last 8 years and meet a group of French speakers for lunch once a month.

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Ma réponse (CCM): Juste un point de désaccord sur “serais le même cas de beaucoup de langues.”  Il n’y pas autre langue avec son mélodique et la poésie du français! Ce doit être la raison pour laquelle je prends une classe une fois par an et rencontrer une groupe de francophones pour le déjeuner une fois par mois!

Are you a francophile, anglophile? (Are you a French speaker?  Feel free to take out your red pen and make any corrections!)  What other language do you speak or would you like to learn? Open the door to another culture and it will open your mind.