Month: January 2011

Kolejka: An Educational Board Game About Communism

Kolejka Board Game

Having visited the Soviet Union in February 1987 and seen the lines of people patiently waiting for items of food, I am very interested in this new board game, Kolejka, created by the Poland’s state-run National Remembrance Institute.  The name, Kolejka, means “queue or line” and it intends to build bridges by helping young Poles to better understand the hardships of life of their parents and grandparents under communism.  As an international educator, I see this game as a tremendous learning tool for not only young Poles, by anyone who wants to understand history, economics, politics and the Polish language.

Two to five game players are tasked with buying a number of goods from a shopping list, but a lack of deliveries, shortages and the connections competitors have to communist authorities turn the task into an exercise in frustration.  Players try to buy basic goods but food supplies run out before they reach the game’s counter. Alternatives may be offered in lieu of lacking items;  for example, if a bed is needed, stools may be offered instead. Cards, meant to represent, status are issued, so a player needing the the store’s last bed can be pushed aside by a “mother with small child” or “friend in government” card.

As reported by NPR, Karol Madaj, the game’s creator stated,”We want to show how it was when you lost your chance because someone with high connections jumped the line.”  Madaj is a 30-year-old who still remembers spending long hours with his mother in lines.  He went on to say,”We may laugh at it today, but it was not funny for them, when they were wasting their lives in lines.”  Madaj went on to say that the game is best played by members of various generations because it evokes emotions in older players who start to talk about their experiences.

The game also comes with 2 education films:  the first is a 1983 documentary film titled “Everyone Knows Who They Are Standing Behind” directed by Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz and the second is a 2010 documentary titled “What Did They Deliver? The Life of Queuing in the People’s Republic of Poland” directed by Konrad Starczewski. I’ve also read that the game comes with a booklet of Communist era jokes.

As an educator, I would have students play this game and then play Monopoly, the popular American game that, according to Wikipedia, is a redesign of an earlier game called “The Landlord’s Game” which was first published by political activist (and Quaker) Elizabeth Magie.  The purpose of that game was to teach people how monopolies end up bankrupting the many and giving extraordinary wealth to one or few individuals.

Both games serve as great educational tools, allowing students to compare the pros and cons of each system.

Koejka will go on sale in Poland on February 5th. (Obviously, the game is in Polish, so you will need to speak or be able to translate Polish to understand the details of the rules/cards.)

We Apologize in Advance: “The Jersey Shore” Goes to Italy

I've written about the "ugly American" syndrome. I've written about the value of going abroad to learn about your host country and yourself. And today, I'm apologizing for what I expect will be nothing by an "ugly American explosion" in the country that gave the world Michelangelo, DaVinci and Botticelli.

This spring, we are sending Italy some of the least cultured media/pop culture that the United States has to offer, a show called the Jersey Shore. One of the more notable characters we are sharing is "Snooki." (This young woman was arrested for public intoxication in the stateside version of the reality show she is on - called "The Jersey Shore." I wonder if MTV cares that it is sending her to a country where public intoxication is not well tolerated. Then again, I wonder if the Italian government cares - they apparently are granting her a visa!)

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5 Tips on Chinese Language and Culture for Rush Limbaugh

The President of China, Hu Jintao, visited the US this past week. Rush Limbaugh, one of talk radio's well known characters, mocked the Chinese language, complaining that it wasn't being simultaneously translated. Here is the video:

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The Transformative Power of Intercultural Experiences

As an educator, I believe that intercultural experiences have an important role to play in a world situation that is – to say the least – very confusing. This year, 2011, marks a decade since the tragic events of September 11. Today's undergraduate college students were eight to twelve years old in 2001 and consequently have spent their intellectually formative years with post-9/11 media coverage, little of which addressed the need for intercultural understanding.

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Park 51: Imam Fiesal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan’s Roles Change

A press release from Park 51 announced that Imam Fiesal Abdul Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan, will no longer be speaking on the organization's behalf. Imam Fiesal will begin his personal speaking tour next week. He and Ms. Khan will also not be raising funds for the project on this speaking tour.

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African Languages Initiative

Students are always seeking funding for language study. The beauty of the African Languages Initiative pilot program, designed to increase the number of Boren Scholars, Fellows and alumni engaged in the study of critical languages of Africa, is that it requires domestic US study of the language prior to departure to the host country. (This can be bypassed if the student has reached "novice high" -ILR 0+.)

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How One Young Woman Landed a Free Trip to Australia: The Power of Twitter

With the start of The Ashes, the internet went abuzz. Ms. Kerekes, also known on Twitter as @TheAshes, attracted hundreds of followers who began commenting on the upcoming match. The more she protested their messages saying that "I am not a cricket match!", the more that followed. She went from having 300 followers to 3,000 nearly overnight. The number skyrocketed to 13,000! (She currently has nearly 18,000!)

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Guns and Study Abroad

I traveled to India several years ago and one of my fondest memories was chatting with a young boy in Varanasi. He approached me while I was watching a beautiful performance along the Ganges River. He spoke perfect English at 9 years old and asked me some questions about why I was in India. He guessed, eventually, where I was from. And when he did, the first question he asked was, "Lady, where is your gun?"

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IIE Best Practices Conference in New York City

The Institute of International Education recently announced that its 6th Annual IIE Best Practices in International Education Conference: "Lead your Campus to the Top: Best Practices in Internationalizing the Campus", will take place on March 18, 2011 in New York City. This event will cover many exciting keynote, plenary and session themes and will feature high-level experts, including presidents, provosts and international education administrators from institutions around the world. In addition, a special awards portion of the conference will honor the winners of the 2011 IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education.

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