29 December, 2012

San Diego

The GABFEST Club’s  session club (at Window on America center Dnipropetrovsk) was dedicated to the topic of “San Diego in the USA”.

The Gabfest Club session was visited by a foreign guest. Michael Schroeder is a Germanistics student from Dusseldorf on Xmas holidays in Ukraine.
Michael was kind enough to share with us his experiences about the trip to the USA. As a student of  high school Michael took part in a student exchange program and spend one month in a host family in San Diego (California).We had a chance to view the pictures taken at that period and listen to personal comments of Michael.
Second half of meeting was a free topic with Joseph Battilega from  California.
The session was a success and enjoyed by all the participants.
The number of participants – 20 persons.

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26 December, 2012

Julie and Julia

 “Wednesday Movie Club” at Window on America center Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine.
The film «Julie and Julia» (2009) was presented to all who wish to improve their language skills.
Plot: Julia Child's story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book.
Director: Nora Ephron
Writers: Nora Ephron (screenplay), Julie Powell (book)
Stars: Amy Adams, Meryl Streep and Chris Messina

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22 December, 2012

Christmas Party

The Club members of the Club decided to celebrate the forthcoming Xmas with a party after the official club session.
The party scenario was drafted. It included musical numbers performed by the library staff and club members. A group of the club members developed a menu with snacks that had traditional American ingredients and foods.
On the day of the part, on December, 22 the table was decorated with tablecloths in festive winter colors- red and green. Funny party plates and cups were purchased to create the atmosphere.
The menu included canapés with salads: pineapple/crab meat and tuna/sweet corn. For Ukrainian club members this combination is very American. The highlight of the menu were Xmas cookies. We have managed to find the sweets that looked like American cookies: the chocolate chips cookies, shortbreads, etc.
The Xmas dinner started with a greeting song performed by the librarian Irina. She has rehearsed a traditional American song “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” in the Doris Day version. Our American friend Mr. Joseph played his guitar and sang a couple of Xmas carols. Traditional Xmas songs of both cultures (American and Ukrainian) were played as background music.
The party created a strong team spirit in the club and was enjoyed by all participants.
The number of participants – 33 persons.

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Chimney and Santa

This year the GABFEST Club’s  Xmas session club (at Window on America center Dnipropetrovsk) was dedicated to the topic of “Chimney and Santa”.
We have learned that in American tradition Santa comes to the house through the chimney and fireplace. We have listened to several Xmas songs about Santa stuck in the chimney and the consequences of such misfortune. The young club member Sasha got involved into Xmas paper craft and made several Xmas stockings and Xmas trees for our fireplace. They look very nice on the mantelpiece of our paper fireplace.
Our American guests Joseph, Kathryn and Sam told us about the differences in Xmas celebration they have observed in Ukraine. The Ukrainian club members told the foreign guests about a classical Xmas novel by Nicolay Gogol “The evenings at Dikan’ka village”. The chimney is used by negative creatures in this novel – a witch and a devil.
The club members shared their experience of celebrating Xmas in different countries. Foreign student Toby told about Xmas celebration in Nigeria, Kathryn – about Chile, Sam – about China. The Ukrainian club members demonstrated the You Tube videos with favorite Soviet songs about Winter holidays and explained their symbolism to the foreign guests.
This year’s White Xmas  in Dnipropetrovsk impressed our American guests, but they look forward to mild winters in California.
The session was a success and enjoyed by all the participants.
The number of participants – 29 persons.

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19 December, 2012

The Pursuit of Happyness

“Wednesday Movie Club” at Window on America center Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine.
Mr. Joseph Battilega continues his project of introducing American idioms and difficult expressions to the Movie Cub members for the better comprehension of the film content.
The film "The Pursuit of Happyness" was presented to all who wish to improve their language skills.
Plot: A struggling salesman takes custody of his son as he's poised to begin a life-changing professional endeavor.
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Writer: Steve Conrad
Stars: Will Smith, Thandie Newton and Jaden Smith

Will Smith earned an Oscar nomination for an inspiring performance opposite his real-life son Jaden in this tearjerker about a struggling single parent who's determined to build a better life for his family. Chris Gardner (Smith) is smart and talented, but his dead-end salesman job barely pays the bills. When he and his son are evicted, they face trying times as a desperate Chris accepts an unpaid internship at a stock brokerage firm.

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15 December, 2012

Dance and Music

Today’s session of the GABFEST speaking club (at Window on America center Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine) was planned as a free topic. The participants were encouraged to suggest topics for discussion.

Our American volunteer Mr. Joseph has introduced the topic of social dancing. He presented an very traditional American dancing genre – shag dancing.

"Shag" (when used in reference to American social dances) is a very broad term used to denote a number of swing dances that originated during the early part of the 20th century.  Shag was known throughout the entire country under various names, like "Flea Hop".

Today the term "Collegiate Shag" is most often used in reference to a kind of double shag that is believed to have originated in New York or New Jersey during the 1930s. To call the dance "collegiate shag" was not as common during the swing era as it is today, but when it was used (as it was with other vernacular dances of the time) it was meant to indicate the style of the dance that was popular amongst the college crowd. If anything, this meant it was a more energetic variant, probably involving more kicks. This name later became somewhat standard in the latter part of the 20th century.

The discussion further touched upon other national dances – Ukrainian gopak, Russian Kalinka, Latin-American salsa, Nigerian traditional. All the dances were illustrated with relevant videos from YouTube. The club members explained to the foreign guests the difference between the Ukrainian and Russian folk costumes. The guests shared their first impressions about the Ukrainian folk dance gopak performed by the famous Ukrainian State Dance Ensemble named after Pavlo Virsky.

Among other topics discussed during the session were the following:

·                 Election of the new Club’s President and Vice-President for the year 2013. The unanimous vote elected Mr. Jeff K. as the new President.  Ms. Olga Sh. Was re-elected as a Vice-president.

·                 The dress code for the Xmas session after-party.

·                 Musical numbers to be presented at the Xmas party. Mr. Joseph volunteered to sing Xmas carols. To illustrate his skills he showed us a video of himself singing A popular Russian song “Bat’ka-Ataman”. We have enjoyed the show and look forward to more of Joseph’s singing.

·                 Answering questions of our foreign club member Toby about the dates diference for popular winter holidays.

 The session was fun and enjoyed by all the participants.

The number of participants – 42.

Trace Effects

Today the WOA Dnipropetrovsk centre has introduced the visitors to the new resource.
The Office of English Language Programs (OELP) in the U.S. State Department has designated December 12th as American English Day! On this day in Washington D.C. a brand new website called American English was launched.
On the new site you will be able to find resources for teachers, students, materials related to American culture, the English Teaching Forum magazine.
The highlight of the launch is the new video game for learning English, TRACE EFFECTS.
Trace Effects is a virtual learning program designed to engage younger audiences and to help them to practice American English while learning about society, study, and travel in the United States. Trace Effects is supported on the new site with a variety of supplementary activities and links.
WOA Dnipropetrovsk received as a donation a DVD with this game. A lot of visitors expressed interest in the game and asked for copies.
We have explored the American English site. On the “About Us” page one can find information on Regional English Language Officers (RELOs), links to English Language Programs, E-Teacher Scholarship Program, the English Access Micro scholarship Program, more about the English Language Specialist Program, and English Language Fellow Program.
A Content Spotlight featured on the site includes cultural information, lesson plan ideas, and connects to OELP materials (such as from Celebrate and other publications). A My Resource List feature will allow you to click on and save resources and materials on a clipboard and either print or send to email address.
There are calendar pulls dates from the TESOL calendar, RELO regional events, and U.S. national holidays. In addition, there are links to social media feeds from the Twitter and Facebook sites.
A new social media site E-Connect ( http://e-connect.ning.com ) was also introduced to the visitors. Many of them plan to join it from their home computers.
The session was very educational and was a nice New Year present for the visitors of the WOA Dnipropetrovsk.

13 December, 2012

U.S. Libraries: Challenges of the 21st Century

On December 13 DOUNB library and Window on America center in Dnipropetrovsk were visited by Mrs. Peg Walther, Information Resource Officer based in Warsaw, and Mrs. Valentyna Pashkova, Information Resource Center Director, U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.
Mrs. Nadia Titova, the director of DOUNB, and Svitlana Usenko, the Head of WOA, informed the guests about diverse programs and projects arranged for the community in the year 2012.
The guests were familiarized with the WOA’a pages in social networks (FaceBook, Blogger, VKontakte). The good practices of iPads’ and Kindles’ promotion and use were shared as well as plans for the next year.

Mrs. Walther has read a lecture “U.S. Libraries: Challenges of the 21st Century” to the Ukrainian librarians (51 persons). The audience consisted of the associates from different libraries of Dnipropetrovsk regionyouth library, children library, and local universities’ libraries.
The meeting was very educational and had a great success with the Dnipropetrovsk librarians.
The librarians who attended the lecture were additionally introduced to the WOA Book display «If you want to study in the USA» (25 sources).