Tuesday, 19 October 2010


If I had all the time in the world to spend as i wished, and if i hadn't been typing all weekend i might be able to write a blog that could do this trip justice. sadly, that is not my life and i will have to rely on lots of pictures to help tell the story for me.
Saturday October 2 to REALLY late Thursday the 7th my Children in a Multicultural Context class ran amok London.
My trip started out with a few bumps. The last thing i remember Friday night, is setting my alarm for 530 the next morning to give myself plenty of time to get ready and make my way to the airport on the bus and train. We were supposed to meet out trip leaders at out airline desk at 7 am sharp. If for some reason we missed out flight, we would have to buy another ticket and figure out how to meet up with the class in the UK because the trip was a big part of our participation grade. I do not want to deal with this so i double check that my alarm set and ready.
in the morning, i role over to look at the clock on my cell phone and it says 653..............
that has to be wrong!! i jump up, check my computer and nope that really is the time. WHAT THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO?!? as i grab clothes and start getting dressed, i cal the student leader on our trip telling her what happened and that i will be there as soon as i can. she tells me i better catch a cab and that hopefully I'll make it. call and keep her posted.
after grabbing my bag and making sure i have my passport i am out the door.
it 7am
i call to get the number of a cab service and then call to find one near me. thankfully it comes fast. but when i ask how much it will be to get to the airport he says 300 kroner. i only have 250K. i ask if that will be OK and he says get in. as he drives through the city i put my contacts in in the back seat and try to finish getting ready.  we get to the airport 25 minutes later and i run to the desk. the group is halfway through the big line to check in. luckily i am able to print my ticket and step in line with them. everything is fine. i made it. but goodness that nasty wake up kept me off balance all day. i still cannot figure out how my alarm did not wake me up. it has become a great mystery.
when i ran into one of my roommates in London (also there with her class) she told me that after everyone else woke up and saw that my room was a mess and they guessed that something had happened but didn't know what. (yes, its true, i actually keep my room here clean...haha)
OK so i finally make it on the plane, enjoy a quick uneventful flight and a few hours later take my first steps on London pavement.
i cannot believe how much i missed simply being able to read signs! my eyes would not stop reading every building that we passed on the bus to the hotel simply because my brain was so happy that it could understand what it was reading.
that first day, we had time to go get lunch on our own before meeting to go to an adventure playground.
a group of us decided to find our way to Leicester Square in search of food. i loved the tube system! it was a challenge because there are so many different stations and lines, but since it was all in English it was a fun challenge instead of an annoying stressful one.
after lunch we all met up and headed to Glamis Adventure playground, a supervised playground in the Shadwell area of East London.
dinner that night was as a great Bangladeshi restaurant called Banglore Express. The Indian and Bangladeshi food was colorful and full of flavor.
the London Eye at night was a great way to start our week! The Eye is a 135meters high Farris-wheel-like structure with 32 enclosed globes. it is on the south bank of the Thames river between Waterloo and Westminster Bridges across from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. 
** random fact-> the tube was on strike for two of the days we were there, not all lines were down but it certainly made for a lot more walking!
we had a bus and walking tour of London that took us to many of the 'major London sites' Our leader was an extremely quirky Scotsman who had a huge collection of pop culture references and an astonishing collection of information about the city that kept him talking THE ENTIRE TIME! his info ran from interesting to funny to totally random, part of the entertainment of that morning was just seeing what Sean was going to say next.  here are some of the main places we stopped at include a the London Bridge, Westminster Abby, Big Ben and the Parliament Buildings and Buckingham Palace
we ended the tour in BRICK LANE in the Tower Hamlets borough with a few hours to explore on our own. 
the markets here are the best markets i have ever been to.  
the diversity was enough to keep me happy people watching for ages
(from my reflection paper)
This isle, full of spices and flavors from around the world, is a reflection of the area in which it can be found; a Bricklane grocery store in the Tower Hamlets borough of London. The Bricklane area has long been known as a major immigrant area of London. While waves of cultures have called this place home over the years, today it holds a large Bangladeshi community. On a side street, a mosque and synagogue sit side by side; two different communities sharing one space. By working together on projects to help people in their neighborhood, these two religious houses acknowledge the importance of community. One strip along the block is wall-to-wall restaurants with neon signs and men out front trying to entice customers in for a meal. Further down the street, however, a major contrast is seen at, what seems to be a blatantly drawn line where the atmosphere of the street changes. The neon signs disappear and the people change. Gone are the Bangladeshi store owners and in their places are young hip city folk flocking to the neighborhood in search of vintage clothes and film festivals.
The markets are what continues to bring money in.  They are known for being chaotic and disorganized, but there are treasures to be found if one has time to look. I found the wide collection of wares from cultures all over the world to be a feast for the senses. Imagine standing still in a marketplace and, as you turn on the spot, being able to see handmade sushi, Italian style pizza and fresh fruit smoothies, mixed in with booths selling African, Indian, Bangladeshi, Moroccan, Chinese, foods. I had never before experienced such a mix of flavors and smells in one place.
after that we went to the Freud Museum. The home of Sigmund Freud and his family when they lived in London ,after escaping the Nazi annexation in 1938, has been transformed into a museum that celebrates the life and work of Sigmund and his daughter Anna Freud.
Pedro and i ventured back to the markets after the museum and i bought Dana' s18th birthday present :) once she gets it ill upload pictures for u all but for now it is still a surprise :)

that day, we got a call from DIS about a statement that was being released in the US about a warning being issue to all Americans traveling abroad. it advised us to stay away from all big tourist sites. after talking about it, we each were able to make our own choice about whether we felt uncomfortable going around the city. most if us felt that to stay in the hotel would be a waste of time and after emailing our parents to reassure them we knew of the warning and were all fine. we continued our trip without any problems.
that night Lena, Kate, Patti Jeff and i split off on our own. we found a FANTASTIC little Italian restaurant and had a lovely dinner and talk over our pasta, calzones and wine. From there we wandered to Trafalgar Square at night...
and i fell in love.
Sitting at the base of Nelson's Column the impressive columns of the National Gallery are framed by the two fountains and the square is completed by the Gallery itself. in the dark the lights give the square and unreal quality. add it that the sound of the fountains mixed with the music of a street musician playing his saxophone and i was gone. i kept having to tell myself "yes, this is real, you are here, this is your real life right now"
at one point i was sitting there by myself for a bit and did something kind of silly.
I laid on my back and looked out at the square upside down. its a way of looking at something in a new way that i learn about in one of my choreography classes.
the water seemed so much more alive from this angle!
then Jeff and Lena came around the corner and i had to explain why i was upside down. hahaha yeah i know I'm weird.
we went to the London East Academy, a Muslim primary and secondary school for boys whose curriculum is half state based and half faith studies. we took a tour of the school, sat in on a class and talked with one of the teachers, The talk with the teacher was my favorite part. We was originally from Spain and he used his time with us to share his personal experience of the Muslim faith. he was not preaching, but he was instructing and sharing. there is a big difference. he was not trying to talk us into believing what he believes, but sharing a part of his live that has brought him much happiness. i wish Taylor, Lauren or Maria could have been there to talk with him. i can imagine the great discussions that could occur because of the combination of their passions for their beliefs and their respect for other views.
we continued on to the East London Mosque and London's Muslim Center
here we had a fascinating conversation about the roles of the Muslim faith and the center in the community,that talk took a serious turn when the topic of the angry debate over the new culture building at the site of the 9/11 attacks was brought up. when we left, the center gave us each a gift of the Koran so that we could do our own research about the Muslim religion.
after a fabulous Indian food lunch at Cafe Naz on Bricklane we continued with our academic visits.
our next stop was at William Davis Primary School for kids 5-11 in the majority Bengali neighborhood of Tower Hamlets. The school was a good example of a school that is dealing with the challenges of diversity in a positive way and doing a great job at helping their students to succeed.
(from my paper)
At William Davis Primary School, the headmistress said that while many of the students are British, their families come from a different culture. The largest population is Bangladeshi, and practices Islam. She told us that, for children, culture and religion are often seen as the same thing. Making sure that the students know the different between the what and the WHY behind many traditions in both, is part of what the school tries to teach in its Religious Education Programs. During the first three years, the students are taught about the biggest three world religions; Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. In the later years, they are introduced to more. It is important to realize that the teachers in these classes are not teaching the faith, they are teaching the religion.  By approaching the subject like this, the students are able to learn about the histories and traditions if the different religions without the teachers preaching or emphasizing one over the other based on personal beliefs.
I feel like this kind of program would not be common in Danish elementary schools.  Instead of embracing the different cultures brought by students into the classroom, educators seem to want to ignore the differences and try to make every student ‘equal’. London schools however, see the diversity in the community as an opportunity to expand the students learning base and seem to work hard to make the students from different cultures feel welcome. Yes, the fact that London has a more diverse population than Denmark contributes to this difference, but the underlying view of multicultural students also differs. In Denmark, multiculturalism seems to be seen as a problem to be dealt with, a mountain to overcome. While in London, the challenge is seen, but does not seem to have such a negative connotation.
you'll never guess what we did next....
we took a Bollywood Dance class. yep I'm not kidding. we learned a dance to the song Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire. it was hilarious!!
i also really enjoyed watching the jazz and ballet classes going on downstairs.
ugghh how my mind and body miss dance!
after exploring Covent Gardens for a few hours...
Pedro, Alice, Ashley and Alis all went to the Short and Sweet film festival in Bricklane. it is the city's only weekly short film festival. it happens every monday since 2006 and shows all kinds of short films old, new, animated, music videos, etc. the seven films we watched ranged from strange, to comical, to quirky, to odd, to cute, and totally random. the atmosphere of the cafe/club where it was held had an air of young edgy urban artists.. haha that sounds odd when i read it but i don't know how else to say it. oh well. I really enjoyed that night!
before heading back to the hotel we stopped in Trafalgar Square again. :D
The next morning we were up early again to go to the Princess Dianna Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens.
After that we had until dinner to explore the city on our own. Looking back at all i did that day it seems totally crazy! if you find all the places we went on a map of the city you'll see that we were ALL OVER the place.
Hannah Alice Hannah and i started the day off by walking up to Abby Road from Kensington Palace. We figured there would be a museum or a plague or something fun to commemorate the famous Beatles cover that is the reason we all know Abby Road.
We were wrong.
haha it was so completely anticlimactic that we had to laugh. after all that walking, it was literally just a road and a wall outside the recording studio where people have scribbled names and dates and quotes from various Beatles songs. after trying to at least take a picture crossing the famous road (which was another funny task because the road was in use and cars kept driving through) we headed towards Oxford Square for food and a bit of shopping.
since public bathrooms are a bit hard to find in London and we REALLY needed one, we ended up eating at a Pizza Hut buffet for lunch. I know I know, how awfully American! but it was cheap and i have dearly missed pizza since leaving Ameci's in the spring.
after food we found a great cheap place to shop called PRIMARK imagine a HUGE mix of h&m and forever21 but a bit better quality stuff. after the EXPENSIVE shopping options in Copenhagen, this was a GREAT find for some winter clothes :)
Next stop was at the TATE MODERN to enjoy a few floors of modern art exhibits. from here, the Hannah headed back to the hotel for a bit and Alice and i walked over the Millennium bridge (a bridge that was used in the most recent harry potter movie), paid homage to the firemen of the world at a Fireman's Memorial statue, and saw ST Paul's Cathedral (a famous church where, among many other important things, Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married)
we stopped in a candy shop in the square by St Paul's and i found a new candy love called 'millions' they are little round candies that turn into a gum like texture before you swallow them. they remind me of the little bits of gum you find in bubblegum ice cream only they come in all different kinds of flavors. i wish i knew where i could get them outside of London!
before heading towards the area of town dinner was in, we made stop at Kinds Cross Station to
find Platform 9 3/4. you cant tell in the picture, but the station was under construction and the wall is around a corner at the far end of a real platform and it was surrounded by plastic covering and building supplies.
not quite as magical as one might have imagined :P
after wandering around Chinatown for a bit, we met our class at Joy King Lau Restaurant for a fabulous Chinese food meal.
then..... on to a BROADWAY SHOW!
we saw AVENUE Q. which is basically a dirty version of the Muppet's. with songs like 'it's OK your gay', 'the Internet is for porn' and 'everybody's a little bit racist' you can imagine how hilarious it was :)
(from my reflection paper)
 Although the Broadway show Avenue Q was not meant as an academic activity, it can be related to our discussions about multicultural communities.  The mix of building tenants the story focuses on includes an Asian American therapist engaged to a goofy Caucasian man, an African American child-star-turned-landlord, a few Monsters (a race of people that are covered in fur), a (secretly gay) republican banker and a brand-new college graduate who doesn’t have a clue who he is. Each character has his or her unique traits that give the impression of extremely different backgrounds. Yet, by the end, they are all friends who do not let their differences keep them from supporting one another on reaching for their dreams. The songs in the story give humor to some of the serious issues that come up when a community has so much diversity in it. “It’s OK you’re gay” sings of acceptance for those with a different sexual orientation than the ‘norm’ of being straight. “It sucks to be me” reminds the audience that everyone has problems in their lives that seem huge and awful and listening to other people’s problems helps you to understand them better. “Everyone’s a little bit racist” sings that almost everyone makes racial slurs or laughs at some not politically-correct jokes; it’s not meant to be taken too seriously or personally. A small part of me agrees that everyone probably is a-little-bit-racist because stereotypes continue to have power when people do not have personal experiences with different culture and like the song says, often the stereotypes have a tiny kernel of truth to them. Education helps to downplay those stereotypes. As entertaining and fictitious at it was, Avenue Q kept with our weeks theme of examining what makes it possible for a multicultural community to be successful.
after another yet another stop at Trafalgar Square, Alice, Jeff, Bailey, Kate and I went to Buckingham Palace too. after how PACKED with people it was during the day, i was surprised to find we had the whole square to ourselves at night
we spent the day in Greenwich village
i got to play with kids all morning at Mulgrave Primary School :D
after not being able to talk with my students at my Danish practicum, being able to speak English with the students in England was SO GREAT! it really made me realize what a difference verbal communication makes for the the type of connection you can build with the kids compared to when you are mostly miming and guessing. (my practicum THIS week was a lot harder because i just REALLY wished i could talk with my kids, the language barrier is ceasing to be a fun challenge and is starting to really get frustrating.)
)from my reflection paper)
The number of different languages spoken by children in the schools we visited while in London was amazing!  At Mulgrave Early Years Center, Hilary, the deputy head of inclusion at the school, told us that there are about 48 different languages spoken at the center.  Some of the ways of coping with this challenge that we heard about this week include signs, like the one above, that work to include the childrens’ original languages in their school life, even when the teacher cannot speak that language. The headmistress also spoke of translators that they hire. However, since each translator often only speaks one or two of the languages that need translating, each one can help only a few of the children. It would be financially impossible to hire translators for everyone everyday.           
   Before coming to Denmark, I would have read this statement and been impressed by the challenge I could imagine it being. After working in a classroom (that is more like a daycare) where I speak a different language than my students, the almost impossible reality of this statement resonates more. Verbal communication is not just a way of making things easier in school; it is how all explanations between students and teachers take place. Yes I am able to communicate with the kids in my class through miming and a mix of English and Danish words, but this works because we have other teachers who can fully communicate in both English and Danish to fill in the gap. If left on our own, I would not be able to fill all of the kids needs because I wouldn’t even be able to understand what they were asking of me. In a school setting where the teacher is supposed to be TEACHING, verbal language becomes even more important.
after that we were free to walk around the town and explore before heading up to the Royal Observatory and the Meridian Line
when we walked by the navel academy.........
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4 was being filmed there!
Johnny Depp waved to us! no big deal or anything!
 at the Observatory, the view was beautiful!
i really like the contrast between the front and back halves of the picture with the old city in the foreground and the new modern city right behind it
(uggg are we done yet?!?! this is taking forever!)
OK next we headed to the Charlton Athletic Soccer Stadium to learn about the project CARE that uses soccer to bring the diverse community together. 
(a chunk from my reflection paper:)
Where different cultures are squished in the same area, often, the differences in the cultures are highlighted more than the similarities in the people. Greenwich London is another diverse region of the city, with supposedly 100 languages spoken within the borough. CARE, a program started in 1993 by the Charlton Athletic football club and Greenwich Council, uses football, other sports and multimedia technology to work towards uniting this diverse community. It was created in response to right wing racist activity and racial influences in the area. After two high profile murders, something needed to be done to deal with the anger and divisions within the society.  By focusing on something that the people can participate in and enjoy that is not a part of religion or unique to a specific culture, and by putting on annual programs, CARE manages to give the people of the neighborhood something to rally around.
                For CARE workers, sport = power. Football is a place where multiculturalism works, all around the world. A perfect example is when the globe recently turned its focus to the World Cup Football tournament. People of 53 different nations took part in the huge tournament and that doesn’t count the many different peoples who tuned in to watch the games. Football is a multicultural sport and CARE is using this to help its neighborhood. Personally, I feel that this round about approach to uniting a community is not used often enough. I think that if you can give people common ground, it will be easier to deal with their differences. Football and sport is not the only avenue that can be used to gather the people. Dance, music, and food are all other interests that can provide great material when trying to plan community building activities.
 (i was really cold and Ashley thought my way of trying to warm up was really funny :P)
next we walked along  the river as the sunset. it was exactly what i needed :)
for dinner, we went to an English pub on the river front.
 and yes, i actually ate fish and chips. i did not like it. but i ate it.
our leader Alis did something really nice for us all this night. during the week she had been insistent about our answering her question of 'if we could pick one souvenir to commemorate our trip, what would it be?" after listening to our answers, she bought is each a small matted picture that related to our answers. after hearing about my favorite moment in Trafalgar square, her picture for me was the square at sunset. it is now hanging by my bed :)
after an early ordeal trying to get Dana's birthday present mailed before we left London, i was late to meet the group at the Museum of Natural History. which just happened to be one of the prettiest buildings i have seen so far,
beside just enjoying the FANTASTIC interactive exhibits in the museum we were also there to observe and take note about eh ways that schools used the museum to help their children learn in fun academic ways.  the place was swarming with school classes in their matching uniforms enjoying a day learning about dinosaurs, mammals, geology, plant life and other parts of our planet. when i get back to the us i really want to see if u can find a museum that does such a good job making the exhibits exciting and interact for the kids. i could have spent SOO much more time there.  
after a filling lunch of chicken veggies and potato wedges we had a wrap up discussion and were set free for a few more hours before we had to meet back at the hotel to leave for the airport.
by the time I made it back to my apartment in Copenhagen that night the clock read 1230am.
i was totally alone in the apartment that night and ended up sleeping in until 3pm the next day. by the end of Friday, everyone else had gotten back from their trips too and we were all in need of some serious recharging.
after turning my heater on (WOOHOO the heat was finally working!) lighting a bunch of candles, and making popcorn with m&ms, we collected on my bed to enjoy some wine and movie time
as wonderful as my adventures in London had been, it was soooo good to be back :D
my next travels outside of Copenhagen start on October 29th (travel break is that Friday to Sunday Nov 24th) when my roommates Clare, Margaret, Sarah and I head to Vienna, Budapest and Prague. The second week, I'm meeting Sarah and Amy in Amsterdam
goodness gracious i cant believe all this is really happening!

No comments:

Post a Comment