A virtual what? asked the perplexed high-school principal on the other end of the line. I was halfway through my one-minute pitch of the BEST Virtual Newsroom, a new cross-cultural media-literacy program for German and American teens. Apparently in a hurry, he huffed and quickly passed me on to a teacher of English at the Hamburg school. To my relief, she was more enthusiastic about the opportunity. She promised to distribute the call for applications.
I made that first cold-call in spring 2021. The Amerikazentrum Hamburg, a binational cultural institute, had approached me a few weeks earlier with the germ of an idea. Why not develop a virtual program to teach teens in Hamburg and its U.S. sister city Chicago the basics of journalism? A firm believer that media literacy is needed now more than ever, I loved the idea. I threw myself into the planning right away.
For Thanksgiving, let’s do without turkeys, these beautiful birds that Benjamin Franklin called “true American originals.” Well, a lot of good that did them! More than 46 million are killed each year at Thanksgiving alone.
Ben Franklin admired their resourcefulness, agility, and beauty. In nature, turkeys can fly 55 miles an hour, run 25 miles an hour, and live up to four years. Yet turkeys raised for food are killed at the age of 5 months and – during their short lives – will be denied even the simplest pleasures, such as running, building nests, and raising their young.
But let’s not only think about turkeys, let’s also think about ourselves.
We are pleased to announce that Darion Akins, the current U.S. Consul General from Hamburg, will open our lecture series with a talk on “Worth the Struggle: Why Democracy Matters” at 6:15 p.m. in the forum of Leuphana University Lüneburg’s central building (C40) on November 18, 2021. The coronavirus 3G rule (vaccinated, recovered, tested) applies to this event.
In addition to the lecture on campus, Julia Nitz (Universität Halle-Wittenberg), Christoph Strobel (University of Massachusetts, Lowell), and Fiona Tolan (Liverpool John Moores University) will also join us this semester via Zoom. As always, each lecture lasts roughly 1 hour and is either interactive or followed by a lively question-and-answer session. Please see the poster for further details.
What has most significantly affected your view of the U.S. within the last year? Black Lives Matter protests, maybe? Well, they might have changed, but the same fights are fought still. Disastrous ways to deal with Covid-19? Vaccination might have saved many lives, but 50,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 since October, and the rate of new infections is still at 70,000 new cases each day. But hey, one major change can’t be disputed even by the most cynical blogger: There’s a different POTUS (President of the United States)! And although he faces obstacles at home, a recent study suggests that Joe Biden’s presidency made America’s image abroad take off again after a Trump-induced dive.Read more »
It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Bobbie Kirkhart. Not only has she been my wonderful friend of 35 years, she’s also been one of our most faithful contributors, writing on political topics (“We were Trumped” and “The Long March to Justice”), often interweaving her political insights with personal recollections (“Memories of Government Springs Park”). She also commented on topics of cultural relevance, such as on soccer star Megan Rapinoe, (“Yay! People love her!” or on only ‘old white men’ being nominated for an Academy Award (“The Oscars – Not in Color this Year”). Bobbie, an avid moviegoer, also loved to review films she felt strongly about (“BlacKkKlansman: A Much too American Story” or “When the News was True: The Post”). All in all, we could always rely on her to tell it like it is, whether sprinkled with a dose of humor or a pinch of sarcasm.
Bobbie sent her last blog on Monday, Nov. 26, “A Government of, for, and by the people?” and it appeared two days later – the day she died.
Bobbie was a past president of Atheist Alliance International and a founder of the Secular Coalition of America. This is all the more surprising as she liked to write about religion and religious topics or on patriotic American songs and hymns, like in her great blog “We sing America.”
We Americans harbor a huge dichotomy in our attitudes toward our country. We display our patriotism in borderline chauvinistic manner, playing the national anthem before every major sporting event, and church services frequently include impassioned praise of our nation and sometimes promote the idea that loyalty to god must include equal loyalty to the country.
We Americans, myself included, love our country. It’s surprising that many of my fellow citizens hate our government. It’s a pejorative to call someone a politician. Candidates for office who have no government experience proudly run as ‘outsiders’ and often easily win a seat. Americans do not recognize popular public programs as government created and sponsored by Washington. I’ve heard more than once the demand, “Keep government out of my Medicare,” which is, of course, a government program. President Ronald Reagan was cheered when he told us, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Americans perceive correctly that the government does not represent all the people.