Small talk delights and confounds us, and it is worth asking why. In this short humorous piece I will confine myself to American small talk, as there appear to be different variations on this tune, as Mark Twain might also have pointed out if he had written more about American English and less about the German language.
On the one hand, it can feel overly factual and too easy, (are they making fun of me?) on the other hand, it is full of ambiguity and hidden meaning. But do you KNOW what that meaning is? It is also a way of getting to know you quickly, whatever the circumstances, sharing information, getting the real information fast or just having some fun in a bored moment.
Hence I share with you a “Small Talk Vignette” from one of my trips in the US. Although I am American, I have felt like a foreigner in the US at various times, and this was one of them:
Continue reading An American Discovers Small Talk – by Jacquelyn Reeves
We came to America without a clue
When November rolled around and Thanksgiving, too
Stories of pilgrims sailing in hope
The Mayflower and Plymouth Rock – Who knew!
Continue reading A Bermudian-American Poem for Thanksgiving – by Deborah Levine
To celebrate my birthday, I addressed a group of Global Scholars at Chattanooga State Community College on the societal trends in this political environemnt through the lens of cultural anthropology. Chattanooga is experiencing major cultural shifts as globalization transforms the South’s demographics. We are very much in need of a new generation with global leadership skills, multicultural expertise, and political involvement.
Continue reading Cultural Diversity and Politics – by Deborah Levine
I used to write about terrorist destructors in the U.S. every spring. My articles began with the domestic terrorism of the Oklahoma City bombing more than twenty years ago on April 19. That’s when I became the community/media liaison for Oklahoma’s Tulsa Jewish Federation. It was shortly after the bombing destroyed the Murrah Building and so many lives were affected. I felt compelled to investigate what led to the deadliest bombing, prior to 9/11, on our native soil. The violent hatred that I saw has not only continued, but has expanded globally, and now, it encompasses the entire year.
Continue reading Tracking our Terrorist Destructors Year by Year– by Deborah Levine
When Jessica’s father bought her a one-way ticket to the States from Guatemala when she was 25, that was his way of saying, “I believe in you, hija, and I expect you to truly ‘be ‘somebody’.’” Now go do it.
Continue reading From Guatemala to the US — La Paz
ASIAN AMERICANS IN THE USA
Asian Americans comprise about 5.6% of the United States. Among them, the Chinese Americans, with 3.79 million—constitute the largest Asian ethnic group in the U.S. Most of them arrived at this country in three separate immigration waves, each characterized by its own set of reasons for migration.
The first wave took place during the Gold Rush in California as part of the 1800s immigration wave. The Chinese immigrants were primarily laborers from Southeast China. Some came voluntarily with the intention of returning to their home village with wealth and prestige; others were kidnapped and bought as Asian slaves. This article will follow the story of Chinese Americans and the challenges they still face.
Continue reading Chinese Americans: Railroads to Fiber Optics – by Dr. Julia Wai-Yin So
Any discussion of monuments and cultural symbols tends to be highly emotional, regardless of which side of the controversy you’re on. Here in Chattanooga, the controversy features the statue of General A.P. Stewart at the county court house. For some, Stewart represents post-Civil War bridge building and the creation of the Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park. For others, his Confederate uniform and the monument’s funding by the Daughters of the Confederacy symbolizes slavery followed by Jim Crow laws.
My experience with historical monuments began thirty years ago when I was hired as the junior of three assistant directors in the American Jewish Committee’s Chicago office. It was August and when a reporter from The Chicago Tribune called, I was the only staff person not on vacation.
Continue reading History, Monuments and Culture Clash – by Deborah Levine
Long before The New York Times had its first woman Executive Editor, Ruth Holmberg was the Editor of The Chattanooga Times. Holmberg is a member of the family that founded both newspapers and she has shared her compelling life story as friends and admirers gathered to hear her speak. Holmberg is a former director of The Associated Press and of The New York Times Company, a former president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and of the Southern Newspaper Publisher Association and a member of the Board of Directors of the Public Education Network (PEN).
The petite, soft-voiced woman is also a member of one of the nation’s most prominent publishing families.
Editor’s note: Publishing icon and Chattanooga civic leader Ruth Holmberg passed away at age 96. In her honor, here is the ADR interview with Ms. Holmberg several years ago.
Continue reading The Art and Civics of Publisher Ruth Holmberg: Making History — by Deborah Levine
Editor’s Note: Among my father’s papers was the full 1940 commencement address at Harvard University by then Secretary of State, Tennessean Cordell Hull. His words and passion for the American heart and soul on the brink of war still resonate today. (Excerpts)
There are at work in the world today powerful forces the significance of which no individual an don nation can ignore without jeopardy. They rose on many occasions in the past and, for varying periods and with varying intensity, held sway over human affairs. They spring today from the source from which they have always sprung in the past – from godless and souls lust for power which seeks to hold men in physical slavery and spirit degradation and to display a system of peaceful and orderly relations among nations by the anarchy of wanton violence and brute force.
Continue reading Flashback: On the Brink of War 1940 – by US Secretary of State, Cordell Hull
Empathy can go a long way towards understanding how sensitive language diversity can be. For me it was years ago when I spoke to an audience of 190 German executives in Dusseldorf – in English, of course, but had nothing to say during dinner when everyone spoke German except me – or when I sat around the table in Amsterdam with 25 folks who adroitly moved from one language to another. Woefully deficient – not excluded – the proverbial “bump on the log,” is how I felt in those uncomfortable situations.
Hold my experience (and think through yours) as we turn now to today’s column.
Continue reading Hey, speak English! (part two) – by Terry Howard