Monday, August 29, 2011

Construction Adventures

All of us in Saint Paul are coping with construction adventures for the building of light rail into Saint Paul. This is to open in 2014, so we have yet awhile to cope. The above photo comes from 4th Saint Paul and was sent to me via an e-mail from the Metropolitan Council. I happened onto the same scene today and was surprised to see the tracks in place.

There is work going on too to renovate the Union Station. Part of this work closed Sibley Street, which is the uphill street I use to go from the river front to downtown Saint Paul and then to work. This street was to be open by September 1, but the April flood with the continued high water all summer delayed this project a bit. Meanwhile I have to take an alternate route that is much more congested and most importantly takes me by the intersection with the Xcel Center all the time. This is where many sporting events take place, the most recent being the national woman's gymnastics meet. It is hard to turn right on this corner in congestion with many "lost" pedestrians at the same time trying to cross the street.

It will be good when it's all done. Many are opposed to light rail, but the first part has ridership beyond the wildest expectations.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blog Readers This Week

I love using the Stats button to see who is reading my blog, and am amazed and humbled that anyone is reading it at all. This week the two main groups are from Poland (42 readers) and the US (41 readers). There are 6 readers from the UK and 2 from Russia. The stats button shows 1 reader each from Switzerland, China, Germany, and Hungary.

If you read this entry, I'd love a comment on where you are from and anything else you would share. Thanks for the readers!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Summer Days

We have had two days of absolutely perfect summer days. Last evening I went for a short walk along the river trails, the first time I've done this since my return from Europe. The temperature was perfect with just a slight summer breeze. Splendid!

On rhe river I saw some enjoying a canoe ride. Hard to believe this photo comes from the middle of a major American city.

Others were coming home from a day on the river and returning their boats to the small marina across the river.

And some were doing work.

The flowers around the building are in their glory too.

Part of summer days is the fresh produce. Once on Polish Forum I read the European viewpoint that "only the poor people in the United States eat corn." I dissented, explaining how good is corn on the cob and everyone eats it!

Today I found this in the grocery store:

And turned it into this, which when joined by a hamburger sandwich turned into a very American meal after weeks and weeks of Central European food.
Corn of the cob on Polish Pottery!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

First Week Home

 I got back to Minnesota about 10 PM a week ago, with minimal trouble getting through the Chicago airport. I spent Sunday sort of recovering from jet lag, and got myself out Monday to get my nails done and also to get mail from the daughter's home where it had been sent while I was gone. On Tuesday I went to work for an All College Meeting and also began to sort out my office a bit. My office was moved while I was away this summer. I've yet to organize the files and get the pictures hung on the wall. On Wednesday we also had a faculty meeting.

On Thursday I attended the University President's convocation and then the all university picnic. Came home for awhile since my granddaughter was staying with me to make certain she was doing OK. Then in the late afternoon I drove to Stillwater to the Northern Winery. Many of us along with husbands met for a dinner and wine tasting there.

This winery runs as a coop -- getting grapes from growers as far north as Rice, MN and as far south as Viroqua, WI along with grapes from growers to the west of the Twin Cities in Carver County.

Wine is aged in various ways. Here's a photo of the oak barrels. It was fun to look at them and see labels from various places in France and Minnesota. Also the word cooperage is not one we see much anymore.
We had our dinner on a deck along the St. Croix River. The weather was picture perfect as was the river.

It occurred to me that I have done wine tastings for two years in row in May in Hungary and in August in Minnesota. It has been a wonderful 18 months of travel between Central Europe and Minnesota.

Classes start next week, but right now everything I do in online -- but boy I'll be working this semester because two online classes for Spring Semester have to be revised to new edition of text books, one is totally new and so has to be created from scratch, and a 4th is new to me so I have to get up to speed.

But that hasn't stopped me from starting to do internet searches about next summer's travel plans.

Monday, August 15, 2011

End of Summer Adventure #2

Our language camp ended on Friday night. Camp always ends with a program by the students. This one was no exception. The students presented T-shirts and a card to their English teachers and each group provided a short English presentation. These ranged from dancing the Hokey-Pokey to doing a poem in both English and Polish to singing songs. In between the dance classes presented their final routines.

Then the program ended with a theater production which combined all the skills of the camp -- music, dance, and English. But the theater teacher said the most important outcomes the campers would be demonstrating were cooperation and teamwork! This production centered around a pirate theme. One part of it that I enjoyed in both rehearsal and then at the final program was the Drunken Sailor song.

Following the program everyone goes to the bonfire area for kielbasa (which is actually the name for sausage with there being 50 or 100 kinds of sausage that have individual names -- think how we use apple in English -- yes, it's an apple, but then it's a McIntosh or Honey Crisp -- etc.) and the final goodbyes and signing of shirts.
The campers all leave with their families and suddenly it is very quiet at Reymontowka.

We left at about 8 AM on Saturday morning. We had good luck with traffic and encountered very few road construction delays. The LOT check in line was long when I got there, but I was going through security by 11 AM or so. The flight left Warsaw nearly one hour late and got to Chicago about 45 minutes late. The line at passport control was the longest I've seen in Chicago, so it was about 5:45 when I ready to head for my flight to Minnesota. I thought I'd surely had missed the  6 PM flight, but it turns out O'Hare had been on melt down for the whole day, and my flight was 2 hours late. I got over to the Terminal 1 and got into the McDonald's line. I heard a woman say she had been trying to get out since 2:30.

The flight I was on was slightly delayed twice and changed gates once. The flight was full of families with babies and pre-school children, the kids not enjoying all the delays any more than the adults.  Finally on the plane and I dropped off to sleep along with most of the passengers. I woke up during the flight I think because the sound of the engines had changed somehow. The lights in the plane were off, so I couldn't see my watch to determine if we were landing or where we were in the flight.

I looked out the window and saw we were flying on a cloudless night and rather low so I could see the lights from all the farms and small towns in Midwest America. Here's what I saw while we were landing over the Twin Cities:

Wish I was still helping with the language camps, but my other life has to take precedence now for awhile.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Love These Kids

Our language camp is drawing to an end and this morning my wonderful students gave me a card.
I surely don't know if I'm the best English teacher at camp, but I surely did enjoy teaching this group of students. They worked so hard and did everything I asked them to do. They are just at the point of putting together all their vocabulary and turning it into verbal and written sentences. I have to go home tomorrow morning -- wish I could stay as we are short of native speakers for the next camp. If you want to learn more about working these wonderful kids, I urge readers to check out There is such a huge need for English classes here and in other countries.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wonderful Evening

Last evening a delegation from Hudson County, NJ, arrived here at Reymontowka. These folks are making their first trip to Poland and came here because they are establishing a new sister county relationship with the County of Siedlce. The students royally welcomed these Americans as you can see in the video above.

They went on to reprise the Polish night presentations. Then they presented a bit of the "pirate show" they are preparing for the  program for their parents on this coming Friday night. The program concluded with the students dancing YMCA, Cotton-Eye Joe, and Electric Slide. The visitors enjoyed these presentations greatly.

With the visitors and the county officials we went then to the skansen (museum) area here on Reymontowka for dinner.

Here's what we found when we arrived there:

We had a wonderful dinner of Polish specialties. A good time was had by all as evidenced by the photo below.

 The delegation left with happy hearts, but also with the intention of raising funds so they can send young adults here to be English teachers in future camp sessions.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Learning about Jan Karski

On Friday afternoon I took the train to Kielce in south central Poland. On Saturday morning I began walking about and found this monument to Jan Karski. It would have been a good trip if this was the only outcome.

See about his courage and work during WWII here:
He is certainly an unsung hero of World War II. More about my adventures in Kielce as I have more time.

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's Polish Night Again

This is my third Polish Night for this summer. Each is different, depending upon the students and the director. This one began with an orientation to the geography of Poland.
This was followed by a drama presentation of the Legend of Lech, Czech, and Ros. With very simple supplies the drama teacher did a wonderful job of presenting this legend. Below is a video showing the portrayal of the White Eagle.
Following this the kids sang Kocham Cie Polkso. I really enjoy this song every time I hear it. I had helped the drama teacher with some of the translation for the program, so we are becoming good friends. She tried to explain this song to me and said she would translate it for me. I told her with a copy of the lyrics, I think I can translate it myself. Not that it will translate literally. I've been around Poland enough that I can appreciate this song very  much.

Then they of course danced the Polonaise

After this they danced. In their rooms many were up to midnight. I have a room of students next door to me and could hear the laughing and giggling. Thus this morning, I had a tired group of students and didn't push them too hard. We ended our morning playing a game called Traffic Jam. Each person becomes something such as a car, truck, train or airplane. Then we sit in a circle with one less chair than the number of players. The person in the middle gets back a chair by asking two types of transportation to change places, or makes everyone move by saying, "Traffic Jam." I think they had fun with this today. I'll do in again at other camps with kids this age.

Now I'm off to explore Kielce over the weekend. The first time I've really gone off by myself and so I can do what I want. It's maddening to go traveling even for a day with people who have a different agenda. I want to see things -- not spend all my time shopping!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dancing to Learn English

We have finished our third day of teaching English. I really have a great group of students. They do everything I ask and want more. After class today, two of the girls came to the door of our workroom and called to me, "Lori, do  you want to learn more Polish?" So I'll work a session into each day from now on for my Polish lesson.

Today we did the fourth hour as song and dance. Can you learn English through dance? Indeed. Hope this video shows how that works:

And here is Cotton Eye Joe:
Back to creating lessons for my wonderful students.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer Language Camp 3

Language camp #3 has started and it's a very nice change. In the first two I was with Americans who were a bit difficult -- who would say negative things about Poland -- made me wonder why they would bother to come to a place they didn't like -- or wonder why another country is different than the United States. My rule is: If you want a place to be just like home, stay home!

This group of Americans are interested in the Poland culture and history. They enjoy trying new foods, and they are much easier to get along with. One got bitten by a mosquito on her eyelid and had a terrible reaction, a very swollen eye, but she didn't complain. She only asked me to help her pour the coffee yesterday morning because with one eye she had faulty depth perception. Other Americans have seemed affronted that there is real life outdoors. I thought what part of camp don't you understand? While we stay in a very nice manor house, we do spend time outdoors and the outdoors world does have insects and frogs and roosters that crow and dogs on neighboring farms who bark!

I have a very nice group of students too. They seem like sponges wanting to soak up as much English as they can. All in all I'm enjoying these last two weeks in Poland.