The United States Department of State recently published statistics for 2011-2012 academic year, showing that international student enrollment in U.S. higher education institutions rose 5.7% above 2010-2011 numbers. The Open Doors report, which is researched and published by the Department's Institute of International Education, reflects the continued and slightly increasing value placed on U.S. higher education academics and degrees. The two countries with the highest percentage increase were Saudi Arabia at 50.4% and Iran at 24.1.
Georgia colleges and universities ranked 12th in number of international student enrollment, led by Georgia Institute of Technology.
Students could take many approaches to learning the English language. They could buy books or go onto English language websites and combine multiple resources. This approach might take a while and might not be the most effective plan, but, if they stick it out, they will attain some level of English language skills. Other students choose to take courses in their native countries from instructors who, having been ESL students themselves, have passed TOEFL. This approach might include the instructor giving assignments in the native language with students responding in English. It sounds like it might be more effective than complete self-study, and this approach also requires students to be willing to be put on the spot and even make some mistakes in front of a class. That takes some courage.
Now, imagine the students who travel to sit in a classroom 18 or more hours per week where the instructors speak only English, assignments are in English, and
all communication in the classroom must be in English. Furthermore, once they leave the school premises, the majority of stores, gas stations, restaurants,
and most of the people they meet speak in English. To pursue this immersive learning environment, a student must be both ambitious and courageous. And that is exactly the nature of international students who attend Atlanta English Institute.
What do people do?
Valentine's Day is celebrated in most countries in similar ways. Gifts, cards and food are exchanged as symbols of love or friendship. Many people celebrate their love for their partner by sending cards or letters, giving gifts or flowers and arranging meals in restaurants or romantic dates. People who would like to have a romantic relationship with somebody may use the occasion to make this known, often anonymously. Valentine's cards are often decorated with images of hearts, red roses or Cupid. Common Valentine's Day gifts are flowers chocolates, candy, lingerie and champagne or sparkling wine. However, some people use the occasion to present lavish gifts, such as jewelry. Many restaurants and hotels have special offers at this time. These can include romantic meals or weekend breaks.
Valentine's Day is not a public holiday. Government offices, stores, schools and other organizations are open as usual. Public transit systems run on
their regular schedule. Restaurants may be busier than usual as many
people go out for an evening with their spouse or partner. Valentine's Day
is also a very popular date for weddings.
There are a number of Saints called Valentine who are honored on February 14. The day became associated with romantic love in the Middle Ages in England. This may have followed on from the Pagan fertility festivals that were held all over Europe as the winter came to an end. Traditionally, lovers exchanged hand written notes. Commercial cards became available in the mid nineteenth century.
The most common Valentine's Day symbols are the heart, particularly in reds and pinks, and pictures or models of Cupid. Cupid is usually portrayed as a small winged figure with a bow and arrow. In mythology, he uses his arrow to strike the hearts of people. People who have fallen in love are sometimes said to be 'struck by Cupid's arrow. Other symbols of Valentine's Day are couples in loving embraces and the gifts of flowers, chocolate, red roses and lingerie that couples often give each other.
But, some "unique" traditions differentiate the Valentine's Day celebration. Let's take France....
Valentine's Day Custom in France People in France once followed a peculiar Valentine's Day custom called “drawing for”. Unmarried young and old people would go into houses facing each other and begin calling out across from one window to another and pair off with their chosen partner. If the young man failed to be particularly enthralled with his valentine, he would desert her. A bonfire would be lit later where ladies would burn images of their ungrateful lovers and hurl abuses at them. The ritual was eventually abandoned as it left much room for nastiness and ridicule. French government handed-down a decree and officially banned the custom. There was also a custom in France to exchange elegant cards containing tender messages called cartes d'amities. These were not essentially Valentine and resulted chiefly due a trend popular in England.
Below, you can view an incredibly touching, haunting and emotional performance in this uniquely beautiful sand animation performance by Kseniya Simonova on The Ukraine's Got Talent television program from 2009.
While I watched with amazement at the artist's skill, the tearful response by the Ukrainian audience and judges was beyond my understanding. That is until I read about the disproportionate percentage of Ukrainian citizens and military who lost their lives in the war. The country lost approximately 2.5M soldiers and 5.5M or more than 19% of it's people between 1938-1945*. This is second only to Poland's 19.6%. One reason for the enormous toll is that Ukrainians had enjoyed an unusual amount of freedom under communist rule, in comparison to other republics at the time. When the war broke out and German military invaded Ukraine territory, Ukrainians found themselves fighting for that freedom against a zealous Russian military on one front and the Germans on another.
I am also of the opinion that another 20th Century Ukrainian tragedy adds to the emotions of those who watched this performance. The Ukrainian "Holocaust" or Holodomor, which AEI student from The Ukraine, Tetiana so eloquently explained at the recent Student Showcase and preceded the horrors of WWII by less than a decade, claimed the lives of an estimated 14.5M Ukrainians. Most of the victims were peasants, according to noted Holomodor historian, Robert Conquest.
*Source: Ukraine During World War II 1938-1945, by V. Kusyk, Kyiv-Paris-New York-Toronto, 1992, p. 702. B. Urlanis Guerres et populations, Moscou 1975, p. 319-323; Das Dritte Reich (Muenchen 1985) Band 2. S. 404.
| Categories: General
Welcome to The Beans, the new Atlanta English Institute Blog. The name comes from “Spill the beans,” an idiom meaning “to divulge a secret or secrets.” I will assure you that we don’t condone gossip here at AEI. Therefore, our “spilling” won’t resemble that of some tasteless, celebrity-chasing, American television program.
Instead, the objective of The Beans is to provide multi-faceted information to students and prospective students that will enhance their experience inside and out of AEI. Posts will include interesting events and activities around the Atlanta Metro area and Georgia, local business reviews, such as for restaurants, auto repair, shopping, housing and personal services, etc. But, we won’t stop there – we also will feature educational posts that students will find helpful in their mastery of English. As part of this feature, we’ll stream our latest “Twidioms” (Twitter Idioms). Finally, we’ll provide interesting links and feature articles with the intention of enhancing your experience on The Beans and at AEI.
As beans are a staple food for many people around the world, our intention is that there will be something here for everyone….especially YOU.
Here is a brief list of some of the many ways you can use and interact with the blog which you’ll find as simple as, well, beans:
Comment on the regular posts. Note: all comments are reviewed prior to posting.
Email The Beans to friends, after all, when you get the beans, you want to share.
Submit articles or ideas for The Beans - We’re standing by at email@example.com
Activate RSS – receive notification through your RSS Manager that a new post is published on The Beans
Email Notifications – be notified through email that the beans have been spilled.
Learn English - Check back often to catch Twidioms, grammar tips and vocabulary posts