January 2014 Issue 3
Impression The Student Medium
Spoken Word, Improv, and Communication
Croatia in the EU
Reality and Seasons
Not so LITTLE Changes
SHAKESPEARE in Bitola
Innovations in Education
Volunteering and Living Green
Impression Magazine Apart from our magazine issues, we post articles on our website regularly. Please visit us at http://impressionmagazine.weebly.com/. Our Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/ImpressionMagazine. “Like” to receive regular article updates. And you can follow us on our Twitter page https://twitter.com/ImpressionMag. Email us with any comments at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Executive Editor Ivan Grozdanovski Assistant Editor and Designer Ana Grozdanovska
Contributors Ivan Grozdanovski Ana Grozdanovska Laura Kreka Kristina Mishoska
Check out our other issues for more great content!
The Seasons To a memorably peculiar summer, We move toward fall, fabled its twilight to extinguish in deep winter. Both beared turned off to sulk, it was renewal endued to spring; but vain did it turn to expect bemused loafing to its wake; and then ached in repute to find borgening splendor. So then not a season to miss: the conception to fall, the vigor to winter, the blossom to spring, and the harvest to summer.
What’s Inside: Spoken Word with Marshall Davis Jones................................................................ 1 It was quite fortunate that poetry saved a poet who would go on to contribute much himself.
Traditional vs. Modern Education.…………………………...………………………..........….... 4 Coursera alone has formed partnerships with 107 universities and colleges around the world, including many of America's top institutions.
A Letter on Change......................................................................................................... 7 I will treat them the best way I can and make them feel special.
Europe Expanding......................................................................................................... 9 Croatia’s accession marked a monumental milestone in European integration in the Balkans and overall expansion.
Emotional Intelligence................................................................................................... 11 Fortunately, the idea of EQ has not remained fossilized within a definition: it is quite possible to measure.
Just Wing It...…………………………………………………………………..……….............................. 13 Improvising is speaking instantaneously. It happens without pre-planned words, sounds, or gestures.
Communication...................................................................................................,........... 18 Utilizing these attributes of communication, we can more adequately accommodate to our needs and strengths and engage with people more successfully.
Say What???...........…...………………………………………………………….……….…....……........... 20 Never underestimate your native language. It is your identity and culture. It gives you a special way to express yourself.
Teens: Pop Culture or Volunteer Spirit?................................................................... 23 The key to growing up and being a better person is cherishing the things we have in life.
Keeping Our Planet Green............................................................................................ 25 It would not hurt to clean out the trunk either-all that extra weight could be costing you at the pump.
Art, Just a Hobby?.....................................................................................................,.... 27 There must be many potential young artists in the world that have yet to enroll in the right art class before we start hearing their names widely.
Magical Destinations.......................…………………………………………………...…................ 29 Enchanted places out of fairytales that truly exist in the world.
Shakespeare in Bitola..................................................................................................... 33 The play opened with the eerie approach of a beating drum marking war.
When Persephone Becomes Kore............................................................................... 36 Similar to our birth, our arrival in this world automatically becomes a journey toward the dream.
Spoken Word with Marshall Davis Jones I recently had the great honor of conducting an interview with one of my favorite poets, Marshall Davis Jones. Mr. Jones is best known for his spoken word pieces and performances, among which "Spelling Father" and "Touchscreen" have been particularly popular.
Furthermore, Mr. Jones has been a prominent member of Team Nuyorican, with which he shared second place at the National Poetry Slam in 2011. Today, Mr. Jones is pursuing what might be termed a career of creative expression in the fields of poetry, singing, songwriting, production, as well as the visual arts as explained further in the article. Following are some questions he has been kind enough to answer regarding his experience with poetry. What drew you to poetry? "I've always had a fascination with language, with what it is capable of doing and inspiring in other people," says Mr. Jones. He explains that he did not start speaking until the age of three, which is quite contrary to what we would expect considering his success with Spoken Word. Growing up, Mr. Jones says he first started experimenting with poetry in the form of rap and hip hop. In school, he would turn in sheets of what he originally composed as hip hop lyrics as assignments for his English class and call them poetry. However, all of this was simply a pursuit for personal pleasure. How did you enter the field of poetry professionally? Mr. Jones explains that he actually turned to poetry as a profession, quite poetically in and of itself, through near tragedy. "I was on the Brooklyn Bridge one night, and I was thinking about things that people think about when they are really depressed and down in the dumps," Mr. Jones says. But something, it seems he still cannot quite understand himself or explain, drew him to the Nuyorican Poets' Cafe, a place he calls "a Mecca of poetry". He gave up his last ten bucks to enter and spent the night reveling in the homecoming performance of the 2006 National Poetry Slam team. Mr. Jones says he thought to himself, "Wow, here's this amazing audience of people who are here just to listen to these people speak. And that's all that was carrying them." Without the pyrotechnics or DJs, the experience might have been something like pure hip hop, as Mr. Jones relates it. "I found myself smitten," he concludes.
Mr. Jones then was inspired to perform a Spoken Word piece himself, and having been received with high regards, he was motivated to perform others. "I really began to go everywhere. Everywhere there was a microphone, I would go, and I would share, and I would sit there and watch, and listen, and learn from my peers and the people who were around me to get better." Thus, it was quite fortunate that poetry saved a poet who would go on to contribute much himself. What is your personal writing process like? "Very visceral," Mr. Jones says. He refers to his poem “Touchscreen”, explaining that he never wrote any of it down in the process of its composition. "I stood on the corner of Fulton Street and Utica Avenue and walked in a circle, and repeated the words out loud." He adds, "It is not just the writing process—my body has to be involved." To write convincingly, Mr. Jones says in a way he has to become and play the part he is striving to capture in his writing. Thus, even his written work is conceived with performance in mind. He concludes, good writing captures the fine line between conveying meaning through abstract metaphor and imagery, and literal but elegantly simple descriptions. How often do you write? "There are some people that are part of the discipline of writing every single day," Mr. Jones laughs, "That's not me." He explains he writes as he makes progress in his own personal exploration in life. An artist needs to be able to extract feelings both from his or her own experiences and from those of others, he says. Therefore, the prime time for Mr. Jones to create through art is when circumstances inspire his heightened emotions. But the time for thinking is constant, he says. Do you ever find yourself at a loss of ideas? "That happens all the time," says Mr. Jones. "Inspiration doesn't just knock on your door every day and say, 'here I am, take me'. Sometimes you have to go hunt for it. You have to go find it,” and in his usual picturesque way, “That could be a search out in the world, or that could be a search within yourself. But it all comes down to where you want to be at the time of trying to create. Expect it to happen. You are not always going to be at the utmost pinnacle of your creative being." How can beginners get into poetry? "I think it's just a matter of doing it," Mr. Jones says. He proposes learning the craft through trial and error, as it worked for him. He adds that he could enter poetry competitions and venues readily living in New York City; that it was the high density of artists in New York City fiercely competing in order to get paid for their work that most motivated him to push himself in his craft. Furthermore, he lists Los Angeles and Denver as two other places optimum for up and coming poets for their atmosphere for poetry. But the next best place to learn from other poets is YouTube. Mr. Jones says that
he has friends who became great poets by just watching established poets performing on YouTube until they were ready to write and perform themselves. He adds, beginning with poetry is a matter of seeing how others have done it and adapting it to your personal performative style, and figuring out a way to convey to readers and audiences what you have felt, or what you want them to feel. From there, Mr. Jones says, "Your spirit will search for what you need to say, or what you need to do to make that happen." What is the market like for poets who want to go into the field full-time? Mr. Jones carries a positive outlook of the market today, which he says is more open to entrepreneurial spirits than it has ever been. "It's a matter of creating your own market, your own niche," he says. The key seems to be creativity. To earn a living, an artist has to figure out how he or she can best serve others and market himself or herself accordingly. What are some projects you are currently working on? At the moment, Mr. Jones says he is venturing into filmmaking. He is engaged with the idea of conveying meaning and inspiring emotions in others through motion picture and cinematography. At last, Marshall Davis Jones has shared much through his poetry, performances, and projects with audiences all over the world and with us at Impression Magazine. I would recommend his poetry to anyone interested in improving in the craft or simply enjoying very candid and revealing reflections on life. The visceral process of his writing he describes certainly comes through his work to readers and audiences. He has a rare gift combined with a powerful passion and a strong work ethic that together contribute to his creation of very moving art. True to his heart, he is an inspiration, a teacher, and otherwise a great human being.
Traditional vs. Modern Education Recently, many people have been questioning whether or not to enroll in online courses. What is all the fuss about? Ever since last year that saw the launch of educational technological companies like Coursera, Udacity and edX, which have provided free education through massive open online courses, students around the world have been in one way or another intrigued. These organizations are the recent development to distace learning. They cooperate with universities and colleges to make some of their courses available online. Coursera alone has formed partnerships with 107 universities and colleges around the world, including many of America's top institutions. There are plenty of courses to suit everyone's needs including courses in engineering, humanities, medicine, biology, the social sciences, mathematics, business, computer science, and many more.
Massive open online courses or MOOCs are free to sign up for, and members can enroll in as many courses as they wish. These courses use video lectures that are uploaded to the online course's web address instead of relying on a traditional teacher and classroom setting. Time magazine has claimed that free MOOCs open the door to the 'Ivy League for the Masses.' Given the large enrollment rates, massive open online courses operate on large-scale feedback (objective online quizzes and tests) and interraction (group collaboration). Grading a student's work comes from machine-graded multiple-choice quizzes or tests and peer-reviewed written assignments. Also, there are interractive user forums that help build a community for the students, professors, and teaching assistants. Techniques for maintaining a virtual connection or bond with students include adding audio comments on assignments instead of writing them, weekly update videos about the course and congratulatory emails on prior accomplishments to students who are slightly behind. Some instructors make students begin with selfassessment surveys and videos with such questions like, "What do you think it takes to be successful in online education, and do you feel that you are ready for it?" which have shown to have greatly improved engagement.
Benefits of massive open online courses: Appropriate for any setting that has connectivity (Web or Wi-Fi) Any language or multiple languages Any online tools Escape time zones and physical boundaries Produce and deliver in short timeframe (e.g. for relief aid) Contextualized content can be shared by all Informal setting Peer-to-peer contact can trigger greater learning Easier to cross disciplines and institutional barriers Lower barriers to student entry Enhance personal learning environment and/or network by participating Improve lifelong learning skills With open online courses, learners control what, where, and how they learn. Some decide to participate regualarly while others just browse the course with minimal or no interraction on their part. People that sign up for these massive open online courses include traditional university students, degreed professionals, educators, business people, researchers and other people interested in internet culture. The countries from which the highest amount of students registered finclude the U.S., India, Brazil, United Kingdom, Spain, Canada, Australia and Russia. A study from Stanford University's Learning Analytics group identified four types of students: auditors, who watched videos throughout the course, but took few quizzes or exams; completers, who viewed the most lectures and took part in the most assessments; disengaged learners, who quickly dropped the course; and sampling learners, who occasionally watched lectures. Challenges that students face in MOOCs: Participants must create their own content Digital literacy is necessary Time and effort required from participants The course is organic and takes on its own trajectory. Participants must self-regulate and set their own goals Most courses are not accepted as transfer credits by traditional institutions Most registered students intend to explore the topic rather than complete the course. Coursera found that students who paid $30-$90 were substantially more likely to finish the course. The fee is necesary in order for students to have a
certificate of course completion for those who want proof that they took and passed the course, perhaps for a future employer. Reasons students drop out of MOOCs: Courses require time and effort. Courses are too difficult or too basic. Lecture fatigue from courses that consisted of only lecture videos. Lack of a proper introduction to course technology and format. Clunky technology. Trolling on discussion boards. Hidden costs for readings from expensive textbooks written by the instructor. Browsing for courses they can take at a traditional educational institution. Participating for knowledge rather than a credential. In the end, what will people choose? Millions of students have already registered for this form of modern education. Given the benefits and drawbacks of MOOCs it is certain that they cannot replace traditional education. Rather they are meant to enhance it. MOOCs show great potential for supplementing traditional education.
A Letter on Change All of us at least once in our lives have contributed to change things, systems, lifestyles, or even people. Good things are hard to let go of, but sometimes we have to learn the hard way that in life some things need to be changed. Change is always challenging, but through it we can open one door when another closes. Recently, I’ve been meaning to open up and discuss about the things that I want to change in my life. I don’t dream of changing the world’s political policies, or breaking school rules to petition for new ones, and I most definitely can’t change broad ways of thinking, the choices people will inevitably make, or their lifestyles. I realize that as much as I would like to in some cases, I simply can’t.
But what I know I can change are my personal goals in life and my behavior in relation to the people that surround me. For that reason I have decided that I am going to be the change that I wish to see in other people. I am going to start with wearing a smile, rain or shine. I am going to do this because I want my family and friends to see that I am okay and that I am going to always be there for them. I have decided that I am going to treat them the best way I can from now on and do my best to make them feel special; because they are—special to me. I am going to show my love for them in every way I can. I am also going to help them make the right choices in their lives, see the lessons in their
mistakes and work to become who they can see themselves becoming some day; and their success will also be my success. If they learn anything from me, I will make sure it is going to be how to live life to the fullest, being loved and knowing how to love. And I hope they will be inspired to do the same for their families. I believe that by changing myself to my ideal vision for humanity, the world around me will change as well. Some might call such optimism irrational, but letâ€™s not forget that the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. With just a few changes in mindset, each of us can certainly contribute to making the world we live in a better place.
Europe Expanding At the Youth Conference in Zagreb this past summer of 2013, youth leaders, statesmen, journalists and representatives gathered to celebrate and reflect on Croatia's accession to the European Union. Head of Unit for Communication and Inter-institutional Relations and Planning in the European Commission, Claus Giering judged that after six years of negotiations and intensive reform, Croatia would be one of the most prepared member countries to join the Union. Moreover, assistant Minister for Youth and European Affairs, Maja Sporis deemed that Croatia's accession would be a viable means through which to share expertise with the rest of the countries from the Western Balkans working to implement reforms with the goal of joining the European Union. Through the course of the Conference, it seemed that the topic of European integration in the Western Balkans took center stage. For one, President of the European Youth Forum Peter Matjasic, a Slovenian national, was optimistic that everything that worked in Yugoslavia, including open borders, cooperation and exchange, could be effectively revived and refurbished within the EU. He proposed that the countries could in particular work to achieve this by focusing on establishing strong international networks between youth organizations and NGOs. Furthermore, he recognized youth ambassadors as a potent force for consolidating the continent and encouraged greater social involvement. There were also optimistic new ideas regarding educational exchange. Head of Unit Youth, DG Enlargement and Culture European Commission Pascal Lejeune said that the Erasmus program would gain a 40% increase in funding to result in the new Erasmus+. The has effectively budgeted for four million Europeans to engage in study, training, volunteering and work abroad between the years 2014 to 2020. A major goal for the program is to foster transnational cooperation and strengthen European integrity while raising youth employability through valuable real-world experience.
But what do all these benefits realistically mean for the Western Balkans? In addition to congratulating Croatia's entry in the EU, the speakers also acknowledge the monumental agreement reached between Serbia and Kosovo to refrain from intervening in one another's attempts at European integration that in many regards was responsible for the start of Serbia's accession negotiations. Surprisingly, many young people at the conference, regardless of where they had come from, were interested to hear more about progress on the name dispute between Greece and Macedonia. Many of the statesmen who spoke on the issue were indeed optimistic that a solution was imminent. Croatian Member of Parliament Sandra Jakovina, for one, confidently answered, "If we could settle the disputes between Belgrade and Pristina and Croatia and Slovenia, we can settle the dispute between Macedonia and Greece". It is obvious that a quick solution to the longstanding international issues in the Western Balkans cannot be reached; but it is also clear that Europe has not forgotten them. If anything, it seemed from the conversational trends at the Youth Conference in Zagreb that achieving stability in the Balkans will be one of the priorities of the EU in the years to come. Overall, Croatiaâ€™s accession marked a monumental milestone in European integration in the Balkans and overall expansion. Europe is indeed working to solve some of the longstanding issues with renewed vigor.
Emotional Intelligence Emotional intelligence (EI), commonly known as EQ, has become a wide-spread point of interest in psychological research. In earlier studies it was believed that people with a high IQ alone were most likely to become successful in their personal, academic, familial, and professional lives. However, while many people with high IQs were found to be productive and ambitious, they were also rather cold and detached in most cases. In actuality, it was the people with a higher EQ and an IQ closer to the average that scored higher in the areas of social ease due to a more emphatic and cheerful nature. But though IQ is mostly determined by genetics and cannot be changed drastically, EQ can be consciously improved with some work. Emotional intelligence can be defined as â€œAn interrelated set of abilities that allow an individual to recognize, use, and regulate emotion in an efficient and productive manner, thereby allowing effective dealing with the environment.â€? Emotional intelligence contains several important elements: 1. The first element is emotional perception, or the ability to clearly perceive oneâ€™s own emotional experiences and those of others and attribute value to objects. 2. The second element is emotional assimilation, or the ability to work with emotions to help shape other people's judgments, behavior, and information processing. 3. The third element is emotional understanding, or the ability to tap into a rich emotional knowledge base as might be associated with bodily sensation and expressive models, and to understand how emotions function interpersonally. 4. The forth element is emotion regulation, or the ability to monitor and manage emotions in the self and others to encourage a desired outcome. This ability also includes people's attempts to influence the emotions they accept and how they experience and express these emotions.
Fortunately, the idea of EQ has not remained fossilized within a definition: therefore, it is quite possible to measure. There are several methods, but four are most successful: the Bar-On Model is a self-evaluative test designed to measure competence in such areas as emotional awareness, stress tolerance, problem solving, and happiness. The Multifactor Emotional Intelligence Scale (MEIS) tests one's ability to perceive, identify, understand, and utilize emotions. The Seligman Attributional Style Questionnaire (SASQ), originally designed as a screening test for the life insurance company Metropolitan Life, measures and relates tendencies towards optimism and pessimism. Lastly, the Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI), based on an older instrument known as the Self-Assessment Questionnaire, allows people who know the subject to contribute ratings of his or her competencies in a number of different emotional fields for a total score.
In summation, EQ can help people evaluate their emotional behavior in their everyday, social lives, at work and in the public sphere. People who have developed skills related to emotional intelligence understand and express their emotions better and can more easily recognize emotions in others, regulate their affects, and, perhaps most usefully of all, manage emotions and moods to motivate adaptive behaviors.
Just Wing It Haven you ever found yourself making things up from the top of your head just to spice up an otherwise boring story for your friends? Or maybe found yourself fabricating brand tales of adventures to entertain a little child? Or maybe found yourself in an awkward situation and needed to say something just to remove some of the tension? Well then, you have dealt with improvisation, or improv, or otherwise the practice of acting, dancing, singing, making music, creating art, problem solving, or reacting in the moment based on the surrounding environment and your feelings. Improv is spontaneous, unique, entertaining, and fun, but you have to try it first-hand in order to fully appreciate it. Improvisation is a great outlet for those that have a vast imagination. Improvising involves speaking instantaneously to contribute to an imaginary scene. It happens without pre-planned words, sounds, and gestures. Original performers were simply storytellers, but improvised performances go back the 16th and 18th centuries with Commedia del'arte performers improvising on the streets of Italy. In the 1890's theater directors such as Konstantin Stanislavski and Jacques Copeau heavily utilized improvisation in training and rehearsing for serious performances. There are many different types of improv: Music When improvising with music the performer or group of musicians usually composes the music at the same time as singing or playing an instrument. For those of you that have tried writing poetry as a homework assignment in school and know how difficult the seemingly simple task is, then you know that spontaneously making up music or a song is very difficult. It requires a lot of concentration, language mastery, quick thinking, physicality, and talent, of course. ďƒ˜
Famous improvisational musicians include pianists Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Liszt, and Keith Jarrett, violinist Stephen Nachmanovitch, guitarist Derek Bailey, cellist Eugene Friesen, and many more. Rappers, for instance, train their creativity and spontaneity by improvising freestyle. When the improvisation is deemed good, it can actually become a means of verbal combat in a rap battle or a finished product for release on recordings.
Theater Here, improvisation is a form of live theater in which the plot, characters and dialogue of a game, scene or story are made up in the moment. Usually, the improvisers take a suggestion from the audience or draw on a source of inspiration to get started. Improv theater is unique because once you see a particular improvised performance, there will never be another show quite like it again; it is different every time. Improv performances can be based on comedy or drama. It is just like regular theater performances except the actors are performing without a script â€“ they are acting, directing themselves, writing the plot, and interacting with each other the entire time, simply off the top of their heads and without any previous planning. ďƒ˜
Some of the more famous improv theaters and training centers around the world include i.O. (ImprovOlympic) in Chicago and Los Angeles, The Second City in Chicago and Toronto, The Players Workshop in Chicago, National Comedy Theatre in San Diego, New York and Phoenix, Upright Citizens Brigade, The Peoples Improv Theater, the Groundlings, BATS Improv in San Francisco, Wing-It Productions in Seattle, Philly Improv Theater in Philadelphia, Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis, ComedySportz in Milwaukee, and Theatresports in Calgary, Canada. Among the well known U.S. university improv teams are the Strike Force Theatre at the University of Florida and Erasable Inc. at the University of Maryland. Improvisation found a home at universities in the 1980's where crowds were easy to find and teams could perform frequently. Now an improv group is a common staple of college extra curricular activities. Famous theater improvisers include Viola Spolin, Paul Sills, David Shepherd, Del Close, Josephine Forsberg, Gary Austin, Martin de Maat, Keith Johnstone, Paul Merton, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Robert Townsend, Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, Ross Noble, Wayne Brady, Jonathan Winters, TJ Jagodowski, and David Pasquesi. There are two types of improvisational comedy: shortform and longform. Shortform improv consists of short scenes, which include a predetermined game, structure, or idea that are geared by audience suggestions. Many of the shortform improv games were first created by Viola Spolin, based on her training with Neva Boyd. Whose Line Is It Anyway? is the highly popular shortform improv comedy television series which has familiarized American and British viewers with shortform. Longform improv, on the other hand, is an entire show that the perfomers put on based on short scenes that are interrelated by story, characters, or themes. Sometimes, kongform improv shows are a unique form of an existing type of theatre, for example a
full-length play or a Broadway-style musical. This type of improvisation is especially performed in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles. Structure and Process Improvizational theater forms an interactive relationship with the audience. The performers usually ask for suggestions from the audience in order to get the audience involved, to provide new ideas and inspiration, and to prove that their performance is authentic, not scripted. Some perfomers are so skilled at improvizing that people suspect that their scenes are pre-planned. Improvized scenes involve a lot of team work. Most of the time, it is just the performers on stage and the audience that is watching the perfomance in the theater or studio. The improvisers or performers must work together, be attentive and quick on their feet in order to cooperatively develop the scene. Whenever an improvizer speaks or gestures in the scene, he or she defines some element of the reality of the scene. For example, the improvizer might name another performer's character, identify a relationship or location, and even move in such a way as to define the physical environment. The other improvisers then, are responsible for carrying the scene forward. Usually, they would accept what the innitial improviser has said or done, and build on the scene by saying, â€œYes, and....â€? (a key improvisational technique). Every new piece of information that is given helps the performers define their characters and advance the action of the scene. Due to the fact that improv theater is unscripted, the performers and audience have no idea what types of props they will be given to use. Of course, a theater company has its own props, but most of the time the performers invent their own imaginary props. Therefore, improvisers respect the imaginary environment on stage that they or their fellow improvisers have set. This is sort of like childhood imaginary games. For example, the performers might avoid walking over a certain space of ground if it has been established that an imaginary table is there, or to act accordingly when hit by imaginary bullets from another perfomer. Improvisers are required to play a variety of roles without any prior preparation. This means that they must be skilled and knowledgeable on a variety of characters, gestures, accents, physicalities, and other techniques, which they might be required to employ in a matter of seconds. Often, performers play a character of a different sex or age. It is very important that
improvisers accept their roles and attempt to act accordingly in order for the scene to come off realistic and believable. Dance By improvising, dancers experiment with shape, space, time, and energy to create unique and innovative movement designs, spatial configurations, dynamics and rhythms.
Poetry Improvisation in poety started out in traditional epic poetry where the person reciting poetry praised the audience and replaced forgotten text with improvised. Also, poetic jousts or public debates between improvisers took place in order for poets to compete for public approval. Improvised poetry is very witty and a great technique to create some amazing poetry.
Television Improvisation was introduced in American television with the comedy Mork and Mindy in which star Robin Williams was allowed to perform freely or improvise during certain parts of each episode.
The television show called Whose Line Is It Anyway? popularized short form comedic improvisation in Britain in the 1990s. Its ratings and audience following were so high that it was revived in the United States and helped create a whole new respect for improvisation. Other famous television shows that have used improvisation in their scenes include The Office, Parks and Recreation, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Significant Others, The Loop, Sons & Daughters, 10 Items or Less, Dog Bites Man, Halfway Home, Reno 911!, The League, Free Ride, Campus Ladies, Lovespring International, Players, and After Lately. Train 48, Canada's global television soap opera, has actors improvise dialog from written plot outlines, and Australia's game show Thank God You're Here has celebrities improvise scenes that they know nothing about beforehand.
Writing Improvisational writing can be an exercise which gives guidelines to the writer such as a time limit, word limit, a certain topic, or rules on what can be written. In this way, the writer works in a stream of consciousness or writes without any prejudice. He or she writes without concentrating on spelling, grammar, or cohesion. This includes exercises such as passing a notebook around a circle of people that each writes a sentence and collaborative novel writing. This technique is used for curing writer’s block to improve and spark creativity.
Improvisation skills are vital to everyone. For actors and performers, they are used to train for the stage, film or television. In schools and the business world, improvisation skills are used as an educational tool in order for students and businessmen to develop communication and brain-storming skills. Also, they are sometimes used in psychotherapy session to reveal a patient’s thoughts and feelings. If you haven’t given improvisation a shot before, try it out! The amount of creative material which will result will amaze and inspire you and your audience. You’ll have lots of fun winging it as you go along, saying and doing things that you never thought possible, all the while stimulating your brain.
Communication Studies of how people spend their time indicate that on average they spend 40% of their time listening, 35% speaking, 15% reading, and only 10% writing. The need for effective communication is like the need for fresh air. The moment when you find yourself in a situation where you absolutely need to communicate effectively and you cannot express yourself the way you intend, is the moment when you will realize just how significant communication really is. Communication presents a continuous process of sending and receiving information for the sake of exchanging ideas. Individual communication passes through four stages. For the attention stage, the message being sent should be strong, attractive and distinct from the background in order to be perceived by the receiver. It must then pass into the second stage by entering the short-term memory of the receiver, and for this the message should be succinct. To pass the third stage, the message must enter the receiver's long-term memory; therefore, the message should be short, clear, interesting and distinct from the other messages. The last stage is when the message enters the receiver's central processing.
There are two kinds of communication: verbal and non-verbal. Verbal communication is divided into two forms: speaking and writing. When we are giving a speech, for instance, the easiest and most frequent tool of communication will be the verbal production of words. On the other hand, when we are using writing as a form of communication, the most effective technique will be effective composing. To implement this technique, we need to decide what we are going to write and with what purpose before we start writing. This is the stage of outlining. Effective communication covers all four stages and thereby sends a powerful message. When communicating with people, we also need to be aware of the four zones of communication, dictated by the distance from which we should address our interlocutor. The first is the intimate zone, which separates the speakers by 0-0.5
meters. We use this zone when we are talking with our children, spouses, or loved ones. The second is the personal zone, which separates the speakers by 0.5-1.5 meters. We use this zone when talking with close friends or distant relatives. The third is the social zone, which separates the speakers by 1.5-3 meters. We typically occupy this zone when communicating with strangers, acquaintances, superiors, business partners, or clients. The last is the public zone, which separates the speakers by 3 or more meters. We usually find ourselves communicating from this zone during conferences, seminars, presentations, speeches or lectures. These zones are important in order to avoid any uncomfortable communication situations in which one person moves into a distance the other considers inappropriate, which quickly turns into an interesting tango for spectators. In the world of communication, we can also divide the types of communicators according to the style they adopt. Of course, there are many different communication styles to choose from; however these are just some of the more basic styles. The first style is analytical. This type of a communicator is characterized by a lower level of self-esteem and a more closed style of communication. The next style is commanding. This type of a communicator shares a similar style of closed communication but has a high level of self-esteem. The third style is adaptable. It is attributed to a person with low self-esteem who exhibits an open style of communication. Finally, the fourth style is performable. This type of a communicator has a high level of self-esteem and communicates in an open style. Utilizing these attributes of communication, we can more adequately accommodate to our needs and strengths and engage with people more successfully; bearing in mind a quote from George Bernard Shaw, we should nevertheless be aware that "the single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.â€?
Say What??? Have you heard of Cimbrian, Norn, Breton, Asturian, Walloon, Friulian, Karaim...? No? Maybe that is because they are all highly endangered languages. Out of about 6,000-7,000 languages in existence in the world, it is estimated that about half of them will be extinct or lost within the next century. This means that plenty of rich knowledge, history, and culture will be lost to future generations. Endangered languages are those that are at risk of disappearing from use as its speakers die out or shift to speaking another language. When there are no more native speakers to speak a language, it is considered dead or extinct. The great rate at which languages are disappearing throughout the world can mainly be attributed to globalization â€“ simply put, the more economically powerful language groups dominate. While the top twenty languages are spoken by 50% of the world's population, endangered languages are spoken in small communities, most comprised of fewer than 10,000 speakers.
*The colored areas represent locations of endangered languages. Red areas indicate high levels of endangered languages, while blue areas indicate new threats of language endangernment.
The top 20 languages spoken throughout the world based on the number of first and second language speakers Mandarin Chinese English Spanish Hindi Standard Arabic Russian Bengali Portugese Malaysian Japanese French German Filipino Urdu Javanese Wu Tamil Marathi Italian Turkish
This chart is a tentative representation of the top 20 languages spoken around the world since the number of the people that speak these languages constantly changes.
A person who speaks one or more of these top 20 languages can theoretically communicate with half of the world's population. However, that is not to say that these languages are superior; for knowledge of any native language carries immense cultural valuable, and in many ways contributes to one’s sense of identity. Each language provides its speakers with a special way of expression. In fact, in many languages there are words or concepts which are not readily translatable into other languages. This is one reason why loan words have passed from some of these less frequently spoken languages into the languages on this top 20 list.
UNESCO’s degrees of language endangerenment: Safe – the language is spoken by all generations Vulnerable – the language is not spoken by children outside the home. Definitely endangered – the language is no longer learned by children as a native language in the home. Severely endangered – the language is only spoken by the oldest generations; parents might still understand the language but they do not speak among themselves and to their children. Critically endangered – the language is spoken by a few members of the oldest generations who only speak the language partially and infrequently. Extinct – there are no speakers of the language left.
It is imprtant to preserve the endangered languages for several reasons. First of all, each language reflects a unique history, culture, and linguistic patterns. For instance, information about plants, animals, and medicine that are yet to be identified in a more commonly used language can be carried in endangered languages. Furthermore, these languages represent uncharted territories for linguists, cognitive scientists and philosophers that represent the capabilitites of the brain (how people communicate and store knowledge); and because they have such unique knowledge of culture and the environment, they are a source from which the world can understand history. At last, the best way to preserve endangered languages is for linguists to document them by describing their grammar and structural features and recording spoken forms. In addition, schools greatly help the cause by providing courses on endangered languages; and even radio and television programs broadcasted in these languages help protect endangered languages. Nevertheless, it seems the simplest and most effective way to preserve endangered languages is for parents to continue passing on their native language to their children at home.
Teens: Pop Culture or Volunteer Spirit?
Being a teenager is not the easiest thing to be. Weâ€™ve all been there, and we all know that at that age the skyâ€™s the limit and rules are bound to be broken. Then there comes the time when many of us have the honor to mature, and the rest just never do! The key to growing up and being a better person is cherishing the things we have in life. For a teenager to realize this, he or she needs to either be put in a position where the unimportant things they value above all else are taken from them or to be shown that other people have much greater problems in life. The best example I have showing the process of maturation of a teenager is of my sister. When she was 16 years old, all she worried about was how her earrings disappeared, her favorite show was over and why her teacher gave her an A on her test instead of an A+. One day, I got home earlier and saw her painting her nails. I decided to have a sister chat with her and it suddenly hit me that she is a great person with a great personality, but who never had the chance to show it. So I asked her to volunteer for the Red Cross.
It only took a week for her to change her priorities almost completely. She saw that other people had much greater problems to face and even donated some of her belongings she really cherished before in addition to offering her help in many other ways. She spent time with many less fortunate people but who remained nevertheless caring despite their troubles that in the end she became a much more considerate person herself.
Today, I am proud to say that my sister regularly volunteers to help other people in need. Even though she doesnâ€™t get paid, she finds other rewarding reasons for which to visit and contribute at the Red Cross. In fact, to this day she still thanks me for making her volunteer. In her words, it changed her life and made her a better person.
Keeping Our Planet Green Nowadays we witness the climate changing at a rapid pace. However, even though we are well-aware of this fact, it is almost surprising that lots of people are doing absolutely nothing to stop it. I have several easy but effective suggestions to propose which can help us keep our planet green and healthy as long as we all do our part. The first and most basic tip is for everyone to get out there and plant a tree. It's good for the air, the land, it provides shade for your house, and helps you save on cooling. My second suggestion is that we all turn off our computers at night. By turning off our computers instead of leaving them in sleep mode, we can save 40 watt-hours per day. Next, an easy a thing as recycling glass will reduce related air pollution by 20 percent and related water pollution by 50 percent. On the other hand, non-recycled glass can take up to a million years to decompose on its own. Another tip that we can all implement is to turn off our lights when we leave a room. For fluorescent bulbs, which are more susceptible to wear from being switched on and off than are incandescent bulbs, it is recommended that they are switched off when a room will be unoccupied for over 15 minutes. Adopting this tip will help save energy directly, but will also reduce cooling costs, as lights contribute heat to a room. We can also protect the environment by maintaining our vehicles in good condition: not only does this extend the life of the vehicle, but it also saves gas and reduces pollution. For instance, maintaining clean air filters and inflated tires can greatly improve your vehicle's performance. It would not hurt to clean out the trunk eitherâ€”all that extra weight could be costing you at the pump.
Furthermore, we can use paper bags for shopping instead of plastic ones, which are otherwise not biodegradable, and end up making their way into our oceans, and subsequently, into the food chain. Stronger, reusable bags are an inexpensive and readily available option. We can also use rechargeable batteries. Each year 15 billion batteries are produced and sold, and most of them are disposable alkaline batteries. Only a small fraction of these are recycled. A better alternative is to buy a charger and a few sets of rechargeable batteries. Although this requires an upfront investment, it is one that should pay off in a short while. Another tip is to switch from lighters to matches. Most lighters are made of plastic and filled with butane fuel, both of which are petroleum products. Since most lighters are considered "disposable", over 1.5 billion of them end up in landfills each year. When choosing matches, it is better to go for cardboard than wooden, as the latter come from trees, while the former from recycled paper. Also make sure to recycle old cell phones. The average cell phone lasts around 18 months, which means 130 million phones are retired each year. If they go into landfills, the phones and their batteries introduce toxic substances into our environment. There are plenty of reputable programs through which you can recycle your phone, many of which donate for noble causes. These are just a few things we can implement to do our part in keeping our planet green. Remember, the best course of action is the one we all take together. We should not need another incentive than the thought of our planet healthy, and ourselves in turn.
Art, Just a Hobby?
Talent is something you are born with, and in the right surroundings and given the proper opportunities, you might have the chance to discover and develop it. For this reason, art subjects in public schools could help many young people discover their talents. After all, many of the famous painters, poets, musicians and actors who discovered their talents later in life could have produced significantly more pieces of art if they were given the right opportunities early in their school years.
Iâ€™ve known people who didnâ€™t know they could paint until they first started painting for art class in high school. I also have a friend who has a beautiful voice but lacked the courage to sing in public until a teacher at school overheard her signing when she thought she was alone in the locker room and gave her the necessary encouragement. Furthermore, one of my language teachers once told us that she didnâ€™t know she had the talent to write poetry, until her own language teacher assigned her the homework to write a poem about her mother. Since then she has written and successfully published entire books of poetry. And these are not isolated cases: many of our favorite actors today discovered their talent in school plays that could be called amateur, but nevertheless fundamentally important in instilling the confidence necessary in making an artist great.
There must be many potential young artists in the world that have yet to enroll in the right art class before we start hearing their names widely. Besides helping them to discover if they are at all interested in a certain discipline of art, the implementation of art subjects in public schools would also help them grow in their capacity for creativity, express their emotions and reflections, and last but not least, learn about the history of art, through a study of the works of such great artists across the gambit of arts as Pablo Picasso, William Shakespeare, Amadeus Mozart, Marilyn Monroe or Woody Allen. The world has much to benefit from supporting the implementation of art subjects in public schools.
Magical Destinations 'Tis the season to travel! Actually, any time is great for a vacation as long as it's a real vacation – a time to relax, enjoy oneself, and explore the sites. Many people prefer the famous places for vacation, including Paris, Hawaii, Venice, Rome, London, Dubai, Florida, Cancun, Sydney, the Bahamas, and the list goes on. They are of course great and lovely destinations; however, I would like to go somewhere magical. I would like to visit enchanted places that could possibly have come out of fairytales. Here are just a few magical destinations that trully exist in the world:
Colmar, France – Now, I know this is France, a place which everyone has heard of as a top destination for travel, but I just couldn't resist mentioning this town. Colmar is located in northeastern France, near the border of Germany; and.... It has been called “the most beautiful town in the world”, “the most beautiful town in Europe”, and since 1984, it has repeatedly received the highest rating from the European Tourism Board. The town has elements of France (the plethora of flowers and window shutters), Germany (the arquitecture and cuisine) and Italy (the canals). With its cobblestone streets, rainbow colored houses and miniature train, Colmar is definitely an enchanted place worth paying a visit.
Agueda, Portugal – Another magical town where you will not get rained on even if you don't bring an umbrella. Tourists can walk the marvelous streets of Agueda rain or shine thanks to the hundreds of umbrellas suspended in the air. These umbrellas first appeared in Agueda in 2012 thanks to The Umbrella Sky Project by Sextafeira Produções, and photos of the town went viral widely enough over the Internet that this year the art group brought back a totally different kind of umbrella print to create interesting shadows too.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia – Mirror, mirror on the ground, whose the prettiest town of them all? Although not a town per se, the Uyuni Salt flats in Bolivia are the world's largest 'mirror'. On dry, sunny days, the salt flat is just a plain, white stretch of dirt; but with just a little water on wetter days, it turns into a great reflective surface. This salt flat was what was left once the prehistoric Lake Minchin dried up. It is known as the world's largest salt flat with a total area of 10,582 km², and it is located near the peak of the Andes mountains at an altitude of 3,650 km. The effect: an extection of the sky itself! Here, besides the salt flats, there are some other magical landscapes including a pink lake full of flamingos, a green lake, natural hot springs, rock formations, and other beautiful odities.
Waitomo, New Zealand â€“ The Waitomo Glow-worm Cave on the North Island has thousands of glow-worms that light up the cave ceiling like stars. Arachnocampa luminosa is the species of fly larvae that is only found in New Zealand. They produce a silky thread in order to trap flies and other bugs. The blue-green glow actually comes from their organs; the hungrier they are, the brighter they glow. Tourists can explore the cave by rafting through its river. Magically gross.
Nyiragongo Crater, Congo â€“ A steepsided volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mount Nyiragongo has a lava lake constantly bubbling away, creating a red glow against the dark nights. Cities and villages nearby are on constant alert for lava eruptions and poisonous gases. This place is a dangerous site for tourists, but makes a great dragon layer for the imaginative souls.
Skaftafell, Iceland – These blue ice caves located on the Svínafellsjökull glacier in Skaftafell, Iceland are a true winter wonderland. They were formed from the tremendous pressure on the ice through the centuries and tiny air bubbles keeping space throughout. The blue ice can only be seen when it has hardened through the winter months, after a long season of rain that washes away the glacier's surface layer. The caves are carved by streams of water that melts from the ice and enters through the cracks in the glacier.
Jiuzhaigou Valley, Sichuan, China – This valley, or “the Nine Village Valley”, as it has come to be called since its size spans over nine Tibetan villages, is known for its multi-level waterfalls, colorful lakes and scenery, snow-capped mountains, and an abundance of extraordinary plants and animals. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992 and a World Biosphere Reserve since 1997. At night, there are cultural performaces perfomed by the local Tibetan and Qiang people. This valley trully has one of the most captivating landscapes on Earth, and it is definitely another magical destination worth visiting!
Shakespeare in Bitola In the summer of 2013, the city of Bitola in Macedonia as part of its traditional Summer Festival organized the first ever Shakespeare Festival. Theater troops from all over the world attended for a very successful and enjoyable eight-day homage to the great playwright. The premiere performance was a bilingual rendition of Romeo and Juliette, with Macedonian actors from Skopje playing the Montagues and Russian actors from St. Petersburg playing the Capulets. A translation of the Russian lines was projected above the stage; but this was hardly necessary, for as the critics commented during the press conferences between performances, Shakespeare is great because audiences can understand his plays no matter the time, and apparently, no matter the language. Director of the Lit Moon Theater Company of Santa Barbara, U.S.A., John Blondell remarked, Shakespeare created his plays in a lingua franca. Truly, it was a wonder to see how each nation performing at the festival had adapted Shakespeare to its own culture and circumstances. Maybe it is because the famous lines have become a cliché in English, but when the actress playing Juliette bellowed in Russian, “Romeo, where art though Romeo?” the effect was notably amplified precisely for the sense of novelty it conveyed. Next, the Serbian troupe from the National Theater of Belgrade performed Henry VI, Part One. By confining the play to a single scene, they were able to create a remarkable sense of continuity, working entirely around a large circular table they constantly divided, reshaped, and adapted, at one point even laying the pieces on their sides and rocking them to represent boats on the sea. It has been said that the humor of a culture is the most difficult aspect of capture to capture; yet this was the best part of the play. The two jesters at the end in all authenticity managed to turn a convincing tragedy into a lighthearted comedy. In the concluding scene, they accidently spill the deceased king’s ashes, which rise to cover the air above the stage and audience in thick, white clouds, and then ridiculously attempt to blow it away and kick it under an overturned table. Scooping what bit of it they can back in they urn, they scurry offstage to an amusing violin jig and rapturous applause.
There was some confusion around the third performance, as it was listed by the name King Lear on the Macedonian side of the brochure and Poor, Poor Lear on the English. However, as soon as the audience was held up from entering the theater by what appeared to be a crazy old lady crowing, “Oh, Hello! Hello! Welcome!” the realization sank in that it would be the latter. Interacting in the hall with the audience for the first fifteen minutes, Nina Sallinen from Finland effectively established her role of an actress one show away from retirement and possibly losing her grips with reality due to certain troubles in her life she would slowly reveal throughout the rest of her dramatic monologue. As it turned out, she was attempting to buy some time for her daughters to arrive, who had promised to attend her performance, but eventually clearly failed to show up. Referencing how King Lear was abandoned by his three daughters, Ms. Sallinen presented her true disappointment offstage by losing the negotiations over the phone with her daughters to make it to her performance. When Ms. Sallinen returned after the break, the act was over, but the best acting had just begun. As she relayed the agony of being forgotten, genuine tears streamed down her face and dampened her shirt. She confessed that all she wanted was some recognition: “I always wanted to be something, because that was what you were supposed to do,” and her arms dropping to her side, she concluded, “But I... am just... myself.” She held a fixed gaze with the audience, and the reception was immense. It made her smile anew, and she called out again in the old loony voice, “Oh, thank you! Thank you!” She walked offstage and limped back to receive more of the applause, waiving as though to say we were too much, but also encouraging more. Astoundingly, there was more play in her even after she had finished with the performance. Another amazing performance was Bitola’s own theater company’s Henry VI, Part Three. The National Theater of Bitola had had the honor of performing the piece the previous year at the Globe Theater in London. The best element of the play was the intensity with which Macedonian culture seeped through the performance. The play opened with the eerie approach of a beating drum marking war. It was Edward who emerged carrying it strapped before him, rallying his people to seize the throne of England which Henry VI had wrongfully claimed. Particularly powerful in their delivery were the battle scenes presented in a fury of violent clashes between groups of actors that could have been taken for actual armies, and the accompanying roar of drums and traditional Macedonian patriotic songs. One of the most memorable scenes was actually performed by the actor playing Richard. Small, hunched, decrepit, and limping, the man was literally stood in his brother Edward’s shadow. What he lacked in physical stature he made up for in immensity in wrath. Several times he entered
into belligerent monologues, stumping around after “this unsightly hump God gave me, one leg shorter than the other, and hideous, hideous complexion!” He explained as much to himself as to the audience, “I was born with teeth!” and beared them; and sure enough one could recall that earlier he had been biting his fallen victims. “No woman would lay eyes on me, but that is fine,” he stated, “Because the only thing I care about is the throne.” He stopped and piped almost cheerfully, “And I will get it.” At the closing of the play, after Edward has regained the crown and his other brothers have deserted them, Richard remains by his side. They make their way off stage through a large metal gate, and Richard, last, stops for a moment to regard the audience, and then he shrugs and beams another kind smile before closing the doors shut behind him. Richard finally gains the throne years later after his brother Edward has died in the play Richard III performed by the National Theater of Beijing. From all the plays throughout the festival, this must have been the most culturally adapted one. The characters were dressed in kimonos and bore traditional Chinese swords and weapons. Musical chimes and echoing microphones created a sort of disorienting, mysterious effect. Though the audience did not understand what was being said, the plot was transparent enough and highly enjoyable, testifying again that a good performance of Shakespeare transcends language. Certainly, the Shakespeare Festival was one of the highlights of the Bitola Summer Festival of 2013. Both the international guests and the domestic audiences were highly satisfied with the organization, accessibility, and ambient. In essence, the festival was a celebration of the value different cultures contribute and the world heritage contained in Shakespeare. The festival is planned to take place again in the summer of 2014, and it promises to be even greater.
When Persephone Becomes Kore Soft, warm and rustling in our beds, we open our eyes and awake with the space around us. The Awakening is not only a thin thread that unites dream and reality; but a philosophy of the exact moment when one state of being, when a thought, or an object, changes into another; when one thing goes for another to take its place; when the internal clock alternates the rhythm of its beat. The Awakening is the point at which Persephone emerges as Kore; and when everything begins to look more beautiful.
If death and dreams are cold and numb, and if in winter everything stands still and sleeps hunched in its own heat, then life and reality are the nature that thrives, and the landscape that blooms, in
the spring—a mere thought that becomes more colorful and lucid.
Have you ever wondered why we dream when we fall asleep? Why we do not remain awake all the time? It is a very simple truth, in fact. Imagine that the annual cycle of nature represents the unity of the four conditions—spring, summer, autumn, and winter—and one of these conditions, winter, is experienced as a metaphorical dream. In this case the other three remaining conditions can be seen as the reality of the world. Then the reality of the world happens precisely at the moment of the Awakening—from the winter sleep. Similar to our birth, our arrival in this world automatically becomes a journey toward the dream. These are the two cycles that are completely different and yet so closely connected; so if one did
not exist, it would be like living in perpetual coldness and numbness, or in a permanent state of blooming and flowering. Whichever situation you might find yourself in, the monotony would make you wish you were in another; and this is a problem in and of itself. Even if we were acquanted with every aspect of these situations, we still would not be able to imagine our day without its end; and every day ends with a dream, a dream that leads you to a new day.
existence is in a need of prolonged dreaming, and at one moment you hear the music, and you feel the calmness, but you can no longer see the old reality. Thus, existence and vigilance have progressed from life into death.
Now we exist like a memory in the hearts and minds of our loved ones. Now we are only a mirage. But what is a mirage? It is a tragey that constantly repeats itself from the dychotamy of life and death. For someone maybe it is a moment of pain in which something dead feels alive. It is an emotion that hovers through time like a vague photography, a mirage into which all of us will one day blend.
Dare to Dream!
Published on Feb 6, 2014
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