Going global at home
Blog Post by Corinne Heather Copnick - Jul.08.2008 - 10:52 pm
Airfares may increase, gas prices may go through the roof, but we're going global right at home! Yes, we've become an international family at home because a funny thing has been happening as people read my book. One of the chapters in Cryo Kid -- Drawing a New Map (www.cryokid.com) is titled "My International Family," and readers have reacted so favorably to what I wrote about my own warm experiences with hosting international students that my daughter, grandaughter, and I have decided to repeat the experience. There's a difference this time, though. When I originally hosted international students in Toronto, a city with a great subway and bus system, transportation was an easy matter for the students, even on a cold day in February. There was a bus on the corner of my street that connected to the subway in a few minutes, and that was that. Thirty-five minutes later you were downtown. After 9 PM, bus drivers would even stop at the corner of your own street anywhere in the city if you were a woman alone. A city as vast and spread out as Los Angeles is a different kettle of fish. Traveling by bus is no small endeavor because public transportation is insufficient, complicated, and not rated highly by Angelenos who, in any case, mostly drive cars (www.commutesmart.info). So the daunting task for schools that want to run hosting programs here is to find suitable families reasonably close to their educational facilities. Anyway a particular school, whose execs had apparently read my book, found us. And that's how we got our beautiful international student, a twenty-something actress (not a wannabe but a working actress in the Czech Republic), her English already pretty good and wanting to take in the American way of life as much as she can in a short month. This is a tall order in Los Angeles, nearly as tall as the "veinte" coffee she ordered at a local Starbucks. As a matter of fact, it was nearly as tall as our petite student, who travels accompanied by her electronic English/Czech dictionary. Now she is interested in learning Spanish too -- hey, who wants to be overwhelmed by a coffee cup you don't realize will be twenty ounces? My eight-year-old grandchild has already located the Czech Republic on the map and is full of questions for our guest, who admires the American entrepreneurial spirit and wonders how she could implement some of her creative ideas in the Czech Republic (where young people want to buy U.S. goods, even though nowadays they are likely made somewhere else) before someone else with a little more business experience beats her to it. Coincidentally, the Czech Republic is much in the news this week, with Condaleeza Rice's visit there and the new accord with her counterpart in that country to allow U.S. defensive missiles to be based near Prague making the headlines. It's still a handshake accord because it needs to be ratified by the Czech government, and the proposal is reportedly unpopular with the citizenry. I wonder if our student worries about the accord, which has already occasioned Russian rumblings of aggressive military action if it should be ratified, while she is roller blading at Venice Beach. Since, as an old gal, I possess a longer historical memory, what comes to mind is the aggressive Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia (many years before it was subdivided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia after the breakdown of the U.S.S.R.), to which the world turned a blind eye. It was the stepping stone to World War II. In the next goose-step, the Nazis invaded Poland. And that's where the U.S. is hoping to establish a radar base once the Poles agree. The Russians, who have lucrative contracts with an on-the-way-to-becoming-nuclear Iran, don't like that either. By comparison, the situation makes traveling by bus to see the sights in car-city L.A. a very small discomfort indeed. By the way, it was a beautiful day in sunny California.
Born in Montreal, Canada, and now living in Los Angeles near her children and grandchildren, Corinne Heather Copnick, C.M., M.A., is a multi-talented writer and performer. Her career in the arts has spanned radio, television, film, and stage. For several...
Corinne’s Favorite Books
Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage. Ray Kurzweil, Spiritual Machines; Singularity is Near.