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First Class Day

Getting to know you

  • Where do your ancestors come from? How long has your family been in this country?

Three of my four grandparents were born in foreign countries, Scotland and Sweden. They came to the U.S. about a hundred years ago, just before World War I.

  • To what foreign countries have you traveled?

I have traveled through South America and Europe, and I have lived for extended periods in Italy, England, when I was your age, and the Netherlands, most recently. In total, I have spent a little more than two of the past five years living in the Netherlands.

  • What foreign languages can you speak or read? Does anyone in your family speak a foreign language?


I can read some French and I can read and speak Dutch pretty well. Both of my paternal grandparents spoke Swedish; in fact, my father learned English as a second language. One of my brothers married a native Spanish speaker, and he can converse with his in-laws in their language.

What about you?

The central question of this course

How have English-language media (movies, music, TV) affected the traditional arts in non-English speaking countries?


Rhianna Umbrella Indonesia – angklung (right)

The elephant in the room

The United States. How should Americans deal with the “home team” and feelings of disloyalty coming from inevitable comparisons to the U.S.? Many Americans like the idea of American exceptionalism, the idea that the U.S. is not only different from all other countries but also better than all other countries.

Western Africa

Western Africa

While we are certainly welcome to our own feelings and opinions, as illogical and comforting as they may be, we are not entitled to our own facts. In fact, compared to the developing countries that we are studying this semester, the U.S. fares well. However, compared to other advanced economies, the U.S. is at or near the bottom on a variety of economic and social measures. In that sense, this course stacks the deck in favor of the U.S.

In India, a recent popular song is Jeene Laga Hoon from the movie Ramaiya Vastavaiya, sung by Atif Aslam and Shreya Ghoshal.

Togo’s Afia Mala – Segne

Senegal’s Diogal – Sore

Senegal’s Habib Koité (below) – Wassiye | Wikipedia | web

Where are Senegal and Togo? See map on right.

Habib Koité

Habib Koité

South Africa’s Jon Ackerman – Anoma

What makes that music different from what you’re used to hearing?



Online Research for this Course

Use your browser’s bookmarks or favorites to harvest and organize your research. I highly recommend that you use Google’s Chrome. Chrome has a translation extension, which means that you will be able to translate individual words or sentences just by highlighting them. Your next best bet is Mozilla’s Firefox.

After that, Google is your best friend:

Almost a thousand streams in the International Music section of Internet Radio on my iTunes

Almost a thousand streams in the International Music section of Internet Radio on my iTunes

Google Earth (free download) | Images Maps Translate News Video, especially YouTube

Explore and discover! Explore the world and discover new sights and sounds.