tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
On Personal Day I watched my host family's copy of the ROADS video, Up With People's show circa 1998-1999. The show was about this youth center that got vandalized and needed lots of money for restoration; the students of International University organizes a benefit concert but of course there is a bit of drama, because the organiwer's boyfriend's father is the head of the business group that's buying out the building.

Halfway through watching it (it's very 80s but quite entertaining), I realized that Nina, our very own Nina Maass, was in it. SHe lust have been around 23ish...she had super long, blond, wavy hair, which threw me off (she's on the cover of the A Common Beat CD, which was the following year's shoz, qnd she has cropped hair) and her voice was a bit higher, but she has a very distinctive smile and that's what clued me in. (Also the fact that the MC was all "Nina" this and "Nina" that.) She looked ADORABLE, a bit like an 80s Madonna in her tiger stripe dress - she looked even more adorable when she was in karate garb doing a martial arts-inspired dance. Awh.

In the "benefit concert" part of the musical, they did a bunch of cultural dances, including an Indian Punjabi dance. That was already random on its own, since there weren't any Indians in the crew, but even more random: NINA'S IN IT. Imagine Nina in a red traditional Indian dress - with headscarf to boot - doing Punjabi dance with scarves and all. Random, but she looks SO CUTE.

(And then she shows up in a frilly Pilgrim dress for an American dance, which is even funnier)

During the last two songs, a parade of world flags appear. The first flags? The US flag - and the MALAYSIAN flag. Yet no Malaysians on this crew. (And then soon after the Singapore flag shozs up.) Yet again completely random.

I tell you, this is a sign that I was meant to be here.

My host mum's brother is a published writer - he writes historical fiction for kids. He was a fun guy, though he never seems to get writer's block (mwargh Nano). Really enjoyed talking to him - an actual published writer, woo! (Apparently my love for writing is unique among the Up With People world.) Also, another relative of theirs lives in London and did special effects for Harry Potter and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, amongst others.

This family is way cool.

Tomorrow - Köln! Once I find Nina there I will ask her about the Roads tape. That was completely random and yet so serendipitous.

Oh, hello Joan and Iris :)
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
ARGH! I had this long entry and then the connection DIED on me. Grr. Took me an hour on this crazy keyboard.

We did so much this city. Amnesty Belgium was pretty interesting - they had a nice office, pretty big and spacious. They had a cartoon on their fridge which said "Think Globally Act Locally Panic Internally" - ha! describes us well.

Our CI for this week was Life Philosophies - a look into different religions of the world. We first went to a Holding Camp – like a Concentration Camp except they send people out to Germany after a while. Our guide acted as a SS guard and treated us almost like the prisoners – it was painful seeing what the actual prisoners had to go through. I can’t even begin to imagine why anyone could think of such a thing. Nina was in our group and she understood the German that the guide/guard was randomly yelling at us (she IS German) so it seemed a bit more painful for her.

There was a bouquet of flowers at the Execution area – almost made me break down. I really needed physical contact afterwards. That was just harrowing.

We then went to a Hare Krishna center – complete contrast! Chanting and prayer and talk about light and actual food. For some of us it was a bit bizarre (we were expecting only lunch) but they were really nice. After that, some of us went to a Muslim community center and talked to a young man from Othman – it was funny and frank, though we did get into some sort of battle-of-the-sexes thing, mwaha.

Next day we went to a Free Thinking Humanists group, with a workshop about issues like manipulation and freedom. It did get a bit tense (I felt at some point they were being manipulative) but it was an engaging discussion. (The rest of the group were happy to get free beer!) We then went to a synagogue; a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, and the closest I’ll ever get to understanding Judaism up close. Great experiences, all of them.

We all went to the Night Of The Proms – a major concert with both pop and classical music. Loads of big names were there – Belgian Idol Natalya, Ace of Base, Donna Summer, people from The Who, and of course various orchestras. SO MUCH FUN.

The Applied Education Dept planned Anti Discrimination week, and their main activity was providing different treatment to people based on what colour paper you got. Orange (which I got) was High Class, with special meals and random compliments during Morning Meetings (which was even funnier since I was coordinating Morning Meetings this week!) and candy and reserved seats. Pink was Middle Class, which got OK treatment. Yellow, the majority, was Lower Class, which were practically ignored. I figured out what was going on as soon as I got the paper – and when Bob shook my hand and gave me candy – and I just laughed my head off whenever the staff went all out to compliment us and pamper us. I wasn’t sure I particularly liked being “high class” since it was so lonely but it was really funny…

Celebration was MAD. And that was GOOD. I passed on the hat to Christie H and Brandy; and I got an award for my public speaking story thing in Utrecht, yay! Melissa’s parents are SO CUTE; Nina’s parents were really serious but I caught them sneaking a smile or two once in a while! Tom and Melissa (Melissa even more) had The Glow From Home ™ and now Nina will too. Awh!

I am a week behind on Nano and I am sure I have forgotten something in this entry, so feel free to ask me questions. And it’s 12:30 and I haven’t had anything to eat yet. HUNGRY!

Antwerp!

Nov. 7th, 2005 11:18 pm
tiaramerchgirl: (Default)
So right now I am in Antwerp, Belgium (hello [livejournal.com profile] eatmorewaffles). If my typing is really wonky, it's because I'm on the French Azerty keyboard and it takes some adjusting.

My host family's hosted tons of people before, including the next Tour Manager for Köln. This should be interesting. Their dog Meera is SO CUTE.

We went to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague (a town, not a building like I once thought) - quite an interesting talk about what exactly went on there and why the situation was so complicated. Definitely made me think about cultural differences.

They had a relly nice Peace Museum, but my stomach was aching so I didn't go. Aww man. Their Peace Flame was really nice though. Great idea.

Tomorrow - Amnesty International, with Melissa and some other people. Huzzah!

Also, if you are part of the crew and you're reading this, please say hello because I love readers. Thankee!

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