17 December 2014

International Migrants Day is on 18 December

> Click HERE to go to the UN website!
> Article from The Guardian on the opening in 2007 of France's immigration museum
> Musée de l'histoire de l'immigration
> Huffington Post article (in French) on the December 2014 inauguration of the museum
> Article from THE DAY on immigration in the UK

  1. Why do people emigrate?
  2. What are the percentages of immigrants in the different EU countries and where do these immigrants come from?
  3. Who opposes immigration in Europe, and what are their arguments?
  4. Do you consider immigrants an asset for your country?
  5. If you were to emigrate, where would you go and what would be your reasons?

11 December 2014

There are hungry people in wealthy countries too...

Text adapted from an article in THE DAY:

Around 13 million Britons live below the poverty line, and the situation is getting worse.

A damning new government report shows that rising food prices and stagnating wages have led to a huge surge in the use of food banks.

Over 350,000 people relied on the 420-plus food banks in Britain in 2012-13; this is almost triple the number for 2011-12.

Food banks receive public and corporate food donations, which is then distributed to those in need. They have become a lifeline for those who, with electricity bills and rent to pay, are at risk of going hungry.

The report's authors say their “anger knows no bounds” towards Britain’s supermarkets, which throw away thousands of tonnes of unsold edible food every day.

A charity called FareShare provides one million meals a month from saved food, but this is just two percent of all the food that is wasted.

The government says it will take action to help Britain’s beleaguered food banks and to address the supermarkets’ throwaway culture.

Should we feel that concerned though for the poor in wealthy countries? After all, while the deprivation on our doorsteps might tug at our heartstrings, our real focus should surely be on the 842 million people around the world who live in extreme hunger and face a genuine struggle to survive…

Some argue, however, that the world’s hunger problems are overwhelming, unsolvable, or not our concern. After all, charity should start at home; we can at least help ease the suffering of those around us, who may well be people we know and, at some point, even ourselves…

Questions/to do:
  1. What, according to the article, are the causes of hunger in the UK?
  2. What is the population of the UK?
  3. How wealthy is the UK?
  4. Is the percentage of poor people in the UK higher than in France?
  5. Are there food banks in France?
  6. Would you be a volunteer for a charity like FareShare?
  7. List some of the charities that try to solve the problem of hunger in the world.
  8. Prepare a 60-second talk arguing that “charity starts at home”.

29 November 2014

2 December is UN International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

"The mindless cycle of destruction must end..."

Separation wall

The above photo is of a section of the separation wall in East Jerusalem. The wall winds down the shallow dry valley. There is a road for military patrol vehicles which runs alongside the wall on the Israeli side. The wall is made of cement (the holes at the top of each slab are for the crane hook to hold; the wall was put up quickly but is probably very strong). It is tall enough to stop people climbing over it easily. In the middle distance, there is medium-rise housing which looks recent. There is a road on the left which leads to the settlement (which is quite far from the wall). The houses on the right are low-rise and quite close to the wall. There are no roads only dirt tracks. There seems to be rubbish lying about. Perhaps the people on the Palestinian side are poorer than the people on the Israeli side (the Israelis most probably have many decent roads, public lighting and sewerage facilities). There are a few trees and bushes. The landscape is dry and it is probably a very hot day. The valley is desert-like and there are no people. In the distance there are empty-looking hills. Is this a nice place to live?

Why is there a wall?
  • The region around Jerusalem is disputed territory: the Israeli and Palestinian communities both claim the land is theirs.
  • The wall was built by the Israelis to keep the Palestinians out of the territory they control (they are afraid of terrorist attacks, that is also why there are few Israeli houses close to the wall).
  • The wall marks a militarized border (cf. the patrol road; there is probably barbed wire and a watch tower not far away).
  • The wall "contains" the Palestinians (like in a prison) and makes controlling them easier (the Israelis keep a watch on the Palestinians).
  • The wall is a way of demarcating Israeli territory (of showing the Palestinians that the land up to the wall is now in Israeli possession).
  • For the Palestinians, the wall is a constant reminder of their humiliating situation.
  • For the Israelis, the wall is a way of feeling safer and of asserting their presence in the region.

This documentary photo has no "artistic" pretence, but it was obviously taken to show a very sad situation; it is an illustration of extreme social and spatial disparity: a town is separated by a wall which reinforces the political, territorial, cultural, religious, and wealth divide. The Israelis are militarily strong, claim ownership of disputed land, are mostly Jewish and relatively wealthy. The Palestinians are militarily weak, feel their land is being illegally occupied, are mostly Muslim and relatively poor.

To do/questions:
  1. Read Ban ki-Moon's remarks on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
  2. Research the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  3. Research the Israeli West Bank barrier.

Photo by Eman Mohammed

> Click HERE to watch a TED talk by Eman Mohammed!

Questions on Eman Mohammed's talk:
  1. What is Eman's job?
  2. Where was her first assignment?
  3. Why do male colleagues not welcome her presence?
  4. To what "worlds" were her male colleagues forbidden?
  5. What flattened Mohammed Khader's house?
  6. Did Eman "run away" (cf. her last sentence)?
  7. What do you think of Eman?
To do:

Give a 60-second talk describing and commenting the photo of the kids in their jacuzzi (cf. 3'33'' of the video).

25 November 2014

EWWR 22-30 November 2014

Questions on the video in the Daily Mail article: click HERE!
  1. Who is "facing an absurd situation"?
  2. How many tons of fruit and vegetables are wasted every year according to the video?
  3. Who made 2014 "European Year against food waste"?
  4. What is "as good, 30% cheaper"?
  5. How did Intermarché convince consumers to buy the ugly fruit and vegetables?
  6. What problem did the supermarket chain face?
  7. What, according to many journalists, should all supermarkets do?
  8. How many fruit and vegetables do you eat every day?
  9. Does your family eat "ugly" fruit and vegetables?
  10. What do you think of the Intermarché initiative?

To do:
  1. Find out how much food is wasted in the world every year.
  2. Click HERE!
  3. Click HERE!
  4. Click HERE!

23 November 2014

G20, 2014: what can world leaders do about climate change?

Logo of the G20 summit

The 2014 Summit of the G-20 was held in Brisbane, Australia, on November 15-16.

“G-20” stands for “Group of Twenty”.

The members of the group are the world’s twenty most powerful economies (19 countries plus the European Union):
  1. Argentina
  2. Australia
  3. Brazil
  4. Canada
  5. China
  6. France
  7. Germany
  8. India
  9. Indonesia
  10. Italy
  11. Japan
  12. Mexico
  13. Russia
  14. Saudi Arabia
  15. South Africa
  16. South Korea
  17. Turkey
  18. United Kingdom
  19. United States
  20. European Union
This group represents about two-thirds of the world’s population and 85% of the total value of all the products and services that are produced in the world.

The G-20 was formed in 1999 after a financial crisis so that various countries could get together and work on the world’s economic issues.

At the Brisbane Summit, country leaders and representatives of international organizations  discussed how to improve our world’s economies.

Issues included:
  • How can trade be made easier?
  • How can tax fraud be avoided?
  • How can the financial system be made safer?
  • How can employment be increased?

Other important issues were discussed:
  • Russia’s aggressive stance on Ukraine.
  • Climate change.

Click on the links below for more information on the G20 Summit:

Point 19 of the Leaders' Communiqué, Brisbane Summit (15-16 November 2014), reads:

"We support strong and effective action to address climate change. Consistent with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its agreed outcomes, our actions will support sustainable development, economic growth, and certainty for business and investment. We will work together to adopt successfully a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC that is applicable to all parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in 2015. We encourage parties that are ready to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions well in advance of COP21 (by the first quarter of 2015 for those parties ready to do so). We reaffirm our support for mobilising finance for adaptation and mitigation, such as the Green Climate Fund."


Questions (to find answers, use the texts and links above AND sources you find yourself):
  1. Where and when was the latest G20 Summit held?
  2. What is the G20?
  3. What were the important issues discussed at the Summit according to THE DAY?
  4. What does "sustainable development" mean?
  5. What is the UNFCCC?
  6. What is the COP21?
  7. What is the Green Climate Fund?

To do:
  1. Describe and comment the photo above.
  2. What are the causes of climate change?
  3. Situate the Isle de Jean Charles on a map (print out the map for your ring binder).
  4. Watch the video (cf. above link).
  5. Click on "Think" and answer the questions.
  6. Click on "Dig deeper" and read the text.

  1. If you were a resident of the Isle, would you stay or would you leave? 
  2. What can be done about the situation on the Isle de Jean Charles?
  3. According to you, who can solve the problems linked to climate change: grassroots action groups or the world leaders (prepare a 60-second speech in answer to this question)?

Still shot from the film "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

To do:
  1. Watch the film "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (you can borrow the DVD from your local library!).
  2. Write a short critique of the film for the blog THE BIGGER PICTURE.
  3. Design a POSTER to encourage your schoolmates to contribute to energy efficiency in school (for information, use sources such as the EPA website).

11 October 2014

Young people CAN make the world a better place!

Malala Yousafzay
Malala accepting her NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
Malala's speech to the United Nations General Assembly 2013
TED talks on the importance of educating girls

Article by Arthur, Pierre and Paul from the Ensemble Scolaire International Massillon in Clermont-Ferrand (France):

Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday 10th October 2014.

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani teenager who defied the Taliban to promote the education of girls, and Kailash Satyarthi is an Indian children’s rights activist.

They won for their “struggle against the oppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”. In its citation, the Nobel Committee noted it was “an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism”.

Malala Yousafzai, now 17, was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman two years ago. She only just survived the attack and has continued to campaign vociferously for girls’ education. She is the youngest Nobel laureate in history.

Speaking at a news conference in Birmingham, where she is now based, the teen said she was honoured to be the youngest person and the first Pakistani to ever receive the prestigious prize: "The award is for all the children who are voiceless, whose voices need to be heard," she said.

Born in the picturesque Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan, Malala first gained attention in 2009, when she was just 12, after she wrote a diary about life in her native Swat as it fell under Taliban influence. Her sagacious insights into the importance of education and her determination to buck the Taliban clampdown on girls’ education caught the attention of the BBC, which published her diary.

Three years later, the Pashtun student made international headlines when she was shot in the head at close range in her school bus by a Taliban militant.

She survived the attack, enduring a life-saving operation in Pakistan before being airlifted to Britain for further treatment and extensive rehabilitation.

Barely nine months after her traumatic, near-death experience, the outspoken Pakistani girl riveted audiences across the world when she gave a speech to the United Nations on her 16th birthday, a day the United Nations celebrated as “Malala Day”.

Responding to the news of the award on Friday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif congratulated the schoolgirl and called her “the pride” of his country.

Satyarthi, founder of the NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (“Save the Childhood Movement”) has maintained the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and headed various forms of peaceful protests, “focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain,'' the Nobel committee said.

Unlike the Pakistani teen, Satyarthi was relatively unknown on the international stage before Friday’s Nobel Peace Prize announcement.

Satyarthi is known in his native India for his work in helping tens of thousands of children, forced into slavery by businessmen, landowners and others, to gain their freedom.

Reacting to the news on Friday, Kailash thanked the Nobel committee for "recognising the plight of millions of children who are suffering in this modern age”.

Satyarthi said in an interview on an Indian TV station: "Something which was born in India has gone global and now we have a global movement against child labour. After receiving this award, I feel that the people will give more attention to the cause of the children in the world."

17 September 2014

Teenagers decide their (country's) future?

  1. According to opinion polls, how will young people vote at the referendum on Scottish independence?
  2. Do you think it is a good thing that youth are allowed to take part in the independence referendum?
  3. Would YOU choose YES or NO at the Thursday 18 September referendum?

16 September 2014

21 September every year is International Day of Peace...

  1. What is the UN Secretary General's message for International Day of Peace 2014?
  2. How many conflicts are there in the world and where are they most numerous?
  3. Which conflict worries you the most and why?
  4. What will you and your family and friends do to mark International Day of Peace?
  5. What, for you, is a strong symbol of peace?

Independent Scotland... a republic?

Scottish independence... would it result in "all of us first" ?

> Click HERE to watch "Scotland Yet: a film about independence"!
> What does "commonweal" mean?

22 September is World Car Free Day!

Time Square NYC...

> Wikipedia article on Car-Free Days
> It's European Mobility Week!

  1. How much do you like your family car(s)?!
  2. How often is it used and for what reasons?
  3. List the advantages and inconveniences of a family car.
  4. Could you and the members of your family use alternative means of transport?
  5. Would your family make savings by using public transport rather than a car?

To do:
  1. List the pluses and minuses of your town being permanently car free.
  2. Design a poster to convince your classmates to use their bicycles more often.
  3. Translate into French the following text explaining the advantages of a car free day:
This is an opportunity to reconnect with the city, exploring new neighborhoods, and to take advantage of transportation choices. Going car free will give you the opportunity to join your neighbors from all over the city who are signing up to leave their cars at home and travel to work by train, bus, bicycle, walking, roller-blading, etc.

> new words & phrases
> facts & figures!

11 September 2014


To do:
  1. Describe in detail the photo above (the man and his surroundings as well as the tattoo) and give it a title.
  2. Describe your feelings when looking at this picture (would the feelings of an American be the same as yours do you think?).
  3. List questions you would like to put to the photographer about the photo he has taken.
  4. Imagine the internal monologue of the tattooed man in the situation above.
  5. Ask someone who remembers 9/11 where they were, with whom, and what they were doing at the time they heard the news of the terrorist attacks on NYC and Washington.
  6. Send a short "comment" to this blog post stating what you think of the 9/11 MEMORIAL.

3 September 2014

Who, regarding Ukraine, has accused the West of being "weak" and "decadent" ?

Questions/to do:
  1. Describe the painting and give it a possible title.
  2. What was the artist’s purpose in painting this work do you think?
  3. How does it illustrate the title of this post?
  4. Where is Ukraine (list its neighbors)?
  5. When did the political crisis in Ukraine start and why?
  6. What is “the West”?
  7. Define “weak” and “decadent”.
  8. What is John McCaine’s job?
  9. Is he Democrat or Republican?
  10. How influential is John McCaine?
  11. Define what “Putin’s Orwellian universe” means, as mentioned by McCaine on his website.
  12. What does McCaine feel should be done about Ukraine?
  13. Could McCaine have accused the West of being “weak” and “decadent”?
  14. What is NATO?
  15. Who is the Secretary General of NATO and what does he do?
  16. Could the Secretary General of NATO have accused the West of being “weak” and “decadent”?
  17. According to his personal website, what kind of person is Vladimir Putin?
  18. Could Putin have accused the West of being “weak” and “decadent”?
  19. Who did accuse the West of being “weak” and “decadent”?
  20. Do you share the Ukrainian ambassador’s opinion on the West’s attitude to events in his country?