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Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, Media, PA, 7:00 to 9:00 PM
 
Mind mapping: From brainstorming stories and facts to engaging presentations
 
For each semester of the last 15 years or so, the DelCo Chapter of Toastmasters International, the world's largest speech, communication, and leadership organization, has supported my work at DCCC by sending a team of experienced Toastmasters to conduct a session on overcoming the fear of public speaking by engaging all my students.  In return, I have conducted one to two workshops on communication-related subjects for the members of the local Toastmasters chapter each year as part of the town-gown relationship between DCCC and the local community.  
 
This Wednesday's workshop at the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, will show mind mapping techniques that will allow anyone to generate ideas by gathering details related to a specific event in each participant's life, with the goal of illustrating facts with a telling anecdote.  As a result, within less than half an hour's time, the workshop participants will be able to present a one to two minute mini-speech on a topic of their choice.  For a sample of a brainstorm on distance learning, click the photo at left. For another sample on time management, click hereFor guidelines and invention strategies applied to the writing of essays and research papers that I use for my students at DCCC, click here.  
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Elder Week, DCCC, Media, PA, 1:30 to 3 PM

If we're so wonderful, why don't they like us?: America and Americans seen from abroad, and what we can do to re-build bridges

To my amazement, I receive more invitations from groups and organizations in the area for my presentation “If  we are so wonderful, why don’t they like us? America and Americans as seen from abroad,” than for any other topic, and every time I wonder what I can say and do to create a lively, thoughtful discussion without offending anyone.  Every single time, women and men of all socio-economic and political backgrounds have responded very positively and participated actively in the discussion of a very sensitive subject, especially since Sept. 11, and even more so now with the US economy going into a recession.  The workshop presents hard facts and strongly held views by well-known writers about those in power in Washington, DC, and the result of their politics on this country, financially and psychologically, not to mention the many problems we are now facing worldwide.  Example: “We have lost this war [in Iraq . . . We have not stymied Islamist terror.  We have not constructed a democratic model for the Middle East” (Andrew Sullivan, Dec. 17, 2007).
 
However, I also present voices that have not given up hope, in spite of deeply troubling concerns, such as the recent New Year’s editorial of the New York Times: "There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country. . . .  We can only hope that this time, unlike 2004, American voters will have the wisdom to grant the awesome powers of the presidency to someone who has the integrity, principle and decency to use them honorably.  Then when we look in the mirror as a nation, we will see, once again, the reflection of the United States of America."  I always end the program with an exercise that asks, “If you were president, what would you do to re-build bridges?”  And upon hearing their comments, I often ask myself why those  thoughtful and even wise participants did not run for president in the past.  We would live in a less troubled world.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Elder Week, DCCC, Media, PA, 10:30 to noon

I journaltherefore I am: From the cave paintings of Lascaux via Columbus' diaries and modern journals to Internet blogs

“For centuries and in many diverse cultures, journals have been kept by peasants and princes for a variety of purposes. For some, journals were tools for recording scientific observations, questions, and data. For others, journal writing was a way to record important cultural events, religious experiences, societal developments, or political protest.  Still some used journals as a vehicle for self-analysis and introspection” (Jill Torrey Emmons, “A History of Journal Writing,” 2007). 
 
After presenting a short history of journal writing, I then shared some excerpts from journals of discovery that include powerful scientific, artistic, and philosophical insights (like Leonardo da Vinci) all the way to the latest news and political revelations and diatribes (on DailyKos.com), while also presenting samples from famous diarists (like Anne Frank) and more infamous chroniclers of events (like Lee Harvey Oswald).  To build upon these examples, the participants of Elder Week 2008 then wrote and shared excerpts from a journal that they began writing near the end of the workshop.  To encourage their success in the future, I introduced the participants to some practical tips on the DO's and DON'Ts of journal writing:
 
Example: Avoid traps like making journal writing into a chore and using journal writing for problems and not for solutions. Instead, focus on developing a centering ritual, and write because you want to write, not because you have to.  Create a positive feedback loop, learn from your own experiences, and remember that a journal is more than a diary.  It’s your life, your story.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Elder Week, DCCC, Media, PA, 8:45 to 10:15 AM

What American are not supposed to read: A review of some of the best literary works, all challenged, censored, or banned

"Book burning is the practice of ceremoniously destroying by fire one or more copies of a book or other written material, [incl. records, videos, and CDs which are also ceremoniously burned, torched, or shredded].  The practice, usually carried out in public, is generally motivated by moral, religious, or political objections to the material.  Books can be also destroyed in secret, like millions of books in the former Soviet Eastern Bloc" (Wikipedia.org). 
 
For this Elder Week 2008 workshop, I presented a history of literary and artistic censorship as carried out in different cultures and societies, from the ancient Chinese via the book burnings during the Third Reich, all the way up to the challenging of books and other forms of art that occur in the United States and around the globe to this day.   
 
In order to show the wide range of societies throughout history that censored and/or destroyed art, and the materials they banned, I presented a PowerPoint documentation called "International Censorship: Banned books and art, forbidden films and plays, and suppressed documents and ideas throughout history."  Click here to view this multimedia presentation.    

One of the driving forces for the annual "Banned Book Week," sponsored by the American Library Association and other organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, is the awareness that freedom must be nurtured, even if it is painful at times.  Judy Blume expressed this concern, but also her hope for the future, when she wrote: “It’s not just the books under fire now that worry me.  It is the books that will never be written.  The books that will never be read.  And all due to the fear of censorship.  As always, young readers will be the real losers.”  


Monday, March 17, 2008
Elder Week, DCCC, Media, PA, 1:30 to 3 PM

We are what we say: The influence of language on our professional and personal lives

For this Elder Week workshop, I used a different approach.  Instead of giving an overview into the research on how language influences our lives, I focused on specific questions to guide the audience through a process of self-discovery, based on their own experiences.  I covered the following topics: 
 
(1) mutual respect and honesty in one’s communication; (2) different levels and tones of voice dependent on one’s target audience; (3) effective, ethical, and results-oriented communication; (4) gossip and things people say behind each other’s back; (5) humor which often hides deeply seated pain; (6) derogatory terms for women, men, and a wide-range of minorities; (7) “us” versus “them” thinking; (8) and activating language to use words more caringly and thoughtfully to empower oneself and others equally.
 
I appreciated the fact that many participants openly shared experiences that they had to endure, and found it encouraging that many of the Seniors were willing to share practical solutions so that if they were to get into a similar situation in the future, they would know how to turn these negative situations into positive experiences for both partners involved in the communication process.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Elder Week, DCCC, Media, PA, 10:30 to noon

Respecting other viewpoints: How to live and work with difficult people

As part of the Elder Week 2008 series, I conducted my interactive workshop, "How to deal with difficult people," which I have based on the “win-win” philosophy and tailored to specific needs of the target audience.  The workshop utilized effective communication and conflict resolution techniques to encourage all participants to look at themselves honestly, learn to communicate more effectively, and respect other viewpoints without wanting to change people—working toward more functional professional and personal relationships.
 
I designed the program to work toward six learning outcomes, tailored to encourage all participants to (1) reconsider their views on "difficult people"; (2) recognize that we are all part of that group of people who may be considered "difficult" by some or many others; (3) find ways of speaking with authenticity and clarity; (4) follow the win-win philosophy; (5) listen to each other, even when someone appears unreasonable; and (6) move beyond any barriers when communicating with people who may appear to act, think, and feel differently from us.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Elder Week, DCCC, Media, PA, 8:45 to 10:15 AM

Don't blow your nose in Japan: International communication for travelers

While traveling overseas, many American visitors appear puzzled, amused, sometimes even annoyed by what they experience in other cultures.  Little do they know that they are being judged in the same way by their counterparts abroad.  As part of the Elder Week 2008 series, I was invited to present this informative and amusing "hands-on" program which focuses on effective communication skills, while expanding awareness of different social values and encouraging the avoidance of ethnocentric judgments
 
During the interactive workshop, I gave an overview of some of the wide-ranging customs around the world while inviting participants to practice a number of greetings and customs from different cultures and share some of their experiences.  As part of the educational journey, I presented an entertaining quiz on international communication which tested the participants' knowledge on various customs in the following countries and cultures: Africa, Austria, Belgium, China, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Middle East, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey.  If you would like to find out why one would definitely not want to blow one's nose in Japan, participate in the next workshop.  I'll bring a box of Kleenex!
Monday, March 10, 2008, 11:05 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Small Auditorium, DCCC, Media, PA

Celebrating International Women's Day 2008: Women's voices from around the world, a poetry reading

One of the most joyful experiences each year is an annual program that highlights the collaboration between faculty, staff, and our international students at DCCC and their cultures.  Entitled Women’s Voices Around the World: Poetry in Many Different Languages, this event celebrates International Women’s Day.  For a list of presenters and poems, feel free to have a look at this year's program.  Click the image at left to see a larger-sized version.  When the image comes up, clicking again will show it in a much larger version.
 
Every year, together with Lydia Dell'Osa (Director of International Student Services at DCCC), I organize and emcee this one-hour program celebrating International Women's DayAt this event, surrounded by flags from around the world, female and male students, faculty, and staff from many different cultures first talk about the roles and lives of women in their native countries and then recite poems from women writers in their original languages, followed by an English translationCo-sponsored by the Office of International Student Services and by the Black and Woman's History Committee at DCCC, at the end of the program we then present a flower to each participant. You might also enjoy reading this article about our 2005 annual International Women's Day Celebration.  This year's program consisted of ten poems authored by women writers in eight different countries:
 
ALBANIA: "Insomnia" by Mimoza Ahmeti, read by Ajtanga Duka (staff)
USA: “Southern Poem” by Rita Dove, read by Shelley Burkhalter (faculty)
GERMANY: "An old Tibetan rug" by Else Lasker-Schűler, read by Dr. Henrik Eger (faculty)
BANGLADESH: “White-petaled joy” by Shahera Khatun Bela, read by Syeda Raisa (student)
PAKISTAN: “Advice” by Parveen Shakir, read by Shehryar Siddiquie (student)
USA: "Three Women on a Porch" by Gail Galloway Adams, read by Jenn Conley (faculty)
EGYPT: “Letters from Home—To my father” by Elmaz Abi-Nader, read by Violet Heness (staff)
USA: “Letter to My Father” by Kayla Holcombe, read by Kayla Holcombe (student)
GREECE: Greek Poem by Greek Poet, read by Ourani Kontopoulos (faculty)
ENGLAND: “Perfect Choice” by Jenny Joseph, read by Eileen Kammerer (staff)
Wednesday, January 2, 2008 from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.
Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Upper Darby & Lansdowne, PA, at the Drexelbrook Club, Drexel Hill, PA
 
"If we are so wonderful, why don't they like us?":
America and Americans seen from abroad, and what we can do to re-build bridges
 
You are invited to attend this Rotary Club luncheon, after which I will give a presentation on the perception of America by people around the world.  Designed to challenge and inform, this program is co-sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lansdowne/Upper Darby and the Speaker's Bureau of DCCC, and will be held at the Drexelbrook Club beginning at 12:15, with the speakers program running from 1:00 to 1:30 p.m.  
 
A buffet-style three-course meal with tea and coffee will be served for the minimal fee of $12.  For reservations, please contact Phyllis Sockwell at 610-622-2370.  For directions, click hereFor a larger version of this painting, click on the image at left.  
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
DCCC, Media, PA
 
From Socrates to Harry Potter: Banned and censored books. 
A DCCC Library exhibition 

Ourania Kontopoulos, reference librarian at the DCCC Library, and I presented an exhibition of challenged and banned books through the agesfrom Socrates (470-399 BC) via Shakespeare's (1564-1616) works a la Bowdler (1754-1825), the English physician who stripped Shakespeare's works of all bawdy and erotic references to make them "more appropriate than the original for women and children" (Wikipedia), all the way to the most widely challenged publications in many American schools, with all Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling (1965- ) leading the "poison list" of many local school boards. 

The exhibition features a bust of Socrates and an old Greek cup, symbolic of the poisonous hemlock he was forced to drink.  Socrates was tried and convicted by the courts of democratic Athens on a charge of corrupting the youth and disbelieving in the ancestral gods.  By clicking the scene at left, you can see a larger version of this excerpt from "The Death of Socrates," a painting by Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), the highly influential French painter in the Neoclassical style, considered to be the prominent painter of his era.  Click here for a short review of the exhibition written by DCCC reference librarian Maryann Gillette.    
Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 6:30 p.m.
Crozer Public Library, 620 Engle St., Chester, PA 19013 

What Americans are not supposed to read: An introduction to censored and challenged books in the US 

You are invited to attend my interactive workshop in support of "Banned Book Week, Sept. 29 - Oct. 6, 2007" with its motto: "Free people read freely," sponsored by the Crozer Public Library and the Speakers Bureau of DCCC. 
 
Participants will have the opportunity to review and discuss banned and challenged books, including some of the finest works of American and international literature.  Refreshments will be served.
 
"First observed in 1982, Banned Books Week reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. The event is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Association of College Stores.   It is endorsed by the Library of Congress Center for the Book."  To enlarge the photograph, click on the image at left. 
  
June 22 and July 20, 2007
Media Theatre, Media, PA
 
How to speak English with a foreign accent and learn foreign languages:
Workshops for theatre students
 
I held my annual “International Languages and Accents” workshops for the Media Theatre Summer Camp students. They consisted of two workshops for each date, one for the younger and one for the older students. The children learn to speak and sing in different languages and they learn how to speak English with various international accents. The program which I developed and which contains sample scenes and links on how to learn foreign languages for free is available here and from the Media Theatre website.
June 6, 2007
Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Upper Darby & Lansdowne, PA, at the Drexelbrook Club, Drexel Hill, PA
 
How to deal with difficult people: An interactive workshop with a Rotary Club
 
I conducted my interactive workshop, How to deal with difficult people, based on the “win-win” philosophy and tailored to specific needs of the target audience.
 
This workshop utilizes effective communication and conflict resolution techniques to encourage all participants to look at themselves honestly, learn to communicate more effectively, and respect other viewpoints without wanting to change people—working toward more functional professional and personal relationships.


March 8, 2007
Delaware County Community College, Media, PA 

Women's poetry around the world: Co-hosting DCCC's International Women's Day, 2006
 
One of the most joyful highlights each year is an annual program that puts our international students at DCCC and their cultures center stage, entitled “Women’s Voices Around the World: Poetry in Many Different Languages,” celebrating International Women’s Day. Every year, together with Lydia Dell'Osa, Director of International Student Services at DCCC, I organize and emcee this gathering in which students from many different cultures first talk about the roles and lives of women in their native countries and then recite poems from women writers in their original languages article with American students reading an English translation, surrounded by flags from around the world. At the end of the program, co-sponsored by the Office of International Student Services and by the Black and Woman's Caucus at DCCC, we then give a flower to each participant. You might also enjoy reading an about our annual international event from 2005 .

February 21, 2007
Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, Media, PA 

How to use humor in professional presentations: A workshop for Toastmasters International

Every semester, the DelCo Chapter of Toastmasters International gives a presentation for my "Speech 100" students in which every student generates a one to two minute speech and then receives feedback (for a sample of such a workshop, see Sept. 24, 2007). As a thank you to the Toastmasters, I conduct a workshop for them as part of the DCCC Town-Gown program at the DelCo Chamber of Commerce in Media, PA. The latest workshop was called, "Don't toss away those funny moments in life: How to enrich conversations and presentations with your own humorous experiences," which resulted in a most enjoyable, at times hilarious, interactive workshop. (For an example of modern humor and satire, click the photo on the left.)
January 2007 until today
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