Today, we’re talking about multicultural people and places, on the English Teacher John Show number 70!
- Interview with Sean, who talks about his mixed background, Canada and Cyprus.
- Also, you’ll learn a lot about the island nation of Cyprus.
- Celebrities with multicultural backgrounds.
- The new Offcue Live Show
- transcript (below)
Hey, I’m part Irish, English, Dutch, German and here are few more I’d like to thank. I sometimes tell my wife I’m part tiger… I tell my friends I’m a bit Bohemian. My students think I’m part high-tension, high-strong. We’re all part human being, part doer, part thinker, part seer, part lover, part worker, part player. We’re talking multicultural, mixed cultures and people on the English Teacher John Show number 70, part fun, part learning, part John’s ramblings, part music, part stories, and fully completely 100% ready-to-go.
Welcome everyone to the English Teacher John Show number 70. That’s right.
My name is John Koons and I’m the host of this educational entertaining and wacky Internet podcast.
Our show is for everyone but especially for English learners of all abilities. We try to use clear and easy-to-understand English, and we always look both ways before crossing. Our podcast is produced right here in our tree-top studio in Matsumoto, Japan. That’s in Central Japan in the province called Nagano. All right, in today’s show, I’m very excited about it.
SEGMENT: EPISODE INDEX
First, we are going to hear in interview with my friend and co-worker, Sean who has an interesting multicultural background.
[ interview clip]
Sean: Okay, well I’m a product of an international marriage myself. My mom has her family roots in Canada and my father was born and raised on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean.
John: Then, in the second segment, we’ll talk about the island of Cyprus. Well, listen to the interview first then you’ll know why we’re going to talk about Cyprus. And finally in the third and last segment, we’ll talk about a few bicultural or multicultural celebrities. Yes, that is our theme – multiculturalism, biculturalism.
All right, stay tuned.
Recently, I brought the English Teacher John production team over to one of my work places and spoke with my colleague, Sean.
All right, my friend and colleague, Sean is our guest today. Welcome to the show Sean.
Sean: Thank you, John. It’s a privilege to be here live on the Internet, partially live on the Internet. Thanks to the miracle of digital recording technology.
John: Yeah, we’ve got a beautiful day here in Matsumoto. Well, I live in Matsumoto, Sean lives around the area. Sean, you have an interesting upbringing. We are talking about the multiculturalism or biculturalism. Tell us a little bit about your upbringing and your background.
Sean: Okay, well I’m a product of an international marriage myself. My mom has her family roots in Canada going back to before 1867, before Canada became a unified nation. And my father was born and raised on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean, third largest island in the Mediterranean.
John: Wow, very interesting. When you grew up, did you spend time in both of those places or another place?
Sean: Didn’t spend any substantial time in Cyprus because in 1974 there were some military conflicts going on there. But we always went there sort of holidays like in Christmas or summer holidays. We didn’t ever live there for any substantial period of time but we certainly vacationed there as a family, definitely. And most of my own childhood was spent outside the Canada. I’m a Canadian citizen by birth but because of my parents’ working situation I actually spent most of my childhood outside of Canada.
John: Really? For example, what places did you spend time in your childhood?
Sean: Okay. Grade 3 and 4, I was in Kampala, Uganda and then grade 5, I was in Monrovia, Liberia on the west coast of Africa.
And graduated high school from ISKL – International School of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and along the way, I also spend time at the University of Copenhagen, Københavns Universitet. So I had a pretty peripatetic upbringing, I guess you could say.
John: And as far as language, I don’t even know if English is the primary language in Cyprus. What kinds of language or languages were spoken around your household?
Sean: Yeah, so in Cyprus, two major language groups, Turkish in the north and Greek language in the south. Those two communities have experienced ethnic strife over the years and my family is a bit like Capulet and Montague in Romeo and Juliet because I have relatives on both sides of that ethnic divide.
But yeah, we always spoke English at home just because when we are moving around to different countries, the schools we always went to whether they were American schools or British schools, the language of instruction is always English.
John: And as far as customs or holidays, traditions, you have of course Canadian and Cyprus – Cypriot which are your mother and father, and you are living in places like Uganda, was there a mix of kind of cultures and festivals going on? Your father is from Cyprus, your mother is Canadian and yet you are living in an African country like Uganda.
Sean: Excellent question. I love that question.
John, I guess because my father, after he finished his studies, he decided to reside permanently in Canada and became a Canadian citizen because my father patently and explicitly wanted to become a Canadian citizen and he became one. I guess because of that our family grounding was always Canada-first, and anything else, second. But of course, when you’re living as a permanent resident or as an expatriate in a foreign culture, obviously you tried to adapt and to honor the local festivals, the local customs when in Rome-type thing you know so we always you know try to pay heed to that.
John: Right. And was it – you as a young person moving around to two different countries, how did you feel about that? Was it – I’m a bit of a traveler and my immediate thought is oh, boy that sounds exciting but maybe is a child it might have had its tricky moments?
Sean: Yeah. I think the latter. The latter is probably is truer for kids. I think as an adult you can look back in retrospect and say boy, I was really fortunate to have all these intercultural experiences and many kids from more parochial backgrounds maybe don’t have those opportunities. But when you’re a kid, it’s basically horrible because it takes a few years to develop friendships and to really feel comfortable in an environment, and to be uprooted every two years, every three years in a diplomatic lifestyle, it’s very tough on the kids. And I think there has been some research done on diplomatic expat – expatriate families and I think there’s a higher than average rate of divorce among diplomatic families, and that maybe intergenerational. And there’s definitely a higher than average substance abuse problem. That’s definitely a fact you know.
John: And did you think that you would end up back in Canada? Was that part of your thinking or your plan which looks like it didn’t happen? You’re now living in Japan. So now you’re still an expat living in a different country other than your country of citizenship. How’s that? You didn’t end up in Canada.
Sean: Yeah. Both my younger brothers, they both are in Canada today. But from me, I just always felt probably much like yourself, a bit of wanderlust or a bit of a deep-seated desire to experience life on a different culture. That always had a very strong attraction to me whereas in my own culture because everything is so familiar and there’s a real comfort zone there. I don’t want to use the word ‘banal’. But you know, I guess when we live outside of our own comfort zone, there’s a certain adrenaline rush there and I’ve always been attracted as perhaps, I’m sure you could identify with possibly, I’ve always been attracted to that adrenaline rush that comes from being just a little bit outside traditional or orthodox comfort zone.
John: Yeah, I agree. I live in India before Japan, and I agree, there’s a bit of a rush and excitement level. How are you finding Japan? You’ve been here a while. What do you think of the life here?
Sean: I mean I’m now a permanent resident of Japan so that probably will tell you a lot about my feelings towards Japan. I mean I love Japan very, very deeply on a profound level. It’s not perfect. There is no Shangri-La but again, I’ve never ever found Shangri-La in this world and I don’t think I will too soon.
But generally speaking, especially here where we live in world Japan, in Nagano prefecture, I find the focus on interpersonal relationships as opposed to status symbols or the size of one’s back account or you know who made your shirts, or what car you drive. I find the primacy here of interpersonal relationships. I find that really, really attractive.
John: Yeah, me too. I think so. Sean is a music aficionado so I think will part with maybe a few music comments. Sean, which bands are hot? I know you listen to a bunch of different kinds of music. You are an expert on all kinds of music. Who’s hot, who’s not, what are you listening to these days?
Sean: Okay, well I don’t know if I’m an expert in music because I am an expatriate in a rural area and I think you that means to a certain extent that I am removed from the heart of a lot of really thriving in vibrant music scenes.
But there are so many really, really wonderful in the bands in Japan right now. I can recommend group of young ladies called the 5 6 7 8’s from Japan. Guitar Wolf are a perennial favorite. I saw them for the first time in Vancouver, BC (British Columbia or Canada about 10 years ago, opening for the Cramps, and I’ve been in love with Guitar Wolf ever since.
Other Japanese bands who – oh, my latest discovery in terms of Japanese music is a guy named Mikami Kan who goes back to the early 1970s’ folk scene in Tokyo and he was, at one point if I’m not mistaken, a communist but he has just returned to live music and the music studio. Mikami Kan, he’s a very singular vocalist. He’s got a very unique way of singing and once you’ve heard his voice you’ll never forget it.
In terms of Canadian bands, well Canada is definitely the flavor of the month right now in terms of up and coming indie bands. The Arcade Fire is really a top-notch Canadian outset right now, Tokyo Police Club, and a band from Toronto, who my friend Paul Kehayas plays in. They are called the Brown Hornets. The Brown Hornets give a plug to Paul Kehayas of Toronto and his band the Brown Hornets.
John: All right. And what genre would you put these. You’ve just named a bunch of bands, Japanese and otherwise, do you have a particular favorite kind or genre of music that you listen to?
Sean: Yeah. My own personal favorite kind of music and the music that I actually collect is avant-garde. All the bands I just listed or just mentioned is briefly, they’re all sort of you know rock or roots rock, R&B type band, but my own personal music addiction goes towards, or heads towards or avant-garde music.
And the band that I collect most maniacally and most irrationally is a band from San Francisco, California called The Residents.
John: All right. Sean you live in Wada which is outside of Matsumoto or is it Matsumoto is outside of Wada, I’m not sure…
You guys have a big concert, a big festival every summer. Do you want to plug your festival there a little bit before we go?
Sean: Sure. Thanks for the opportunity to do some shameless PR here. It’s the Wada Joint Music Festival. It’s a three-day outdoor music festival and in this day and age of no free lunches, there is no ticket required. In other words, you can go for three days of outdoor music, multiple stages for absolutely no money. Everybody who attends is automatically on the guest list.
John: Well, do you have a date on that?
Sean: Yeah. I don’t know the exact dates this year, but it’s always the weekend after Fuji Rock Festival. So Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, the largest music festival in the Eastern hemisphere I found out, Fuji Rock is the final week every year of July, the final weekend of July and then Wada Joint Outdoor Festival, 100% free is the following weekend. So the first weekend of August every year, every summer.
John: Okay. And we can find all different kinds of music there?
Sean: Yeah. Traditionally, it’s jazz and dub music that’s why it’s called joint of jazz music with some kind of dub and trance music. But there are a lot of DJs and a lot of drum and base music as well.
John: All right. Sounds like a good event. Thanks for that and thanks for joining us today on the English Teacher John Show.
Sean: Thanks a lot, John. It was my unmitigated pleasure to make my debut appearance on the English Teacher John Show.
John: All right, take it easy. Sayonara.
SEGMENT: FEATURE – CYPRUS
Well, you heard Sean talked about Cyprus. So let’s learn a few things about that interesting place. I got the information from Wikipedia of course, and also, the CIA World Fact book at cia.gov. So you know it’s got to be the truth with a few things hidden probably but let’s go with it. And hey, there’s going to be a little trivia quiz at the end of this, really.
The island of Cyprus. Officially, the country is the Republic of Cyprus. Population is somewhere between 800,000 and 1 million. I guess there are some political struggles on the island so that could explain why the population figure is a little bit unclear.
Cyprus is the Mediterranean’s third largest island and do you know the biggest and second biggest Mediterranean islands? Okay, well, we’ll have that answer for you in a couple of minutes. Let’s see, Cyprus has 648 kilometers of coastline. Its highest point is Mount Olympus, 1951 meters. Two point four million tourists visit Cyprus per year. Wow, that’s a lot popular place.
The adjective is Cypriot so when you’re talking about Cypriot food or a Cypriot, a person from Cyprus. It’s been a member of the EU since May of 2004. The currency is the Euro as of January 1st, 2008. The climate in Cyprus is a Mediterranean climate, yeah of course, right, it’s a Mediterranean country. Hot dry summers and cool winters. Cypriot’s drive on the left side of the road which is the same as Japan and I guess the UK and other UK influenced areas, the US and other places. I think China drive on the right. Let’s see, the Internet TLD is what top-level domain I think, dot cy is Cyprus on the Internet.
Well, it looks like the meze or mezze, is a very important thing. It’s a kind of – it’s a type of meal specialty, a special experience in Cyprus and I apologize, I think it is both from the Greek side of – from the Greek ethnicity in Cyprus and also the Turkish. There are primarily Greeks and Turkish background people – from Greek and Turkish background on Cyprus. And I believe the meze or mezze comes from both of those.
Let me see, I’m reading from Wikipedia here. The meze is a meal comprising a broad range of Cypriot dishes – each one a small portion, allowing the diner to sample a good proportion of the restaurants’ menu in a single meal.
A typical meze will consist of local bread, tashi (a local variety of tahini), Greek salad, natural yoghurt, taramasalata (sounds like salad), olives, calamari, keftedes, fish (fried or grilled), fried lountza,dolmades, halloumi (which could be grilled or fried), souvlakia, sheftalia, lamb chop, chips, stifado (usually beef, but sometimes rabbit or octopus) – I’ll withhold my comments on that, afelia, followed by fresh fruit of the season.
Exactly what you get will depend on the season and will vary from restaurant to restaurant. In years gone by, a meze would be delivered very slowly, allowing the diners to chat and drink for several hours whilst picking at each dish, but these days (perhaps due to tourists misinterpreting this deliberately slow service as poor service) it is more usual for the dishes to be presented at a more conventional pace so maybe some other culture, and the long meze has been lost.
Don’t be surprised on how long it takes and how much food is offered, and siga siga, I think means slowly, slowly. Maybe the Indians would say shanti-shanti and the Cypriot says siga, siga – slowly, slowly. Coffee along with a Cyprus or Cypriot brandy usually completes the meal.
All right, well that sounds pretty good. I guess we’ll need someone to come in and help us. Maybe we’ll have to grab Sean again to understand what some of those dishes mean. All right, let’s see now. Its quiz time as I promised.
Let’s see, most of these I got from funtrivia.com.
Our first quiz question which I asked you before, the Mediterranean’s third largest island is Cyprus. How about one and two? They both start with S. Yeah, number one, part of Italy – Sicily is the biggest island in the Mediterranean and Sardinia or Sardinia is the second biggest island. Cyprus is third.
All right. Next quiz question. Which ancient Goddess is associated with Cyprus? Is it Aphrodite, Athena, Hera, or Zeus?
Number two, if you were eating halloumi, what type of food would you be eating and let’s see, is it lamb stew, cheese, fish soup, or pastry?
And next quiz question, what is the name of the animal which is the symbol of the Cyprus Republic and is also used on its coins? Is it a. chicken, a lizard, a bull, or a sheep? Chicken, lizard, bull, or sheep?
And finally, which is the most used language in the Republic of Cyprus? It is English, Greek, Turkish, or Russian most used language?
All right, let’s see about the ancient Goddess? It’s Aphrodite or Venus in Roman – the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite and Venus in Roman.
Let’s see, the next one was about eating halloumi, and sorry of my pronunciation, what type of food – is it lamb stew, cheese, fish soup, or pastry? The answer is cheese. It’s a cheese dish.
Number three, what kind of animal is a symbol and used on the coins – chicken or lizard or bull or sheep? The answer is a mouflon which is a kind of sheep. Did you get it?
Finally, what’s the most used language in the Republic of Cyprus – English, Greek, Turkish, Russian? Well, the answer is no, not English, it’s Greek, 82% according to the information I have here. Both Greek and Turkish are official languages.
All right, well that wraps up our section about Cyprus. Stay tuned for famous multicultural celebrities.
SEGMENT: MULTICULTURAL CELEBRITIES
All right, well we’re talking about famous multicultural or bicultural celebrities. People like Sean who have parents who are from different places not just one place. Let’s look at some examples. I got some of this information from mixedfolks.com. Hey about Barack Obama – the current President of the United States. His mother from Kansas in the U.S. and his father was from Kenya in Africa.
Tiger Woods, the famous golfer is of white Chinese, native American Thai and black, and I guess they mean black African descent. His father was half African-American, half Asian, and his mother is mostly Asian heritage.
Alicia Keys, born Alicia Cook is an American recording artist, musician, and actress. She is from Manhattan in New York and she is the daughter of an Irish-Italian mother and a Jamaican father.
Tadanobu Asano is a relatively famous Japanese actor born in 1973 in Yokohama. He was recently in the film Mongol, one of his big roles recently, and his father is Japanese and his mother is of Navajo, native American Navajo ancestry.
And finally, Frida Kahlo born 1907 and died in 1954 – the pretty famous Mexican Painter, and I’m going to read this. From 1926 until her death, the Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo created striking, often shocking images that reflected her turbulent life. Kahlo was one of four daughters born to a Hungarian-Jewish father and a mother of Spanish Mexican Indian descent. She was born in Mexico City. She was a polio survivor.
All right, well there’s a few multicultural celebrities.
END: MULTICULTURAL CELEBRITIES
Well, that’s it for show number 70. I hope you enjoyed it and learn something today. I know I learned a few things today. You can find our blog, all of our video and audio podcasts, some transcripts, other language help, a map to the hidden treasure, all of that and more at englishteacherjohn.com.
We’ll have the complete transcript for this show up on the blog soon. Our email address is p o d c a s t -AT- e n glish teacher j o h n -dot- com.
Hey, we’ve got a new show. It’s called the Offcue Live Show. Why don’t you check it out? You can Skype into the show and talk to the host. That means you can talk to me.
We are just starting out with the Offcue Live Show. So the schedule is not yet fixed. However, if you visit us on Tuesday or Thursday evenings at 7 pm Japan time you’ll probably find us. We will have a fixed schedule coming up shortly. The Offcue Show is 7 pm Japan time, that’s around lunch time in Europe and early morning in the East coast of the U.S., and what we used to call oh dark thirty, very, very early in the Central and Western U.S. We will have some discussions and interviews talking about life in Japan as an expat and a few other things showing videos and images of life and experiences. So join us with the new Offcue Live Show – offcue.com and live.offcue.com.
All right, everybody, thanks to you all for listening. Special thanks to Sean and to our music man, Martin. Catch you next something. On the way out, we are going to hear a song by, no, not Martin but Will who you guys know. He is a member of the band U.May.C, and the song is Leaving San Francisco.
See you next time.