Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Plans for Thanksgiving Week


Next week is a break for all students. It is the celebration of Thanksgiving Day, and it is an important tradition for me. First, my husband and I are going to the market to buy a few things for this day. Second, we will start to organize and prepare everything. This week is time for many things to do like read, reflect and enjoy the time. This is the first time we will celebrate Thanksgiving Day far from family. Third, I miss my family a lot because we used to enjoy and celebrate Thanksgiving dinner. In addition, the day after the dinner we will prepare and buy presents for the Christmas celebration. That is one of the traditions of my family. This time is very important and new for us. We have a few plans to enjoy this week with other friends. Finally, I will try to celebrate this week as I do in my country and thank God for every new experience.

DECISIONS



A decision is a conclusion or resolution reached after extended consideration. In other words, the action or process of deciding. It is a situation to choose or determine something decisive or definitively. Sometimes, people need to make an important decision for their lives in the present or future. Occasionally, some humans are indecisive because they have several paths to select. Decisions represent difficult choices in our life and, therefore, we need time to consider all available information. These are circumstances that you decide on a good or bad, true or false and various alternatives.

Our lives are all around decisions. It is similar to a circle of life. For instance, five months ago we decided to come to the United States. This implies a lot of important resolutions for us. First, we need to make a final decision because my husband was accepted on to SIU at Carbondale and we are from Puerto Rico. Then, we move to another country to a new live, a lot of changes, different culture, distinct weather and many other things. It is an opportunity for both and our new life. Now, we will begin to take a new, more important decision in our life and need other things too. In addition, I would like to study, but first I want to organize a few things. I’m indecisive if I study another master degree or take a few courses for teaching. I need to decide one of them, however, I need to search other options and what they require.

It is in fact, a moment to start a new stage in life. This is just one example of a situation in which choices have to be made, and at the end such a process never stops.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Gestures, Body and Sign Language


I. Introduction

Body or sign language is the conscious and unconscious bodily movements by which feelings are communicated. According to Robert Axtell, it is difficult to express “an intense emotion with only one part of the body.” People from different countries and languages use body language or gestures. These are influential tools used by humans all over the world to communicate thoughts and emotions. In fact, it is important to consider the interpretation of nonverbal behavior because they have different meanings across countries.

Meanwhile, body or sign language and gestures change across countries depending on the culture, religion, society and others aspects. Specifically, Americans often use body language such as facial expressions to transmit feelings and ideas because nonverbal signals tell something to somebody. It is a strong communicator which is part of their own language and a good indicator of the true meaning of the actual words.

In general, people utilize signals and body language when speaking. It is helpful for talking with others who have a distinct culture or language. In Do’s and Taboos Around the World, Robert Axtell presents the results of more than ten years of investigation around the United States on the subject of international behavior and body language. In his book the author underlines the importance of nonverbal language when communicating ideas and how important it is “to let people know how powerful gestures can be when used correctly or incorrectly.” Moreover, several examples of sign, common and uncommon gestures of numerous countries are presented; in particular how important the body languages in the interaction process is for Americans.

My partner, Soske Uematsu, and I decided to observe how people in different groups use body language and what is the meaning that it has in the communication process. This research was undertaken at the Student Center of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

We observed the different kinds of gestures, their meaning, who did each one and what they tried to say when utilizing a specific sign. We were interested in the differences or similarities of males and females. Then we wanted to classify the data by ethnicity and age group and the type of relationships between people.

To summarize, I know that people used several signs for communicating with persons of distinct countries, culture and language, and this is one way for them to enhance and support their language. In fact, it is better and more comfortable when you try to describe something and implement some gestures. On the other hand, not everybody understands equally the same signs. Maybe, these have other interpretation. Furthermore, the interpretation of the body language is more complicated because it is influenced by a number of factors including cultural and socioeconomic background, education, gender, age and personal preference. People from diverse countries have their own form to expand or attach different meanings to nonverbal signs. In addition, sometimes they understand better when there are similarities in race, age and gender. For example, men and women often use diverse gestures. Part of this search is to identify which manners of body language are unique to Americans and internationals, and see if there is any relation between them.

II. Methods and Procedures

We observed twenty-four people, thirteen males and eleven females; six white males and two females, four black male and five females, two Asian females and three Hispanic males and two females. First, we monitored possible candidates for this research at the Student Center of SIU, and they could have been friends, classmates, boyfriend or girlfriends, co-workers, family members or a married couple. This process was not easy and it took a lot of time to observe these people because we needed to decide what categories they were classified in gender, age and relationship. Then, we watched and analyzed their body language and we tried to understand the explanation of every gesture. We chose the Student Center; it is the place to meet, have lunch for students and residents of Carbondale. In general, we considered it a good area for this type of research. We made a survey (see Appendix) with four parts and various related questions. For instance, we described our data and categorized them in a certain group, which we explained before. We selected distinct people because we wanted to know how many of them use body language.


III. Results

Types of body language of twenty-four people are described in different ways. As a result, by gender and ethnicity: six white males, they were characterized for occasional movements with hands, head, mouth and looks at the other person when talking and eating at the same time. Four black males, they were characterized for a lot of movements with hands when explaining something and observe the other person when talking, but occasionally one of them plays an activity or does other things, like watch TV, etc. Seven white and black females are talking, and at the same time looking at the other person and laughing or smiling. Five black females utilize hands more and from time to time look around, and one of them puts both hands in her pockets. Two Asian females are talking, eating and periodically watching the other person while smiling, they do not use many movements with one of their hands. Three Hispanic males and two females are eating, talking and looking at others, but they utilize several gestures with one hand and occasionally with their head.

In general, young friends and classmates utilize their hands or one hand more to explain or say something. Friends like two Blacks, two Asians, two co-workers and five Hispanics, when talking, looked the other person in the eye or face (maintained eye contact). Most of the cases are when the people are listening and at the same time move their head and mouth and meanwhile they respond with yes or no or smile, and later start to talk. However, when it is a group of friends or classmates, females and males, young or not too young (all classifications) they talk, laugh, employ hand gestures and every special kind of expression.

IV. Discussion and Conclusion

It was not surprising when people like friends or classmates talking, try to relate something using both hands and from time to time just one hand. It is an involuntary body language used others to understand better. To illustrate, when some people were talking to a friend to explain a problem or a situation, like a co-worker, maybe they mentioned an issue about work. Probably one has a personal problem and I think that they utilized many movements with their hands; at the same time (eye contact) when talking and listening to friends, classmates, co-workers and a couple. It is a good way to demonstrate that the conversation is interesting, and for some cultures it represents attention to their partners. Others maintained eye contact and were eating too, like a married couple and Hispanics. In this situation, they were doing an activity and talking at the same time, while listening and enjoying themselves. There were some signals with the mouth and head; this is usually the case with friends or classmates. They also moved their lips and make different gestures with the mouth. Moreover, people moved their head but some people used some articulations with the mouth, sometimes trying to say a "yes" or "no" gesture. This is common in every kind of relationship and seems to indicate that they are listening to each other.

It was unexpected to me that one of the most particular gestures that people demonstrated to others is simply the smile. This expression or sign language is not difficult to understand or recognize with people from many countries and languages. It would be interesting to verify whether the same meaning holds true for every country in the world.

As for possible changes to the survey, I would add an interview to the data collection process in order to gather information on the definition of gestures from the person’s point of view. Moreover, I want to expand the number of categories whereby people from different countries and customs are organized in order to have several classifications to analyze and explain other meanings for the same body language.

This is an interesting exercise to learn from other people's culture and better understand the ways and means people communicate around the world. Therefore, this kind of survey provides an analytical tool for businesses and governments to understand those factors and instances that should be taken into account when dealing with different markets and countries around the world in order to achieve their objectives.

V. Reference
Axtell, R. E. (Ed.). (1993). Do’s and taboos around the world (3rd ed.). New York: Benjamin Company.

VI. Appendix
Survey

Monday, November 28, 2005

Body Language observed:



Data:
Number of males: 13
Number of females: 11
Ethnicity of males: 6 white, 4 Black, 0 Asian and 3 Hispanics
Ethnicity of females: 2 white, 5 Black, 2 Asian and 2 Hispanics
Age of males; >18: 0, 18-35: 9, 36-60: 2, 61-100: 1
Age of males; >18: 0, 18-35: 9, 36-60: 2, 61-100: 0
Relationship between people communicating; friends: 7, co-workers: 2, classmates: 9, mother & son: 2, boyfriend or girlfriend: 1 and married couple: 1



Hand gestures: What kind did you most observe? Who did each gesture? Meaning?

I observed that people, like friends or classmates when talking, tried to express or describe something using both hands and sometimes move one hand. It is an involuntary gesture used for others to understand better. To illustrate, when some people were talking to a friend to explain a problem or a situation, like a co-worker, maybe they mention any issue about work. It is probably that one or both persons have a personal problem and I think that they used many movements with their hands and put their hands on their forehead or chin, join the palms together, pass one of hand all over the face. On occasion, it’s representative of problems at work or worry about a specific situation, etc., with another type of relationship, like a couple holding hands, it is one form to express their feelings and affection.

Eye contact: What did you mostly observe? Who made this eye contact? Meaning?

They looked at the same time (eye contact) when talking and listening to friends, classmates, co-workers and a couple. It is a good way to demonstrate that the conversation is interesting, and for some cultures it represents attention to their partners. Two friends (Black males) were talking and watching TV; maybe this is an informal conversation or they have a conversation about the program that they are watching. Others maintained eye contact but at the same time were eating (couple (w) and Hispanics (f & m). In this situation, they were doing an activity but used the same moment to talk, listen and enjoy themselves with others. For example, one of the relationships that I observed is a mother and her son (b), she was eating and trying to talk with her son, but he responded to her with few words and used his head, because he was playing with the cell phone at the same time. She trying to explain something and he demonstrated that it is not important or interesting for him. They didn't use an eye contact at all.

Facial Expressions: What facial expressions were the most common? Who? Meaning?

For instance, female talking with two male friends and at the same time opening her eyes like a “surprise or shock expressions” others talking and laughing (smiling) and use some gestures with the mouth and head; it is more usual with friends or classmates. They also move their lips, like different gestures with the mouth. Moreover, people move their head and others a few expressions with the mouth, sometimes for trying to say, yes or no (gesture). This common in every kind of relationship and seems to indicate listening to their friends, classmates, co-workers or mates.

What conclusions have you reached based on your observations?

Young friends and classmates used their hands or one hand more to explain or say something. Friends like 2 Black, 2 Asian, 2 co- workers and 5 Hispanics, when talking, looked at the other person to their eyes or face (maintained eye contact). Most of the cases are when the people listen and at the same time move their head and mouth and meanwhile they respond with yes or no or smile, and later start to talk. However, when it is a group of friends or classmates, females and males, young or not too young (all classifications) they talk, laugh, use hand gestures and every special kind of expression. But one of the most particular gestures that people demonstrate to others is simply the smile. This expression or sign language is not difficult to understand or recognize with people from many countries and languages.

By categories:

White & Male: moves hands and head and mouth and looking at the other person when talking and eating at the same time.

Black & Male: moves hands more when explaining something and looks at the other person when talking, but occasionally one of them plays an activity or does other things, like watching TV, etc.

White& Black females: talking, and at the same time looking the other person and laughing or smiling.

Black females: use hands more and from time to time look around, and one of them puts both hands in her pockets.

Asian females: talking, eating and sometimes looking at the other person while smiling; they use a few movements with their hands, but not too much (maybe one hand).


Old male: talks, moves his hands every moment and different gestures; one hand on his forehead or sometimes on the chin and uses both or one hand to explain something, movements with his mouth and looks at other persons.

Young males: talk and move hands and mouth, keep eye contact, but sometimes do another activity.

Young female: talks, eats and looks at the other person (eye contact), and sometimes looks at other things.

Boyfriend and girlfriend: talking while holding hands and looking at each other.

Couple: eat and say a few words.

Co-workers: talk and look into their eyes (eye contact); one of them shows a lot of movement with his hands, head and mouth.

Friends: looking at their eyes, sometimes do not maintain eye contact when talking and move hand or head to explain something, like agree or disagree (gesture). They used every kind of gesture.

Classmates: looking at their eyes when talking, and move heads and mouth while laughing or smiling.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Diffrent Styles and "Genre," Funnier or Dramatic

"Catch Me If You Can" is an amazing, interesting and fun cinema film, based on the true life story of the book by Frank Abagnale. The movie is in the realistic, comedy and drama "genre" and captures the image, portray, environment and fascination of the 60s. They illustrates this period in every moment on the film; elegance, music, beatiful and colorful pictures. Furthermore, the movie does not follow a strict chronological order of events which makes it more interesting and enjoyable to way. In the same maner, another great movie is "A League of Their Own," that origin in 1940s; it is a comedy, drama,history and sport "genre". This entertaining film tells an American history of two sisters who plays in the first professional women's baseball league. The team was set up during World War II, when the majority of baseball players were recruited by the army. Moreover, baseball is considered "the great American pastime". The film presents in a humurous manner, and through the female baseball players, the difficult situation on the American society was confronted during the war years. It shows what the average American wife had to go though, and how during this period there was a conflict in traditions which changed the life style and the role of women in society.

In both movies are excellent actors, directing, sort and music. I didn't finish to watch the film "A League of Their Own" but at this point I prefer "Catch Me If You Can," because it is funnier and a great dramatic style. This is an action, adventure and thrilling film. In other way, I enjoyed more this diffrent, amusing and unpredictable cinema film.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Myrna J. Vale
11/14/05


Title: An International and American Student

Introduction

General statements: Meaning of an international student.
Thesis statements: I’m both, an international and American student.

Body

Topic sentence: I feel as an international and American student at the same time.

Support: Some reasons for Puerto Ricans students to feel different.
Support: Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States.
Support: The political issue and the ambiguous situation.

Topic sentence: Some problems phased by the international students.

Support: Difficult to become accustomed to a new country.
Support: Differences: weather, culture, food and other things.
Support: Puerto Rican student feels like an International.

Topic sentence: Puerto Ricans have the same benefits and rights as any other American citizen.

Support: Where are classified?
Support: An example of the situation.
Support: Circumstances of the example.

Conclusion

Restatement of thesis: Our specific situation, why Puerto Rican students are categorized in both groups.

Final Comment: Maybe, it will take 300 or 500 years to realize, what will happen?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

An International and American Student


International students are those who live in their home country, but come to a foreign country to study. At the beginning it is difficult to become accustomed to a new country, the United States (U.S.). They speak different languages and need to learn English as a new language. In the same manner, as a Puerto Rican student I want to learn English, because my first language is Spanish. The island of Puerto Rico (P.R.) is part of the United States, but some people, including those from other states, don’t know about our relation therefore treating us as international students. This is one of the reasons why I consider myself different and my situation is distinct and hard to describe. However, I feel like both an international and American student.

Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, but is not a state. However, in terms of culture, language and traditions we differ from the U.S. and therefore don’t feel American. Further, the legal system in P.R. is different from some states, and both U.S. and local holidays are celebrated. Some problems faced by international students are differences in culture, food, weather, transportation and many others. In fact, the feeling is the same for Puerto Rican students; we miss our family because communication is not as frequent as before. Also, the weather here is different from that in P.R., where we have all seasons except for winter.

The people who live in Puerto Rico are called Puerto Ricans and we are American citizens. Puerto Ricans studying in the U.S. have the same benefits and rights as any other American citizen, but sometimes don’t know how we are classified. For instance, when my husband was accepted in the Graduate School at Southern Illinois University, he received a letter explaining the schedule for orientation, which described what days were for teaching assistants and international teaching assistants. Under these circumstances he didn’t know which days applied for him. This is an ambiguous situation for most Puerto Ricans, which is difficult to explain and sometimes frustrating. In fact, that is a political issue and a point of controversy among the people of P.R.. Therefore, I perceive myself occasionally as an international and American student at the same time.

In conclusion, it is a confusing, divisive and political issue, which has taken place since 1898. This is a summary of our specific case and the reason why Puerto Rican students are categorized in both groups, international and American students. In essence, we feel similar to an International student because we need to learn another language, but the difference is that Puerto Rican students have the same advantage as American students. The future of our status is not certain. Maybe, it will take 300 or 500 years to realize what would have happened.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"Catch Me If U Want/2"


“Catch Me If You Can” is an entertaining and fun cinema film, based on the real story of Frank Abagnale. The movie takes place during the 1960s and presents how a young con man obtains his goals and builds his live on check forgery, bank fraud and deception. However, to avoid being caught by the FBI he pretends to be a lawyer, teacher, doctor and a pilot. Frank, Jr. admires the relationship of his parents, but his life changes drastically when they got divorced. From this point forward the story reveals around the FBI’s efforts to arrest him and his ability to escape the authority. At the end he is put in a jail, and later ends up working for the FBI. He is currently working with the Bureau in the Check Fraud division and living a quite live with his family.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays the role of Frank William Abagnale, Jr. He is the principal actor and the most interesting character. His acting is smart, amusing and very astute in all around the film. He is like a con man, pretending to be somebody that he is not. Frank Jr. is a charming, sly, smooth talker and uses this enchantment to forge checks and falsify several names or identities.

At the beginning of the movie, his behavior was like that of a normal kid who admires and loves his father; he wants to be like him. His parents got divorced; it is a big shock for him. Then, he starts to transform his life and tries to reunite his divorced parents, and for that reason he seeks money at several and respectable position. Frank, Jr. loves being challenged and the emotions to slip quickly when he is chased by a lot of people and the FBI.

Christopher Walken plays Frank William Abagnale, Sr. Frank, Sr. has a stationary store (about paper and printing) and is married to Paula, Frank, Jr’s mother. The name of the store is Abagnale Stationer. William, Sr. is a kind, friendly man and a well-known person of a club. His family is very proud of him. He lost his job for problems with the IRS and others penalties. Therefore, he gives enough importance to a good impression, high register, social status and money to enjoy life with his family. He teaches his son the importance of treating people in a polite and elegant fashion.

Frank, Jr. and Frank, Sr. have a best friends relationship and they don’t have secrets. They talk about all things related to their respective lives. Frank, Sr. loves his son very much.

The character of Carl Hanratty is represented by Tom Hanks. He works for the FBI and chases Frank, Jr., all over the world. Carl is an outstanding agent and loves his work; he is clearly a workaholic and for that reason loses his family. His acting is about this serious agent for the FBI, but at the same time he appreciates and feels pity for Frank, Jr.

Nathalie Baye, who plays the role of Paula Abagnale is Frank, Jr’s mom. First, she seems to be a good mom and wife. Later, however, she demonstrates that money and a high social status are the only important things in her life. When her husband (Frank, Sr.) loses his job, she can't accept the fact that they need to moderate their life style as a family. Then, Paula forgets her family and seeks another husband with money and a great position.

James Brolin, who plays Jack Barnes is the President of the Club and Frank, Sr’s friend. He marries Paula and they have a daughter. Maybe this is one of the reasons for Paula and Frank, Sr. to be separated.

The movie does not follow a strict chronological order of events which makes it more interesting. In whatever way, I enjoyed the different, funny and unpredictable scenes. They capture the image, portrayal, atmosphere and fascination of the 60s. The film illustrates this period and the importance of the appearance and good impression in a social status. They reflect this period in every moment of the film: the clothes people wear, the elegance, glamorous dresses, the music (Frank Sinatra and Rock and Roll), and very beautiful and colorful pictures or illustrations. For example, Frank, Jr. could only change checks when dressed as a pilot; it seemed impossible otherwise.

If you want to see a film with action, adventure, drama and emotion, “Catch Me If You Can” is a great movie to watch. This is an interesting and enjoyable film, based on a real story. I definitely recommend this movie.

Summary/Response of "Type of Love"



In his article of the same name, Bernard Seal talks about “Types of Love,” five different kinds of relationships. The first kind is ludus love, which gives the same feeling as when you play a game. Ludic lovers change their partners frequently because they don’t look for a serious relationship. The opposite of ludus love is storge love which lacks passion and emotion. A storgic lover has difficulty expressing his or her feelings; it’s a slow process. Another category, manic love, is extremist in everything about love. A manic lover loves intensely and needs to give and receive constant attention. Pragmatic love offers a practical relationship that seeks compatibility and satisfaction. The pragma lover chooses his or her mate very carefully, because he or she prefers to stay with the same partner. The last type is erotic lover or eros (ego–centered). This type is based on a hedonistic or physical attraction. It’s a calculated love. The erotic lover seeks a valuable person, because he or she wants the same valuable love. These categories are Seal’s examples of some kinds of love.

As for love styles or categories, the author illustrates each one differently through particular kinds of people and relationships. I know that there are more kinds of love. Sometimes, a touch of a little bit of all these styles of love is essential or necessary. Love is an emotion that is difficult to explain or sometimes transmit to other people. In fact, there are several definitions of love and, in addition, each person or relationship has its own definition of love. It depends on the situation, culture, society and the relation with your mate. Also, there exist various types of love, but real love is one which does not have rules or measures. People select their partners, and what kind of relationship and love type they want.

Partners or mates can establish the equilibrium for the relationship, they can choose the person who better complements their love style. People might change their opinion about love over time, but the true meaning of love never changes.





Reference:
Seal, B. (1997). Types of love. In Academic encounters (pp.203-205). NY: Cambridge.