Sunday, July 14, 2013

End of 2012-2013 "Spectacle"

I'm beginning to face that fact I will not get around to posting a comprehensive one-year update (May 23rd was our Lux-i-versary).   But on a related note, we recently started "lapping ourselves" as we crossed the one-year mark.  Certain events and experiences were familiar this time, rather than brand new.  In other words, we know the drill.

If you've been following along for awhile, you'll remember our first end-of-school-year celebration and talent show.  You may also remember that, to our surprise, James studied the "Indianer" (Native Americans) in class this spring.  Well, this year the preschool/pre-k/kindergarten class performed a Indianer song and dance for the show.

lining up for the show
We've already covered the fact that the stereotypes portrayed are uncomfortable or even offensive to us folks from the USA.  But we've resolved to just smile, nod, accept, and move on.  What else can you do?  People here are just not hyper-sensitive to this stuff, and there's probably nary a Native American in sight to take offense anyway.

So, below is a clip of the dance.  It's hard to make out the words, but I believe there's some Luxembourgish or German mixed in with the "Indianer" parts.  James has his back to us at the beginning, in the orange headband and black pants, happily stomping away.

our "Indianer"
The first grade class also did a dance this time, unlike last year.  Actually, they performed two dances.  The first is about a dancing camel, we think.  If you don't want to watch the whole minute and a half video, the moves at 0:32 and 0:58 are still worth a look.

And here's the second song, about....sigh....cowboys and indians.  You've got some lasso moves, some riding moves, a making-a-feather-on-top-of-your-head-with-your-hand-like-a-shark-fin move, and even some stereotypical hooting.  

Smile, nod, accept.

We made a quick exit from the after-party again, around the time they put up a bouncy house and the whole school piled in at once.  I grabbed a photo of Daphne and her teacher on our way out.  She will have the same teacher for Cycle 2.2 in the fall.

If anyone would like to help us with translations of the songs (do we dare?), please leave a comment!  The kids were able to give us the gist, but I don't think they were paying a lot of attention to begin with.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Uncommon Common Language


We get it now.

No, we don't understand it.  Well, we understand a little now, actually.

But we get why it's a language, why it's important, why it's useful, and why it's pretty cool.

Especially in the city schools, where well over half the population are immigrants, it's extremely useful. Luxembourgish puts all the kids on even, neutral footing.  It's the Switzerland of languages, if that makes sense.  Sure, the various native-language-subgroups can be a bit cliquish at times, but the default language remains Luxembourgish.  Because it's unique and uncommon, it's the perfect language to unite all the nationalities as equals.  And in a teeny-tiny country with such a transient population, it's what keeps Luxembourg, Luxembourg.

Daphne's best friend at school is a Chinese boy who arrived in Luxembourg around the same time we did.  He speaks Chinese, and no English.  She speaks English, and no Chinese. As Pete says, it sounds like the beginning of a tagline to a cheesy, old fashioned sitcom.

But they learned and now speak Luxembourgish together.

It's really, really weird.   And really, really remarkable.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Vianden Views

Raise your hand if you like castles.

Raise your other hand if you like pictures of castles.

(If I could reach through the screen and tickle your armpits right now, then this is the blog post for you.)

The village of Vianden, along with its castle, is probably one of the best known sites in Luxembourg.   I've now been to Vianden four times, I think, but this time I did more of the full-Vianden-castle-experience with Rachel and Wes.  I played hooky from French class, and we took a train and a bus there while the kids were at school and Pete was at work (my first time on the train in Luxembourg, which, considering we've been without a car for a year now, is fairly pathetic.)

Besides admiring the architecture itself, one of the interesting things to appreciate about a castle is how it is situated within the landscape.  Vianden Castle sits atop a little mound-like hill poking up out of a valley. But there is also a larger hillside behind this mound-like hill, and a chair lift that leads to a cafe at the top of the big hill, which affords views of the castle below.

In other words, I don't think it's humanly possible to restrain yourself from taking 3 million photos of the darn castle from every vantage-point and then posting them on the inter-webs.  So what follows is lots of that sort of thing.  

at the cafe at the top

from the chair lift on the way down
Wes and I riding back down, with Rachel one chair behind us and snapping the photo
We did the English audio-guided tour of the inside this time as well.
oh so color-coordinated
color-coordinated in the courtyard
And finally, because it's Europe and all, you have to stop at another cafe at the bottom, too.
Wes and Rachel.  Also pretty color-coordinated.
Okay, I know I said "finally," but here's just one more photo angle, from a year ago when we visited on our last day with our rental car!

the tiny building above Pete's head is the cafe
Like I said, not humanly possible.