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About the USA - Virtual Classroom
Newsletter for English Teachers

Summertime. Why are the fish jumping?

The sturgeon jump high and fast on Florida’s Suwannee River in the summer. No one knows for sure why. “Pretty much because they can,'' says a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Sturgeon, however, are not the only fish to impress people with their jumping skills. For sightings of jumping whales, flying dolphins or marlins, tourists also visit the park areas at national and state parks on United States’ most beautiful seashores.

Hurricane Katrina - Two Years Later

Two years ago, a vast coastline of towns and communities was virtually destroyed …

"Tonight, I want to talk about one New Orleans and one future, a story of determination, a story of strength, a story of love. We have endured and survived more than many thought possible. Our finances are stable and improving. Many of our citizens have returned and more are planning to rebuild. And people throughout the nation and world continue to demonstrate their love, support and compassion for New Orleans…” New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin at his first State of the City Address since Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina in Books and Film

James Lee Burke has written frequently about New Orleans and Southern Louisiana. In an interview, Burke said: "For a writer, South Louisiana is a gift from God, because there's no other place quite like it." The latest book in his Dave Robicheaux detective series, TheTin Roof Blowdown,captures the chaos and heartbreak wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Director Spike Lee was moved to document this modern American tragedy in a project for HBO, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. Sugercane Academy: How a New Orleans Teacher and his Storm-Struck Students Created A School to Remember by Michael Tisserand is also introduced in this section.

9/11 in Literature: "Falling Man" by Don DeLillo

“When he appeared at the door, it was not possible, a man come out of an ash storm, all blood and slag, reeking of burned matter, with pinpoint glints of slivered glass in his face.” Throughout this bold and haunting novel, DeLillo traces the way the events of September 11 kindled or rekindled relationships, reconfigured people's emotional landscape, memory, and their perception of the world. Falling Man is a direct encounter with the enormous force of history, yet the story is told through the intimate lives of a few people immediately affected.

More Fictional Accounts of September 11, 2001

The Good Life by Jay McInerney (January 2006)
Dear Zoe by Philip Beard (April 2006)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (April 2006)
Windows on the World by Frederic Beigbeder (March 2006)

"Summertime" - Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin

A Uniquely American Classic, Porgy and Bess is an opera with music by George Gershwin, libretto by DuBose Heyward, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and Dorothy Heyward. It was based on Heyward's novel Porgy and the play of the same name that he co-wrote with his wife Dorothy. It deals with African American life in the fictitious Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina, in the early 1930s. Many critics consider Porgy and Bess to be the first and finest example of American opera.

American Culture in Germany

Cindy Sherman - An Icon of American Photography: One of the most striking aspects of Cindy Sherman’s photography is her use of self-portraits to ‘re-invent’ fictional and famous situations and characters. She made her breakthrough between 1975 and 1980 with a series of 69 portraits. “Untitled Film Stills” featured her in various disguises that resemble characters from Hollywood melodramas. The Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin is currently showing a retrospective of Cindy Sherman’s photography.

Web Chat Station

Democracy Dialogues - Learn about the essential role that civil society organizations play in a democacy and their contributions to democratic societies.
Upcoming Chat on NGOs and Policy Advocacy: Wednesday, August 15, 2007, 3-4 pm

Talking About Media: The Movie Business Today is an online community that connects youth to find inspiration, access information, get involved, and take action in their local and global communities. It's the world's most popular online community for young people interested in making a difference.



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Updated: August 7, 2007