Behind the Scenes: Meet James

In May, SCOLA traveled to the African country of Malawi for our Country of the Month. SCOLA is lucky to have people from around the world provide us with the material to share with you on www.scola.org and on our social media pages. This month, our provider is native Malawian James Chaponda.

James wDSC00054as born on April 24th in Malawi. Years later, James married his lovely wife, Tikondane, and had one child. James has a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering with a major in Telecommunications from the University of Malawi-Polytechnic.

James started working with SCOLA in September 2012 and enjoys the task of providing content each month. James also works at Malawi Telecommunications Limited as a Transmission Engineer. James says “I love working with SCOLA to teach the people of the world different languages, especially Chewa from Malawi. Many people don’t know where Malawi is and what kind of language(s) we speak. Other countries are more well-known because of things like wars and disasters. I would like to encourage people of the world to start learning the Chewa language because it is spoken in various central African countries.”

James looks forward to working with SCOLA for the rest of his life, and would like to thank his wife for her encouragement and help in coming up with different resources and programs for SCOLA subscribers to enjoy. James would also like to thank the management and staff at SCOLA for their warm reception when he visited SCOLA in 2012.

SCOLA would like to thank James for the interesting and educational information he sent for the Country of the Month and for the material he sends for our services on www.scola.org.

So…May is over but you didn’t learn enough about Malawi? Be sure to check out www.scola.org for over 400 audio, image, text and video resources from Malawi, and then check us out online for our next Country of the Month!

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Chinese Birthday Traditions

Many people in the United States hold big celebrations for various milestone birthdays including a sweet sixteen where they can get their driver’s license, a bar crawl when they can legally drink on their 21st birthday, and smaller parties as they get older with their family and close friends. In China though, traditional birthday celebrations differ. Traditionally, Chinese people do not pay much attention to birthday celebrations until a person turns 60 years old. Sixty years is considered a cycle of life in Chinese culture, so the 60th birthday is regarded as very important and is celebrated with a big party. Chinese culture expects a person to have a big family filled with children and grandchildren by 60 years old, and therefore see it as an age to be proud of.

A person’s 61st year is seen as the beginning of a new life cycle. After the 60th birthday, celebrations are held every 10 years up until the person’s death, and generally, the older a person is the grander their birthday celebration is.

Sixtieth birthday parties can be large or small, but no matter the size the celebrations meal always includes peaches and noodles, which are the signs of a long life. When the noodles are cooked they cannot be cut short. Shortened noodles are thought to have bad implications. Although the celebrations are said to include peaches, the peaches, in fact, are not real. Steamed wheaten food with a sweet stuffing are called peaches because they are made in the same shape. Everyone at the party must eat the food as a sign of well wishes to the guest of honor.

If you’re planning on attending a traditional Chinese birthday party typical presents usually include two or four eggs, long noodles, artificial peaches, tonics, wine and money in red paper.

Besides the 60th birthday, some families in China also place importance on celebrating the third and twelfth birthdays for children. A child’s twelfth birthday celebration includes the birthday boy or girls friends and their parents. It is similar to a wedding ceremony with a delicious banquet and speeches by guests at the party.

Although many in China celebrate birthdays with the previously mentioned traditions, many Chinese people now seem to be following American birthday customs. Cakes with candles to represent how old a person is turning are becoming more common, along with making a wish when blowing out the candles. This is quickly becoming regarded as the best part of the birthday party.

What is your favorite birthday tradition? Let us know in the comments below!

Want to know more about birthday traditions around the world? Check out Savoir-Vivre, coming soon to www.scola.org!

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The Warm Heart of Africa

If you’re following us online you have seen we are currently on an adventure in Malawi for our May Country of the Month! James, our provider from Malawi sends SCOLA a lot of material for our services, and most recently he has sent us the material for the Country of the Month. James shares the following with you about his home country of Malawi:

Malawi is located in southern Africa. It takes pride in the fact they are often referred to as the “warm heart of Africa” because of the hospitality that its people show and that it has never shown civil unrest or went to war with any other country. The country is measured at approximately 118,000 square kilometers, with a population of about 16 million. The country has four major cities, Mzuzu in the northern region, Lilongwe in the central region, Zomba in the Eastern region and Blantyre, a commercial city, in the Southern region of Malawi.

Blantyre is called the commercial city because of the industrial sites it has, and the companies there. Blantyre is a busy city and after Lilongwe is the second largest. Blantyre has a large number of people with white collar jobs, so it is no wonder many colleges including a constituent college of the University of Malawi- The Polytechnic call Blantyre home. Along with the colleges and offices, you will also find small shops and established businesses in Blantyre.

Malawi is a landlocked country, surrounded by Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. Although Malawi is landlocked, the country has a number of pleasing features for people to enjoy. Some of the geographical features include the famous Mulanje mountain, game reserves and national parks, and most of all, the lakes.

One lake people enjoy visiting is Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is the biggest lake in the country at 365 miles long and 52 miles wide. Fishing at the lake is a source of income to the locals who reside near it. Lake Malawi is characterized by a species of fish called Chambo. Chambo cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Besides the chambo, the lake also has very beautiful beaches with holiday resorts and lodges. Tourists find Lake Malawi very attractive.

Although Malawi is small it has over over nine ethnic groups, namely Chewa, Lomwe, Yao, Tumbuka and Sena.The names of the ethnic groups in Malawi actually reflects the kind of language people speak. For example, Sena people speak Sena. The biggest tribe in Malawi is Chewa, representing 32% of Malawians. Since Chewa is the biggest tribe, the national language is Chewa and it is the language taught in schools.

Chewa people are popular nation wide and internationally because of their culture. The chewa people are known for the gule wamkulu dance. The gule wamkulu was once performed for the queen of England. Chewa functions are always characterised by the gule wamkulu. The dancers wear musks and do not identify themselves because it is widely believed that they are beasts and in their vernacular language they are called “Virombo” or “ Nyau”. The beasts are many, just as their a lot of beasts or wild animals in the bush, which explains why the virombo are often changed.

Welcome to Malawi the “warm heart of Africa”. Enjoy.

Do you have a country you would like to learn more about and see featured as our Country of the Month? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow us online to join in on our travels to our next Country of the Month: Belarus!

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In Case You Haven’t Heard…

The 2014 SCOLA Users Meeting starts one week from tomorrow! The meeting will be held on May 15th and 16th in Omaha, Nebraska and McClelland, Iowa. Conference attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy presentations by language teaching professionals, networking, dining and entertainment, and a Congressional presentation. Guests will also have the opportunity to learn about trends and resources for foreign language education and SCOLA resources.

Check-in for the SCOLA Users Meeting will begin Thursday, May 15th at 10 a.m. in the lobby of the Doubletree Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. Lunch will be served at 11 a.m. followed by an afternoon of presentations. Thursday evening will be a night of dinner and entertainment at the Scoular Ballroom in Omaha. The event will continue Friday morning with a trip to the campus in McClelland, Iowa. The meeting will conclude on Friday afternoon at the Doubletree Hotel with lunch and a Congressional Speaker.

Transportation to all events and meals are included with your $100 registration fee. Guests can register for the 2014 Users Meeting in advance at http://www.scola.org and are offered discounted accommodations at the Doubletree Hotel in Downtown Omaha.

Click here for additional conference information, or feel free to e-mail us at conf@scola.org or call 712-566-2202.

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