Course Content And Teaching Methods

In educating students for adult work and adult life, American schools try, above all, to be practical. American education has been greatly influenced by the writings of a famous 20th century philosopher named John Dewey. Dewey believed that the only worthwhile knowledge was knowledge that could be used. He convinced educators that it was pointless to make students memorize useless facts that they would quickly forget. Rather, schools should teach thinking process and skills that affect how people live and work.

Dewey also influenced teaching techniques. Education must be meaningful, and children learn best by doing -these are the basic ideas of progressive education. Thus, science is taught largely through student experimentation; the study of music involves making music; democratic principles are put into practice in the student council; group projects encourage creativity, individual initiative, leadership, and teamwork.
  What do American schools see as their educationl responsibility to students? The scope is very broad indeed. Today's schools teach skills and information once left for the parents to teach at home. For example, it is common for the public school curriculum to include a campaign against cigarette smoking and drug abuse, a course in driver's education, cooking and sewing classes, consumer education, and sex education. Most American grammar schools have also added computer skills to their curriculum. As human knowledge has expanded and life has become increasingly complex, the schools have had to go far beyond the original three Rs ("reading, writing, and "rithmetic') that they were created to teach.
  American high schools have a dual commitment (a) to offer a general college preparatory program for those are interested in higher education; and b) to provide opportunities for vocational training for students who plan to enter the work force immediately after high school graduation. For the college-bound, high schools offer advanced classes in math, sciences, social sciences, English, and foreign languages. They also have Advanced Placement (AP) courses, which enable good students to earn college credit while still in high school. But in the same building, other students take vocational courses such as shorthand and mechanical drawing, and some participate in work/ study programs which enable them to get high school credit for on-the-job training in various occupations.
  Today, more than ever before, American schools are committed to helping foreign-born students adjust to life in an American classroom. The Bilingual Education Act of 1986 provided federal funds for bilingual instruction, which allows students to study academic subjects totally or partially in their native language while they are learning English. Bilingual education is offered in about 70 languages including Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, and several American Indian languages. Of course, this type of instruction is available only where a number of students speak the same foreign language. In addition, immigrant students have benefited from the 1974 Supreme Court ruling requiring public schools to provide special programs for students who speak little or no English. Today, English as a second language instruction is common in American elementary and high schools.
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Reading 4U: Undergraduate Education

Amencan colleges and universities vary a great deal in size. Some colleges have student bodies of just a few hundred, while some state university serve more than 100,000 students on several different campuses. At smaller schools, students generally get to know their classmates and professors better and are less likely to feel lonely and confused. Larger schools offer a greater selection of courses and more activities to attend and participate in. When selecting a college, the student must consider which type of environment best suits his or her needs.

  There are two main categories of institutions of higher learning: public and private. All schools get money from tuition and from private contributors. However, public schools are supported primarily by the state funding. As a result, tuition is generally lower at public schools, especially for permanent residents of that state.
  Schools can also be grouped by the types of programs and degrees they offer. The three major groups are community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities. Community colleges offer only the first two years of undergraduate studies (the freshman and sophomore years). The number of these schools has grown very rapidly in the past 40 years. In 1950, there were about 600 in the U.S.A. Today, there are about 1,300, and they serve about five million students (about 55% of all college freshmen). Most community colleges are public schools, supported by local and/ or state funds. They serve two general types of students (a) those taking the first two years of college before transfering to a four-year school for their third and fourth (junior and senior) years; and (b) those enrolled in one-or-two-year job training programs. Community colleges offer technical training in many areas of study, such as health services, office skills, computer science, drafting, police work, and automotive repair.
  Newcomers to the U.S.A often ask, "Exactly what is the difference between a college and a university?" Some assume that the difference is merely one of size, but it is more than that. A university is bigger than a college because of scope of its programs is much greater. A university offers a wider range of undergraduage programs and also offers graduate studies. Part of the responsibility of a university is to encourage its faculty and its graduate students to do research that will advance human knowledge. Colleges, on the other hand, are primarily undergraduate schools with no commitment to train students for research.
  Many excellent colleges are "liberal arts" schools, which means that they offer studies in the humanities, languages, mathematics, social sciences, and sciences. Liberal arts colleges generally do not offer degrees in engineering, business, journalism, education, and many other specific vocations that a student can train for at a university. However, students at a liberal arts college (like college students elsewhere) still major in a specific area of knowledge.
  Some colleges specialize in training students for one particular occupation (as agricultural colleges and teachers's colleges do). Many provide higher education in one specific occupation - for example, conservatories for music students, seminaries for students of religion, and fine arts schools for artists. For those wishing to prepare for military careers, the United States government maintains four special academies.
  At the college level, the academic year is about nine months long (usually from September until early June or from late August until May). After completing four academic years with acceptable grades in an approved course of study, the student earns a bachelor's degree. Some students complete colleges in less than four years by attending summer sessions. At most college, the academic year is divided into either two or three terms, excluding the summer session. Colleges grade, from highest to lowest, run A, B, C, D and F. F is a failing grade; if a student receives an F in a particular course, he or she does not get credit for having taken the course. College students must maintain at least a low C average in order to remain in school.
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American Education: The First 12 Years

Americans believe that every citizen has both the right and obligation to become educated. The citizens of a democracy need to be educated so that they can take part in affairs of government, both local and national. They must also learn vocational skills.

  In order to develop an educated population, all states have compulsory school attendance laws. These laws vary somewhat from one state to another, but generally they require that formal schooling begin by age 6 and continue until at least 16. However, most Americans attend school at least until high school graduation, when they are 17 or 18 years old. About 75% of all American adults and about 85% of younger American adults are high school graduates.
  The size of the nation's basic educational enterprise is astonishing. From kindergarten through high school, about 46 million students are enrolled in school. To educate this vast number of students, Americans employ about 2.7 million teachers, by far the largest professional group in the country.

 Public And Private Schools

  About 88% of American children receive their elementary and high school education in the nation's public shools. These schools have the following important characteristics in common:
  a) They are supported by taxes and, therefore, do not charge tuition.
  b) In general, they are neighborhood schools, open to all students who live within the district.
  c) They are co-educational, which means that boys and girls attend the same schools and have nearly all of their classes together. By providing girls with equal educational opportunity, American public schools have helped to create today's sellsufficient American woman.
  d) Public schools are required to follow some state guidelines regarding, for example, curriculum and teacher qualifications. But, in most matters, schools are locally controlled. Each school district is run by an elected Board of Education and the school administrators that Board hires. This system creates strong ties between the district's schools and its community.
  e) Public schools are nonsectarian (secular), which means that they are free from the influence of any religion. As a result, children of many different religions feel comfortable attending the public schools, and the public school system has been able to help a diverse population build a common culture.
  Private school can be divided into two categories: parochial (supported by a particular religious group) and secular (nonreligious). Private schools charge tuition and are not under direct public control, although many states set educational standards for them. In order to attend a private school, a student must apply and be accepted. Parochial schools make up the largest group of private schools, and most of these are operated by the Roman Catholic Church. Private secular schools are mainly high schools and colleges.

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R4U: Eating The American Way

  Three square meals a day-that's what Americans are supposed to eat. But, in reality, most add between-means snacks and have a bite five or six times a day. Is is healthy? Americans believe that what they eat is more important than how often. However, the quality and the quantity of American consumption are both matters of concern.

  The meal that breaks overnight fast is, of course, breakfast. It is a meal that about 25% of American skip, either because they're in a hurry or on a diet. Many adults that do eat breakfast have only a small meal, perhaps just orange juice or toast along with the traditional wake-up beverage, coffee. But others eat a real meal in the morning. A complete American breakfast begins with fruit or fruit juice. The main course is generally hot or cold cereal or eggs. The eggs are usually served with toast and perhaps also bacon, ham, or sausages. Other popular breakfast foods are pancakes, waffles, and French toast (bread soaked in a mixture of eggs and milk and then fried), all served with maple syrup.
  Americans usually eat breakfast between 7 and 8 A.M. By 10:30 or thereabouts, they're ready for their mid-morning coffee break. Most workers are given 10 to 15 minutes off the job to have coffee, a snack, and a chat with coworkers.
  Most Americans eat lunch between noon and two o'clock. This mid-day meal is eaten away from home more often then breakfast or dinner. It is rare for working adults to go home for lunch, and many schoolchildren also eat at school. Some people brown-bag it-that is, they bring food from home in a paper bag. For this purpose, they need a meal that is small and portable. The sandwich meets these requirements. In addition, it is inexpensive and easy to prepare. The sandwich chef needs only two pieces of bread, something moist to smear on the bread (butter, maonnaise, mustard, or catsup), and some meat, cheese, fish, or poultry to stuff in between. Some popular cold sandwich are those made with ham and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, sliced chicken or turkey, tuna salad, and roast beef.
  People who eat lunch in restaurants are more likely to order hot sandwiches. The most popular of these are hamburgers and hot dogs. Hamburgers are patties of chopped meat, usually served in round buns. Hot dogs are 5 to 7-inch sausages (also called red hots, frankfurters, or wieners) served in long, thin buns. The name hot dog was inspired (about 1900) by an American vendor who compared the frankfurter to the long-bodied German dig. His hot dachshund sausages eventually became simply hot dogs.
  The sanwich is standard lunchtime fare, but for a bigger meal, the diner might add a bowl of soup, a salad, French tried potatoes or potato chips, and a sweet dessert or fruit.
  Because most people eat lunch around the same time, restaurants are quite crowded between noon and two o'clock. At counters, where customers sit on a row of stools rather than at separate tables, waiters and waitresses can provide faster service. To save time, many people eat in cafeterias, where customers walk by displays of food, place what they want on their trays, and then pay a cashier at the end of the line. Self-service cafeterias handle big crowds quickly and efficiently. Large institutions such as factories, hospitals, and schools often have cafeterias and/ or lunchrooms with food dispensing machines from which customers can purchase soup, sandwiches, drinks, fruit, and sweets. Microwave ovens for heating foods quickly may set up near these machines. Fast-food reataurants (where customers order food and get it in about two minutes) also do a thriving business at lunchtime.
  On the other hand, those who want a more leisurely lunch served to them can find many traditional restaurants. At nice restaurants, diners sometimes combine business and pleasure at a business luncheon, where work is discussed while eating.
  The mid-afternoon snack is also an American tradition. Office and factory workers take a second coffee break. Children coming home from school usually head immediately for the refrigerator. In warm weather, ice cream is a popular snack food. It's consumed in cones, bars, and sundaes (with a sweet sauce on top). It is also used in two popular drinks, milkshakes and ice cream sodas.
  The biggest meal of the day is dinner, served about six o'clock. Dinner may include several courses: an appetizer (consisting of fresh fruit, fruit juice, or a small portion of fish); soup; salad; an entr3e of meat, poultry, or fish; and side dishes such as cooked vegetables, rice, or noodles. Coffee or tea and dessert finish off the meal. Most American prefer a sweet dessert such as cake, pie, or ice cream. Apple pie, served hot with a scoop of ice cream (# la mode) or with a slice of cheese, is a national favorite, hence the popular expression, "as American as apple pie". Most Americans don't eat all these courses for dinner every evening, but they often do so when eating out or serving guests at home.
  With lunch and dinner, Americans commonly drink water, fruit juice, beer, coffee, tea, or a carbonated drink called soda or pop. Though children are urged to drink milk with every meal, many prefer soda or juice instead. Wine is considered festive and is likely to appear on holidays, at celebrations, and when dining out.
  Since dinner is customarily served early in the evening, the late evening snack is a ritual in most households. Children often have milk and cookies before bedtime. Adults may nibble on fruit or sweets.
  On weekends and holidays, the meal schedule may vary. On Saturday evenings, many people eat every late dinners, particularly who dine out. On Sundays, many families have brunch, a meal that combines breakfast and lunch. It is usually served between 11 A.M. and 2 P.M. and includes typical breakfast foods plus cheese, fruit, cake and perhaps cold fish. Families who go to church on Sunday morning may have their usual weekday breakfast before services and then eat their biggest meal of the day about two o'clock. The main meal of the day is always called dinner, no matter what time it is served. When dinner is eaten in mid-afternoon, a smaller evening meal, called supper, is served around seven o'clock.
  On Sundays and holidays when the weather is mild, Americans often eat outdoors. They enjoy picnics in parks, backyard barbecues (usually featuring charcoal-broiled steaks, hot dogs, or hamburgers) and clambakes.
  In the U.S.A. as elsewhere, eating is an importatnt part of family life and social activity. In many homes, dinner time may be the only time when everyone gets together and shares the day's experiences. It is also on occastion for inviting friends.
  Dinning out is also an important part of American social life. For single men and women, dates often begin with dinner at a nice restaurant. Married couples often get together in groups to eat out, especially on weekends. In their desire to use time efficiently, American may rush through breakfast and lunch, but dinnner is usually a more leisurely meal at which enjoyment of food is enhanced by pleasant conversation.
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Reading 4U: Freedom And Its Difficulties

By 1870, black Americans had been declared citizens with all the rights guaranteed to every citizens. But they were members of a conspicuous minority within a white society. Furthermore, most were uneducated, unskilled, and unprepared to provide for their own basic needs. With freedom, Negroes found many new problems-legal, social, and economic.
  After the Civil War, Negroes began migrating to the big cities in the North, and this trend continued into the 20th century. In the North, blacks found greater freedom, but conditions were still difficult and opportunities limited. Discrimination in the sale and rental of housing forced blacks into poor, crowded, mostly black communities often referred to as ghettos. In general, facilities for living and learning were grossly inadequate in these communities.
  Blacks who remained in the South endured conditions even more difficult and degrading. Southern blacks were forced to obey state laws (called "Jim Crow laws") which kept them segregated from white people. The races went to different schools, drank from different fountains, used different washrooms, ate in different restaurants, and were buried in different cemeteries. On buses, blacks were required to sit in the back. For Southern blacks, there was no such thing as justice in the courts of law. Once accused of a crime, blacks were almost certain to be found guilty by all-white juries.
  Southern whites, who wished to keep the power of the vote from the large black population of the South, used the thread of violence to discourage blacks from registering to vote. When a black person did try to register, devices such as a poll tax (a tax on the right to vote) or a literacy test (unfairly administered) were used to deny this right.
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Reading 4U: Franchises

  A company that has developed a successful business may decide to license other companies to operate silimar busineses unde the same name. That license is called a franchise. The original company is known as the franchisor, and the licensed companies are franchisees. Each franchisee pays the franchisor for the right to use the franchise name and ideas. The franchisor assists its franchisees in selecting a site for the business, purchasing equipment, learning how to run the business and so on. Advertising is done on a national basis in the name of the franchise. The franchisor controls the products that its franchisees sell so that the consumers can be assured that their McDonald's hamburger will taste the same whether they buy it in Atlanta, Georgia or Atlantic City, New Jersey.
  There are more than 500,000 franchises operating with sales of more than $600 billion annually. That is more than one-third of all retail sales in the United States. Although the most well-known franchises are fast-food businesses, franchises also include almost every category of business, such as real estate brokers, automotive parts, and employment agencies.
  Why do people buy franchises? Buying a franchise is the least risky way to go into business for oneself. The franchise's national reputation, advertising, training program, and business experience give the franchisee a big advantage over independent enterprises. As a result, the failure rate of franchised businesses in only 4%, while most nonfranchised businesses fail within their first five years. These statistics encourage many people with no prior experience in business to invest in a franchise, which will guide them toward success.
  American capitalism, with all its problems, has proved to be one of the most productive economic systems in history. In a capitalistic system, people try to produce better goods and services because there are financial rewards for doing so. In addition, the freedom of choice that capitalism provides appeals to the independent American character. With few exceptions, no outside power tells any enterpreneur how much to charge for goods or services, and people are free to decide how they will earn and spend their income. The American economy is based upon the belief that every individual knows what is the best for himself or herself and must take responsibility for his of her decisions. Risks exists, but so do opportunities for advancement. Most Americans gladly accept both.
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Reading 4U: Try It - You'll Like It

The great American novelist and humorist Mark Twain pointed out the difference between the more conservative European and the more experimental American temperament. He described the Englishman as "a person who does things because they have been done before" and the American as "a person who does things because they haven't been done before" Americans love to try something new mostly because of a belief that newer may he better.

  As a nation of immigrants the United States has had a continual influx of people with a pioneering spirit with the courage to make major changes. In the mid 19th century, this sprit led American settlers to make the long, difficult, and dangerous journey westward in search of god or free land. The desire to start new life in a new place is still noticeable throughout the nation. About 40 million Americans change residences every year. The average American moves about 14 times in his or her lifetime. Most of these moves are local ones, occuring when families get bigger or smaller, richer or poorer. Some moves are due to job changes. Others are the results of a spirit of adventure or the desire for a change of climate. Moving away is less lonely today because it's so easy to travel or phone a few thousand miles to keep in touch with relatives and old friends. Out of sight is no longer out of mind.
  The pioneering spirit of Americans is evident in many other aspects of their lives. Mid-life career changes are quite common and reflect American adaptability as job opportunities change. Americans of all ages are quite willing to return to school to learn something new if that will lead to a better job. Americans also change marriage partners more often than most other people in the world.
  Americans love science and technology because these fields of study bring the excitement of new discoveries. The United States has embraced the new age of communication with great enthusiasm. From preschoolers to senior citizens, Americans are learning to use computers-at school, at work, and at home. Robots, lasers, and other creations of modern technology fascinate them. Americans subsidize all kinds of space exploration, ranging from outside the earth to inside the atom, in forward with great excitement to the beginning of a new century and the scientific wonders it will bring.
  This love of change is closely tied to faith in improvement. Americans have always been optimistic people, believing in the perfectibility of people, the basic goodness of their country, and the ability of American ingenuity to improve the quality of human life. But in the past 30 years, people have come to realize that if life can become better, it can also become worse. The dangers of air and water pollution, nuclear power, and overpopulation have become clear. Americans now realize that it is not only possible for living conditions to deteriorate: it is even possible for the inventions of modern science and industry to destroy life on earth totally.
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Reading 4U: Contributions - Past And Present

The chief influence of the American Negro culture-nationally and internationally-has been in the field of music. The familiar Negro spirituals, the unusual rythms and harmonies of jazz, the haunting blues melodies -all these originated with the Negro slaves. It is often said that what is best and most original in American popular music comes from the Negro idiom.

  Many blacks have become famous entertainers of athletes. Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby are just two of several famous black comedians. Two superstars-singer Michael Jackson and basketball player Michael Jordan-have become national idols of the young. In intellectual fields as well, blacks have made great contributions. Many are highly respected professional people-teachers, doctors, lawyers, judges, and ministers. One of the most interesting of black American scholars was George Washington Carver, the famous botanist. Carver began his life as a slave. Later, he revolutionized the agriculture of the South. Carver also developed more than 300 products from the peanut (including soap and ink) and 118 products from the sweet potato (including flour, shoe polish, and candy). Among the many oustanding black American authors of the past and present are poets Gwendolyn Brooks and Maya Angelou and novelists James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker. Thurgood Marshall has been serving on the Supreme Court in 1967.
  Given an equal opportunity to learn and work, black American will contribute even more to this country. In order to make full use of its human resources, the United States must make sure that its customs and institutions extend equal privileges to all Americans.
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Reading 4U: The Black American

  Today's black Americans are descendants of  African Negroes who were brought to the United States by force and sold into slavery. After slavery was abolished, segregation in the South and discrimination in the North kept blacks second-class citizens for almost another century. Conditions have greatly improved for black Americans during the past 30 years. Among this nation's 30 million blacks are many sucessful, important, and famous people. However, as a group, blacks remain a disadvantaged minority. Their struggle for equal opportunity has been won in the courts of law, but they are still struggling for the respect and prosperity that most other American enjoy.

  In the 15th century, Europeans began to import slaves for the African continent. The discovery of the Americans increased the demand for cheap labor and therefore increased the slave trade. During the next 400 years, slave traders kidnapped about 15 million Negroes from Africa and sold them into slavery. When the American Civil War began in 1860, there were about 4.5 million Negroes in the United States, most of them slaves.
  The vast majority of Negro slaves lived in the South, where they worked in cotton, tobacco, and sugar cane fields. Most were uneducated, although a few were taught to read and write. Their African religious practices were discouraged, and they were converted to Christianity.
  The slaves suffered greatly, both physically and emotionally. They worked long hours in the fields. They lived in crowed, primitive houses. Some were the victims of cruel masters who abused them. Often, slave owners separated Negro families by selling a slave's husband, wife, or child. "Uncle Tom's Cabin", a famous novel about Southern slavery, emphasized these evils. The book aroused so much antislavery sentiment in the North that Abraham Lincoln said to its author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war".
  The "great war" that Lincoln was talking about was, of course, the American Civil War, sometimes called the War between the States. Slavery "was the underlying cause of this war. The agricultural South depended on slave labor to work the fields of its large plantations. The industrialized North had no use for slave labour, and slavery was against the law there. Northerners considered slavery a great evil, and, in fact, some of them helped the Negroes escape from slavery to one of the free states. Whenever a new state wanted to enter the Union, the questions of whether it would be slave or free was raised. Finally, the South decided to leave the Union and become a separate country-the Confederate States of America. President Lincoln would not allow this. In order to keep the United States united, Lincoln led his nation into a civil war. The war ended in 1865 with the North victorious, the country reunited, and slavery abolished.
  In 1863, two years before the war ended, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the Confederate states. Shortly after the war ended in 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution freed all slaves. A few years later, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments gave the former slaves full civil rights, including the right to vote.
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Reading U4: Immigration Before Independence

Today's American Indians call themselves Native Americans, but in reality they were not natives here. Rather, they were the area's earliest immigrants. They came to the Western Hemisphere from Asia more than 20,000 years ago. By the century, there were 15 to 20 million Indians in the Americas. Perhaps as many as 700,000 were living within the present limits of the United States when Columbus discovered the New World (the Western Hemisphere) in 1492.
  During the 1500s, French and Spanish explorers visited the New World. But the first Europeans who came to stay were English. The first permanent colony in the U.S.A. was established in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607 by 104 British colonists. In 1620, a second British colony, consisting of 102 people, was founded in Plymouth, Massachusetts. These were the beginning of a nation that, by 1988, had grown to 244 million.
  In 1790, the white population of the 13 original states totaled slightly more than three milion. About 75% of these first Americans were of British ancestry; the rest were German, Dutch, French, Swiss, and Spanish. The British gave the new nation its language, laws, and philosophy of government.

 Immigration From 1790 To 1920

  American independence did not immediately stimulate immigragtion. Between 1790 and 1840, more than four million arrived. They came primarily from Ireland, England, Germany, and France. Potato crop failures in Ireland stimulated Irish immigration. Germans came to escape economic and political difficulties. During the last half of the 9th century, many Scandinavians came, attracted by good farmland. The Industrial Revolution and the Westward Movement gave new immigrants a vital role in the nation's economic development. Employers who needed factory workers and landowners who wanted tenants for western lands sent agents to Europe to "sell" America. Agents of steamship lines and railroad companies atracted thousands of immigrants with fabulous stories about the land of opportunity.
  Immigration took another great leap after 1880. Between 1887 and 1920, 23.5 million aliens were admitted. Nearly 90% of these newcomers were from Europe. After 1882, the government kept Asian immigration to a minimum because American workers feared that new Asian immigrants would threaten their jobs and lower their wages.

 Immigration Since 1920
  During World War I, immigration declined due to traveling difficulties. After the war, Europeans once again began crowding aboard ships to the United States. But American industry no longer needed them. During the 1920s, Congress passed the first quota law that limited the number of European immigrants.
  From 1930 to 1945, legal limits and World War II kept immigration to a minimum. When the war ended, immigration rose sharply because entrance was allowed to millions of people left homeless by the war. Special legislation admitted large numbers of displaced persons, refugees, and orphans, as well as war brides. From time to time since then, the United States has lifted immigration restrictions to accomodate, refugees and ease suffering in other parts of the world.
  At present, there is a ceiling on immigration, allowing for 270,000 immigrants to be admitted to the U.S.A. anually, no more than 20,000 from any one country. However, during the 1980s, the number of immigrants annually admitted each year always exceeded 500,000 because certain categories of applicants were excluded from the numerical limitations. These exemptions included the parents, spouses, or minor children of U.S. citizens.
  Immigration restrictions may seem cruel to those who are living in difficult circumstances elsewhere, but they have become necessary because, in the century, the United States' population has grown at a very rapid rate. In 1915, the population reached 100 million. Forty-two years later, it had doubled. A higher birth rate, lower infant mortality, and longer life expectancy had all combined to cause this population explosion. Today, Americans are having smaller families. However, the population is continuing to increase, and about 28% of this growth comes from immigration. Therefore, strict limits on immigration seem likely to continue.
  Who are today's immigrants? They are vastly different from earlier groups. Clearly, the ethic make-up of the United States is changing. From 1981 to 1985, immigration from Europe dropped to 11% of the total legal immigration, while Asia provided about 48% and Latin America about 35% of legal immigrants. In addition, about three-quarters of the illegal immigrants (about 500,000 per year) come from Latin America. If the current trends continue, experts predict that, by the year 2020, about 35% of Americans will be minority group members, primarily black, or Asian.
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Reading 4U: Problems And Solutions

  When an immigrant family moves to the U.S.A., one of the first questions that parents ask is, "Will my children get a good education here?" The answer depends on two major factors: When the children attend school and how hard they are willing to work.

  In some schools where the community is stable, the funding good and the school environment orderly, a hardworking student can get an excellent education. But in other schools-especially those in poor neighborhoods in the nation's large cities -it is very difficult to become educated. The flight of middle-class families to the suburbs left big city public shools with mostly lower-income students. Many are deprived children from impoverished homes with only one parent. Many come to school ill-prepared and poorly motivated to learn. A large number need help in learning English.

Many change residences and school often, and a changing classroom population is difficult to teach. In some poor neighborhoods, the students do not attend school regularly because they are frightened by violent gangs. In some classrooms, teachers have difficulty keeping the students' attention because the disrespectful, uncooperative students disturb the class. Because the quality of education varies so much from one school district to another, parents who are planning to move to a new neighborhood often inquire about the schools - and even visit them - before deciding which community to move to.

  Researchers are always studying the schools and evaluating the kind of education being provided. Experts ask: "Are today's students learning as much as their older siblings or their parents did? Are they learning as much as students in other countries?" In the 1980s, many studies revealed weakness in the American educational system. For example, of the 158 members of the United Nations, the U.S.A. ranked 49th in its level of literacy. It has been claimed that as many as 25 million American adults cannot read the front page of a newspaper. Another study focused on students' knowledge of history and literature. The results were published in a book entitled, "What Do Our 17-Year-OIds Know?", and the answer is, "not much". For example, 75% of American high school seniors did not know when Abraham Lincoln was President, and 80% could not identify Dickens, Dostoyevsky and Ibsen as famous authors. In a 1988 study comparing students's knowledge of geography, American young adults came in last of nine countries. In fact, 18% of the American students couldn't even find the U.S.A on a world map! Still other studies indicate that today's students are weak in mathematical problem-solving and writing skills.
  What's wrong with American education? To find the answer and to fix the problem, one must look at all of the elements the students themselves, their parents, their teachers, the school curriculum, the textbooks, and the community. Many students simply do not study enough. (Two-thirds of high school seniors do an hour or less of homework per night.) American teenagers are often distracted by part-time jobs, sports and other school activities, TV, and socializing. Some do not keep up with their schoolwork because of emotional problems, use of illegal drugs, or simply lack of motivation. Clearly, if Americans are to become better educated, students must spend more time studying, and parents must insist that they do so.

  In the 1980s, criticism of American education stimulated a reform movement. As a result, 45 of the 50 states raised high-school graduation requirements. One government study recommended a longer school year. (Now, the average American student attends school about 180 days a year, compared to 210 for a Japanese student.) Efforts have also been underway to increase parental involvement in schools and to improve teaching. College programs that educate teachers are trying to encourage more academically talented students to choose teaching as a career. Schools of education are also improving their curriculum so that American teachers of the future will be better prepared. School administrators are working on curriculum revisions. Publishers are being urged to create textbooks that are more challenging, interesting, and objective. Finally, concerned citizens are urging communities and the federal government to provide more tax dollars for education.
  What can one say about basic education in the U.S.A. today? It has many strengths, but there's plenty of room for improvement. Since the school reform movement began, test scores have risen somewhat, and Americans are optimistic that reform and improvement will continue. Americans deeply believe in education as the best vehicle for individual and social advancement. Improving the basic school system is one of the nation's top priorities. But meanwhile, it is a consolation to remember that, for most young Americans, formal education does not end with high graduation.

Zcomity News
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Reading 4U: Lifelong Learning

In the U.S.A., the education of adults goes on in many different places for many different reasons. At least 25 million adults (about 13% of the adult population) are enrolled in classes, nearly all as part-time students. Most of these classes are not for college credit but for knowledge that the student can use on the job, for job advancement, to pursue a hobby, or for personal growth. Programs commonly called "adult education" or "continuing education" are operated by many schools and community colleges. In recent years, private learning centers have also opened up, offering inexpensive classes for adults in a wide variety of skills and activities. A typical catalog might offer classes in how to cook a Chinese dinner, invest in the stock market, improve your spelling, making friends, or even give your partner a massage. Many adults enjoy taking classes where they can learn something new and also meet people who share this new interest.

  Many more classes are taken at the workplace. Hospitals, businesses, and museums, for example, offer courses to help employees improve job-related skills. Some companies, rather than operate their own classes, will offer to pay the tuition if an employee goes back to school to learn a skill that the company needs. In the U.S.A., where technology rapidly makes some skills obsolete and new ones essential, workers at all levels realize that lifelong learning is necessary. Even professional people-doctors, teachers, accountants, dentists, and engineers-continue to study to keep up with new techniques in their fields.
  Education, whether it occurs on the college campus or elsewhere, is an important element in the life of an American adult. The American dream of becoming important in one's career and financially successful is most often achieved through education.
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Helen Keller - Helen Keller was a bright, beautiful baby

Zcomity  (26-10-2017):  Helen Keller was a bright, beautiful baby. At the age of six months she could already say a few words. She took her first steps the day she was one. But before she was two years old she had an illness that left her in darkness ever after. She could not see or hear, and soon she could not even talk!

  From then on Helen had to fight for what she wanted. When she tried to do anything in the house, she only got in everyone's way. Because her family did not know what else to do, they soon began to give her everything she wanted.

  The girl could not do nothing right. When she tried to cut out paper dolls she cut her dress instead. She pushed her baby sister off the bed, thinking she was a doll. Once she was almost burned to death because she was standing too near to the fire.
  At last, when she was six, her mother and father brought a teacher for their daughter. "This was the most important day of all my life," wrote Helen Keller many years later. Anne Sullivan, the teacher, understood at least part of Helen's condition, for her own eye sight had just come back after years of being blind.
  She smiled down at the pretty face of the child who could not see her. At once Helen seemed to know that this stranger loved her very much. Miss Sullivan gave her a cloth doll to hold; then with her fingers she spelled out d-o-l-l on the girl's small hand. She jumped away. Again the teacher took her hand and formed the letters d-o-l-l. Then she made Helen spell the same word with her own fingers.
  The child was delighted. She thought it was a new game to bring light to her dark world. At the time she did not know that such finger words had any meaning.
  One day, when Helen was standing at the well. She touched some cold water. She laughed and held out her hands for more. Quickly Miss Sullivan poured water on one hand while she spelled w-a-t-e-r on the other. A moment later Helen was spelling the word for her teacher and happily playing with the water.
  "So it isn't game," she thought. "Now I can learn to act like other people". This was the turning point in Helen Keller's life. She began to see and hear the world about her, through her hand and those of her teacher.
  Soon Helen could read books. They were printed in Braille, or raised dots on heavy paper. Each group of dots meant different letters and words to her fingers. She even learn to write on a special Braille machine.
  Miss Sullivan took Helen for long walks, telling her about all the beautiful sights. She touched flowers, climbed trees, and smell a rain storm before it came. She learned how to swim and ride a horse.
  She went to a school for blind children where she was taught to speak. Again she used her hands to feel how the lips and tongue move when a person talks.
  Helen worked and studied very hard. Miss Sullivan sat beside her in the school writing notes on her hand. At home Helen wrote down everything she remembered and her teacher was always there to help her with her mistakes.
  Helen Keller was written many books. Her first and most famous one is called The Story of my Life, in which she expressed her thoughts and feelings about living without sight or sound. Her story has brought new hope to many who cannot see or hear it has given light to the world.
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Reading 4U: The Middlesbury Star

  Middlesbury was a town that was as boring as its name. That's what Joe thought, anyway, and he had lived there for 12 years, all of his life in fact, so he was an expert on Middlesbury. And it was boring. The place was so boring that it didn't even have its own newspaper, said Joe.
  "There's no need for a newspaper here" said Joe's sister.
  "Why?" asked Joe. "Every town has its own local paper".
  "The problem is" replied his sister, "is that nothing happens here. That's why there's no newspaper. Middlesbury is just too boring to have a newspaper".
  "That's not true!" said Joe. "Lots of things happen here.".
  "Such as?"
  "Well, erm... there's a rising amount of crime... that's something to read about.".
  "Rising amount of crime?" said his sister. "You mean somebody stole a bag of sweets from the local shop? Rubbish! Anyway, everything is available on the internet now". Joe's sister looked at Joe with that look that she always gave him. "There's no need for a newspaper". She wanted to make him feel stupid, as always.
  "You can find anything you want on the net. Nobody needs a local newspaper anymore".
  Joe's sister was older than him and always seemed to know more about everything than Joe did. At least she said she always knew more about everything than Joe did.

  Joe, however, was starting to think that perhaps his sister wasn't always right. Sometimes, thought Joe, his sister didn't know everything. He decided to show her that she was wrong.
  Joe had a paper round. Every morning he went to the newspaper shop, picked up a big bag of newspapers, and delivered them to people who lived nearby. Joe was certain that his sister was wrong; he knew that lots of people still read newspapers because he knew how heavy they were! Joe also knew that there were people like Mr Phelps who was so old that he didn't have a computer at all, and Mrs Smithers, who wasn't quite as old as Mr Phelps, but her daughter had bought a computer with an internet connection for her so that they could stay in touch more easily, but Mrs Smithers never learned how to use the computer, so she still telephoned her daughter, or wrote old-fashioned letters to her. Mrs Smithers would love a local paper, thought Joe.
  So the next morning Joe sat in his bedroom and tried to design the front page of a new local paper for Middlesbury. He even had a name for the paper already: "The Middlesbury Star". Brilliant! Thought Joe. It sounds exciting, everyone will love it. Now all he had to do was think of at least six or seven stories, write them out, print them off and photocopy them and he could take them to the newspaper shop and sell them there for at least 50p each. Not only would he produce Middlesbury's first ever local newspaper, he would also get rich as well!

  However, Joe soon found he had a problem. He looked at the words "Middlesbury Star" at the top of the page, and saw only a white space under it. What his sister had said was true: there was nothing to write about. He sat there for ages and tried to think of some news. He thought about Mr Johnson who lived next door. Somebody had scratched his car last week. There was a story! Joe wrote the headline in big letters: "VANDALISM HITS MIDDLESBURY!" Then he didn't know what to write next. He decided to interview Mr Johnson.
  "Well" said Mr Johnson. "Nothing much happened really. I just woke up one morning and somebody had scratched the side of my car".
  "Do you have any idea who did it?" asked Joe.
  "Not really" said Mr Johnson. "It was probably just an accident". This, Joe realised, wasn't much of a story.
  "Your problem is" said his sister when he told her, "is that you are waiting for a story to come to you. It's not like that. You have to go out and find a story!" Joe thought about what she said, got on his bike and went out into the town, looking for news. A tree in the park was falling down. The old butcher's shop in the town centre was closing down. Somebody new was moving into the big house at the end of their street. The supermarket had a special offer on microwave-ready meals. Even Joe realised that there wasn't much news here.

  He sat down again in front of his computer and wrote a new headline:
  It looked good. One thing was missing. Under the headline, in smaller letters, he wrote:
  By Joe Barnes.
  Perfect. He wanted to show everybody what a good reporter he was - his sister above all.
  And there it was, the front page of the first edition of the Middlesbury Star. It looked great, thought Joe. He printed it off, then ran to the photocopy shop and made 100 copies. The next morning he took all the copies with him to the newspaper shop. He asked Mr Williams in the shop if he would sell them. Mr Williams looked at the Middlesbury Star and laughed.
  "Certainly!" he said. "Everybody will love this!"
  One day later, every single copy of the first edition of the Middlesbury Star had sold out. Joe was very, very happy. He was going to copy some more when the phone rang. It was the BBC.
  "Hello, can we speak to the editor of the Middlesbury Star please?"
  "Yes, this is me. Joe Barnes".
  "Joe - we'd like to offer you a job.".
  Over the next few days Joe got phone calls from CNN and al-Jazeera, from Reuters and France Press and lots of other press agencies and networks.
  "We need a young reporter!" they said.
  "We admire the truthfulness of your writing!" they said. "We like your direct style!" they said.
  The BBC wanted to send Joe to Beijing. CNN wanted him to work in Washington. Al-Jazeera wanted him in Qatar.
  "No!" said Joe. "I want to work in Middlesbury!"
  "But nothing happens in Middlesbury!" they said.
  "Exactly" said Joe. "That's why I like it..".
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Reading 4U: The Masterpiece

  "The day was cloudy enough to feel blue, as if today the sun had chosen not to stay in the fearful sky. He had escaped from the big monsters of guilt, but still it would come up one day, for pay back time, when nothing would stop it from shining like a god in the right place and at the right time.
  This is what you think and what you become, when you taste the power that you have in others. It's quite simple actually, when someone fears you, you're in such a privileged position, you can almost play with your victims, like little toys that you can move and scare.

 They don't realize it, they just let it happen. That's why I'm the big guy and they are the smallest, meaningless people that think I will be always undefeatable. I'm telling you, if you really want to kill somebody, don't put a bullet in his head, put one in his mind, his morality, his principles, then you'll have him, without suffering, without the dramatic part, it will be just you and him, with his and your own demons. And then you'll be able to enjoy the part when the agony will take place, and then you'll have to face and challenge your victim to do something to help himself. And it gets even better, as he realizes there's no way out, he gives up and surrenders to be killed, almost as if he was begging you to do so.

  Isn't life great!
  My name is Mathew Novak. I like to see myself as an artist and because of that, I'm a tremendous fan of people that aren't afraid to see themselves as kings and queens of their lives and even of the world. These kings and queens are the kind of people that are always ready to face anything that may come, because they know what they want to get from life. They aren't corrupted with addictions, physically and mentally speaking, because they go beyond that. They realize that's just a way of controlling people. And as they can see that, they're always one step ahead of the rest of the people.
  Therefore, I cannot accept competitors. And don't get me wrong here, I admire these guys, but I just cannot allow them to keep taking advantage of this precious knowledge, without sharing it. As you see I'm a humanitarian. The way I see it, getting rid of these guys, would be the best thing we could do for society.
  My style is neat, classic and controversial. I like to watch my victims as they hurt themselves. Oh, I'm sorry, I haven't told you yet: first, I choose them very carefully, not everybody has all the qualities that are required to commit a "perfect" crime. Once I have the right person, it really doesn't matter if it is a woman or a man, I trick him or her, and just before killing him, I take him to an art Museum, before a big opening is starting. In that way my "art" is also exhibit to the whole world as an amazing masterpiece, my masterpiece.

  But, as you seem so interested in my work, I've decided to document my next murder. So you'll experience for the first time in your life, what it feels to be in my shoes, and to have the last look of your victim on your mind for the rest of your life. Fasten your seat belts, this will be fun.
  Her name is Angela Potter, she's the kind of woman that wakes up in the morning and exercises on her running machine until her body can't go on anymore. The same thing happens in her office, she always pushes everything to the limits and that's how she manipulates her business in order to be the best in the company. She's the one in charge of convincing investment clients to become rich and successful with her and her lucrative institution. As you see, she knows exactly what she's doing. And she's an unstoppable killing machine of people that are described by her as "sheep".
  The next step to follow is to get to know the victim, how she works, where she takes breaks and of course, if she's interested in "human art". So I will go to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee, and then I'll establish the first communication. Now let's stop here one moment, it's very important to make a good impression, in that way she will come to you, instead of you to her.
  Just as I thought, she likes the mysterious type of men, dressed completely in black and of course with an elegant style. The age didn't matter so much, so I had the perfect opportunity. I first started the conversation with a simple question: "Do you enjoy art?" And as a response I got a perfect answer: "Yes, especially Goya's paintings. I simply love the way he expresses human suffering" said Angela.

  Are you feeling the excitement already? Every thing is perfect, if this keeps going so fast, you'll lose the enchanting part of the conquest. Angela was really pleased with my presence in her world, therefore, the time for executing her was close. As I hold her in my arms I start to examine her body closely, so I could pick the most sufficient weapon to end her life. She's a tall, slim woman, so she wouldn't offer much resistance.
  I had chosen my weapon. Even though she had a horrible soul, she also had a beautiful face, so I've decided to remove it with a really sharp scalpel and with some other deadly knives, and then I'll make a tri-dimensional picture with her dreadful skin. That would really express the "human suffering" she was talking about. It's perfect, each and every part of her was useful for me. This will surely be my masterpiece.
  I spoke with Angela this morning, she has to meet me in the art museum at eight o'clock. I've arranged everything, I have a spare key for the museum, and as I've studied the security system of the whole building, I'll have it open when she arrives for our meeting.
  Now comes the sublime part of a murder, pay attention. As soon as she gets there, she can't be suspicious, at all; what's more, she has to be comfortable with the situation, and then you have to little by little start to get into her mind, play with it for a while, tell her that you love her, but you can't resist her superiority complex of wanting to have everything under control. After that, the humiliation part begins. You must make her feel insignificant, guilty, open the doors of her deepest fears and let them take over her. Then you'll have her in your hands.
  Once I got there, I was impatient, I hate unpunctual people, I hate it so much, "but easy" - I told myself, I can't lose control now, it's about to happen. Everything is ready, she hasn't arrived yet, and I had been waiting for her over an hour. But, suddenly a cab stopped in front of me. It was her, Angela. She looked pale, insecure, but nothing that I could do would reveal my secret plan. I had taken care of all the details.
  She came out of the car, dressed all in black, just like I was. She had this big carmine smile, and she came towards me to say hi. I carry on with the plan. I took her inside the museum, and I made her comfortable. Then we started to talk, I began by saying "I love you but."., and she just looked at me, with deep hate. I saw a glimpse of anger in her eyes, this was unexpected, and suddenly she pulled out her demons without me calling them. Then she began by asking me: "I once told you, I enjoyed human suffering, didn't I?" I felt a cold stab in my heart when I heard those chilling words coming out of her mouth. What was she doing? Wasn't she afraid? Where were her monsters of guilt? By then I could only see mine, eating me alive, consuming me. My frightened eyes were now on her mind, she had convinced me of what I had become, another sheep that had been manipulated by the queen of the kings. She was now the sun and I was the guilty shadow of a cloudy soul. I could not see so clear now, I was about to be killed, and without even knowing it, I was giving up, as if I had no way out. And I knew exactly what was going to happen. This is so ironic, I cannot even begin to understand it, I was going to be killed by my perfect victim, not Angela, but my own frustrated dreams and revenges of a society that won't understand my meaningless' life ever".
  Well, I'm the one ending this crime, by assassinating the killer with his own twisted thoughts. The only thing I can tell you is what appeared in the next day's newspaper: "A man has been found at the state museum, skinless and hung out like a portrait with an inscription on the wall, that said: this was my masterpiece.".
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Reading 4U: Where Home Is

  Fouad sits in the cafe that looks out over Jaffa Street listening to the sad, sad music playing on an old tape recorder. "Oum Khalsoum", says one of the other men sitting in the cafe to nobody in particular. "This is Oum Khalsoum singing".
  Fouad takes another sip of sweet mint tea and nods in agreement without saying anything. Fouad's uncle lives in Egypt, and every time Fouad visits him, he tells Fouad the story of how he saw the legendary singer at one of her concerts in Cairo in 1970, not long before she died. The song seems to go on forever, and it's very sad.

  Fouad thinks it's beautiful, but he doesn't want to hear it now. It's too sad for him. It makes him think of his uncle in Egypt who he hasn't seen for many years now, and also about the reason why his uncle lives in Egypt while his aunt lived in Lebanon and why he, on the other hand, lives in Jordan, and why he is in Jerusalem now.
  Fouad's father had died a few months ago. After that, Fouad found that there were so many things that he had wanted to ask his father, but had never asked. He realised that he knew very little about his own family, and decided to try and find out more about the place where his father had grown up, and where his grandparents (who had died when he was very young) were from.
  He has now spent a couple of days wandering around Jerusalem with an old, torn photograph in his hand. The photograph shows the whole family, his grandparents standing proudly at the centre of a group of four children in front of a house on a busy street. Next to the house there seems to be a garden with what look like cedar or olive trees in it.
  Fouad, though, can't find anywhere in this modern Jerusalem that looks much like the street or the house where the photograph was taken. He feels sadder than the sad song playing in the cafe, thinking now that he might never find the place where his father had been born and the place where his grandparents had lived until they moved away in 1947.

  At first they had gone to Lebanon, then to Jordan and finally to Egypt, always staying with some distant relatives or old friends, trying to find work and a place to live. They left parts of their family, sons, daughters, cousins, uncles and aunts all over the Middle East. Some of them went to France or Britain or America. None of them ever lived in same place for long, never being able to find a home.
  Oum Khalsoum keeps on singing her sad, sad song, and Fouad decides to head back home over the bridge into Jordan, hoping the checkpoint hasn't been closed. He pays a few shekels then goes out onto the street.
  As he walks out he accidentally bumps into a young man about his own age hurrying in the opposite direction. They look at each other in the eyes for just one second as they both apologise, then walk on, in different directions along the street.

  Yossi is in a hurry because he has to get to Tel Aviv to catch a plane. He thinks he'll probably take a taxi as it's the quickest and easiest way, and nobody really likes travelling by bus at the moment. He's going to Poland to visit to his great aunt who has just moved back to Warsaw at the age of 93. His great aunt has spent most of her life in America, but said that she wanted to come back to the place where she was born before the end of her life. Yossi thinks she's a silly, sentimental old woman. Surely she's much better off in America than in Poland! However, he understands her need to find her home again. Yossi's great aunt was one of the lucky ones in his family. His grandparents, too, had been lucky - in a way. They had stayed in Poland, and were still alive in 1945. Many other people in their family hadn't survived. After that, they moved to Israel, and had never been back to Poland again. "This is our home now" they said to Yossi.
  As he finally gets on the plane, Yossi thinks about his friend Agnieszka who he had met in Poland the last time he had been there. He went to see the small village near Krakow where his grandparents had been brought up, and to see the small Jewish Quarter in the old part of Krakow. He thought it was very beautiful, but was amazed at how different it was from his life in Israel. He found it difficult to imagine how different his grandparents' lives had been from his own.
  He had been hoping to meet up with Agnieszka again, but unfortunately he had received an email from her a couple of months ago. Agnieszka was leaving Poland. In the small town where they were from it was too difficult to get a job, she said. She had managed to get a visa to stay in Britain.
  After she had arrived in London, she had written another email to Yossi. "I feel like a refugee" she said. She had found a job working in a cafe in Finsbury Park in north London, she said. It wasn't the job she really wanted to do, but it was OK while she studied English and looked for something better. Yossi remembered the name of the cafe, which was run by Turkish people: "The Oum Khalsoum".
  Fouad is walking back over the bridge to a land which is where he lives but which he doesn't feel is his home. Yossi is on a plane going from one home to another, more distant, home. Agnieszka is in London, feeling homesick, thinking about making a new home in a country she knows will never be hers, in a place where nobody seems to be at home.
  She cleans another table and looks at the people who come into her cafe: from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Bosnia, Iran, Iraq, Congo, Sri Lanka, people who have looked for refuge from famine, oppression and poverty from all over the world. They spend time listening to Oum Khalsoum singing sad, sad songs and wondering if they will ever go home, and wondering where home is, and thinking that they could all sing songs that are even sadder than those of Oum Khalsoum.
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