#weekendcoffeeshare: The Return

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It has been a long time since I have written a blog post. I feel enormously guilty. I feel as though I haven’t had friends over since April, and here we are. I would be shoving delicious treats your way, asking if you needed anything else. I’m still drinking my Wedding Breakfast tea; 250g makes a lot of cups of tea.

So, how have you been? I should give my excuses, but it’s been a mix of depression, lack of motivation and actually a very busy summer. I went to Iceland! I started my second year at the high school at which I currently teach (I finally have a classroom). And I watched the world of politics unfold.

First off, Brexit. What a miserable outcome for this. I’m anxious to see how it will play out. Theresa May as been handed a messy, uncertain mix of things that she must turn out to satisfy the Exit voters, but not alienate the Remainers. Though, honestly, what does she care about the Remainers? They’re probably all Eurotrash™ anyway. (Those last lines were sarcasm, by the way, in case it doesn’t read well through the screen.)

The US elections are just not at all in any shape to be commentated on, and yet, here we are, a little over 8 weeks until the elections, commentating. The era of False Equivalency must end: Hillary Clinton is in no way as bad as Trump, and the fact that her email ‘scandal’ is as bad as anything that comes out of Trump’s mouth. Trump is unfit to be president, and it is disheartening that there is any fight between Clinton and Trump.

I have been itching to write, and I shall go back to my weekly Friday reads and these Weekend Coffee Shares, and I am pleased to be back. So hello again, and my door is open again. I hope you missed me as much as I missed you! – SDM

NB: Read the other WCS posts here!

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#atozchallenge: State of the (European) Union

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The goals of the European Union have morphed. From being the cure to extreme nationalism to a powerhouse economy, the European Union has shifted its targets. Whilst I am a proud European, I also understand the travails of bringing together 28 extremely proud countries with their own cultures, values and beliefs. But there are cracks appearing in the surface, and perhaps they have always been there.

The United Kingdom will vote on its Brexit the 23 of June. I shall be watching this, mostly scared. I called the UK home for many years, and if they remain in the EU, I will call it home again. Many of the arguments in the Leave and Remain camps focus on the economic salvation and-or disaster that might occur, depending on how Britain votes.

Perhaps the United Kingdom and the rest of the European Union would do well to recall their original reasons for becoming a Union. Now, more than ever, Europe needs a strong front against the growing nationalist trends in the UK, France and even Germany. Europe is stronger together, and Britain’s grumbling about leaving is shaking the entire Union.

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s challenge, check them out here.

Photo by moerschy

#weekendcoffeeshare: Countdown

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I am exhausted this morning, and this tea has never been better. It’s Queen Anne, as always, but only because I’m very much looking forward to finishing my tin and moving on to Wedding Breakfast. I am a stickler for tradition, and on Saturday and Sunday I drink the tea at my tea station to completion. So if were were having coffee/tea, we’d be having Queen Anne and probably some French Roast that I hurriedly bought from Whole Foods.

There are 25 days left of school. My students all know this countdown, as do I. We are all breathless. The days are filled with state-mandated testing and final exams. My senior students are all ready for prom and graduation, and I am ready to explode. Soccer season ended on a win, however, and now I have whole wodges of time to myself. It’s wonderful. If we were having our beverages, I would ask you if you were counting down to anything, and what you are looking forward to?

We have a few more letters left of the A to Zed challenge, in which I am participating. I have been keeping up with quite a few blogs, and I have learnt many amazing things. I am not sure that my blog fits in very well with this challenge (it is not a writing or lifestyle blog) but I have gotten some comments and some interest, so there is that. I would ask if you were participating, and if you’re struggling or if you pre-wrote everything and are coasting easy.

Politically, my students and I enjoyed watching Prime Minister’s Questions from the 13th of April, which brought up so many questions about British culture, life and government. I find myself becoming homesick for a country that is not necessarily mine, but I’ve adopted. If we were having coffee (or tea, of course), we’d be talking about what life means for different cultures.

I hope you are doing well. Until next time! – SDM

NB: Check out the other posts here!

picture taken by author

 

Je suis Bruxelles: On Fear

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My students watched, numb and quiet, as they let the words from France 24 wash over them. After we watched the international reactions, one of my students said idly, ‘What next?’

I said, in as even a tone as possible, ‘When war or terrorism happens, people in general tend to become more “little-c” conservative [to distinguish from Conservative parties] and a little more insular.’ It was as much as I wanted to say. I talked about the 7 July bombings in London, how London reacted, and we talked about assimilation and culture in Europe. I don’t like using tragedy as teachable moments, but it was important for them to begin processing.

After school, chatting with a colleague, I let bitterness and pessimism take over as I said, “Donald Trump will be the next president, and Britain will leave the European Union.” I felt sick as I said it, as if it were a premonition. I feel sick as I think of it now. My even tone in class had fallen away, and I felt angry, as I never had before.

It is not the time to close borders, to hate and to fear. But we will. It has become the first response to this distress. But I choose to celebrate Brussels and the idea of the European Union which was attacked on the 22nd of March.

May there be no next time. – SDM

Photo by Ji-Sun Yoo

#weekendcoffeeshare: Brexit for Breakfast

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I’m drinking a Masala chai from the Curiosity Shop. My week has been wildly busy and my Saturday is full as well. But now I am drinking my tea and contemplating existence. There’s a lot to contemplate. It’s a beautiful sunny day here, and only 5°C!

I’m going to be a bit personal, so if we were having coffee today, I would tell you how anxious I am about the Brexit. I want to live in Britain, but their leaving would make it exceptionally difficult to get a visa. I am wondering what arguments the British people are hearing, and how much of them feel threatened by the EU. I would also be questioning the fact that, though the EU was supposed to create opportunities for everyone living in its borders, it has just become an economic bloc, and a messy one at that.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am also waiting to hear back about my Master’s application. I have applied to Uppsala University to get my Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies. I would be telling you about how I don’t feel qualified or clever enough, and that I’m worried I did the application wrong.

I’d also tell you I’m worried about Super Tuesday, next week, where Donald Trump will perhaps gain even more delegates. I would be wondering aloud how we got to this place. Is America so bad? Are people so jingoistic and ignorant? Americans who constantly say ‘no foreigners’ are quite blind and wilfully dumb: unless we are Native American, we are just as much foreign as the people arriving to our borders today.

This is a heavy chat I’m having today. I would have chocolate for you, to ease the conversation. I hope you are doing well. Until next week, then? – SDM

NB: Check out the other posts here!

Photo by condesign

What I’m reading this week: 26 February 2016

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This week I’ve been terribly busy with work, where I’ve had three football (soccer) matches this week and oral exams. Of course this means my reading has been done in the morning during planning/at lunch.

I’ve been worried politically about two things: Donald Trump and the Brexit; of course I’ve been reading about other things. But, to the things I’m worried about first. Donald Trump’s rise is not only of national importance, but internationally as well. Libération has a story about Trump from , entitled Trump, du cauchemar à la réalité (Trump, from nightmare to reality – article is in French) if that tells you what most French people feel about him. I always enjoy reading articles about America from the perspective of other nations.

Election season seems interminable here in the United States, especially so since President Obama is on his second and final term. This means the race is wide open, and so has begun in 2014. NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben writes an article about the laws governing how short elections can be. The length of campaigns goes from Japan’s paltry twelve days, to the USA’s ridiculous 877 days. I don’t mind Britain’s 139 days, or nineteen weeks, though some Brits might disagree with me.

Heading back to the European Union for a moment. Many countries in the EU have much stricter laws governing speech. Stricter laws cropping up after terrorist attacks are being too widely applied, according to civil rights groups. Spain and France are some of the worst offenders of this ‘strengthening’ of laws, according to an article by Raphael Minder at The New York Times. Whilst I don’t mind some of the restrictions against freedom of speech, like Germany and France banning Holocaust deniers, there are moments when it goes too far. Freedom of speech is definitely a complicated thing.

The refugee crisis has brought out some of the worst in human nature. The Swedish Metro‘s Evelina Pålsson wrote an article about some refugees paying for contracts to rent flats (sometimes up to 70.000 SEK or 8200 USD) and being locked out of their flats. I’m not sure why people are so awful, but this is a reminder that there are people in the world that will take advantage of the desperation of the worst-off among us.

And my last worry is the Brexit; there will be much arguing and debate before the 23rd June referendum. The BBC shares an article about an important facet of the argument: the economy. Most arguments for staying in the EU revolve around it, and many British companies wrote a letter to say that ‘an EU exit would deter investment in the UK.’ What the voters believe is not up to them. We shall wait and see, of course.

Until next week. – SDM

Photo by Stefan Schweihofer

#weekendcoffeeshare: A Weekend Civics Lesson

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Another cuppa then? This week’s tea is a Scottish Breakfast tea from a local tea shop, The Curiosity Shop, which has sadly now closed. Scottish Breakfast is a blend of Assam, Ceylon and Yunnan. I’m a big fan of black teas, obviously. Milk and one sugar, please.

So were we having coffee/tea, I would be telling you about my plans to go to one of the early voting locations to vote in the PPP (Presidential Preference Primary) here in Georgia. I will sadly not be able to vote on the 1st of March, as I have a football (soccer) match to coach. I love voting; it is literally my favourite civic duty. My father doesn’t vote, and my mother, not being a US citizen, cannot vote. I registered to vote the very first day I could, and have voted for everything I possibly can since 2004. My first vote was for the new Georgia flag.

And since we’re having tea, I would be talking to you about the so called ‘Brexit’, or the UK’s planned referendum in June of this year. As an EU citizen with interests in the UK, I’m quite worried about the referendum, though yesterday’s agreement is promising. Will the British people out? Time will only tell.

(I have dual citizenship, for those of you playing the home game. I was born in Texas to a German mother, thus affording me citizenship rights to two countries. I feel both German and American. I will most definitely write more about this later.)

I am not as much of a reader as I used to be, but I have subscribed to The New Yorker and Les Jours, and I have to say, quality journalism is such a pleasure and I don’t mind paying for it. So were we having our caffeinated beverages today, I would definitely be telling you about the articles I was reading, and we would be chatting about celebrity culture along with our political chat.

So let’s have another cup and linger. Until next time? – SDM

NB: Check out the other posts in this weekend’s coffee share here!

Photo by Olichel Adamovich