Summer Study Tour to Europe – Day 2 (Part 1)

Ah, my very first blog, and they have left me alone with the computer, my very first Apple!  Trusting they are!  So, where to start?  Let me just say that I am experiencing this trip with an amazing group of individuals and I am learning about as much from their ideas as from the speakers.  After these first two days of meetings, I finally feel that I think I understand the difference between the European Council, the European Commission and European Parliament.

Yesterday we met with Jan Techau, Director of Carnegie Europe.  Did you know that the Carnegie is the only national endowment that is global?  I learned from Jan why the EU was so dysfunctional—the absence of strategic culture.  He then mentioned outsourcing.  When I think of outsourcing, I think of jobs leaving the US and long hold times for tech assistance from someone in India.  I quickly learned from Jan that, in fact, Europe outsourced its defense to the United States.  I never looked at it that way before.  No wonder the Europeans complain about us!  I complain about my long hold times waiting for tech assistance!  The Europeans outsourced their defense to the US and in turn that gave the US a permanent presence in Europe.  As a result of the Transatlantic Bargain, there is a continuing demilitarization of Europe.  That’s not to say that European countries have no military, we know many do; but certainly not to the extent that we do.  It seems like yesterday when the EU had fewer than 10 members and today it has 27, with 22 different languages; and they strive for unanimity!  Can you imagine Congress or the Senate having to have everyone in agreement?

Unlike most of my colleagues on this trip, I am a language teacher and yesterday I found a language teacher’s « Mine d’or »!  Gold mine!  We went to Info Pointe, which disseminates just about anything one could ever want about the EU.  Free materials are always welcomed by teachers, but these materials are available in 22 different languages.  One does not need to go to Brussels for them as they are also available on line, can be ordered in quantity and are shipped for free.  or

Here are a few examples:

Posters:  the history of the EU, the 2011 theme poster stating « 2011 European Year of the Volunteer.  Of course, I chose the French copy, « 2011 Année européenne du voluntariat, Changez les choses :  Devenez bénévole.

Publications:  from the history of the EU to the guide to the Treaty of Lisbon; 12 lessons on Europe; the fundamental rights of man; women, peace and security;  the Euro; etc.

If you teach an AP language class, you will find everything you need to have discussions in your respective language about sustainability, climate change, agriculture, renewable energies, humanitarian efforts, struggle against discrimination, and the list goes on.  A good springboard to the discussion would be to open the discussion with the fundamental values that the EU countries all have in common.  You could then go on to the challenges facing the EU, the world and compare and contrast the EU position with that of the US.

If you like hardback comic books, they have them as well, and they address certain themes such as stories on people who have overcome adversity.  For younger children, there are even coloring books about the EU.

I could go on, but I’ll stop.

One last note regarding energy efficiency:  as I was in the subway today and about to take the « down » escalator, I noticed it wasn’t working.  I was ready to walk down the escalator but as my foot touched the threshold before the first step, it activated the escalator and it started to work.  That was my first experience with an energy efficient escalator.

I’m going to my room to pack.  Wouldn’t it be a nice surprise to find that I have self-packing luggage.  Au revoir, Bruxelles.  Guten Morgen, Wien !

« Madame »

Barbara Zaun
Teacher, North Allegheny Senior High School