Some people, when they first arrive in the United States, say that Americans are very friendly, open and easy-going, but after living in the United States for a while, they change their minds. One international student explained that when he first came, people helped him get settled, took him shopping, invited him for dinner, and called to see how he was. After two or three weeks, however, they stopped doing these things, and he was confused and disappointed. The thing is Americans try to do what is necessary to help people when they first arrive. They do many things to help these people get settled and often make the new arrivals feel like a part of the family. Newcomers expect this warm hospitability to continue in the form of a solid friendship. However, Americans expect that once people are settled and have been there for a few weeks, they will begin to do things for themselves and become independent.
Many international students are often surprised at American attitude towards humor and animals. For example, one student who was staying with an American family was shocked at how they treated the family dog. “I couldn’t believe it”, he said. “The dog had a bed in the child’s room and was actually allowed to sit on the living room sofa. The dog even had its own food in cans, which is very expensive”. American humor also seems strange at times. For instance, Americans enjoy making jokes about politicians and government policies.
In the United States, time is a matter of punctuality. People plan activities and arrange their lives around specific time. For example, in the United States, one should always arrive in time for dinner, a date, or a business appointment. While it is sometimes acceptable to arrive five minutes earlier, it is considered extremely impolite to arrive later. If other people are expected for dinner or for a meeting and you are late, everyone else will have to wait until you arrive to begin. Americans are fond of sending greeting cards. They are printed not only for birthdays and anniversaries, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Christmas and New Year but also for graduation, Valentine’s Day, and many other events. People in the United States send get-well cards to friends and relatives who are ill and even cards to express friendship. The average American family sends about 50 cards every year. Some business people send cards to clients to maintain good-will.
In the early 1970s the native people of the Amazon Basin, or Amazonia – an area of South America that includes parts of Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Surinam – were faced with a serious problem. Their traditional lands were being destroyed by outsiders. Central governments sent construction crews into the rain forests to build dams and high-ways.
Instead of carrying out land reform, many of the governments encouraged landless peasants to move from the mountains to the “uninhabited” rain forests. There the peasants used farming methods unsuitable for the Amazon.
In a short time, they turned the vegetation into a desert. Then they packed their families, cows, and goats and moved deeper into the rain forests destroying the land as they went. Many of the peasants gave up farming. Instead, they turned to gold mining. In the process, they poisoned the rivers and streams with mercury, killing the fish, an important part of their diet.
Some of the Indians fought back with spears and rifles, killing and being killed. Others sought refuge deeper in the rain forest. But among them were leaders who knew they could not run away forever from what the white man called “progress”. One of those leaders was Evaristo Nuquaq. Seeing his people’s environment and traditional way of life being destroyed, he decided to do something. He borrowed a canoe and went up and down the rivers stopping at every village along the way, telling everyone who would listen that they must organize if they were to survive. He encouraged another tribe to join them. Although these two tribes have traditionally been enemies, they joined together and formed a nongovernmental organization (NGO). Meanwhile, Nuquaq spoke to leaders of the other tribes in the Peruvial Amazon Basin. He encouraged them to get organized. Then he called the meeting of these leaders in Lima, the capital of Peru. He told them it was not enough to become organized on the village or tribal level. They needed a national organization, one that could influence the Peruvian central government.
So Inter-Ethnic Association of the Peruvian Jungle was set up. It immediately began working to solve the problems of all the indigenous people of the Peruvian Amazon Basin. The Association reached an agreement with the Ministry of Education to train Indians to be teachers, so that primary and secondary schools would be taught by Indian teachers in both Spanish and the native language. An agreement with the Ministry of Health was reached to train one person from each village to be a health worker who would treat emergency medical problems such as bites from poisonous snakes or broken bones.
The Association obtained grants from international NGO. It also concentrated its activities on lobbying such centers of power as the United Nations, the Inter-American Development Bank, the United States Congress – any place where decisions were made that affected the well-being of the Amazon Basin and its native population. By forming partnership with international organizations, the Association has been able to influence the policies of several Latin American countries and to protect the interests of the native people.
What can be done to stop tourism destroying the object of its affection? Maurice Chandler reports on the boom in world travel.
On the sun-soaked Mediterranean island of Majorca, the locals are angry. Too late. In the last quarter of the 20th century, they cashed in on foreign nationals, mainly Germans, wanting to buy up property on their idyllic island. Suddenly it occurred to Majorcans that the island no longer belonged to them. They don’t deny tourism’s vital contribution to the local economy. The industry has transformed Majorca from one of Spain’s poorest parts to the richest in per capita income. But the island’s 630,000 inhabitants are increasingly convinced that the 14 million foreign visitors a year are far too much of a good thing. Water is rationed, pollution is worsening, and there is no affordable housing left for them to buy.
On the other side of the world, 250 Filipinos were recently evicted from their homes. Their lake-shore village of Ambulong was cleared by hundreds of police, who demolished 24 houses. The intention of the authorities was to make way for a major business venture – not oil, logging, or mining, but an environmentally-friendly holiday resort.
Tourism is the world’s largest and fastest growing industry. In 1950, 25m people travelled abroad; last year it was 750 m. The World Tourism Organization estimates that by 2020 1,6 bn people will travel each year, spending over 2 trillion US dollars.
To millions of tourists, foreign destinations are exotic paradises, unspoilt, idyllic, and full of local charm. But many of the world’s resorts are struggling to cope with relentless waves of tourists, whose demands for ever more swimming pools and golf courses are sucking them dry.
“The issue is massive and global”, says Tricia Barnett, director of Tourism Concern, a charity which campaigns for more responsible approaches to travel. “Tourists in Africa will be having a shower and then will see a local woman with a pot of water on her head, and they are not making the connection. Sometimes you’ll see a village with a single tap, when each hotel has taps and showers in every room.”
The problem is that tourists demand so much water. It has been calculated that a tourist in Spain uses up 880 litres of water a day, compared with 250 litres by a local. An 18-hole golf course in a dry country can consume as much water as a town of 10,000 people. In the Caribbean, hundreds of thousands of people go without piped water during the high tourist season, as springs are piped to hotels.
The host country may not see many benefits. In Thailand, 60 % of the $4bn annual tourism revenue leaves the country. Low-end package tourists to stay at big foreign-owned hotels, cooped up in the hotel compound, buying few local products, and having no contact with the local community other than with the waiters and chambermaids employed by the hotel. “Mass tourism usually leaves little money inside the country”, says Tricia Barnett. “Most of the money ends up with the airlines, the tour operators, and the foreign hotel owners.”
These days the industry’s most urgent question may be how to keep the crowds at bay. A prime example of this is Italy, where great cultural centres like Venice and Florence can’t handle all the tourists they get every summer. In Florence, where the city’s half-million or so inhabitants have to live with the pollution, gridlock, and crime generated by 11 million visitors a year, there is talk not only of boosting hotel taxes, but even of charging admission to some public squares. The idea is to discourage at least some visitors, as well as to pay for cleaning up the mess.
For many poorer countries, may still offer the best hope for development. “The Vietnamese are doing their best to open up their country.” says Patrick Duffrey of the World Tourism Organization. “Iran is working on a master plan for their tourism. Libya has paid $ 1 million for a study. They all want tourists. And people like to discover ever new parts of the world, they are tired of mass tourism. Even if a country doesn’t have beaches, it can offer mountains and deserts and unique cultures.”
Yet if something is not done, tourism seems destined to become the victim of its own success. Its impact on the environment is a major concern. In hindsight, tourist organizations might have second thoughts about what exactly they were trying to sell.
As Steve McGuire, a tourist consultant, says, “Tourism more often than not ruins the very assets it seeks to exploit, and having done the damage, simply moves off elsewhere.”
Studying in the UK
Depending where you come from, you may find teaching and learning methods in the UK quite different from what you are used to. In fact, even British students are often surprised by the differences between the teaching methods used in schools and the ones used in colleges and universities.
On degree and postgraduate courses:
· You don’t have to attend all your classes all the time, and you have much more time to study on your own. This means that you have to organize your private study time.
· Your instructors/tutors/lecturers will not always provide you with answers – instead they will show you ways to find the answers yourself.
· You will not always be dealing with facts, and there will not always be right and wrong answers. You will need to learn to think about the subject matter and develop your own ideas and opinions.
· Classroom teaching may be much less formal than you’re used to. You will be encouraged to ask questions, join in discussions, and even argue with your tutors.
The teaching and learning methods you’re most likely to encounter include:
Lectures are the most formal, traditional teaching method. A lecturer stands at the front of the room and makes a presentation to a large number of students, who listen and take notes.
1. Do go to lectures. You will probably find that no one checks to make sure you attend lectures, but in spite of that, it’s still important to go. If you miss lectures, your work will suffer.
2. If possible, read about the topic before the lecture. When you already know something about the subject, you will understand the lecture more fully.
3. Don’t try to write down everything the lecturer says (except when you’re copying down equations or formulas). If you try to write down everything, you will think about the writing instead of the information. It’s more effective to listen carefully and make notes of the main ideas, plus any references (sources of further information) you should look for later.
Seminars are small discussion groups: a number of students (about 8 to 16) join their lecturer to discuss a particular topic and exchange ideas. Unlike lectures, attendance is often obligatory – you have to go to seminars.
· Be prepared. Read about the topic ahead of time, form your own ideas and opinions, and be ready to discuss them.
· Don’t be surprised to hear students arguing with each other, and even with the lecturer. This is normal behavior in a seminar. Reasoned argument – in which you can support your opinions with evidence – is an important learning method.
· Sometimes you may have to prepare a paper in advance (either on your own or with another student) and then to present it to the rest of the group for discussion. Don’t be alarmed - this will probably be a new experience for everyone. Relax, and remember why you are there: to learn about the topic.
Tutorials usually take place weekly and last about an hour. You meet with a lecturer or tutor, either on your own or with one to three other students, to:
· Discuss your own work (e.g. an essay you’re writing), or
· Cover a particular topic in greater depth.
Just remember that whatever concerns you may have – about new learning methods, managing your time, or handling your workload – there is someone at your college or university who can help. All you have to do is ask.