A Scholar, a Footballer, and a Tourist Walk into a Foreign Country . . .

April 19, 2013 § 2 Comments

Did you hear the one about the Fulbright Scholar in China studying stand-up comedy? The student, Jesse Appell, put together a spoof of Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” called “Laowai Style.” Lao wai is a Mandarin term for foreigner—literally meaning “old” and “outside.” Here’s the video, with subtitles:

And then there’s the former amateur soccer player from Norway, Havard Rugland, who watched the Super Bowl in 2011 and started working on his American-football-kicking skills. The result was a video of amazing trick kicks, called “Kickalicious.” It went viral and caught the attention of some NFL franchises, with a couple giving him tryouts. Last week, the Detroit Lions announced that they had signed him to their team. No joke.

I heard about the two stories above on “PRI’s The World” while I was listening to NPR in my car last Friday afternoon. This last video isn’t related, but it shows some cross-cultural miscommunication, between an English-speaking tourist and a couple French locals—and I think it’s pretty funny. It’s “Do You Speak English?” by BBC’s Big Train comedy team:

(Nina Porzucki, “Humoring the Chinese: An American Comedian Has a Run-in with Chinese Censorship,” PRI’s The World, April 12, 2013; Steven Davy, “Norwegian Kicker Havard Rugland Signs Detroit Lions NFL Deal after YouTube Video Goes Viral,” PRI’s The World, April 12, 2013)

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Is This the Africa You Know?

January 29, 2013 § 2 Comments

“What do you know about Africa?”

That’s the question that the producers of My Africa Is asked pedestrians on the streets of New York. Not surprisingly, the answers they received showed a lack of knowledge mixed with an abundance of stereotypes. But there was also a desire to learn more about the continent.

To help us all in our education, here are five videos that creatively take on the task of tearing down common misconceptions about Africa and replacing them with a more complete picture:

The first video is from the Kickstarter campaign of My Africa Is, a proposed documentary series. (The campaign ended in July of last year, without reaching its goal.)

My Africa Is Kickstarter Video

“We know what you’ve seen and heard about Africa—what they think is happening, what they think she needs, what they think she is. The four things that come to mind when people think of Africa are population, problems, poverty, and promise unfulfilled . . . but that’s not the whole story.”

The next two come from Mama Hope, part of its video campaign “Stop the Pity. Unlock the Potential.”

African Men. Hollywood Stereotypes

“If people believed only what they saw in movies, they would think we are all warlords who love violence.”

Call Me Hope

“It is only when people are no longer seen through the stereotypes of poverty that we can begin to see we are not so different from each other.”

The following video is from Radi-Aid, inspired by the Live Aid concerts of the mid 1980s.

Africa for Norway

“Imagine if every person in Africa saw the ‘Africa for Norway’-video, and this was the only information they ever got about Norway. What would they think about Norway?”

And finally, here’s a clip from the documentary This Is My Africa, in which interviewees imagine the Africa of the future.

This Is My Africa—Excerpt—Africa 2060

“Created to reveal a more personal vision of the continent  by weaving together the personal memories, tastes and experiences of 21 Africans and Africaphiles, This Is My Africa has been described as a 50-minute crash course in African culture.”

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