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English Detective #25, Choices-- and how choices make heroes: Nov. 5,2013
November 05, 2013

English Detective #25, Choices-- and how choices make heroes: Nov. 5,2013

The current investigation (Introducing this issue):

Chiune Sugihara worked for the Japanese government before (and during) World War 2. He was Japanese consul in Lithuania in 1940, at a time when the Germans were approaching Lithuania.

Lithuanian Jews knew their lives depended on escaping from Europe, but they had few places to go. A couple of Dutch territories in South America agreed to accept them if they could get there, and Mr. Sugihara persuaded the Soviet Union to let them pass through-- but his own country refused to let them go quickly through Japan on their way to South America.

Mr. Sugihara decided people’s lives were more important than obeying his government, so he started issuing (officially giving) them transit visas-- papers that allowed them to pass through Japan. After making that courageous choice, he found himself racing against time to prepare the necessary paperwork before his consulate closed. By working night and day, hardly stopping to eat, he prepared and stamped visas that saved thousands of lives.

The full story about Chiune Sugihara is here.

The second reading (and listening) activity is a TED talk about choices.

Most Americans believe that individuals should have as many choices as possible. We want to get to choose for ourselves, according to our own preferences. Choice is good, and more choice is better.

This young researcher learned that many people in other cultures do not feel the same way about choice. She discusses different views about choice and the advantages of learning other perspectives.

I found her ideas and intercultural perspective very interesting. I did not even realize that she is blind until she mentioned it. (It makes some choices more complicated for her.) One finding of her research: ten or more options make choices hard.

You can find the TED talk and read its transcript here.

In addition to these discussions about choices and consequences, there is a short vocabulary review and information and practice with the Latin verb 'ponere.' (The link is below the picture and vocabulary discussion.)

In case you are interested in reading more about the desperate Jewish situation in Europe during World War 2), I added this link. to a 2001 New York Times article about why the Times did not provide much coverage of those killings at the time. There is also a page to practice vocabulary that may help you understand the article.

Your First Clue: Vocabulary we’ll Emphasize in this Issue

Review vocabulary: assumption, encounter, expose, generation, immigrate, impose, individual, interpret, label, options, paradigm, participants, reluctant.

New meanings for AWL words we have already studied:

To issue can mean to formally give out visas or other government documents, etc.

Transit visas are temporary permits to pass through a country on the way to somewhere else

Read this discussion of immigration for a quick vocabulary review:

Individuals often immigrate to new countries because they want better opportunities-- new options in life-- for their children and grandchildren and the generations following.

Immigration is not easy. Immigrants will encounter new problems and need to adapt to very different environments. They may need to learn a new language-- or ask their children to interpret for them. They will be exposed to new foods and participate in new kinds of work and social interaction, but more than that, they will be exposed to different ways of thinking. Their new neighbors will challenge them to exchange their old assumptions-- even the paradigms they grew up with -- for a completely new way of looking at things. Those who are reluctant to change should not even consider immigration.

Word Family Investigator: Ponere (component, dispose, exposure, positive, and more)

Study and practice the Latin root 'ponere.'

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Coming in the next issue: Optimism: “Look on the Bright Side”

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