Bonjour from International Space University!

Elizabeth's journal about her experience at International Space University in Strasbourg, France. Read on to find out what she did...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

US Culture Night

Today's lectures were about the origin and fate of the universe, astrodynamics, and space robotics. We also had a workshop on using STK (Satellite Tracking Kit) software. The last workshop I had of the day was about telescopes. I actually only got about 3.5 hours of sleep last night, so I took a short nap during the day, which was a huge help because the US culture night was tonight, which required a lot of energy. It went REALLY well. We had a lot of fun. We told everyone that they were on a bus tour of the United States. We started by singing the song "Fifty Nifty" to introduce the 50 states. We also had a slide show going that flashed the name of each state with a representative picture. Then we broke everything up into 4 regions. For the NE, we talked about the Mayflower, the original 13 colonies, ivy colleges, and Broadway. Melissa, Shanece, and I did a short dance to "One" from A Chorus Line. Then the "bus" moved on to the midwest region. Here we talked about the state parks and some other interesting facts, but they were incorporated in an interesting way. Marlo was Oprah Winfrey, and she was broadcasting live from Chicago. There was also a short commercial break where Ashley and Melissa were out hiking in one of the parks and stopped for a Budweiser, which they graciously shared with everyone on the "bus". We were asked to provide representative drinks, so this is what the group choose. It was also one of the only things you could find here. Then we moved on to the west. Here we just talked about all of the different areas. When we talked about Seattle, we all opened our umbrellas. For Alaska we shivered. In Hawaii we put our sunglasses on. In Los Angeles we got frustrated about the traffic, and for Hollywood we gawked at the stars. The final stop was the south where we greeted them with a great big Howdy y'all! We talked about the different types of music that got their start in the south, the different foods, and some of the more well known representations like cowboys and rodeos. Then we gave them a sample of how we like to get down to country music. We did a line dance to Boot Scootin' Boogie. After a few turns, we got people from the "bus" to join us. It was a lot of fun.

There were 4 other countries that presented as well. The group from Japan taught us one of their traditional dances and provided Sake. The group from Spain told us a little about the untrue stereotypes and then had us sing La Bamba with them, which was great. They also provided Sangria for everyone. The other two countries Venezuela and Mauritius were each represented by one person, so they both did a power point presentation and a video. We got to be the grand finale for the presentations.

After the presentations, we gathered in the courtyard to share the drinks, and we passed out NASA stickers, patches, pencils, etc. Several people asked me to autograph their NASA stickers. They really do treat me like someone famous here. Even with all of the negative comments that are said about NASA, I think every person here would work there if given the chance. A lot of people also wanted to learn the line dance, so we taught it to a few people. Several people commented that they could tell I was from the south because I did the line dance so well...not sure that's the reason, but I took it as a complement. I have to admit that I enjoyed all of the attention.

After the reception, we all went to a club where a live band was playing. There were about 10 people in the club when we arrived with about 70 people. The band loved it! I don't know that they've ever had that big of a crowd. I had fun dancing some more. One of the Chinese representatives and I did a little bit of swing dancing. Afterwards, someone told me that he was a 4 star general and that I had just done more for the US and Chinese relationships than any political conversation could ever do. I don't think he was really a 4 star general, but you never know. China often sends high ranking delegates to ISU. I had a great time, and even after all of that, I'm actually going to bed earlier than I have any night this week. We have tomorrow off, so I'm planning to sleep in!