Olga joined the Brida Community this week. Here, she
describes home for her.
I live in Russia. My region is located in the heart of Russia and is called Siberia. The city I live in is called Kemerovo. This is a place where it can be very cold in winter and very hot in summer. More than 500 thousand people live in my city. The city is located on the bank of a river called Tom. In 1821, minerals were discovered in these places – coal. This has become the basis of our industry. Next year, our region of KUZBASS (Kuznetsk coal basin) will celebrate its 300th anniversary. Our city is located on two banks of the river. On the right bank is a unique relic forest. Very close to the city, on the high bank of the river is the Museum reserve “Tomsk Pisanitsa”. Tomsk Pisanitsa is the largest museum-reserve in the Urals. Its total area is 156 ha. The Museum preserved unique examples of cave paintings of primitive people. There are many educational, cultural, and sports institutions in our city. The native language of communication is Russian. Welcome to Kemerovo.
Sania Khan, from Pakistan, describes the education system there.
My name is Sania Khan. I am from Mansehra (division Hazara,
province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). I am 20 years old and studying in the Govt Post
Graduate College Mansehra.
Here I will write about education in Pakistan. Education plays a very vital role in the life of every person. But education quality in Pakistan is very bad. Starting from primary education to higher education Pakistan has failed to produce an effective human resource for national building.
system in Pakistan is divided into six levels
(from the age 3 to 5)
Primary (from 1 to 5 standard)
Middle (from 6 to high (from 9 to 10)
Intermediate (from 11 to 12) and
University (graduate and undergraduate degree).
The Education system of Pakistan is divided into three broad categories: Public, Private and Madrasah system. The public education system is facing a paucity of resources as 89% of the educational budget is allocated for salaries of teachers and staff and only 11% is left for development. Also, there is a significant difference in teaching quality between public and private sector education. Students who reach university level lack certain qualities like a research-oriented approach and creativity. This situation has been aggravated by the poor examination system of Pakistan. It is based on a cramming approach and discourages creativity among young pupils. Taking into account matriculation and intermediate examination; the question papers are either definition based, or descriptive questions of important topics and students just cram the subject and reproduce it on answer sheets. Also, the theoretical portion of science subjects consists of 85% weightage which discourages the practical approach in science subjects.
University-level education also depicts the same sub-standard picture as secondary and higher secondary education. University instructors also feed students by providing certain notes to their students, assignments are full of plagiarism and there is a serious crisis in research work at the graduation level in universities.
So, a university graduate complains about unemployment and lack of merit in the country; actually, he lacks the basic qualities of being a university graduate which are essential to lead the modern industry.
Marie-Josée grew up in an oil-producing town in France. Here, she tells how it was.
Hello, my name is Marie-Josée and I live in Merkwiller-Pechelbronn, a municipality located in the north of the Bas-Rhin which is part of the district of Wissembourg. It is a village of 1000 inhabitants with the annexe of Hoelschloch.
This history of the village is very closely linked
with that of petroleum and hydrotherapy, first mentioned in 1498. The
Pechelbronn mining industry is the oldest of all the oil companies in the
world. Thanks to its oil deposit, the village experienced great prosperity from
the 1920s until the end of the Second World War. On August 03, 1944, the
village and the refinery were subjected to a terrible bombardment. 1600 bombs
were dropped by the Americans in a few minutes.
The refinery was rebuilt, but the exhaustion of the
oil field led SAEM to stop all activities in 1970.
Our family farm was located 50 metres from the refinery and my childhood was filled with intense activity around the site. The images I have of this period are pumps all around the village, each bearing a number, pendulum pumps throughout the surrounding countryside, very tall chimneys, large cisterns.
Next to the house, there was a railway and throughout
the day we witnessed the passage of the steam locomotive which pulled wagons
with large tanks.
Our day was punctuated by the siren which called the workers to the mines and the workshops. At that time, there was a constant passage of bikes and pedestrians. There were always people on the road, and it was better for us children not to be there, otherwise, we risked ending up under the wheels of a bicycle. And I won’t forget all the tankers that went to and from the refinery all day long.
Another very important presence in the village was the
thermal cure which welcomed many people throughout the year. The Helions source
was thermal water which gushed from the ground at more than 60°C and was the
warmest thermal water in Europe. It was used to mainly treat rheumatism. It was
very sulphuric which corroded all the pipes. The thermal activity ceased due to
a lack of buyers.
The young generations did not experience all of this.
Fortunately, we have the petroleum museum with its volunteers which serves as a
In a tremendous spirit of cooperation, which symbolises my vision of the
Brida Project, Marie-Josée was asked several questions by other people. Here
are her answers:
Michèle: Did your father or your mother work in the refinery? No, neither my father nor my mother was employed at the refinery.
Were there many foreign workers? I am not aware of any foreign
workers employed at the refinery. Employees of the refinery came from all over
Pechelbronn, from north to south and from east to west.
Were they welcomed in the village? I
could not say, after the war, if the population was ready to welcome
foreigners, I have my doubts.
Astride: Are you nostalgic about your childhood? I am a little nostalgic for this period of my life. Life for me was simple and natural. There was entertainment in the village, and we were popular.
Anny: Do you like living in Merkwiller or would you have preferred somewhere else? I loved living in Merkwiller, I never asked myself that question. At that time, we didn’t travel too far so I hadn’t discovered more beautiful places. Once a bigger life in a big city would have pleased me but……
Roger: Marie-Josée, would you like to relive these beautiful old years? Yes and no. That time I knew it during my young years, technological progress, we did not know, for us children, this life was simple and easy but think it was less so for our parents who had to work a lot.
Henri: During Pechelbronn’s heyday, how many employees were employed in the refinery? At the height of Pechelbronn, there were about 2000 people who were employed in the mines, workshops, offices and refinery.
What was the name of the oil group that operated the
The name of the oil group that operated the refinery was SAEM or Société
Alsacienne Etudes Minières.
What is “Karischmiermann”? The Karieschmiermann was a mythical character from the area of Pechelbronn. This character was Louis Hebting (1854-1933) who pushed his wheelbarrow loaded with a barrel filled with bitumen from village to village.
What were the first virtues of bitumen from Pechelbronn? The first properties of bitumen were used for medical purposes. Bitumen was used to treat infections, wounds, toothaches, gout, skin problems and eyes
Teodoro Catalan Nava, who lives in Mexico, explores the mysterious combination of words and food.
I am Teodoro Catalan Nava from a small town in the upper mountains of Guerrero, Mexico and also a teacher ‘wannabe’. Currently in the last module of a TEFL program at University of Dayton. An online program that starts and ends face to face in Mexico City every year. As part of this program I’m teaching in a primary school to 6th graders, every Wednesday. And as such I will write about a Mexican dish that is the most iconic in the Superbowl feast that is celebrated today on American soil. The Guacamole is a pre-hispanic dish but also an appetizer that is made of: of course aguacates (avocados) a word that is rooted in the Nàhuatl Language, the language of the Mexicas who ruled and constructed the great city of Tenochtitlan which is now known as Mexico City. Other ingredients are onions, cilantro, tomato, chilli and salt to your liking. Tomato or (jitomate) is also a Nàhual word. Tomate and (Ji) which means red. In consequence the word jitomate means (red tomato) in Spanish.
Here in Mexico Guacamole is traditionally prepared in a Molcajete a type a bowl made of volcanic stone and is also a Nàhualt word, (molli) means salsa (caxitl) cajete a concave form, the complete word in Nàhuatl is (mollicaxtli). How a simple dish or appetizer became the iconic food of the Superbowl? Simple as every food crosses boundaries with the immigrants. The same story of most dishes in North America, Pizza, Hamburgers and even Apple Pie. When the migrants started crossing the borders; food, traditions and customs arrive with them. Mole, Guacamole, Pozole, Tacos are some the many examples of Mexican food that now are part the Mexican cuisine in the US. In every Mexican restaurant in the US, Guacamole is a must as an appetizer to every visitor with another ingredient Nachos. Nachos are cut pieces of toasted tortilla which are to be eaten but also serve as spoon. Basically, this is the short story of the iconic Guacamole and the Superbowl a food that is culturally interrelated with sport. Not any sport but the most iconic sport of the United States of America. So iconic that the Cambridge Dictionary published a Superbowl word list that includes the words Guacamole and Nachos.
Here I include the wordlist for further inquiries. Click on this link to read it.
Hannah lives in Kurdistan / Northern Iraq. Here, she describes the world from her own personal perspective.
My name is Hannah, I am 16
years old. I am from Kurdistan and I live in Halabja. I am a student at high school
and my school is a private school that we can learn three languages and they
are (English, Turkish and Arabic).
I wake up at seven o’clock
every day and I eat breakfast at 7:15. The taxi comes at 7:35 and it takes me
to school. At school after the students’ bell, all students should be in their
classes and read the English or Turkish books for 15 minutes. Then we start our lessons and we study 5 more
lessons before the lunch break. The lunch break is my favourite time because
its period is 50 minutes and we can do a lot of things. I usually chat with my
friends and I sometimes do my homework or play basketball at the basketball
stadium; it’s a really big stadium and we all love it. After lunch we have 2
more lessons. Then I come back home at 3:00 o’clock.
I love my country because
we feel safe here and Kurdish people are really friendly and kind, so I’m proud
of myself because I’m a Kurdish girl. I have 5 family members, one sister and
one brother. My brother got married but my sister doesn’t get married yet
because she’s a young girl. My parents are so encouraging, and they do their
best for us so I try to do whatever I can do for them at least. I live with my
family and we all live together, but not my brother with my sister in law
because they have their own house in another city. My parents are
Kurdistan is not an
independent country and it belongs to Iraq. Actually, Iraq is a tourist
destination. But because the government of Kurdistan and Iraq are not together
so Kurdistan is a really safe place.
Kurdistan is a big region
which is located in four countries and they are (Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey).
I live in the Iraqi part. Most of the Kurdish people have their extra house in
the countryside in order to stay there on holidays. The countryside is usually
full of mountains and its weather is usually warm in summer, cloudy in autumn,
freezing in winter and cool in spring. Because in Kurdistan there’s
unemployment, people try to get their occupation in the factories or companies.
There are four main cities in Kurdistan and one of them is my city (Halabja).
Halabja is a small city with a lot of nice scenery.
Most of the Kurdish people’s religion is Muslim and I am Muslim too. There are
some other religions in Kurdistan except Islam, just like Christians and
Jewish. They feel comfortable and safe in Kurdistan because the government
cares about them as much as possible. My country in completely safe and out of
any danger. About 5 years ago Daash has been in my country in order to kill
non-muslim people, but all Muslims disagreed with them because in Islam we
cannot hurt anybody without a particular and a proper reason and everybody is
free to live his/her life with their opinion and religion
My plan after school will
be making my own institution just for English and teach all people in an
Editorial note: Hannah wrote an introduction, then answered questions from participants in other courses sent via me, to give her ideas to continue writing. For technical reasons, I rearranged the structure of the text as well as correcting minor mistakes, leaving the major ones as they are. The contents of her text have not been altered.