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Teaching and Contrasting Cultures using "Dust in the Wind", "Winds of Change" and "Blowin' in the Wind"--Part 2

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Second of  a 3 part series on "Teaching and Contrasting Cultures using "Dust in the Wind", "Winds of Change" and "Blowin' in the Wind"

By Kevin A. Stoda, international educator in Taiwan

In the first part of this article, I wrote about how using the song "Dust in the Wind" in a junior high class here in Taiwan was one good way to teach culture--not just culture about my home state of Kansas--but about Western culture (to students in East Asia).  

I also noted that even in China there is a creation myth, whereby man was made by a goddess from clay.   In this way, western imagery about "dust" and "man returning to dust" were made more understandable. Moreover, the "dust or clay" metaphor has special meaning to people of Western faiths.   In that class period my Taiwanese students better understood a common western belief and how pervasive the idea was in Western tradition.  

In addition, through my other focus on the word "wind" in the Kansas' rock classic song,   I was able to reflect on imagery from the Wizard of Oz, which many of my junior high students had been introduced to during an English summer camp at the same school the year before.

A week after my short lecture on (a) "Dust in the Wind", the song, and (b) after the cloze listening activity   of " Dust in the Wind" followed by (c ) a comparison and contrasting of the Chinese and English versions of Dust in the Wind", I subsequently introduced my students to another modern western classic song, "Winds of Change" by the Scorpions, a famous German rock band.   In this way, my metaphors are better linked in students' minds and at some future date they may be able to recall the ideas presented at some future time in their lives, e.g. when watching a movie or when reading lyrics of a song

I shared with my Taiwanese students the background to the newer classic, "Wind of Change", made famous in the years just prior to their birth.   I related the song to my students as special event, marking the end of the Cold War in Europe in the years just prior to the ending of major tensions in their own parent's lives, i.e. the end of Taiwanese-Chinese confrontation during the Cold War.

"The [German rock band] Scorpions were inspired to write the song "Wind of Change" on a visit to Moscow in 1989, and the opening lines refer to the city's landmarks:

I follow the Moskva [River]

Down to Gorky Park

Listening to the wind of change

The Moskva is the name of the river that runs through Moscow (both the city and the river are named identically in Russian), and Gorky Park is the name of an amusement park in Moscow."

More importantly than that, though, is the fact that the song was written by a German band traveling in the USSR under Gorbechav's Perastroika.   This has had the significance of helping break down 44-plus-year-old-walls between the Soviets and Germans.  

I explained to the Taiwanese that WWII in Europe led to the deaths of tens of millions of peoples.   The country that had suffered the most in that horrific war with Germany was the Soviet Union.   (During the bitter WWII period of life under Nazi German attacks and occupation,   it is estimated that 10 million to 25 million Soviet citizens died.   These include death during the war due to combat, hunger, persecution, purges, war, fighting, and--you-name-it.)

" The lyrics [of "Wind of Change"] celebrate the political changes in Eastern Europe at that time -- such as the Polish Round Table Agreement the increasing freedom in the communist bloc (which soon led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union), and the clearly imminent end of the Cold War."

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)

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