Monthly Archives: December 2009

Language Barrier

I never thought the language I spoke would be used against me at any moment in my life, and yet here I stand in a train station with my twin sister looking at me, waiting for me to say and do something. The natives walk past us, hopping the bars to catch their ride without even paying. I stare at the back of a French woman in front of me in her ticket booth waiting for her to turn around. It’s the first time I don’t have the solution to a problem. I am lost in confusion.

“What should we do?” asks my sister, with a cold look and open arms, her hands glaring at me. I am two minutes older, but she has always been pegged by others as the older one. However, I have been the one to step up as the leader my entire life when it comes to our relationship and this trip was no different.

I stood there thinking to myself, allowing these lifelong rumors I’ve only heard in history class sink in as truthful facts. France was our last stop on this European tour we had started over a week ago. The Notre Dame was not as climatic in size as I had imagined and seen in the infamous Disney movie I grew up with. Even the hunchback tale was squashed as merely a myth by our tour guide. My face had a disappointing look upon it, as she simply laughed at the inquiry. The romantic Seine River was more like an eerie, murky loch where party kids gathered in the late hours of the day to decorate the brick walls with art you would never find in the elegant Louvre Museum. Crowds ruined any opportunity to have that perfect moment to reflect atop the Eiffel Tower with them pushing for a glance themselves.

With all these memories to ponder, it was no surprise that we would be confronted with another hardship. “Can we have two tickets for the train,” I asked the lady with eye shadow and heavy, bold lipstick that morning. So terribly heavy it seems because she stared back without moving her lips to utter a word. She seemed repulsed as she looked us up and down. I took my sister’s euros along with mine and held them up for her to see, pointing at the bus schedule overhead with a nod. Not only was English not as universal as I had thought, but body language was not either apparently. She turned her back to us without a second thought, eventually leaving her post. That’s where we found ourselves torn. Do we stay there, or walk back to the hotel, embarrassed and defeated?

Just as we were questioning the possibility of joining in the French tradition of jumping the bars to catch the train, a man walked into the ticket booth. He glanced in our direction and headed over. It seems that the lady let someone who spoke English know that we needed something. “Can we buy two tickets for the train, please?” I asked with a hopeful inflection at the end. “Sure,” the gentleman replied. We each slid in our euros and took our tickets, walked through the bars without guilt and climbed the stairs to the right and waited for the next train to the city.

The words my sister spoke next were not a shock to me at all. “Why do they still treat us like that?” she asked. I half expected that, and deep down I hoped it was rhetorical, but she kept looking at me, again, awaiting my answer. “I don’t know,” I replied. “I always heard that the French hated us, but I don’t understand how they can ignore another human being who has done nothing personally to them. I never went to war with her.” The train pulled up just then, and nothing more was said. Silence we knew was accepted universally.



Filed under Europe, International, Tips, Travel

The Marguerite and Jack Clifford Gallery

Media history sits tucked behind the giant state-of-the-art television screen of the First Amendment Forum on the second floor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

A single wall of glass panels mimics those of the cases that can be found inside the dimly lit Marguerite and Jack Clifford Gallery that holds an assorted collection of loaned and donated items representing and honoring the history of media in all its iconic forms: radio, television and print.

According to a Cronkite News article, the gallery is named after Clifford, who launched his television career in Phoenix in 1957. The article states that he founded and was chairman of both the Food Network and Northwest Cable News and is currently a member of both the ASU Foundation Board of Trustees and the Cronkite Endowment Board.

When one walks into the gallery, they leave a world of innovative technology that the Cronkite School contains and travel back to journalism’s vast beginnings of cassette tapes and film cameras. Their first encounter is a guestbook and pen. Visitors from Sony Electronics,, to the City of Phoenix Downtown Dev. Office and the Thunderbird HS Newspaper Staff, have scribbled their names and messages onto the pages.

Some of the highlights of the gallery include one of the last old-style AP wire machines on loan from Dean Christopher Callahan, who also loaned the gallery many different type-writer models. There are also vintage radios, film reels and classic video cameras, even the microphone that Edward R. Murrow used while broadcasting from Europe, as well as some of Walter Cronkite’s smoking pipes. Pages of newspapers that report on the world’s most memorable moments are shown for visitors to reflect upon before they exit back into what many have deemed the new age of journalism, where most of these gallery items no longer exist.

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