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My first meeting in France

My French really sucks! I spent six horrible years in school trying to learn this language! Nowadays I understand a lot of it because I know Italian and Romanian. I actually do not really need to speak French at the council because everyone knows English. This wednesday things were different though. I wanted to go to a very interesting meeting and it turns out that it is in French! 'Well' I thought 'let's see what I will understand!'. In the end I was relieved to realize that I had understood the most important things and was even able to do some small talk in French during Lunch. Maybe one day I will finally master this language.....
13.10.06 14:38

Georgian is like Chinese

This Saturday I made the experience that the Georgian language is as tricky as Chinese. You change one letter in a word and it already means something completely different. To the ears of a foreigner these differences are hard to hear. There are many consonants in Georgian which sound similar but can change the meaning of a word completely.
Anyways, all of the trainees of the council were asked to pick two pieces of music from their home countries. One traditional song and a modern one. The idea is to create a compilation CD. The first reaction of the other German trainees was to claim that there is no such a thing as German traditional music. Or, if there is any, it is so horrible that you could not possibly present it to none-Germans. I asked one of the Georgian trainees which songs he had picked. He said that he had chosen a very traditional song which is directed to the cosmos. He said that it was called “Chagrulo”. All Georgians know this song and Avtandil must definitely know this song too! I then sent an sms to Avtandil and asked him “What is Chagrulo?”. Half an hour later he called me back and was very angry. He asked me who told me this word and that I should never speak to that person again. Chagrulo is a very bad insult and refers to people in inferior positions. A slave owner might refer to his slaves as Chagrulo. If anyone calls me Chagrulo that means that this person thinks that he is better than me. I told him that there must be a mistake because it should be a piece of music and not an insult. When I closed my phone I asked the Georgian Trainee how to spell “Chagrulo”. Well, the result was “Chakrulo” and it is hopefully a song.
9.10.06 09:47


My apartment lies in the Jewish quarter of town. Being German, the experience of living among orthodox Jews is something very new and unique for me. Unfortunately, there are not very many Jews left in Germany and the sight of a man with a beard and hat and women with wigs is very unusual. I ´ve seen people dressing this way on TV but for the first time in my life am I surrounded by a big community and can witness their everyday life. I can see children on their way to school, parents riding bikes on their way to work, and young mothers chatting on the streets. Every Saturday the streets are full of families dressed in their “Sunday´s best”. They go to the synagogue, visit friends and family, or meet at various places. Since they do not use electricity on the Sabbath day they also do not ring door bells. Young children often stand outside of their homes and yell for their parents to open the door. Until late at night you can see people on the streets, young people as well as old people, children, families, women, and men.
What is striking is the number of young families I have seen. It is nothing unusual to see a women my age with four children. Fathers are also quiet young. I have heard some families speaking in German to each other. I do not know if they are local Alsaciens or if they have migrated from Germany.
There also seem to be different denominations among them. Not all young boys let the hair above their ears grow and not all of the married men wear a beard. Some men wear hats, others only a Kippa. Most of the little boys I have seen wear a Kippa while others use caps. Girls and young women usually dress like French women but do not seem to wear pants. Married women cover their hair. Some wear wigs while others use scarfs. Most people dress in black but some also use colours such as brown or pink.
9.10.06 09:45

Day of the German reunification

Last night I went to a reception organized by the German embassy. Today is the the day of the German reunification and a lot of people were invited for this occasion. Being a trainee at the council I was invited as well. Since I have never been to such a gathering before I was really anxious to see how it is going to be like. I arrived a little early and looked at the people arriving. I guess most of the other women present were the wives of diplomats so I was kind of proud to be there because of me and not because I am someones wives.
It was an interesting evening with a lot of champaign and hor d'oeuvre. I met quiet a few other Germans working for the council. One of them gave me the advise to go to such receptions every night (some embassy is always doing something), or whenever I want to have a free meal......
3.10.06 10:50

Response to attack of Jaroka

28/09/2006: Racist attack on Mrs Lívia Járóka MEP condemned. Hans-Gert Poettering, EPP-ED Group Chairman

As it is already well known, Mrs Lívia Járóka MEP (EPP-ED, HU) was nominated by the Brussels-based Parliament Magazine as a candidate for their "MEP Awards 2006".

Dimitar Stoyanov, a Bulgarian observer in the European Parliament, used this opportunity to attack Mrs Járóka - and the 10 to 15 million European Roma she represents - in a disgraceful and openly racist way which is contradictory to all European values.

Today at the plenary session of the European Parliament Doris Pack MEP, President of the Women's Group in the European People's Party, strongly condemned the Bulgarian observer.

"We call upon the relevant Bulgarian authorities to make every effort to recall Mr Stoyanov from the European Parliament as there is no place for him among European politicians", declared Poettering.

Further information:
Robert A. Fitzhenry, Tel. +32 475 493356
2.10.06 12:39

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