Friday, April 22, 2011

2 Articles about Using Skype in the Classroom

I loved what I was able to do with Skype when I was teaching in Moldova (e.g., see posts about our 2010 Mid-Term Election forums). Now, I am looking forward to using Skype in my classes at USF St. Petersburg when I resume teaching later this summer. Stay tuned!

Global Connections
A middle school teacher connects geographically dispersed students through online video and audio chats using Skype.
By Bridget McCrea04/20/11

Skype chat adds new dimension for young readers
(Darcie Moore / The Times Record)
By Darcie Moore, Times Record Staff
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 2:10 PM EDT

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blog for Students travelling from Moldova to the U.S.

A USF student (an eIntern with the U.S. Department of State) has created a blog to help students from Moldova who want to travel to the U.S. this summer as a part of the Work and Travel program.

Go Bulls!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

QSI Chisinau

This is a new video about QSI International School where Peggy went to school when we lived in Moldova.

Resumption of 5+2 Negotiations on Transnistria


"5+2 meeting focuses on resumption of official negotiations on the Transdniestrian settlement"

Resumption of the official negotiations in the Transdniestrian settlement process was the focus of a 4-5 April informal meeting of the participants in the 5+2 Transdniestrian settlement process chaired by the Special Representative of the Lithuanian Chairman-in-Office of OSCE for protracted conflicts, Ambassador Giedrius ńĆekuolis.

The meeting also dealt with issues of freedom of movement between the two banks of the Nistru / Dniestr river, guarantees in the negotiating process and a draft statute for the activities of the working groups on confidence building measures.

Participants in the 5+2 format moved closer to a decision on the necessity of resuming of the functioning of the "Permanent Conference on Political Issues in the Framework of the Negotiating Process for Transdniestrian Settlement" with the assistance of the international community, the ultimate goal of which is a peaceful, just, and comprehensive settlement of the conflict in all its aspects.

Participants in the 5+2 format also exchanged views on the modalities and forms of the negotiations as set out, inter alia, in the document "On the Organization of the Negotiating Process for the Transdniestrian Settlement" of 20 February 2002.

The 5+2 format comprises the sides, mediators and observers in the negotiation process: the Republic of Moldova, Transdniestria, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, the OSCE, the United States and the European Union.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Biden visit, Chisinau newspaper coverage

I tried to get as many different newspapers covering the Biden visit as I could.

When I had my students over for dinner, I asked for them to help translate for me.

Different news outlets tend to be affiliated with different political parties, and therefore tend to have a different perspective on current events.

After reading the newspapers together, my students suggested that we look at the coverage of the visit on the Communist TV station, Wow.

Air Force Two

Pictures here include the reception with Embassy staff at the Opera House and Air Force Two.

You can learn more about the plane on the White House website. I copied it for you, below:

Air Force One

No matter where in the world the President travels, if he flies in an Air Force jet, the plane is called Air Force One. Technically, Air Force One is the call sign of any Air Force aircraft carrying the President. In practice, however, Air Force One is used to refer to one of two highly customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft, which carry the tail codes 28000 and 29000. The Air Force designation for the aircraft is VC-25A.

Air Force One is one of the most recognizable symbols of the presidency, spawning countless references not just in American culture but across the world. Emblazoned with the word "United States of America," the American flag, and the Seal of the President of the United States, it is an undeniable presence wherever it flies.

Capable of refueling midair, Air Force One has unlimited range and can carry the President wherever he needs to travel. The onboard electronics are hardened to protect against an electromagnetic pulse, and Air Force One is equipped with advanced secure communications equipment, allowing the aircraft to function as a mobile command center in the event of an attack on the United States.

Inside, the President and his travel companions enjoy 4,000 square feet of floor space on three levels, including an extensive suite for the President that features a large office, lavatory, and conference room. Air Force One includes a medical suite that can function as an operating room, and a doctor is permanently on board. The plane’s two food preparation galleys can feed 100 people at a time.

Air Force One also has quarters for those who accompany the President, including senior advisors, Secret Service officers, traveling press, and other guests. Several cargo planes typically fly ahead of Air Force One to provide the President with services needed in remote locations.

Air Force One is maintained and operated by the Presidential Airlift Group, part of the White House Military Office. The Airlift Group was founded in 1944 as the Presidential Pilot Office at the direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. For the next 20 years, various propeller driven aircraft served the President. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy became the first President to fly in his own jet aircraft, a modified Boeing 707. Over the years, several other jet aircraft have been used, with the first of the current aircraft being delivered in 1990 during the administration of President George H. W. Bush.

Radio Free Europe story about the Joint Press Statement

From Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty:

I have copied and pasted the article below, but if you copy and paste this link then you can watch the video and see the photos that are linked to this article:

Biden Backs Moldovan Reforms, Territorial Integrity
Last updated (GMT/UTC): 11.03.2011 15:00
WATCH: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks in central Chisinau.


CHISINAU, Moldova -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was in Moldova today for a brief visit to encourage reform in the impoverished nation and push for a peaceful settlement of its separatist conflict.

Biden, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Moldova since the country declared independence from Soviet rule, heaped praised on Prime Minister Vladimir Filat and his pro-Western government.

Speaking at a joint news conference, he said Washington firmly supported Moldova's efforts to introduce reforms after violent postelection riots ousted long-ruling communist leaders in 2009.

"On behalf of the entire [U.S.] administration, Mr. Prime Minister, I am back to reiterating to you what I did a year ago," Biden said. "To offer America's support for both the political and the economic reforms that your government is implementing, and for the important steps that you have taken to improve democratic institutions in your country."

Biden delivers a speech in central Chisinau.Biden praised the government's crackdown on the sex trade, which has earned Moldova the reputation as Europe's hub for human trafficking.

He told his host that Moldova could count on Washington in its endeavor to join the European Union -- an assurance he repeated hours later during his speech on a Chisinau square that was a focal point of the 2009 anticommunist protests.

He pledged continued financial assistance to help the small nation develop its agriculture sector, strengthen its democratic institutions, improve its business climate, and promote civil society and the independent media.

Filat, for his part, said his country was strongly committed to embracing democracy.

"Moldova wants to tell the world today that its citizens have once and for all chosen the path of democracy," Filat said. "That we are ready to fight any obstacle, that our country will no longer be isolated, that we will not allow anyone to rob people of their hope for a better future. We are doing our best to consolidate democratic instruments that will make our country a model of success."

Biden, whose visit follows two days of talks in Moscow that focused largely on trade, said the United States was keen to deepen investment in Moldova -- currently Europe's poorest country.

He said the U.S. administration was considering repealing the Jackson-Vanik amendment, a set of Soviet-era restrictions on trade with countries like Russia and Moldova.

As expected, Biden also sought to revive stalled negotiations on the so-called "frozen conflict" over Transdniester, Moldova's pro-Russian breakaway region.

"Let me be clear," Biden said. "America supports a settlement, but not any settlement -- a settlement that preserves Moldova's sovereignty and Moldova's territorial integrity. Transdniester lies within Moldova and the people of Moldova deserve an end of this dispute that has divided this country for far too long."

The small territory, home to some 500,000 residents and 1,500 Russian troops, broke away from Moldova in a war in the early 1990s. It is not internationally recognized.

Biden said he had raised the White House's concerns with Russian officials while in Moscow.

Analysts, however, say Moldovans should not expect too much from Biden's visit on the Transdniester issue.

"I don't think Moldova is, or will ever be, a priority in U.S. foreign policy since the United States is involved in two wars and must now also deal with the turmoil in Arab countries," said Vlad Spanu, who heads the Moldova Foundation, an advocacy group based in Washington.

"These are U.S. priorities, and these regions are likely to climb even higher on the U.S. agenda. In this context, Washington sees Russia as a partner who can help it tackle such problems. This is why the United States doesn't interfere too much with Russia's interests in places like Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, and other countries in Eastern Europe."

Biden was scheduled to hold talks with acting President Marian Lupu before leaving Moldova late today.

written by Claire Bigg, based on reporting by RFE/RL's Moldovan Service

Iorga 23

On the day of the visit, I was stationed at 23 Iorga, the site of the Vice President's meetings with the Prime Minister, the joint press statement, and the meeting with the acting President.

Pictured here -- you can see press watching the Arrival Ceremony via live stream on the laptop in the press briefing room, the set-up of the press briefing room as well as the actual press conference, the a staffer going to check on the conference room where the meetings were held, and yours truly with ceremonial guards.

Vice President Biden's Visit

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I was thrilled that Vice President Biden was traveling to Moldova. I believed his visit would send the right message at the right time -- and that it would provide a much-needed boost to the pro-Western, pro-democratization forces.

Fortunately, I was able to adjust my travel dates for my return research trip to coincide with the Vice President's visit. Even better, I was able to connect with old friends now working at the White House and on the Vice President's Advance Team, so I was able to help out with the trip as well.

During his visit, the Vice President participated in an Arrival Ceremony at the airport, meetings with the Prime Minister (that included a joint press conference), a big public speech at the Opera House, meeting with the acting President, and an event with Embassy staff and families.

In these photos: Stefan cel Mare decked out in US and Moldovan flags in honor of the visit.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Moldova State University, American Studies Center

On my return trip to Moldova I met with colleagues at the American Studies Center at Moldova State University. This was not only a social visit, but also quite a productive one. We left our meeting with an action plan of how we will collaborate during the 2011-12 academic year.

In the Fall, I will be linking my Women and the Law course with one of Professor Suveica's (joint research project about human trafficking) and in the Spring we will link my U.S. Constitutional Law 2 (Civil Rights and Civil Liberties)course with one of Professor Crestianicov's (joint assignment regarding civil rights movement).

I will post more on this blog as our courses are underway.

I have wanted to find a way to internationalize my courses for many years - to get my students working with students abroad - but had not found a way until now.

I am very, very excited about this continued collaboration with colleagues at MSU.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

more Courtroom Observations

When back in Chisinau I wanted to spend more time observing court proceedings. I returned to the courthouse in the City Center where I had observed criminal proceedings in December. During this return visit I was able to observe criminal and civil proceedings in the judge's chambers.

As in the U.S., the Moldovan Constitution guarantees that counsel will be provided in criminal cases. (In minor cases the defendant can waive the right; if he/she will go to jail for more than 5 years, then he/she must have a lawyer represent him/her.) One of the cases we observed was postponed because the newly lawyer appointed to represent the defendant (in a drunk driving case) needed to become familiar with the materials.

I observed a civil case in which 2 young women who were suing for damages because of the way they were treated at a cafe. In addition to the parties (the 2 young women were representing themselves; the cafe was represented by an attorney) there was a representative from an agency to protect consumer rights at the hearing as well. The claim of the young women seemed frivolous to me, but the judge gave them the opportunity to voice their concerns (and also extended the timeframe for the case so that their witnesses could be called to testify) -- perhaps to avoid being reversed by a higher court? Much of the proceedings were in Russian. (Romanian is the state language, but, the court is obliged to provide an attorney of the the parties can't understand the proceedings. In other words, Russian translators would be provided. In this case the judge was able to save time and money, because she and all the others in the room could also understand Russian.)

In these photos you can see the cases posted for argument

Friday, April 1, 2011

US Constitutional Law reunion

Of course I wanted to find a way to meet up with my students during my brief return trip. I was able to see most everyone in the group following one of their lessons at ULIM to distribute tickets to the event with Vice President Biden.

I also wanted to have everyone over for a meal. (I was delighted that I could rent my old apartment for this trip!)

I thought I could take a turn preparing some kind of "American" dish for them, after all of the wonderful Moldovan treats they had prepared for me. I decided that I could make a meatloaf with peas and cheesy mashed potatoes. And chocolate chip cookies for dessert, of course!

I brought some supplies with me from home (chocolate chips! not available (as far as I could tell) in Chisinau, for example). Had the same issues as I described in earlier posts when trying to bake brownies or Christmas cut-out cookies for Peggy's presentations at school. Lack of supplies in my kitchen (here you can see I am using a drip pan for a cookie sheet) -- and the need to convert Fahrenheit to centigrade, from cups to grams, etc., etc. -- quickly leads one to the conclusion that things may not come out just as you might hope. I guess I was able to put the "average" in "average American cuisine." It was fine. Most importantly, we had a delightful visit.


During the return trip to Moldova in March, it was wonderful to have the opportunity to visit (if only briefly) colleagues at ULIM.

One meeting with a member of the Drept/Law faculty took place here, in this lecture hall.

I thought I had been up and down the various floors and blocks and seen quite a variety of classrooms and lecture halls. But for some reason I had not been to this lecture hall before.

I love the triumphal mural of Stefan cel Mare, so I am sharing it with you.