THE SAN DIEGO PARTICIPANT OBSERVER Participant Observation is the Process of Learning by Observing and Participating in Cultural Life
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The San Diego Participant Observer

The City of San Diego is home to one of the most vital and culturally diverse populations to be found anywhere in America. The Participant Observer is a web magazine dedicated to discovering and showcasing the wide variety of culturally interesting events, people, places, and organizations our city has to offer. Our continuously updated Events Calendar provides comprehensive information about current and forthcoming events in San Diego. In addition to covering local events, The Participant Observer publishes features and articles about cultural events and phenomena happening around the world. We urge you to explore the many other resources our site provides.

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Your Window to the World
All Articles: Guardian News & Media Ltd 2013-19, New York Times Inc.
Please note: The New York Times allows non-subscribers to read five articles a month for free.
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Local Cultural News and Nifty Things to Do Whilst Homebound:
Some interesting, helpful and fun activities from our staff and friends (if you know of any more, send them along!) (Thanks Ciska!):

Pacific Arts Movement Live
Film Screening: On a Magical Night from the Media Arts Center
Dance Styles from Around the World
Say Hello to the World courtesy of BBC Travel
Li Ziqi's Video Blog where she documents her daily life in rural Chnia.
Virtual Concerts courtesy of Queens College
Cultural Treasures of Qatar
Stunning Photos of Spring Around the World
Globally Spreading Joy, courtesy of
Modern Arab Masters
Virtual Moves from

Kid's Corner: I say "Keep 'em busy!"

PBS Games for kids
Code Breaking with Carmen Sandiego
50 Stay at Home Activities for Kids
Find a Good Children's Book from the Worldview Project's
TEDEd Ted Education Videos for Kids.

Food Stuff:

Quarantine Cooking with Kids.
Ramen Regions a History of Japanese Ramen and All of its Varieties.
Vuong Anh's Cooking Journey Learn About Vietnam's Cuisine.
Cuban Food: A Beginner's Guide
Ethiopian Food Tour Street Food and Restaurants in Addis Ababa.

Books to Make You Forget You Are at Home (International Mystery Series)

Pietr the Latvian (Inspector Maigret) There are 75 books in the Maigret series. Simenon is perhaps the most prolific mystery writer of all time.
Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder, the first volume in Shamini Flint's Inspector Singh series.
Still Midnight, the first volume in the Alex Morrow series (set in Glasgow) by Denis Mina.
The Devotion of Suspect X: A Detective Galileo Novel First in a series by the acclaimed Japanese author Keigo Higashino.
The Agency: A Spy in the House the first book in the Agency Series by Singaporean author Y.S. Yee.

International TV:

Crash Landing on You (Korea) Netflix

Yoon Se-ri (Ye-jin Son) is a high-powered CEO of a cosmetics company who is asked to take over her father's mega corporation, much to the chagrin of her two somewhat dim brothers and their ruthless and conniving wives. At the begriming of the series she is a pampered and spoiled princess (at one point she says "I never cook and I only eat in Michelin starred restaurants"). In celebration of her corporate ascent, Yoon Se-ri goes paragliding (self-consciously aware of the analogy), but she is caught up in tornado and instead of landing in Oz she crash lands in the Korean DMZ. She is discovered by the noble and taciturn North Korean Captain Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun Bin) who intends to turn her in to the authorities, but she temporarily escapes through a mine field. When Captain Ri and his unit finally capture her, they realize (each for different reasons) they can't turn her in and decide instead to hide her until they have a plan to return her to South Korea unnoticed. Yoon Se-ri didn't become a CEO without learning the fine arts of manipulation, but her attempts to manipulate the earnest Captain Ri fail to move him . . . or do they? This is a charming, funny, sometimes thrilling cat-and-mouse dramedy. The scenes with Youn Se-ri and the four soldiers in Captain Ri's unit are sweetly comical and the evolution of the romantic entanglement of Yoon Se-ri and Captain Ri surprisingly tender. The series is a playful romp ..

Doc Martin (English) Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play

Doc Martin (played by Martin Clunes) is nearly totally lacking in social grace. He is curt, curmudgeonly and doesn't suffer fools gladly. Doc Martin was an acclaimed cardiovascular surgeon who developed a bad case of hemophilia (fear of blood) and, to avoid further embarrassment, he flees to the lovely fishing village of Portwenn (in real life, Port Issac on the west coast of Cornwall) where he becomes the local doctor. He is a fish out of water; he cannot understand village attitudes and the villagers scarcely appreciate his gruff manner. The series is filled with memorable characters, and Clunes is wonderful in the title role. With 8 seasons (and several specials and movies), you can binge to your heart's content. P.S. Shari and I visited Port Issac in 2012, and the village is a quaint and lovely as the series depicts.

International Movies

Oh, Lucy! (Japan/US) Amazon Prime

When she made her voyage, 18-year-old Tania Aebi was the youngest person to sail solo around the world. When a reporter asked her if she ever felt lonely on her journey, she replied that being alone doesn’t make you lonely, being in a large room with lots of people you can't connect with is real loneliness. By that definition Setsuko is lonely. She has a drab job working with drab, vacuous, backbiting corporate drones in the megalopolis of Tokyo. The one bright spot in Setsuko’s life is her kawaii (Japanese “cute”) niece, Mika, who works at a “maid cafe”. Mika, for reasons undisclosed, convinces Setsuko to give her $5,000"the cost of the English classes Mika is enrolled in. In exchange Mika says Setsuko can finish the course in her stead. But the language academy looks more like a brothel than a school, and her teacher, John, is rather unorthodox. He begins his lessons with an uncomfortably long hug of his students and insists each of them take on an American style alter-ego to facilitate their learning. Setsuko takes on the persona of “Lucy” replete with a blond curly wig. This is particularly freeing to Setsuko who has thus far has lived a life of suffocating disappointments and desperation. But freedom of being, “letting go”, is not an easy road to walk . . . what ensues -- although at times briefly comedic -- is study of the darker corners of human desire. Be forewarned: this is not a Hollywood movie, it is scarcely a tale of redemption. And the film is all the more human for that. It’s a movie that is not easily disposed from your thoughts or memory.

The Commitments (Ireland) YouTube, iTunes, Vudu and Google Play

Alan Parker's The Commitments is a musical dramedy based on a novel by Irish author Roddy Doyle. It's part of a trilogy of books (known as the "Barrytown Trilogy") that all have been made into movies, the other two being The Snapper and The Van. In addition to being sidesplittingly funny, it's a great music movie with fabulous cinematography.

It all begins with Jimmy Rabbitte wanting to form a soul band in a working-class neighborhood in Dublin, Ireland. Once the band gets together, they create great music despite the extreme personality conflicts in the band. There are a number of quotable lines in the film, but the film's language is a bit salty gaining the honor of containing the most swear words ever in a film. One of the things that makes the film's music so involving is it was filmed and recorded with a technique that was new at the time; instead of the vocals being dubbed (as was the practice up until then), the music was pre-recorded and the singers sang to the track while being filmed, thereby creating a more intimate feeling. Most of the actors in the film were musicians and singers, not actors. The film is also notable for being one of the first movies to depict life in urban Ireland; previous films are almost always set in the bucolic countryside. Celebrating the film's 25th anniversary (2016), it was shown to sell-out audiences in Dublin. The film is a treat that you can watch again and again.
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Less than one half of all Americans have a passport. People without passports not only can't go to far away places like Asia, Africa, Europe or South America, without a passport you can't even travel to Mexico or Canada. An important step in becoming a global citizen is actually getting out there and experiencing other cultures first hand. Don't limit your options! Passports don't expire for 10 years, think ahead and apply for or renew yours today! The steps to apply for a passport are not as daunting as they may seem. Whether you are looking to apply for a new passport or to renew your current passport, follow the steps in our handy guide!

Compiled by Julie Tran
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The Center for World Music is a unique nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster awareness and understanding of the world's diverse performing arts and cultures through public performances and teaching. Its primary purpose is to draw public attention to the diversity of the world's performing arts traditions: Asian, African, European, Latin American, and American.

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Today San Diego's Little Italy is a bustling commercial, dining and entertainment district. But more than a half century ago, it was a largely residential area populated by Italian families, most of which were involved in San Diego's thriving tuna industry. Over the next few decades, Little Italy became a self-contained neighborhood with its own grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants, a Catholic church, an elementary school, a drugstore, and a fire department. Then a half century ago the community was cut in half by the expansion of San Diego's freeway system, devastating a once thriving community. Read about Little Italy's rich past and about local efforts to preserve the neighborhood's unique ethnic character and identity.

By Tony Rocco
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A stone's throw from the Gaslamp Quarter, on the corner of 3rd Avenue and J Street, lies the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum. The museum offers San Diegans an artifactual, pictorial and interactive look into the history of San Diego's Chinese-American inhabitants. Admission is an affordable $2. The museum features numerous cultural, historical and artistic displays as well as regularly held educational programs for children and adults. For a small extra fee the museum also offers docent-lead tours of the permanent collection and featured exhibits as well as tours of the remnants of San Diego's former Chinatown.

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Kourosh Taghavi, instrumentalist, vocalist and Persian classical musician boasts a passionate approach to music that has impacted audiences around the world. His collaborative projects with master musicians and local cultural organizations work to fulfill his lifelong dream to promote Persian classical music. More recently, his ongoing efforts with the Center for World Music bring the setar and Iranian culture to San Diego school districts through hands-on instruction in Persian classical music.

By Amanda Kelly
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