THE SAN DIEGO PARTICIPANT OBSERVER Participant Observation is the Process of Learning by Observing and Participating in Cultural Life
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October, 2020 - (Click Here for Previous Issues)
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Dear Readers,

Like many other organizations, we need to adapt our activities to during the time of Covid-19. Much of what we normally cover in our newsletters, particularly community events are on hold. As such we will be shifting the format and timing of our newsletters. We will return to our original format once the Covid-19 situation improves to the point that once again public events can be safely held. Unfortunately it looks like that won't be anytime soon.

In recent discussions with a couple of local cross-cultural non-profits we put forth the idea to devote the main portion of our newsletter to updates on the activities of local cross-cultural organizes, what virtual events they have, how they are facing present challenges, what programs they are offering. Thankfully over the years we have made good connections with lots of organization through our Harmony in Action Cross-Cultural Non-Profit Fair. Part of this change entails publishing our newsletter on a monthly rather than weekly cycle. We will maintain our recipe, book and international CD of the months. Cultural Tidings will continue to be updated weekly on the Participant Observer website. We have an active Facebook and Instagram presence and events or information of a more timely nature we be posted there.

We hope the transition will go smoothly, we will fully enact these changes in August and today's newsletter will be the last for this month. Thank you for your patience as well as your continued support and readership.

We are excited to share this month's Recipe(s) of the Month for Thai Gai Pad Khing and Moo Satay, yum! Our Book of the Month selection (and also the Worldview Project Book Club's book for August) is Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi. If you wish to join our book club, contact Sharon at for all the details! And our International CD of the Month is: Strovilos by Trio Tekke, a traditional/modern music trio from the island of Cyprus.

Local Virtual Events
Saturday, July 11 8:00 PM San Diego 2020 Music Awards broadcast on Fox 5
Sunday, July 12 4:00 PM Afro-Peruvian Sextet a live-streaming concert
Tuesday, July 14 1:00 AM Political Mobilization of the K-Pop Fandom: A Conversation with CedarBough Saeji from the Korean Institute of America and SDWAC
Tuesday, July 14 12:00 PM The Chicanosaurus - VIA interview with Victor Ochoa, renown Chicano muralist
Wednesday, July 15 10:00 AM Music for the Mind, Body and Soul Flamenco Guitar with James Clarkston courtesy of the La Jolla Community Center.
Thursday, July 16 6:00 PM Author Leah Franqui in conversation with Alka Joshi, a Warwick's Book Store virtual event.
Tuesdays 6:30 PM Shakespeare Society Open Readings
Fridays 8:00 PM Black Xpression an ongoing virtual (Zoom) open mic experience.
Sundays 8:00 AM Miss Nati's Music Box inspiring music education online for our students and families from Kalabash School of Music and Art.
Ongoing The Totally Fake Latino News With Culture Clash Irreverent Latinx comedic take on news and culture.
Ongoing Walks of Life Auditory theatre featuring short scenes by playwrights and composers from across the country. Courtesy of La Jolla Playhouse
July 10 - 16 Documentary: None of Your Business - Documentary about Iranian singer-songwriter-guitarist Ebrahim Monsefi (aka Ebram) with a Live Q&A

Assorted Timely Resources - a place to sign or start a petition to promote change.
Celebration of France's Bastille Day with House of France and the Alliance française, and the San Diego Diplomacy Council
Action, Justice, Change What you can do right now to promote racial justice.
20 Books that will take you around the world, courtesy of Great Big Story.
Corona Virus Information Updates from the County of San Diego
Corona Virus Information Updates from the City of San Diego.
International Television
The Casketeers (New Zealand) Netflix
The Casketeers is a rather unusual reality-TV show. Filmed in New Zealand, the series is about two Maori funeral directors, Francis and Kaiora Tipene, who have dedicated their lives to helping families who have lost loved ones. To do so they have to navigate the rules, expectations, sensitivities and emotions of several cultures, sometimes simultaneously. Francis, Kaiora, and the other staff at the Tipene Funeral Home have big hearts and always strive to do their very best to provide funeral services that honor the departed and care for the living in their time of great emotional need. The series is not only culturally fascinating but quite humorous, particularly the relationship between Francis and Kaiora. They will steal your heart. The series was locally produced and loved by New Zealanders, but it has garnered international acclaim since it was picked up by Netflix. But rather than become star-struck by fame, Kaiora has said “It’s just Netflix eh? We’re not much into all that stuff”. Seeing how the Tipenes deal with death just might make you look at life a bit differently!
The Neighbor (El Vecino) (Spain), Netflix
The Neighbor is a Spanish silly super-hero comedy about a lazy young man, Javier, who accidentally gains super powers from an encounter with an alien ship that crashes feet from Javier and his "almost" girlfriend, Lola, when the couple are a weekend getaway in the country. When the alien ship crashes, Lola is knocked unconscious and knows nothing of the message and powers that the alien imparts to Javier. Indeed, Javier himself can't quite figure out what happened, but he is sure that all good super-heroes must hide their identities. His discovery of his powers is quite hysterical and quite naturally his inability to control them creates havoc for Javier and everyone around him. His new super powers put a definite wrinkle in his attempts to woo Lola, who rightly thinks he's not the most mature or responsible option she might have. The comedy is mostly character-driven and while the show is unlikely to win many awards, it maintains its chuckle-worthiness throughout.
Wadja (Saudi Arabia) Netflix, Amazon Prime, You Tube, iTunes, Google Play
Wadja is a film shot in Saudi Arabia, written and directed by the nation's pioneering female filmmaker, Haifaa al-Mansour. It was the first Saudi Arabian film directed by a woman. Wadja Mohammad is a 10 year-old girl that just isn't quite in sync with Saudi Arabian gender expectations. On her daily walk to school, Wadja sees a beautiful green bicycle being delivered to a local store and she begins dreaming about buying the bike and racing her friend Abdullah through the the streets of Riyadh. Two things stand in her way, the bike is expensive and common ideas that bike riding is not something that girls or women should do because it presumed to be physically dangerous for a girl to ride a bike and an affront to morality. Despite the terror of tongue-wagging and other more serious obstacles, Wadja persists in her quest . . . The film is bittersweet and charming but also offers hope for the struggle for greater gender equality. The director al-Mansour said the original script was darker, but she said "I decided I didn't want the film to carry a slogan and scream, but just to create a story where people can laugh and cry a little."
The Band's Visit (Israel), Tubi, Vudu, Amazon-Prime, iTunes
If you have ever visited another country and gotten lost traveling (I have, more than once!), you may have had an adventure but perhaps not quite a humorous and poignant as the fictional experience of the fictional Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra from Egypt, that intended to travel to the Israeli city of Petah Tikvah to perform. However the band member who is asked to secure tickets has a very strong accent and the ticket seller mistakenly gives him bus tickets to the remote town of Bet Hatikva, where buses only visit once a day. Shortly after they arrive in Bet Hatikva, they learn of the mistake, and they are stranded in a town with no hotel and certainly no Arab Art Center to perform in. Of course the town doesn't get many outsiders, much less an entire band, and if the Egyptians are anxious about their detour, the townsfolk are curious. What ensues is a night of halting conversations and confessions only fit for a stranger's ear. The main dynamic is between the officious leader of the band and the self-assured proprietress of the only restaurant in town. But initial discomfort ultimately leads to a more tender understanding that above all else, beyond politics and misconceptions, they are humans. The Band's Visit was made into an award-winning Broadway musical (starring Tony Shalhoub as the band's leader), and the musical has won just about every award possible both for the off-Broadway and Broadway productions as well as the 2019 Grammy from Best Musical Theater Album. And although I have not seen the musical, it's a safe bet that the musical is louder than the quiet touch of the film.

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