Thursday, May 30, 2013


One of the incredible delegates from the 2013 AMENDS Summit ( runs a website highlighting the Middle East and North Africa, working to showcase more than the violence and contextualise the negative headlines we see. 
She has just published a video highlighting the work being done by AMENDS Fellows. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Marshall Scholars' Concert

I am going to cheat shamefully on this blog post and simply tell you to visit my post on the UEA International Ambassador's blog to see what I was up to yesterday:

A small toddler joined the shenanigans, to the amusement of most and the hopefully minimal annoyance of a few!

I had fun showing off my city to some of my Marshall mates. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Norwich has found summer!

I am happy to report that, following the whiny post of a few days ago, Norwich has located the weather that is supposed to exist in late May.

Iorwerth had a truly fabulous time yesterday exploring the river walk alongside Mary Chapman Court. We ran; we leapt; we somersaulted; we blew dandelion seeds; we peered in the water; we climbed logs. Life was altogether too wonderful.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

In Praise of Weeds

Service this morning at the Octagon explored the beauty of weeds. 
I thoroughly enjoyed myself, particularly during the first song, "Daisies are our silver".
There is beauty all around you. Look, look!
As Emerson wrote:
"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered [or, I would say, properly valued!]."
Go discover! Value!

Friday, May 24, 2013

April Showers bring May...Mud...

Here's a major news flash:
It's raining in England.

I know.

Surprise, surprise.


It's a good thing I like this country's other attributes.
As a rule, I really enjoy rainy days.
I'm discovering that I like rainy weeks less, especially when the weather has teased me the week before with gorgeous blue skies...just enough to have me pack up my winter coat and weatherproof gear.
Just to need it again.

Silly England.

I also notice it more now that Iorwerth and I walk/carry/pram 1-3 miles a day in nursery drop-off/pick-up and various errands. So it may just be that. :)

Distracting me from the rain is my new web series, "Ramblings with Rebecca". Check out "Episode 5: Dichotomy"!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cuteness with a Side of Banana

Today's agenda: a surplus of cuteness with a plethora of banana bread. (No, seriously. A plethora. As in, maybe perhaps a bit more than wanted. And certainly more than needed.)

We had a rather marvelous afternoon, all in all.


We put ourselves in Becca's rubbish bin so we could be presented as a present to Miss Audrey...

And we made soup. (Not out of ourselves. Just to clarify.)
You should also know that Miss Audrey was lectured by Iorwerth for putting him on the table, because she wasn't being "very cautious".

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Days On, Days Off

I had an unexpected bit of a day off yesterday. Anne-Marie stayed home from work, and told me I could come over a bit later than 8 am to take Iorwerth out so she could get some things done. 
"Come at 8" became "afternoon play date" became Becca only being over there 4-6ish. 
And did I do wonderfully productive things during my unexpected free time? 
I'm guessing you know the answer. Alas, I did not. So yesterday was a stolen day off. Today had better be a day on. :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Becca goes online

I am currently working to build my web presence and better use social media to talk about things that interest me.

Becca's personal and professional website:
Becca's YouTube Channel, with a new web series: "Ramblings with Rebecca"

We will see how these go...

Friday, May 17, 2013

Babysitting, anyone?

I usually have Iorwerth ~20 hours a week, so a good deal of my time is spent babysitting this summer. This week, though, I'm putting in some extra hours. Tonight, I'm babysitting for a DEV faculty member who is seeing something fun involved with the Norfolk and Norwich Festival - "How Like an Angel", a gorgeous circus-esque performance meant especially for Cathedrals.
These kids are 8, 10, and 13, so it's quite a different job than the 2-year-old. It's been a while since I interacted for more than like three minutes with a pre-teen. We've had a lovely evening - we played "Twister". (And I don't want to admit to how long it's been since I've played that.)
Tomorrow is Saturday - which usually means a quiet day of work for Becca - but Anne-Marie has an all-day training out of town, and Eamonn is in Becca gets Iorwerth 6am-7pm, the lucky girl!
Lots and lots of baking will be happening tomorrow, I'm guessing. And, since the weather looks foul, quite likely a viewing of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang".

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

London once again

I was in London Monday and Tuesday nights. Tuesday was a reception at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for their Youth Leadership Programme that is ongoing this week. Youth delegates from around the world are doing a cool week of business and diplomacy training and work. They invited all of the Marshall and Chevening Scholars as well. I didn't actually manage to meet any of the youth delegates - they had had a full day and I think were fighting jet lag still, so they ended up leaving the party pretty early. But I did get the chance to meet several London and UK social entrepreneurs with some interesting portfolios.
Monday was a rather bittersweet day. It was our formal Farewell Dinner for Marshall Scholars who have completed their tenure. So lots of good-byes. Even though we have several other social events during the summer, this was the last official one, and certainly a reminder of how quickly time flies. One of the Ministers of State joined us to wish us on our way - though he also pointed out his colleague, Lord Howard, was also in attendance, and joked that his services may be required. Lord Howard used to handle some of the cases of folks who overstayed their welcome in the UK...and an incredible number of the "departing" Scholars aren't actually managing to tear themselves away from this lovely country. I'm not the only one becoming overly attached!
Anyways, it's back to Norwich again. I just dropped Iorwerth off at daycare. I have this idea in my head that maybe I'll actually do some work on my dissertation today...hahaha. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Oh, what a beautiful Sunday

This morning was spent at the Octagon Chapel, where I led Kids' Club. Our service was on Julian of Norwich, a radical spiritual writer. It's not Mums' Day in the UK - it came several weeks ago here. But since we were talking about radical women and it's Mothers' Day for me, we spent Kids' Club making some cards for our mums and writing a poem for Kate, our epic secretary and a radical woman in the life of our congregation.
I watched the newest episode of "Doctor Who", of course - that's an absolute necessity of life.
And then it was off to the Grapes Hill Community Garden, where I spent a lovely few hours transplanting some lovely bushes and pulling up dead plants and weeds. Doing gardening with irascible old Englishmen is, I must say, quite delightful.
I have just finished making no-bakes, and I'm now preparing for a conference call about AMENDS follow-up and networking. This evening, I will finally be seeing the new "Star Trek". Excited. Very excited.

And that, my friends, is what I call a pretty darn good day.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Norwich City of Interculture

I was privileged today to participate in the Norwich City of Interculture event, part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival celebrating cultural diversity and arts in the East of England.
We did a table of "Language Tasters", providing folks with 5-15 minute activities around basic language and cultural teasers for various countries. I and a PhD student from UEA's School of Language and Communication Studies ran the American booth. Lori prepared a really great quiz of situations British folks may find themselves in were they to travel to the States; I prepped a mini glossary of common American/British language differences. We chatted through them with visitors to the booth. Had quite a diverse crowd - folks from Israel and Mauritius stopped by, in addition to a number of Brits and American ex-pats.

Text Only versions of our teasers (with apologies if the formatting goes a bit crazy):

Is American culture really that different from British culture?

How would YOU react in these situations in the USA?

1.     Your new American friends have just asked if you’d like to go tailgating on Saturday.  What do you say?

a.     Definitely not!  That’s illegal!
b.     Excellent!  I don’t have tickets but I’ll bring a cooler.
c.     Sounds great – but could you bring the gear for me?  I don’t have tailgating kit.

2.     A cute guy or girl you’ve recently met asks you if you’d like to go out for coffee sometime.  What could this mean?
a.   They are attracted to you romantically and have just asked you out on a formal date. 
b.   They think you’re a cool person and would like to have a casual chat. 
c.   They are trying to figure out what religion you are. 

3.     You are in a line at a bank and you notice that the customer in front of you has a handgun tucked into his belt.  What do you do?
a.   Get out your cell phone and dial 9-1-1 to speak to the police.
b.   Try to get the attention of a bank employee so they can try to handle the situation.
c.    Nothing.

4.     You are at a restaurant and when your meal comes to the table you realize you’ve ordered three times more food than you thought.  What do you do?

a.           Do your best to eat it all – it’s rude to leave too much food on your plate.
b.           Ask the waiter if you accidentally ordered a sharing platter.  You will get charged extra and you have to be careful not to get ripped off.
c.            Eat what you want and ask the waiter for a box.  And still order dessert!

5.     You are sitting down to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with your American friends.  They ask you what you are doing tomorrow for Black Friday.  What might you say?

a.     Going for a long run to burn off some of the pumpkin pie.
b.     You don’t observe Black Friday due to your religious beliefs/orientation.
c.     Staying in and spending quality time with your family or friends.
d.     You have a battle plan that begins at 6am and includes a map route.

6.     You are camping in the forest with some American friends.  At the end of the evening, you’ve finished eating s’mores.  As you’re putting out the campfire your friends hand you a rope and bag, and ask you to hang the food in the trees on the other end of your campsite.  What do you do?

a.     It’s a typical joke Americans like to play on foreign friends to make them look silly.  Don’t fall for it!
b.     They’re serious – go ahead and do it!

7.     You’ve had a fantastic time with your American hosts, and as you are saying your goodbyes, you joke: “Well, apart from the weather and the company, I’ve had a brilliant time.”  They give you a strange look.  What do you do?

a.     Keep going with the sarcastic jokes – Americans love the British sense of humour.
b.     Backtrack and give them lots of compliments: “No, I’m joking of course.  In all honesty, you have been fantastic hosts and I have enjoyed every minute.”
c.     Just ignore their funny look and depart – they probably understood the joke but they would think it’s impolite to joke back with a guest.

8.     You have just begun a new job in an open-plan office.  You’re settling in and mid-morning you decide you’d like a hot drink (tea/coffee).  What do you do?

a.     Wait for someone to offer you a drink – it’s a customary way to make new colleagues feel welcome.
b.     Offer to make a drink for the colleagues in your immediate area.
c.     Go to the staff kitchen and make yourself a drink but don’t worry about anyone else.

Suggested answers and explanations

1. Probable answer: B or C.  Explanation: Tailgating is an American tradition revolving around (American) football.  In the parking lot of the football stadium, football fans often arrive hours before the game begins for tailgate parties.  Friends and families gather around the backs of their pickups to socialise (hence ‘tailgating’). 
It can be a very organised party, and some people bring full barbeques, canopy shelters, chairs, and – usually – coolers full of beer.  If you are invited to a tailgate party you should find out whether your friends will be cooking and providing food or just hanging out.  You should ask whether you should bring along some food.  You should generally always bring drinks and chairs along as their guests.

2. Probable answer: A, B, or C.  Most likely A.  Explanation:  A: In the United States, meeting for coffee is often a more formal type of meeting than it is in the UK, and it is a very typical way to ask someone out on a formal first date.  If you think you are being asked out on a romantic date and you want to accept the invitation, you should try to set a time and meeting place for the date, or exchange phone numbers.
B: However, people in the US do also meet as friends for coffee, so you might need to pay attention to contextual clues to figure out which one is more likely. 
C: In some areas of the United States, particularly in Western states like Idaho and Utah, Mormonism is a popular religion and one of their practices is non-consumption of caffeine.  It is impolite to directly ask someone about their religious beliefs, but asking someone if they are a coffee-drinker is an indirect way of finding out if they are Mormon.  If you tell them you drink coffee, they will assume you are non-Mormon.  If they are a non-coffee drinker (or a decaf fan) they are not necessarily Mormon but very well might be.
If you suspect the person is trying to find out personal information about you, you could answer in many different ways, depending on what information you’d like to share.  If you do have religious beliefs that influence your decision whether or not to drink caffeine, you could generally say this or tell them your religion (if any) and it would not be considered rude, even if you are not the same religion as them.  Or, if you’d rather be vague, you could say you prefer hot chocolate but that meeting up sounds fun. 

3. Probable answer: C.  Explanation: You are probably aware that the United States is a ‘gun culture’ but you may be surprised by the situations where you will see guns.  In some states, it is legal to carry guns into banks, as long as the owner has the appropriate gun permit – and these are often held by ordinary citizens (not just police or military).  Any business, including banks, can post notices that say they don’t allow guns on their premises but it is not unusual to see banks where guns are allowed.
If you do decide to travel to the United States, it is worth spending some time thinking about the implications of gun culture and how you might feel if you see guns.  Although there are many guns around and it may seem that people have casual attitudes toward them, guns should always be handled with care – if you do handle a gun, always assume it is loaded, just to be safe – and NEVER point one at someone, even if you have been assured that it is unloaded or the safety is on.

4. Probable answer: C.  Explanation: The United States is famous for its big portion sizes.  Luckily, it is very common (and even expected) that you might not finish all your food.  But that doesn’t mean you should waste it!   You should definitely ask for a box, or a ‘doggie bag’, and bring the leftover food home with you.  And even if you have boxed up most of your main course, it is not rude to order dessert.  If you can’t finish that, you can ask your waiter to box it up too!

5. Probable answer: C or D.  Explanation: Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, and is perhaps roughly equivalent to Boxing Day in the UK.  Many people have the day off from work, and most shops offer products like electronics for very low prices to attract customers on the busiest shopping day of the year.  Some families spend several days before Black Friday looking through advertisements and making ‘battle plans’ which are usually lists of which stores they plan to visit, and what items they intend to purchase, organised with maps and time schedules.  If you are after a particularly sought-after item, it can sell out within minutes of the shop opening.
However, the sales and crowds can be too intense for some people, and not all Americans enjoy the consumerism of Black Friday – there is an alternative name for the day that also has a strong following: Buy Nothing Day.

6. Probable answer: B.  Explanation: Many campsites in America have regular visits from bears looking for food – if you hang the food in the trees they can’t reach it and won’t come looking for it in your tent.  Although it’s usually not very dangerous when this happens if you’ve taken the right precautions, it is very dangerous to have food with you in your tent!  In fact, there are many things about the United States, particularly in the wilderness, that have potential dangers that aren’t typical in the UK.  You should always listen to trustworthy advice from friends or forest rangers, even if it sounds a little strange at times.

7. Probable answer: B. Explanation: Although you might think that Americans are very aware of the sarcasm that Brits are famous for, you will probably find they don’t always know when you are being sarcastic.  If you say something sarcastic and you think it has been taken wrong, it is usually best to explain that you are being sarcastic and reassure them by saying something genuine and nice.  In the United States it is much more typical to give friends and family lots of compliments.  Of course British sarcasm isn’t meant to be nasty but just remember that it can take some time to adjust to people who have a different sense of humour to your own.

8. Probable answer: C. Explanation: Although every office is likely to have its own culture, people generally make their own drinks at work.  If you do feel compelled to offer to make a drink for someone and they decline, or no one offers to make you a drink, it is probably not meant as a slight.

Common Vocabulary Differences:
British English
American English
Candy Floss
Cotton Candy
French Fries
Icing Sugar
Powdered Sugar; Confectioner’s Sugar
First Floor
Second Floor
City Centre

Common Spelling Differences:
·      “re” versus “er” (theatre, theater; metre; meter)
·      “s” versus “z” (realise, realize; specialise, specialize)
·      “ou” versus “o” (colour, color; behaviour, behavior)

How much do you weigh in America?
·      1 Stone ~ 14 Pounds
·      Most Americans would have no idea what a “stone” means in this context!

Which floor do you live on?
·      In America, the Ground Floor (Floor 0) is the First Floor (Floor 1). Add or subtract a number depending on which country you’re in!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I'm getting old

Of course, that title implies I was ever young.
I worked an online fair for UEA Tuesday night. We do chat booths on a platform called College Week Live quite frequently. It's a good way to advertise and to allow prospective and admitted students to chat through various questions and issues. I generally enjoy them: interesting questions and an easy way to make a bit of extra cash. The time difference, though, can be a bit of a challenge...when it's midnight for us, it's only 7pm for folks in California, which is, of course, prime time for students to take care of these kinds of errands. 
So I worked midnight to three am, and then got up at 7 to get Iorwerth to nursery. All of Wednesday, I was waiting to totally crash, but I actually felt just fine. 
The crash happened this morning. I was dragging out of bed quite severely.
Not really surprising. This is the woman who never pulled an all nighter for schoolwork in her life. No one at uni believes me that it never happened. Haha. 
Anyways, hopefully we will make it through today without a nap, since that would inevitably make it such that I can't fall asleep tonight, and we create a vicious cycle. 
I'm too old for this. Silly time zones! ;(

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The groove of summer

Spring has finally hit Norwich more or less for real - we had a bunch of gorgeous days with blue skies and lots of sunshine. It was actually, properly hot for a while there. 
Monday was a Bank Holiday, and somehow this weekend became "Becca lays around and does nothing".
That must cease! So here we the summer groove!
Mondays, I have Iorwerth 8-6. A delightful way to start the week. He takes fairly long naps on those days - because I am, of course, exhausting to deal with. So a few hours of work then. 
Tuesdays through Fridays, I am in charge of drop off and pick up, at 8 and 4ish respectively. This gets me up and out of bed and on my way, and then leaves me a delightful number of hours to actually do things. 
So I'm going to start doing them. 
We have a thesis to research and write, some conference proceedings to prepare, several Marshall events to plan, and life to love. 

To the summer groove!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hello from Iorwerth!

Warning: These videos may cause some vertigo. Shockingly, taking video on the bus with a 2.5-year-old isn't the smoothest.