Society / Evolution

purchasing power, inflation,...

エージェンシー (agency)

ある中国人研究者が、「エージェンシー」という言葉の意味を確認していた。そうか、中国にもそれにあたる言葉がないのだろうかと思った。自由な自分や自己決定、勇気などをまとめてエージェンシー、それを有する人をエージェントと呼べると思う。苦慮しながらも間違った日本語の訳語をあてるよりは、そのままのエージェンシーの方が良い。

最近、エージェンシーについて考えさせられる機会があった。エイズ、SARS、エボラ、そしてCOVID-19と、米国が直面する感染症との闘いをリードしてきた感染症の専門家であるトニー・ファウチAnthony Fauci。彼のドキュメンタリー映画「Fauci」を見た時だった。

映画の中では、政府の対応に激怒したエイズ患者たちが、受け身の「ペイシャント」(中世の英語)から当事者としての「エージェンシー」に変わり、エイズ治療のプロセスに参加していく過程も描かれている。すでに有名だったファウチ医師は失敗をおそれず、誤れば進退を問われるような動きにでる。その大きな運動のうねりも、彼のキャリアの一部として記録されている。エイズで亡くなった患者たちを思いだしながら涙ぐむファウチ医師が、略語ではなく、わざわざ「心的外傷後ストレス症候群」と自己分析するところも、科学的かつ人間的で良い。80歳をすぎて、ファウチがセクシーだと言われるゆえんである。

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You are coaching or being coached

Two weeks ago, I received an email with this phrase: “If you’d like me to coach you to confidence and self-belief, reply to this email and let’s talk”. This had made me think about the essence of coaching and the talents of coaches. I don’t need coaching on confidence and self-belief; but, perhaps, in some areas. There is always room for improvement, and I’m perfectly imperfect.

What is coaching? Cambridge Dictionary defines coaching (UK – kəʊ.tʃɪŋ/ US -ˈkoʊ.tʃɪŋ) as

“the act of giving special classes in sports, a school subject, or a work-related activity, especially to one person or a small group” (Reference).

Collins English Dictionary’s definition of it includes

“training staff in business or office practice” and “giving a person special teaching in a particular subject” (HarperCollins Publishers (reference).

When I was young, I associated coaching only with sports. I have since changed my understanding of it. Coaching applies in every professional and personal area and in every aspect of one’s life.

Vanity or career necessity

Last month, during my Skype lesson, I noticed my student looked prettier than previously.

“You have got sparkling eyes; what’s the good news?”

She giggled and lowered her voice. “I don’t know the word in English; in French, it’s ‘rehaussement de cils’. With this, I don’t need a mascara; when I do, it takes only a second, unlike before”.

After researching on this “rehaussement de cils” (eyelash enhancement), I wanted to do mine too. The eyes are a focal point of anyone’s face. Women with long eyelashes and large eyes are often considered to be beautiful. Was I vane to wish for full and long lashes that would give me a youthful and healthy look without mascara or eyelash extensions?

I was only a few steps away from our local beautician to make an appointment when I turned around. Walking back home, I bumped into my Irish friend. I told her that I had intended to have an eyelash enhancement but didn’t have the guts to do it. Smiling, almost laughing, she said: “You don’t need it; you look much younger than your age.” *

Masks Mia, Here We Go Again! - Worse Before Better

In March 2020, I thought the pandemic would be less threatening by August; it wasn’t so, and we had to cancel our summer holiday. In November, I was sure we could spend Christmas with our sons in England; it did not happen. In December, I thought 2021 would be pandemic-free due to the rolling out of vaccines in Europe and some countries; wrong! Then, came the British, South African and Brazilian variants. Here in France, the 6 PM – 6 AM curfew was not adequate to stop the infection figures from climbing; so, the Government decided to close its borders for non-EU travellers. It’s impossible for my Aussie friends to visit me, and it’s unlikely that I’ll be Down Under for my sister’s 60th birthday.

I used to associate relaxation with watching TV and movies, reading and browsing online. Currently, these are not enough to chill me out. With limited human interaction, I have incorporated routines that make me jump and sweat in front of my screen (either TV or computer) alone. These passive and active activities disconnect me from my teaching (which has shrunk significantly since March 2020) and house chores, which is known as psychological detachment.

ソーシャル・ジレンマ

ケンブリッジ・アナリティカがニュースになる、4〜5年前のことだったと思う。フェイスブックから、その人の年齢・性別・性格・趣味・食べ物の好み・政治的価値観など、諸々の個人情報をみいだすケンブリッジ大学の研究について知る機会があった。AI研究が発達し、犯罪防止につながればと願った。当時、個々の心理的属性の情報が、まさか米大統領選やBrexitの国民投票に利用されようとは思わなかった。

(離脱キャンペーンでは、Brexit に反対すること自体が愛国心に欠ける「非国民」のように言いはやされ、「頭」でなく「肚」の根拠なき心配に訴えるような流布がなされた。また「英国人」という、単一のアイデンティティに訴えかけたことも興味深い。)

その後スノーデン氏がNSAの情報収集を告発したときは、「やはり」という印象で驚かなかった。あれから監視資本主義はさらに進んだ。

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Inaction is aiding and abetting society’s ills

It’s the second lockdown in some places. In my city in the north of France that shares borders with Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg, the streets are almost empty. Although the authorities allowed shops to reopen three days ago, local businesses find customers hard to come by. Residents who go out for work reasons are at home before dusk. Hence, I was not surprised when I read that the number of reported street crimes has declined.

Meanwhile, we know that every crisis provides an opportunity for people to be resourceful; as well, not all crimes happen in the streets. Since the first lockdown in March, there have been reports on the rise in domestic violence, sale of fake medicine and treatment, consumption of exorbitant coronavirus-recommended cleaning and health products, and solicitation of donations for charities that either do not exist or do not deliver what they promise.

Recently, I heard about the UK’s COVID Fraud Hotline (0800 587 5030) encouraging people to phone anonymously and free of charge any suspected fraudulent activity. If you knew someone who has been claiming support illegally or abusing government schemes, would you call the hotline? It takes a long time for fraud to be discovered, and governments need a helping hand. Should we extend this to them?

Ethnic and race profiling, unconscious bias

On 29 July 2020, while promenading, my son and I were stopped by French Police asking for our IDs. Unlike in Australia and other western countries, in France, we are legally obliged to show our photo identification if we are stopped and asked to by a police officer. This is called the identity check “Contrôle d’Identité”. Pretending to be having a conversation with my son, I commented in English: “ethnic profiling”, “why us”, and “I wonder what criteria they use to decide who to stop”. I was hoping they would understand what I was saying; after all, English is taught widely in elementary, secondary and tertiary institutions in France.

Ethnic or racial profiling is the act of suspecting or targeting a person based on assumed characteristics or behaviour of a particular ethnic or racial group rather than on individual suspicion. I’m a Filipino-born Aussie and have a typical south-east Asian appearance. My 18-year-old son is 178 cm tall and has physical similarities with his white French-Australian father. They probably thought we were not together because I was some steps behind him trying to fix my hat while picking up my mask. Whereas, my son was in a hurry to avoid the soaring heat and was already under a shrub. When I called him back and he turned around, there was a change on the face of one of the police officers. His eyes became amiable, and he handed back my ID. At least we were not searched during this “contrôle”. We had our identification cards with us; otherwise, they could have taken us to a police station to establish our identity (“vérification d’identité”).

Passion and hobby aren't the same but both spice life and employment

Being paid for doing something that you enjoy is one of the most satisfying experiences. However, not all jobs offer this opportunity and many people earn a living from performing tasks they are not over the moon with.

Passion often comes up when it comes to job happiness and fulfilment. Being passionate at work enhances the pursuit of excellence and increases commitment and performance. Passion can either flourish, diminish or disappear when put in certain work environments. Employers and companies that provide conducive work milieu and implement management practices that respect, motivate and reward fairly unlock employees’ passion for performing well.

Since not everyone has a passion for their profession, pursuing it outside work can also improve one’s job satisfaction and well-being. Passions are not precisely the same as with hobbies. Passion is doing something you enjoy and have an overwhelming feeling of devotion even when it is difficult and stressful, but the result is worth the effort. Whereas, a hobby is something you do when you have free time, are feeling bored, or want to relax.

Gradual return to normality at work, home, etc.

On June 9, I resumed my face-to-face teaching after three months. Our work venue has been tailored to ensure physical distancing, and we are obliged to wear a face shield. There are arrows directing where to enter and exit; each room has information on the number of people allowed inside and a bottle of gel to hand sanitise. I have four students in an area of 18 square metres that can accommodate 20 people. According to them, my face shield produced echoed sounds. Likewise, I could not hear well what they were saying. With our great sense of humour, we did not notice the time passing by; after an hour and a half of the lesson, the flipchart was filled with nouns, verbs and adjectives.

Confinement and social distancing have resulted in financial hardship, work stress, and relationship difficulties. Many of us have now gone back to our pre-COVID routine; however, there are still millions of people negotiating the transition back to what it used to be the “normal”. Should common areas at home remain as workspaces? How many days per week should employees telework? Should religious service continue in car parks? Are drive-in cinemas a new vogue?

In her article “Life And Work After Covid-19: The Problem With Forecasting A Brighter Future", Josie Cox stated: “Our longing for a pre-pandemic existence (look no further than social media) is hard evidence of the fact that we will most likely revert to old habits and behaviors, both good and bad, when lockdowns are lifted and social distancing called off. We like the comforts and freedom of choice. In the workplace and beyond, we tend to choose a path of least resistance because that’s just the way we’re wired”. (link to the article, seen 16/06/20).

Sommes-nous vraiment prêts à retourner à notre routine ?

eXtinction Rebellion Luxembourg

Avant de retourner à la routine, des débats, discussions et autres examens publics sont nécessaires.

Il était près de 19h15. Nous nous promenions près du pont Adolphe, à mi-chemin entre la gare de Luxembourg et le centre-ville. Nous avons entendu les sirènes des véhicules d'urgence; au moins six camions de pompiers et ambulances se précipitaient vers la gare. Plus tard, nous apprenions qu'un incendie s'était déclaré dans notre voisinage. Toutes sortes d'équipes de professionnels ont agi rapidement pour stopper cet incendie à Luxembourg. Pendant ce temps, de nombreux incendies continuent à ravager l'Amazonie, au Brésil, au beau milieu de cette pandémie:

« la déforestation en Amazonie a atteint un niveau record depuis janvier. Cette déforestation est de 55% supérieure à celle de la même période de 2019. » (source: France Info)

La forêt pluviale amazonienne est populairement appelé le « poumon de la Terre ». Même si cette analogie est incorrecte, sa capacité d'absorption (entre 20 et 25% des émissions de dioxide de carbone planétaires) est loin d'être négligeable. Ironiquement, au même moment, nous subissons le coronavirus qui s'attaque principalement aux poumons. Peut-être, faut-il aussi y voir une métaphore ?

( Lire la suite 。。。)

Pandemic - Personality and Coping Mechanism

Before I get into the subject of my article, I would like to mention that today is a public holiday in more than 80 countries that observe International Worker’s Day or May Day. Here in France, May 1st is known as “Workers Day of International Unity and Solidarity.”

As a freelance English language teacher, my livelihood was destroyed by COVID 19 on March 13. None in my family and social circles have asked me how I have been coping financially. It is most likely because they are concern more about my health than non-existing wealth. As well, money is a pet peeve for many of us.

There have been tens of thousands of deaths around the world, and I do not have words to describe the sorrow of their families and friends. I can only contribute to the discussion about this pandemic’s economic and psychological impacts, as I have lived it.

According to the United Nations (UN), the four sectors that have experienced the most “drastic” effects of the disease are: retail and wholesale (482 million workers); manufacturing (463 million); business services and administration (157 million); and food and accommodation (144 million). I belong to the third group. The UN ILO chief stated these four sectors “add up to 37.5 per cent of global employment, and these are where the ‘sharp end’ of the impact of the pandemic is being felt now (cf ''COVID-19: impact could cause equivalent of 195 million job losses, says ILO chief'' in UN News).

Comment tenir bon durant le confinement ? Notre cas luxembourgeois (3)

Hyowon Chi - musicien professionnel vient jouer sur son balcon

6) Concerts aux balcons

Un jour mon compagnon m’a dit : « Peux-tu entendre de la musique ? Une flûte ». Je n’entendais rien. Mais il a insisté. Alors, je l’ai entendue faiblement et j’ai donc ouvert une fenêtre. Nous avons alors vu quelqu’un jouer de la flûte traversière sur le balcon d’un immeuble tout proche. C'était un voisin qui rétrospectivement s’est avéré être coréen. Par la suite, nous avons constaté que ce petit intermède musical arrivait tous les midis comme une pause dans notre longue journée de confinés en l’égayant d’un moment de réconfort et d’oubli du virus. « Notre » musicien se nomme Hyowon Chi et il est flûtiste professionnel.

Selon Hyowon, au début de l’initiative, il était prévu de jouer en duo avec son amie Hélène (flûtiste à l'OPL) qui habite un autre immeuble juste à côté du nôtre. Tous les jours, de leur balcon respectif, ils auraient joué ensemble mais il s’est avéré impossible d'être synchronisés à cause de la distance. Nous aurions bien eu besoin d’un « petit » Seiji Ozawa dans notre voisinage. Alors, ils ont décidé de jouer tous les jours à midi à tour de rôle. C'est ainsi que leurs concerts de balcon ont commencé depuis le 19 mars quand il faisait encore assez froid.

( Lire la suite 。。。)

Comment tenir bon durant le confinement ? Notre cas luxembourgeois (2)

Résident permanent

2) DIY : Réparer et recycler les choses

Cet objet non identifié a été sauvé par mon compagnon des poubelles de notre immeuble d’où il essayait de s’échapper... je parle bien du petit alien et pas de mon compagnon… :-) Après une bonne séance de nettoyage pour les deux (douche et lavage à la main… je vous laisse deviner qui a pris l’option douche), le nouveau venu est resté assis dans le salon pendant quelques mois en attendant les pièces pour le réparer.

Dans l’intervalle, mon bricoleur a fini de recoudre son sac-à-dos (que le cordonnier refusait de réparer), en utilisant des outils qu’il n’avait encore jamais vus (achetés sur Internet à un prix très modeste : 25 euros) et en apprenant les techniques de couture du cuir grâce à des vidéos trouvées en-ligne. Le sac est à présent plus solide qu’il ne l’a jamais été.

( Lire la suite 。。。)

Comment tenir bon durant le confinement ? Notre cas luxembourgeois (1)

Magnifiques rhododendrons à deux pas en bas de chez moi

Il y a quelques années, alors que je profitais avec mon compagnon du fameux Happy Hour de la Brasserie Alfa, en face de la gare de Luxembourg, deux vétérans américains de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale étaient assis à côté de nous au comptoir. Je suis japonaise, expatriée depuis bien longtemps, et mon partenaire est belge. Ils nous ont raconté leur « pèlerinage des Grandes Guerres » commencé en Normandie, en passant par la Marne et Verdun, et qu’ils poursuivaient vers Bastogne. Avant de les quitter, je leur ai indiqué les endroits à visiter en ville en glissant malicieusement que la brasserie bordait le « quartier chaud », ce à quoi l’un d’eux a lancé d’un ton juvénile « Vous plaisantez ?! Par où y va-t-on ? » et nous nous sommes tous mis à rire.

Oui, nous vivons dans le quartier cosmopolite de la Gare de Luxembourg. Toutes sortes de cultures, langues, nationalités et classes sociales s’y côtoient, y compris des millionnaires, des artisans, des commerçants et d’autres types de travailleurs. On y croise également ceux qui gagnent leur vie par des voies moins louables. Et puis, nous y trouvons aussi nos perles rares. J’y reviendrai dans un de mes prochains billets. Bref, c'est un lieu de vie sociologiquement intéressant.

Dans ce billet, je veux partager avec vous mes astuces pour faire face au confinement sans sombrer dans la morosité, la névrose phobique voire la folie douce. Bien sûr, nous sommes biologiquement câblés pour marcher et, en l’occurrence, se promener en forêt ou faire du sport en plein air est ce qu’il y a de mieux. Mais est-ce envisageable en ce moment ?

( Lire la suite 。。。)

Dancing at home!

This is so cool! soooo Luxembourgish! This nice little song reminds us that we are not “separate islands,” but a part of the larger society! Solidarity!

「コロナウイルスは今やここに」「外に出ないで、家で踊りましょう」「2メール距離をおいて、手洗い励行」「病人、虚弱な人、お年寄り、そして彼らをケアする人たちのことを私は想ってますよ」という手作り感のある連帯のビデオです。ルクセンブルク社会が、一瞥できると思います。

Danzt doheem

Si soten : « O mei, de Virus ass elo hei
a Schutzmoossname gëtt et eng ganz Rei.
Beim Schwätze respektéiert zwee Meter Distanz
a wäsch deng Fanger sou oft s de kanns. »

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