Raised in France by German-Egyptian parents who spoke English at home, Maurice Hazan was destined for a life in linguistics. The author of 80 books in 10 languages, the polyglot began leading French classes in the U.S. 20 years ago, where he first developed what would become his intuitive QTalk method. Whereas some techniques prepare students to pass an exam, and then the stuents immediately forget their lessons, Hazan's picture-based programs etch vocabulary into long-term memory by minimizing written English and making students cover their dictionary tattoos. His classes emphasize speaking in complete, grammatically accurate sentences from day one.
Adults and children can join level-appropriate programs, which Hazan is constantly improving by developing new games and study devices in the school's basement workshop. The classes that aren't led by Hazan himself are conducted by a staff of native Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and other language speakers, all of whom he's trained himself.
Healthy Huntsville was recently founded as part of a collaboration between the city government and local businesses that aims to foster healthier behavior in the community. It teaches Huntsville residents how to maintain good fitness levels and eating habits and raises awareness about these issues among young and low-income community members. To achieve its goal of improving health in the region, Healthy Huntsville runs more than 100 free events for residents including Alabama's largest yoga class, TED video screenings, and cook-offs that promote healthful food.
Although many would envy the fame and clout of New York City’s mayor, the true power of Manhattan lies in the crown of its Brisket King. Each year, contestants from local restaurants and upstate farms compete for the title during a barbecue cook-off judged by celebrity chefs and brisket experts, vying for top honors as they roast tender cuts of beef from their unique recipes. All the while, attendees sample the succulent meats and sip libations from a bar stocked with everything from beer to “Bullshot,” a cocktail of vodka-infused brisket juice. To crown the champion, a panel of qualified judges decide the winner, relying on their expertise in distinguishing a basket of perfectly cooked brisket from a plate of steamed broccoli.
Thinking of the city rarely calls images of fog-ringed mountains and wolf-filled forests to mind, but Discover Outdoors—formerly known as Outdoor Bound—turns these scenes into reality. Owner, avid outdoorsman, and eight-time marathon runner Kirk Reynolds makes sure of it. He and a staff of experts—each a licensed trail guide and Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness EMT—temper the stress of city living with day trips to nearby natural enclaves and weekend camping excursions. The getaways thrill with activities such as hiking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and horseback riding.
International trips, meanwhile, quench a thirst for life-defining adventures beyond trips to the grocery store during peak Saturday hours. Among them: hikes up famed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, treks to Machu Picchu in Peru, and jaunts through the Canadian Rockies. Some of the journeys even grant travelers the opportunity to fundraise for a worthy cause as they explore.
U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s Inspired Gifts program creates opportunities for donors to purchase specific lifesaving items, such as blankets, mosquito nets, and therapeutic milk, which are then shipped to children in more than 150 countries. Through its Inspired Gifts program, UNICEF aims to provide immunization kits filled with 20 doses of the tetanus vaccine, 20 doses of the polio vaccine, and 10 doses of the measles vaccine to mothers and children, in an effort to reduce the destructive capacity of those diseases across the globe. Each kit travels to its destination in a cold carrier box to maintain the appropriate temperature, and costs $20.
Committing to program participants from middle school until high-school graduation, Breakthrough New York tutors public-school students in after-school and summer enrichment programs, training them for the academic challenges presented by such exclusive colleges as Harvard, Brown, and Wesleyan. During the course of the 2011 Building Readers summer session, students will complete eight at-home reading assignments, including A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. After finishing the program, students will be able add the books to their personal libraries to peruse and enjoy again. This extracurricular foray into literary criticism inspires greater thoughtfulness and intellectual curiosity in students, and can lead to further pursuit of knowledge.