Category Archives: Columbus Zoo

Celebrate Global Advocacy


Today is World Humanitarian Day, declared by the United Nations in 2008, to give

tribute to ones who died in the 2003 bombing of the U.N. Headquarters in Baghdad.

On that day, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq was killed,

Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others who were not in any military personnel duty,

but were public servants. These ‘voiceless victims” gave up their lives. This honors

all those who are negotiators, compromisers, and humanitarians who chose such lofty

goals as World Peace as part of their life’s purpose.


World Humanitarian Day, August 19th,  is a wonderful result of collaboration

between countries. The country where Sergio Vieira de Mello originated, Brazil,

along with Switzerland, France and Japan helped to steer, then ‘table’ the draft

of the resolution. International foundations worked tirelessly to promote this

and it came about six years ago.


Donations, to UNICEF, an organization that has Sudan at the top of their ‘needy’

countries’  list are welcome. They ask this to be done in honor of this celebration

for the victims of crimes against humanitarians and their families.


A meaningful expression that I found while looking this up was:

“Light up your map” by supporting and sending money to UNICEF, with “our global

advocates” in mind.


Humanitarian. What an inspiring and amazing kind of person.


I hope this post will encompass this theme, along with including my own

observations and something recently discussed among my grandchildren.

After we watched Fievel, in his original role in the animated children’s film

from 1986, my grandsons were talkative. Lots of subjects came out of this

movie, my introduction to the fact that they had immigrants in their family

tree, from my side of the family, (their mother’s side) from Germany, Sweden,

Scotland and England. Then, one of the two boys, has African as one fourth

of his blood, while the other boy has many overlapping countries from his

Daddy’s and Mommy’s sides, of the German, Swede, Scot and English tribes.

While we were happily going all over the subject, they mentioned that their

Mimi and Poppy had the song, “Somewhere Out There,” as part of their wedding

music. This is the theme song from the movie, “An American Tail.”

In my oldest grandson’s memory, he came up with “Coming to America,” as a

song he had learned from his music teacher at school. I was amazed, that he put

these two songs together. Since this song is also about immigration. I mentioned

that it is one of my all-time favorite songs, sung by Neil Diamond.

They, of course, said, “Who?”

I didn’t even try to get them to recall who he was, since that would mean a whole

other discussion.

Just for your information, this song came out before, “An American Tail,” the

children’s film about immigration. “Coming to America,” was on the soundtrack

for the movie and album, “The Jazz Singer” (1980). The album’s hit single, made it

to the top of the charts, in 1981, making Diamond’s sixth ‘hit single’ at the time.

The theme of the song is to embrace the history of immigration, starting from

the 1900’s up until today. Interestingly, one of the lyrics’ passages includes his

repeating, “They’re coming to America… Today! They’re coming to America…”

When Neil Diamond performs this song live, he substitutes this audience

participation phrase, “Stand up for America… Today! Stand up for America…”


When we talked about their own heritage, my oldest grandson asked why is it

that he had overheard this question while recently at the zoo,

“Why don’t people talk English? If they can’t talk English, they should go back

to where they came from!”

I was looking at him, hoping and praying he would not reveal that it was

anyone he knew that said these rather ‘hateful’ words.

The next thing Sky said surprised me. He had apparently been thinking for some time

about the comments. This was only two weeks’ ago, when his parents had taken both

boys for an employee appreciation day at Zoombezi Bay, part of the Columbus Zoo.

Skyler said, “If people feel more comfortable talking to each other, then it should

be okay to use their country’s language, don’t you think, Nana?”

I smiled and said,

“My Filipino friends talk English with their spouses and almost always with

their children, too. But you know Felda and her two children, Kridia Dawn

and Zachary?”

The boys looked serious and nodded.

The youngest one piped up,

“Maybe they like to hear their Mommy speak her language if she sings songs.”

(Felda does have a beautiful voice, they had heard it at one of their many parties,

because part of the ‘games’ is to sing karaoke, adults and children, too.)

“Exactly! Good job, Micah!” I exclaimed.

I continued to explain why my good Filipino friends use their ‘homeland’s


“Felda wants her kids to know what her language was, so they will recognize

some words, each time they travel back to see their grandmother there in the


Skyler got pensive again, my ‘serious thinker!’

“I am so glad you live close to us. By speaking Filipino with their grandma,

this would make her so happy, wouldn’t it? Do they talk on the phone or

Skype with her?”

I think my grandkids are all so ‘tech-savvy’ I forget about this new ‘age’ stuff.

“Yes, I am sure they do. But I will ask about this, I have seen them Skype at

work, for Felda’s or Mary Jane’s mother’s birthday together. I don’t know why

they would not Skype with the children to see her and share with her, at home.”

I was winding down on this subject and added this comment,

“They sit separately at work, while eating lunch and on their breaks, to

chatter happily and quickly about their personal lives.”

Skyler mentioned that it would be ‘cool’ to be able to have a hidden spy code

language, to talk to your friends in.

I agreed,

“So, when people say these things, I think they may be misunderstanding why

the ones who are using another language are doing this. A different reason may

be,  they are overhearing visitors from another country or ‘foreigners.’ Just like

we like to travel, someday I hope you will go to another country. You may wish to

use the language of that country but you may look for someone who understands

English. When foreigners visit, they seek out our cultural places, like museums

and zoos. Sometimes, there is no one who knows their language but there are

special headphones and language tapes, to help them to understand what they

are seeing. ”


It was funny how Micah was taking this all in, which is unusual. He interrupted

my final statement to interject,

“What do you think about when people ask me if my Daddy is a terrorist? Are

they trying to be funny? It makes him so mad!”

Micah’s Daddy’s father is black. For some reason, even when he wears his hair

in an ‘afro’ or braids, people think he looks like someone from Iraq or Iran. I

tried not to smile because he’s made some jokes about trying to go to the airport

and being held back, if he were ever wishing to travel internationally. He will use

a Robert Kline kind of comment, “I just picture the guards taking me down, then

I am lying on the floor using my Ohio accent, telling them I was born here!” I know

he doesn’t think it is funny and under the comic words, he is hiding his pain.

“It is not meant as an insult. If anything, the best way to answer people about

this, is to say, “Of course not! That’s my Daddy!”

I also told Micah that being able to see humor in such things and make light of

them, will carry him far in life.


Skyler summed this all up in one fantastic phrase, which he admits may have

come from the children’s animated movie, “Tarzan:”

“They are part of us. We are part of them.”


Referring to the song Phil Collins wrote for “Tarzan” (1999):

“You’ll Be in My Heart.”

“Why can’t they understand the way we feel?”

(The gorilla mother singing to human baby, Tarzan)

“They just don’t trust what they can’t explain.

I know we’re different but deep inside us,

We’re not that different at all.”



As far as language, it is true that~

I wish my Grandmother Mattson had taught me some German.

I wish my Grandfather had taught me some Swedish.

I watch that one television show, “Welcome to Sweden,” just to learn a few phrases.

I know my Dad learned a little Scottish and used a few phrases that are more ‘slang’

than anything else.


Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God.”


Who do you consider a great humanitarian?

Do you feel we need to be more or less understanding to others, when it comes

to language barriers?

Be honest, we can learn from each other’s points of view.




Cast Away, Matey’s!


My grandsons, eldest daughter and “son in law” shared their family

day with me, yesterday! It ended up a wonderful time, despite an

overcast sky and torrential rains around 3:15 p.m. We were at the

water park next to the Columbus Zoo, “Zoombezi Bay.”

I was going to be assigned the care of Micah, age 4 but when Skyler

heard that, he asked to tag along. Last year, M. being 3, there was

a nap time included on the lounge chairs by the “baby pool area.”

Skyler was going to miss out on all the giant water rides, slides and

rock n rolling stuff with his Mom and stepdad. Turned out, later, after

the rain stopped and Nana was headed home, he got a chance to

go on two of those wild rides.

Our first part of playtime, was to go to  the big Pirate Ship that has

cannons that shoot water, floating rafts that you can lie on but look

like they are wooden rafts like Huckleberry Finn rode down the good

ole’ Mississippi River. I am able to mention this to Skyler since he has

seen the old time “Huck Finn” movie made in possibly the nineties?

It had the cute blonde boy from the Tim Allen t.v. series, “Home

Improvement.” Now, I think I better look up that date… (1991- 99).

The now grown man is named Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

I asked him, “Skyler, do you remember who Huck Finn was?”

S. answered, “Was he going down the river with a black man named


“Yep, your Mom probably loves that show since you know the details!”

S. looked at me funny, “Nana, I ask to watch that because he has a

lot of fun adventures on that raft!”

M. just laughed, “Push me, Nana, so I go in circles on my raft!”

Soon, getting bored with the beginning part of the fun stuff, we got

off our rafts and headed up onto the pirate ship, crawling up rope

ladders and looking around. Promptly, Micah went back down the

slide and into the water!

We looked down, and all of a sudden a lifeguard was whistling and

pointing at ME! I figured that I was supposed to be with M. at all

times so slid down the slide.

A walking lifeguard, motioned over to me by the one up on the tall

lifeguard chair scolded me!

“Ma’m, you are not allowed on the Pirate Ship!”

Turns out the height limit for the Pirate Ship is 54″! Oops! Nana broke

the posted rules!

We headed over to this building that is out in the water by the Pirate

Ship and got under a huge bucket. From a distance, this looks like

someone’s imaginary vision of a watermill combined with a sawmill.

There are streams of water that come shooting everywhere on this,

I was allowed on the platforms, rope ladders and bridges. I was

also told by Skyler,

“Stand here, Nana!” when a big work whistle blew! It reminded me

of the end of the day for Fred Flinstone and his buddy, Barney.

I heard kids start rushing towatds this area and whoosh! The biggest

bucket ever dumped water all over us!

Micah was safely hiding in a wooden barrel on a platform next to us.]

He knew the “drill!” I could have guessed it, but the first time, said,

“Skyler, you tricked me!!”

When it came to the long and narrow tube slides that zig zagged in

different directions, I asked if Skyler could wrap his legs around M.

and go down with him.  That was fine with the two of them  and I

climbed down the rope ladders to a very nice “island” where a fake

palm tree was. I heard a macaw, looked around and there was a

real macaw, a beautiful azure blue, golden claws and beak. A few

fluffy feathers on his or her chest. The netting around his cage

was made of rope and the little island could be reached if walked

to or swum to.

I just propped my feet on my own little island and imagined a nice

cool Long Island Iced Tea or Strawberry Margarita in my hand.

A shriek broke my solitude and escape from reality, was that one

minute or five that I was peaceful?

I looked all of a sudden up one of the three tubes that the boys

could have been coming down, found Micah who had somehow

wriggled out of Skyler’s grip and was zooming towards me!

I grabbed him up and hugged him, asking, “Are you okay?”

What do you think he said?

You are correct!

“I wanna go again!”

I asked Skyler if there were a height requirement or if Micah

could go alone down the shoots? He said,

“Silly Nana, anyone can go down these slides by themselves,

they are covered so where can they go but down? No one is

going to fall out of them like other rides!”

“You gotta be smarter than the average bear, Boo Boo!”

Yogi would have known that answer and possibly even little

Boo Boo!

I spent almost an hour watching them go up and down the

rope ladders and slide down one of the three choices for

tubes. It was quite relaxing, no problems, and we ended up

heading to the lounge chairs at the agreed upon time for

lunch and met their parents.

Lunch was a smorgasbord for them, consisting of chili cheese

fries, hamburgers, hot dog (for Micah), onion rings and some

lemonade for the boys, and soda pop for the parents. I ate my

crunchy peanut butter and jelly sandwich, my mixed berry

applesauce and my popcorn leftover from my t.v. snacks

popped the previous night.

The afternoon was spent on the “Lazy Kalahoochie River.”

Micah chose to be on an individual floating soft blow up style

raft, I started with Carrie on a double “O” raft and we ended

up snagging another one, where she and I could lie with our

heads on one end, our behinds on the middle and feet over

end. It may have looked like an “8” more than a double “O”

raft, come to think about it. Skyler had his “8” and Mike,

Carrie’s partner, Micah’s Dad, Sky’s stepdad, walked the

river, making sure we didn’t get our heads under waterfalls

and Micah didn’t capsize too often!

We saw a log, above our heads, filled with turtles between 6″

to about 2 feet big all lined up and looking at all of the people

floating by them; not “fazed” a bit by their daily sight!

While floating down the river, I heard that older song, “Day- O,”

sung by Harry Belafonte. Also, they had some calypso music

with Jimmy Buffett thrown it. It is hard not to relax and enjoy

those floating moments. Frees your mind of any or all worries!

Overall, I would say, hope you all can “cast away” and have

a fantastic escape from your “daily grind” sometime this


I am no longer “blue” about school starting since I played

“hooky” from the good ole’ Advance Auto distribution center

and lazed around on islands and on manmade lazy rivers!