Learn about the plans for inaugurating President Barack Obama to a second term, rapper A$AP Rocky, and how the Japanese art of origami can help improve mental health.
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I’m June Simms.
On our show this week, we tell about rapper A$AP Rocky, and hear parts of his new album…
We also look at how the art of origami might be useful in the mental health field.
But first we report about the plans for inaugurating America’s 44th President to a second term.
On Sunday, Barack Obama will be officially sworn-in for a second term as president. Federal law requires that each president-elect be sworn in on January 20th. However, the ceremony will be repeated for the public on Monday, January 21st.
Faith Lapidus tells us about some of the inaugural events planned to start the second term of the 44th President of the United States.
At twelve noon on January 20th, in the year following a presidential election, the president begins a four-year term. Inauguration Day represents an unbroken line that stretches back to 1789. That is when General George Washington was sworn-in as the first president.
The swearing-in ceremony communicates the strength and permanence of the presidency. It is also a powerful symbolic moment for Americans, says Georgetown University government professor Mark Rom.
“Because it is the time when one democratically elected president leaves office and another democratically elected president takes over office. And the transition is peaceful and ceremonial.”
A president-elect traditionally meets with the current president at the White House on the morning of the inauguration. They go together to the swearing-in. But, of course, Barack Obama is already in office.
On Monday morning, Mr. Obama and his family will attend a religious service at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington. The church says this will be the 11th time it has held such a service before a president’s inauguration.
After the event, Mister Obama and his family travel to the Capitol building for the swearing-in ceremony. Members of Congress and the Supreme Court gather there as well. So do administration officials of the former and future administration.
The swearing-in ceremony takes place on the steps of the Capitol. The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts, will administer the swearing-in as he did for Mr. Obama’s first term. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to gather on the grounds and nearby for the event.
Ben Ginsburg is a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He says the Chief Justice also supplies important symbolism to the event.
“This new individual is exercising power is consistent with the Constitution of the United States, the laws of the United States, the wisdom and hopes of the framers of our Constitution.”
The president takes the oath of office with his hand on a Bible. This year Mister Obama will use books once owned by two of his heroes, President Abraham Lincoln and former civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
The president will speak to the American people after the swearing-in. Then there is a major parade, of which the president and family are a part, from the Capitol to the White House. The military services, school children, bands from around the country and all kinds of other groups are involved.
Later, many inaugural balls will be held to celebrate the new president. Two of the parties this year are official government events. But, many other large balls will take place Monday night. And many Americans will hold parties at their own homes, as well.
For more about the presidential inauguration listen Monday to the Special English program THIS IS AMERICA.
Origami is the Japanese art of folding a piece of paper. The folded paper can be made to look like anything -- a bird or a boat, a box, a flower or even a face. Some people do origami as a way to ease the day’s tensions. Others are serious artists. But Ken Fowler of Colorado used origami to help himself recover from a mental illness and launch a new career.
Several years ago, Ken Fowler suffered from extreme depression. Anti-depressant drugs were ineffective. The Colorado man felt so sad and unbalanced that he entered a mental hospital.
“I was in a really super-depressed state and it got to the point where I had two doctors recommending electro-convulsive therapy.”
While Ken Fowler was considering that treatment, an art therapist at the hospital suggested he experiment with origami.
“My hands were shaking so much I couldn’t get it. But I just kept persisting and it gave me something to focus on, other than TV. It helped me steady my hands.”
Mr. Fowler decided against having electroshock treatment. His mental condition began to improve and, in time, he was well enough to leave the hospital. He still takes anti-depressants. But he is sure that origami helped him recover.
“You can really relax with it. There’s no hurry. It’s not competitive. And it’s a little [raise to] self-esteem.”
After Ken Fowler left the hospital, he continued working with origami. He joined a group of origami lovers in the city of Boulder. They call themselves “The Boulder Folders.” Barbara Gardner leads the group.
The Boulder Folders includes children as young as six to retirees in their seventies. Barbara Gardner says Ken Fowler is a valued member.
“Ken is motivated. He is a good learner. He’s done a lot of things to figure out how to fold things. He’s become a wonderful teacher.”
Like to Katherine, an eighth grade student.
“Right now I’m making a bunch of paper cranes, a whole bunch of really small ones.”
Katherine says she likes how origami exercises her knowledge of mathematics and art skills.
Ken Fowler tells his students that if they do not like how one of their creations is shaped, they should unfold it, study the folds and change them or start anew. He says the same is true in mental health.
“So, if you can’t figure out where you’re at, and you’re wondering where you’re at in your life, just unfold it.”
After folding and unfolding, everyone ends up with a paper rose. And then they sing a poem Ken Fowler wrote about origami.
These days, Mr. Fowler has been asked to teach origami classes in public schools. He hopes to someday do the same for patients in psychiatric hospitals.
A$AP Rocky “Long.Live.A$AP”
This week, rapper A$AP Rocky released his first studio album, called “Long.Live.A$AP.” His 2011 mixtape of the “Live.Love.A$AP” received praise from critics and was popular on the Internet. As a result, A$AP Rocky’s name became well known, at least among hip-hop lovers. Mario Ritter has more on the rapper and his new record.
A$AP Rocky’s real name is Rakim Mayers. His mother named him after famed rapper Rakim, who got his start in the 1980s. So maybe A$AP Rocky was born to rap.
The 24 year old was born in New York City and raised mostly in the Harlem neighborhood. His childhood was not easy. His father was jailed when Rakim was 12. When he was 13, his brother was shot and killed. And his mother struggled financially. She, Rakim and his sister moved in and out of homeless shelters.
Rocky does not generally rap about the bad times in his life. For example, the first real single from “Long.Live.A$AP” is about his interest in sex. The name of the single is probably too dirty to say on our show, but here is a little sound.
A$AP Rocky has found the support he may have lacked as a boy. He is part of a group called the A$AP Mob. It includes producers, directors, designers, managers and other rappers. One of the founders, A$AP Bari, says the group is like a real family. In his words, “we look out for each other.” He says A$AP Mob has no room for selfishness.
When A$AP Rocky signed a record deal with SONY in 2011, it included support for the rest A$AP Mob.
A$AP Rocky is known for his love of stylish clothes. He raps about it in “Fashion Killa.”
A$AP Rocky performs with other artists on the album “Long.Live.A$AP.” They include Skrillex, Kendrick Lamar and Santigold.