Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. This week:
hear music by performers at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas …
listener question about the documentary film "Sharkwater" …
report about how the recession has affected volunteering in the United States.
Aid organizations are sometimes the first to suffer in
a bad economy. Many people are forced to
reduce the amount of money they donate to these organizations. However, the
current economic problems are helping nonprofit organizations in another way.
In many American cities, people who have lost their jobs are now volunteering.
Nonprofit organizations are reporting record numbers of new volunteers. This
is good for everyone involved. The organizations gain more volunteers. And the volunteers gain work experience or
learn new skills while supporting causes they care about. Bob Doughty has our report.
Ian Shaw moved back to the Washington, D.C., area from
Colorado hoping to find work. He had
lost his job out west and saw little hope of finding another one. "There just was not any work out there at
all," he says. He moved in with his
father in Fairfax, Virginia, last August and began the job search again.
But, unemployment rates in the Washington area are at
their highest level in more than ten years. After two months without luck,
Mister Shaw decided to work for free. He
said he wanted to help people and maybe even gain some business contacts.
He decided to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, a
group that builds homes for low-earning families. Mister Shaw signed up at the
group's office in Manassas, Virginia. He
said he knew the organization was great because his sister had volunteered for
it. And, his experience in the building
industry made the organization the right one for him.
Traci DeGroat leads the Manassas Habitat for Humanity
office. She says there has been a sharp
increase in volunteers recently. She said Ian Shaw was among several people who
could not find paying jobs but still wanted to work.
This is also true at the Arlington Free Clinic, in
Arlington, Virginia. It provides medical
services to low-earning citizens who do not have health insurance.
Lee Miller is the director of volunteers. She says she has seen a rise in volunteers,
especially young people. "There are more
people just out of college who might be waiting to start graduate schools. They are not able to find the temporary,
part-time jobs they would normally take," she says. Miz Miller says the clinic
work provides good experience, especially for those interested in the medical
Back in Manassas, Ian Shaw's volunteer experience was
even better than he expected. In
January, the Habitat for Humanity office offered him a paying position. Ian Shaw is now employed.
Our listener question this week comes from Vietnam.
Junsuki wants to know about the movie "Sharkwater." This powerful documentary
film was written and directed by the Canadian photographer and biologist Rob
Stewart. It was released in two thousand seven. "Sharkwater" has won more than thirty awards at film festivals around
the world. It was also the opening film for the Environmental Film Festival in
Washington, D.C., which we reported on last month.
About seven years ago, Rob Stewart was working in the
Galapagos Islands photographing sharks. There, he discovered that the illegal
practice of long-line fishing was taking place in a protected sea area. This
method of fishing kills huge numbers of sharks and other sea animals. So,
Mister Stewart decided to make a movie to increase public awareness about
sharks. He spent four years filming in fifteen different countries.
ROB STEWART: "You're underwater and you see the thing
that you were taught your whole life to fear. And it doesn't want to hurt you.
And it's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. And your whole world
have existed for hundreds of millions of years. They developed more than a
hundred million years before the dinosaurs. Sharks play an important role in
the food chain. So when their numbers fall, the entire ecosystem of the ocean
is put at risk.
Rob Stewart explains that people fear sharks because of
media stories and movies about shark attacks. But he says in fact, sharks are
very shy creatures that do not like to attack humans. He says that elephant
attacks kill far more people a year than shark attacks. But few people are
afraid of elephants as they are of sharks.
In "Sharkwater," Rob Stewart uncovers the illegal shark
fin trade in Costa Rica. In Asian countries, the high demand for shark fins for
cooking has led to an illegal trade worth millions of dollars. The mass killing
of sharks continues because very few countries have rules to protect the
shows beautiful images of sharks in nature. For example, you can see hundreds
of female hammerhead sharks gathering to find mates. You can see Mister Stewart
holding a playful shark underwater. But the movie also shows the terrible
reality of shark fishing. It shows bloody images of fisherman cutting the fins
off dead sharks then throwing them back in the water.
movie says that the world's shark population has dropped by an estimated ninety
percent. And, it explains how life on land depends on life in the ocean. So, by
saving sharks we are also helping to save people.
Since nineteen eighty-seven, the South by Southwest
Music Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas, has been an important event for
people in the music industry. The festival started as a way for musicians in
Austin to reach out to larger audiences. It has grown into a huge event that
brings together musicians, record companies, filmmakers, reporters and radio
programmers from around the world. Barbara Klein has more.
was the song "She's Got a Hold on Me" by the band Hacienda from San Antonio,
Texas. This group was one of about one thousand eight hundred musical acts that
performed at the South by Southwest festival last month.
performers at the festival, like Metallica, Jane's Addiction and Erykah Badu,
are very well known. Other less known artists attend the festival to be
discovered by record companies. And some musicians attend to gain new fans and
have fun performing.
people at the festival would agree that the Internet has greatly changed the
ways musicians and record companies do business. Online music stores and file-sharing have had
a big effect on record sales. But the Web has given a kind of freedom to
independent musicians who depend on the Internet for sales, reviews and staying
in touch with fans.
is the song "Lips" by the British band Micachu and the Shapes which also
performed at the festival. This group plays very inventive music using unusual
instruments and layers of sounds.
by Southwest also includes movies as well as an Interactive festival that
celebrates new media technologies. But for many, the festival will always be
about listening to good music. We leave you with "Everything I Love" by Juliet
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written by Caty Weaver and Dana Demange who was
also the producer. Join us again next
week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.