Broadcast: April 16, 2004
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
This is Doug Johnson. On our show this week, we have music from a television show for children that has been broadcasting for thirty-five years. And we answer a question about the metric system.
But first, we tell about an exciting new soccer football player.
Freddy Adu was born in the West African nation of Ghana fourteen years ago. On April sixth, he became the youngest professional athlete to play in a major American sport in more than one-hundred years. Shep O’Neal tells us more about him.
Freddy Adu smiles a lot. He is a nice young man who happens to play soccer football very well. He plays well enough to be a member of the Washington D.C. United Major League Soccer Team. As a result, Freddy is earning a great deal of money.
Soccer fans bought every ticket for sale on April sixth to watch Freddy play his first game as a professional. The D.C. United team played the San Jose Earthquakes.
The D.C. United coach did not send Freddy into the game until the sixty-first minute. When he did, the crowd cheered. Many fans waved the flag of Ghana. Many more called his name -- “Freddy! Freddy!”
Freddy did nothing unusual in the game. He did not score, but he helped his team win the game. Many soccer fans are excited thinking about what Freddy Adu may do in the future.
Soccer experts say they love to watch Freddy play. They say he does not just move the ball. He dances with it. He is very fast. He moves the ball as fast as he can run. He can kick extremely well with either foot and is especially good with his left foot.
Freddy did all of these things many times in the past few years while playing for the United States Youth Soccer National League. When he reached the age of thirteen, professional soccer teams in Europe offered him large amounts of money to play for them. But Freddy Adu wanted to play for a team close to his home. He lives with his family near Washington, D.C.
Many critics say Freddy Adu is too young to play professional soccer. Freddy just smiles. He says he wants to be the best soccer player he can be and to help his team.
Professional soccer players want Freddy Adu to succeed. They want him to play well and to help create excitement about soccer in the United States. Freddy is already creating that excitement. The future will tell if he can create even more excitement as a professional soccer player.
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Spain. Pedro-Vicente Bellosta y Ferrer asks if the United States has proposals to use the metric system some day.
The answer to this question is yes. The United States is the only industrial country in the world that does not use the metric system as its main system of measurement. Congress approved a law in nineteen-seventy-five that called for the use of the metric system. It said the United States should begin measuring in kilometers, liters and hectares instead of miles, gallons and acres.
Lawmakers knew that American companies would lose money if they made non-metric products for sale when most other nations used the metric system. And foreign importers did reject American goods that were not made in metric measurements. But Americans resisted such change.
So Congress changed the Metric Conversion Act in nineteen-eighty-eight. The new law gave the federal government the responsibility to help industry change to the metric system of measurement. But the law did not require businesses to change. Lawmakers believed that companies would make the change if they recognized the need to do so.
Kenneth Butcher of the Commerce Department heads the federal government’s metric program office. He says more and more American companies have changed to the metric system. Companies that export products or produce goods in other countries have been using metric measurements for years.
The American public seems to be supporting a change to metric in recent years. For example, a federal law requires all product packaging in the United States to include both metric weight and non-metric weight. Mister Butcher says about five-hundred American companies now support a proposal that would change the law so companies would not have to provide the non-metric weight on the package. Only the metric weight would appear on the package. He also says that most American states support this idea, too.
Mister Butcher says his office has provided American schools with materials to teach the metric system for many years. He says this effort is now showing results as young American business leaders are seeking to change to the metric system.
Sesame Street Anniversary
Do you recognize this music? We are not surprised! The children’s television show “Sesame Street” is broadcast in more than one-hundred-twenty countries. “Sesame Street” began its thirty-fifth year earlier this month. Gwen Outen tells about the show and plays some its many famous songs.
In the late nineteen-sixties, Joan Ganz Cooney was dissatisfied with American television programs for young children. She wanted to make them educational and fun. She especially hoped to reach poor children. Mizz Cooney and officials from the Carnegie Corporation set up the Children’s Television Workshop. They developed “Sesame Street” with the help of Jim Henson. He created the famous puppets on “Sesame Street.” They are called the Muppets. One of the earliest and most popular Muppets is Kermit the Frog. Here Kermit sings a song about the color of his skin. It is called “Bein’ Green.”
Humans also live on “Sesame Street.” Bob McGrath has lived on the street since its beginning. He plays a music teacher. Here Bob sings the popular song “People in Your Neighborhood.”
In the late nineteen-eighties, a furry red monster puppet named Elmo arrived on “Sesame Street.” He has since become a huge star. We leave you now with Elmo and some of his Muppet friends singing “Elmo’s Song.”
This is Doug Johnson.
I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
This program was written by Nancy Steinbach, Paul Thompson and Caty Weaver. Paul Thompson was the producer. And our engineer was Tom Verba.