American Dream (English Topic) | American Dream | Languages

The American Dream

The concept of “The American Dream” was first formally expressed in 1931 by James Truslow Adams, when he summed it up by saying, “"life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement". This notion is backed up by the ideas formally written in the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that “all men are created equal” and have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Of course, the idea of the American Dream existed long before Adams formalized it. It probably originated during the time of the 13 Colonies, when one could quite easily and cheaply obtain land and live with religious freedom. The idea of the American Dream continued to develop over time, and Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed his version of the American Dream in his letter from Birmingham Jail in 1963, “We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. . . . when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.” When you think of “the American Dream” what do you think of? Polls within the United States over the years consistently show that a majority of Americans feel that the American Dream is more about spiritual happiness than material goods. However, many equate the American dream to home ownership. Do you dream of owning a home? Why is this such a big milestone for many people? What does the “American Dream” mean to Russians? What has it meant in the past? What would you consider the “Russian Dream”?
To equate (something WITH or TO something else) = [VERB] (1) To consider, treat, or depict as equal of equivalent. [Some politicians equate the bombing campaign in Libya with the NATO-led bombing campaign in Yugoslavia.] (2) To be mathematically equal. [One dollar currently equates to about 28 rubles.] [NOTE: Use “WITH” if equate is used in the first definition's sense (opinion), and use “TO” if equate is used in the second definition's sense (mathematic equality)] Milestone = [NOUN] An important event; significant occurrence; turning point. [Turning 21 in the United States is probably more of a milestone in the United States than in Russia, because this is the legal age after which one can legally buy and consume alcohol, whereas in Russia one can do this at a younger age.]

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AMERICAN DREAM CASE STUDY: MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
Madeleine Albright was born Marie Jana Korbelova in 1937 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her father was a diplomat. Madeleine Albright would later make history, when in 1996 she became the first female Secretary of State of the United States of America. At the time of Albright’s birth, her father was serving as press-attaché at the Czechoslovak Embassy in Belgrade. However, the signing of the Munich Agreement in March 1938 and the disintegration of Czechoslovakia at the hands of Adolf Hitler forced the family into exile because of their links with Beneš. Prior to their flight, Albright's parents had converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism. Albright spent the war years in England, while her father worked for Beneš’s Czechoslovak government-in-exile.. Albright was raised Catholic, but converted to Episcopalianism at the time of her marriage in 1959. Albright did not learn until late in life that her parents were Jewish and that many of her Jewish relatives in Czechoslovakia perished in The Holocaust, including three of her grandparents. After WWII her family moved to the United States and she spent her teen years in Denver. She would later move to Washington DC with her family and study International Relations and the Russian language. She became a U.S. citizen in 1957. She graduated and later became a professor and then the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Despite not being born in the United States, she became the highest ranking woman in the history of the United States in 1996. In 2003, upon her retirement, she published her memoirs, entitled “Madam Secretary”. Some people feel that Madeleine Albright's story does NOT reflect the American Dream. Do you agree or disagree? Why? Do you know of any famous “American Dream” stories? Tell us about them.

PHRASAL VERB OF THE WEEK
To freshen up = To quickly wash yourself (sometimes just the face) so that you feel cleaner, fresher, and more comfortable. [NOTE: Females sometimes use this phrasal verb to signify that they are going to go put on makeup]. [We've been driving in this car all day, but luckily there is a hotel and restaurant about 10 kilometers away where we can freshen up and have dinner.]

IDIOM OF THE WEEK
To make no bones about (something) = To let your feelings about (something) be known very clearly. To let people know your opinions/views without hesitation. [Varya makes no bones about the fact that she is a fan of Valentina Ivanovna Matvienko. She even hangs a picture of our governor in her kitchen.]
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QUIZ
Get ready for another pop quiz!

CONVERSATION
Viktor: Hey guys, guess what?!? I just got an E-mail saying that I was awarded a Green Card to the United States! Varya: But Viktor, are you sure it's not just a scam? The Internet is full of con artists. Remember what happened to your old Vkontakte page? Sergei: Yes, you'd better double-check with the U.S. Consulate here in St. Petersburg. Natasha: Well I, for one, am definitely going to the U.S. soon, so eat your hearts out! Viktor: Cool. I hear Los Angeles and New York City have a lot of awesome clubs. Natasha: I don't know about that, but I'm going to be in Washington DC anyway. Sergei: Oh, that will be neat for you. Of course, it's not quite as outstanding as Louisiana, but..... Varya: Well, you're right about that, Seryozha, but on the other hand DC is the capital and there are a lot of things to do there. Natasha: Well, I'll be there for work, but I'm hoping to get a lot of shopping done in my free time! Viktor: Sounds boring! Varya: Sounds fantastic! Sergei: Maybe you'll have time to fly to New Orleans for a night on the town or a crawfish boil? Natasha: Probably not. My husband and I will be busy taking in all the sights of DC. Sergei: Well, I often find myself in Washington DC to assess dams or design pumps, so I can at least suggest a few decent restaurants. Viktor: You get to go to DC on business trips? I always get sent to Norilsk! Sergei: “Bayou” has some generic Louisiana Cajun dishes, including Po' Boys. It's located on Pennsylvania Avenue. “Acadiana” is more expensive, but it has a greater variety of both Cajun and Creole dishes, as well as a more formal atmosphere. It is on New York Avenue NW. Natasha: Thanks Sergei, we'll keep those in mind. Varya: This conversation is making me hungry! I think I'll eat a few crumbs of bread and a spoonful of cottage cheese. Viktor: Maybe we can order a pizza and watch a movie? Varya: I'm down for watching a movie, but after that spoonful of cottage cheese, I'm stuffed! Sergei: What movie do you want to watch, Viktor? Viktor: Gremlins!
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Natasha: Wow, that's a random movie choice. Sergei: It's Viktor, get used to it. Varya: And just be thankful that it's not another Engineering Documentary.....uggh.....
Scam = [NOUN] A fraudulent scheme or crafty trick, usually conceived to make a quick profit; a swindle. [I can't believe that they are advertising fresh apples at Dixie for just 20 rubles a kilogram. That is such a scam - I saw them deliver those same apples 3 weeks ago!] Con artist = [NOUN] Scammer; Swindler; Person who regularly deceives (usually as a full-time “job”) others in order to gain financial benefit or some other benefit, at the victim's expense. [After a man contacted me on the Internet about transferring funds to his bank account, I immediately realized that he was a con artist.] For one = These two words, immediately following the subject, put an additional stress on the action that the subject is taking, often in contrast to the action of others, and underlining that the subject is capable of taking that action. [Well Sarah may have forgotten to give you a birthday present, but I, for one, did not! Most people don't know where Saipan is located, but John, for one, does.] Eat your heart out = [IDIOM] When someone uses this phrase, they are saying that they are better than the other person at something or because of something. [Have you heard my rendition of “Baby One More Time”? Eat your heart out, Britney Spears!] [NOTE: This phrase is often used amongst friends in a friendly, sarcastic, non-offensive way. If the phrase is directed at a group of people, then “heart” changes to plural (hearts) – I just got a 5 on Gutorov's exam – eat your hearts out, friends!]

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