This is a quick up to date update. As in, this is for today, March 16, not me trying to catch up from 3 months ago (uggghhhhh)
A bus full of Belgian primary school kids crashed in a tunnel on the way home from a ski trip with the school this past week in Switzerland. 22 children and 6 adults died. It is international news here in Europe. Today Belgium had a national day of grieving, called a "deuil" (which means grieving), in which at 11 o'clock, in principle, everyone stopped everything for 1 minute. The cars pull over, class stopped at school, and all the church bells in the entire country, Flemish and Walloon, ring for the minute. My host dad told me in the car today that in all his years of living in Belgium (his whole life), he has only known 3, one of which was the death of the last king. So it's a big deal. And I think the way they do it, and the rareness of the event (as opposed to where I lived in the states, when we had a moment of silence every single day, sometimes multiple times a day) really really added to my appreciation of the gravity of the situation, and the specialness of it. It was a nice moment anyway.
Tonight also, live from Lyon, France, les Enfoirés played! It's comparable to the Grammy's in America, but then again, completely not. Les Enfoirés are more like the movie guild at the oscar's actually. But I digress. They are a "guild," for lack of a better word, of all the best and most popular francophone, (and just French) artists that all put on a concert together every year now full of strange chorus and changing solo arrangements of popular songs sung in context of silly skits. But the show is really spectacular, and the names that are there are just so impressive to see all on one stage. It is in fact a charity concert, started by the original "enfoirés" (which means bastards, [it's a sort of joke]) for the "Restaurants du coeur" (restaurants of/from the heart) which collect and give food to hungry people in France, and around the world. It's a great thing too. They release a cd and a dvd every year and all benefits go to this charity! It does however manage to stay so much less commercial than the benefit concerts from the US, I find. At least, during the concert, I didn't feel like I was watching public television that would ask me to call in and order for 15 minutes ever 10 minutes of programming. Good stuff.
Happy St. Paddy's day!