In Corning New York: A House of Glass




Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week: We hear some Latin pop music…Answer a question from a listener about local and state governments …And report about a museum of glass.

Corning Glass Museum


Did you know that glass is both a liquid and a solid? Or that glass is one of the oldest substances made by humans? These are some of the many interesting facts that visitors can learn at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. Faith Lapidus tells us more.


The Corning Museum of Glass has one of the largest and most important glass collections in the world. Visitors can see many beautiful objects. These include three thousand year old glass animals from Egypt. Finely made European drinking glasses. And works by modern glass artists from all over the world.

In the entrance to the museum there is a sculpture by a famous American glass artist named Dale Chihuly. This artwork is more than three meters tall and made of five hundred pieces of wildly-shaped green glass. The sculpture looks more like a living sea creature than a glass object!

However, the Corning Museum of Glass is not just for pieces of art. There are also many exhibits that explain the science of glass. For example, you can learn about an important glass discovery that was made more than ninety years ago. In nineteen thirteen, a scientist discovered that putting the chemical boric oxide into glass made it able to resist high temperatures. With the help of his wife, this scientist invented Pyrex, special glass containers made for cooking. In fact, Pyrex used to be manufactured in the Corning factory near the current Museum of Glass.

The technology of glass is very important in other ways that you might not think about. For example, glass is necessary to make fiber optic cables, devices that make Internet connections possible. Glass is even used to make LCD's, or liquid crystal displays. These technologies are used for manufacturing television and computer screens.

Visitors to the museum can also take part in glass activities. Every few hours an expert gives a glass-blowing demonstration. Using a steel pole, the expert forms hot liquid glass into a cup or vase. There is even a special area where visitors can make their own glass objects.

If visitors are tired after a day of learning about glass, they can enjoy a meal in the museum's garden. This outside area gives people a chance to enjoy the modern architecture of the building. Can you guess what the building is made of? Glass!

Mayor, Governor


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Mersyn, Turkey. Mehmet Yasyn asks about the difference between a mayor and a governor in the United States.

State governments are similar to the United States federal government as described in the United States Constitution. It calls for three branches of federal government: the Executive, Legislative and Judicial.

The Executive Branch is the president who carries out the laws created by the Legislative Branch, or Congress. The system of courts makes up the Judicial Branch, which supports federal laws. The president and lawmakers in Congress are elected by the people.

The Constitution says that any powers not given to the federal government are the responsibility of each state. The details of a state's government are found in the state constitution. Each of the fifty states has its own constitution. They are all similar to the United States Constitution.

Each state government has three branches: the Executive, Legislative and Judicial. The governor heads the Executive Branch. The governor carries out the laws approved by the legislative branch. The governor also can propose new laws. The Legislative Branch is made up of the State House of Representatives and Senate. They make the laws of the state. The Judicial Branch includes the courts that hear cases concerning state law. The governor and state lawmakers are elected by the people of the state.

Each state also has local governments. These are city and county governments. These local governments are responsible for police and fire services, public health and building and repairing roads. Local governments also supervise the school system, collect local and state taxes and supervise elections. Local governments have different forms. Some have mayors as their leaders. Others have city councils or county councils. These officials are elected by the people.

Mayors and governors try to work together for the good of the people in the city and state. One recent example is New Orleans, Louisiana. The mayor of New Orleans ordered everyone to leave the city after Hurricane Katrina. Louisiana's governor declared emergency rules in the state and controlled the National Guard troops that helped rescue hurricane victims.

Yerba Buena


The group of seven musicians called Yerba Buena has released its second album of Latin pop music. The new album is called "Island Life." We think this music will make you want to dance. Barbara Klein has more.


"Island Life" is about people from different cultures living the immigrant music experience on the island of Manhattan in New York City. Producer and musician Andres Levin leads the band. He was born in Venezuela. Other members of the band are Cuban, European, Chinese and African-American. They sing in English, Spanish and a mixture of Spanish and English called Spanglish. Some songs are sung in the Nigerian language Yoruba.

The singer in this song wants a woman who can speak both English and Spanish. It is called "Bilingual Girl."


The music of Yerba Buena is not only from Latin America. "Island Life" also includes flamenco music from Spain, Gypsy music from the Balkans and Afrobeat from Nigeria. Here the band performs a song called "La Vida La Life."


Many guest musicians also perform on "Island Life." They include rap artists from the United States, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. A flamenco singer from Spain. Two Afro-French singers. A Gypsy punk band. And a drum group from Brazil. In one song, Yerba Buena sings in Spanish, "I am a citizen of the world."

We leave you now with Yerba Buena performing "Fever."



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program.

Our show was written by Dana Demange, Shelley Gollust and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.