In a couple of trips to Europe, I've been struck by how easy it is for English-speaking people to get around; many signs are in several languages, and many people speak at least some English. The other side of the coin is how tough it must be for people who don't speak English to get around in this country. We're not into bilingual signs, except in major cities, and most of us are not comfortable in one second language, let alone two or three.
Annapolis, however, can be an exception to the rule. The city Office of Tourism has a Language Bank of translators, and is currently soliciting new members. The bank is used by visitors, hospitals, the police and businesses. Assignments might range from one meeting to several days of guiding a visiting family. Advance notice is given when possible.
Those fluent in one or more second languages who would like to volunteer to be part of this program are asked to call the office at 263-7940.
The Ebony Fashion Fair, which comes to Annapolis every two years, is making its next appearance at Annapolis Senior High School at 8 p.m. tomorrow. The fashion show is for the benefit of the Delta Chi Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and its scholarship fund, which last granted 19 scholarships to area students.
Tickets for the program are $20 for adults and $12 for students. Included in the ticket price is a one-year subscription to Ebony or EM magazine, or a 6-month subscription to Jet.
For more information, call 867-1731.
It's not too early to snag that perfect, unique Christmas present for someone special. One opportunity presents itself this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Jennifer Square Shopping Center in Annapolis, across Jennifer Road from the Annapolis Mall. Michael Joseph, a North Carolina photographer famous for capturing the sparkle of an animal's personality, will be on hand to work his magic on the pets of Annapolis.
Mr. Joseph is donating his $10 sitting fee to the SPCA of Anne Arundel County. The fee covers up to two pets and three people in one picture. Portrait prints can be ordered, starting at $49.
To schedule a sitting, call 1-800-822-1379 today. As of Friday, there were only a few appointments left.
Another unique Christmas idea, extraordinarily inexpensive if you're lucky, is the hand-crafted Victorian doll house being raffled by the Shady Side Rural Heritage Society. The doll house was built by Society Co-president George Daly, who estimates that he spent more than 200 hours building the structure and some of its furnishings. The house is electrified, and is furnished in Victorian style.
Tickets for the raffle, which will be held Dec. 12, are $1, or six for $5. They're available at the Museum Gift Shop, 1418 E. W. Shady Side Road, or by calling (301) 261-5234. The proverbial icing on the cake, or the snow on the doll house roof, is that Santa will personally deliver the doll house if the winner lives within a reasonable distance.
* The society also is sponsoring an exhibit called "Boat Building on the West River, 15th-20th Centuries." The exhibit, at the Captain Salem Avery House Museum in Shady Side, is open Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. through the fall.
The rich maritime heritage of the West River area is the focus of the exhibit, which has been researched and organized by T. C. Magnotti and Barbara Owings. Displays include artifacts from the Revolutionary War-era Stephen Steward shipyard, a model that Captain Ed Leatherbury used to build boats, and a dugout canoe that Peter Vogt made using the same kinds of tools that might have been used by native Americans.
For more information, call 867-4486.
David McCullough, whose most recent book, "Truman," won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for biography, is to deliver the first of this year's Forestal Lectures in Alumni Hall at the Naval Academy at 6 p.m. Oct. 18.
Seating is limited and on a first come, first served basis.
Artists and crafts people are being courted by Hillsmere Elementary School, for its 7th annual juried Arts and Crafts Show on Nov. 20. Those interested in being included should call Chairman Cathy Maggio at 263-0716. The committee is interested only in hand-crafted items.
The Severn River Association is to meet at 7 p.m. Oct. 19, at the Tawes Office Building. The focus will be proposed changes to the county tree bill. For more information, call 263-0435.