Author Archives: The North Star Reports

About The North Star Reports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, a publication sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies http://TheMiddleGroundJournal.org NSR Editor-in-Chief, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Managing Editor, Kathryn Marquis Hirsch

Being Modern without being Western…is it possible? – by Eleni Birhane. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Being Modern without being Western…is it possible? – by Eleni Birhane. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_cuisine#/media/File:Alicha_1.jpg]

A common issue that most developing, non-Western countries are grappling with is finding a way to incorporate the current sense we have of “modernity” into everyday life without losing the very distinctly non-Western identity they have. Since “modern” has become synonymous with Western, it is difficult to distinguish what is fundamentally culture and what is necessary for development. So is it possible for these non Western countries to design their development trajectory so that it includes all the economic, technological and political progress without adopting the actual cultural-ideological systems in which they exist in the West?

There is evidence that would suggest that both options are plausible and currently occurring around the world. Through the influences of media (mainly Hollywood and the internet) and the dominating political and economic forces of the United States and the European Union most other countries are left with an overwhelming pressure to conform to the Western mode of existence. On a larger scale we see that some of these countries, especially those that have been colonized, even from conception had the idea of nation states and borders (in the sense that we think of them now) imposed upon them. The political and economic models adopted (and encouraged through targeted aid and international organizations) by these countries to survive in a world where they had no time to orient themselves took away their ability to organically and naturally work through the needs of their society and establish a system that can function with their many unique cultures. Not only does this process of global imperialism have the power to affect the way people in these countries live their everyday lives (what language they learn, the role models they look up to), but it can also be seen as a possible cause for the constant state of chaos most of these countries seem to be stuck in.

On a smaller scale we can also see people from these countries (especially the youth) immersing themselves in Western popular culture and in some ways ignoring/forgetting the rich and beautiful ones they have so close to them. Global popular media, by setting so called trends and the scars of colonization that have caused a deep and internalized inferiority complex within people come together to create the seductive attraction to the West people seem to experience. Of course the lack of comprehensive understanding of their own culture (which might not necessarily be their fault), the Western culture and history can feed into the choices made by people. If people and especially the youth seem to be moving in this direction, are we then in danger of losing these precious cultures?

On the opposite end we find a country like China that has been trying very hard to reject westernized models and ideas and have been relatively successful, although the economic and social sectors are less so. All of this, of course does not mean to imply that the people in the West have not been affected (although on a smaller scale) by the rest of the world in different realms of their life. In the increasingly globalized world we live in today it is almost impossible to have a country that is not somehow influenced by the foreign nations (North Korea might be a peculiar exception).

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habesha_kemis#/media/File:Habesha_woman-b.jpg]

The answer for developing countries that are dealing with globalization and the other global imperial and colonial forces mentioned above does not involve figuring out a way to completely isolate and preserve cultures as they are, but finding a way to incorporate certain ideas and concepts without completely abandoning their own identities. We can find examples of this happening in different countries as well. In Ethiopia for instance there have been movements in the fashion industry to integrate traditional clothing with western fashion trends. They use the same fabric/patterns and design them to also follow popular fashion trends. Another simple example would be the way we eat. Traditionally everyone at the table would eat from one big plate, but now it is more common to eat from individual plates. All of our food is eaten by hand; that is something that has not changed. Large scale changes in our political and economic systems will be very difficult, but if the state is anything like the individual (Plato’s philosophy) we know that it is possible.

Eleni serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Eleni Birhane, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

Zimbabwe – Home is Where the Heart Is – Reflections of a scholarly traveler – by Malvern Madondo. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Zimbabwe – Home is Where the Heart Is – Reflections of a scholarly traveler – by Malvern Madondo. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to see the ways that you yourself have changed.” – Nelson Mandela

It was early December, two weeks before final exams and a week before my long flight back to Zimbabwe. I was going home for the first time since coming to the US to commence my first year studies. I was leaving a week before finals. International flights close to major holidays like Christmas are very expensive; I had booked my flight late enough so that I could take my exams, but early enough so that the prices wouldn’t be exorbitant. Anxiety and stress became me, yet there was the promise of going home. Home.

I remember feeling quite relieved when I submitted my last project and bade farewell to friends gliding in the hallways and tunnels leading to the library, chasing after grades and trying their best to prevent their GPA from nose-diving to a bare minimum. Only a few understood why I would be leaving so soon or why I would be traveling so far. My journey was 3 days long, including multiple stops in 3 different countries. Multiple stops, the ultimate price for a cheap flight.

I can think of several reasons why I needed to go home. To get away from everything. To find myself. To be with company and not feel alone or lonely as I often did at school. To be with family. To find motivation. To … I had been away for 16 months and that might seem too long for those who families live close enough to visit often. It may also seem too short for those who have had to be away for decades. Each person is different and has a different narrative. After 16 months of trying to acclimatize to the US culture, trying to stay afloat and at my best in my academics and other aspects of life, I welcomed the opportunity to go home as the biblical prodigal son was welcomed by his father.

I remember feeling quite overwhelmed when I approached the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. The plane was humongous and I was glad I only had one person to my left and a window and the rest of the world to my right. In due time we departed and the airport, at first, became blurry lines of light as the jet sped by, and then became an eclipse of the night and the endless lights surrounding. I will not talk about the rest of my journey, for it might require more space than I have here. However, three days and 2 nights later, I arrived home.

I arrived home weary and smelly-sort-of. Bathing is a luxury on a long flight to a distant corner of the world. I was also missing my entire luggage save my carryon and backpack. Lost in transit, my bags arrived a couple days later, thankfully, and looking like they had survived a massive fight. Never buy a beautiful luggage piece when traveling trans-oceanic, always go for the strongest. There was no welcoming party at the airport when I arrived at noon, on the third day after leaving the US. My brother-in-law was there to pick me up, and I had no strength to explain why I only had a carryon and a backpack. In Zimbabwe, often a lot is expected from one who has been away, especially coming from THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I felt like a tourist, coming from the airport and passing through the city center, towards home, on the edge of the town. First, I was impressed by the infrastructure and the surroundings that gave one high hopes for better. But my family’s home is far enough to reward one with a sight that will remind you ‘never to judge a book by its cover’ or to trust in first impressions.The wide tarred roads leading from the airport became thinner and by the time we reached home, they had almost disappeared. Street lights dwindled and massive buildings were replaced by shacks that hung on the edge of the road like a leech. But I was home. No assignments, exams, late night studying, club meetings, and whatever was norm in college. I was free!

Part 2

Home sweet home!

The first few days at home were a brutal reminder that life is too short. The house itself looked the same. The people were the same, only a bit older. The neighborhood kids still came out to play on the streets and anywhere else that provided enough space for whatever game the young ones set their young and green minds on. The old friend with stellar grades, who could not go beyond high school because there were no funds to further his education in college, was still there, sitting at the same verandah watching the world fleet by, one day at a time – a slow burning candle life was. The girl next door had gotten married and was living in another country.

The friend across the street was still running his barber shop, and had moved to a different location in the same street after a dispute on rental payments. My father had grown older and less mobile. Sadness. Why had I left? My younger brothers were still mischievous but had acquired some bit of responsibility and ‘wokeness’. My sister still ran the show and was the oil that made this old engine, our house, operational. My older brother was still short of a job and was contracting elsewhere within his trade as an electrician. My older sister was doing quite well, only she had grown a little unhappy with her job in the heart of the town at the Meteorology Department.

There were still water shortages and once or twice a week, my brothers and I had to wander off in search of a borehole to replenish our water supply at home. My brothers knew all the places close by and would often make a couple trips and save me the trouble to meet old friends who often had one too many questions on where I had been for the past year and a half. In a broken society, no one really announces what they have under their sleeve, best for one to mind one’s own business. The week leading to New Year saw me meeting with some friends from high school and some family members. They observed I had gotten lighter and heavier for a kid from the ghetto. What more with my beard and scruffy hair, I looked older! My skin tone had lost the symptoms of one growing up in the high density suburbs of Harare where each day was a struggle and the next meal was a blessing for some and a luxury for others. At Christmas, my family, as per our tradition, all convened at my father’s house and we had a hearty lunch and luckily my luggage had finally made it home on its own and I was able to share the little I had brought along with me from discounts at Kohl’s and Target. Heavenly bliss.

A Christmas meal in the Madondo household.

My family and I stayed up late on the last day of 2016, to welcome the New Year and whatever opportunities and blessings it brought. It did not rain that night, it poured. Despite this, the dark night was constantly made bright by excessive fireworks and the pit-pattering of rain on the asbestos roof was silenced by the celebratory screams and whistles that emanated from various homes and buildings in the area. The following day, at church, smiles were wider than usual and the people, more friendlier than normal. Some were eager to start working on their New Year’s resolutions and those of us who do not take such a tradition seriously due to several failed attempts, looked on in amusement. I only had a couple more weeks at home before I had to return to school. Within a few days, I made the trip to my town of birth to visit my aunt and her family and then onwards to visit my grandfather who lived alone and away from the bright lights and loud noises and general business of town life. Those few days I spent with this part of my family evoked a strong feeling in me that reminded me that nothing compares to home. Seeing my aunt and all that she was doing for her children and family, I was reminded that women are indeed the backbone of the family and I was inspired to do better in all my endeavors. My grandfather, now older and smaller in stature, was a delight to meet and spend the day with. Sadly, because he lived so far out of town and I was commuting to his residence with my brothers, it took longer to get there than the time we spent together. Nonetheless, after he recognized us and had a brief moment of disbelief and to thank his ancestors and God and all those gone before us who had led us to him and granted us to meet once more. It was a sad joyful moment that I think deserves a separate account of its own to justify its worth.

The days following went by pretty fast and I was gearing to say goodbye once more to my family and everything that I had known for a good part of my life. Also, I was getting back to school a few days after class started (remember I left a week before the semester ended). I had enjoyed a full month away from school and the fast-paced Western life. I felt quite empty and remorse for going back. I knew I had to, only part of me wanted to stay. For better or for worse, I was getting back on the Presidential Inauguration day and as expected, I was quite shifty and nervous as I trailed the line (queue) at the airport, waiting for my turn to go through TSA. As the Border Control officer went through my documents, I felt as if I was a criminal waiting conviction and a bit like my life was outside my control. I even feared for the wrinkle at the corner of my I-20!

Finally, I boarded the shuttle headed from the airport to Duluth, the end of the road. This time, my luggage was in place and I had this air of one who has survived a storm. I assured my family I had arrive back safe and that I had the weekend to catch up with a week’s worth of schoolwork. I arrived on a Friday and I had an early morning shift at the Help Desk where I worked. I had also managed to submit an application for a scholarship moments after I landed at the airport and was connected to endless wifi and in sync with the time zone. Home sweet home.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Ireland – Public Transportation – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Ireland – Public Transportation – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

I am not a fan of driving. There are multiple factors for that fact. They include that my sense of direction is abysmal at best, which does not help that I do not like not knowing where I am going, and a nasty car accident I was in my senior year of high school. One of the best parts of studying abroad in Ireland is that there is absolutely no way for me to drive a car for the four months I am in Europe. I don’t have a car at CSS either, but I somehow always get roped into driving people around anyway.

The public transportation in Europe is a dream come true for a person like me. I would say Ireland is the least efficient at public transportation and they are still quite good at it. Living in Louisburgh does complicate the system though. In order to get to the airport for the travels we have done, it involves a lengthy process. We take a thirty minute cab ride to Westport, the nearest town with a train station. From there, we take a three and a half hour train ride to Dublin. After disembarking from the train, we take an bus ride that can take anywhere between one to one and a half hours to the airport. There, we get onto whatever plane we are about to catch. When I went to Paris for spring break, we left Louisburgh at 6:30 AM and landed in Paris at 9:45 that night. Returning was much worse. Our last spring break stop was Florence, Italy. We woke up at four in the morning to get to the airport by five. We had a layover in Paris that we missed due to a frankly ridiculous passport control line. When it was all said and done, we got back to Louisburgh at 8:30 that night. When accounting for the time change, we had traveled for sixteen hours that day.

[The trains in Athens were covered in really beautiful and colorful graffiti]

The public transportation systems in the other countries I have visited have been so useful and easy to use. In Athens and Paris, we took the metro everywhere. The really nice thing about the metro is that if you’ve wandered away from places you recognize, you can just walk down into the metro station, figure out where you are, and take the appropriate metros from there. When we were in Zurich, Switzerland, we took the tram around the city. That was also a very nice way to get around and see more things.

[The cable lines in Zurich for the trams]

Florence was the only place that we did not take public transport as much. We took a bus to our Airbnb and a taxi to the airport when we left (because we had to be at the airport at 5 in the morning and that was awful). However, that was it. We walked everywhere else. Florence is a very compact city to explore. That was also great, though, because we saved money on transportation. Because of the savings, I invested my money in eating gelato three times a day. It was roughly the same price as the metro had been in Paris so I did not feel bad about spending the money. I think we also walked enough during spring break to justify having a few treats each day.

I know this is not a completely fair comparison to transportation back home. The closest thing we have in Minnesota is the Light Rail or the public buses. I only use the Light Rail when I go to Twins games downtown because it doesn’t go anywhere I need to be on a regular basis. I also do not use the buses very often because they can be so unreliable and frustrating to use. However, if our public transportation in Minnesota was as easy and convenient to use as it was in these countries I visited, I would seriously consider investing in those instead of a car after I graduate next year.

Allison serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Galway and Good Friday – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Galway and Good Friday – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

It is no secret that Ireland is a very Catholic country. In fact, about 86% of the population is Catholic, so it should come as no surprise that they take the Easter Holiday very seriously. The Wednesday before Easter three friends and I traveled to the college town of Galway to spend our Easter Break. We figured that nothing would be open on Sunday because of Easter but we didn’t even consider what Good Friday would do to normal business hours of all the pubs that Galway is known for.

[The first stop on our pub crawl]

Wednesday had been a long travel day so I was tired and ended up having a relaxing night in the hostel. When Thursday morning came, I was ready to explore. Right when we began walking around Galway I noticed that it seemed different from when our entire study abroad group visited it back in February. It was still very busy but oddly quieter. It took me a long time to realize that the reason it was so quiet was because all of the university students had already headed home to begin their Easter breaks. The streets were packed with tourists from all over the world, not their usual student crowd.

At the end of the main street that goes through the shops of Galway, a food festival was being set up. I assume it was scheduled for that very same weekend to distract people from the fact that Good Friday meant no night life. After walking around all day, we headed back to our hostel to see if they had any planned events for the night. The reception desk had a sign encouraging people to join them on the free pub crawl that would take place at 9:30 PM. Since we had nothing else to do for the night, we all agreed that would be a fun time.

[The band at The Kings Head]

The pub crawl began in the lobby of our hostel. We were supposed to mix and mingle with the other guests setting out on this adventure with us. Two of my friends struck up a conversation with a Canadian from Vancouver but other than that, we mostly just talked to each other until it was finally time to set out to the first pub. By the time we left, it was already past ten o’clock. The first place we went to was called Garvey’s. They had a small band playing live music and apparently, an entire soccer team from Manchester happened to be there. After dancing along to the band for about forty-five minutes, we headed to a pub called the Kings Heads.

As we walked to the pub, I noticed the streets were oddly bare. It was only 11 O’clock but some of the pubs had already shut down for the night. When we got into the next pub, the leader of our group told us that in a half an hour the pub would stop selling alcohol. That seemed odd to us because we had never heard of a pub not serving any kind of drinks. Later we found out they do this because it is actually illegal to sell alcohol on Good Friday and Good Friday begins right when the clock strikes midnight. Our group made the mistake of leaving the Kings Heads to go to another popular pub down the street called The Quay’s. Even though there was still half an hour before Thursday became Friday, all the pubs were no longer letting people in.

[One of the most popular pubs in Galway all locked up on Good Friday]

Defeated, we decided to head back to the hostel. We were walking down the street when an odd group of clearly intoxicated boys formed in the middle of the street. They lifted one of the boys up and he led the group in a traditional Irish drinking song. The rest of the group joined in when they knew the words but otherwise it was mostly just the boy crowd surfing singing. It was quite the sight to see.

The next morning when we walked through the town all the pubs were closed and pad locked behind their gates. The only pubs that were open only served food until a certain time in the evening and then they too had to close their gate. It was odd walking through a city that is known for all of its pubs and having all of those pubs closed down. It was clear that many of the tourist were disappointed by the closing of the pubs. They, like us, probably hadn’t even thought about the effect that Good Friday would have on their trip to Galway.


Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Amsterdam: A Place of History – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Amsterdam: A Place of History – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[A picture of the outside of Anne Frank’s house]

When I thought about the city of Amsterdam before visiting it, the first two things that came to mind were the many canals that flow through the city and its supposedly seedy red-light district. I didn’t even think about all the history that the city held, especially since it had been taken over by Nazi Germany during World War II. While on this trip, I saw the reality of what life was like during World War II through two of the museums that are found in Amsterdam: the Anne Frank House and the Dutch Resistance Museum.

Many people know of the book A Dairy of Anne Frank, written by a young girl during World War II but many people don’t realize that the Diary was written in the heart of Amsterdam. The city of Amsterdam is where she and her family hid for two years in a secret annex during the war. Today it is still set up just the way it was while they were in hiding and it has the added bonus of being home to the original Diary of Anne Frank. As you can imagine this site is extremely touristy, so to get in we had to stand in line for three whole hours. But the second you step through that hidden doorway behind the book shelf you are transported back in time, back to days when Nazi soldiers roamed the streets below and the families in hiding held their breath out of fear of being found out. Each room tells a different story of what life in hiding was like. From the shared bedrooms to the bathroom which couldn’t be used during the day in case someone down below was to hear the water running and realize that people were being hidden there.

[The actual book case that stood in front of the entrance of the secret annex during the war]

Not far from the Anne Frank House there is another museum that is lesser known of called the Dutch Resistance Museum. The Dutch pride themselves on their open-minded values so when Germany invaded them in World War II they fought them every step of the way. From hiding many Jewish families to smuggling them out of the country, many Dutch citizens put their lives on the line to help out the families that need it. They also organized many protests which were carried out even when their safety was threatened. These protests were always deemed illegal and therefore punishable by law but they got around that by simply telling the police that they hadn’t participated in them. Although the Dutch resisted the Germans, they still felt as though they could have and should have done more to protect their Jewish citizens throughout the war and in 2010 the Dutch Government went as far as to formally apologize to all of its Jewish citizens for not protecting them better.

[One of the posters from the Dutch Resistance Museum]

Amsterdam has so many bright and cheerful places, from the palace of Amsterdam to the I Am Amsterdam that tourists flock to like birds but there is forever a dark spot left on that city. The Anne Frank House and the Dutch Resistance Museum serve as a reminder of the devastation of World War II on the people of the Netherlands. Both museums tell a story about World War II, but they tell the story in two very different ways. One museum tells the story through the eyes of a young Jewish girl and the other tells the story through the many voices of the Dutch citizens, both Jewish and non-Jewish, that lived through those dark years. Amsterdam doesn’t hide its history, it boasts it so that it is remembered.

[The sign above the Dutch Resistance Museum]

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Northern Ireland – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Northern Ireland – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

When someone says the word Ireland what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it the numerous fields of luscious green grass? Maybe the first thing that comes to mind is the countless number of sheep that could be found on the island that is Ireland. Or it could simply be a small island country close to the United Kingdom. What usually doesn’t come to mind when thinking about Ireland is its long and strenuous past. Ireland is a land that dealt with oppression for hundreds of years, from the Vikings to the norms and then eventually the British. Many people don’t even realize that the Island that holds Ireland is split between two countries, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

[One of the Cannons on top of the wall around the old city of Derry]

The Republic of Ireland is its own country but it fought long and hard to get to that point. Northern Ireland is still under British rule but for many that was by choice. I’m not here to give a history lesson so I won’t go too far back into the long and violent path between the Republic and Northern Ireland, but I do have to tell you that the past between these two countries has led to a very tense present. The Republic of Ireland wanted to be one United Ireland and many people living in the North didn’t, which is why they chose to stay within the United Kingdom.

This past weekend, fifteen other St. Scholastica students traveled from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland to stay in a small town. This town has two different names, to the unionist the town is known as Derry and to the loyalist it is known as Londonderry. Considering the fact that we were staying on the island of Ireland we assumed that the differences between the two countries couldn’t be that big, but we were very wrong. The small town of Derry and all of its inhabitants seemed to be waiting with baited breath for the next outbreak of violence to occur.

Being that we were still in Ireland, the people were still nice but not in the way that we are used to. We are used to being approached and engaged in conversation with random people throughout the Republic. That wasn’t how things worked in Northern Ireland. The locals only seemed to want to talk to you after you gave them a reason to and the conversation never seemed to be more than a few words long from either side. It is said that if we would have visited Derry about thirty years ago, we would have been constantly worried about our safety. Riots weren’t uncommon to that city.

[The famous statues depicting the beginning of the peace talks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland]

It also happens to be home to an event referred to as Bloody Sunday. January 30th, 1972 is the day that is referred to as bloody Sunday. The even refers to civil rights march that happened in Derry, it led to thirteen people being killed by the British Army. As we walked through the streets of the city there were countless murals of those who died during Bloody Sunday, or during the hunger strike. There were murals of others too, the most striking is of a little girl, still in her school uniform. She was only fourteen years old when she was shot in the back of the head by a British Soldier.

As we continued to walk with through the city, you could see the old wall that runs around the old part of the city. On top of the walls there are still cannons just waiting to be used again. Also from atop the walls you could see all the way out to the ocean. Our guide told us they could see threats arriving by water two hours before they would ever make it to the shore which seems almost ironic considering the fact that many times those that threatened the citizens of Derry were actually other Derry locals.
Would you be surprised to hear that the people living in Derry today are extremely proud of the current peace between Northern and Southern Ireland? Probably not. They even have a famous statue in the middle of one of the roundabouts, it depicts two men standing faces to face with hands out stretched towards each other but not yet touching. One of the men symbolizes Northern Ireland and the other symbolizes Southern Ireland. The statues stands in Derry because it is also the city where the peace talks between the North and South began. They also have a peace bridge for pedestrians to cross. Although they wear the word piece like a badge of honor, the wounds of the past are still fresh.

[One of the many murals found around the city of Derry]

The town has yet to heal from its war torn past. It was ripped apart because of the troubles and when thinking about it that way, you might see why the atmosphere is still bitter and untrusting. Everyone seems to walk around on eggshells waiting for the other shoe to drop. Derry is no longer a danger to people’s lives, but it is still very far off from being a tourist destination. From its history to the fact that everything seems to close down in a hurry after six o’clock, Derry is no vacation destination.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Book Review: Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History – by Eleni Birhane. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Book Review: Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History – by Eleni Birhane. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History. Trevor Getz and Liz Clarke. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. ISBN 9780199844395

[image of book cover from Oxford University Press, see: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/abina-and-the-important-men-9780190238742?cc=us&lang=en& ]

An unfortunate consequence of the “age of information” we live in is that people’s attention spans and tolerance for long readings has shortened significantly. Graphic histories such as Abina and the Important Men might be a new trend in the academic world as an answer to this phenomena.

Abina and the Important Men is a relatively short graphic history that depicts a brief period of time in 1876, Gold Coast of West Africa (present day southern Ghana). It is non-fictional historical study based on an interpretation of a court case transcript found in the historical archives of the country. The book was written by Trevor Getz, a historian and author and Liz Clarke, a graphic artist and illustrator. There are five parts to the book; in the first part, with the help of graphic illustrations we are taken through the story of how Abina Mansah charged Quamina Eddoo, an important and wealthy man in the Gold Coast, with the crime of having kept her as a slave. At the time the Gold Coast was under the British colony and was subject to British laws, which prohibited slavery. Although Abina was unsuccessful in the end, the story brings to light issues such as the balance between justice and “keeping the peace” and the conception of slavery and rights at the time.

The authors did a good job in providing context and illustrating the validity of the story of Abina. The second part of the book provides the actual words written in their primary evidence (the transcript). This allows the reader to make interpretations his/her own and decide if the authors presented a legitimate one. The third part gives a thorough context to the story by providing information about the early history of the Gold Coast, including its inhabitants and various leaders. It familiarises the reader on the practice of slavery both in the Gold Coast and in the broader world at the time and gives further descriptions of the specific people in the story (from what is found in other historical documents and oral histories). Finally in the fourth part, the authors engage in explaining the process through which they came to their interpretation of the text. They do this by providing philosophical, ethical and methodological answers to the questions “Whose story is this? Is it a true story? Is it an authentic story?” in three levels of complexity.

Multiple times within the book the authors mention the reason behind their efforts towards this project; they wanted to bring to light a part of history that had been forgotten and ignored by historians and use it to bring more insight towards the lives of the people. The book did just that. It created a way in which the reader could really understand that period in time. It allowed the reader to connect with Abina and understand her struggles in the context of where and when she lived. Unlike most history books that simply state names, dates and events this one encourages the reader to look beyond and explore the real lives of people we study.

The fifth part of the book deals specifically with how to utilize the book in a classroom setting. It explores different facets of the story and how it might apply to different studies like Africa, gender and slavery. It even has a list of reading questions designed for students at different levels (high school, college and advanced undergraduate and graduate students). Depending on how deeply and focused (towards a certain topic) one is when reading the book, it can be used to examine a multitude of issues in a historical context. It is, of course based on primary material that covers a very short amount of time and a limited area in history so the text might not be as useful for studies with a broader scope.

Abina and the Important Men is the first of its kind and shows a promising future for similar texts. It utilizes real historical evidence and comes up with a way to convey history in a more approachable and relatable manner. Its breakdown simplifies the process of understanding history and its ramifications.

Eleni serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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A Review: Immigration Stories from St. Scholastica Faculty – by Matthew Breeze. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

A Review: Immigration Stories from St. Scholastica Faculty – by Matthew Breeze. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

 

From Professor Liang, NSR Editor-in-Chief: Thanks to Office of International Programs Director Alison Champeaux and student assistant Eleni Birhane for organizing this panel discussion.

The College of Saint Scholastica Office of International Programs sponsored a recent event at CSS during which three professors who immigrated to the U.S. shared their stories, advice, and general information about the immigration process. True stories about immigrants are hard to find in our current political environment. Both sides of the political spectrum use immigrant stories as a form of propaganda. The lack of real stories or true information leads many of us to be ignorant of what is really going on with immigration, luckily CSS is fortunate enough to have a few professors who are themselves immigrants and who were willing to speak about their experiences.

Each of the three professors spoke eloquently and intelligently, each with their own style and flair, but each professor spoke well to the audience of mostly students. There were many students at this event, surprisingly few faculty were in attendance. Some classes encourages students to come and watch and it appeared that quite a few students came because of general interest. All of the speakers are professors, and they all had varied experiences in their immigration stories and process. Professor Chaparadza is from Zimbabwe, Professor Alwan is from Iraq, and Professor Liang is from Taiwan. One professor came to the U.S. with his family as a child in 1978, one came in 2003 after a teacher told him there would be more opportunities for getting into a Ph.D program, and one came in 1978 to study medicine, but ended up studying civil engineering.

The talk was moderated by Office of International Programs Director Alison Champeaux ,who kept the discussion moving and asked questions of the three professors before the discussion was opened up to student questions. The moderator’s questions included “How American do you feel? How do you stay connected to your cultural identity? What do you see for the next generation? Where do you see our biggest need or what is the biggest driver to change immigration laws in the U.S.?”

The speakers had differing ideas about how American they feel. A common thread however was that after this last election they all felt more excluded from their Americanness. That as of late it is impossible not to feel conscious of that fact that some may not view them as American. In a way that currently it is common to feel ‘othered’ within the United States, even after living, working, and raising a family for years or decades in the U.S. Even after becoming U.S. citizens they now feel as though there is not a lot of room for flexibility in defining what being an American is. Being an American is “tricky” as one speaker said. Now it is even more tricky than it has been in the past.

Although each of the speakers is a professor, pays taxes, gives back to the community and probably knows more about the American system of government than the average student, let alone citizen, they now feel ostracized in their own country. The United States really is their country, they consider themselves American and have the legal status to be so. Yet discrimination rears its ugly head, whether openly or subtly.

They told stories of how long and arduous the process of becoming a citizen is, that it is very expensive, costing thousands of dollars and years. One speaker said that it took him 13 long years to get his sister into the U.S, even after he signed all the paperwork saying he would pay for all of her expenses, including living expenses once here. The sheer amount of time that the process takes to go through is astonishing to someone like me who is not familiar with it.

When asked what needs the most changing in the U.S. in terms of immigration legislation the three speakers all made good points, all different, but related, to each other. The first said that the U.S. needs to focus on brains, possibly copying the system in the United Kingdom where an individual earns certain numbers of points for skills and when a certain threshold is reached they are in. The second speakers said a points system is a good idea, but that more than that these laws and decisions need to be made with reason and not with emotion and anger. Decisions need to be based on a reasonable reality more than they are today. The last speaker said that what needs to change is one word, simplify. The process needs to be more simple because the complexity and length and expense almost forces, or at least encourages, people to do things illegally.

All three agreed that there needs to be more education on the immigration system and about what immigrants are actually like and looking for in the U.S. They all agreed that the average American student should know more, be taught more, about immigration and immigrants in America today so that propaganda from both sides of the political aisle is not taken as fact.

At the end of the talk one student asked what advice the three professor would have for the average white American male in terms of these issues. The professors thought this was an excellent question and their answers, all detailed and specific in their own ways, I will summarize as not being afraid to ask questions. That we cannot come to understand one another if we do not ask questions. Considerate thoughtful questions are needed for all sides to get to know each other and to better understand issues around immigration and immigrants themselves.

Fortunately St. Scholastica and the CSS Office of International Programs was able to hold an event where those kinds of questions could be asked and discussed. Immigrant stories are important, especially today, and the whole country could probably use a few more events like this one.

Matthew serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Developing into a Dancer: My Own Foundation Myth – by Alexa Lee. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Developing into a Dancer: My Own Foundation Myth – by Alexa Lee. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

My mom read to me all the time, but especially before bed, and I had a book about a ballerina that was my absolute favorite. She jokes that she had it memorized, and still does (even though neither of us remember the title, so I am not so sure about that). After she read this book one night, we kissed goodnight and I drifted off thinking about ballerinas. That night, I had a dream that I was a dancer – a tap dancer. There were flowers thrown on the stage, the lights were hot, people were cheering, and there was a tall blonde woman in front of me moving her feet and making noise with them. I knew I was supposed to mimic her steps, but I couldn’t move. It was actually a nightmare, and I was so scared I had an accident, both on the stage and in real life. I woke up crying, and my mom rushed into my room. When she saw what happened, she soaked my sheets in the laundry tub and I got to sleep with her that night.

The next morning, I asked her if I could join dance because I wanted to know how to make noise with my feet. It was the middle of the year so she thought it was unlikely, but perhaps they would let me. She brought me to Becky’s Dance Studio in Cloquet, Minnesota. We were told that there was no way I could be in recital, the dances were already started and costumes ordered, but I could be in the class anyways and not perform. My mom said that was fine, and I went to the class that day. My teacher was tall and blonde, and I told my mom it was the lady from my dream. She even stood right in front of me and would move her feet, telling us to copy her. That time, I did, and I did so well, I got to perform in the recital that May. To this day, before I perform, I think about that dream. If I did not have it or the accident, I probably would not have joined dance because then I would not have been facing my fears. I still think about four-year-old me, how far I have come, and how the urge that I might pee my pants before a performance in front of five or five hundred people never goes away, despite the fact that I have been doing it for seventeen years.

I think my foundation myth relates closely with the primary source “Becoming a Brahman Priest” in Tignor’s book. Satyakama asked his mother whose family he belonged to, and she did not know. He then asked Guatama Haridrumata if he could be a Brahman Priest, and when he answered honestly that he did not know what family he came from, Guatama Haridrumata exclaimed that only a true Brahman would “speak out” like that (149). I think this relates to my experience of becoming a dancer because I asked to be one like he asked to be a priest. We also were both questioned, but ultimately given the opportunity and in some way proved that we were worthy of the chance – him by speaking out, and me by being able to remember the steps.

Another founding myth in Tignor’s book was the Shang Dynasty’s. Its ruler, Tang, defeated the previous king and offered himself up to end the drought that was brought on when “the sun dimmed, frost and ice appeared in the summer, and a long drought followed heavy rainfall and flooding” (103). This is different from my story because it involves more people and the beginning of an entire empire, but it is also similar because it was a time of despair. Theirs was a little more intense, but both the Shang and I were looking for an answer to a problem that we came across, and creation myths are universal in this way.

The Amazon people in the documentary we watched had a surplus of rituals and creation stories. One story that I think aligns well with mine was about this rock that they believed was a spirit that would appear in human form during rituals. Although she was in human form in my dream and real life, my dance teacher appeared before I met her. Her appearance in my dream started my dance career, and she was more symbolic and spiritual than real. This relates to our class discussions about being mindful when hearing creation stories. It may seem ridiculous that I think I dreamed about my teacher before I met her, and so might the idea that a rock can turn into a human, but we both believe it and have rituals that surround it. My mom is the one who reminds me that I was meant to be a dancer because of my dream, and it bonds us. The Amazon people also shared their stories with their children to connect on a deeper level. Without founding myths, this kind of connection would be nearly impossible.

Founding myths are around us everywhere that we look, and they do have a universal purpose for humans. For one, they provide answers, but they also provide values and importance to one’s life. They are a way to preserve the memory of something that is very important to the individual, or to a mass amount of people, in an effort to see connections and have a sense of where they come from. Additionally, humans tend to read into things a lot more, so maybe the Shang were making something more of the drought, the Amazons were making something more out of a rock, and I was making something more out of a dream, but does it matter? It changed the course of our lives in one way or another, and that is what is important, not its probability or factuality. Our myths are true because they make us happy, they give us purpose, and we believe them. They are also fun to tell. To me, that is all that matters and all I need.

From Professor Liang’s Spring 2017 World History I class.

Works Cited, Tignor, Robert L., et al. Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: A History of the World: Beginnings Through the Fifteenth Century. 4th ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014. Print.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under History, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes

The Shrimp That Became a Whale: Impressions of South Korea and a Commendation to the Resilient Korean Spirit – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The Shrimp That Became a Whale: Impressions of South Korea and a Commendation to the Resilient Korean Spirit – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[1) An ancient Korean music and dance performance 2) Masks used in traditional Korean plays and performances 3) A historical Korean household]

Korea is known by the moniker “a shrimp caught between two whales”. This nickname describes how Korea has historically been eclipsed by its two neighbors, China and Japan, in terms of geography, cultural influence, military prowess, and other such factors. Furthermore, several of my colleagues who had previously traveled there described it as “the bridge between China and Japan” or “the middle ground between China and Japan.” In my and others’ experiences, China and Japan are two very different places from one another (in some regards, even polar opposites!), and they considered Korea as the halfway point or blend between them. I kept these descriptions in mind when I visited South Korea, as I was anxious to see whether they rang true or if my expectations would be totally blown away. Now that my journey has concluded, I believe that framing Korea in terms of its relations with China and Japan are true in certain respects and can help one better understand it. However, it overlooks the unique characteristics of Korean culture that make it its own civilization. My assessment has its limitations, as I can only give my perspective based on visiting South Korea. Yet overall, I admire how Korea as a whole seems to have incorporated Chinese and Japanese influences while resiliently maintaining its own distinctive identity, making it a place of both reverence and fascination.

In the past few decades, Korea has skyrocketed into prominence on the world stage due to the emergence of South Korea as a major economic and cultural power, as well as controversy over the North Korean regime’s actions. Yet for centuries, the pursuit to maintain a Korean identity has been an intense struggle, to say the least. A distinctive Korean nation has existed since recorded antiquity, but spent a good portion of its early years divided into several states. China, the unquestionable hegemon of East Asia during that time period, tried to invade Korea several times. Yet in a truly David and Goliath effort, Korea managed to fend off Chinese forces time and time again. Although Korea was able to maintain its sovereignty for the most part, China remained a key presence in the nation. Korea served as a tributary state for China for centuries, and Chinese culture heavily influenced the development of Korean culture: Korea adopted both Buddhism and Confucianism, Chinese aesthetics permeated into everything from architecture to clothing styles, Chinese vocabulary entered into the Korean language, etc. Korea still hung on to its own identity despite Chinese influence, and gradually the previously fractured Korean states united as one Korean state. In the later half of the past millennium, as Chinese decline coincided with the rise of Japan, the latter decided to assert its regional hegemonic ambitions by staking claim to Korea. After a number of attempted invasions, Japan finally colonized Korea from 1910-1945, and left behind a mixed historical legacy that still raises debate and discussion to this day. On one hand, Japan encouraged industrial development and mass culture that laid the foundation for the development of contemporary South Korea (and, to a certain extent, North Korea). However, Japan tried to promote, sometimes violently, the Japanese language and cultural traditions at the expense of their Korean counterparts. Korea suffered immensely during the Second World War, with thousands of men being conscripted into the Japanese Army, while thousands of women were forced into being “comfort women”, or sex slaves for the Japanese Army. Japan’s loss in the war resulted into Korea’s independence for its former colonial holding. However, these circumstances directly led to another bloody conflict, the Korean War, as the communist-affiliated North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, sought to seize control over the more Western democratic-leaning South Korea. Ultimately, the war resulted in the division of the two Koreas, a situation that remains in place to this day. Both sides of the Korean peninsula were decimated after enduring years of relentless warfare and tragedy. North Korea has not recovered well from this trauma, as it is controlled by one of the world’s most isolated and authoritarian regimes, and is frequently dogged by reports of unwarranted nuclear activity, mass human rights abuses, and other issues. Yet South Korea, like the proverbial phoenix, was able to rise from the ashes to success. After years of muddling along amidst continued poverty and suffering, South Korea experienced an “economic miracle” after reorienting itself as an export-driven economy. This prosperity continues to grow and expand, and South Korea today scores at or near the top in terms of such indicators as wealth, technological sophistication, academic success, and standard of living. Thus, after years of trials and tribulation, Korea has finally entered a period of national self-determination, and the South in particular has proven remarkably adept at forging ahead on its own path.


[4) A Korean porter at the turn of the 20th century 5) Chinese influences in Korea: the entryway to a Buddhist shrine, which features Chinese characters and mythological creature motifs 6) Japanese influences in Korea: a record detailing Japan’s invasion of Korea in 1592]

During my own visit to Busan, South Korea, I observed signs of the complex international interweavings that make up the fabric of Korean history. Chinese characters, which also once served as the Korean language’s writing system, adorned historical sites. Mythological motifs traditionally associated with China, such as the dragon and the lunar calendar zodiac animals, appeared on everything from fridge magnets to temple statues. A few museums showed Japanese language textbooks used in schools during the colonial occupation period, and anime-influenced cartoons decorated magazine covers and key chains. In recent years, the United States has also more heavily influenced Korea (or South Korea, at least), as everything from fashion trends, music genres, and shopping malls all ring reminiscent of American culture. Despite all of this, Korea has carved out and determinedly clung onto the idea of its own independent nationhood. This too proved evident while vacationing in Busan. Signs, books, and posters all featured hangul, the phonetic Korean writing system that replaced Chinese characters in the 1400s. Dining out at a traditional Korean restaurant offered hundreds of tiny side dishes, flat, metal chopsticks, generous servings of spicy cabbage, or kimchi, and smoky, savory sauces and flavorings. The country’s K-Pop songs and K-Drama TV shows, which have exploded in popularity the world over (including China and Japan!) blared over TV screens and radios. South Korea has thus been able to skillfully combine all of these elements to fashion a mosaic of cultural influences while remaining a place all its own.

Korea has essentially been the quintessential underdog throughout its history, and has valiantly fought back from Chinese and Japanese efforts to stamp out its sense of nationhood. Today, the perseverance has paid off, as South Korea is one of the strongest and most influential nations in the world, and (for better or worse) North Korea is also a key player in global affairs. The Korean “shrimp” now swims along China and Japan as a “whale” itself, and instead of just being a bridge for its two neighbors, Korea today is building bridges across the world in an effort of mutual exchange and inspiration.

[7) The bustling industrial development of 20th century Korea 8) The countless side dishes and delectable flavors of Korean cuisine 9) Modern-day Busan, South Korea, with its buildings plastered with Hangul signs ]

Marin serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Works Consulted

“Brief Summary of Korean History.” Kscpp.net. Korean Spirit and Culture Promotion Project. Accessed August 28, 2016. http://www.kscpp.net/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=rTE6VQ2GHSc=.

Harris, Scott Duke. “South Korea: The Little Dynamo That Sneaked up on the World.” Csmonitor.com. The Christian Science Monitor. May 19, 2013. Accessed August 28, 2016.
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2013/0519/South-Korea-The- little-dynamo-that-sneaked-up-on-the-world.

J. J. “Stuck in the Middle.” Banyan: Asia. Economist.com. The Economist. April 12, 2013. Accessed August 28, 2016. http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/04/korea-chinese-history.

“Korea as a Colony of Japan, 1910-1945.” Asia for Educators. Columbia University. 2009. Accessed August 28, 2016. http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/main_pop/kpct/kp_koreaimperialism.htm.


Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Marin Ekstrom, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang