Category Archives: Allison Brennhofer

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.

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Athens, Greece – The Universal Language – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Athens, Greece – The Universal Language – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Three friends and I traveled to Athens, Greece. It was an amazing trip, in my opinion. The weather was not the best but I have dreamed about visiting Greece since I was a child, so I viewed the entire trip through rose colored glasses. We saw the Acropolis and various other ruins and sites that blew me away. The sheer amount of history held in one city is astounding to me. I also grew up reading Greek myths and legends, so it was a little unreal to be able to see these temples and places dedicated to the gods and goddesses.

None of us speak Greek. However, that was never an issue. I had been a little nervous about the language barrier, but the city was incredibly easy to navigate without knowing Greek. We either walked or took the metro everywhere. All of the signs and stop names were listed in Greek and English. All of the sites that we visited, such as the Acropolis and Hadrian’s Library, had signs and plaques in English as well as Greek.

[A sign with Greek and English words]

We stayed in an Airbnb, which allowed us to stay in a residential neighborhood. It was a ten minute walk south of the Acropolis, which was a phenomenal location. Even in this less touristy location, many of the restaurants we went to had English translations on their menus. Most of the servers spoke English, which helped when we had questions about what certain foods were.

[The Old Temple at the Acropolis]

My point here is that I had not realized how we are both lucky and unlucky that so many people speak our language across the world. Lucky, because it takes a lot of the stress out of traveling to other countries. It may not sound that difficult when you live in an English speaking country, but when I was actually confronted with a few Greek people who did not speak English, it was a huge obstacle. I was frustrated at first, but at myself more than anything. I had no right to be annoyed a Greek person did not speak English. If anything, I would understand if the Greek people were annoyed at these tourists that show up and expect to be catered to. I think it is also a little unlucky that our language is so universal. It enables our laziness as a country in language proficiency. I took French from seventh grade to eleventh grade. As soon as I figured out I was going to CSS, which only carries a three year language requirement, I dropped French my senior year. While I certainly was not bad, I was not great at it. And I am the person who does not like to do things that do not come naturally to me (a great character flaw I am working on).

[In Athens, orange trees line the streets]

This casual assumption that I can travel most places around the world, at least to main cities, and find people who speak my language, is an incredibly privileged assumption. I am working on lessening my assumptions. I attempted to use my incredibly rusty French when I traveled there for Spring Break, which worked as a way to start the conversation. However, I am nowhere near good enough to carry a conversation on in French. I understand that Athens is a city that depends heavily on tourism for a source of revenue for their economy, which is a big part of why so many people speak English there. But we saw people of all nationalities visiting there at the same time as us. I highly doubt every Greek person speaks Mandarin, Russian, or Spanish, just to name a few other languages. Other tourists probably also speak English, but that just feeds back into the cycle where English is held up as the universal language. It certainly is a beneficial language to know, in a world where the United States is so a prominent player in world affairs. But with the growing number of speakers of other languages such as Spanish and Mandarin, it just struck me as incredibly selfish and self-absorbed to continue thinking English is the only language a person should know.

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

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

At our welcome dinner that we had a few weeks into the semester, three of my friends met an older woman named Agnes. They struck up a friendship with her and she invited them over to her house for scones. One of the girls, Annie, took her up on that and continued to meet her a few times.

For our Travel Writing class, we were required to write a paper about a person from Ireland. Annie chose Agnes because she had gotten to know her so well. One day when Annie went over to interview her, she invited myself and two other friends to come with. We braved the rain and hail for the three-minute walk to Agnes’ bright yellow house. When there was no response at the knock, Annie opened the door and stuck her head in, asking, “Agnes?” Agnes then ushered us in and scolded us for walking in the rain just to see her.

[The street leading to Agnes’ house, taken later in better weather]

We quickly found out that Agnes has strong opinions about everything. She warned us away from the Irish boys, telling us not to bother. Her advice for any woman was, even if they were married, to save money separate from her significant other. She even told this to her daughter-in-law.

Agnes actually left Ireland for the United States after we left her house that day. She has ten children and many of them live in the states. The truly ironic part is that she will return to Ireland May 9th, the day we leave. Her eldest son drove up from near Galway, two hours south of our location, to take her to the airport. We tried to leave then, to let her get ready and visit with her son but she told us we were ridiculous. They made tea and served us her amazing scones. Then her youngest son, who lives in town, came by with his eldest son to borrow baking soda. We tried to leave then as well, because they would not see her for two months but her son’s wife had not come with and she wanted us to meet her.

We begged her for the scone recipe because they were the best thing I have had. They were light and delicious, with raisins that added a hint of sweetness. She talked her way through the recipe, having to think about the measurements because she normally just throws the ingredients in. We asked if we could put chocolate chips in them, instead of raisins, and I have never received such a horrified look in my life. After a little wheedling, she grudgingly admitted that she supposed we could put chocolate chips in.

[Agnes’ scones. She insisted we take the leftovers]

We tried to leave a third time, so she called her son and told him he had to bring his family over. It was interesting to meet her sons and their family. Agnes has an Irish accent. Her eldest son has a mixed accent that everyone he meets has trouble placing. Her youngest son and his two sons all have American accents. His wife has a softer Irish accent. Agnes moved to the states when she was “eighteen and a half, almost nineteen” (she corrected us each time we said she had been eighteen). She lived there for almost sixty years. Her children were all born there except for one daughter who was born in Scotland. Her youngest son stayed in the states until he was fifteen, moved to Ireland for three years, moved back to the states and then moved to Ireland again. Their two boys, 14 and 12, were born in America as well. However, their family moved back to Ireland when they were 8 and 6 because college is free in Ireland and the parents wanted to start planning for that.

The 14-year-old grandson decided that the presence of four guests would soften the blow of a bad grade. A little while after they had arrived, he leaned over and whispered to his mother, “Is this a bad time to let you know I got 42% on my Gaelic test?” Without missing a beat, she replied, “We’ll speak about this later.” Then she returned to our conversation. He grinned at us a tad sheepishly, which makes me think he wouldn’t get into too much trouble for it. That little aside, though, led his mother onto the topic of how silly she thought it was that the children were required to learn Gaelic. Since they moved back to Ireland when the boys were 8 and 6, they had not grown up with the language like the other Irish children had. She thought it was ridiculous that they were required to learn a language that would not help them anywhere in the world except for Ireland.

Ultimately, we spent three and a half hours at Agnes’ house. We had planned to just stop in and say goodbye to her and go do homework in one of the local pubs (they have great Wi-Fi, much better than our cottages). Instead, we just headed back home after that and made dinner. I didn’t end up getting any homework done that day, but I think it was incredibly worth it.

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

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

I might be exaggerating a tiny bit, but I have had more run ins with danger in the month I have been in Ireland than I have in many years. It really comes down to the way the Irish drive on the opposite side of the road. One thing to note about the streets in Ireland is that they have many roundabouts. They seem to be the preferred method over stop signs at intersections.

In Louisburgh, there are quiet streets of houses that have sidewalks and are perfectly normal and similar to home. I do fine on those. Even Main Street is not horrible, mostly because their traffic is not even something I would consider traffic back home. It is to be expected in such a small town.

[An example of the streets in Louisburgh]

The real trouble started when we spent more time in larger towns. My friends and I took a taxi into Castlebar, the largest town in County Mayo. Everything was going great, we had spent our time wandering around, jumping from shop to shop and stopping for food whenever we got hungry. We came to a roundabout to find more places to scope out and I had somehow ended up at the front of our little group. This street had a median, so we safely crossed to the median. Then, I looked to our right because I still forget about the opposite side of the road driving. Thinking it was clear, I got one foot on the street when my friend yanked me by the arm back onto the median. I was bewildered and finally looked to my left and saw the car that had been trying to enter the roundabout, staring at me. Luckily, the driver seemed very pleasant and allowed us to cross the street after that. I was mortified that I had nearly done something that was so simple to avoid. If I had turned my head the tiniest bit to the left, I would have seen the car coming. It just never occurred to me. In my head, there had been no consideration of the fact that their traffic enters from the left.

It shook me up, I will admit. Every time that I think I am getting used to the differences between the US and Ireland, I do something incredibly silly like attempt to walk into traffic. I insisted on walking at the back of the group after that, not trusting myself to remember to look the correct way.

It certainly taught me a lesson, that is for sure. When we were in Dublin, I made sure to look both ways twice before even thinking of crossing the street. I know I need to keep vigilant about this because it would be just my luck to make it through the entire trip without being kidnapped or murdered (too many people brought up the movie Taken when I announced I was studying abroad) to be hit by a car. It does not help that I have noticed the Irish tend to drive very fast. Combined with their winding roads, it seems very dangerous to me. I also just don’t like driving in general though, so perhaps I am not the best judge of that.

The speed with which the Irish drive is extremely apparent when we walk to the beach that’s about a fifteen-minute walk away. The way to get to the beach does not have any sidewalks, so we keep an ear out for cars coming. When we hear one, we move from a mass of people at the side of the road to a single file row, reminiscent of ducklings. The cars speed by, whipping our clothes around us and it always feels close enough to make me catch my breath. We tend to trip over each other if we stay in a row like that, so as soon as the car passes, we spread out again, only to repeat it as soon as the next car passes us by.

[The road to the beach. Along both sides run low trenches full of water, so tripping isn’t advisable]

I have a feeling that I will get used to cars on the other side of the road around the end of May. Then I will return home and have to readjust all over again. Here’s to hoping I refrain from accidently stepping into traffic again.

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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Ireland – Feels Like Home (But Not Quite ….) On Homesickness – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Ireland – Feels Like Home (But Not Quite ….) On Homesickness – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[Fact: I’ve found it impossible to be homesick when surrounded by this much beauty]

We have been in Ireland just over a month. At this point, the trip has brought many experiences and events for us nearly every day. However, it is also that point where many of us have been getting homesick and, in my case at least, restless.

It was interesting to note that a good number out of our sixteen students started getting a little crabby and irritated with each other. I was one of them and did not understand why I was so easily annoyed until my friend Annie pointed out that it had been a month since we had gotten here. I think everyone has finally adjusted to life in Louisburgh, which is great but also comes with the ups and downs, including homesickness.

I have never really been homesick. My first two years of college I loved being in Duluth. Honestly, I just don’t like transitions. As soon as I get comfortable in a place, I adjust quickly. My first semester of this year was different for a few reasons. It was the first semester my sister was not also at CSS with me (she graduated last May). While my brother started at CSS this past fall, he is not as sympathetic to me when I’m feeling whiney and just want to complain about the world. My family is also experiencing some health issues with one family member, so it was much harder being away at school. In order to prepare for being in Ireland the second semester, I only returned home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and one weekend in between where I had a doctor appointment. Looking back, I think it’s hilarious I thought that was preparation for this semester.

[The Church Bar]

It is one thing to understand that you will be across the ocean from your home for three months. It’s quite another to actually be across the ocean from your home for three months. I will also be spending an additional month in Europe after the Ireland trip is finished, so I am looking at four months of being away from home completely.

I have found that the age old cliché of fighting homesickness by keeping busy to actually be true. The more things I do in a day, the less time I have to think about missing my family and my cat. I also am more tired at night, which means I fall asleep instead of lying in bed, thinking about every random thought that populates my brain when I should be sleeping. A few of my friends have also noted that if you stay cooped up inside all day, that is a surefire way to feel miserable for the whole day. No matter the weather here, most of us go for walks into town or to the beach just to explore for a short while.

One factor that, counter-intuitively, made me more homesick was that we traveled to Dublin this past weekend. I loved that city more than I can express. It felt like home to me, the atmosphere was very similar to Saint Paul. All of my friends here on the trip are from small towns, so they were itching to head back to Louisburgh while I bemoaned the fact that we ever had to leave. One might think that it would help, being in the city and keeping busy. I would have agreed with you before the trip. But once we were there and I felt so at home in the city atmosphere, I knew it wouldn’t last. We stayed there two nights which were fantastic. The restaurants and nightlife in Dublin were so fun and we had a great time. We actually stopped at a pub that was a restored 17th century church, which was rather an incredible experience.

[River Liffey, which runs through Dublin and separates the city into North Dublin and South Dublin]

Once we left, though, and were back on the bus, that was when I felt even more down. Within ten minutes of leaving the city center, there were fields with sheep. Now, I love sheep, I do. I have more pictures on my camera of sheep than any person really ought to and my profile picture on Facebook right now is a selfie with a sheep. My professor promised we’ll go visit lambs soon and I plan on holding him to that. But to leave the city I fell in love with and to see a field so shortly afterwards, I felt more homesick than before we had even gotten to Dublin. I wonder if I would be less homesick if I was based in a city like Dublin. But, like most things, I was feeling better a little while later. And when we arrived back in Louisburgh after two nights in a town called Kilkenny, I was ecstatic to be home after five full days of travel and sightseeing.

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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Filed under Allison Brennhofer, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang