Category Archives: Ana Maria Camelo Vega

Student Intern, The Middle Ground Journal. The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA.

As Bogota Transforms, Holistic Planning is Needed – by Ana Maria Camelo Vega. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

As Bogota Transforms, Holistic Planning is Needed – by Ana Maria Camelo Vega. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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This week, Hyperallegic, an art and culture digital platform, published an article talking about the street murals of my hometown, Bogota. While it was an interesting read regarding Colombian culture and history, I personally found it lacked key facts that shift the key elements of the story.

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Eat the World – Food in Europe versus America – by Ana María Camelo Vega. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Eat the World – Food in Europe versus America – by Ana María Camelo Vega. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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Most of us have fond memories of our childhood. Growing up, few things sticks to us as strong as food did. Whether it was your mom’s homemade key lime pie, or a gross mixture you did not even know what was in it, food has always been key to transporting and evolving our senses in time. Growing up in Colombia I was exposed to, of course, the typical Colombian food. It was later on when I started trying different foods. Clearly, it has been a process of getting to know what you like and what you do not. Nevertheless, what I think is the most amazing thing about food is all that it implies.

I personally think food itself is a whole culture onto itself.

Everything revolves around food. It is amazing to see how food reflects a whole geographical, historical and cultural background. Latin American food, for instance, is characterized by the use of corn. There are multiple maize-based dishes all over the region, such as tortillas, tamales, tacos, pupusas, arepas, and elote asado. Precisely, this is the reflection of the historical and geographical background of the region. In this case, Latin American indigenous groups thought of corn as the greatest gift from the Gods. It was the most valued good, even more than gold.

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After traveling outside my country, I have noticed how the culture around food changes dramatically depending on the region. Even in the same country, food is significantly different depending on the geography. In Colombia, for instance, breakfast is an important meal. However, there’s plenty of options to choose from. In the central zone, the traditional breakfast is called “changua”. This is basically a milk soup with eggs. I know, it sounds interesting. This dish comes from one of Colombia’s indigenous groups: the Muisca people. In this region you can also find tamales, which are usually eaten for breakfast on Sundays; and “almojábana” with hot chocolate. Here, it is important to clarify that Latin American hot chocolate is completely different to American hot chocolate, which was one of my biggest food-frustrations when I first moved to the U.S. If you go to the “Eje Cafetero” you will find different breakfasts. One of them is the typical “calentao”, which literally means “heated”. This is usually the night before’s leftovers, reheated and mixed. There’s also the “arepa paisa”, which is a flatbread made of cooked corn flour, and commonly is served with toppings such as butter, cheese, scrambled eggs or meat. In the Colombian coast, clearly, the food is different. The Caribbean region breakfasts include “arepa de huevo”, which is a deep fried arepa made from yellow corn dough with an egg inside that is cooked by the frying process. It is also common for people to have fried plantain with cheese for breakfast. The list could go on, but I think I’ve proven my point.

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This is how, during my European adventure, I decided to look deeper into its food culture.

Firstly, breakfast is smaller. From what I was able to experience in London, Paris, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Munich, Santorini and Athens, it is more customary to eat smaller meals for breakfast. It was interesting to see that probably the biggest breakfast I found was in London, which was pretty similar to the typical American breakfast. Once again, I was able to make the connection to the historical background and relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. Other than that, most people tend to have either a biscuit, croissant or toast, accompanied by coffee, tea or hot chocolate.

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Putting this in perspective, I was able to confirm that American portions are indeed bigger than average. When I came to the United States, the only thing I could compare them with was with Latin American portions, which are indeed bigger than European, but way smaller than American.

Secondly, ingredients are different. Yes, this seems like a logical statement. Nonetheless, it is impressive to see the actual difference between the ingredients used in every place. The freshness and the way food is prepared absolutely changes the way people enjoy food. Pizza is the perfect example for this. European pizza is, in general, served individually, characterized by its thin crust, simple ingredients, sauces made from scratch and a not as cheesy/greasy consistency. On the other hand, American pizza is, in general, thick -even stuffed- crust, extra cheesy, and made from frozen dough. Both of them are delicious, but they are not the same in any way. It is not a surprise for anyone that American pizza is considered to be fast food. European pizza is not. Again, this reflects the culture.

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Thirdly, it caught my attention the way in which meals are distributed. For instance, in Latin America, breakfast tends to be significant, lunch tends to be the biggest meal in the day, and dinner tends to be lighter. This is not the case in the U.S.. From my experience, I have seen that breakfast is usually significant, lunch lighter, and dinner tends to be the biggest meal of the day. Along this, there is a lot of snacking in the United States. Snacks are a huge part of the market and of every day’s routine. This is not the case in Europe. Farmer’s markets are much more common in Europe and Latin America than in the U.S.. Clearly, this makes a difference at the time of analyzing the different food cultures.

There is no doubt that depending on the country, city, or even region, food will be different. Most importantly, food will reflect the differences between the cultures. After traveling around different cities, different countries and different continents, one of the biggest lessons I learned is to simply go out there and eat the world!

Ana Maria 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.

(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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Europe – Five countries, Three weeks – by Ana Maria Camelo Vega. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Europe – Five countries, Three weeks – by Ana Maria Camelo Vega. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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Travel. Travel a lot.

Before living in the United States, I had the idea of a certain reality that merely involved my culture. It meant driving a car for a couple of hours to experience a completely different climate, music and infrastructure. It meant enjoying delicious foods, without necessarily trying new things. It meant not worrying about how to greet people. It meant being in my comfort zone.

Little did I know how far from reality I was.

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Living in an interconnected world as we do today means more than living all your life in your comfort zone. Reality requires stepping out from there. And that’s what I did. It is not new for anyone to know that Duluth, Minnesota might be a little bit different from Bogota, Colombia. Yet, I wanted more. I wanted to see more. I wanted to truly experience my surroundings. The travel bug had hit me. This is why I decided to travel solo.

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Something I had never done before, in a place I had never been before, with people I did not know at all. I booked my trip to Europe without thinking much about it, just pushed by the desire of experiencing something different. It was only until the moment I stepped out of the plane that I truly realized I was actually going by myself to the other side of the world for the first time.

I was able to step in in five different countries, which meant experiencing five different cultures in just three weeks. If something is true is that three weeks are not enough time. Cultures are infinite and constantly evolving. This is what makes it so hard to truly get to know a certain culture, as time will always be limited. I tried to make the most out of my time in Europe. London, Paris, Barcelona, Sitges, Frankfurt, Munich, Santorini and Athens. Every city, every landscape, every single second had its own magic. It is impossible to say I did not experience any sort of culture shock. I was, indeed, homesick.

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London is a magnificent city. I was not expecting much about this city, so I was gratefully surprised by it. Its architecture and urban organization are impressive. I tried to bike around the city one day, and almost got hit multiple times because I was used to driving on the right side of the road. Even though there were multiple differences, I was able to recognize the historic connection between the United Kingdom and the United States. From the most simple thing, the language; going through their food, their costumes and their organization: I was able to see the roots of the culture I have been exposed to in the last couple of years.

As a kid, I always dreamed about going to Paris. I remember watching movies, reading books, and listening songs about the charms of Paris. Paris is internationally portrayed as the romantic city. This was not my first impression, not at all. I got to Paris on a grey, rainy Thursday. As the bus was driving around the city, I remember thinking: is this it? Here, I was able to realize once again that media is always changing reality. It is very easy to forget this. Nonetheless, being able to explore this city was a dream come true. I tried foods I never thought I would, such as frog legs and snails. The music, the environment, the architecture and all the gastronomy made it an unforgettable experience. I was able to visit Versailles, which opened my eyes to the historic part of our world. Being able to see how people lived hundreds of years ago was a marvelous experience, and made me realize how important it is for humanity to understand where we come from; which ultimately explains why we act the way we do nowadays. On the other side, visiting the catacombs was eye-opening. There is so much to learn, so much to understand.

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Barcelona. Just the city’s name makes you feel its magic. Barcelona was a very interesting experience due to multiple reasons. First off, even though it is located in Spain, their main language is Catalan. This made me feel weird when speaking Spanish, as I knew native people did not like it. Barcelona’s atmosphere is indescribable. I fell in love with the city’s weather, people, architecture, gastronomy, landscapes and music. For the couple of days I was able to be there, I was amazed by every single detail. Paella, sangria and gelato made long days of walking definitely worth it.

Germany is one of the most (if not the most) organized countries I know. Everything is practical and planned accordingly to the needs of the people. From visiting Munich and Frankfurt, I was able to see the huge German culture around beer. Yes, I knew about some of it before getting there. Yet, I had no clue of how important it actually is. Beer is probably the cheapest and most bought good in the market. The thing about this, is that it is high quality beer. By this time of the trip, I was already homesick. I had too much to digest in such few days, I was certainly overwhelmed by everything. Not only this. I wasn’t able to communicate in Germany. I had never felt this way in my whole life. Even in France, I was able to communicate with my basic French skills. It was a different story in Germany, as I felt truly frustrated by not being able to ask for a bottle of water. However, I was gratefully amazed about German lifestyle.

I think one of the places people should definitely visit is Greece. Greece was the birth of our civilization in multiple ways. Philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers and doctors were basically born there. Accordingly, I decided to extend my trip to visit Santorini and Athens. When I landed in Santorini, I was shocked. I was shocked with everything around me. Of course, again, I was expecting to see all that media shows to the world. It was not like that. Santorini is an island composed by different little towns. What I had seen in pictures was just one town, called Oia. In order to get to Oia, people need to take public buses, which go packed and sweaty all the way to Oia. Undeniably, it is one of the prettiest and breathtaking landscapes I have ever seen. Like a children’s tale scene, I was in the middle of little white and blue arched houses, with the Mediterranean Sea in front of me. It was impactful to see the way in which early civilizations used their resources to build cities in the middle of nowhere. After that calm and peace, I was able to experience the agitation and chaos of a city such as Athens. Greece’s economy is very volatile right now, which means the political environment is going in the same direction. While I was in Athens, I was able to experience a live student protest. Things that are easy to see back in Colombia happening all over the world was very imposing to my eye.

Five countries in three weeks. That’s all it took to shake my reality one more time. That’s all I needed to reconnect with myself at different levels, to get to know myself at different stages and to truly understand that there is so much out there to learn from. Life was never meant to be lived in one single place.

Ana Maria serves as assistant editor for The North Star Reports.

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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.

(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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Peace in Colombia – Saying yes to the end of a half-century of war – by Ana Maria Camelo Vega. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Peace in Colombia – Saying yes to the end of a half-century of war – by Ana Maria Camelo Vega. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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Twenty years ago, it seemed absurd to imagine a peaceful environment in Colombia. Twenty years from now, it will probably seem absurd to imagine the country in a constant and endless war.

It is internationally known that Colombia has had to fight three political, social and economic enemies: guerrillas, paramilitaries, and narcotraffic. Back in the 1920s, the country started to experience what would be the core of the oldest and longest civil conflict in the Americas. The fundamental conflict revolved around the land distribution in the rural areas of the country. This leads us to the fact that the agrarian conflict has been the determining factor to the emergence of Colombia’s war. Nonetheless, it has not been the only one. The adoption of capitalism as the Colombian economic and political system led to the emergence of Marxism as the perfect ideology for the guerrilla groups. Irregularities, corruption and instability in the Colombian government were also factors that allowed the aborning of the country’s civil conflict and criminal bands all over the country. Even though there have been multiple guerrillas, including the M-19 and ELN, the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) is currently the largest and most active guerilla group in the country, internationally known as a terrorist group. Their funding comes mainly from illegal drug trade and production. The way in which the group has performed has caused damage and resentment all over the country.

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The combination of all these factors have forced Colombian society to be in an uncomfortable position. On one hand, the government is not providing the necessary support and/or action to combat and ease the struggle for political democracy in the country. The consequences of this can be seen in corruption, abandoned areas in the country, high levels of inequality and poverty. On the other hand, they are being directly affected by the consequences of the struggle for political democracy as Colombian people are the ultimate victims of the conflict. These conditions have resulted in a remarkably bloody, complicated and long-running war.

For most Colombians, there was no hope of bringing the country together again without killing each other. There had been multiple attempts to finish the conflict, from peaceful talks to armed attacks. The first set of talks was in 1984, which failed because the paramilitary groups did not follow the ceasefire with the FARC. Then, in 1992, the talks did not succeed because they were left in the air. The third attempt was in 1999-2000, with President Andrés Pastrana; this turned in another failed ceasefire by the FARC. This year something historic happened. Announced on August 24th, 2016, and after after four years of negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC in La Habana, Cuba, the Peace agreement was signed. It ends a war that began 52 years ago and has killed, displaced, kidnapped and affected Colombians in one way or another. Six points were discussed: integral policy of agricultural development, political participation, closure of the conflict, solution to the drug industry issue, determination of victims, and countersignature mechanisms after agreements. This agreement is supported by the international community as well. 47 countries have announced their support, including the United States, France, Russia, United Kingdom and China. After being signed and celebrated, the agreement will be presented to Colombians as a plebiscite. This means that the ultimate word on the effectiveness of the agreement will take place after a democratic vote from Colombian citizens, followed by the actual application and fulfillment of the conditions and subjects discussed.

This is why it is vital to understand that even though a permanent Peace accord will potentially change Colombia in great ways, the country needs more than the written agreement. If the agreement works successfully, Peace will increase Colombia’s economic annual growth. Clearly, security would improve due to the ceasefire. It would also be expected a decrease in illegal drug trade, as one of the main centres for this business has been created by the FARC. If Peace is achieved successfully, it would shift the social environment and structure in the country. Instead of having a Colombian society who still distrust everyone and everything around them, the country would start working together to create a culture of trust and tranquility that will traduce in a healthy and more prosperous society. It could also open the political scenario for more leftist groups, as they have been discriminated for their alliances with the guerrilla. Colombia has all the potential to create a new society. As a country, it counts with all the necessary resources to grow and gain power in the region and internationally. It is a matter of restructuring the civil society and shifting from a resentful environment to a peaceful and more tolerant country. For this, it is necessary that the Colombian government takes the Peace agreement as an opportunity to restructure policies regarding political participation, societal equality, agricultural rights, and economic opportunities. For Colombia, signing the agreement is the first big step. The fulfillment of the points agreed on should be followed by the presence and support from the national government.

Being another Colombian living outside the country turns into a challenge in situations like this. Even though I am 3,098 miles away from home, thanks to social media and news I have been able to testify people having all different kind of opinions regarding the subject. It is easy to find tons of people who would vote “no” to the plebiscite based on a wide spectrum of reasons. Though understandable, it is quite outrageous to see that personal interests, resentments, and political alignments are limiting a whole country from getting a new perspective. Future generations have the right to live in a country where they have different opportunities to succeed without the fear of being killed, kidnapped or being internationally discriminated for being Colombian. Colombia is far from being perfect, just as any other country in the world. However, if there’s a historic chance for the country to eliminate one of their major sources of violence and injustice, why do not take it?

I am from Colombia, I have lived four years on my own in Minnesota, and I know my country has much more to offer than an endless bloody war. Olympic winners such as Caterine Ibargüen and Mariana Pajón, champions like Nairo Quintana and James Rodríguez, artists like Shakira and Carlos Vives, and magic realism creators like Gabriel García Márquez make Colombian people proud of their country. Pursuing their dream of being globally recognized for more than being a narco, a drug dealer, or a criminal, Colombians should give a chance to Peace. It is moment to stop waiting for a deus ex machina and start creating a new country. It is time to stop blaming others. If it is not the Spaniards, it is the priests and Catholic church; if it’s not the conservatives, it is the liberals, the communists, the military, the Americans, the elite, the corrupt, the narcos, the guerrillas, the paramilitary, the Uribistas or the Santistas. Colombian society needs more than a paper to change its path, Colombia needs a societal transformation that allows the government to be accountable for its role. It is moment to go beyond what has been done before and allow the establishment of the political democracy and social justice Colombia has always dreamed of.

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.

(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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Studying in Washington, D.C., USA – by Ana María Camelo Vega. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Studying in Washington, D.C., USA – by Ana María Camelo Vega. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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People say life is a book. Every step you take becomes a word, a sentence, or even a paragraph of your book. You are in charge of creating your own story, of writing every chapter the way you want. You are supposed to make the most out of your life and produce a bestseller. People also say that those who do not travel only read one page. I strongly support this statement. Traveling is living. Every trip is a new experience. From the moment you make the decision of traveling you are challenged, you are being pulled out of your comfort zone. From the very first moment, you are learning about life. You are opening your mind, your eyes and your soul to the world. Your naked self is getting exposed to life. It is in that moment where you find yourself immersed in inspiration to continue writing your book.

This past semester I had the opportunity of living in Washington, D.C. Washington is known for being the center of everything that happens in the United States, and even the world. As everything is connected, one can say everything begins in D.C. I was able to experience and testify this. Even though I had already lived away from home for almost two years, this semester was a completely different experience. I had already been in D.C. before, nonetheless, I did not know the city at all. I have always been an independent person, which made things easier for me. However, I cannot deny how challenging it was to live in an unknown city for a semester.

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Let’s take things step by step. My semester in Washington was divided into three worlds: academic, professional, and social/personal. One would say the strongest aspect of living in Washington would be the professional environment; I can assure that is true. Yet, I can also say living in Washington not only opens your professional network, but also opens your eyes to the real world. Washington, D.C. is a cultural melting pot. In the time I was able to live in the city, I can say I met at least one person from each continent. In fact, I barely met people from Washington itself. This fact inevitably changed my view of the world, as I was exposed to diversity in multiple ways. Like it or not, I was being challenged. From my personal experience, I had to deal with multiple cultural differences that made my time there even more difficult. My views, my race, my culture and customs were challenged by others. I cannot deny the fact that accepting this was hard for me. Nonetheless, I was able to learn and embrace it. I was able to internalize the fact that there is no better culture than other. I was able to truly understand the importance of respect and tolerance.

This does not only apply to my personal life, but also to my professional field. I was able to intern at the Wilson Center. Located in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, this organization began as an official memorial to President Woodrow Wilson, which is often recognized as a ‘living memorial’. As part of its nature, this well-recognized think tank promotes diversity by having scholars and interns from all over the world. In such way, being able to learn from all of my fellow workers enriched my learning process.

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In academic terms, I was truly challenged. The amount of work was more that what I expected, creating a tight schedule all the time. Accordingly, at the moment of looking back, I can see that in professional and academic terms, my Washington Semester fulfilled all my expectations. Indeed, the combination of the academic and professional environments I was immersed in allowed me to realize multiple things about my future. I was able to see my future plans from a different perspective. Something I am certain about is that I want to work towards the development of areas such as Latin America. D.C. taught me that there are multiple ways to reach one same goal. There is no wrong path in life. In such way, D.C. opened my mind to multiple possibilities and ways of reaching my goals. I was able to understand that hard work actually pays off. As long as I have my goals clear, there are infinite ways to reach them.

Washington, D.C. is not only about business suits and meetings. It is not only about waking up early in the morning to go to work, creating a routine, doing research, networking, and international events. For me, Washington D.C. is about memories and experiences. Whenever I think about Spring 2015, I think about one of the best decisions I have ever made. I think about all the people I was able to meet, all the memories I was able to create, all the mistakes I had the opportunity to make, all the places I was able to visit, all the dreams I was able to make true, all the hard times and the knowledge I will take with me forever. Some of my favorite lifetime memories come from D.C. Going from January snow, passing through cherry blossoms, and ending with some warm summer sun, in just a couple months I was able to get to know how life works beyond my own world.

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 five semesters we have published 200 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. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

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.

(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, 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 Ana Maria Camelo Vega, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang