Category Archives: Eleni Birhane

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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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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Dominican Republic – Friendship Across National Borders – by Eleni Birhane. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Dominican Republic – Friendship Across National Borders – by Eleni Birhane. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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I met my now very dear friend Diana at the beginning of fall semester 2016. Almost instantly we became close; both of us wondered why we had not been friends until then. Not even half way through the semester, Diana suggested I go to the Dominican Republic with her to visit her family. I immediately accepted, how could I refuse such an offer! Once I had made the arrangements, she informed her family that I would be joining her on her trip for winter break. She told me that they were all happy and excited that I was coming. I knew that if they were anything like her (she stressed that they were) they would be extremely welcoming and hospitable, so I had no worries.

elenidr2

My stay at the Dominican Republic was one I am not likely to ever forget. From the people to the land to the culture, everything I witnessed had a beauty that I cannot easily express in writing. I was lucky enough to experience the country not only from a tourist perspective, but also through the eyes of the local residents. Diana’s family took care of me as one of their own. Even though there was a language barrier between us (I speak almost no Spanish), I realized that if there is enough will and maybe a little help from the notoriously misleading, but undoubtedly helpful Google Translate, people from very different places and dialects can get along and even care for each other.

Other than being a much needed break from school and work, my stay at the Dominican Republic was also an informative experience. I learned a lot about the people’s culture, how laid back yet hardworking they are. I learned about the dynamics of their politics and their somewhat tense relationship with their only other neighbor on the island they share, the nation of Haiti. I learned that no matter how much I ate, Diana’s grandmother and aunt would never truly believe I was full. I enjoyed observing the similarities and differences between the Dominican Republic and my own home country Ethiopia.

Overall, by the time I had to leave I was feeling very down. I had come to truly care for her family as I believe they did for me. I know I have made friends for life and have promised myself (and them) I would come back when I could. I am very grateful I got the chance to have this experience. I encourage people to take any chance they get to travel and explore the world no matter how close or far, there might be something beautiful waiting just around the corner.

elenidr3

Eleni serves as an editor for The NSR

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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Meet Our NSR Student Editors — Eleni Birhane, Social Media Editor. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Meet Our NSR Student Editors — Eleni Birhane, Social Media Editor. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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My name is Eleni Birhane and I am currently a sophomore at the College of St. Scholastica. I am a Global Cultural and Language studies major and plan on minoring in Political Science and Organizational Behavior. My intended graduation year is 2018 and I will start working with NSR in the spring of 2016. I am an international student from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

I am interested in politics and justice and would like to go to Law school after I graduate with my bachelors. I love reading and enjoy writing (two of the most important skills for a lawyer). I want to work for an international organization like the UN or an NGO and dedicate my life to changing the world for the better. I have been lucky enough to have traveled to some parts of the world with my parents while growing up. Some of the places include: Zanzibar, Italy, South Africa, USA and Israel. The experiences I gathered from my trips have helped shape my life.

One of the reasons I am joining the NSR team is to share my experience with people who might find it helpful or interesting. I find all the information from the NSR articles very insightful and entertaining and wish to contribute to the compilation of priceless data. I also think it would be a great way for me to improve my writing and learn from my peer’s experiences.

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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