Tag Archives: Asia

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Marin serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Works Consulted

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Myths, Storytelling, and The Moon – by Der Yang. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Myths, Storytelling, and The Moon – by Der Yang. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[Original art work from Der Yang]

Coming from many regions across South-East Asia, there is one of many myths that haunts my past today. This folktale is about a woman, with a name that I did not initially know of, who lived on the moon. According to an article by A Beginner’s Guide to Hmong Shamanism, it states that the Chinese society calls this woman Chang E, the goddess of the moon. The folklore of this woman dates back to as long as my ancestors can remember. Passed down onto my parents and my generation, I still remember the story today. The moon that everyone sees now at night, is the symbol of this myth. Although very short, I had an unforgettable experience.

Chang E was known as a vengeful spirit because she longed for her husband. When she lived as a human being, her husband was given a magical immortality potion as a reward for saving the world from the ten blazing suns. He took down nine and left one for the world to stay bright. However, as nearby civilians heard the news, they gained greed and selfishness for a long life, causing them to invade Chang E’s home. Without her husband present, her fear and impulsivity caused her to swallow the magic. She was then automatically sent to the sky, choosing the moon as her new home. Since then, Chang E has been known to punish any and everyone who points her way, a sign of attack.

From my experience, my parents have always told me from a very young age to never point at the moon. At the age of four, I never understood the reasons behind their story of the moon. They would tell me that if I looked long and hard enough, a woman sitting on the moon would wave to me. They would say that this woman was bound to cut my ears if I pointed her way. However, I thought to myself, “How could this person possibly come to earth and cut my ears off? How could this woman that mom and dad keep mentioning hurt me if she is so far away?”

A few days right after learning about this mysterious woman on the moon, I shared the cool news with my older cousins at a gathering. Unfortunately, it was right around 8-9 PM in the summer and the moon was starting to appear. Being the “wise and nice” cousins they were, they told me that if I pointed at the moon, then I would be able to go to the playground with them. I directly shot my tiny pointer finger towards the big, round moon. After a two second wait, everyone laughed at me and told me that I only told fibs. No one believed this myth, not even myself.

When I arrived home, I didn’t think much of the actions I completed. I bathed and got ready for bed, as usual. The only unusual thing was the skin area connecting my right earlobe to my head felt a bit sore. It felt as if someone was tugging on my earlobe for a very long time and wanted it off. That may sound exaggerated, but I remember the fine details of this incident.

The next day, I found my earlobe full of scab and discomfort. Tears ran down my eyes while I cluelessly ran to my mother. After I told my mother about my actions the night before, I remember her scolding me, “I told you to listen to me but you did not and this is what you deserve.” She then formed a small ball of spit in her mouth and spat on her fingers. Her hands moving closely to my right ear lobe, I moved in objection to her spit. Nonetheless, she firmly grabbed me by my ear and chanted, “Quav qaib, quav npua, quav nyuj, quav twm.” Which translates in English as chicken poop, pig poop, cow poop, buffalo poop. She chanted this phrase once while rubbing my ear with the spit. Surprisingly, it was soothing. I then asked my mother what she was doing and the reasons behind it. She explained, “It is our ritual to help your ear from getting worse, to heal it faster. However, it would have been preventable if you told me right after you did what you have done. That way, she will not come to get your ear as I have just spread all sorts of poop on your ear [figuratively].”

According to history book Worlds Together, Worlds Apart, by Robert Tignor and other authors, a myth can be found throughout the chapters but specifically on page 179. El Lanzón is an excellent art carving from the Chavín in the Andes. The example of El Lanzón portrays some of the similarities as my myth shared above. It is a large monument demonstrating the aspects of one of their deities. It shows features of snakes, cats, and human parts. Its whole picture conveys a hybrid supernatural figure, possessing powerful strengths. Tignor states, “Carved stone jaguars, serpents, and hawks, baring their large fangs and claws to remind believers and nature’s powers, dominated the spiritual landscape.” [179] Unlike the myth of Chang E, there seems to be no artistic representation in the Hmong culture, the culture that I identify with. Yet, in China or other south Asian countries, there are many drawings and video games based on the goddess of the moon.

Pertaining to class discussions, all human beings are contradictory and complex, multifaceted, and teachable [Professor Liang].  Just like all of the civilizations from the Tignor’s work, people from Ancient Voices, Modern World: The Amazon, and my own society, we are hard to understand, adaptable, and we have a mindset willing to expand. Artifacts have proven the different lives at different times all around the world. We as social creatures live off from traditions, folktales, and skills to survive. An example would be the legend of the Basarana river people, also known as the lost Amazonian. Their culture and belief system is so vastly different from ours, yet somewhat similar. When celebrations happen, there are many rituals to be done, ancestors are involved in one way or another, and cultural preservation is relevant. Such as the making of their bread, stitching of cultural hats, and preparation of hallucinogenic drinks. The bread is passed out at the end of the ceremony to represent completion and blessings. The hats, created from feathers, shells, beads, etc, are worn by mostly men of the river people to signify pride. Created from feathers, shells, beads, etc. Last but not least, their drinks are prepared with a type of drug to lighten their moods and dwell wholly in their ceremony. The Basarana people share sacred locations and activities just as us many Americans do.

Today, many of us as social creatures like to look into the world and search for a supernatural explanation of why things are the way they are. Personally, I think that myths and legends are universal features in the human existence. Their existence makes us human by allowing us to hold a history to our name. With histories, we are able to learn from them and utilize them as a guideline to life. Whether a history is true or false, it is a myth that has power over some individuals more than the others. Not everyone will believe in myths. Nonetheless, these imaginative stories give human beings a sense of energy to continue the human existence. Additionally, just as it has occurred within my life to the Basarana people, fables are meant to be shared through many generations.

[From Professor Liang’s Spring 2017 World History I class]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taiwan – Taiwanese Bubble Tea and Beyond – by Megan Beckerich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Taiwan – Taiwanese Bubble Tea and Beyond – by Megan Beckerich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

bubble_tea

[Photo of Taiwanese Bubble Tea, from : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bubble_Tea.png , see also, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubble_tea ]

If you have the chance to visit a trendy café or restaurant, you may happen to spot something on the menu called bubble tea, or boba tea, depending on the area. Exploding in popularity worldwide in the past decade, this tasty and unique beverage has an interesting history behind it and very noticeable effects on contemporary tea culture in the world. bubble tea is a recent phenomenon, originating in Taiwan in the 1980s. Originally found in Taichung (western Taiwan) this drink was a creative risk taken by a man named Lin Hsiu Hui, inspired by Japanese cold tea serving methods, and immediately became a smash hit spawning a very popular beverage that would spread in popularity throughout East and Southeast Asia.

meganbbubble1

[Yours truly enjoying a traditional black tea bubble tea in Tainan (and jumbo mango ice)]

Originally made with Taiwanese black tea and tapioca balls, other flavors and combinations were tested out to immense success. The next immediate flavor added was green tea, but now any flavor imaginable is available in shops, restaurants, and street venders. Still, the majority of flavors make use of fruit teas or milk teas (or both) but classic black and green remain popular as well.

meganbbubble2

[Sample vacuum seal on a bubble tea-individual stores often used different prints on these covers]

Given that bubble tea originated in Taiwan, it goes without saying how ubiquitous this drink is when venturing through any Taiwanese city, but my experience is limited mostly to Taipei. I can say in all honesty I consumed a lot of bubble tea during my time in Taipei, in addition to many other local favorites.

From my experience, trying bubble tea in Taipei (or anywhere in Taiwan really) is an absolute must. Tea is cheap in Taipei, often being priced around $1USD for a fairly large cup, and it is conveniently portable. Many shops vacuum seal a plastic lid over your drink to minimize spillage, and provide a small plastic bag to carry the drink around in, while giving you use of your hands to do other things (like eat dumplings or hold an umbrella-or both). Bubble tea can also be very gourmand, with some stores offering very fancy and unique flavors (tomato lemon is a surprisingly refreshing combination).

On menus, bubble tea is often called zhenzhu naicha (pearl milk tea) and can also be prefaced with the specific flavor of tea, such as hong (red) or lǜ (green) but many other flavors exist.

While bubble tea is probably the most prolific and culturally important, similar drinks are popular in Taiwan (and East Asia). I’ve had the pleasure of trying a lot of these, so I want to briefly talk about them as well. “Foam tea” paomo hongcha (foam red tea) is very popular in Taiwan as well, and was something I first learned about in a reading passage for my Mandarin class. “Red” is often used to refer to black tea, and this drink is hot black tea with sugar and ice that would be foamy in taste and appearance. This particular tea is not served with the tapioca bubbles. Another popular style of drink would be the plethora “jelly” beverages available. I visited Starbucks in Taipei and Hong Kong and in both I saw “iced coffee with earl grey jelly” and “iced tea with lemon jelly” and many more varieties (perhaps sadly, I chose to try a dark chocolate matcha confection instead). I tried a variety of jelly teas and coffees from other shops and venders with flavors ranging from coffee jelly to plain jelly (just sugar) to even grass jelly! Not all of these beverages need to be specially ordered in tea shops though, jelly drinks can be bought in cans in vending machines (one of my favorite drinks in Japan was Minute Maid’s white grape with aloe jelly I bought from a vending machine on campus almost every day) and some convenience stores.

meganbbubble3

[Dark chocolate matcha confection. Sadly not a bubble tea]

Tea is not just limited to traditional green or black tea, and discovering the plethora of flavors and varieties available in Taipei (and anywhere in the world) is a rewarding and delicious experience.

Megan is a student at Northern Kentucky University.

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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From Anime to Actuality: The Evolution of My Conceptualization of Japan – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

From Anime to Actuality: The Evolution of My Conceptualization of Japan – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

marin-e-img_1340

[A traditional shrine with Tokyo Tower in the background]

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[Tokyo Tower at night]

Like many children who came of age in the late 1990s/ early 2000s, I grew up on a steady diet of cartoons and video games. This time period coincided with the rise of Japanese media in mainstream American pop culture. As a result, Japanese TV shows and video games like Sailor Moon, Dragonball, and Pokemon became childhood staples. I cannot say exactly why I was personally drawn to such programs. On one hand, they were a bit strange with their giant-eyed characters, exaggerated artistic effects (i.e. over-the-top facial expressions) and fantastical plots. On the other hand, they seemed more whimsical, imaginative, and emotionally heartfelt than their American counterparts, and thus I became a devotee of Japanese media from an early age.

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[New friends at a seafood restaurant in Ohara-Isumi City]

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[Convenience store rice balls and other goodies]

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[Japanese dolls at the Tokyo-Narita Airport]

As I entered middle school, I descended deeper and deeper into otaku-hood (Note: an otaku is someone who is a just bit too interested in Japanese media, somewhat like Star Trek and Trekkies in the USA…). By default, I also became interested in Japan, the birthplace of such media masterpieces, and began to learn more about Japanese culture in the process: popular foods, common social norms and traditions, funky technology, etc. While these efforts did teach me quite a bit about Japan, my stronger interest in cartoons and video games distorted my conceptualization of Japan. Instead of seeing as a real place with real people, I chiefly envisioned it as a “magical cartoon utopia.” After reaching an apex of awkwardness in sixth grade (with my otaku-hood being a major, though certainly not singular, contributor to that affliction), I realized that I would need to tame my inner fan girl in order to survive junior high and high school. Part of that mentality switch was also the process of growing up: the TV shows and video games served their respective purposes and it was time to let go and move on to more sophisticated interests. For better or for worse, I lumped Japan as a whole into that mindset. Save a few fits of nostalgia where I tried (badly) to study the Japanese language, I viewed Japan as an impossibly cool place, but one that was more of a relic of childhood interests as opposed to a serious area of study and scholarship.

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[A wild Pikachu appeared!]

Fast-forward to my first year out of college: I was working in China and had the opportunity to travel during the winter break. While there was an embarrassment of riches in terms of travel options, my inner otaku influenced me to book a ticket to the “magical cartoon utopia” of Japan.
I ended up spending six days in Japan and it turned out to be an incredible experience. Unsurprisingly, part of the reason why I enjoyed the experience so much was that I was able to geek out over my childhood obsessions in their natural habitat (I’m looking at you, Pokemon key chains and Sailor Moon facemasks). What struck me the most from my journey there, however, was that I finally learned how to see Japan as a “real” place…and still appreciate it from that angle. First of all, I had the incredible opportunity to stay with my former roommate Risako and her family while I was there. I was showered with unbelievable friendliness and hospitality, which included tons of delicious food, movie nights watching Princess Mononoke and Whisper of the Heart, and lessons in day-to-day Japanese etiquette (i.e. phrases to say when coming/leaving the house, placing your shoes a certain way for good luck, etc). I relished the opportunity to spend time with them and other Japanese people and experience their customs and lifestyles. I also heard fragments of memories and histories that offered their own personal stories while reflecting aspects of national collective memory. Additionally, I had the chance to walk through the cities of Tokyo, Chiba, and Ohara-Isumi City, and saw the blend of contemporary, cutting-edge buildings next to ancient shrines and temples—thus reflecting Japan’s symbiotic respect for past, present, and future. For all of these reasons, I was fascinated by the “real” Japan and embraced it for the duration of my time there.

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[Risako and I with some kimono girls]

Having had time to mull over my time in Japan, the most important impact of that trip was how it gave me a more well-rounded, mature view of Japan. Granted, six days is a brief window of time to visit such a complex nation and I have no delusions of grandeur that I am now an expert on the place. However, the experience has helped me to better embrace my childhood love of Japanese cartoons and video games as my gateway drug to the Land of the Rising Sun. Sure, to love a country for its cartoon offerings could be seen as a bit shallow and silly. But much of Japanese media reflects the fascinating cultural undertones of its home base: for example, it may feature characters celebrating a tea ceremony or include characters from Japanese mythology. In other words, they serve as pop cultural ambassadors to familiarize and attract people from all over the world to Japanese culture. At the same time, I am glad that I better recognize and respect Japan as a real place and not just a glorified cartoon land. The country has an incredible history of both isolation and global integration, and has done both commendable and catastrophic actions that still have ramifications in Japan and the world at large today. It is still arguably the key power in the Asia-Pacific region (though it’s in tight competition with China) and remains one of the most important global powers to this day. And simply from a personal perspective, the sites are cool and the people are super nice, which makes me happy that it’s an actual place to visit. If you ever have the chance, I definitely recommend a visit to Japan, and please revere it both for its impact on the worlds of imagination and reality.

Marin Ekstrom 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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Global Friendship, Love Across Borders – by Shivani Singh. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Global Friendship, Love Across Borders – by Shivani Singh. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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Welcome! Witaj! Enkua Dena Metachu! Mauya! Swagat Hai! Bienvenido! Laskavo Prosymo! And more warm greetings from new faces and cultures. A year ago when I first came to the United States, just like many of my fellow International students, there was a lot to process. It took a while to let this new culture and atmosphere sink in, but eventually we all got along. It’s crazy how unfamiliar faces become family, how strangers become support systems, how the discomfort of feeling out of place comes together to form a place of its own, and how International students become the ‘International squad’ in a matter of just a couple days.

I remember the first few days during orientation with students from Colombia, Canada, Ethiopia, India, Poland, Slovakia, Zimbabwe, and many other countries cramped up in a single room. The Director of International Programs – Alison Champeaux guided us through the basics and realities of living in a completely alien country (at least for most of us) and making the best out of it. I still remember how a year ago, there was uncertainty lingering in the back of our minds when all of us were trying to befriend and start a conversation with each other. Trying to figure out what was appropriate and what was bothersome, to not hurt anyone’s feelings but also try to woo them. It was all brand new. How we involuntarily hung out, planned things, took classes together and helped out each other. And within no time, between shady puns and lame jokes…a family emerged.

Today, when I sit with my roommates Yabi (Ethiopia), Basia (Poland), and Laura (Colombia) to look back and think about those times, a nostalgic smirk appears on all of our faces. How instantly our individual discomfort was creating a sense of comfort for us collectively, how our issues and queries were closely related and most of them were even similar. We all came in with distinct schedules, meal times, gestures, and understanding of relationships. For instance, back home for most of us, a professor-student relationship is extremely formal and doesn’t normally extend outside the classroom. One could hardly built a friendly and more than just an innate classroom connection with the professor. But here, in the USA, you can talk quite openly to your teachers and in addition to that you can (sometimes are even expected to) be on first name basis with most of your teachers and other elderly. A lot of social stigmas were different as compared to where we came from. The concept of ‘tipping’ was absolutely new to us all (me, Basia, Yabi, and Laura). The first time we went to eat dinner at Green Mill, and the check was put on our table, we were a little startled. But after a year of culturing ourselves in this new atmosphere, we have been able to embrace the differences with wide-open arms.

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I, personally think that all International students go through a similar phase where they figure out what to inculcate and what to neglect, what to keep and what to push away. While we are trying to do this, we built ourselves in an all-around perspective. Meeting new people, making connections, soaking in the culture, and keeping each other company through thick and thin. Since the first time we (me and my roommates) made a connection as International students, we had each other’s back. We had a supernatural feeling about trusting each other; it was strange but significantly a grand feeling. What still blows my mind is that, how the four of us being from distinct countries, even continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America) got along. We were used to a certain flavor of life, our liking for food and flavor, our habits, our sleep schedules, our customs, our rituals, our religions, our sense of styling, our definitions of beauty, every little thing was distinct. Somehow, this distinction acted like glue and we were stuck together! We got accustomed to each other, shared our beliefs, (being girls) we even shared our secrets. Introduced each other to our families over Skype, and our families to each other. It was quite overwhelming at first, to accept that the four of us connected in such short span and quick enough became so close that we could not go a day without talking, hanging out, or even humiliating one another. We even participated in each other’s cultural gatherings. I, as an Indian celebrated the festival of lights “Diwali” and was accompanied by lovely girls from around the world. We all dressed in Indian attires. I explained them the meaning and significance of this festival. And we ate mouth-watering Indian food. This was the situation when none of us even lived together. We would hang out in the lounge just to be within our comfort zone, which indeed we sought with each other. Recently, this year, the four of us we moved in together and it had been an absolute blast. We have cuisine from four different continents under one roof. We take turns cooking delicacies from our respective tastes. Not only do we share food and common beliefs, and sometimes end up disagreeing with one another, but also that doesn’t stop us from being goofy just the next second. It has almost been two months since we have been living together and all we have done is nothing but, alleviate each other and help improve in all possible ways. We are sisters, friends, companions, partners, sometimes; even therapists, tutors, cuddlers and so much more.

There is nothing more I could have wished for. Finding friends who would push you toward excellence, always encourage you, support every right thing you do, and even slap and drag you on to right track if you wander off. ‘Love is rare, but true friendship is even rarer’, and I am more than privileged to have this attachment with three beautiful girls. It is not just a second home anymore; it’s rather my newfound home. We solicit repose, contentment, ease, warmth, tenderness, and endearment with each other. The feeling of solidarity, belongingness and the level comfort we seek with each other is beyond the imaginable. I found my family among these fools.

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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Homemade Chicken Soup – Mom, Hmong Heritage, Minnesota, Home, – by Nancy H. Thao. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Homemade Chicken Soup – Mom, Hmong Heritage, Minnesota, Home, – by Nancy H. Thao. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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After staying up in Duluth for three years, there is one homemade dish I will always be craving for at least once throughout the school year and that is chicken soup. I especially love it when there are herbs in my chicken soup! It is the most delicious dish when it is made with fresh chicken and herbs. In the picture, it is the chicken soup I made with my mother’s freshly picked herbs. If my mother had told me to go picked herbs from the garden for the soup, it would have been a tremendous failure on my part.

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When my mom was coming up to visit me, I constantly reminded her to bring me chicken and some herbs. She jokingly asked me, “Why? Are you pregnant?”. Why would she ask me this? Well, usually women who have just given birth will go on what is called “the chicken diet” in the Hmong culture. It is when the women will eat only herbal chicken soup with rice for every meal for a whole month. It has been a part of the Hmong cultural tradition for many centuries. I remember how a lot of my cousins were excited to go on this chicken diet when they had their first child, but after a while they could not wait until it was over. Based on what I have seen and heard, traditionally the women did not eat anything else beside the chicken soup. This mean no fruits, vegetables or junk food. The purpose of this chicken diet is to help cleanse the body and to rejuvenate it. At times, the chicken diet doesn’t always work for everyone. When my cousin had her child, she said the chicken diet was giving her heartburn, so instead she replaced the chicken with quail instead. Like the unexpected changes in our lifestyle, so does the traditions we carry on changes with the choices we make. My aunt told me that her sister would have one apple pie per day, but still stick to the herbal chicken diet. It is hard to preserve a tradition without changing it a little to accommodate to our likings.

Nancy 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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Georgian Food in Russia – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Georgian Food in Russia – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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[A plate of peppers with walnut paste and pomegranate seeds]

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[Welcome to Georgia: even little tchkatches display legendary Georgian hospitality]

When people think of food in Russia, they tend to think of simple and hearty fare, i.e. borscht with sour cream, rye bread, and caviar. However, if you have the opportunity to travel to Russia, locals and foreigners alike will most likely recommend Georgian food above “traditional” Russian fare. Georgia is a small nation nestled in the Caucasus Mountains that used to be part of the Soviet Union before achieving independence in 1991. Due to these close geographical and cultural ties, Georgian dishes spread throughout Russia and the former USSR and are still beloved throughout the region to this day. Russians view Georgian food as a jazzier alternative to their relatively simple fare; the appeal is somewhat comparable to the zest that some Americans have for “spicier” Mexican and Central American offerings. That reverence is highly justifiable, as Georgian food uses an eclectic array of ingredients to create many unbelievable delicious dishes.

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[Dolmas (meat or cheese wrapped in grape leaves) slathered in yogurt and chives]

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[A tomato and vegetable stew ]

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[Meat and veggie kebabs (and yes: that is a real flame in the center of the plate)]

First and foremost, no Georgian dinner table is complete without bountiful stacks of khachapuri, or delicious cheese-stuffed bread, and copious amounts of Georgian wine. Side dishes that often feature eggplants, peppers, walnuts and walnut pastes, pomegranate seeds, yogurt, and coriander round out the dining options. While Georgian food provides a number of vegetarian entrees, many Georgians revere spicy meat kebabs, or sashliki, as the highlight of the meal. Desserts such as baklava, dried fruits, or pelamushi (grape pudding) help diners end their meals on a sweet note. In addition to the actual food itself, Georgian culture stresses incredible generosity and hospitality towards its guests. When you go to a Georgian restaurant, the waiters make sure that neither your cup nor your plate are ever empty. Furthermore, they give you generous portions and encourage (if not borderline threaten) you to eat as much as possible! While these attitudes can make the dining experience physically painful, the emphasis on graciousness and conscientiousness makes the food and atmosphere even more appealing. With all of these factors in mind, I definitely recommend trying Georgian fare if the opportunity ever arises, as it proves for a truly outstanding culinary and cultural experience.

Marin Ekstrom serves as a senior 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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Making a Taiwanese Pastry: Pineapple Cake – by Megan Beckerich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Making a Taiwanese Pastry: Pineapple Cake – by Megan Beckerich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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Most everyone who tries it agrees: Taiwanese food is delicious. I am not someone partial to hyperbole, but I truly believe Taiwan has the best of sweet, sour, savory, and every flavor in-between. Among these, one treat rises above as a symbol of Taiwan: pineapple cake (fengli su). Ubiquitous throughout Taiwanese gift shops, sweet shops, and convenience stores, pineapple cake is a beloved (and delicious) snack. As the name suggests, it’s a small shortbread cake filled with pineapple jam, more akin to a cookie than a cake. Traditionally served with tea, it’s also a very popular souvenir gift.

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To provide a brief history: pineapple cakes were used as wedding gifts, going as far back as 1,700 years ago. This is because the Taiwanese Hokkien (a prominent dialect within Taiwan, different from Mandarin Chinese) word for pineapple, ong lai, is pronounced the same as a phrase related to a prosperous future. Pineapple cakes continued to be popular for their tastiness, and in recent decades experienced a surge in popularity due to the inclusion of winter melon in pineapple jam for a different flavor (and to use up less expensive, surplus winter melon fruit). More recently, it is popular for the cakes to not include any artificial flavors or additives, so eating a traditional pineapple cake is fairly healthy, at least compared to other sweets.

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While studying in Taipei, my classmates and I had the opportunity to try our hands at making our own pineapple cakes. They are not horribly difficult to bake, but the quality of the cake depends on the quality of ingredients. All cakes are basically flour, butter, egg yolk, and sugar, with the necessary pineapple jam. The first steps involve mixing the dough for the shortbread. After that, roll, then separate the dough into individual lumps. The next step is to add the jam. The jam is baked in advance so it is not as sticky as one may imagine, making it easy to roll into the dough. We were given little molds to use, making sure to give the cakes a uniform rectangle shape. Before baking, we were given the option to decorate the tops with engravings—the shortbread crust is quite hard, making it easy to add cute designs or names (also making it easier to tell everyone’s cakes apart when they came out of the oven! At least in theory). After baking, we were given paper to wrap our cakes individually, like in the sets you would buy in a store; finally, we boxed the cakes up, making picture perfect pineapple cake sets. If you ever have the chance to try Taiwanese food, I definitely encourage trying pineapple cakes: whether store bought or homemade, they make for a delightful experience.

Megan Beckerich is a student at Northern Kentucky University.

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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Taiwan – Spending the Summer in Taipei – by Megan Beckerich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Taiwan – Spending the Summer in Taipei – by Megan Beckerich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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[Pictured: Jiufen, a former Japanese administered coal mining town turned tourist hot spot and inspiration for Spirited Away]

The summer of 2016 is one I won’t forget anytime soon, and not because it only just happened a few months ago. I had just graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a BA in International Studies, and I decided to study abroad one final time through my alma mater. I wanted to continue my education in Mandarin Chinese, and my solution was to study abroad in Taiwan. It was a chance to brush up my lackluster speaking and writing skills, meet new people, and take a little break after working so hard in my four years at Northern Kentucky University.

I had studied abroad once before through an exchange program offered through my university. I went to Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan for their international summer school in 2015. Having “caught the travel bug,” as they say, I needed to go abroad again, and I found out I could go to a partner school the summer after I gradate. Thus, I applied to National Chengchi University in Taipei, Taiwan. I was accepted into their 8-week summer school, and I had the option to enroll in additional classes besides the necessary Mandarin class. I decided to take a Philosophy class that discussed I-Ching (an ancient book that used for fortune telling and discussed the basis of the universe), Confucianism, and Daoism. That class was only three days a week for two weeks, as opposed to the Mandarin class five days a week for the entire 8 weeks. I stayed in the international student’s dorm, and became close with students from Australia, England, and everywhere in between. With two of my three goals checked off, that left goal three: the fun times. Taipei is stuffed with museums, parks, a zoo (a convenient 15 minute walk from my dorm), shops, restaurants, and for those willing to go a little bit out of the city limit: impressive nature parks and historical sites.

Making your way around Taipei is quite easy thanks to the glorious public transportation. Our school generously provided us transit cards (aptly named the “easy card”), making it easier to travel by bus or train. Because classes dominated our afternoons everyday, my classmates and I would do most of our sightseeing over the weekend, or in the evening. Sunset is when the night markets would open, and almost every other night was spent exploring a market for bargains (clothes, phone accessories, jewelry, tableware; if you can think of something you want for cheap, odds are they had it) and delicious food.

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[Noodles with a tea egg (egg hard-boiled in tea)]

Oh the food! In a lot of travel guides you will see people rave about Taiwanese food. As well they should, the food and drink in Taiwan is amazing. Noodles, egg pancakes, shaved ice… Just about anything you could want, you can find. That is not to omit the drinks in Taiwan. Bubble tea, rapidly gaining popularity in America and Europe originated in Taiwan, and boy does it show. One can hardly walk a block without spotting a bubble tea shop, and most stores offer a wide variety of flavors. If you don’t find bubble tea appealing, you can just as easily find milk tea and fruit tea if you want something cold, or traditional Oolong, black, green, or white tea if you want something hot. It’s familiar and different, a great reminder of the globalized world we live in.

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[Lychee shaved ice (notice the jelly on top!)]

Having returned from Taiwan, I miss being in an active learning environment, and exploring new places (and the food if that wasn’t obvious). However, because of this experience I gained a new level of self-confidence in not just my language acquisition, but also in my personal leadership skills. I don’t know what the immediate future has in store for me, but I’m ready to embrace whatever comes.

Megan Beckerich is a student at Northern Kentucky University

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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An Introduction to the Chinese Hotpot – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

An Introduction to the Chinese Hotpot – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

image-1-mehotpot

[The hot pot broths]

In China, going out to eat is a beloved activity that occurs on a regular basis. One of the most popular options is heading out to a hot pot place. As the name hot pot suggests, this style of cuisine is essentially a soup-centric style of fondue: you dip an assortment of food mix-ins into boiling pots of broth. It has a long and esteemed position in Chinese culture that spans about 1,000 years. While the details of its origin story are not entirely clear, many credit the Mongols for the creation of hot pot. In fact, one colorful anecdote claims:

[During an episode of the Mongolian Invasion of China, a few Mongol horsemen]…were so bent on conquest that they couldn’t be bothered to carry cooking utensils. Many didn’t even bother to carry food, since the villages they were conquering usually provided everything they needed. Story has it that eventually the Mongolians found themselves facing the Great Wall of China with no idea of how they might cross it. They settled down for a siege, but soon became hungry. None of the riders had cooking utensils, so they eventually decided to boil some water in a helmet. Bits of food were tossed in until they were cooked, and the hot pot was born. (akm20myonmi, 2016).

image-mehotpot
[Vera, Bree, Gao Sheng, and I having hot pot together.]

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[Hot pot meat and seafood mix-ins]

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[Hot pot vegetable]

Whether that story is legitimate or just a legend, hotpot quickly caught on in China and developed into an extremely popular form of cuisine that is still widely enjoyed today. However, it is not a simple meal to prepare; rather, hotpot features a series of steps that need to be completed before indulging in it. When a group of people goes out for hotpot, they must first order a few big pots of broth (in my own experiences, my friends and I usually picked a tomato-based broth and a spicy broth heaving over with peppers). The dining table come equipped with burners, so once the broths arrive, the group of diners lets them sit on the burners until they start to boil. While they wait for that to happen (because as the old mantra says, “a watched pot never boils”), they select their food mix-ins and dipping sauces. They can choose a huge assortment of foods to have with their hot pot; their options range from greens and vegetables, thin slices of meat, seafood, tofu, noodles, dumplings, breads…really, the sky is the limit. Similarly, they can customize the dipping sauces by brewing together creative concoctions at a sauce bar. Ingredients for dipping sauces include tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chives, and even more garnishes that truly allow them to be mix-and-match maestros. Once the food mix-ins and sauces are gathered, the group plops the foodstuffs into the boiling broths until they are thoroughly cooked through. Then they pick up the submerged foods with chopsticks or spoons, dip them in their tailor-made sauces, and then gobble them up. They rinse and repeat this process, often with the accompaniment of white rice and plum juice to counteract excessive spiciness, until all the food runs out or the diners become too full to finish everything off (the latter scenario is much more common).

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[Hot pot tofu, bread, and noodle mix-ins]

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[Hot pot dried noodles]

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[White rice and a bowl of dipping sauce]

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[PLUM JUICE!!!]

Hotpot is a very fun meal to eat due to its limitless possibilities, as every visit offers the opportunity to try new broths, new food mix-ins, and create new sauces. But even more than that, it serves as a great social activity. Hot pot works much better with large groups of people in order to vary the types and quantities of the ingredients, and is just simply a great way to bring people together to chat and catch up while they eat delicious food together. I personally had several wonderful opportunities to share hot pot with several of my closest friends, which served as some of the best bonding experiences during my time in China. I hope that many more people, whether in China or elsewhere, can further learn about and engage in this tradition so that they can try new food while making great friends!

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[The dipping sauce bar: truly an embarrassment of riches]

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[The hot pot is boiled and ready to be eaten!]

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[Cheesy hot pot: an intriguing spin on traditional hotpot]

Works Consulted

akm20myonmi. “10 Unique Facts To Know About Chinese Hot Pot. Tabelog.us.TABElog. 10 March 08, 2016. Accessed July 28, 2016. http://www.tabelog.us/articles/10-unique-facts-to-know-about-chinese-hot-pot.

Vogel, Mark R. “HOT POT!” FoodReference.com. March 24, 2010. Accessed July 28, 2016. http://www.foodreference.com/html/chinese-hot-pot-a310.html.

Wu, Annie. “Chinese Hotpot — A Popular Chinese Dish You Should Try.” Chinahighlights.com. China Highlights. July 21, 2016. Accessed July 28, 2016. http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-food/hotpot.htm.

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

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

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

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

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

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