Tag Archives: Global Studies

English: The Globalized Language – by Molly Enich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

English: The Globalized Language – by Molly Enich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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[Farewell sign in Montenegro translated to English]

This past May, my family and I traveled the Mediterranean on a cruise for three weeks. We explored six countries, including Greece, Montenegro, Spain, Gibraltar, Italy, and France. We would hop off the ship and find ourselves immersed in a completely different culture, language, and place than we were the previous day. Through exploring so many cities and cultures in just three weeks, I started to notice the differences amongst multiple countries and compare them to American culture.

What I seemed to pick up and make note of was the language being spoken. My family and I could be eating lunch at a small café in Montenegro, and the waiters would be speaking English. It was so surprising that no matter where we were, no matter how big or small the city was, everyone spoke some English. I was never handed a menu that didn’t have English translations under the nation’s official language. Through my whole three-week vacation, I never encountered a time when I couldn’t see or hear English. Sometimes, I didn’t even feel like I was out of the US because English seemed to be everywhere I looked.

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[A sign in a Greek park that was translated to English]

I especially noticed that English seemed to be the common language for tourists in Greece. The Greek language has few characters that resemble letters found in English or European languages. Therefore, all road signs and monument markings were translated to English. What was shocking is that they weren’t translated to Italian or another language within close proximity to Greece. It was all in English.

English is also commonly spoken in Greece. While walking down the street in Athens, I heard a Chinese woman ask a local for directions in English. This really opened my eyes and allowed me to see how many people in this world are bilingual or even greater. Tour guides we had in the Vatican spoke a minimum of three languages, and locals would switch from speaking Italian to English mid sentence. While in Europe, I felt as if my three years of high school Spanish were simply inadequate and pretty much embarrassing. Looking at most countries in the world, they are taught multiple languages from a young age, while in America, the majority of us just know a few Spanish, French, or German words from high school classes. The rest of the world seems to know that Americans can’t speak many other languages so we were often talked about right in front of our faces without having a clue what was said. In one case, we were standing in an elevator and two German women were snickering and talking about mine and my sister’s outfit. The only way we could tell they were talking about us was because they were foreword enough to point at us and stare while laughing. It was really embarrassing that we had no idea what they were saying and that they could talk freely about us while we didn’t have a clue.

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[Even though McDonald’s is an American restaurant, I still expected the menu to be written in the local language instead of English]

In some ways, I felt inferior on my vacation to Europe. I couldn’t understand what people were saying as they walked by, and the only thing I could say is “hello” or “thank you” in the local language. It was strange to me that even though I was a tourist coming to their homeland to experience their culture and language, locals had to conform to the English language and American culture. I felt that if I could speak the local language, I would be respected. I believe that locals would think much more highly of tourists if they took the time to learn about the local culture instead of them having to change to fit the lifestyle of tourists.

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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“Going Glocal:” Environmental Sustainability Night at the Swedish Embassy, Washington D.C. — The North Star Reports – by By Marin Ekstrom and Meredith Morgan. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

“Going Glocal:” Environmental Sustainability Night at the Swedish Embassy, Washington D.C. — The North Star Reports – by By Marin Ekstrom and Meredith Morgan. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Embassy_of_Sweden,_Washington,_D.C._in_dusk

[Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

Sweden commands honor and awe throughout the world in a variety of ways. It consistently ranks near the top of “Nations with the Highest Standards of Living” and “Happiest Nations” lists, it is the birthplace of the Nobel Prize, and has bestowed the world with such treasures as IKEA, dala horses, and ABBA. Therefore, what better way to honor this fine nation than by attending an Embassy event in Washington, D.C.? That is precisely what we decided to do when we went to the Embassy of Sweden’s Grand Opening of 2014 Theme Program: Going Glocal on February 18, 2014. This program was the kickoff to a series of yearlong events to encourage environmental sustainability, global efforts with climate change, resource scarcity, and other related issues. Sweden holds this focus in particularly high esteem: the country is one of the top nations in the world for sustainability, recycling, clean air standards, and adherence to the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra. They have ingrained these green initiatives into their society for generations now, putting them ahead of most of the world’s nations that have just recently jumped on the “green” bandwagon. Its proven history of implementing eco-friendly practices and the high regard in which the country is held worldwide make Sweden’s the ideal Embassy to share ecological seminars and get information out to the public.

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[Courtesy of SwedishScene.com ]

The first thing that one notices about the Swedish Embassy in D.C. is its heavy emphasis on organic materials. The exterior is made from exquisite glass —a “crystal palace” of sorts— and the interior employs heavy use of wood and stone embellishments. Sweden’s love of nature was reflected in the architecture and (coincidentally) further set the mood for the specific “Going Glocal” event. When we entered the lobby, we were treated to reindeer meat hors d’oeurvres and salads that were literally composed of wildflowers and local plants– we uprooted these grasses from a terrarium to “grow” our own meals!

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[Courtesy of SwedishScene.com ]

The first floor also featured an artwork display featuring beautiful and tragic pieces that highlighted the need for a healthy planet. Two musicians provided music for the event; they looked like a cross between Bjork, woodland fairies, and Pippi Longstocking and they played on crystal bottles while singing long, warbling chants. After we dined, admired the pictures, and listened to the music, we descended the staircase. We decided to join in on the fika (a Swedish coffee break) and indulged not only in fine coffee, but an array of desserts including princess cake, chocolate balls, and cardamom buns. We then strolled by art exhibition showing photographs of the von Echstedska Gården, a breathtaking 18th-century Rococo manor house that exemplifies Swedish style: simplicity, an appreciation for nature, and fine craftsmanship. We decided that that was an apt finale to our excursion, and after scouring some free literature (which included art books of the country and Swedish language magazines and journals describing the country’s valuable business partnerships in the U.S.), we said “Hejdo” (Bye-bye) to the embassy and headed back towards American University.

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[Courtesy of SwedishScene.com ]

As Suecophiles, we were ecstatic to attend such an event. The embassy embodies its country’s national spirit, and the fact that this particular event focused on the very relevant issue of environmental sustainability made it even more intriguing. The additional perks of fine art and scrumptious food established this as one of our finest D.C. memories. Therefore, we raise our glasses and say “skål” (cheers) to Sweden and our embassy event experience!

Marin Ekstrom is a student at the College of Saint Scholastica and a double-major in Global, Cultural, and Language Studies and Russian Studies. Meredith Morgan studies at Presbyterian College and is majoring in International Studies. They both attended the Washington Semester Program at American University and were classmates for the Spring 2014 Foreign Policy Seminar. Meredith learned about the Going Glocal event at her internship, the Swedish-American Chambers of Commerce (SACC-USA).

Further Links about the event:
http://www.swedishscene.com/2014/02/exhibition-going-glocal-opens/

http://www.swedenabroad.com/Pages/StandardPage.aspx?id=66942&epslanguage=en-GB

http://www.swedenabroad.com/Pages/StandardPage.aspx?id=72553&epslanguage=en-GB

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, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. 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

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. 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 chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Nine — New Yuan Ming Palace, China, by Brock Erdahl

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Nine — New Yuan Ming Palace, China, by Brock Erdahl

4. New Yuan Ming Palace

New Yuanming 2

In addition to restoring sites destroyed in the recent past, the creation of popular landmarks from around the world.  In fact, there are whole parks devoted to such reproductions in both Beijing and Shenzhen.  An amusement park in Zhuhai has one such reproduction.  The New Yuan Ming Palace is a partial reconstruction of the Old Summer Palace, a complex comprised of many buildings and gardens that was built in Beijing during the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).  The original building was burnt to the ground by British and French troops at the conclusion of the Second Opium War (1856-1860).  It was never rebuilt and its ruins can still be seen in Beijing today.  The New Yuan Ming Palace, however, offers visitors a chance to catch a glimpse of the past glories of the complex as well as enjoy modern diversions, such as amusement park rides and a water-park, that were unthinkable for the emperors of old.

New Yuanming 1

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For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/

For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10

The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Reports.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world.  We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year

(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Eight — Teaching in Mongolia, by Gina Sterk

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Eight — Teaching in Mongolia, by Gina Sterk

During my first three weeks as a teacher in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, I’ve done more reminiscing on my high school and middle school years than I ever have in my life.  This is because I’m realizing that no matter how mature I thought I was as a student, I never could have understood the daily joys and frustrations of my former teachers as I am beginning to understand them now.

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Like how infuriating it is to see a spitball fly across the room out of the corner of your eye. (Yes, one of my university students did that.)  Or how touching it is the first time you successfully coax a very quiet student to raise her hand and give the correct answer (I was that student once…).  Or how disappointing it is when you enter the classroom feeling completely prepared but then forget one simple thing (like a piece of chalk) which throws your whole lesson off.  Or how encouraging it is to have one student stop and say, “that was a good lesson” or “thank you, teacher” on their way out the door (which has also happened, fortunately).

At times like these, I think back to my high school and middle school classmates — the ones that always blurted out the answers first, the ones who never said a word, the ones who made it their mission to cause as much trouble as possible, the ones who used everything from their socks to their pencil cases to express their individuality…and I see these classmates in the students I teach now, all the way across the world and a number of years later.  In a way it softens my heart (even though it can also frustrate me) to see just how similar my students’ world is to the world in which I too have been a student.

I also think back to the teachers I had — Mr. Johnson, who tried to be everyone’s friend, Ms. Barrett, who sometimes snapped, Mr. Stevenson, who took everything too seriously, Mrs. Lee, who no one ever took seriously…and I feel like I’ve somehow turned into a strange mixture of all of them in a matter of just a few weeks.  I see each of them in a more forgiving and sympathetic light as I fumble around in the career they have courageously dedicated their lives to.

Another insight I’ve gained is that teaching can be a lot like acting.  I’ve heard this said before, but it didn’t make sense until I actually started teaching.  These days I do often feel like an actor, trying to develop stage presence with each group of my students.  Taking the stage at the front of the classroom can feel as intimating as the opening night of Hamlet, and as I glance forgetfully at my not-always-helpful lesson plans, I often feel like I’m fumbling through my lines at an audition for a cheesy commercial that I barely have a chance at.

Besides learning a bit about acting and a bit about the experiences of my former teachers, however, what I’ve learned the most of during my first three weeks as a teacher is improvisation.  During my very first class, I discovered that none of my students had the textbook which I had based the entire lesson upon and which I’d been told they would have.  Then during the very first class of another course I teach, the power went out, which was problematic because that entire lesson was on the power point which I could no longer project onto my students’ whiteboard.  Then of course the students always surprise me, such as when they blurted out on Day One: “Teacher, how old are you?” Are you married?”  Then there’s the fact that I can only speak a few words of the language my students all mastered as children, and their ability to speak English is, well, all over the board.

In my opinion, however, each one of these challenges and surprises only does me good.  Each complication is an opportunity for me to learn to be more flexible, yet to also maintain a necessary amount of structure and control.  As I become more flexible, I think it should become easier for me to be successful not only in the classroom, but in this country — both very unpredictable places.

And outside of the classroom, these situations are a great introduction to the “real world” that I entered when I graduated from college.  After all, Mongolia isn’t the only unpredictable place in the world; life everywhere, for everyone, is full of surprises.  And the more that surprises me, the better, because each one improves my ability to respond the only way we often can in the “real world”: by improvising.

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For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/

For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10

The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Reports.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world.  We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year

(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Five — Qito, Ecuador, Zach Friederichs

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Five — Qito, Ecuador, Zach Friederichs

The Life of Quito, Ecuador

As I write this, I will be coming to the end of my 3 third week here in Quito, Ecuador – my home for the next few months. It has all been very interesting so far and I am already developing a sixth sense for the Latin American lifestyle, including a higher use of the local Spanish language, so bear with me and pardon any Spanglish, please. I would like to start my series on Ecuador with the MGJ by introducing some of the generalities that make up Quito and that I live with from day to day in the big city.
First of all, I am living with a family here and it has been quite the change, not only culturally, but also due to the fact that for the past two years I have been living the life of a parent-less college student along with other parent-less college students, and that’s another story in itself. Nonetheless, integrating into a foreign family has been very enjoyable and also very difficult and annoying at times, from eating delicious family meals and sharing great stories, to having to tell mi mamá when and where I’m going and using my favorite word, qué (what?), one thousand times daily. I would have to say I experienced some serious culture/family shock shortly after my arrival and I was worried I would never grow accustomed to this new world. But, as of now I am great! Communication has been a very key instrument to understand and respect the foreign home I live in.

Now, I will begin to broadly work my way through Quito from the outside-in. Quito is the capital city of Ecuador, which gets its name from its close proximity to the equator line, splitting the northern and southern hemispheres in half.

zach 1(La mitad del Mundo, latitude 0, 0, 0 – The Middle of the World)

It is a rather long city located in a valley surrounded by the slopes of the Andes at an altitude of around 9,300 feet and with a population of over 2 million.
zach 2(The city of Quito seen from Mount Pinchincha)
Shortly after my arrival, along with the culture/family shock, I struggled to acclimate to the increased population density and altitude while often being short of breath; it is a very different atmosphere compared to my home in Duluth, Minnesota.

Quito is a very dense and lively city with buildings in fairly close proximity to one another. The average middle class family often lives in an apartment complex that can provide a simple, yet comfortable setting to call home. I have found that every complex, house, or any building for that matter, has its own wall to separate it from others as well. There is a strange desire to protect from the danger of intruders and each wall is topped with shards of glass and each window, regardless of its level, has metal bars. After discussing this phenomenon with my host mother, I have discovered there is a high percentage of theft here, which logically leads to these seemingly extreme measures.
zach 3(An average style apartment complex)

zach 4(Glass topped walls)

I have really noticed the chance of theft while using the public buses. The buses are very frequently used and are often packed to the brim. And by packed to the brim I mean packed… The bus will be full and people will manage to push their way in. Unfortunately, this creates a perfect environment for thieves, in which they search your pockets or bags without you knowing. One of my classmates has already received a nice cut straight through her backpack. Luckily, nothing was stolen.
There is also a strong lack of wealth in Quito. It is very normal to see unfinished homes and other buildings that still have the re-bar poking out of the top of them. People will generally wait until they earn enough money to add on another floor or another room to finish their homes.
zach 5(Unfinished home)

Furthermore, the streets are always full of little tiendas called micromercados, or general stores. These small stores often have everything one would need from basic groceries to Internet access. Although supermarkets are on the rise in the northern, more modern section of Quito, these little stores are very popular quick stops amongst those who pass by them. And due to the steady spring type climate here, the majority of stores and restaurants are open-air to the streets, meaning they have rather large doorways and are closed with a door similar to a garage door.

zach 6(Micromercado)

Lastly, I would like to leave you with a little information about the local food in Quito. Being that Ecuador is a subtropical climate, there is an endless supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. The majority of the dishes are started with a bowl of soup and have entrees that include avocados, potatoes, rice, bananas, and either beef or chicken. My host mom also enjoys making rather delicious fruit smoothies from fruits like watermelon, papaya, mango, etc.
zach 7(Vegetable soup, beef, beans, potatoes, rice, fried plantanes)

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For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/

For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10

The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Reports.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world.  We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year

(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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