Tag Archives: meaning of life

Home versus Hometown – Leaving the Nest – by Jemma Provance. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Home versus Hometown – Leaving the Nest – by Jemma Provance. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

As a college student spending my first extended time away from home, I can’t help but feel I’m in a sort of limbo where ‘home’ is concerned during the school year. This is appropriate, of course, considering I’m in that learning-to-fly, young adult stage when it’s coming to be time for me to officially leave the nest, summers and all. But it still feels odd when I’m at home for a short break and catch myself planning projects or outings with friends for when I go ‘home,’ meaning the school I’m living at while I take classes. These moments lead me to think about how and why we attach ourselves to places and what attaches us against our will, and which one ‘matters’ more.

Like some from a small town, I don’t especially like the place I was shackled to for the first eighteen years of my life. I consider school spirit a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, and sometimes wonder if my love of mountains and travel stemmed from growing up in a place so flat you can practically stand on your roof and see the next town over. In junior high I compared this little town ten miles south of the Canadian border an hour from the nearest Wal-Mart and three from the nearest mall to a dystopian conservative cornfield, and relished any opportunity for a road trip away from our practically 2-dimensional piece of nowhere.

So that’s why I’ve wished I lived in Duluth since my first tenth grade memory. I remember driving over the hill and seeing the city spread out before me. I spent that choir trip breathing in the biggest small-town in Minnesota. Small enough not to be overwhelming, and yet big enough to have all the things that were previously several hours of driving away. Plus, the best part of college is that there was a castle. Beautiful, historic, cultured, and not thousands of miles away from the family that made my hometown bearable. Because my specific nest, I’m lucky to say, was an uncommonly good one. I have a great relationship with my family, and my house, while old and flawed in many ways, is reasonably sized and has pretty little piece of property, including a handful of little quirks and nooks that undoubtedly identify it as my nest.

So heading to the school that caught my eye partially because of its location is both euphoric and unsettling, particularly when I catch myself referring to it as ‘home.’ In essence, a home is a place to keep all the stuff you can’t carry around with you, like closets, your personal library, and pets. As an aspiring world-traveler, I know that having a “mother-ship” to return to will be very important, since keeping track of seven dogs and cats, a few hedgehogs, several birds and a mini-pig would be difficult on the move. Plus, while I am struck with insatiable wanderlust, I am an incredibly introverted hermit at heart. So when will it be time to dismantle my meticulously decorated, appallingly cluttered bedroom and jump ship? When will returning to this cozy little corner of nowhere feel like visiting, and not returning home?

At nineteen, I’m a teenager and an adult at the same time. There will come several more fuzzy lines before things begin to solidify. Like most adults, while my home will change, I’ll always consider this pancake-y scrap of conservative cornfield my hometown. As for my mother-ship: it may be a job, may be a security deposit, may be my first adopted cat. The bridge is being built, but there’s no reason to cross it yet.

Jemma serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Jemma Provance, 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

Denmark – Traveling to the ‘Happiest’ Country in the World – by Michaela Campbell. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Denmark – Traveling to the ‘Happiest’ Country in the World – by Michaela Campbell. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

michaela-c-happy-1

[The ‘Little Mermaid’, Copenhagen (København), Denmark]

When I told people that I would be studying the ‘Science of Happiness’ abroad in Europe I was the recipient of either intrigued expressions, or a fit of laughter. Our trip focused on the area of positive psychology, which is a relatively new field in the area of psychology. Our main purpose for traveling abroad to Europe was to visit a few main areas, with Denmark being the sole focus, since it had recently been rated as the happiest country in the world. The country currently usually moves down a spot or two, and then goes back up to the number one spot every couple of years. So twenty other classmates, two professors, their young sons, and myself boarded a flight one evening in mid-May to discover what may be some potential causes for these findings.

Our first hands-on exposure to the ‘happy’ Danish lifestyle came when we had the opportunity to travel to different area high schools in and around Copenhagen to talk with local students about our differing cultures. The high school that I had the pleasure of visiting included three other classmates and myself having a Q&A with fifty Danish students. The students often asked about our public policy programs, American politics, and Minnesota weather. But as the questions became more in-depth, we asked the Danes why they believed that they were among the happiest people in the world, and the responses were intriguing.

michaela-c-happy-2

[Nyhaven, Denmark]

One Danish students’ response was, “We’re happy because the only thing we have to worry about is what the weather will be like tomorrow”. When you live in a country like Denmark that has free healthcare and free post-secondary education, it makes sense that your main concern would be the weather, among other menial things. Another key factor as to why the Danes believe they are among the happiest of nations is that they trust their government and the system that runs it. In the US, stories of corrupt politicians and corporations headline the news every day. This is why my classmates and myself when asked by the Danes if “we trusted our current government”, we were a little ashamed to truthfully say, “No”. A third factor that makes the Danes appear as a ‘happy’ nation is the emphasis on time with friends and family. According to the students we talked with, the average work-week for a Dane is 37 hours per week. As soon as the work-day is done, the Danes leave work at the office, and put more of an emphasis on enjoying life with loved ones. This is very different from the American work style, where we often can be found putting work in front of friends and family.

michaela-c-happy-3

[In Copenhagen (København), Denmark, on a bike tour through the Royal Palace (Amalienborg)]

Strong social policies, trust for a country’s government, and emphasis enjoying leisure are what create lack of stress within the Danish lifestyle. Lack of stress is what I believe leads the Danish people to lead a ‘happy’ life and be one of the happiest nations in the world every year. Here in the US, we pay outrageous amounts of money for healthcare, especially if not covered by an employer, and the US college tuition rise is a whole other problem in of itself. These issues put enormous amounts of stress on the American people, and this could explain why the US ranked twelve spots below Denmark on the happiness rankings.

Michaela serves as an editor for The NSR. This essay is based on Michaela’s participation in St. Scholastica’s Denmark and Happiness Study Abroad Trip supervised by Professor Karen Petersen.

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 Michaela Campbell, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

Seek Not Afar for Beauty – by Jemma Provance. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Seek Not Afar for Beauty – by Jemma Provance. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

jemmabeauty1

I have a deep appreciation for all things lovely. That being said, it pained me growing up that all the prettiest things in town were the Styrofoam facades on the front of the hardware stores. Plural.

In former summers, I was free to take road trips to prettier parts of the state, travel to Stillwater with touring choirs, and go absolutely anywhere that was nicer than Roseau, Minnesota. This included travel blogs that seeped wanderlust into my bloodstream with every clicked picture of towering redwoods and misty mountains and a whole host of things nowhere near my lonely little hometown.

jemmabeauty2

Finally, when I was seventeen left the continent to see my first mountains in Britain and Ireland. My little soul, reared in a flyover state landlocked by cornfields ten miles south of the Canadian border, was enthralled with the unfailingly lovely Old World, that even in the middle of town refused to lie flat, spilling its vegetation onto stone walls and overflowing iron gates and thatched roofs with flowering plants. Cobbled little towns were full of cathedrals built before minimalism overtook our increasingly industrial species. Rolling mountainsides full of sheep and heather seared themselves into the backs of my eyelids, and bits of my heart fell like breadcrumbs the farther the return plane got from the Emerald Isle.

I realize, now, how farsighted this was. John Green, one of my favorite writers and people, was once showing his two-year-old son the way way a fog shrouded a valley in mist, cozying into the trees like a pearly flood in the early morning light. A two-year-old was much more interested in a nearby leaf. While initially frustrated, he looked down and realized all the little fractaled veins in the autumn leaf that had fallen mid-change so it was now a perfect fade from bright orange to a dull green. The level of beauty one experiences, even one from a little gas-station town like mine, lies not with how far you travel, but how closely you look.

Now, when I drive through town, I see the little nooks that previously escaped my notice. Our neighborhood coffee and brunch place is cute. We have many a wooded park. The local greenhouse sells clocks and wind chimes and all the fixings of an old-world-esque garden. Not only all this, but my own yard is a secluded wonderland of wooded nooks and tiny fractals that previously escaped my notice. The inside of my house, at certain times of the day, was filled with a golden light that, impossibly, made the darkest corners glow with a knowing satisfaction.

jemmabeauty3

I still would rather be most other places than Roseau. I’m still an aspiring world traveler with a growing list of cathedrals to see and mountains to hike. But when an exhausting job keeps my summer skin shackled to this scrappy bit of real estate, leaving the travel blogs at home and exploring your own yard, I find, is an acceptable substitute. Go not abroad for happiness, for see a flow’r at thy door.

Jemma 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

33 Comments

Filed under Jemma Provance, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang