Tag Archives: nature

Yasuní National Park: Exploring Biodiversity and its Threats – by Abigail Blonigen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Yasuní National Park: Exploring Biodiversity and its Threats – by Abigail Blonigen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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World History and the Meaning of Being Human – A Town and its Trees – by Ellen Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

World History and the Meaning of Being Human – A Town and its Trees – by Ellen Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

(Brule Bog, Solon Springs, WI)

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Ireland – Star Gazing – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Ireland – Star Gazing – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

High up in the Chilean Atacama Desert, pioneering feats of human engineering collide with the majestic beauty of the natural world. This image shows ESO’s La Silla Observatory, where domes housing some of the most advanced astronomical instruments in the world sit beneath a sky shimmering with stars. All of these stars belong to our home galaxy, the Milky Way. The Milky Way contains billions of stars, arranged in two strikingly different structures. The roughly spherical halo component, consisting mainly of older stars, appears in this image as the background of stars scattered across the sky. The second component is a thin disc made up of younger stars, gas and dust. We see this as a dense, bright, and visually stunning band running almost vertically across the sky. Pockets of dust block out the light from stars behind, giving the band a mottled appearance. The bright concentration in the band of stars, located toward the top centre of this image, is the central region of the Milky Way. Here, astronomers have measured stars moving very much faster than anywhere else in our galaxy. This is taken as evidence for a supermassive black hole, some four million times the mass of the Sun, at the very centre of our galaxy. The black hole cannot be observed directly, but its presence can be inferred from the effect its enormous gravity has on the motions of these nearby stars.

[This photograph was produced by European Southern Observatory (ESO). See: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Where_Heaven_and_Earth_Collide.jpg ]

I am the first to tell anyone that I am completely and utterly a city girl. I’ve always been much more comfortable strolling down the streets of downtown Saint Paul over hiking through the woods or gallivanting through farms and their respective animals. Therefore, I surprised myself completely when I decided to spend three months in a town of 800 people in the countryside of Ireland. It’s been interesting, thus far, and there are definite pros and cons to both locations. I’m not used to there being one main street of shops and restaurants, I am more used to being able to drive ten minutes in any direction of my house and have countless options of where to shop and eat.

Tonight, a group of eight of us were walking back to our cottages from town and noticed how bright the stars were. My roommate suggested walking the ten minutes to the beach to see them even better, at a future time. I, however, was enamored with the idea and begged her and my other roommate to go right that instant. We rounded up the other ladies from our group before they made it back inside their cottages and made our way to the beach. We walked in a huddle of bodies with our phones’ flashlights guiding our steps.

The tide was the highest I’d seen, leaving us maybe ten feet of rocky beach to stand on. I quickly claimed a large rock and laid down on it, feet propped up against a conveniently located rock at the bottom of mine. I lay there for the whole half an hour we stayed out there, eyes locked on the dark sky illuminated by the countless stars. It was similar to but also so much better than those trips my class used to take to the planetarium in elementary school.

Now, I’m sure that I have seen stars that bright and numerous before. My family took a road trip to Mount Rushmore years ago and we spent a week every summer up north in a cabin where I am positive the stars are bright. But looking at the stars tonight, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything that beautiful. My friends called over to me a couple times, to make sure I wasn’t sleeping or dead, because I lay there so silently, taking in the view.

My friends tried to point out constellations to me, such as Orion’s Belt and the Big Dipper (which I saw) and the Little Dipper (which I pretended I saw). I also saw my very first shooting star. I was in disbelief, I had to ask the others if they had seen it too. (They hadn’t, I quickly made a belated wish anyway.)

I think my fascination with stars and space started when I was ten. My uncle came over after work every night for probably a week and showed my siblings and I all six of Star Trek The Original Series and all four of the Next Generation movies. My mom and he had grown up on them and now it was our turn to do the same. I have been hooked on anything and everything related to space exploration since then. In Saint Paul, we’re lucky to see a few stars with all of the light pollution. Here in Ireland, I couldn’t even have begun to count them. Every time I moved my head (carefully, because I jerked it too hard the first time and quickly remembered I was resting on a rock), there were more and more stars to look at.

I know this does not relate specifically to Ireland. I am sure there are many places in Minnesota, let alone the whole United States, where I could see as many stars. Maybe it was that I’m older now, more appreciative of sights that I am not used to. Or maybe it took being somewhere so dramatically different from home for me to really see things that I have had access to before. All I can say is that half hour of being on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, where my fingers were a little numb and my skin probably matched the temperature of the rock I was on, was maybe the most peaceful, reflective half hour of my life to date. I also think this was the first time I’ve actually, seriously loved being in a small town setting. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Louisburgh. I think it is the cutest place I have ever lived and there is something endearing about recognizing everyone who lives there. But I’m used to the hustle and bustle of a city where you can go to high school with twice as many people than live in Louisburgh as a whole. I will be forever grateful to this town for letting me get as close to the stars as I probably ever will.

Allison 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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Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Michigan, U.S.A. – by Delaney Babich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Michigan, U.S.A. – by Delaney Babich. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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In the midst of our chaotic world, there are places where peace and solitude still exist, namely, within our national parks and landmarks. These lands and their keepers are devoted to the preservation of the exquisite natural beauty around us. I have been lucky enough to recently explore of one Lake Superior’s undiscovered wild gems, the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. My mom and I are avid camping girls, and she makes an effort to plan a trip to a new out-of-state park every year. We were drawn to this park due to its unique landscape and 90 miles of hiking trail options. Located in Michigan, the park expands over 47,671 acres of the Upper Peninsula, with a 35,000-acre chunk considered to be the “biggest and best tract of virgin Northern Hardwoods in North America”, and has been named a National Natural Landmark by the Federal Government.

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Wrapped in a cocoon of mossy hemlocks and curly paper-birch boughs, this is the forest primeval. Around 2 billion years old, these mountains are some of the oldest in existence. Named by the Ojibwa after the resemblance to a crouched woodland porcupine, the mountains that give this park their name are breath-taking. They arise suddenly from Lake Superior to form a 12-mile long escarpment, or what is more commonly called a bluff or cliff. At the top of this bluff you see forest and sky for miles, roughly 25 miles on a clear day. You will also see The Lake of the Clouds, a glacial lake carved out millions of years ago, filled with sparkling blue water surrounded by the dense virgin forest. Surrounded in silence, listening only to what the earth had to say, our time spent in this park will never be forgotten.

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Before this area was designated a park, it was a hot bed for copper mining. Over the course of 65 years, 45 copper mines operated somewhere within the boundaries of the park. After mining was through, loggers arrived and took their toll, but in 1972 the Wilderness and Natural Areas Act was passed, forever protecting the land and adding to the beauty of North America for our future generations to enjoy as we do now. The protection of our wilderness is not at the forefront of our issues as a country, but it should be. Without these spaces, we will lose part of our history as a human race. As one author eloquently put it, “All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.” — T.K. Whipple. Study out the Land. “Porcupine Mountains.” Michigan Department of Natural Resources. DNR, n.d. Web. 20 July 2016.


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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A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – Amazonas: The Open Border – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – Amazonas: The Open Border – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

LauraAmazon2

(Capybara in Spanish is chiguiro. The nature reserve threw their food waste into the same area every evening, and a family of chiguiros would stop by to eat the scraps in the morning.)

I was really surprised when I told the professors at my university that I was going to visit Amazonas before returning home for Christmas and the only response I got was “Why wouldn’t you want to go to the coast for your vacation time?”

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When I was actually in Amazonas, a lot of tour guides and various individuals that we met during our ten day trip asked us the same question: “Why do foreigners always want to visit the Amazon?” I’m not really sure what the answer is, but I know that from my personal experience that I grew up learning about the Amazon as a mythical, majestic, wonderful place. I played Amazon Trail for hours on the computer in elementary school, and in science classes throughout my education we would learn with awe about the wonders of the Amazon.

In Colombia, it’s a little less awe-inspiring for a very specific reason.

I and several friends of mine in the Fulbright program spent, all together, ten days in Amazonas, the region in the south of Colombia that shares a part of the Amazon rain forest that also extends into Peru and Brazil. It’s an open-border area, which means that throughout our travels we spent several days in Peru and Brazil, but we were never required to present a passport. We were only required to declare if we were bringing more than two products of another country back into Colombia due to economic sanctions in the area.

Our first two days were spent at a nature reserve in Peru. We hiked, napped in hammocks, fished, kayaked, hung out with capybaras, and searched for caimans (alligators) at night. At the end of our two days, we returned to Leticia, the capital of Amazonas in Colombia, and stayed at a hotel from which we made two additional overnight excursions into Peru and Brazil, as well as a few different day trips into Brazil. We were only once required to exchange pesos for reales (the currency of Brazil), and it was to pay for a lunch that we bought in Tabatinga. Tabatinga and Leticia are more or less the same city, but they are divided by a political boundary on maps and a series of small signs that we accidentally missed the first time we entered Brazil.

Our guide that stayed with us for our ten days in Amazonas explained that while she was a Colombian citizen, she chose to live in Brazil because rent was cheaper. There was no paperwork to fill out. There was no citizenship to apply for. She simply paid her rent each month and crossed the border whenever she wanted to go in to Leticia, which is quite often because she does most of her grocery shopping there.

It was very interesting seeing how the three countries were so fluid in this area. Of course, in the jungle there was no way to tell if you were in a Peruvian river or a Colombian river, but even in the cities there was very little to alert you to the fact that you had entered another country. In Brazil, the signs are all in Portuguese, but Portuguese and Spanish are such similar languages that I often found myself reading the signs and wondering why the Spanish had been spelled so strangely.

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(Is this a Peruvian, Colombia, or Brazilian river? I have no idea. I also have no idea how the guides remembered where to go in the different branches of the river, especially since the landscape changes so drastically depending on the season.)

Back to the question: Why is the Amazon not quite so awe-inspiring to Colombians?

Amazonas is the place that many high schoolers visit on their end-of-the-year-trip. At many of the nature reserves that hosted visitors, we were confused about the sheer number of beds, showering facilities, and hammocks that existed until our guide would explain that each location often hosted large groups of high schoolers from international or private schools throughout Colombia.

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(They’re not actually called river grapes, but I like to call them Amazonian River Grapes. Unlike other grapes, they grow on trees and the best way to get them down is to hit the tree with a stick (very scientific). You have to peel the skin off the outside of the grape before you eat it or else you risk getting abrasions on the inside of your mouth because the skin is like sandpaper.)

At the first nature reserve that we stayed at there were three school groups also there. One group was from Cali, a city on the Atlantic coast of Colombia. The other two groups were from Bogota–like us! The first night that we stayed at the reserve there were only the five of us, but on the second night the 120 bed facility was nearly full! Another group of high school students also stopped by in the middle of the day.

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About our special correspondent Laura Blasena: Ever since I was a little Kindergartner I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.

I graduated from St. Scholastica in the summer of 2015 with a double major in Elementary Education and Spanish Education after student teaching as a 5th grade teacher and also as a Spanish teacher at NorthStar in Duluth, Minnesota.

While my future plans before graduation were initially to become a classroom teacher, I decided to wait a year to begin teaching in the United States and have chosen to work as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bogota, Colombia. In Colombia, I will be working with a university as an assistant in the language department, attending classes, running conversation clubs, and offering the perspective of a native speaker.

I’ve always loved to travel. In college, I participated in several study abroad trips, visiting England, Guatemala, and Mexico. (I loved visiting Mexico so much that I even went back a second time!). I’m looking forward to the travel opportunities that I will have while working and living in Colombia.

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

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

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

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

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

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

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