Tag Archives: nature

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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Filed under Allison Brennhofer, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

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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Filed under Delaney Babich, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

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

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(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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Guatemala – Tourism in Lake Atitlán – by Ada Luz Moreno Gomez. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Guatemala – Tourism in Lake Atitlán – by Ada Luz Moreno Gomez. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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Over the summer I had the opportunity to visit the deepest lake in Central America: Lake Atitlán, located in the department of Sololá, Guatemala. Not only is the view of lake and its three surrounding volcanos worth the trip, but the remnants of Mayan culture I was able to witness made my short stay there unforgettable. There are 12 main villages surrounding the lake, and although most of them are approximately half an hour away by boat or car, they have each managed to establish their own unique niches, being mostly inhabited by Maya Kaqchikel and Maya Tz’utujil communities.

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Making my way to Lake Atitlán from Guatemala City was an enjoyable experience by itself, and as a passerby I was able to get a glimpse into life in the Guatemalan highlands. On either side of the road I was greeted with either panoramic views of mountains and pines or vast plantations of cabbage and maize. The locals in the area are mainly indigenous, and what from afar can be seen as an explosion of colors and textiles is usually a small group of people selling their crafts and freshly picked strawberries.

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More than 60% of the population in Guatemala is of Maya descent, and the rural department of Sololá has one of the largest populations of indigenous people. However, it is not uncommon to see indigenous people with their traditional attires speaking in their native tongues in more urban settings like the capital.

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One of the main points of access to the lake is through the town of Panajachel. Panajachel, or ‘Pana’ as the locals call it, is one of the most commercial towns around the lake and it’s famous for its street markets, restaurants and tourist friendly activities. Although Panajachel is fairly small, it is booming with activity and people from all over the world. You can see anything from traditional indigenous markets to luxury resorts all in the same street.

With this is mind, tourism and the towns surrounding Lake Atitlan are full of complexities and contradictions. While dining at one of the restaurants in Panajachel, it became surprisingly easy to forget we were deep in the highlands of Guatemala. Everything from the decorations, to the music and the people made me feel as if I was back in any main city of Latin America. However, in the back of the restaurant where the kitchen was, dressed in their traditional attire, and baking pizzas in large stone ovens were two very old indigenous women, continuously kneading the pizza dough even though it was almost midnight.

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From Panajachel visitors and residents take small boats to the adjacent lakeside towns. Even though from afar many of these towns appear to be fairly similar, they all have very distinctive characteristics and personalities. Some, like the town of San Pedro are preferred by back papers for its relaxed atmosphere, and others like San Antonio or Santa Catarina Palopo offer the opportunity of deeper cultural immersions as they are isolated and small. The town of San Marcos for example is known for its peacefulness and beautiful hiking trails. San Marcos’ streets are too narrow for cars and because it’s surrounded by dense vegetation while walking you only hear birds chirping, making my stay there incredibly enjoyable.

Many European and American tourists have fallen in love with San Marcos, and some have chosen to stay and open yoga and holistic centers, hiring the locals as employees. In its tiny roads you can see indigenous people selling crystals and natural remedies, making even the locals and commerce adapt to the ‘spiritual experience’ going to San Marcos has become. But past the ecofriendly hostels and meditation centers, up and away from the village center, you can see the local Maya community of San Marcos, where life seems a lot different than what San Marcos comes across as in tour guides and brochures. Like many of the Maya villages around lake Atitlán, despite the commerce and technology tourism has brought for some, many of the locals remain impoverished and with less land to cultivate.

Above all, my trip to Lake Atitlán was filled with memories of beautiful places, admirable hardworking individuals, and unforgettable sceneries, many of them exposing both the beauty and burdens many regions throughout Latin America experience. It was remarkable to see that among many of the lake side resorts and vacation homes, next to many of the tourists in kayaks and boats like me, there were still locals who fished for a living in their canoes and spoke Spanish only as a second or third language.

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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Filed under Ada Luz Moreno Gomez, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

The Unseen and Unnoticed – by Srijita Kar. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The Unseen and Unnoticed – by Srijita Kar. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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Nature has enormous amounts of pleasure in store for us. Its beauty and serenity is beyond any beauty human beings can synthetically create. Even though we live in a world of technology, sometimes taking a break from our mechanical life is like a treat to yourself. As a college student in the 21st century, I am often surrounded by technology. Thus, in order to rid myself of all the stress and pressure of my world of isolation and digital screens, I take time to observe and absorb what nature has to offer me.

One such pleasure is the sunrise and sunset. In the past couple of years I have travelled quite a bit. The morning sun, the first rays of the day, the pretty red, orange, and golden sky, the soft cold breeze, the smell of fresh wet grass– all of these things fill me up with intense joy and relaxation. While traveling by road or in air, it always seems like the sun comes out from behind the clouds and softly smiles at us, greeting us with a pleasant ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Ohaiyo’ or ‘Su-Prabhat’– for the sun, language is no barrier. All it understands is love, warmth, pleasure, joy, gratitude and grace.

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These are the most treasured moments of my life. These pictures don’t have the smell or the feel that I experienced at that moment, but they remind me of the time and I fall into a trance.

Another gorgeous natural occurrence is the sunset. The beauty is unreal. The sun fades away in the horizon and leaves its golden glow all over the sky. It shrinks into a tiny red dot and eventually disappears, but leaves behind a mesmerizing view to look up at, every time.

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Even though sunsets and sunrises occur every day, taking the time to look at it and appreciate the beauty once in a while is refreshing. We cannot rid ourselves from the fast paced technological world, but with the help of all that technology has to offer us, we can capture and create our own little paradise of natural beauty.

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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United States – Minnesota Interstate Park: An Amalgam of Relaxation and Education — The North Star Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Delaney Babich

United States – Minnesota Interstate Park: An Amalgam of Relaxation and Education — The North Star Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Delaney Babich

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This state park means countless things to different people; nature can provide healing, entertainment, education and beauty. To me, this place feels like home.

Ever since I moved to the area I have been drawn to the natural beauty and relaxing energy provided by the gracious conservationists who created this sanctuary. Whenever I am in its boundaries I feel an overwhelming sense of compassion and gratitude. My best friend and I have a connection to the landscape. It is a place for us to blow off steam, to sunbathe, rock climb, take creative photographs and above all, to remember our dear friend Alex who tragically lost his life to our majestic St. Croix River. Words can simply not express the deep love and connection I feel to this place. I lose myself and find peace, meditate and soak up the sun in this space where I can break the hold of conventional societal rule and just be myself. It will always be dear to me, and I will never forget its significance.

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It all began billions of years ago with the eruptions of volcanoes from the Midcontinent Rift System. Lava flows poured over the region, hardened and eventually became the landscape of the park. Glaciers from the last Ice Age carved the basalt and sandstone into the cliffs we see there today. The way was formed so perfectly that it became a major transportation route for Native Americans years later, along with fur traders of the 18th century. Around 1837 the logging era was in full swing, and logs were rafted down the St. Croix and through the town of Taylors Falls, where there was a sawmill and camp for production. Many logjams occurred, and people realized it was too tough a spot for such an industry. The logging industry is the reason for development in this area, for the economic boom, and for what grew into a large population. Around 1865, a bill was passed to secure the region as a protected area to stop mining and vandalism. The beginning stages of development started in 1920 and the park has been maintained ever since. Many of the important symbols and rock formation still exist; the state has made it abundantly clear how important the history of this river and its accomplishments are to the people of the area. Highway 8 runs through the park and has become a major vein of transportation from Minnesota to Wisconsin, bringing thousands through the area everyday. Needless to say, this park has become an abundantly important zone in Chisago County.

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The entrance of the park is situated in front of Highway 8, giving an open and welcoming feel to this palace of nature. There is a DNR building where you are able to go through a small museum of the history, buy souvenirs, and sign up for educational hikes or a ride on a paddle boat for a relaxing afternoon of sightseeing and historical facts. The structures and formations in this park are spectacular. The entire park has been carved out by glaciers, which left behind tunnels, immense potholes and mind-boggling cliffs. Once inside the park you start to come in contact with the potholes big and small. Some are large enough for you to fit in (one is so deep that there is a staircase leading to the bottom) and others are small enough to fit only your pinky finger into. Either way you get an overwhelming sense of how small you really are. Along with the potholes are gigantic cliffs where you can stand right at the edge, making you feel more alive than ever. The sounds of the river hypnotize you, your height above the water makes you feel powerful, and the sight of seeing so many others enjoy the beauty gives a sense of togetherness. Further into the park there is a place reserved for rock climbing. These are the tallest cliffs in the park, some fully intact but others starting to crumble and create new formations.

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Thousands of people have visited this park, coming from all over the state and even the country to explore the formations within its boundaries. Of course only those with cars and enough money to get to the location have visited, leaving many people out of the experience. Mostly middle to upper class families and people come to visit and camp. Those who come seem to interact differently than they might in a city setting; people are polite, they are more open with strangers, and they tend to take many photographs to share with others later. Something about the openness and beauty brings out the best in many people who visit. However, in this small town there is controversy about whether or not the large population of Hmong people who come to fish in the clean waters of the St. Croix are welcome, which can cause them to feel a little out of place when they visit. It is something that those in charge of the park are trying to overcome since they understand that all people should be able to experience such beauty.

What is important to remember is that the Interstate Park is a public space. Anyone is welcome to visit as long as they are respectful and pay the fee to park in the lot, use the campsites, or rent kayaks and canoes. State parks were created to give the public a place for recreational use, relaxation and a chance to get out of the city. They are usually designed for family activities, and can require an extended stay if you don’t live in the area. The growing popularity of this park has led to renovations of the parking lots, campgrounds and even a few of the buildings in Taylors Falls. The town has been tailored to be a tourist town, with a bed and breakfast, restaurants and historical sites throughout its area. This creates more revenue for the town, thus giving the park more motivation to be as pristine as possible. It has become much more than just a conservation effort, it has become a community and life source for the people who care about our environment and prosperity of the town. This place has taken a step in the direction of a museum, providing anything you would like to know about the history and back-story of the town and those living in it. This gives the place a business aspect, which I tend to ignore. I like to focus on the beauty and natural state, not the ways it can create more revenue.

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Overall, the park gives you an open feeling, one of imagination and importance. You start to perceive the world differently, forgetting about traffic, hardship, and society in general. The park is a place to get away, to relax and maybe even learn something new about yourself. Anything is possible when you step outside for a minute, when you enjoy the place nature itself has carved out for you to enjoy.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to contribute to The North Star Reports — HLIANG@CSS.EDU

For all of the North Star Reports, see http://NorthStarReports.org

The North Star Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’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 K-12 outreach 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 will share brief dispatches from our student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Student interns have reported 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 dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

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 Middle Ground Journal. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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Filed under Delaney Babich, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang