Tag Archives: North Star Reports

On behalf of The North Star Reports – we thank and welcome our readers from around the world

NSR January 2015 copy

On behalf of The North Star Reports – we thank and welcome our readers from around the world — as of January 2015, after two years since our establishment.

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Barcelona, Spain – Estoy Aquí, I am Here! — The North Star Reports – by Katherine LaFleur. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

A special series. Barcelona, Spain – Estoy Aquí, I am Here! — The North Star Reports – by Katherine LaFleur. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

arc de triomf[Photo 1: Arc de Triomf, Barcelona’s own]

Saturday, the 3rd of January, I began my trip. Driving the 164 miles from my house to Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport’s first terminal, it still hadn’t sunk in that within hours I would be immersing myself in a culture quite different from the one I had grown up in. My first flight flew 8 hours overnight, crossing the North Atlantic, and numerous time zones. My second, from Amsterdam to Barcelona was only 2 hours- but it seemed somewhat longer than the much more familiar drive from Duluth to the Twin Cities that takes about the same time. Sunday, the 4th of January, I had arrived in Barcelona, Spain and had begun my 90-day adventure.

park zoo[Photo 2: Parc de la Ciutadella, the huge park very near my apartment here in Barcelona, it features this lovely fountain as well as the city zoo!]

Before departing, I purchased a book suggested to me by my academic advisor/Spanish professor/Chair of my major, The Way of the Traveler: Making Every Trip a Journey of Self-Discovery, and within the first few pages I found writing activities intended to help me look introspectively at the kinds of emotions I was experiencing. On the plane from Amsterdam to Barcelona, I began feeling a bit anxious with the knowledge that I was only hours from my destination. I wrote in my journal various feelings, and after each I tried to trace them back to the source, it was a practice all at once overwhelming and therapeutic. For those of you who have traveled abroad for any period of time some of these may resonate with your experience, for those who have yet to travel- let them serve as an insight to what may precede the excitement and joy that studying abroad allows.

above fountain[Photo 3: The view from the top of above fountain, it’s very common for lovers to write their initials on locks and hang them from various bridges, fountains, public places, etc.]

Here’s what I felt:
Anxious: being away from family seems like a respite- especially when your family is huge and raucous, like mine; but in all reality my family is my everything and being apart from them was actually one of my biggest fears. Realizing I’ll be three months without my friends and my hometown routine was a bit disheartening as well.

Excited: this is an opportunity I’ve wished for since the summer of 2011 when I visited Spain for the first time, I’m so very happy to be able to live here in Barcelona and utilize everything I’ve been studying.

Worried: that everything I’ve studied thus far will be insufficient; that my Spanish won’t be up to par, that my ignorance will shine through.

Exhausted: physically AND emotionally. I tend to avoid goodbyes to avoid the mushy, teary-eyed experience that usually accompanies them, and this trip was no different. But some I couldn’t avoid and they were some of the most difficult. Also, at the time of this journal entry I had already spent 14 hours sentada (seated) in airplanes, airports and a car, and I hadn’t slept a wink since the day before- so I was a little tired.

Barcelona outlook[Photo 4: View of Barcelona from Mirador Montjuïc, or the Outlook on Montjuïc]

Now, I am well rested and feeling fine although I’m well aware I will experience a whole gambit of these same emotions and more during my stay. I’ve already had the chance to explore my new home a little, and am so very excited to learn more and more about its layout, history, food, and people – and how they all interconnect to form the beauty that is Barcelona! I hope to share my findings, musings, and interests with you, dear readers of the North Star Reports, and am more than happy to answer any questions you may have along the way! Hasta luego!

Barcelona Plane[Photo 5: Aerial view of Barcelona from the plane that brought me here!]

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

For all of the North Star Reports, see http://NorthStarReports.org See also, http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our 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 essays 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 North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open-access policy. K-12 teachers, please contact the chief editor if you are using these reports for your classes, HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Honduras — Misconceptions About So-called “Third World” Countries — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Sofia Pineda

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Honduras — Misconceptions About So-called “Third World” Countries — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Sofia Pineda

When people think about Third World countries, all they can imagine is poverty, violence, and any negative connotation you can associate with a location. But who can blame them? It seems as if Third World countries do not interest the rest of the world unless there are revolts or violent activities going on. Mass media will let the world know all about how dangerous these countries are, but fails to tell how beautiful and full of potential they are. Growing up in Honduras, I have experienced this phenomenon all my life.

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Studying abroad last year reinforced this thought. I left home to live the “American dream.” Education is not a good as it should be in Honduras, so my parents and I decided it was best for me to study in the United States. Because English is my second language I have an accent when I speak, allowing people to know I am a foreigner. People here were surprised by “how good I speak English.” But they were even more surprised when I told them where I was from. It seemed as if all they knew about Honduras was the revolt we had in 2009 or the poverty and crime that exists. Many didn’t even know where Honduras is located and I got asked several times not only if I lived in Mexico, but even worse, if I spoke Mexican. I am completely honest when I tell you that I have been asked if I live in trees.

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What a dream to live, right? To live thousands of miles away from home and have people make assumptions of who you are and about your culture just because you come from a certain country. Truth be told, this saddens me. There is more than meets the eye. Just because we come from a country that is not as developed as others, it does not mean we are “uncivilized” individuals living in forests and are unable to speak another language besides our mother tongue. I will not lie and say that my country has no poverty or crime. But let’s be honest, what country has no people who are homeless or who suffer from poverty? What country has people that never commit crimes? What country has a perfect government loved by all its citizens? Last time I checked, there was no such country.

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There are so many misconceptions about Third World countries; we are continuously diminished because we have been labeled in a box. Third World countries do not want others’ charity— this is one of the biggest misconceptions that exists. Third World countries want to be seen as equal, because that is what we are if we are given the opportunity. Believe it or not, we, just like all First and Second World countries, have our fortes. While some countries may excel in education, others excel in crop growth or fertile land. Every country has its weaknesses and its strengths.

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Third World countries are more than poverty and violence and charity works. Third World countries are beautiful. Honduras, for example, has the second largest coral reef in the world— a fact that is overlooked or ignored due to the negative news that are shared with the world. Not only do we have beautiful nature but most importantly, we have beautiful people. When I say beautiful people I mean both from the inside and outside. We are honest people fighting to live that “dream.” Only as you grow older do you understand that your dream can be achieved anywhere. You don’t need to study abroad or work for a foreign company or live somewhere else because, at the end of the day, you may belong to a Third World country but no one is superior or inferior to you. Misconceptions will always exist and it is your duty to inform others how beautiful and full of potential your country truly is.

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, Duluth Denfeld High School, Dodge Middle School and other schools around the world to the North Star Reports. The North Star Reportshas 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

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/embracing-oa-universities-adopt-open-access-policies-for-faculty-journal-publications

The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Reports 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 here, 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) 2013-present The Middle Ground Journal. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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The North Star Project, 2013 Summer Report Number Two, St. Petersburg, Russia

marin1

The North Star Project, 2013 Summer Report Number Two, St. Petersburg, Russia

By Marin Ekstrom St.Petersburg: Week #1

I arrived in St. Petersburg around 11:00 at night, and instantly felt transported into a surreal land. The bright duskiness of the White Nights had me thinking that it was 7:00 (as if a flight ever arrives early), and I was astonished by the jarring mixture of breathtakingly beautiful monuments, decrepit Soviet apartments, and modern commercial enterprises vaguely reminiscent of Las Vegas. However, the following day our study abroad program orientated us throughout the city, showing us the major landmarks like the Church of the Spilled Blood, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Bronze Horseman, and the Hotel Astoria. Through this journey I became enchanted with the history and magic of St. Petersburg, a city that began as a Swedish backwater and transformed into the Euro-tinged cultural capital of Russia.

Through these walking tours of the city, I have been able to experiencing the culture. On the culinary end, I have discovered Teremok, the blini-centric “Russian McDonalds” that serves such heavenly creations as blinis with sweetened condensed milk, and already know that I will miss it back in the States. I also love the various dairy products available in Russia (Dutch cheese, kefir, and tvorog, Russian cottage cheese) and the variety of fruit juices (that are strangely unrefrigerated). As for the people, many seem to be quite serious, based on the lack of smiles, the vast amount of book and Kindle readers on the metro, and the blunt, curt attitudes of the checkout cashiers-. Some of these factors have clashed with my own tendency for Minnesota niceness- I even had a professor that went on a bit of a rant because I used “please” and “thank you” too much! However, I’ve also noticed that once you get to sit down and talk with a Russian, they are kind and caring, and make for pleasant conversation- which I think describes all humanity, no matter what nationality.

In addition to my “play” of exploring the city, I also “work” by study the Russian language at St. Petersburg State University, designated as a slushatel, or listener. I have one class per day, three hours straight (though there is a ten minute break at the halfway mark) that focus on grammar, conversation, and reading. Classes are conducted solely in Russian, which is both intimidating and exhilarating in this immersive experience.

All in all, I hope that the combination of formal study and life experience will help me to further unravel what Winston Churchill deemed “the riddle wrapped up in an enigma” that is Russia.
———-
For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10

The North Star Project 2013-2014 School Year Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We gratefully acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also warmly welcome Duluth East High School and Dodge Middle School to the North Star Project. The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

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

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/embracing-oa-universities-adopt-open-access-policies-for-faculty-journal-publications

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

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

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

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Forty-Four, Nowruz at the Freer and Sackler Galleries, by Marin Ekstrom

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Forty-Four, Nowruz at the Freer and Sackler Galleries, by Marin Ekstrom

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Despite the Gregorian calendar “standardizing” January 1st as the start of the New Year, its inception varies from culture to culture. In the case of Nowruz, which is primarily celebrated in Iran (although parts of Central Asia, South Asia, northwestern China, and southeastern Europe also observe it), the New Year is based on the spring equinox. The holiday traces its origins to Zoroastrian practices, and like many other spring holidays, features a variety of rituals to commence the rebirth and renewal associated with the season. The most iconic Nowruz tradition is the haft seen table, or the “Table of Seven S’s.” A table is covered with seven sacred items that all begin with the letter “S” in the Persian language: serkeh (vinegar), senied (dried fruit), sir (garlic), seeb (apples), sabzeh (greens), samanu (wheat pudding), and sumac (crushed berry spice). In addition, other popular haft-seen items include a mirror, an orange in a bowl of water, a bowl of goldfish, colorfully dyed eggs, hyacinths, candles, and sacred books (i.e. the Quran, the Shamaneh, the poetry of Hafez). The items have symbolic qualities attached to them that will bestow the family with happiness and fortune in the coming year. Another key practice is fire jumping. People make small bonfires and jump over them while uttering a special phrase; the flames in turn take away the bad things that occurred in the previous year. The festivities described only constitute a fraction of the rich cultural traditions associated with Nowruz, but luckily I got a taste of it when I visited the Freer and Sackler Gallery’s exhibition on this holiday.

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The first display that I encountered was an exquisite haft seen table that was not only adorned with most of the ritual items described above, but also softly colored flower petals, wads of gumdrops and flowers, and whimsical figurines of traditional Persian folk characters. Although I took pictures, they honestly do not do justice to actually seeing the display in person. I could not stay there long, however, as many people, particularly Persian-speaking families, were crowded around it. In fact, there were youngsters, parents, and grandparents abound throughout the museum! I admired them for taking so much pride in their language and culture and sharing it with their children, all while taking the time to savor the simple pleasures of this springtime festival.

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As I ventured on, I encountered another haft seen, which, while simpler and earthier than the other one, was still stunning. I entered a wing where various activities were being conducted. I observed a young man painting people’s names in the Persian calligraphy by utilizing stylized forms and colors to transform their names into works of art. Another stand featured the Falnama, or “Book of Omens.” The Falnama is an old tradition in which someone turns to a random page, and depending on what brilliantly illustrated story and series of texts he/she turns to, that will reveal his/her fortune. Lastly, I toured the exhibit Feast Your Eyes: A Taste for Luxury in Ancient Iran, which featured breathtaking metalwork and dishware from the early civilizations of Iran. All of the brought the cultures of Iran and Nowruz-celebrating countries to life, and it was amazing to partake in these festivities.

norwuz

Sources Consulted

http://cmes.hmdc.harvard.edu/files/NowruzCurriculumText.pdf

figandquince.com

Picture Credit (What’s in Haft Seen and why?): figandquince.com

———-
For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10

The North Star Project 2013-2014 School Year Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We gratefully acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also warmly welcome Duluth East High School and Dodge Middle School to the North Star Project.

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

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

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/embracing-oa-universities-adopt-open-access-policies-for-faculty-journal-publications

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

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

(c) 2014 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 8, Spring, 2014. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Thirty-Eight, Looking back on China, by Erin Monroe

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Thirty-Eight, Looking back on China, by Erin Monroe

It’s my winter break now, and I have a month off from school. An entire semester has passed since I was studying abroad in China, and lately, as the year came to a close and another one began, I’ve feeling particularly reminiscent. I look back on those memories fondly, and there is so much that I miss about China that I could never have predicted.
Although I’ve been studying in the U.S. this past semester, China and Chinese continues to remain a huge part of my life. Out of the four classes I took in the fall, three of them were in the Chinese department. I’m involved in various organizations that revolve around China and I work and spend time with Chinese students and other international students daily. In fact, my parents, who keep an eye on my Facebook page, asked “Do you have any American friends? You realize that almost everyone in your Facebook photos is Chinese except you, right?” In sum, China and all things related has become such a huge part of my life that at this point, I can’t imagine extricating that piece of me from the rest of my life. I’ve been on vacation, at home with my family, for three weeks now. I realized today that this is the longest I haven’t spoken Chinese in a year (since last winter break) and I miss it. China has become strangely, but warmly, familiar to me. It’s not my culture, and as I was born and raised in northern Minnesota, it’s not part of my background, history, or environment. Still, when my dad asked a question this morning, the first thing I thought to respond with was ??? (shenme=what) when I didn’t hear what he said.
At this point, and perhaps it has to do with the age I’m at, but wanderlust has clouded my aspirations. Or perhaps, it clarifies them. My experience in China helped shape and refine my ideas of what I want to do in my future after graduation. I’m happy with where I’m at, in terms of place and opportunities available, but I was exposed to a world so different from my own that now that I’ve experienced a taste of this new culture, I’m itching to go back. Someday, I’ll return to China.

Missing the little things

In China, with the fellow Americans in my study abroad program, we would often discuss what we missed about home when we felt homesick. It comforted us to know that we weren’t alone, to group together and know that we were all thinking and feeling the same feelings of missing home. Homesickness is natural, it’s expected. I awaited the reverse culture shock upon my arrival home, which I had been heavily warned about, but it never came. I adjusted back to living in the U.S. like I had never left to live across the world for three months.

Over the next few months, back in Madison, little things about China crept up into my mind. Why aren’t there any red beans in desserts here? Why doesn’t the McDonald’s in the U.S. have taro pies like they do in China? Why are taxis so expensive and wouldn’t it be nice if we had some sort of subway system in place? Somehow, there were some things that I preferred in China over America—foods that aren’t common here, methods of transportation, aspects of my daily life in Tianjin. I have class with a lot of the same people I studied abroad with, and in the same way that we talked about the U.S. when we were in China, we talked about China now. As it turns out, many others were feeling the same way. We miss China.

Sometimes it’s the food and the substantial measurable things that I miss, while other times it was the simplicity of my stay in Tianjin. I could go into a restaurant that only served dumplings and the only decision I had to make was between vegetable or meat dumplings.  I could hop on the subway and go wherever I wanted in the city of over 12 million people for the equivalent of 16 cents. It’s the small things that you can almost pass by without noticing—those are the things that come floating back into my mind months later. They didn’t seem to matter as much when I was there, but now, without sounding unbearably cliché, those are the things that I miss most of all.

———-
For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10

The North Star Project 2013-2014 School Year Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We gratefully acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also warmly welcome Duluth East High School and Dodge Middle School to the North Star Project.

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

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

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/embracing-oa-universities-adopt-open-access-policies-for-faculty-journal-publications

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

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

(c) 2014 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 8, Spring, 2014. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Twenty-Five — Thanksgiving (US) An American Tradition With Global Connections by Delaney Babich

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Twenty-Five — Thanksgiving (US) An American Tradition With Global Connections by Delaney Babich

Every year since I was born we have had our thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house, in Robinsdale, Minnesota. She always fills the house with warm welcomes including festive decorations, pre-feast snacks and a Julia Child marathon on the television. It is the typical American Thanksgiving. Turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, fruit salad, sweet potatoes, cranberries and of course the stuffing. What I like about eating here every year is that we always have our traditional dishes, but yet my grandma tends to create one or two new dishes to try out every year. This year, she served us Swedish meatballs with a twist; they were coated in pecans and had a sweeter taste then normal. Her family came from Sweden, so for her to recreate a recipe into something modern was exciting and fun to try! So finally, with our stomachs rumbling and our sparkling cider poured, we dig in and devour everything on our plates, some times even going back for seconds. After everyone has eaten to their hearts content, we go around the table and say what we are thankful for, whom we love and our greatest accomplishment in the last year. The come the pie, oh the pie. My grandmother always makes each one from scratch, and I have yet to find any that taste better than hers. After all is said and done, we reminisce and say goodbye, hugs and kisses, waves and honks as we head back home to take naps and spend more time with each other. Once back home my mother and I have a tradition we picked up while living in Belize, and it consists of making flan together with a caramelized topping. We received the recipe when we spent Thanksgiving in Belmopan a few years back. No matter what we are doing we are doing it together and that is the most important thing to me. I have to say, Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday.

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

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

The North Star Project 2013-2014 School Year Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We gratefully acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also warmly welcome Duluth East High School and Dodge Middle School to our collaborative program.

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

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

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

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

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

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Twenty-Three — The Globalization of Fargo, North Dakota by Adam Wilson

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Twenty-Three — The Globalization of Fargo, North Dakota by Adam Wilson

The world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and the Fargo-Moorhead area is no exception. The metro area of Fargo has grown to over 200,000 in recent years and this influx of people has led to a global presence in demographics which is being seen through restaurants, small businesses, and education. Fargo’s early immigrants were of white Scandinavian European origin but since 1990 the foreign born population has more than doubled. This new population includes one in three of these foreign born immigrants arriving from Bosnia and significant numbers of Vietnamese and Somali populations have also increased since turn of the decade.

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The arrival of new immigrants from such countries, have impacted the metro area in many ways. A major and unique asset to new immigrants in Fargo is the Immigration Development Center which states its purpose as “to increase the understanding of diversity in Fargo-Moorhead and provide assistance for ethnically diverse populations to get involved in the community.” The center has raised enough money and interest to fill 12 proposed business locations. The “Global Market” which is the projects name has 28 applications by new Americans to take part in the 12 proposed businesses. There are currently around five to six local businesses owned and operated by Bosnian immigrants one of which is the Bosnian House Restaurant. The development center has sighted access to schools, jobs and low crime rates as some of the incentives that attract and keep immigrants in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

The globalization of the agriculture industry has been one of the major factors for North Dakota’s increased international trading. Some companies located in Fargo that do international business include: Bueling Incorporated-Germany, Dakota Export LLC-Finland and Russia, and Red River Commodities- Spain, Turkey and Israel. These companies play roles in exporting machinery and profitable crops grown in the state. Exporting plants such as these also on average pay their employees up to 18% more than non-exporting plants. These jobs are increasing in the state and especially in Fargo and they provide a good example of the increase role that globalization plays even in relatively small Midwest’s economies. It also remains to be seen whether the increased exports of North Dakotan multinational companies will start to play larger roles in the cultural make up of business hubs such as Fargo.

The advancements made in communication technology means that our globe is getting smaller and more intimate every day. Cities such as Fargo are at cusp of learning how to integrate a more global society into their already prospering economy. By attracting global professionals in the fields of medicine and education Fargo also has a number of well trained foreign born professionals that have essential roles at the metros colleges and hospitals. As the city continues to grow the diversity of its culture will develop and hopefully become an attractive hub for diverse businesses and restaurants.

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

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

The North Star Project 2013-2014 School Year Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We gratefully acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also warmly welcome Duluth East High School and Dodge Middle School to our collaborative program. 

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

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

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

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

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

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Sixteen — Picnic in the Mongolian Countryside, by Gina Sterk

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Sixteen — Picnic in the Mongolian Countryside, by Gina Sterk

Picnic in the Mongolian Countryside

A few weekends ago I joined the staff of all language departments of my university for their annual countryside picnic.

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I was told to be at the school at 9 am, although the first hour or so of the day was spent sitting on a bus waiting for everyone who got the memo, which I missed, that there is no reason to come on time.  More and more teachers (on “Mongolian time”) trickled onto the bus throughout the hour, all of which were in great moods and untroubled by their lateness as I would have been.

At some point it was mysteriously determined that we had waited long enough, and the bus finally rolled out of the parking lot.  As soon as it did so, the bus’s karaoke system was taken advantage of; a microphone was passed around and music was blared.

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Not long after karaoke was started, the vodka was too.  Two male teachers walked up and down the aisle of the bus full of teachers — bottle in one hand and communal cup in the other — passing out shots.

After about an hour we reached our destination, which was a ger resort not far outside of Ulaanbaatar.  (A ger is a Mongolian traditional dwelling — what we would call a yurt.)  The resort was essentially a ger hotel; it consisted of numbered gers which could be rented and a large central building which served food and alcohol.

As soon as we got to our gers (which were fancier than normal gers — they had attached bathrooms and electric heat), it was snack time. Once every teacher had brought out his or her contribution, our small table was heaped with treats.  The most popular item seemed to be sausage, which was eaten on bread with a slice of cucumber on top.

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Our snacking was quickly interrupted, however, by lunch.  The dining hall served us salad, followed by mutton soup with fried bread, followed by more mutton, with rice and a side of fried mashed potato.  It was incredibly delicious, but incredibly filling.

Once our lunch wrapped up, it was time for the day’s opening ceremony (I’ve noticed it seems to be popular to start events with opening ceremonies in Mongolia — the school year started with one and so did a teaching conference I recently attended).  The ceremony took place in a grassy area near the gers, which was surrounded by beautiful steppe and a small forest.  The ceremony involved giving gifts to teachers and administrators who were leaving or retiring and giving gifts to new staff members.
Every gift of course included vodka, each bottle of which was immediately passed around the audience with a cup.

After the ceremony ended, it was time to dance.  A large speaker was brought out and everyone was on their feet.  Two songs that seemed to be big hits were “Cheri Cheri Lady” (Modern Talking, 1985) and “Brother Louie” (Modern Talking, 1973).  I seem to hear these songs everywhere I go in Mongolia which fascinates me, because they are old (in my opinion), and I had never heard them before coming here.  Maybe it’s my age, or maybe Mongolian’s have different taste in music.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of more dancing, more snacking, playing games, lying in the grass, and the non-stop distribution of vodka.

Another lovely Mongolian thing that occurred throughout the day was arm and hand holding; my friend and co-teacher Oyuna, who had been made responsible for the foreigner (me) for the day, held my hand or linked arms with me wherever we went.  Fortunately it wasn’t because I was viewed as the incompetent foreign person (although I usually am), but was a kind, common Mongolian expression of friendship which I appreciated receiving.

After several hours of relaxation, we reconvened for more food.  At this point I was still stuffed from lunch (which I didn’t know was possible), but I wasn’t going to turn down horhog.  Horhog is a traditional, uniquely Mongolian food which is very popular at outdoor events.  It is a sort of stew made with vegetables (carrots, potatoes, and cabbage,) and of course mutton, cooked with stones in it.

When the horhog was ready, we all sat in the grass on the hillside, with the sun setting beautifully in the background.  When it was brought out (two giant pots carried by four men), the first thing that was removed from the pots and passed around the crowd were the hot stones.  I was handed one to pass quickly between my fingertips until it was no longer hot and was told that doing so would keep me healthy through the very cold Mongolian winter.

Once our stones cooled and our future health was secured, we feasted on the mutton and vegetables, of course with a side of milky tea (hot milk with black tea and some salt in it) and several shots of vodka.

After dinner it was time for more dancing, this time on the basketball court, with another group of guests at the resort.  As I was spun around to Modern Talking songs until I learned all the words, I had one of those wonderful moments of vivid awareness that I am really in Mongolia…finally…this place I waited for months to hear if I would be going to, this place I spent even more months preparing for and wondering about, this place I never could have imagined I would travel to.

As the sun set, the boom box’s battery died, and we slowly made our way back onto the bus, I was satisfied and grateful for the truly Mongolian day I had gotten to be a part of.  Of course the day wasn’t actually over at this point; little did I know, 4 straight hours of karaoke were to follow.  Though unbelievably tired by the time I returned to my apartment, it was a great day of Mongolian food, music, tradition, and friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Fifteen — Studying Abroad: A Cultural Challenge, by Ana Maria Camelo Vega

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Fifteen — Studying Abroad: A Cultural Challenge, by Ana Maria Camelo Vega

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Around one in 35 people in the world today are migrants. This has led to an increase in cultural diversity and cultural exchanges all around the world. On August of this year, I became part of this global phenomenon. I flew all the way from Colombia, South America, to Houston, TX. There, I had to take another flight to Chicago, IL; where I had to take another flight right to Duluth, MN. Arriving here was a whole personal challenge. The United States of America is an ethnically and racially diverse country in many different ways. In this way, its culture is completely different to my home country’s culture in different aspects. The one that is going to be explained in this post is the conception of oneself and his relationship with others. When speaking about The United States of America, it is well known that individualism is promoted all along the country. In the American country, the image of the self and its relationship with the others can be described with “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” An example of this is the family structure and the work environment focused on power, hedonism, achievement and competition. Along with this individualist culture, The United States of America is also known as a Universalist culture, in which each person is treated as an individual rather than as a group. These aspects are practically opposite to the ones back at home. In Colombia, family is the core of everyone and everything. Growing up with these teachings allows you to build a sense of mutual and group belonging. Arriving at Duluth, and beginning to live the American college life, was really challenging in that aspect. You get to compare how people think way different than you, and how their lifestyles vary in the same way. Relationships are valued in a different way, and in this way, interpersonal communication is as well. Therefore, studying and living abroad is contributing to the increase of cultural exchanges and diversity, by influencing both –home and international- cultures; which is a challenge I am only starting to live.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Ana Maria Camelo Vega, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang