Tag Archives: North Star Reports

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.

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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 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.

———-

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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