Tag Archives: student interns

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Thirty-One — Mongolian Thanksgiving, by Gina Sterk

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Thirty-One — Mongolian Thanksgiving, by Gina Sterk
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This was my first year celebrating Thanksgiving outside of the United States.  Having spent all of my previous Thanksgivings celebrating with my family in the Midwest, this celebration was a little different, but I’m sure will be a little more memorable for this reason.  Fourteen hours ahead of my family back home (due to the considerable time difference), I gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving in Mongolia with an assortment of American and Mongolian friends.  Our table of food — covered with everything from apple pie to latkes to spicy fried rice to Mongolian buuz (steamed dumplings filled with meat) — reflected the diverse backgrounds of the attendees of our gathering.  At the same time, the diversity of people and food present reflected the diversity of American culture perhaps more accurately than my previous Thanksgiving celebrations in the US have been able to.  And while some of the elements of Thanksgiving that I’m used to were missing this year — I wasn’t with my family, didn’t get the day off of work, and didn’t have turkey — the purpose of Thanksgiving was successfully achieved: I spent the evening reminded of my gratitude for the people I was gathered with and the meal we were sharing together.  And perhaps I was just a little more mindful on this particular Thanksgiving of how very American Thanksgiving is, yet just how universal it is to give thanks.

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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 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) 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 Eighteen — Durga Puja in Eastern India, by Srijita Kar

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Eighteen — Durga Puja in Eastern India, by Srijita Kar

The word Puja stands for worship. Durga puja, the worship of goddess Durga, is one of the biggest celebrations in the Eastern part of India. It is known by various names in different states. In the Western part of India it is called Navratri and in the North it is known as Dusshera. It is nine days long celebration and the start is marked by Mahalaya which is a day prior to the first day of the puja. The word Mahalaya stands for the great beginning. On the day of Mahalaya people wake up at four in the morning to listen to the recital of the great victory of goddess Durga on the radio.

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The first three days of the celebration is mostly bringing the statues of goddess Durga and her children (who are other gods and goddesses whom she took under her wings as her children), namely Saraswati, Kartik, Ganesh and Laxmi, to the pandal (a fabricated structure) and decorating the surroundings. On the fourth and fifth day the facial expressions of goddess Durga are drawn and eventually her whole face is painted and she is dressed in a gorgeous saree (Indian traditional clothes). On the sixth day, Maha Shashti, her eyes are completed and with that the curtains are raised for people see the statues of goddess Durga and her four children for the first time that year. This curtain raiser is followed by the recitation and a dramatization of the story of how the evil was defeated. The story goes as follows:

When the evil, Mahishasur(meaning the great demon) started taking over the world the gods in heaven tried to stop him with all the efforts they could put in. However, he had the blessing that no man could ever defeat him and thus all gods failed. In an effort to defeat him they decided to create a creature so strong and powerful that it contains all the powers of every god in heaven. They created a female god and named her Durga. She had ten hands and had a weapon in eight hands. She uses two hands to hold the trident and one hand is free, blessing her disciples. Her strength is symbolized by the tiger that she rides. She fights the evil off with her power and eventually defeats him by impaling her trident in him.

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On the seventh day, Maha Saptami, everyone gathers in the afternoon for a feast and in the evening they come together to dance on the beats of the dhak (a musical instrument). The essence of Durga puja is incomplete without dhak. It is a drum like instrument played with the help of two sticks. People dance to the beat of the instrument every time they hear it. The eighth day, Maha Ashtami, is the most important day. People fast in the morning and pray to Maa Durga by giving anjali, a form of prayer where you repeat all the chants after the priest and then ask Maa Durga to grant your wishes. A lot of people decide to do nirjalavrath which is fasting without drinking even a drop of water. The first drop of water that is provided is the charanamrita (Charan = feet, amrita= holy water) which means holy water from the goddess’ feet, meaning her blessings. The afternoon is followed by a delicious vegan meal. In the evening everyone gets together and people go around seeing the different pandals in the area.

The festival is not limited to only the worshipping and music. With the influx of the modern world and growth in economy, most districts host a numerous number of puja locations. Each location has its own pandal and statues.

There is a competition held in Kolkata (formally known as Calcutta) for which area has the best theme for the pandal for the year’s celebration. Everyone builds a unique pandal starting from the remake of the famous temples and architectures, to a very creative pandal representing the heaven and the fight between Mahishasur and goddess Durga. This year some of the themes were library, carving on one single wood log, etc.

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On the ninth day, Maha Navami, we have The Maha Navami Yajna (chanting of vedic mantra and offerings). This yajna is important because it is believed to get rid of one’s future troubles. The night of Maha Navami is the last night of celebration but the tenth night and the visarjan (submerging the statues in the water so the clay can melt away and settle on the sea/river bed) is also done with great enthusiasm. On the tenth day married women come to the pandal wearing a red and white saree and powdered vermillion (known as sindoor in Bengali), since it is the symbol of a married woman, much like the ring on your left hand in the Western world. They offer the sindoor to all the goddesses and gods by pouring a little on their feet and putting a dot on their forehead and also offer sweets (dessert items made out of milk mostly). Once they are done offering, they start the sindoor khela which is playing with the vermillion that was offered. They put the powder on each other’s face and offer each other sweets as a symbol of a healthy and blessed future. Later in the afternoon the statues are loaded on trucks and driven to the holy water of Ganges for the visarjan. People dance to the beat of either dhak or play music very loud to give Maa Durga a happy and grand departure. It is a procession where people dance like there is no worry in the world. They announce the departure of Maa Durga and her companions to everyone around them, even though the tenth day signifies the end of celebration and is usually a sad affair, the celebration uplifts the mood. And thus, the saying goes “ashche bochhor abar hobe,” meaning it will happen again next year.

Photo #1 The Library Theme
Photo #2 Carved on a Wooden Log
Photo #3 The entrance resembles medieval Indian palaces. With elephants adorning the gates and soldiers lined up, it looks like the era of the Kings and Queens have returned for a celebration so grand.

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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 North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Srijita Kar

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

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Fourteen — Fargo, the Economic Development of My Home Town, by Adam Wilson

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Fourteen — Fargo, the Economic Development of My Home Town, by Adam Wilson

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When one thinks of a “boom” town they typically think of 1850s San Francisco or of the luxurious Dubai skyline but rarely do people think about my hometown Fargo, North Dakota. In a decade that’s seen nationwide economic decline Fargo and North Dakota have been the exception and has become the model of economic prosperity. What has separated Fargo and North Dakota from the rest of the United States, especially with its less than ideal weather and relatively small population? The discovery of the Bakken Shale oil formation in Western North Dakota along with a highly trained work force and low cost of living has made North Dakota attractive to thousands of people in the last decade.

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Fargo’s economy however, is not reliant on the oil formations in the west but is a central and diversified hub for education, healthcare, agriculture industry, and technology.

Fargo is home to Great Plains Software which was bought by Microsoft and employs more than a three thousand people in the Fargo area and plans on expanding that in the future.  Also making a home in Fargo is Pedigry Technologies which is an equipment tracking company. Another major employer is Sanford and Essentia Health Systems which have 2 major hospitals in the city and Sanford is currently building a $495 million dollar hospital that will be completed by 2017. The new hospital is projected to spur massive economic impact of roughly $1 billion dollars within five years of its completion. Along with healthcare and technology Fargo is home to construction and mining equipment tycoon Caterpillar Incorporated which is fits perfectly with the city’s arguably most important characteristic- agriculture. Fargo is surrounded by farmlands which are home to one of the largest sugar companies in the nation Crystal Sugar. Crystal Sugar Company also is estimated to make around a $1 billion dollar economic impact per year in the region making it vital the Fargo’s economy.

Often forgotten, is that Fargo is home to 30,000 college students from North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University Moorhead, and Concordia college. The college atmosphere is so prevalent that it has attracted the likes of ESPN’s “College Game Day” which is a national college football broadcast show. The city’s new found success has led to a $200 million dollar “Renaissance” of the downtown district which included new affordable housing and a revamp of store fronts and parks. The Renaissance of downtown was essential to bringing a central entertainment district to the heart of the city. The entertainment sector has the reemergence of the historic Fargo Theater which is now routinely filled with many popular music concerts that cater to the college students of the city. Downtown’s increased importance has helped connect the sprawling new developments of houses and malls that now surround Fargo and West Fargo.

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Fargo’s growth seems only to be in the early stages of what could be decades of prosperity. Its low crime rate, low unemployment, and low cost of living makes this the perfect destination for educated hard working individuals. With the city’s population at 105,000 and a metro population nearing 200,000 there is great opportunity and room for growth. America’s newest “boom” town is not a fluke and is not the result of western oil but rather a collection of diverse industries that are run by a well trained and educated workforce. The winters are cold in Fargo, North Dakota but the economic environment is scorching with opportunity and employment.

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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.

4 Comments

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

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Thirteen — Martyr’s Park, China, by Brock Erdahl

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Thirteen — Martyr’s Park, China, by Brock Erdahl

Martyr’s Park

Martyrs Park 2

Like any other country in the world, wars and other military conflicts have played an important role in shaping Chinese national identity and historical memory.  The influence of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and Chinese Civil War (1927-1936 and 1946-1950) are particularly strong due to their proximity to the present and the involvement of the Chinese Communist Party in both.  The veterans of these two wars are remembered today as heroes who helped to end the country’s century of humiliation at the hands of foreign invaders and establish communism in China.  Martyrs Park, which is located across the road from a shopping mall in downtown Zhuhai, pays tribute to these veterans.  It contains a series of tombstones, statues, relief, and small museum that connects local history with that of China at large.

Martyrs Park 1

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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.

6 Comments

Filed under Brock M. Erdahl, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang