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NSR concludes its 2015-2016 publication schedule. A Keynote Address and Reflections- by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR editors Bryce Gadke and Sara Tomlinson. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

NSR concludes its 2015-2016 publication schedule. A Keynote Address and Reflections – by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR editors Bryce Gadke and Sara Tomlinson. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

2016 spring coverage BMed

[The North Star Reports  global areas of coverage, 253 original articles, student written and edited,  in less than three years.]

Reflections on Farcebook after the keynote speech. The North Star Reports and the spirit of gratitude and service. “Everywhere i go, my elders travel by my side. i stayed up all night fussing over a keynote address for the Lake Superior Writing Summit. it is a great honor to be invited, and wonderful to share the excellent work of hundreds of The North Star Reports’ student writers and editors. as i fussed, it occurred to me that our main mission statement, “Those of us fortunate enough to receive an education, and to travel, have an ethical obligation to serve others” is tied to the lessons taught by my paternal grandmother. sold as a child bride, she worked since youth as a farm laborer, endured a lifetime of humiliation, toil and poverty — yet the thing she regretted the most, the thing that made her the saddest, is that she was not allowed to go to school and died in her 90s illiterate. ironically, or maybe not, she raised a family of scholars and teachers, and would spend weekend afternoons watching us read — always with that look of sadness and wonderment. a door left closed to her that she opened for her children and grandchildren. i think of this often, and share this story with my students, because on a day to day basis, there are plenty of things to complain about, to worry about. it is useful to remind one selves of how fortunate we are, to be grateful, and to remember the obligation to serve that comes with this good fortune. though gone for decades, not a day goes by that i do not think of these elders, my paternal and maternal grandparents, and the lessons they left for us, and how much more i have to do to honor them. when our elders travel with us, we are never alone.” Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., publisher and editor in chief, The North Star Reports

North Star Reports Keynote 2016 Script plus FB 2.0 Professor Liang

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[From Lake Superior Summit on the Teaching of Writing and English as a Second Language 2016 Keynote Address. Photo courtesy of Professor Jamie White-Farnham.]

One of the most interesting takeaways I got from the entire speech occurred before the speech was actually presented. Professor Zelman (currently my professor for first year composition) said, “Hello Bryce, I’m glad you could come to the keynote speech. This is a great opportunity to see what English professors do regularly outside the classroom.” My first reaction to his comment was confusion because I was unaware of what the entire day entailed as a summit for writing was just getting underway. Secondly, I asked myself is Professor Liang giving a speech to a room full of English teachers and professors? After the speech I collected documents from the table at the entrance and read what some of the other speeches would be on the rest of the day and realized that having the speech for NSR as the keynote was fitting. During the speech I also realized a form of translation (how we discussed in class and you touched on in your speech) that was not evident to me when discussing in class. I take for granted my participation in NSR comments and annotating news articles because that has been steady for me not only this semester, but also first semester. Now I can fully realize the grander themes at play when I am commenting and annotating, also hopefully writing for, in the near future. I think that the general interest in the topic was high in the audience. Teachers and professors from around the area may develop more of an interest in the future for participation, which seemed evident by the intrigue level as I looked around the room during the speech and during the question portion at the end. Not only does going further in-depth on the everyday occurrences of NSR help by providing a general understanding for those that are unaware; it provides perspective for those involved in the process and allows development of a deeper understanding and appreciation in one’s own work and the always present hard work that you put forth for not only your students, but also students in the surrounding area. The students you don’t have that participate in one way or another is a number that I surely assume will grow in the near future. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the NSR team.

Bryce Gadke, social media editor, The North Star Reports

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While listening to Professor Liang tell others about our organization, he offered us all an insight into why he is inspired to devote his time and energy to this cause. As many of us know, time is something we do not have very much of. Each day is slowly chipped away by both commitments and things we enjoy doing. If we are lucky enough, those two things overlap and we enjoy the majority of where our time goes. Listening to Professor Liang was a great reminder of why those of us involved in the North Star Reports do what we do. We want to create an inclusive learning environment while always keeping diversity in mind. His speech brought those values back to the forefront, and renewed my drive to be a positive influence for our readers.

Sara Tomlinson, social media editor, The North Star Reports

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[Photo courtesy of editor Gadke] For more information on the Lake Superior Writing Summit, see https://www.facebook.com/groups/1038859289462215/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series — How to Teach When Students Won’t Talk to You – The North Star Reports – by Laura Blasena. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series — How to Teach When Students Won’t Talk to You – The North Star Reports – by Laura Blasena. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

1LauraTalk

I am tall, and have light brown eyes and light brown hair.

(My hair is definitely light brown, but everybody in Colombia assures me that I do, in fact, have blonde hair. I`ve been told to “not be modest” about my hair color when I try to argue, as if having almost-blonde hair is a great personal achievement).

It isn´t a big deal in Minnesota, but my goodness it`s a big deal here.

As a white person growing up in Minnesota I never experienced what it meant to be the “other”. I was never a foreigner and I was never what could be considered, in any way, “different”. While the sudden shock of becoming utterly and completely “other” when I moved to Bogota was just that —a shock— I know that I will look back on this experience as incredibly valuable.

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I am not a large, imposing person. I have issues twisting caps off of plastic water bottles — I am not strong.

Before moving to Bogota, I would have laughed if somebody told me that they were afraid of me. In fact, I did laugh (or, at least chuckle) the first time one of the English professors informed me that the students were shy and afraid to talk to me. I didn’t believe him, until I tried to communicate with students.
In many classes, I am lucky if the students speak Spanish to me. (An English conversation is a far-off dream).

Students will ask questions to the teacher and try to use the teacher as a medium to communicate with me. When I refuse to answer the question unless I receive it directly from the student (Spanish or English—I am just desperate for communication) the students will often shake their heads, look away, and laugh and giggle to their classmates. These students are of a traditional college age (18-22) or, in most cases, older than 22 and older than me.

My favorite conversation with a student went as follows:
I sit down in the classroom in a desk at the far side of the room, waiting for students to finish arriving so that I can begin my activity. I turn to the student next to me and say in Spanish , “Hi, my name is Laura. I am the English assistant here. What’s your name?”

Rather than answer my question, the student turns behind to her friend and loudly exclaims, “Oh my God! She’s a foreigner,” while her friend stares at me with wide eyes.

They tell me that I`m scary.

It`s frustrating, but the English professors constantly remind me that for some of the students I am the only foreigner that they have ever met. While I find it hard to believe that I am literally the only foreigner that they have met in a large city like Bogota, it`s very possible that I am the only foreigner that they have been forced to talk to.

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(Sometimes I feel like my English students are like these angry, wet pigeons. Me speaking English to them is like water. They’re flooded with the language when I speak to them, but they just let it flow around them like an annoyance. They sit in the water/English class just because it’s a requirement for them to graduate.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. 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 publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, Colombia, Norway, northeastern China, Nicaragua, Micronesia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, El Salvador, England, Finland, Russia, Cyprus, and Haiti. We also publish student reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis 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. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

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

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

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

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A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series — Aguadulce and Teaching – The North Star Reports – by Laura Blasena. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series — Aguadulce and Teaching – The North Star Reports – by Laura Blasena. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

All Fulbright ETAs in Colombia are required to complete, in addition to their thirty hours of work at their placement university, a fifteen hour social project somewhere in the area of the community that they are placed in.

For me, with a background in education and a desire to eventually return to the United States and teach, I wanted my social project to involve elementary education. As luck would have it, one of my fellow Fulbrighters ended up choosing to temporarily live in the guest house of an organization that runs eco-tours in the Bogota area and, on the side, runs a wonderful organization called InterChange Colombia. Interchange Colombia works with two communities outside of Bogota, the first being Quinini (a farming community) and Aguadulce.

Aguadulce is the community that I volunteer in. Every Monday morning, I wake up at 5:30 AM to take public transport to a bus station in the south of the city and then take another, smaller, bus 45 minutes outside of Bogota and arrive at the rural school by 8:00. As the bus climbs up the mountainside at the edge of Bogota, the temperature drops and the cement and city buildings are replaced with tall trees that eventually give way to the short shrubs of the Paramo, a type of ecosystem present in the mountains surrounding Bogota.

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[Photo 1: The view from the playground at Aguadulce, featuring a shrine to the Virgin Mary. The school is public, but each classroom features religious statues, and the students study religion on Wednesdays.

The bus winds along a small, two-lane road, passing small farm houses and small cafeterias. The trip there is peaceful, but the way back is often terrifying. When driving back to Bogota, the bus has to drive on the side of the road at the edge of a cliff, and, with many people and my students crowded onto the bus bound for Bogota, I often have to stand smashed against the window of the bus, staring down into the ravine with only a small metal fence and a few feet of dirt separating the bus tires from the edge.

The school serves students from Kindergarten to 5th grade. Kindergarten, second, and fifth grade are in one classroom, and first and fourth grade are in another classroom. Each classroom has one teacher, and each grade level works independently on homework assignments, consulting the teacher occasionally when they have questions or if they think they have finished an assignment and want to turn it in. Understandably, not much work gets done most days, and the students spend a large amount of time arguing with each other, wandering around the classroom, or simply not completing their assignment because they receive very little direct help from the teachers.

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[Photo 2]

When I teach English, I teach in grade groups of two (fifth and fourth, third and second, first and Kindergarten) using the white board in the larger classroom while the rest of the students that are not in the English class crowd in the back of the room and work quietly on math homework.

As with teaching the university students at my placement in Bogota, teaching students in Aguadulce proved to be a challenge at first. Copying down information is a large part of the curriculum in all subject areas in Aguadulce, and their social studies assignments are sometimes literally dictation assignments, where one student reads from the textbook and the rest copy down the sentences. It took a while for the students to become accustomed to activities that involved moving around, drawing, and different sorts of games, but the fact that they’ve had other volunteer teachers (Interchange Colombia has sent volunteer interns to the school once a week in the past), so the learning curve was fairly smooth.

The best part of the school day is certainly the “food break” (not lunch) that takes place at 11:00 every day and lasts until the teachers feel like calling the students back into the classroom.

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[Photo 3: It’s raining and freezing almost every day in Aguadulce. Whenever it’s sunny, the students stay outside longer playing, flying kites, running around, and lounging in the grass behind the school.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. 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 publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, Colombia, Norway, northeastern China, Nicaragua, Micronesia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, El Salvador, England, Finland, Russia, Cyprus, and Haiti. We also publish student reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis 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. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

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

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

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

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Ten — Teaching in Chuuk, Micronesia, by James Merle

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Ten — Teaching in Chuuk, Micronesia, by James Merle

Post one

I arrived in Chuuk, one of the four states that make up the South Pacific country of Micronesia, at around 1:00 pm on July 15th, 2013. The island that I will call home for the next ten months goes by the name Weno, but it is pronounced like “wee-tah.” The island is about 10 square miles with three large mountains, one of which I have climbed with a local boy, Junior, who brought a long machete with him to hack away at the jungle that was trying to swallow us.

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My writing will focus on my experiences as a WorldTeach volunteer. I teach 11th grade Sociology at one of the three high schools on the island, and I also co-teach a guitar and ukulele after school course, and I am one of the Student Council facilitators. While the island is small, it is crowded. 1400 students alone attend Chuuk High School. I will paint as best a portrait as I can of what it is like living here with my descriptions and pictures.

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Being a young teacher in a foreign country has been extremely challenging at times. My students have a wide range of academic skills ranging from those who are considering attending college in the US, to those who only speak a handful of English words. Our school currently lacks the resources to provide students with everything they need, but it is in the midst of reform. New qualifications for teachers are helping Chuuk to better uphold certain educational standards, and the United States also provides funding to each of the four states of Micronesia: Yap, Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Chuuk, which can be used for education, among other things. Education past the 8th grade level is entirely optional for students, which adds another layer of difficulties in the classroom.

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Since Chuuk is located just north of the equator, it is a very hot place to live. The temperature hangs right around 85 degrees all year round, and there is also a great deal of humidity. Most days it rains at least once, and sometimes it rains for days without stopping. Thus, I haven’t worn anything but sandals and shorts since I have arrived.

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Family situations are very different here than in the United States, where most people live in small groups with only their immediate relatives. In Chuuk, however, families live on large compounds which house twenty or more people who are loosely related by Western standards. Chuukese families are called clans, and they range from 200 to over 1000 people. Most of the volunteers, including myself, live on compounds with families. The compound I live on has three puppies living in an abandoned freezer right outside my kitchen door, several roosters who roam freely, and a full-grown pig stays in a pen at the back of the compound. 5 other households are on the compound as well, including a young boy named Macgenius and girl named Jina.

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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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