Tag Archives: The Middle Ground Journal

Venezuela to the U.S. – Home, Food, and the Little Things in Life – The North Star Reports – by Maria Olivares. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Venezuela to the U.S. – Home, Food, and the Little Things in Life – The North Star Reports – by Maria Olivares. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Chocolate_with_churros
[Photo credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Churro#mediaviewer/File:Chocolate_with_churros.jpg%5D

Life is in the little details, or so the saying goes. We go about our day thinking about bigger and brighter things—when the next paper is due, where we are going to meet for a date, what we are having for dinner—and often times overlook that which is foundational to a sense of normalcy. We ignore the small things that make our life ours. Try to think about it: what is one small thing that, if absent, would make your day feel off? Maybe it is patterned duct tape, maybe it is the salty smell of the ocean carried by the wind through your window, maybe it is the secret ingredient your mom uses for that special dinner you love. For me, it is churros.

Churros are fried pastries that originated in Spain. They are elongated and thin and have ridges because when they are made, the dough is funneled into an oil-filled pan through a baking sleeve that has a star-shaped nozzle. Churros are topped with sugar or dipped in caramel or chocolate. Some people like to roll them in cinnamon or drink them with hot cocoa and coffee for breakfast or snack time. These pastries are usually sold in churrerias or from street carts in Spain and Latin America. In my country, Venezuela, we have specific stores dedicated to selling churros and I, as a child, used to visit them occasionally with my sister and my mother.

I wasn’t a big fan of churros growing up. While I enjoyed them, they were a rarity for me and did not form part of my home culture. It was just one more store we passed by the mall that sold yummy things—a business with the magical power to make that dessert that my mother and I once or twice tried to make but had seared in oil. Churros were just…there.

When I moved to the Duluth, Minnesota for college, churros were the last thing on my mind. I was too distracted by all the novelty the United States could provide: stocked shelves at the supermarket, the sense of safety going around town at any time of day, and brightly-colored aisles devoted to M&M’s, Reese’s, and other candies that were foreign and rare to me. Starting college did not allow for much time to think about churros either, and so two years came and went with churros only coming up in conversation maybe twice when speaking to other international students about how different life in Duluth is compared to home and how sometimes we miss the simple pleasures of feeling a supermarket is yours instead of feeling relegated to an ethnic food section.

One fateful day, my friends and I made plans to meet for dinner at the cafeteria of our college. I went down the stairs and basked in the smell of melted cheese and toasted corn and, thinking it’d be Taco Tuesday, I strolled in and there they were: a plate of inch-long, cinnamon-covered churros. They were toasty and brown and warm and I could not help but tear up when I looked at them. It was like a long-lost lover reunion with a small mountain of doughy deliciousness. Ecstatic, I told all my friends. I told the other people in line. I came up to the person in charge of the cafeteria and hugged them. I was in Duluth, Minnesota, where the Hispanic isles carried Taco Bell desserts, and I had found a homely dish that, though quite different from what I was used to at home, came close enough to the original to click in my soul.

That night I had about twelve churros and a tummy ache, but I also realized how important these little desserts were to me. It was not only about food, or nostalgia. It was a matter of representation. Seeing a piece of home after such a long time in such a remote place was like a validation of my existence. It was a symbol of lazy weekend afternoons with my family strolling in a tiny mall; of hunting to find the ingredients for recipes when milk, eggs, and sugar are scarce; of the life I used to live. Seeing it on campus, my new home, was proof that I had once led that life. It was a reminder of how we can live comfortably in bubbles of reality we have created, forgetting or not realizing that the little details in our lives make them what they are or that people from other places don’t have the same little details or even big details like shelter, water, and safety.


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 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 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 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, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, 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.

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: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. 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 chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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

Food and Rituals – Thanksgiving (US) — The North Star Reports – by Allison Brennhofer. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Food and Rituals – Thanksgiving (US) — The North Star Reports – by Allison Brennhofer. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

alliethanksgiving

Thanksgiving with my family was a little different this year. Instead of being held at my grandparent’s house, we had it at my house, which involved us cooking the turkey. Or rather, us putting my grandma on speakerphone while she coached us through the process. Despite the new surroundings for our holiday, we still had the same traditions. Football is huge for my family and I play along the best that I can. We make a ten-by-ten grid on a piece of paper and make boxes out of the grid. Along one axis is one team’s name, and along the other is the competing team. For the life of me I couldn’t tell you who the teams were. Numbers from one to ten are randomly assigned to each box, both down and across the paper. Everyone purchases squares for ten cents each, the usual amount being ten. Then, at each quarter of the game, we check the score and whoever owns the square which lands at the intersection of the last two numbers of the scores (for example, if the score is 17-23, 7 and 3 would be the numbers to find) wins that round.

This year, we started a new tradition that I was more involved in. We had a Texas hold-em tournament, which I wasn’t too sure about until I snagged second place and a $4 cash prize. Games are taken very seriously in my house, and my success amazed my family members because I am known as the one who cannot bluff or lie to save my life.

One of my absolute favorite traditions is making my great-grandma’s cinnamon rolls. She taught me how to make them a few years ago and always insisted that mine were better than hers, which I knew was a lie but appreciated immensely nonetheless. She was one of my favorite people in the world. Unfortunately, she passed away in November of 2013, a month shy of turning 103. It’s been a little hard to make the rolls knowing she won’t be there to eat them, but that’s why I have to keep on making them. Every time I do, I remember her and what an amazing person she was.

Another, newer tradition we’ve been doing is my grandma gives each of us grandchildren $10 and by Christmas, we are supposed to have donated it to some cause that we think deserves it and have a little explanation as to why we did so. I enjoy this new tradition because it reminds me to be grateful for the things I have and for my family every day.


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 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 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 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, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, 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.

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: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. 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 chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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

What’s in a name? – Identity and Story Telling Through Names – The North Star Reports – by Tayler Boelk. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

What’s in a name? – Identity and Story Telling Through Names – — The North Star Reports – by Tayler Boelk. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Names are a way of communicating. They indicate to whom we are speaking, alert us when someone wants our attention, and let us know how much trouble we are in (when mom pulls out the middle name, it’s a lot!) Last names, however, are a slightly different. These names indicate cultural information, such as heritage. For example, by hearing my last name, a number of inferences can be made. “Boelk” is a German-sounding name. From this, people can assume I have German heritage, that I am white, probably blonde, and that I drink a lot of beer. For three out of four of these, they’d be correct. Now, take the last name “Lopez”. Does the same mental image appear? Probably not.

In addition to heritage, names have the potential to tell stories. I’m sure everyone can think of a relative or friend who was named after a grandparent or celebrity. But what about last names? Is there a story behind a German sounding “Voelk” changed to an English sounding “Boelk?” How about my mother’s side of the family being named “Johnson” in Norway and suddenly switching to “Lillo” after immigration? I think so.

My great grandmother, on my mother’s side, did extensive amounts of research on family heritage and genealogy. It is for this reason that I am sharing the story of the Johnson/Lillo’s rather than the “Voelk’s” (investigation pending.) This name change is an important part of my family history and tells the story of my family’s immigration to the United States.
Taylername1
[The Lille O farm’s main building, which was over 200 years old.]

There were several small islands in the river that ran along the “Lille O” farm in Christiana, Norway. The name Lilloe means “Little Island” in Norwegian. The first “Lillo” to own the Lille O farm purchased it at auction on April 17th, 1792. Andreas Johnson inherited the farm from his father on December 29th, 1842. Though it is now a public park in present day Oslo, this farm remained in the Lillo family for 109 years.
Taylername2
[This goblet that was owned by Christian Ancher, the original owner of the Lille O Farm, can be found in the Oslo Museum of applied art. It is dated 1764.]

According to the world history encyclopedia, about 10.2 million people immigrated to the U.S. during 1820-1880, this included an entire 1/3 of Norway’s population. Andreas Johnson and his family immigrated to the U.S. in two groups. The first group was two of the eldest children, including Johann Johnson, who left Christiana, Norway on March 27th, 1854. They lived in Wisconsin until the second group of Andreas, his wife, and the rest of the children arrived about three years later. They then moved to Minnesota where there is record of an Andreas Jensen buying land in 1857, in Salem Township. This was before Minnesota had become a state.
Taylername3
[Photograph of a cartoon my great grandmother kept pinned with her immigration research. I found cartoons frequently as I went through her work.]

Johann Johnson, Andreas’ eldest son, was the first in the family to officially change his last name to Lillo. This was documented in the 1870 census and was entered as “Lelo” by the census taker. Taking the name of a family farm was a common, and legal, practice in Norway. Magnus, Andreas’ youngest son, did not begin using the name Lillo until he applied for a post office in Minnesota. He was told there were too many Johnson’s and changed the last name to Lillo some time in 1898 keeping Johnson as a middle name. The town of Lillo remained on Minnesota maps until the 1930’s and Lillo has forever replaced Johnson as my family’s surname.
Taylername4
[Information recorded by my Great Grandmother during her research]
Taylername5
[Photograph of Minnesota Map still depicting the town of Lillo]
Taylername6
[Photocopy of a postcard sent from the town of Lillo]

Magnus was my great, great, great grandfather and as a result of him applying for a post office, I am a Lillo. Had the family name remained “Johnson”, there would never have been the town of Lillo and the story of the Lille O Farm may have been lost over the years. This is my favorite example of how a name, or the changing of a name, tells a story.


Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for 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. The NSR is co-sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. 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, please contact Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under History, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Professor Liang's Classes, Tayler Boelk

Haiti, Children, School, and Important Lessons — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Dennika Mays

Haiti_%28orthographic_projection%29

Haiti, Children, School, and Important Lessons — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Dennika Mays

On January 12, 2012, I went on a trip to Haiti. I stayed there for 4 months as part of a study abroad trip that I created myself. I had the opportunity to travel all around the country and even went to the Dominican Republic for a day. Haiti has so many palm trees, people, and all different types of food. Most of the people I met in Haiti were very nice to me. They would always greet me with a “Bonswa, madam” [Good day, miss] or “Bonwi, madam” [Good evening, miss] and a bright smile. I also visited a few different schools around the country and met many children in Haiti. The children in Haiti have to wear uniforms to school, and each school has a different color scheme. For example, some schools have a blue and white color scheme, while other schools wear brown and orange colors. Each school is different. Every day after school, kids walk home, and I would see the many different colors of all of their uniforms. After staying a while in Haiti, I could tell which school a kid attended by simply looking at the colors on his or her uniform.

Many kids in Haiti can afford to go to school, but there are also students who don’t have to money to go. These children  stay at home and help with chores around the house. I met many kids in Haiti who can’t read or write because they didn’t have enough money to pay for school fees and a uniform. But the President of Haiti has been working hard to get poor kids in school so they can have an education and a good meal. The President in Haiti started a school program for kids who can’t afford to go to school and now hundreds of kids are in the program.

Seeing the children of Haiti made me think about growing up as a kid in the U.S. My family was poor and didn’t always have money for food, but the education system had a program for my family and I was able to attend school and have a good lunch. Seeing many poor kids in Haiti reminded me of myself growing up, and it made me grateful for everything I have now. I now have clothes, food, running water, electricity, and access to education. I didn’t always have those things and living in Haiti reminded me of that. It also reminded me to always be grateful for everything I have because I know what it’s like to live without things like running water, electricity, heating, air condition, and food.

Photo (map) credit: “Haiti (orthographic projection)” by Connormah – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Haiti_(orthographic_projection).svg#mediaviewer/File:Haiti_(orthographic_projection).svg

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

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

The North Star Project 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 Project. The North Star Project 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

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

Micronesia, Language and Globalization — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By James Merle

Micronesian_Cultural_Area

Micronesia, Language and Globalization — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By James Merle

One of the most challenging aspects about teaching abroad is the language barrier. I have had to adapt lessons to students who I know going in will only understand a handful of words I say. Much effort goes in to selecting the type of language I will use to explain things I never thought I would need to explain.

Due to a lack of resources, I have been trying to teach geography to my lower level Social Studies classes from a book written for young Americans. There are no English textbooks written from the perspective of a Pacific Islander available to our school. This is challenging because the geography of the United States is far different from that in Chuuk. Chuukese have no concept of seasons because the only season here is summer. The only way I could explain snow was by asking if anyone has looked at their freezer when the frost builds up. What!? That stuff falls from the sky?

One way to draw students into participating, I have found, is to use their local language. At the beginning of the year, two of my classes of thirty students knew as much English as I knew Chuukese, and while they have made progress, we still struggle to understand each other.

Language has challenged Chuukese culture throughout its history. The Germans bought the islands from Spain in 1899, who colonized Micronesia back in the 16th century. The Japanese occupied the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) from 1914–1945, claiming the islands after World War I. After World War II the United Nations declared Micronesia a Trust Territory, in which the United States would serve as the Security Trustee of the area. The FSM has been under a compact of free association with the U.S. since 1986.

These changes of global powers occupying the area have meant a change in language each time. While few elders speak English, they are well-versed in Japanese. I once had a student write to me saying, why should I come and learn English when nobody else in my family speaks it? If I speak it too much, then maybe I will forget my native language and not even be able to talk to them.

For the Chuukese, the local language binds them together despite the constant flux of outside influences.
Map from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micronesia#mediaviewer/File:Micronesian_Cultural_Area.png


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

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

The North Star Project 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 Project. The North Star Project 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

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. 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 Project 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.

28 Comments

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