The Burden of Honor

Writing this post has been a very difficult and long process. When I made the commitment to write this post I thought it would be very easy to write about this topic, I would just have to enter some statistics and I would be all set. But as I started settling in in Delhi and started experiencing it again, this became very personal for me. This article today talks about the Indian society but that doesn’t mean it is limited to the Indian society.

Women in India have been deemed the Bearers of Honor for centuries now. It is almost as if all of family’s respect depends on the girl. If the girl goes out for late-nights, she is perceived to have bad morals and upbringing, but if a boy doesn’t come home for days he’s just being a boy. A girl is supposed to dress appropriately, carry herself off in the right way and god forbid she experiences any sort of assault or abuse. She is marred for life. No one wants to marry a girl who has been raped because she is deemed impure. She must have done something to provoke the rapist. It’s all on her. And due to this stigma, thousands of girls don’t even get the courage to report these cases.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau 2013 annual report, 24,923 rape cases were reported across India in 2012. Out of these, relative or neighbor committed 24,470; in other words, the victim knew the alleged rapist in 98 per cent of the cases. This bad reputation that India has gained over the past couple of years is also affecting the economy, there has been a significant drop in the tourism of India, especially when it comes to single female travellers, 36% drop to be precise.

Though things are not as bad as they sound, India actually has a better track record when it comes to rapes when compared to the United States. Compared to other developed and developing countries, incidence rates of rape per 100,000 people are quite low in India. The National Crime Records Bureau suggests a rape rate of 2 per 100,000 people. This compares to 8.1 rapes per 100,000 people in Western Europe, 14.7 per 100,000 in Latin America, 40.2 per 100,000 in the Southern African region and 28.6 in the United States.

But statistics aside, I have been back in India for 3 months now and I miss the freedom of wearing shorts and just walking around the neighborhood without being stared at or maybe I miss feeling safe when I am somewhere out late in the night with my friends. I miss not being judged for my habits or daily routine by not just the men in the society, but sadly enough, by the women too. I have a curfew time to be back home by—I am 20 years old but my parents still don’t allow me to be out too late. When I ask my mother “why is it so” she has the same reply, “We trust you, but we don’t trust the world.” Can I blame her for her attitude considering all that has happened in the city in past years? Absolutely not.

There are a lot of regulations and laws in place, but are they enough to solve a problem as old and complicated as this? We are talking about eradicating centuries of patriarchal and misogynistic ideologies and traditions. The only way we can help remove this devil from our society is by training our next generations. If they grow up in a society where there is gender equality, women and men are treated with equal amount of respect, everyone is held equally responsible for their crimes, their fathers treat their mothers and sisters with dignity and pride, and they have a right to speak up against wrong, then these heinous thoughts won’t even cross their minds. Rape is more than sexual perversion of an Individual, is it a parasitic evil fed by our society—fed by each and every one of us.

-Radhika Sharma

The Silent No: On the college sexual assault pandemic

The internet was taken by storm last week by news of an unsanctioned fraternity party at Texas Tech that displayed horrifically crude decorations that promoted sexual violence and misogyny. The Phi Delta Theta fraternity came under fire for hosting a hurricane theme party on September 19th that featured a sprinkler disguised in the shape of a vagina, which operated throughout the night “spraying” those passing by. Deciding that such objectification of women was not distasteful enough for their standards, they decided to display a banner – their pièce de résistance – which bore the message in blood red paint “No Means Yes, Yes Means Anal”. Parodying the mantra of the pro-consent movement “No Means No, Only Yes Means Yes”, this elegant centerpiece highlights the casual attitude that certain sub-cultures of colleges take towards sexual violence. While it is n-NO-MEANS-YES-large570somewhat satisfying to hear that the fraternity was disbanded and members were mandated to undergo sexual assault prevention and bystander behavior education, it is alarming that this incident is symptomatic of a greater problem that exists in colleges. The Washington Post reports that more than 70 colleges and universities are under investigation after accusations of improperly handling sexual assault cases. Sexual violence committed by fraternities map on to the overall trends that we see in this issue. Women are not the only victims and survivors of violence—all genders suffer at the receiving end of cruel and inhuman treatment. For instance, a male Penn State student committed suicide this March after being hazed by members of Phi Sigma Kappa. His parents found messages explaining that pledges had to choose between penetrating themselves with a sex toy and snorting cocaine. Two studies conducted in 2007 and 2009 by NASPA, the professional group for student affairs administrators in higher education, found that fraternity members were three times as likely to commit rape as the average college student. The natural response to many of these charges has been to ban Greek life. Many protest this move on several grounds; not all chapters or members are guilty—the Greek system has tangible benefits to its members and universities, and that ban would simply displace problematic activity to the unregulated periphery. Despite the truth in some of these claims, the mounting evidence indicates that more must be done to correct the utter disregard for human life that prevails in certain aspects of Greek life.

Many of you may read this and breathe a sigh of relief as we do not have Greek life at Clark. However, it is wrong to consider sexual assault as something endemic to only fraternities and sororities. Sexual violence exists in any college, and Clark is no exception. Many of us see the liberal, inclusive and informed environment of our campus and assume that we as a college are above such barbarism, but prevalence statistics indicate that Clark students experience their fair share of violence. It is not some distant threat, it is real. It is unknown because we as a culture silence survivors, stifle discussion and choose to look the other way. While at a training on sexual assault prevention, I was struck by one particular concept that (regrettably) commonplace incidents (like heckling and sexist jokes) if allowed to slide unchecked, precipitate a culture that normalizes sexual violence. Many of us (myself included) have qualms regarding involvement in what we consider to be an intensely private realm – sexual and romantic relationships. Even more troubling is having to delve into the gray area of implied sexism and inappropriate comments. That conundrum of “Is it a joke, or something more serious? Am I the person to speak up?” plagues us all. While these concerns are normal and human, we must learn to overcome them and be proactive in the defense of those suffering in silence. In celebration of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, let us move towards a society that does not prey upon its own. You want to know the significance of our somewhat obscure motto? It has meaning in times like this, guiding us to challenge these archaic, deeply rooted norms and make a change for the better.

- Themal Ellawala

Sources: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/12/colleges-fraternities-under-fire-for-hazing-deaths/#ixzz3G5PgnvnH ; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/08/texas-tech-frat-no-means-yes_n_5953302.html

How Sustainable is Your Seafood?

When deciding which grocery store to shop at, many people consider prices, food quality, and value. Some of the more privileged of us also consider organic, GMO-free options, or cruelty free products. But when it comes to buying seafood, what is the most responsible and sustainable choice to make?

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), 77% of wild fish stocks are either fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted. Many fisheries have had to close because of such stark declines in fish stocks. One of the most famous examples of this is the Cod fishery off of the coast of New Foundland Canada that closed in 1993 and still has not recovered. Global fish consumption, however, continues to rise. It is a primary source of protein for many countries, but is particularly important in many developing nations such as the Bahamas and the Philippines. American trends are mirroring global trends and are also increasing rapidly. When you buy seafood at a grocery store you are told where it was caught and whether or not it is wild caught or farm raised, but it isn’t labeled as sustainable or not. So how do we eat and buy responsibly in a market with very unclear labeling? In 2013, Greenpeace conducted a study looking at all of the species of seafood sold at a number of popular American grocery stores. They then rated them on a scale from 1 to 10 based on how sustainably caught the seafood sold in their store is.

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What does it really mean to be sustainably caught? For seafood to be sustainably caught, it must be a species that is not considered endangered or at risk of becoming endangered. It also must have been caught legally which implies that it must be large enough and within the allowable quota for that fish stock. It must also have been caught with very little bycatch. Bycatch is unintended species caught or killed during commercial fishing. The accidental capture of turtles, sharks, dolphins, and even birds is more common than you may think.

What can we do to make a difference? As college students, we often want to get behind these causes and help out, but usually don’t have a lot of money to make a difference. If you notice, there are stores like Trader Joes, Target, and Price Chopper on the upper half of this score card which are near us. If we continue down the path that we are currently on of consuming unsustainably caught fish, we may completely overexploit our oceans and continue unnecessarily sacrificing unintended species. Luckily, we live in a country in which we have food source options and a place where supply will meet demand. If we create a demand for more sustainably caught seafood, we may be able to make change in the market and turn our food systems around!

-Annalise Kukor

Clark Gets Real with the Real Food Challenge

If you haven’t enjoyed locally grown broccoli in the dining hall or heard of the Real Food Challenge elsewhere, I’m happy to inform you that Clark University was the first University in Massachusetts to accept the call to action.

The idea behind the Real Food Challenge is to utilize students and their University’s dining services to promote a “fair and green food system.” The goal: to allocate $1billion in current university food budgets from industrial farms into “real food” by 2020. To be considered “real food,” products must be locally or community grown in a fair, humane and ecologically sound manner. Clark accepted the Real Food Campus Commitment just last year, promising that by 2020, at least 20% of their food will be real. I had the opportunity to talk to Amanda Brackett, one of the University’s greatest advocates for the Real Food Challenge. Below she better explains this inspiring initiative.

Amanda Brackett

Amanda Brackett

What has been your role in bringing the Real Food Challenge to Clark?

During the campaign to bring the Real Food Challenge to Clark my main role was meeting with administrators such as the dining services manager, the business manager, and President Angel, along with writing proposals and doing baseline studies of our real food percentage. Now that we are working to implement the commitment, I am the chair of the Food Systems Working Group and I’m working to start conducting product shifts and enact our new Food Policy and Multiyear Action Plan.

Why are you so passionate about Real Food? Why do you think Real Food matters?

I am passionate about real food because I believe it is a huge aspect of a sustainable lifestyle, on both an individual and global scale due to the serious environmental and health impacts from the way that food is currently produced. The Real Food Challenge has the potential to make a change because of the scale at which colleges and universities purchase and consume food. If we can harness the purchasing power of these institutions to support local and sustainable food sources, we can have a huge impact on the food system.

If people want to learn more/become involved, what is your suggestion?

If people want to learn more about the Real Food Challenge or get involved they can contact me at abrackett@clarku.edu.

-Alexander Santos

The Ins and Outs of the On-campus job search PART#1

“Where are all the jobs on campus?” I have heard this line so many times over my past two years at Clark. It may feel so that there are plenty of work-study jobs on campus and not enough for those who aren’t work-study. Nonetheless, non-work study jobs on campus are more competitive, simply because one is competing with more people—all international students are non-work study, but not all who are non-work study are international students.

So, before I give you a list of all the non-work study jobs I know of, I would like to take some time and spread the ‘words of wisdom’ some of us came up with for first-years and first-time jobseekers.

1. Make a resume
“Yeah, yeah”, “I’ll get to it tonight/tomorrow/next week”…. Never works out! We all love looking at our accomplishments and being reminded of the glory days. One would assume making a resume should be fun, but I guess it isn’t most of the time. Well, fun or not, it’s crucial you get yourself to start working on one and have a rough draft of how you want it to look like. Once you get yourself to do that, you can leave the rest to the miracle workers—CAREER SERVICES. These people can work magic with your resume. They can spot an ‘and’ without a D or a comma out of place without even looking twice. On a serious note, sometimes before you make your first trip to their office, they can feel a little intimidating but they really are very nice and extremely helpful.

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2. Boost up that resume!!!
When I first started looking for jobs my first-year at Clark, I thought my resume was rather empty. I didn’t know why I should hire me so I figured no one else would either. Sometimes, we are all just drowning in low self-esteem but sometimes it isn’t a terrible idea to do more things that give your high-school-activity-filled resume a college-flavored-kick! Yes, be an active member at the clubs you joined or, better yet, get on their executive board. For even more kick, look for volunteer opportunities on campus or near campus. The more extra-curricular responsibilities you take on, the more brownie points you get. It shows employers that you are enthusiastic and you take the initiative.

Also, if you are looking to volunteer somewhere and receive some sort of monetary benefits in return, check out the thrift store! Volunteers at the thrift store get paid in store-credit and let’s face it, we all love some thrift store goodies!

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3. E-mail your future employers
I spent all of my first year e-mailing all the people I wanted to work for. Even though I was unemployed for all of my first year, I was e-mailed back about job openings in the next academic year. This is a good time to mention that, when e-mailing prospective employers, it is always good to show enthusiasm through these e-mails and not necessarily be too persistent by sending them too many e-mails.

4. Ask around
In my business ethics and law class this semester, our professor was telling us how just knowing the people in the class was a form of networking. Your peers who are already a part of the workforce are your allies. Talk to them about their jobs to get more of an insight into what they do and what got them there. Also tell them that you are looking for a job so when they know about openings, they’ll keep you in the loop.

5. Be confident and amiable
Having the ability to speak comfortably in front of people you do not know is a valuable skill to have. It is also a difficult skill to develop if you really are not the chatty kind. Most places you will work at on campus will require you to make interactions with other people. Employers would rather work with someone who smiles a lot and is open to making conversation than those who are not.

Managerial Communications, Trial advocacy and Model U.N. are all classes, without pre-requisites, offered at Clark that let you build your speaking/presentation skills. Personally, Managerial Communications (MGMT 170) was a great class for me. I came out of that class with great presentations skills, interviewing insights and resume building secrets that will help me throughout my career.

6. Be happy and keep your grades up
Keep your grades up! Everyone loves a good student who can also take on other responsibilities on the side. Employed or unemployed, try to not let it take over your life. Keep your spirits high as you enter the world of job-seeking. You will be disappointed at times, but don’t let that stop you from trying again. Be happy with your efforts and yourself, because more often than not your low self-esteem can take a toll on your academics and your mental health.

So… Where are all the jobs on campus? Well, first thing is first and a lot of employers will tell you this as well- keep looking at the online job directory for openings. No don’t look it up once a month, if you are serious about getting a job then bookmark that tab and refresh it every week. Other than that, this is a list of jobs on campus that take in non-work study students:

1. Residential Advisors (Residential Life and housing office)
2. Clark Ambassadors (Admissions office)
3. Student callers (Phone room, Clark fund)
4. The Bookstore
5. Information Technology Services
6. International Students and Scholars office
7. Dining Services
8. Research positions (ask professors)
9. Models (Traina)
10. Safety Escort
11. Recycling Crew
As you start looking into some of these resources, keep an eye out for part #2 of this piece, where we bring to you even cooler insights about the on-campus job market! Till then, happy job-seeking y’all.

By Suaida Firoze

My Brief Wondrous Rendezvous with Junot Diaz

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“I can’t believe it! Junot Diaz is coming here!” were the sort of excited squeals that could be heard around Clark leading up to September 30th, part of a high pitched, giddy enthusiasm that would find at a One Direction concert. Having read only a few short works of his, and curious to explore more of the Junot phenomenon, I was determined to attend this session. Junot Diaz addressed the Clark community as part of the Presidential Lecture series for 2014—an initiative organized by the President’s Office to bring in visionaries and doers who embody the values of Clark. A great number of students seemed to think that Junot Diaz was a terrific choice judging by the crowd that staked out the best seats in Atwood Hall hours before the lecture, and the even bigger throng that filled the hall to full capacity. President David Angel welcomed the audience to the lecture and Professor Paul Posner of the Political Science Department introduced the speaker. Junot Diaz stepped onto the stage at this point and began his lecture. The first few words he uttered put an emphatic end to the formalities that had been observed junot2earlier, as he asked something to the effect of “Yo, what’s up homies?” This was an unexpected turn of events, and I could see a number of those in the audience laughing and shooting one another quizzical looks simultaneously. Presidential Lecture speakers are not expected to talk like a 19 year old college student, was perhaps the thought running through their heads. But this, as we have come to know through his writing, is Junot’s style. His mix of colloquialism and grandiloquent language is no affectation, it is part of him. And so we were treated to over an hour of this remarkable combination, peppered with (the fairly frequent) expletives. What is most astounding however, is how smooth his speech is. My assumption had always been that almost all authors are better represented on paper than in the flesh, yet Junot Diaz brought this notion crashing down in a pile of rubble. He was eloquent at all times, employing a vast vocabulary and interesting turns of phrases to state unique perspectives on a number of topics. I was particularly struck by three large meta-issues that he spoke of – misogyny, cultural intersectionality and the state of living in the margins. I was fascinated by his thoughts on misogyny, of it being a consistent and continuous phenomenon the world over. “It’s almost like it has a diplomatic passport.” He went on to elaborate that misogyny exists in the developed world – with a different face, perhaps – as much as in the developing world. Additionally, he believes feminism to be as much a construct of the developing world, embodied by grassroots level movements, as it is the brainchild of liberal democracies in the western hemisphere. His views on immigration and cultural identity were no less interesting. Junot spoke of how, as a Dominican-American “living on the hyphen,” he was constantly presented with the ultimatum – choose one culture/identity or the other. He called this out as a fallacy, stating that we should move away from forcing this choice and start thinking about simultaneity—the process of multiple, perhaps antithetical, cultures and elements of identity existing at once. Lastly, he addressed the concept of living in the margins – from Haitian immigrants being the “afterthought of the afterthought” in the Dominican Republic to New Jersey being so near and yet so far from the Big Apple. There was much that he hadjunot3 to say on the topic, but the most salient point he made was by quoting another to say that while the most profitable and salable art is produced in the center, art that is more sublime – the poignant and deep – comes from the margins. His lecture ended all too soon, leaving me to ponder his one-of-a-kind wisdom. I left Atwood Hall a little bit wiser, a little more informed, and grateful for the opportunity to absorb the words of one who has seen and understood so much. Oh, all that and a copy of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao with a rather personalized autograph.
                                                                                               – Themal Ellawala
– Photo credits: Carlos Deschamps

Retazos – Pot Luck, Open Mic, and Open Hearts

In celebration of the rich, vibrant culture of the Hispanic community, a number of different campus organizations joined hands and minds to organize ‘Retazos’ – an open mic and pot luck. Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of Residential Life and Housing (RLH), the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) and the Caribbean African Student Association (CASA) produced an event that featured live art and traditional food. I headed over to the 1st floor lounge of Maywood Hall on Thursday, September 25th to attend this event, partly out of curiosity and mostly out of loyalty – a number of my friends were involved in the organizing and performances. The event kicked off on a casual note which set the tone for the evening, with the organizers thanking the crowd for their presence. The food was unveiled, and there was the customary scuffle to get to it as fast as was humanly possible. Bearing a plate heaped full of papusas courtesy of Hacienda Don Juan (if this name does not ring a bell, you MUST visit this Salvadorian hole-in-the-wall on Main Street to discover the true meaning of life), plantain chips and an assortment of other snacks, we made our way to our seats to enjoy the entertainment for the evening.5

Carlos Deschamps, a Resident Advisor of Maywood and a member of the organizing team, played host for the evening, peppering his introductions with facts about the Hispanic community in America and the world. Diego Baraona ’17 headed the line up with a mesmerizing improvised electric guitar solo that held the rapt attention of the audience. The notes were soft and sensuous, coaxed into being with his fingers and wafting across the room to caress our senses in their haunting beauty. Daniel Padilla-Morales ‘16 sang one of the most internationally acclaimed Honduran songs – Amor Historia by Lágrima Negra – in a combination of smooth guitar accompaniment and silky Spanish lyrics. Melina Toscani ’17 joined with Diego to perform two songs from her home in Argentina. She began with Gracias a la vida by Mercedes Sosa, a rousing song with a powerful political message, which was originally performed during the Dirty War in Argentina. We listened to how the simplest things in life – eyes to see, someone to walk beside you – are the most powerful, and how the sheer fact of being alive is a wondrous thing, a gift. Her second song was Nina by Reik, a Mexican romantic pop song from the early 2000s. This song was dedicated to her friend in the most heartwarming way, drawing collective “awww’s” from the crowd. Providing some variety to the deluge of Spanish, Corie Welch ’17 sang Dire Straits’ hit single Romeo & Juliet. Her powerful voice combined with clever theatricality to produce a performance laced with humor, wistfulness and regret. Signalling a break from the musical acts, Shaniece Pinder ’16 read the poem In Her Splendor Islanded by Mexican poet Octavio Paz, a homage to women in their earthly beauty and grace.

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Carlos Deschamps ’16 closed the open mic by reading a piece about his experience growing up in New York City as someone straddling two cultures. Here was the experience of nearly all 1st generation Americans—experiencing oppression, violence, disillusionment, and the hope for a better future. By far the most original of the works performed that evening were by Chelsea Viteri ’16 and Rafael Molina ’17. Chelsea bounded to the makeshift stage to perform an improvised spoken word piece to say goodbye to her grandmother. She spoke of how she was unable to be by her grandmother’s side during her passing, and how she will always be a source of inspiration, as tears trickled down her cheeks. Inspired by this heartfelt confession, Rafael opened up to us to talk about his late brother, who had been his parent, sibling, friend and role model throughout a particularly difficult childhood. The admiration in his voice was palpable as he spoke of his brother’s daring spirit, his passion for life and his loving heart. The organizers ended the event by thanking everyone for their shared words and open hearts. Indeed, the evening had been an intimate affair. I felt privy to the lives and histories of so many in that room. The event truly lived up to its name Retazos (fragments), piecing together slivers of art, thought and emotion to form a whole that was sincere, collective and deeply moving.
– Themal Ellawala
– Photo credits: Mariam Iashagashvili

Two women and their stories

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Clark University has played host to a veritable slew of celebrities and brilliant, revelatory presentations in the recent past. Adding to the list of thought provoking initiatives, the Higgins School of Humanities organized Two Women Talking, on Thursday, October 2nd at 7:00 p.m. The Higgins Lounge at Dana Commons was full beyond capacity when I wormed my way through the crowd with barely five minutes to spare (I’m a college student, cut me some slack). As luck would have it, a few of the seats out in the front row, reserved for those far more important than lowly students, were bestowed upon us out of the goodness of Amy Richter’s heart. I had an inkling that the evening was going to be an unusual experience when Amy Richter introduced the two presenters by not introducing them. Any introduction would serve to frame our understanding of the stories, she said, a phenomenon the presenters wanted to avoid.

The two presenters, Benaifer Bhadha and Monsoon Bissell, strode to the front of the room and began with a few sustained moments of unadulterated silence. I grew so comfortable in the quiet that I was caught off guard when Benaifer began to speak. What ensued was a masterpiece of synchronicity and narration. The two took turns in sharing vignettes, snippets of their lives that followed a loose chronological order. They began with tales from their childhood – Benaifer detailing her memory of waiting till 4:00 pm struck to rush to her grandmother’s side to have samosas and other treats. Monsoon picked up as the stream of words dried up, sharing her memory of biting her father’s leg and seeking refuge under her grandparents’ bed. And so the stories ebbed and flowed, weaved and parted, dredging up memories of pain, anger, joy, ecstasy, paralyzing fear and freedom. They discussed the experience of coming out to their parents as being a lesbian, of being sexually harassed by men who engaged you in genial conversation but moments ago, the toxic sense of self-loathing that develops from hating your body, the dogged determination that they seized onto when diagnosed with cancer. The stories explored a myriad of experiences, concerning gender, sexuality, illness, culture, and violence.

The most astounding aspect of this performance was that it was utterly unscripted. The two women performed ex tempore. I was rendered speechless by their ability to recall these life experiences (I struggle to remember one interesting fact about me during the staggering number of ice breakers we play at Clark) let alone be able to complement the preceding tale and explain them in such vivid detail. I could feel the steaming hot samosa in Benaifer’s hands. The heavy clink of Monsoon’s mother’s silver bracelets as she clasped her hands over her distraught face rang in my ears. Everyone in the room waited with bated breath, hanging on every word and exhaling with lusty laughs at the punch lines and the witticisms that seasoned these fragments of two lives. I felt as if I had crossed into a sacred space, “the sacred space between listener and teller” as was defined by the event. My spatial awareness was reduced to the two mesmerizing figures in front of me, and I felt intimately connected to their lives, privy to their deepest secrets. In turn, they connected with me, related to me, and fed off the energy my listening engendered. The evening ended all too quickly, bringing me tumbling back to Clark in a rather Dorothy-esque fashion. To Benaifer, Monsoon and the Higgins School I say bravo! I cannot think of an evening better spent than listening to tales that were as much my life story as those of two unknown women who talk.

 – Themal Ellawala

– Photo credits: Demet Senturk

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Throwback Thursday: “Not Exactly A Tall Glass of Water”

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“Water crisis” is not something I’m often used to hearing… in fact I cannot even recall a time when clean water was not accessible to me. However, the fact of the matter is humanity is facing a huge water crisis! Not convinced? Prepare yourself to dry-swallow these next shocking facts:

  • 780 million people lack access to clean water- that’s more people than the population of two and a half times the number of people who live in  the United States.
  • Of these 780 million, 3.4 million people die each year from water-related disease- that’s almost the entire city of Los Angeles.
  • An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day.
  • More people in the world have a mobile phone than a toilet.

I don’t usually think about how long my morning shower is, but right now I cannot help but think about our brothers and sisters in developing countries. Luckily, for the past two decades water.org has been at the forefront of the global water crisis – spreading awareness and relief with one goal in mind: “safe water and the dignity of a toilet for all, in our lifetime.”

Water.org was originally the 1990 American nonprofit “WaterPartners International.” It wasn’t until a merger with a similar organization, H20 Africa, in 2009 when Water.org was co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White (yes, THE Matt Damon). Under Damon and White’s direction Water.org has made clear that this global water and sanitation crisis is far too serious for a little charity to mop up. Beyond implementing direct care and relief, this dynamic duo have been pressuring those who work in the water sector for new solutions and models, an increase in transparency and lasting partnerships for long-term change.

What can we do? Obviously you can donate, but if you’re a financially strained college student such as myself, simply pass along the message. The more people know the more people will help!

Follow this link to water.org to learn more: http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/

Clark Students Celebrate Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

pieces of moon cake

pieces of moon cake

The 3,500 year-old Mid-Autumn Moon festival is a celebration of family gatherings where families come together, eat dinner and observe the moon while eating a moon cake. The root of this festival began during the Shang Dynasty from 1600 to 1046 B.C. when emperors used to worship the moon as a thankful gesture towards an upcoming bountiful harvest. The official celebration of moon festival this year was on September 8th. It is held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month each year, but the dates change every year. On this particular day, special foods such as roasted duck, dumplings and moon cake are the center of the dinner cuisine.

The Asian Culture Society celebrated Mid-Autumn Moon Festival in the Grind of Clark University on September 25th. The evening consisted of a martial arts performance, a band performance, and solo and duet music combos that sang in various languages of the countries that celebrate this festival. These countries include Vietnam, China, Korea and Japan. The cuisine for the event consisted of homemade dishes such as “kimbap” or “gimbap” (which essentially is a Korean sushi roll) fresh summer rolls with peanut dipping sauce, vegetarian vermicelli noodles, crab Rangoon, and of course moon cake.

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The décor of the Grind consisted of red themed decorations. When I asked a student I interviewed, he explained that red in many Asian cultures signifies good luck. Additionally, the sharing of a moon cake signifies the unity of families and friends. Despite the fact that many attendees of the festival knew very little about the special occasion, such as myself, members of the Asian Culture Society were more than happy to share and educate their fellow Clarkies on the significance of the festival.

-Tarikwa Leveille

Please enjoy these photos from the celebration:

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Photos by: Demi Senturk