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As of September 2016, we’ve moved our blog to a new home. Come over and be sure to subscribe to our mailing list!
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline that originated in India, speculated to date back to pre-Vedic times. Yoga comprises of a disciplined method for attaining a goal, and has techniques of controlling the body and the mind. It is a great way to exercise as it increases muscle flexibility, body strength, and improves respiratory and circulatory health. Eventually, yoga was introduced to the Western countries by Indian yoga gurus, following the footsteps of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century. He was the first Hindu teacher to actively advocate and disseminate aspects of yoga to a western audience, and visited Europe and the United States in the 1890s for the same.
The rapid spread of yoga throughout the Western world is news to no one, but its impact on emerging nations is something to take note of. According to numerous studies and extensive research, it has been predicted that if the emerging nations aim to obtain the wealth and technology they desire, it is likely they will eventually discover the same shocking revelation that Americans have discovered: They are still not happy.
It has often been said that Americans are depressed and stressed out. What can be deduced from this is that our careers, cars, smart phones, and even our flat-screen TVs will not ultimately make us happy, healthy, or feel like we live a meaning life.
One of the great hopes in all this is that in the past decade there has been a huge upsurge in people embarking on self-examination. People are again asking the big question, “What is this life about?” And no matter how hard we may try to deny it, the answer we are left facing is a spiritual one.
Because of this reawakening, thousands of people are accepting yoga not only as exercise, but also as an alternative to the experience of a spiritual gathering they cannot find elsewhere. Perhaps the reason for this lies in the chief difference between religion and Western-style yoga, and that is that yoga is usually offered in a non-dogmatic format, which makes it inclusive to many more people. Because of its message of healing, unity and a simpler life, yoga may be one of the great rays of hope for our future. Why? Because worldwide, yoga is being embraced primarily by college students, the upper middle class section, and businesspeople in positions of power – the very strata of society that has the power to make the changes this world so desperately needs.
There is one organization based in Worcester which is doing exemplary work in the field of yoga. Ivy Child International is a non-profit organization that provides cross-cultural health education and psychological services for children, families, and communities. It offers free yoga classes during the summer for people of all ages! The very popular event called Yoga in the Park has been running every summer for about 4 years now.
Participants doing yoga at Fuller Family Park last year
(Source: Ivy Child International)
People of all ages participate! Many pregnant ladies are seen doing yoga as well, since it is beneficial for health.
(Source: Ivy Child International)
A few members of the volunteer team who helped organize the event.
(Source: Ivy Child International)
This year, Yoga in the Park will be held every Wednesday and Saturday beginning June 1st, 2016 in the Worcester Commons. On Wednesdays, the event is from 12-1pm and on Saturdays it will be form 10-11am. All the yoga classes will be uniquely themed each time to keep the interest and the momentum going. The Ivy Child team will provide free water, sell some merchandise, and host a face painting booth for kids as well.
The team also plans to distribute short surveys to access the value and demand for this event so that they can tailor future events better suited to what the community members want.
As we all know, Clark students who stay back in Worcester for jobs and internships often need some recreational activities to keep them occupied during the summer days! Ivy Child’s Yoga in the Park is a great way to connect with nature while exercising. I hope to see some of you there!
Cover photo source: Jano India
Bangladesh is currently suffering from, perhaps not a wave but more of a persistent flood of extremist attacks, manifesting in the form of assassinations of various free-thinking, secular or atheist bloggers, publishers, writers and journalists. While this trail of blood may be linked to a point of origin with the murder of blogger Avijit Roy in February last year, this is something that has existed under the surface of Bangladeshi society for much longer. Conservatism, the quashing of more progressive ideals, rising belief in Islamic homogeneity, and a vicious intolerance for anything that does not fit the Sunni, Bengali Muslim identity. As mysterious men, armed with machetes chip away further and further at all opposing ideologies with violence, the space for liberal and progressive ideals in my country is disappearing. The latest in this bloody spree of “divine” executions came on April 25, when gay rights activists and editor of the country’s first and only LGBT magazine, Xulhaz Mannan, along with his friend, colleague, and fellow activist, Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy were brutally murdered by unknown assailants, linked with larger, global Islamic terrorist outfits.
The two murdered activists – Xulhaz Mannan (left) and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy (right)
(Source: Dhaka Tribune)
Mannan started the magazine, Roopbaan, to promote LGBT rights in Bangladesh. This by itself is an amazing achievement in such a conservative country. In the face of such disapproval and adversity, Roopbaan took off in 2014. Long an advocate in the development sector, especially working with LGBT rights, Mannan’s work went from strength to strength. In fact, on 14 April 2015, when Mannan successfully organized a “rainbow rally”, Bangladesh’s version of a pride parade, during the Bengali New Year celebrations, for a second, Bangladesh’s liberals believed again that the country was moving forward and for the LGBT community, especially the gay and lesbian communities who are legally oppressed, it was a landmark achievement – an announcement that these people not only exist, but are unafraid to stand up and be counted, as people, in Bangladeshi society. For me as well, long having been frustrated by regular news of tragedy, misfortune, oppression and intolerance, reading about the “rainbow rally”, during the New Year celebrations no less, brought me immense pride, and in one of those rare moments, I may have felt something akin to patriotism.
Pride parade in Dhaka, 2015
I could swell with pride for how far my country has come, and like the rest of Bangladesh’s liberals, once a proud tradition in its own right, feel hope for the future. Mannan’s murder feels like a nail on the coffin for a dream that I once thought could be reality.
This dream now seems a long way away. This year, the second “rainbow rally” was cancelled due to death threats and intimidation from a section of society that cannot bring themselves to respect (or even tolerate) other human beings. And the worst part is, this seething hate is winning. And we, Bangladesh as a nation, are allowing it to win. A Buddhist monk had his throat slit earlier this week. University professors, a profession held in such high esteem in my society, are being hacked down for no good reason. The violence is more senseless than usual. The government refuses to acknowledge that we have a terrorist crisis on our hands for fear that we start remembering that their role in how we got here. So they tell us that these murders are unrelated. That we should stay quiet. They tell us to be silent and let hate win. But for Xulhaz, for the LGBT community in my country that have now had to flee for their safety, we cannot. The pride parade is a symbol of love triumphing over everything else, and I hope, for our sake, I see it next New Years. Only then will I remember the dream that me, Xulhaz and everyone that looks forward and looked forward in my country once dreamt.
Cover photo source: Wikipedia Commons
First of all, Bombay is now known as Mumbai, (Bombay was the official name until 1995, but many people are still attached to it) and is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra. Being the financial, commercial, and entertainment capital, it is the most populous city in India. Just as USA is a ‘land of opportunities’ for people all over the world, Mumbai is the same for those Indian citizens who don’t have the means or the want to travel abroad. Mumbai’s business opportunities, as well as its potential to offer a higher standard of living, attract migrants from all over India, making the city a melting pot of many communities and cultures.
Now, we have all heard of Humans of New York, but what is Humans of Bombay?
Inspired by Brandon Stanton’s widely shared photo blog, Humans of New York, Karishma Mehta’s Humans of Bombay offers an insightful view of Mumbai through a people-led photo series. The 24-year-old street photographer and city chronicler who started Humans of Bombay in January 2014 says, “I love being the point of contact between someone who tells a story and the ones who like to listen.”
A firm believer in the philosophy that everyone has a story, Mehta, a self-taught photographer, is known for sharing vignettes of everyday life in Mumbai. The photo-blog has over 600,000 followers and has garnered a great amount of acclaim for its beautifully captured portraits and anecdotes of thousands of people of Mumbai. And now, you can have the heartwarming anecdotes and pictures as a beautiful coffee table book. Humans of Bombay, written by Mehta, features 100 never-seen-before images, besides popular gems that chronicle everyone from a nonagenarian couple’s ultimate love story to a philanthropic cab driver’s life.
An exceptional read, it tells you tales of people of different walks of life with utmost ingenuity and is a real page turner. In an interview, she talks about her experiences of how this journey started and the stories that really moved her:
The most important life lesson Humans of Bombay has taught you?
The whole journey for me has been about following my passion. I was a business and economics major, and not a trained photojournalist. So I believe that if you follow your passion, things will come to you. It’s just a feeling I started with—holding on to my passion—and it’s something that has been validated after meeting all these people.
The story that moved you the most?
I spoke to a woman who shared with me an intimate story of her time in an abusive relationship and how she got out of it. Over time, we have become great friends. And back then she offered one of the best advice—don’t rush into a marriage.
How do you decide who makes it to the book or the blog?
I feel that every person has a story. In fact, every person I’ve shot till date has been part of my series or the book. Over the years, I’ve mastered this art of extracting stories. In Mumbai, people are always in a rush, so typically they don’t speak longer than two-three minutes, but sometimes conversations get intense and go on for 45 minutes. Some can even be emotionally draining for the speaker and listener. So I start my conversations with “Hi, can I talk to you for two minutes?” and listen without judgment, hoping they open up and find it comforting.
Here are some excerpts from the book:
When I was 14, I used to talk to boys; drive motor cycles, smoke cigarettes and people in Bandra would often call me a whore because of those things. I never understood the term back then, but sure if doing all those things made me a whore– I’d take it gladly. After my father’s death, I moved to Chicago where there were so many like me and it gave me the freedom to get inked, experiment with my hair and just be myself.
One Christmas Eve in Chicago, I walked out of a bar alone late at night in a short dress and red lipstick. I was 24 and had been drinking, when from a dumpster, a group of guys walked up to me and put a gun to my head asking me to give them blow jobs, eventually leading to gang rape. I remember walking home, showering and pushing this incident to the back of my mind for years and never letting it break my spirit – I still wear short dresses and the brightest red on my lips.
In years to come, I got married to my high school sweetheart, faced domestic violence and walked out of the marriage wondering how this could happen to ME, a feminist? It’s because sometimes there are things that are beyond your control. We live in a world where everyone stresses the importance of voicing yourself or walking out of tough situations, but I just want to say this – no one wants to be beaten up, get raped or sell their bodies.
It took me 20 years to voice my incident, but for me a woman keeping it all within her because she has no other choice isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a mark of strength and something we need to start respecting.”
I’m an 80 year old unmarried woman, and at this stage all I really want is a reason to be happy every day.
What’s that reason for you?
I’m my biggest reason to be happy…celebrating the fact that I’m here, alive and healthy. I don’t think happiness depends on whether you’re married or not, unlike what the Indian society thinks. I’m living with my sister and niece and every single day we’re doing new things to grow and I think that’s what happiness is about– growth and appreciating how fantastic life is.
What are you appreciating today?
The huge piece of cake I’m going to be having after dinner!
I’ve loved painting since I was a little boy and adding color to people’s lives whichever way I can, gives me immense happiness. A few years ago after we finished painting a bungalow the owner took us to a restaurant to celebrate. This had never happened to any of us before– usually we don’t even meet the owner, the contractor pays us off and that’s it.
I was mesmerized because it was the first time I had even seen a fancy restaurant from the inside and given respect. All my life I had eaten only tea and bread, but that day we ate paneer and daal. That has been the highlight of my life, and I pray for that man every single day.
For more poignant stories of Bombay, follow this link:
Photo source: Humans of Bombay
The year has ended in a blink of an eye. Everything flew by so fast. For a whole year, I have learned and met a lot of people. Thanks to them, I became more attached to Clark, my second home. Clark has handed me a chance to experience so many new things. In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where I am from, all year round is summer. The weather is always hot and humid. In Clark or Worcester, every season is so different, and I can feel that every time I walk out of my dorm.
My story began in the summer when I first arrived at Clark during Orientation. The weather is nice and hot, but not as hot as Vietnam’s. My peer advisors and the people I met at Clark were so friendly; they guided me in every way I needed to get adapted to a new place, which is so far away from home. I was lost at first, and never knew where I belong to until I met some people who would later become my best friends.
The photo was taken during the first week of Orientation
Before school started, I took a ride around Worcester with two new people I made friend with. We rode to City Hall and the area around. Worcester is old and historic, which clarifies the fact of being near Boston, one of the oldest cities in the United States that witnessed many revolutions. Worcester draws a picture of an old city on the way to innovation. There are sites under construction around, but the majority of the buildings wear an antique reddish color of the bricks. I was surprised and a little disappointed when I compared those sites with other scenes filmed at nice cities from some Hollywood movies I have watched all my life. The reality is different.
However, I did not spend much time on thinking about it as classes began. I was occupied with homework and clubs. Every start demanded effort to become used to the routine of going to classes, clubs, and even school. I made more friends, and we did many activities together. Time flew as the wind blows when fall came and went, leaving my friends and I special holidays so that we had time to understand each other more. We planned on trips together to New York and Boston on Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. The times outside school strengthened our relationships when we experienced new things together. To some of us coming from Asian countries, snow is something really special because we have never seen this before. Like children, we played with snow and built snowmen. However, somewhere in my deep soul, I felt a tingle of sadness as this time is for family gathering. I started to miss home, and friends are people I sought during those times.
With some snow showers at the beginning of the year followed by rainy days, spring has come to this land bringing new promises. Work at school became less stressful as I got used to the way Clark worked during the fall semester. I was more active in class and hung out more often with friends. I might have done more things, but to what I remember now, Spree Day was another amazing day as it marked the end of this school year. It was great to have a day off and the school turned into a recreational park with inflatable games, food, and music.
Then, finals came and we never had much time to play until our last exam finished. It‘s too fast!
It all ended in the same place it started. I said goodbye to my friend and this year at Clark at this summer. My whole year is like a full cup filled with both joy and sadness. Everyone took a different route in the summer, but we understand that “All good things must come to an end”. However, in our heart, we know that it is just a beginning of our long distance relationship with Facebook and Skype and we will soon reunite.
I saw my friend off when she was about to took off to the airport
All photos were provided by the author.
I was lucky to meet Delight Gavor from one of my very first weeks at Clark. I had just started working at the Clark Fund, and I was to shadow her to get comfortable with calling. Throughout the past two years, I would then witness some of the many sides of her through organising TEDx and joining the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.
Delight is one of those people who inspire through their walk of life. I chose to interview her because she inspired me when I felt trapped at Clark. Here’s our conversation, a couple days just after she finished her final moments as an undergrad:
C: Pick five words to describe the past four years at Clark.
D: Cold. – laughs – Growth. Family. God. Memories.
C: How has Clark changed you?
D: How has Clark changed me? Well, I’ve learned to be very independent. I’ve learned to let my faith lead me into dark spots, when I can’t tell what will happen. And I’ve learned to keep trying.
C: Okay. Share with us one of your best and worst memories here.
D: Worst is everyday that’s cold. – laughs –
(Don’t we all wish we can just push the cold away?)
Best was organising TEDx with the entire TEDx team. We went through so many obstacles, but we kept laughing. Also, seeing some of my friends come to faith.
C: What would be your advice for international students coming to Clark for the first time?
D: Don’t let go of your culture.
C: What are some examples of you keeping your culture?
D: I kept my accent, and my love for Ghanian food is something that grew a lot more…Just me wanting to showcase Ghanian fashion and Ghanian values.… [You should] celebrate it [your culture]. There are parts of the culture that make you who you are, and if you let go of those parts, you lose who you are. ‘Cause in the end, I’m Delight but I’m also Delight who are Ghanian. And taking those two things away wouldn’t make me who Delight is. But then even more, the likelihood of you being the only person out of your culture also makes it your responsibility to showcase to the world what it is – make people appreciate it because they may never have the chance to visit Ghana, you know? …Like that TED talk, Chimamanda’s talk about the danger of a single story, especially coming from Afirca where the African story is one-sided and it’s filled with poverty and all these things – in the end, you have a presentation of your culture so it’s also rich with so many gems, and you want people to know that. Other advice: find what you love to do and pursue it with your heart.
C: How’d you find your passion?
D: I was reading this book, and it talks about how true vocation is where your heart’s gladness meets the world’s hunger…And I love to create, to learn in different ways…
C: How did you find interest in education specifically?
D: How? [Just from having] gone through the educational system and just from talking about it…worldwide education is becoming a means to just pass an exam…whereas it could be an instrument for you to create your positive realities, and I want to transform education to set that standard for education.
C: Tell us more about when you discovered your passion for education.
D: Christmas break of my first year. I’ve never seen myself doing one thing – there was no one career that I wanted to do! It was more about what I wanted to do, and I wanted to improve the educational system. …So I asked: how do I want to do that, and in what way?
[This semester], I’m taking a Social Entrepreneurship class, and the professor kept saying: if not you, then who? If not now, then when? And also, there’s this other quote from Yunus or Gandhi: be the change you want to see in your world. Those two quotes got me thinking, why not now? Why not try and be the change I want to see in the education system?
C: Finally, if you could change anything about Clark, what would it be?
D: Can they create wind tunnels? Shut us out of the cold. -laughs-
And I guess more classes that teach about different parts of the world, we need to embrace culture a lot more. It shouldn’t just be left to ISA – the world should as a whole, should celebrate culture a lot more than it does. It’s doing well, but it should continue to challenge convention.
This summer, Delight will be leading her Butterfly Effect program in Ghana (check out this Clark News article on her project). In the fall, she heads to Harvard to complete her master’s degree in education.
All photos taken by the author.
Commuting has been found to be one of life’s least enjoyable activities and has been labeled “the stress that doesn’t pay”. Longer commutes are systematically associated with lower rates of well-being. As the summer approaches, many of you will be commuting to work, internships, and volunteer opportunities. And therefore, here’s an illustrated article on ways to reduce the commuting stress!
Thus, by taking a mindful approach to commuting, you’ll learn how to deal with stress effectively. It’ll provide you with a smooth and stress-free time, all to yourself, where you can grow as an individual.
Hope you found this article insightful!
Source for all images: Auto Insurance Center