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Volume 15 Spring 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE To be honest, I find myself thinking about my greater purpose in life, perhaps more often than I should. Yet like all Duke students, I need to think about the future and consequently muse about purpose. Why am I here? What do I represent? What am I meant to be? The answers to these questions fuse and construct our identities—not just the physical, but the cultural, social, and personal. At first glance, many pieces in this issue of Passport are oriented around the affirmation of identity. Their declarations of who they are also speak of a greater purpose of change. Our authors transcend the caste-system in Nepal, shatter the label of a “fake African,” publicize the account of the suppressed LGBTQ community in Serbia. Yet upon closer inspection, it’s easy to see that just because the other articles aren’t blatantly “identity-related” doesn’t mean they aren’t identity pieces. Each author expresses their own individuality shaped from their experiences abroad. Living in Italy for three months can lead to different outlooks on the value of each city; working with women in Honduras can question the ethics behind health education; a passing thought of a quarry in Durham can conceptualize the depth of human cruelty in a concentration camp in Austria. These experiences represent journeys. They morph the mindset. They become part of one's identity and purpose. So as you peruse each article of Passport’s fifteenth issue, I hope that you will be able to join each author on his or her journey. No matter what part of the world it takes you to—be it Mexico, Honduras, Singapore, or even right on Duke’s campus—let the experiences of each author resonate as an assertion of who they are and what they wish to achieve. You might even find someone with whom you identify. With the help of our team, especially our graduating seniors Jonathan and Allie, just let Passport take you there.

Jennifer Hong

editor-in-chief Jennifer Hong senior editors

Allie Yee Yueran Zhang

graphics editor Jonathan Lee Eric Emery Lauren Jackson Anh Pham graphics Chelsea Wezenksy Allie Yee Yuqi Zhang editors Becky Chao Caitlin Tutterow Lauren Anderson Becky Chao Jennifer Hong Minn Htet Khine Jonathan Lee writers Daniel Luker Leah Mische Daniel Murray Junho Oh Laxmi Rajak Aleksandra Tomic Allie Yee

Passport magazine is a member publication authorized by the Undergraduate Publications Board and sponsored by the International House. The views expressed in this publication are the author’s own and do not reflect the opinions of the magazine.



spring 2012

photo by Flavio@Flickr

cover photo by Thomas Hubauer


The Bus South by Daniel Luker Caste-Based Stigmatization in Nepal by Laxmi Rajak Love & Violence in the “White City” by Aleksandra Tomic Quarries by Allie Yee Honduras and Health Education

Experiencing the Ethics of Service Work Firsthand

3 5 7 9 12

by Leah Mische

The Fake African by Tobi Runsewe Blood Types

Fundamental Differences Between the East and West?

15 17

by Junho Oh

The Golden Land by Minn Htet Khine Bologna

Many Names. One Beauty.

by Lauren Anderson

Singapore’s Green Revolution Environmental Icons in the City

by Jonathan Lee

19 21 23

The Unconventional Guide to Traveling in Italy by Daniel Murray


A Glimpse into Chinatown by Becky Chao Why We Want to Believe

28 29

Traveling Eco-Friendly Senior Staff


On Kony 2012

by Jennifer Hong

photo by Stormie Leoni


Oaxaca, Mexico

The Bus South I


by Daniel Luker

t was the summer of 2010, and I was headed 1000 kilometers south of Mexico City to a tropical region in the state of Oaxaca, near the tourist center of Huatulco, where my mother was born and raised. Not only was I there to get reacquainted with my hometown, but I also planned on volunteering at a center for disabled children called Piña-Palmera, where the children and their parents are taught to live with their disability. I sat in a decrepit old bus, head sunk in an airplane blanket, appreciating the view that my 300-peso ticket had afforded. After eight hours, it was nearing dawn, and the delicate contour of the mountains gradually became discernible from the lightening azure shroud. The roads in these parts were not well paved and the relentless racketing had me suspended between sleep and a wakeful unconsciousness all night. Visions of an endless desert and the bus’s wheels passing within inches of a 600-foot drop merged within my dreams. In the dreamy blue minutes as the sun emerged, the villages in steep mountain valleys through which we passed paid no heed to our progressing bus. Our slow procession continued as the mountain sides slowly lit up and smoke rose from the villages as they awoke to a new day.

As the hint of day turned into a warm morning, I decided that trying to sleep was futile. I’d been on this bus for twelve hours and was completely disoriented. As we conitnued southward, the vast, plain openness of central Mexico had changed into a panorama of mountains and rivers, valleys and lakes. Kilometers after kilometers of farmed land were replaced by trees that stretched out onto the coast and beyond. I tried to figure out where I was, but despite my fluency in Spanish, I could not locate “San José de Chacalapa,” the name posted on a passing green road sign, on my mental map. In the end, I asked the man next to me how far we were from San Pedro Pochutla. I was relieved to hear it was only about an hour away. Buildings gradually replaced the vegetation, eventually forming a small city. The bus screeched to a halt, and as I stepped off the bus, I entered a forgotten place and culture, untouched by the globalization of Mexico City, from which I had just left. The peeling of what used to be neat and clean paint revealed a bygone splendor of a once busy terminus that now housed homeless people and smelled of urine. I strode out of the bus station and started to walk through the town. It was market day, and the tiny cobbled roads of San Pedro Pochutla were packed with hundreds of people trying to sell things. Carrying my small duffel bag, I walked past stands selling fish, fresh handmade cheese, fried grasshoppers, and fresh water flavored with rice, squash, and soursop (guanabana), among others. My breakfast that day consisted of tamales (small maize cakes wrapped in banana leaves) and atole (a warm drink, thickened with maize flour). I followed the road until the asphalt disappeared. Then, trailing an old footpath, I arrived at the house of Doña Catalina, where I would be staying for the next few weeks.

The bus had arrived at approximately 7 a.m., but Cata had been up a while, as I could tell by the freshly made coffee that had now gone cold and the Pan de Yema (a very sweet bread prepared with many eggs) that were waiting for me at the table. My room was ready, and though I thought about resting, my curiosity simply overwhelmed me. I wanted to get out there. The sun was already out, and the air was starting to turn into a thick soup charged with the scent of the sea. On this first day, I decided, I would go to the beach. I followed Cata’s directions to a small courtyard, where, I was told, a truck would stop to take us to the seaside. The ancient wooden benches at the stop slowly began to fill with people, some carrying wooden boxes bursting with nanche (a small yellow fruit) and even some with iguanas in cages. Everything was different, and with no one’s face stuck to their new iPhones, it was easy to catch a conversation. Don Raúl was a farmer from town who was going to sell his produce: mangoes that filled up an enormous bucket. Our conversation quickly deepened, and he explained to me how a few years back, he had tried to open an Internet café but had gone out of business since “people didn’t want to pay ten pesos an hour to sit down and watch a screen.” That was something new to me, and I began to realize how isolated this place was from the world that relies so much on 3G and Facebook. I felt disconnected but strangely at peace, not caring about a new Facebook comment or that viral video on YouTube. A rackety pickup truck rolled into the station, into which we all crowded, filling the back as we paid our five-peso fee. The ride was no more than six kilometers, and as the truck entered the swerving road that wound to the port, I began to feel the air thicken with the sea breeze. The road descended to the


spring 2012

top photo by jfraser


bottom photo by author

port, and I caught glimpses of the cerulean ocean below betrayed by gaps between the mountains. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of joy as we continued further. Soon, we were there, and it was completely different. There were few paved roads, and the smell of salt and fish crept deep into the lungs. I felt like I was walking through García Márquez’s Macondo. I began to wander through this location, where everything seemed out of place. The beach was beautiful with the purest of blues softly landing upon marble-white sand. Fishermen were lying under their overturned boats in the middle of the day sleeping. I remembered a story my grandmother once told of how there used to be no water in the oceans and Earth was in a dry and barren solitude, whilst on the Moon there was no land, and it was all in a wet isolation. The Earth was jealous of the Moon, and vice versa, but as they say, “From hate, love is born,” and they fell in love. Eventually, they couldn’t cope with the distance, and Earth was forced to

break Moon’s heart. In her desperation and grief, Moon gave Earth the most precious thing she had: her water. As she cried, she poured her soul onto the Earth, turning it blue and filling its oceans with life, while the Moon became the memory of that lost love. So, as the fish come from the Moon, they are drawn toward its light as the Moon rises. That is why fishermen only go out at night, returning at six o’clock in the morning with that night’s catch and spending the whole day asleep under their boats. I followed the footpath from the beach, which led through the rocks of the bay into the main area of the port. From there, stairs led up to the main square and the market. At the top of the small hill, near the market’s entrance, I sat down to look at the bay. Two motorcycles were parked by the entrance, probably people in for Tuesday shopping. I finished the mango Don Raúl had given me in the truck. He had had no trouble discerning my Mexico City accent and had wished me good luck.

As I left the memory of Don Raúl and entered the market, I thought of the isolation. I was in a place that knew and cared nothing about the technology that those in the city find essential. An Internet café on the main street, fitted with an ancient computer, catered to the few lonely tourists who occasionally found themselves at this port. Unlike what most people say, that summer in a rural village in Oaxaca didn’t teach me to appreciate the comforts of daily city life. Rather, for the first time, I recognized their disparaging effects. Things such as supermarket stores detach us from the paramount ritual that agriculture is, and cell-phones with 3G networks make us value a Facebook comment more than a walk on a beach, in a forest, in a park, or along a lonely street. I lived detached from the “modern” world, which left me wanting to stay in this magical place.


bottom photo by Wonderlane

right photo by Kippleboy

the bus south




Caste-Based Stigmatization

in Nepal by Laxmi Rajak

“Madam, why don’t my friends let me to go inside their houses? Why do they call me impure? Do you also think that I am polluteD ?” my mind still revolves around the questions of this small five-year-old girl. Her name was Binita Nepali and she was a class-two student of a remote village school in Pokhara, where I was a voluntary teacher in the summer of 2010. Like every other child in the class, she had black hair, brown-colored skin, and wore the same blue uniform. Yet her surname marked her as one of the lower Nepalese castes, and so she sat on a different bench, separate from the rest of the class.

The caste system still has a huge impact on young minds. I can relate to Binita. When I was little, I used to ask my mother the same questions that Binita asked me. I was not allowed to enter the houses of the higher castes, nor could I even touch their water sources. They used to call me Dhobi ki chori, meaning the “daughter of a washerman,” and I would cry the whole evening because none of my classmates at school would eat or play with me. Unable to understand why, I asked my mother if I could change my surname; she scolded me and told me that the only

thing I had to do was concentrate on my studies. She said that if I got good grades and many prizes in school, my classmates would become my friends and I would never be called Dhobi ki chori again. The prospects of friends and acceptance were huge incentives, so I worked very hard. As a result, I did get some prizes (books, cash, and a trophy), and I made five new friends. I don’t know whether they were impressed with my results or if they just wanted a share of my prize, but I didn’t care—I was just so grateful to no longer be lonely. Unfortunately, there are many children like me who are looked down upon by society despite their potential. Over the summer, I saw how many children are stuck in backward-thinking village schools that still strongly believe in the caste system and thus prevent many children from realizing their capabilities. I was lucky: SOS Hermann Gmeiner School in Sanothimi, Nepal had offered me a full scholarship for twelve years


spring 2012

photo by Gary Cooper


They used to call me Dhobi ki chori, meaning “the daughter of a washerman,” and I would cry the whole evening because none of my classmates at school would eat or play with me. of an education that my parents could not have afforded otherwise. After my School Leaving Certificate Examination, I was awarded the Pestalozzi Scholarship for a two year IB Program at Sussex Coast College in England. Now, I am studying at Duke University, one of the top-ranked schools in the U.S. Sometimes, I laugh to myself when I remember that all this motivation to work hard started just because I wanted to make friends. Now, I have a few other reasons to work hard, including helping children in Nepal who are in the same situation I was before.

MAP OF NEPAL The idea of so-called Dalit or “untouchable” community is very backward by American standards. The Dalit are deprived of the educational privileges that the state and society should provide. As a result, the overall literacy rate is very low, and parents cannot even help their children with their studies. When I went to Tangting village in the summer, I found many children like Binita who were searching for their identity in Nepali society. As I myself am still trying to understand the caste system, I could not answer all the questions that children like Binita were asking me. However, one thing I do know is that I really want to fight the discrimination in schools caused by the caste system. In society as a whole, it will take a long time to change this prejudiced outlook, but change within

METAL WORKS People who do this kind of work, called kami, are regarded as "untouchable." photo by Mark Koenig

The Caste S y s te m

image via WikiCommons

the school system is very possible. For example, there are schools in Nepal where surnames are replaced by numbers. When I interviewed the lower caste students from these schools, one of them said, “If nobody knows your surname, then nobody knows your caste, and you don’t have to sit separately in class.” Students in this kind of school are given a more equal opportunity and a healthier environment for learning.

The Dalit are deprived of the educational privileges that the state and society should provide.

As I have experienced caste-based discrimination first hand, I intend to devote my life to working for the rights of people who face discrimination today. I want to be a role model who uplifts the lives of lower caste children by showing that the Dalit can do anything if they get the chance. I believe education is the right path for their ascension beyond the limits of their caste. I want to show my society that people should be judged not by their surnames but by what they have to offer as human beings. A system should be established in society so that everyone can enjoy their right to learn and live out their potential. No child should ever have to ask their parents to change their surname as I did when I was once embarrassed to be Laxmi Rajak. Because now, I no longer am.

The country of Nepal operates through four castes—Brahmins, Chetteri, Vaisyas, and the Sudhas—and thirty-six sub-castes. Historically, castes were determined by occupation. Today, while there may be diversity in the type of work within a caste, people’s castes are identified through their surname. stigmatization in nepal



Belgrade, Serbia


&“White City” Violence in the

by Aleksandra Tomic


h e t h i r d of O c t obe r , 2 010. Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, also known as “the White City.” The Green Wreath square, bustling streets, noisy people in the patchwork of old and new. Darkened griffins on the corners of buildings on Prince Mihailo Street, the city’s most popular walkway, gray steel and glass of the mobile provider Telenor’s new satellite office. There is a buzz on the streets, as there is every weekday in this busy hive. Only this time, something is different. The puzzle soon comes together in bits and pieces of overheard conversations: “Their place is in mental institutions, not the streets of the city!” “Serbia is not ready for this!” “They are just asking for their rights!” Lone graffiti on an overpass reads, “We are waiting for you!!!” I shiver and remember: the Gay Pride Parade is approaching. The tenth of October, 2010. No buses all day. Belgrade grinds to a halt. Everyone hides behind closed doors as the city center becomes a war zone. Suddenly, I am not safe in my own city. About one thousand peaceful LGBTQ activists have gathered in a park. Speakers send out a message of hope and human rights: “We can all live together.” Walls made of policemen wearing bulletproof vests and transparent shields. Suddenly the rioters appear: young men, heads and faces hidden behind hoods and scarves. “Kill the faggots!” they scream. Armed with bricks, Molotov cocktails, and stun grenades, they chant religious anthems in the name of the Serbian Orthodox saint Sava, the protector of education. Five of them knock down a homosexual activist. They kick him as an older woman screams, “Stop it, stop it, 7


please! How come you’re not ashamed?” Young rioters hit a female activist on the head as she tries to run away. “So what if she is a woman? She is the devil’s offspring!” Black bats swing as a swarm of young anti-gay protesters clashes with the policemen—so much strength and ferocity in the rioters’ arms as they swing their

bats and hurl grenades. An empty glass bottle smashes against the head of a policeman trying to protect the activists and streaks of red run down his cheeks. Black smoke fills the street as a flipped police car burns along with the trash from upturned metal garbage containers. The headquarters of the ruling Democratic Party are under siege. Angry shouts and curses all

around. Growls of pain, streaks of blood, pieces of shattered glass. As reporters try to cover the story, the police yell at them, saying they are entering downtown at their own risk. In the ‘80s, the conflict in communist Yugoslavia was just beginning. Between 1991 and 1995, wars raged throughout the Balkans. When I was born, communism in Yugoslavia was falling apart. As I took my first steps, newly-born nations were baptized in a river of blood. The conflict between Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia unfolded, a clash often described as Europe’s deadliest since World War II.1 My generation is too young to ever understand the nature of the conflict. My parents had known Yugoslavia as one country, not the individual Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia I know now. As I grew up, I regretted not being able to visit the places in current Bosnia and Croatia that my parents used to frequent for school field trips and breaks. As a Serb, I wasn’t welcomed there. I still might not be welcome. I remember my uncle, with tears welling up in his eyes, telling us the story of his former friends spitting on him, and how he had to flee Bosnia, his home. Likewise, I remember the chills I felt hearing stories of what my people had done to Croats and Bosnians, stories of genocide and mass rape. Ironically, the slogan of former Yugoslavia was “Brotherhood and Unity.” Busy with political disputes, bloody conflicts,

spring 2012

center photo by wstuppert

and financial issues, the politicians ignored the fight for human rights, an issue that was slowly advancing in other parts of the world. Parents forgot to teach their children to cherish differences between people. Generations growing up during the conflict became easy targets for manipulation by extreme religious, rightwing, and nationalistic organizations. Hatred and intolerance spawned out of ignorance as accounts of war crimes and ethnic cleansing were slowly discovered. Parents and society taught children to fear and hate their former countrymen. A car with Serbian plates would be demolished if it was found within Croatian borders, and vice versa. Disoriented and betrayed, youth sought guidance, trying to reconstruct their own ideals and values. Instead, they became the tool for spreading fear. Conservatism has prevented democratic doctrine in the Balkans, a place that has always had trouble sprouting tolerance and understanding. In a country where one feels caught in some kind of deranged candid camera show, who would have thought an appeal for LGBTQ human rights would spark such resistance? A couple of Belgrade LGBTQ organizations attempted to organize a pride parade in 2001, but the effort fell through with a loud bang.2 Police weren’t prepared to prevent the violence that erupted when soccer fans—discontented youth in nationalist organizations—showed up. I have noticed, as has the media, that the two groups—soccer fans and nationalist organization members—almost always go together. These manipulated youth believe that violence against those who are different from them will protect their families. Many respected people and those in the media have accused policemen of being unwilling top photo by Thomas DESFORGES

to help the activists. But hope and justice cannot be discouraged so easily. Additional attempts from 2001 to 2009 were nipped in the bud due to lack of organization and support, despite an anti-discrimination law passed in 2008 that many considered to be a model for other nations.3 In 2009, the government banned the parade from the streets of Belgrade and relocated it to a place near the Palace of Serbia. In doing so, they essentially declared the situation beyond their control, giving rioters free reign. The most “successful” attempt was in 2010, resulting in a Pyrrhic victory when thousands of young rioters clashed with police guarding the activists. However, because they did not want to risk violence and bloodshed, the ruling Democratic party, the minister for internal affairs, and the president of Serbia supported banning the parade on the ninth of October, 2011.4 I saw the destruction in 2010 and knew what the authorities feared. Some of those rioters are my acquaintances, people I grew up and went to school with. They are real kids with intellect and emotions, but their goals are steered the wrong way. I cringed at the sound of hatred in their voices as thousands of them chanted in unison. When they were hit, they didn’t stop. The hysterical look in their eyes didn’t dim before the tears and blood they spilled, didn’t die out even when they were arrested. They were fighting with their own demons. January 2012, Durham, NC, the U.S. Today I hear about a new movie released in my home country and the rest of the former Yugoslav republics. It’s a dramedy called The Parade, released by the movie director who sparked the base of the Balkan pop culture in the ‘90s. It tells the story of a young gay couple trying to stay together among their homophobic countrymen. When I first hear

about it, I am restless and worried, since any mention of this topic provokes incredibly fierce disputes and violence. Then I find out that half a million people in Serbia and another half a million throughout the rest of the Balkans have watched the movie, making it one of the most-viewed Serbian movies in the history of the Balkans. Though this degree of success might not sound impressive in the U.S., it is in my country. “They will scream, they will shout but—they’re going to watch it,” the director said.5 I think of all the homosexual and straight people who sat together in theaters watching the movie, and I smile. Maybe the artists and the LGBTQ activists have found a way. A way for a country tortured by wars, a nation that sought refuge in extremist religion and nationalism, to finally overcome their prejudices and see homosexual people for who they really are: their fellow countrymen, real human beings. Instead of marching in the streets to fight for their rights, they marched into the people’s minds and planted an idea. A spark of hope, that art will one day bring us all together. 1. Yugoslav Wars: Yugoslav_Wars. 2. Global Post: 3. Global Post: 4. CNN article, October 01, 2011|By the CNN Wire Staff: world_europe_serbia-gay-pride_1_gay-prideparade-anti-gay-violence-police-presence?_ s=PM:EUROPE. 5. Wikipedia article on “The Parade”: http://

love & violence



Mau t hausen, Austria


uarries by Allie Yee

Top When the Eno Quarry in Durham was suggested as the site of our final teacher outing of the summer, I only had a vague concept of what a quarry was. From a few of the teachers’ descriptions, I had pieced together that it was a huge pit, sixty feet deep, formed by the massive excavation of rock, and that this particular quarry in Durham had been filled with water. On a Friday afternoon, I bounded down the path to the quarry with the other teachers, chatting away, feeling all the roots and pebbles under my thin flip flops. When we reached the clearing, I found that the quarry was just a standard-looking lake, although somewhat small. Trees lined the water, leaving only a few extremely steep banks around the perimeter. While it wasn’t entirely what I had expected, it wasn’t disappointing. The late summer sun was hot but not scorching and made the tiny waves in the water sparkle. We chose a spot to lay our towels down and then scooted into the lake, cautiously squatting and shuffling down the bank to the edge on our butts before plunging right in. Once in the water, the bank dropped straight down and left us suddenly suspended with sixty feet of murkiness extending below our toes. From the bank, someone tossed us Styrofoam noodles, and we reached for the floaters, shifting our weight onto them. Some rested their arms on the noodles, while others, like me, folded them under, sitting on them like chairs. Like that, we floated for a long time, appreciating the stillness and quietly reflecting on our summer to-

gether. Our kids—two hundred rambunctious, hormonal, inspiring middle schoolers—had all gone home. Our classrooms were now bare, the surfaces disinfected. In our wrap-up week, the thirty-six of us had evaluated, reflected, appreciated, and concluded our teaching experience. Now, we floated together in the quarry with all these bonds between us, products of the ecstatic highs and the defeating lows we had shared over the summer. More teachers arrived as the afternoon progressed and our drowsy group livened up. A couple guys climbed up a cliff and, after much pacing, dove into the water. A few others grabbed onto a huge log that had floated toward us. They sunk it below the water to sit on it in a row like a kayak. Then, they pushed it down even further, standing on it and rolling it like an underwater circus act. One person had brought goggles and ventured underwater to see how deep he could go. We watched his head submerge into the depths and the ripples turn to stillness as he dived down. Soon, he came back to the surface with mystical descriptions of an abyss that lay below us. Curious, we passed the goggles around to see this depth for ourselves. When I was finally handed the goggles, I strapped them on, took a gulp of air, and sunk down. I kicked my feet and waved my arms, slowly sinking further until I was eye level with most people’s feet. There was still a fair amount of light here but upon looking at the darkness below, I decided not to go any further. I had never been in a body of water so deep that all of the late after-

noon sun was sucked into a black hole. It was like being dropped into the deep sea ocean, only this was not the middle of the Atlantic—it was ten feet from the bank in Durham. I peered into this depth until I felt myself running out of breath and scrambled to the surface. I came back to the top—back to the scene of a lake that looked like any ordinary lake although it wasn’t. “How far down does it go?” we asked. “How far is sixty feet?” We speculated what might be at the bottom. Was it smooth and sandy or rocky and rigid? Were there fish down there? Did objects that sunk too far to be retrieved collect at the bottom? Were there dead bodies down there? No, no, we said quickly, slightly spooked. Dead bodies float. But what if…? What if they'd been left for a long time and were saturated with water—would they then sink sixty feet and nestle at the bottom?

“How far down does it go?” we asked. “How far is sixty feet?” When I heaved myself out of the water at the end of the day, the sun was turning orange. I dried off on the bank, looking across the lake, tranquil and glittering with the new golden tint, and wondered what those sixty feet below the surface looked like. I tried to imagine the quarry drained of water so that I could peer down straight to the bottom, but I couldn’t picture it. For all I knew, sixty feet went on for infinity.

Eno Quarry in Durham, NC above photo by bobistraveling

all other photos by author unless otherwise cited



Bottom A couple weeks later, I was descending a bright purple tour bus with my study abroad group in Mauthausen, Austria. Following the gravel pathway from the parking lot, we approached a compound surrounded by thick, stone walls and barbed wire. This was the site of a former concentration camp, located in the heart of what had been Nazi occupied territory. Mauthausen’s camp had been a work camp rather than an extermination camp, and because of its location, it was one of the last camps to be liberated by the Allied forces in 1945. As the Allies moved in on the Nazis, people at camps on the outskirts of the territory were sent further and further in, many to Mauthausen. Consequently, prisoners of many different nationalities had been forced to work there until the end of the war. I had been nervous during the bus ride about what I would witness at the camp, but when we arrived, my fears seemed unwarranted as we were greeted by a late August day with perfect weather. From the hilltop where the camp was located, we could see a quaint Austrian town: country houses with burnt orange roof tops and sweeping fields that laid below a great blue sky that stretched limitlessly. While the camp wasn’t entirely inviting, the empty barracks and wooden bunk beds within conjured images of a sleep-away summer camp cabin. It felt strange—wrong, even—to enjoy such 11


a benign, pleasant day, considering what had happened in the very same place nearly seventy years ago. The horror of the history crept onto me when I descended into the Krematorium, a series of cramped rooms that were arranged to systematically process corpses. Underground, there was much less light, and the gray-washed walls were threatening. Moving from the front rooms that were for storage and the extraction of valuables to the back room that housed the furnace, I could see the efficiency and methodology in the process, the lack of dignity and honor for the dead. There in the back was the big, black stove that had reduced thousands of innocent beings into piles of ash, and as I looked at it, I bit my tongue hard to keep the lump in my throat from rising further. With this weight, I headed to another part of the camp where there was a steep, stone staircase known as the “Staircase of Death.” Many prisoners had died there carrying huge blocks of stone up the monstrously long staircase. Descending the steps carefully, I worried that even I—with my trusty tourist walking shoes and only a bagged lunch in hand—might take a bad step and hurt myself. I couldn’t imagine navigating those steps with heaving pounds of rock—rock that had been used to make weapons and materials for the Nazi war effort, the extraction of which had left a giant quarry.

The staircase emptied into this quarry, and at the bottom, I found myself in a massive chasm with sixty-foot stone walls enclosing every side. This pit had been a graveyard into which bodies had tumbled down the staircase, battered and collapsing from exhaustion. Some had fallen into it from the precipice, kicked off by S.S. guards. Gazing up to the top, I saw the sky, which had looked so limitless and liberating from the top of the hill, now obstructed by a rim of high rock. I thought of the quarry I had just been to in Durham, how this whole space had been filled with water, and how way up at the top, I had sat cradled in a noodle floating peacefully. This, I thought, were those sixty feet below me.

Quarry at Mauthausen, Austria spring 2012



Honduras and Health Education Experiencing the Ethics of Service Work Firsthand by Leah Mische

“... Health education is the best way to empower people to take responsiblity for their own health, thereby affording them a right that we all should have: agency over one’s own body.”


hen we first landed in Honduras, I could feel the excitement building up in my expression of wide wonder and naïveté. Yet, had not come for tourism. We came with a purpose: to provide health education to those who do not have access to it. During the five weeks I stayed in Honduras, I helped teach women and children about the basics of their own health. With the women, we covered topics ranging from family planning to HIV/AIDS to cervical cancer, while with the children, we focused on how to prepare and build healthy living habits. While our work made a significant contribution toward giving women and children agency over their health, it also considered the ethics of providing foreign aid. Were we right to assume that providing education was more important than respecting the autonomy and independence of the community? While I grappled with this question, I eventually came to many selfdiscoveries about purpose, responsibility, and cultural perspective. top photo by Luis Samra

in need in a long term and sustainable manner is to provide health education and the framework for good health.

My involvement in Project HEAL has always rested on the idea that health education had something more to offer than simple monetary or resource-based donations. First and foremost, it is a more sustainable system; education can easily be passed down from generation to generation and from community leader to community member without developing a dependency on foreign aid. Perhaps more importantly, health education is the best way empower people to take responsibility for their own health, thereby affording them a right that we all should have: agency over one’s own body. Thus, I believe the best way to improve the lives of those

all other photos by author unless otherwise cited

However, at the same time, many ethical boundaries brought us to interesting questions and evaluations of our work. There were two types of barriers that especially hindered our ability to have an impact on the women in our rural community. Perhaps the most important was the economic barrier. Since we did not bring material resources, we were not able to offer free medication that could prevent unnecessary deaths. While we

"Were we right to assume that providing education was more important than respecting the autonomy and independence of the community?"

honduras & health


"Sadly, many women do not consider their health a priority when it comes to the family's well-being. Thus, education is essential to help women consider their own importance and the ways that they can protect themselves if at all possible."

would educate women on the importance of using condoms in order to avoid the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS and HPV/ cervical cancer, those women oftentimes already had a great deal of education on the matter. This was partly due to geographical bias.


We held our health discussions at the local clinic, where many women were already relatively well-educated on various aspects of health. As we reached out further into the community, we found that many families could not even afford to pay the twenty-five cents to go to the health clinic for a basic exam. If they were not able to get an annual check-up, then they were most likely not able to get our suggested semi-annual gynecological exam to check for cervical cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. This geographic bias showed that we needed to take different approaches to reach those beyond the clinic in order to have a stronger impact.

The Second Barrier Was A Cultural barrier. Prevention needed to be the focus of the education. Any kind of treatment for sexually transmitted diseases is out of the question for these families. However, we found that even attempts at persuading women to consider using condoms were entangled with their own set of problems. In Honduras, machismo is still a very prominent aspect of society even though people are aware of its destructive nature. As the foundation for gender inequality in many Latin American countries, machismo essentially dictates that men are superior in almost all aspects of life. This is especially predominant when it comes to sexual decision making. While women are held to standards of purity and perfection, machista, men shape their relationships through infidelity. Additionally, our research indicated that men did not support the use of condoms, often going back to this same idea of machismo, as abstaining from using condoms seemed to define their virility.


spring 2012


Not only did they prefer not to use them, they often forced this decision on their wives, occasionally to such a degree that women who suggested using condoms were physically abused. Thus, simply telling women about why condoms are important would not successfully change their use of them. Again, our research showed that the vast majority of women who knew how to use condoms (which was not very high in

top left photo by Jaime Olmo

bottom right photo by Vaticanus

Project HEAL. Working at the women’s charla with adults and children.

and of itself) indicated that they did not use them on a regular basis. This knowledgeaction gap is one of the clearest downfalls of health education. Teaching women in a community with gender and economic inequality deeply rooted in culture brings up an ethical query: is it right to teach people about resources that could protect their health even if they may not have access to them or be able to fully utilize them?

Although it is difficult to accept that there are many limitations to health education, it is important to consider the otherwise preventable harm to the entire community that would occur without it. This is not to say that health education is the end. There must be supplemental resources that lessen economic disparities as well as some degree of institutional change for eliminating established and self-perpetuating poverty. Having learned this lesson along with many others, I think it is fair to say that this experience in Honduras was life-changing for me. It allowed me to examine health rights from a completely different perspective where twenty-five cents can be the difference between knowing how to prevent serious diseases or not, and it also opened up my eyes on what it means to go into another country and do health work.

••• Although there are ethical challenges associated with this type of global health aid, it would be hard to find a type of aid that does not come with its own set of difficult questions. It is important to consider that while health education rarely results in immediate change, change that does occur is often long-lasting. We may not be able to see the women impacted by health disparities in HIV/AIDS, cervical cancer, and many other preventable diseases immediately changing their decisions and the decisions of their partners. However, this is a long process involving significant changes in conceptions of gender and equality. What we are doing is planting the seeds for change. Women must be the first ones to accept the responsibility for maintaining their own health. Only then will it be possible to focus on external constraints like economic resources, gender inequalities, and the structural violence implied therein. Sadly, many women do not consider their health a priority when it comes to the family’s well-being. Thus, education is essential to help women consider their own importance and the ways that they can center photo by counterculturecoffee

"What we are doing is planting the seeds for change." protect themselves if at all possible. While it may not be able to offer immediate change, it can begin to promote individual agency among women, which can lead to significant social and health changes.


Any time there is aid, there are ethical considerations. What right do we have coming to an impoverished country? How do we know if we are making an impact? Is it creating dependency or empowerment when we help those suffering pick themselves up? Although I can’t fully answer these questions, I am sure of one thing: health rights are being severely violated in a village on the coast of Honduras and many other areas like it. For this reason, I will continue to work toward giving women something priceless—control over their own health, and all of the positive changes implied therein. Through this work, I hope to have some impact in empowering women to make positive social and health changes that would ultimately improve their quality of life.

honduras & health



Africa, the continent

The Fake

AFRICAN by Tobi Runsewe

“You’re such a fake African!” Those words spilled out casually in an American accent, slicing through my heart like a hot knife would slice through a slab of butter. My feigned preoccupation with my Freshman Orientation Week brochure couldn’t veil my shock as I heard those words. All I remember was a confused smile on my face as I tried to recover from the fact that my African identity had been stripped off by someone who probably hadn’t even set foot on African soil. “W-w-why?” I stammered. She rambled on, “Well, you said you don’t really speak African. You also don’t dress like an African either. And I mean, you kinda don’t look African.” In true O-Week fashion, my fifteen seconds in the spotlight were soon expended and the “accuser” quickly moved on to another banal topic with some other overly eager freshman. Even though her attention had been diverted, I couldn’t help running a quick checklist. In my head, I ticked off dif-

ferent boxes: I had spent seventeen years of my life in Nigeria; I know the African map like the back of my hand; I had gone to high school with Africans from at least fortythree different African countries, and so my knowledge of Africa wasn’t restricted to Nigeria alone. I could effortlessly talk about the culture in Zimbabwe and Kenya, the same way I could boast of a music collection that includes songs from over twenty-eight African countries. So, I wondered, what had I done wrong? How was I a fake African? I got home that night and continued to search within myself for a meaning to the earlier discussion, wondering what I had done to fall short of the definition of the archetypal African. In order to carry out this self-audit, I needed a benchmark of the typical African I was expected to be. According to my “accuser,” who represents the typical African? What does she look like? What does she talk like? As I mused over this, I finally came up with the profile of a “real” African.

The “real” African is the severely impoverished African, whose survival relies on the magnanimity of the West. This African, often with an indecipherable name, replete with clicks and tongue-twists, can speak at least twelve rhythmic African languages. He has riveting, poignant tales of escaping stray bullets in a war-torn country which 99 percent of people in First World countries can’t identify on a map. He often speaks enthusiastically of an “African” ideology such as pan-Africanism, the idea of a United States of Africa, with a strong “African” accent that leaves most people ear-strained. He lives in a hut in a remote African village without a zip code. He has captivating anecdotes of hunting expeditions, traditional initiations, and the daily five-kilometer walk to school. The crown to his “Africanness” is his unfamiliarity with the excesses of the West. American TV shows are a fascinating novelty (I mean, who has TVs in Africa?); his knowledge of American pop songs is restricted to boy bands and the preLagos, Nigeria A metropolis of over 8 million, Lagos is the largest city in Africa and the 7th fastest growing city on earth. photo by Elron6900



spring 2012

Federline, school-uniform-wearing Britney Spears of the ‘90s. His charm lies in his curiosity—his silent questions and wandering eyes. He is interesting. He is mysterious. He is “African.” Then there are people like me. I grew up in the Nigerian megalopolis of Lagos. I have no recollection of guerrilla wars and my only excuse for a second language is a few measly strings of Yoruba phrases. I have never starved a day in my life and my childhood was filled with Nickelodeon, my teenage years marked by rebellion with MTV and VH1. I have no traditional rites or rituals to boast of, as my life has been restricted to the urban confines of Lagos. I have never lived in a hut nor have I ever owned an exotic Saharan pet. I am sated with American pop culture: TV shows, movies, music, and fashion. I have no inquisitive questions of American slang, such as the correct usage of the word “dude.” I am boring. I am familiar. I am “un-African.” Where did these notions of the “real” African come from? For as long as media has existed, the African story has been one of woe. Pictures of starving kids with enlarged heads and distended bellies, child soldiers, rebel militias, and tribal, half-clad women and children have permeated American TV screens. Everybody has that one family member that went on a soul-searching sojourn to “Africa” (read as “Africa” the country, not the continent) only to return with pictures of soot-colored “African” kids in tattered school uniforms and feet covered with red earth. The piteous image of the “African” has been created and etched in our consciousness. In this widely circulated picture, Africans like me don’t exist.

In the gripping rendition of Africa’s tragic story, the thought of the normal, nourished, self-sufficient African does not exist. Somehow, we spoil the fantasy—we ruin the quixotic “Save Africa” illusion. What would people do if they found out that the “dollar a day to save 500 Africans from crippling hunger” platitude might not be entirely true? What would they do if they knew that somewhere in the “country” of Africa, normal Africans, not starving and not poor, existed? That there are independent, surviving Africans who thrive without the benevolence of the West is a harsh reality that many people not only struggle to come to terms with— they don’t know such Africans exist at all. Well, we do exist. We are part of the African narrative, and as long as we continue to be ignored and conveniently left out, the African story—the reason why you get fired up to participate in an “insightful and inspiring” foray into a remote village in Tanzania for DukeEngage—remains incomplete and partial. So here is my response to the classmate I met during O-Week: there is no such thing as an African language. Africa is a continent with as many diverse ethnic groups and languages as the granules of sand in the Sahara. Hence, I, as well as the rest of Africa, do not speak African. Also, the fact that I can actually identify with you, an American, doesn’t make me “unAfrican” or cheapen my identity as one who has spent her entire life in Africa. Yes, I am familiar. Yes, I am modern. But most of all—yes, I am African.

Many Places, Different Faces (top) photos (left to right) by Rita Willaert, Maureen_sill, Charlie Llewellin, Rita Willaert, Alfred Weidinger, Agência Brasil, Charles Roffey, max_thinks_sees, Mike Todd, and max_thinks_sees respectively 1. Wikipedia. s.v. <"Africa."> Accessed March 23, 2012. 2. 12/3/2011. "The sun shines bright." The Economist. <> Accessed March 23, 2012 3. Rothmyer, Karen. March 2011. "Hiding the Real Africa." Columbia Journalism Review. <> Accessed March 23, 2012.



3000+ ethnic groups


1,0 0 0,0 0 0,0 0 0 people


2.7 20 0


inc. global ave. labor 2 productivity trade 2000 growth since

each year

may-sept 2010: usa’s 10 most-read magazines ran 250 stories on africa.

=5 stories



the fake african

mentioned economic growth.3



East Asia

Blood Types: Fundamental differences between the East and West? AB by Junho Oh


ave you ever had someone tell you that you behave like a type A blood person? Or have you ever been able to label someone as having type AB blood based on their actions? Probably not. It is rare in Western culture to categorize people or their actions by blood type. In fact, blood types in Western culture often only serve a purpose in medical situations. However, in some parts of South Korea, Japan, and China, blood types play a significant role socially and have become a fundamental cultural phenomenon integrated deeply in certain Asian societies. So why the drastic difference between the East and West? Is it just a cultural difference? Or is there a deeper philosophical reason behind this?

believed that these new-found characteristics could be used to advocate racial supremacy, much like how brain size was correlated with intelligence.1 These scientists suggested (wrongly, of course) that Asians were inferior because the vast majority of them—like animals—had Type B blood. Perhaps as a response to such a label of inferiority, Japanese professor Takeji Furukawa introduced “The Study of Temperament through Blood Type” in 1927. Although lacking any real scientific evidence, his results correlating temperament and blood type were largely accepted in Japan and the rest of Asia.


spring 2012


Now, the blood type culture is so prevalent in Eastern cultures that it is, in fact, very strange if you Calm, Perfectionist, do not know your blood Introverted, Fashion- type. Not only is it used The mysterious thing about the blood type pheto categorize behavior, it able, Thoughtful nomenon is that there is sometimes is used as a runo substantial evidence of its dimentary analysis of whether origins. Speculations are plenty or not you are your parents' child. and varied, but the most accepted one This is an interesting cultural practice seems to posit that this practice started in that shares both biological and social truths: Japan. With the discovery of the ABO blood your blood type, and thus your personality, group in the early 1900s, European scientists is determined by your parents’ blood types.


Dualistic: Shy/Outgoing, Hesistant/Confident, Logical, Determined, Patient Based on your behavior, people typecast you as being like your father or mother. Since your blood type determines your behavior, if you behave unlike either of your parents, then your identity as their child is challenged. This idea of being a “false” child or a “false” person in general unfolds whenever the person in question behaves contrary to the personality of his blood type. It is as if the identity of the person is determined from birth. The notion of identity is a peculiar topic largely due to the differences surrounding its definition in Eastern and Western cultures. Erving Goffman, an American linguist, emphasizes the creation of identity through performances that pervade every aspect of life: “A performance may be defined as all the activity of a given participant on a given occasion which serves to influence in any way of the other participants”.3 In essence,

Former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso A notable politician who published his blood type on his official internet profile. photo by Word Economic Forum

everything you do becomes a part of you. If you change the pattern of your actions, your identity also changes. Identity is therefore shaped by behavior, and each person has the opportunity to shape his identity through his choice of actions. By this definition, identity is not a predetermined trait—rather, it is a dynamic part of someone that changes according to that person's choices. Contrary to this Western concept of identity, the Eastern practice surrounding blood types suggests that identity is predetermined. Since blood type is congenital, identity in terms of personality is fixed. However, this divergent view from Goffman’s idea of identity presents a variety of problems. The obvious issue with this construction of identity is its limitations on personality. Behavior contradicting the personality typified by blood type is deemed

O Popular, Self-confident, Creative, Attractive

abnormal. This narrow outlook toward differing dispositions thus limits uniqueness and changes in identity. Therefore, each person cannot choose what he wishes to be—his blood type determines it.

B Outgoing, Charming, Impulsive, Independent

Another problem with this method is the issue of gender and sexuality. Typical Western philosophy labels males and females as having two distinct personalities (i.e. the “passive” female and the “aggressive” male). However, this essentialist construction has been criticized for being unable to account for exceptions (such as “passive” males and “aggressive” females). The blood type personality model accounts for these exceptions, but likewise poses a problem for not being able to “distinguish” between genders. Since blood type determines personality, behavior contrary to the essentialist construction of the “passive” female and the “aggressive” male can be attributed to blood type. An A-type male would be passive, and a B-type male would be aggressive. This dichotomous definition of masculinity and femininity helps respect the actions of more “feminine” males by labeling them a certain blood type. In some aspects, an advantage of the blood type personality model allows for Asian culture to be more accepting of personalities that differ from the “passive” female and “aggressive” male. Thus, it would seem logical to assume cultures practicing this phenomenon are accepting of homosexuality and gender differences. However, this is not the case. In many parts of Asia, the phrase “gay marriage” is considered taboo,

Mybloodtypedating A dating type that matches potential mates based on blood types. photo by mybloodtypedating

and homosexuals are ostracized by every aspect of culture. This model is perhaps merely an effort to try and understand the mysteries of blood types and whether there truly is a difference between them. It does not act as a phenomenon to create a more accepting culture. Regardless of whether or not this system is beneficial, blood types and how they are incorporated into defining personalities show an interesting aspect of Eastern philosophy not understood by the Western world. Asian culture integrates the blood type personality idea to a point where it becomes an essential part in shaping identity. The question of whether this practice is right or wrong becomes irrelevant; by becoming a part of Asian culture, blood type personality typification becomes a doctrine that some parts of Asia subconsciously follow. Typifying personality by blood type has now become just one cultural difference of many between the East and West. 1. O’Neil, Dennis. “ABO Blood Types.” Human Blood: ABO Blood Types. N.p., 20 Aug 2011. Web. 29 Feb. 2012. < blood/ABO_system.htm> 2. Ding, Wensi. 01/20/2012. Personal Communication. 3. Goffman, Erving (1959)The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books.

blood types: east & west




The Golden L and After decades of mismanagement and poor governance, Myanmar is now one of the least developed nations in the world. by Minn Htet Khine

hat does the future hold for Myanmar? What do the recent political, economic, and social reforms mean? In this article, I will provide a quick overview of the country, its history, current affairs, and how the recent reforms might shape the future. Hopefully, it will ignite some interest in you to learn more about Myanmar’s culture and history

and with some luck, get your helping hand to bring much-needed change, freedom, and development to this nation. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, lies between India to the west and Thailand to the east. After gaining independence from the British Empire in 1948, Myanmar was regarded among nascent nations as having the most potential due to its abundant natural resources such as gems, oil, natural gas, and teak and its proximity to China to the north and India to the west. Despite these advantages, General Ne Win’s coup d’état in 1962 resulted in military rule in Myanmar until 2010. Since the end of military rule, the newly elected civilian government led by former military general President Thein Sein has brought forward many reforms that have surprised the whole world, including the citizens of Myanmar. At first, when the current administration came into power, nothing was expected to change in Myanmar since the ruling party was highly supported by the military regime and political representatives were former military generals. However, President Thein Sein has enacted multiple reforms one after another: signing ceasefire and peace agreements with ethnic rebels, reengaging with iconic Burmese activist and Noble peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, freeing political prisoners, increasing political freedom, and eradicating media censorship. The West has recognized these reforms and President


spring 2012

Map of Myanmar Despite its great potential due to its natural resources and ideal geographic placement, Myanmar remains underdeveloped. photo courtesy of CIA Images



Barack Obama has described them as “flickers of progress.”1 After decades of mismanagement and poor governance, is Myanmar finally on the road to fulfill its promises and potential? Despite the political, economic, and social issues in Myanmar, one has to value its beauty. With a rich array of people, history, and cultures, it is now ranked third in “The 45 places to go in 2012” by The New York Times.2 The numerous Buddhist pagodas, coated in gold and found almost everywhere in the country, have given Myanmar the nickname “the Golden

Is Myanmar finally going to be able to achieve its unfulfilled promises and potential?

Land.” One of the most famous and oldest pagodas in the world is the Shwedagon Pagoda that sits in the middle of the biggest commercial city and former capital, Yangon (Rangoon). People from all over the country try to visit this pagoda at least once in their lifetime. The beaches along the western coast in the Bay of Bengal are also popular for their untouched natural beauty. There are historic cities that are highly regarded by tourists: the Buddhist historic city of Bagan, Mandalay, the capital of the last Burmese kingdom,

Pagoda in Bagan One of the many pagodas from the 11th-13th centuries, a part of its rich history.

and where the palace of the last king still stands, and the former cosmopolitan city of Myauk Oo. Other popular places include Inle Lake and the Myitsone Dam in Northern Myanmar, where two streams meet to form the Irrawaddy River that flows down the entire country into the Bay of Bengal. Perhaps the political reforms will open up opportunities for Myanmar to reconnect with the world and for the world to reconnect with Myanmar.

A Site in Bagan People travel around Bagan in horse-drawn carts to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Yet as Myanmar begins to open its doors to the rest of the globe, one question that arises is whether Myanmar is just a pawn in the global geopolitical game. Some argue that China is trying to make Myanmar its California (the Western Seaboard) to develop its poorest provinces in the west. 3 With tremendous presence of Chinese culture in Myanmar, the Myanmar government might also have decided to reconcile with the West to balance it out. With these political and cultural intentions in mind, proper governance and plan-

ning could help Myanmar reap the most benefits from global powers U.S., China, and India.4 However, the more essential question about these reforms is what they mean for the people in Myanmar. Will these reforms finally lead to political freedom? Freedom of speech? Improved living standards and alleviation of poverty? Or is there a darker side to this story? With recent developments and reforms taking place at an incredible pace, one has to take a step back and ask if these reforms are sustainable. There are serious concerns that political reforms are outpacing economic and social changes. Without economic and social development, citizens of Myanmar will not see any changes in their current impoverished situation, making them unlikely to support the government. Thus, the divide between the people and the government will widen, hindering further development. Previous economic sanctions imposed by the West have barely affected the elite and the generals but have severely wiped out the middle class. With this preexisting economic disparity, it is important for Myanmar to focus on benefiting the general population. Without clear and organized governance, the process of democratization and liberalization can very well result in corruption, chaos, income disparity, and other disastrous social and economic conditions. Reintegration into the global network, technical and technological investments, as well as in-flowing capital will help the country’s development. At the same time, it is vital that the government be able to preserve and promote Myanmar’s culture and history, keeping the interests of its people at the forefront of its actions. Myanmar is at a historical crossroads, a pivotal moment that will determine the future of its people. Hopefully, it will finally find its way back into the international arena and achieve economic growth, development, and political freedom—for the sake of its people.

all photos by Mya Thet Tin and Gillean Baluyut unless otherwise cited

1. Talev, M and Kate, D.T. 25/11/2011. ‘Obama Sends Clinton to Myanmar Citing “Flickers of Progress”’ Bloomberg Businessweek. <http:// w w w.bu si ne s s we ek .c om /ne w s/2 011-11-25/ oba ma-s end s- cl i nton-to -my a n ma r- c it i ngf lickers-of-progress-.html> Accessed: January 24th 2012. 2. New York Times. 06/01/2012. ’45 Places to go in 2012’ New York Times. <> Accessed: January 23rd 2012. 3. Myint-U, T. 2011. ‘Asia’s New Great Game’ Foreign Policy. < article/2012/01/28/us-davos-myanmar-idUSTRE80R0DM20120128> Accessed: January 23rd 2012. 4. Myint-U, T. 2011. Where China Meets India. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Golden Pagoda in Bagan A golden pagoda in Bagan, much like the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. the golden land


photo essay

Bologna, Italy



spring 2012

�olo�na many names.


beauty .

by Lauren Anderson


ologna, Italy is known by three names: la dotta, la grassa, and la rossa. La dotta, the Learned One, refers to the city's association with education since 1088, when the first European university was founded within its borders. A gastronomical paradise, Bologna is widely considered one of the best cities for exploring Italian cuisine, which inspires its second nickname, la grassa, the Fat One. La rossa, the Red One, attests to the rooftop colors in the historic center. One of the defining features of Bologna is its many portici, or arcades. For a staggering forty-five kilometers, they line the sides of the narrow streets in a smorgasbord of styles, ages, and colors. Walking through, the energy of the city is hard to ignore. Bars spill into the streets, wanderers window-shop at stores that may have once been churches or palaces, students protest on the main squares, and the smell of cooking tortellini perfumes the air.

all photos by author

bologna: names & beauty





environmental icons in the city by Jonathan Lee

In the past we protected our water resources by keeping people from them. Now, we will bring people closer to water so that they will enjoy and cherish it more... We will integrate our water bodies and green spaces and turn Singapore into a city of gardens and water.” —Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Opening of ABC Waters Exhibition February 2007


he gravestones were regimented into standing armies, subdivided into their specialized branches. Here was a battalion of Catholic headstones, featuring images of the cross. There was a force of Chinese-Singaporean graves, embraced by beds of delicate grass. And here was a unit of Muslim gravestones, featuring a pair of stoic figures veiled underneath decorated cloth. Though grass and trees spread out to the distal edges of sight, the space felt constricted as if the cemeteries limited themselves to a sparse geometric—the same static grid that partitioned off buildings and people in the dense city. As we exited the cemeteries, we passed by a grave site being excavated. Workers were relocating the graves to maximize space. Even among the dead, real estate was at a premium. This was one of my first memories of Singapore. Last spring, I was enrolled in an urban tropical ecology travel course at Duke University’s Marine Lab. For eighteen days, my classmates and I traveled about the island to confer with different government agencies and NGOs, to visit various natural sites, and to examine the cultures that comprise Singapore. All these elements manifest themselves as different entities in

the discussion of how Singapore views and manages its environment and natural resources, holding much at stake. A small island enveloped by two archipelago giants, Singapore is home to over five million people, making it the world's third most densely populated country.1 As a tropical southeastern Asian island nation, it also features immense biodiversity: thirty-one of the fifty-six “true” mangrove species of Asia and 256 of the world’s 800 coral species are found in Singapore.2 With such fecundity of urban and natural life, Singapore must balance economic and population growth with a rich environmental heritage. This balancing act has led to novel solutions: environmental icons. Advertised as “Singapore’s latest downtown icon,” the Marina Barrage dams the mouth of the Marina Channel, turning what was once a saltwater bay into the city’s largest and most urban freshwater reservoir. 3 Both a feat of engineering and a work of architectural beauty, the barrage has dramatically remodeled the entire island. The catchment now constitutes one-sixth of Singapore’s total land area. The former bay, a dynamic amorphous body of water, is now a static lake with a near-constant water level. As a result, areas that were once subject to flooding are now being rapidly developed into malls, condos, and office space. The barrage itself is quite impressive— spanning 350 meters across the former channel, the urban wonder has become a recreational space that visitors use for picnics, kite-flying, and water sports. FROM DEATH TO LIFE From left to right: Chinese-Singaporean graves, regrowing corals at Semakau, and dense forest at MacRitchie photos by Ryann Child, Timothy Tan, and Angie Ostendorf, respectively



spring 2012

top photo by Ryann Child

MARINA BARRAGE Visitors admire the urban reservoir created by the immense dam. Alone, this central catchment constitutes one-sixth of Singapore’s land area. photo by chinnian

If the Marina Bay area is the face of Singapore, then a dozen kilometers inland lies Singapore’s heart. Bukhit Timah Hill, the highest point on the island, rises 160 meters above the surrounding expanse, rewarding hikers with a bird’s eye view of the vibrant rainforest canopy. Little of the primary rainforest remains, but much of the secondary growth thrives about the pristine reservoirs. However, the landscape is composed of more than trees and lakes. Extending through the natural reserves are several massive pipes which run just below the verdant surface. When walking through these majestic parks, a sharp turn along the trail can bring one to the edge of a gulf in which the bony white pipes lie bare like exposed vertebrae. These pipes form an umbilical cord that stretches to Johor, Malaysia and are the lifeline that sustains the local catchments. The pipes are not just functional—they symbolize the stark reality of Singapore’s dependence on its neighbor. Icons such as the Marina Barrage constitute more than a mere urban face lift—they strive to save face by fostering a more self-sustainable Singapore. Far from Singapore’s heart lies Pulau Semekau, an island south of the mainland.

Groups of students and nature-lovers frequently visit this island, which is a popular spot for fly fishing, bird watching, and nature walks. However, as is typical for Singapore, there is more than what is visible at the sandy surface. Semekau is a landfill, Singapore’s first offshore landfill, and the last solid waste repository in the country. The massive island was originally two— Pulau Semekau and Pulau Sakeng—but these smaller landforms were encircled by a stone perimeter and gradually filled in with incinerated waste from the mainland. Perhaps the most startling part is how pristine the landfill appears. Several rare bird species roost here. A forest of mangrove saplings has sprung up. Colonies of coral thrive along the intertidal rock walls. And even in areas that are being filled with waste, there is a distinct lack of odor: just the saltiness of the sea accompanied by the occasional wisp of petrichor. The landfill, a by-product of urbanization that we usually push to the margin of society, actually breaks the endless stream of engulfing resources, turning them into waste and pushing them to existence's distal edge. Instead, it forms a cycle: here in this dead end is a new bed of life. People visit this space—to take wedding

photos, drag along their reluctant kids, or watch the stars—thus completing the cycle by drawing society closer to the landfill. Fifty years ago, the Republic of Singapore was a newly born state, only recently cut from Malaysia’s cloth. In such a brief span of time, the tiny island nation has grown enormously, and with such sudden growth come decisions. Singapore actively remodels its landscape and re-carves its coastline, engulfing massive quantities of earth to fuel its land reclamation programs. However, despite (or because of) this manipulation of the environment, it has come so close to realizing Prime Minister’s Lee Hsien Loong’s dream of becoming “a city of gardens and water.” 1. "Population Density per Square Mile of Countries." infoplease. Information Please, 2007. Web. 18 Mar 2012. < html>. 2. Singapore. National Parks. National Parks Board Singapore. 4th National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://>. 3. "Marina Barrage." Marina Barrage: Singapore's Latest Downtown Icon. PUB: Singapore's Water Agency. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. < Pages/default.aspx>.

JOHOR-SINGAPORE CAUSEWAY A trio of pipes runs along the causeway connecting Singapore to Malaysia. These pipes deliver mass amounts of water to Singapore’s reservoirs.

SEMAKAU LANDFILL The rubble and trash island now hosts grass, trees, and a fish pond.

photo by mohamed.shaaz

photo by Alix Jacobson

singapore’s revolution




The Unconventional Guide to Traveling in



his past fall, I spent a little over three months living in Florence and traveling across Europe. Naturally, I gave Italy its fair share of sightseeing and after a while, I noticed that my impressions of Italy’s most famous cities were quite different from those of everyone else I knew. Now, reader, I have decided to pass this incredibly bizarre pros and cons list of Italy’s most famous cities on to you. Let’s start with my “home” for my time abroad, Florence, and move our way in a completely random order around the rest of the country:

by Daniel Murray

Pros Art: Shocking, I know. The only warning I give is not to stay in the Uffizi Museum for too long because the stuffiness of the air makes it feel like someone is squeezing your head really hard. But Florence is world-renowned for its art for good reason—most great Renaissance artists have pieces here and they are obviously worth seeing (i.e. The Medusa, da Vinci’s Annunciation, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, and Michelangelo’s David).

Boboli Gardens

Cons Traffic: I cringe just thinking about the traffic in Florence—and I’m from New York. On certain days, it is tolerable, but on others, you are better off walking miles than paying for a cab ride. The cars are so tightly packed that it makes some drivers more “adventurous” than others and caused me a few bouts of wicked carsickness.

Gelato: Italy’s version of ice cream that is somehow better than ice cream. Florence is home to some of the best in the world and “La Carraia Gelateria” definitely has the best gelato in Florence. Get the Cookes flavor (to be pronounced “Cookies” for some reason) if you’re a fan of Cookies ‘n Cream ice cream. If you’re not, then you have poor taste in ice cream and you should change your lifestyle choices. The Boboli Gardens: Formerly the private gardens of the Medici family (it seems like they used to own everything in Florence), the Boboli Gardens are basically the only bit of green that you’ll see in all of Florence. They’re excellent for a sunlit walk with some great friends or a super manly mountain climb. Okay, there aren’t actual mountains...basically it’s just a really nice park, but definitely go to get away from the sprawling city that is Florence. 25


spring 2012

photo by RC_fotos

The Sidewalks: While this may seem like a ridiculous thing to mention, I cannot begin to explain the frustration of trying to have a group conversation with five or six people while having to walk single file because the sidewalk is too narrow. Imagine reliving the awkwardness of those hallway-walking lines in fourth grade. Also, the sidewalks are incredibly uneven, and I witnessed more than a few girls take a nosedive after catching a high heel in a crevice. Vespas: If you live in Florence long enough, at some point you will be killed or seriously injured by a Vespa. The drivers have no regard for traffic codes and seem to actually speed up as they drive by groups of pedestrians. They are a menace, so watch your back. photo by yanivba

Pros The Doge’s Palace: Without a doubt one of the coolest palaces/museums in Europe. The armory is home to some of the most badass weapons and helmets I’ve ever seen and the palace itself is amazing, especially the collection of Egyptian artifacts. The only problem is that some of the major paintings are replicas. St. Mark’s Campanile: The bell tower is the only place in Venice where you can really appreciate a view of the entire city. It’s not that different from most other bell towers in Italy except the view of Venice is nicer. Oh, and did I mention an elevator?! Yes, the Italians finally caught up to modern technology on this one and put an elevator in something. Be happy it was this. St. Mark’s Campanile

Doge’s Palace Cons Wind: The city’s location on an island is great for spectacular views and romantic boat rides but it also causes the wind to whip and swirl as if a hurricane is coming. It is probably refreshing in the summer but if you go in November, bring a jacket. Never mind—bring two. Food: Probably the only Italian city where I’ll complain about the food. There are basically two options when it comes to restaurants: ridiculously expensive classic Italian food or incredibly cheap not-atall-Italian food. There is something wrong there. I swear if somebody opens a modestly priced Italian place there, they will clean up. Napoleon: Yes, Napoleon Bonaparte. In his effort to ruin all of Europe, he ruined part of the Doge’s Palace. Remember those aforementioned replica paintings? The reason they are replicas is that Napoleon decided to just take them to the Louvre one day when he was in Venice because he was so mad about being short.

Pros Positano: The town of Positano is one of the most awe-inspiring places in the world. The manner in which the town is carved out of the mountainside is amazing and the view from the Mediterranean of the exposed rock faces is one of a kind. There I go getting all sappy… Private Charter Boats: If you visit with a group of friends, you must do this. No question. Basically, the company will rent you a boat and a driver for about two hours and you can drive around the coastline and jump off of any protruding rocks that you find. The drivers also don’t really care what you do when you’re on the boats (read as: drinking encouraged/allowed). The Blue Grotto: This is absolutely a must-see. The grotto is almost completely hidden except for a small opening at the bottom of the rock face (your guide will need to use a few tricks to get you in there). Once inside, the water glows a fluorescent blue and if you slip your guide an extra couple of Euros, he’ll let you jump in. Unless you’re a girl—then it’s free for some reason. Positano all photos by author unless otherwise specified

photo by Will Clayton

itlay travel guide


Cons The Sand: As a Long Islander, I am a bit spoiled when it comes to beaches, but take my word for this. As beautiful as the coast is, it is not known for the sandy beaches. The area of sand is considerably smaller than expected because of the exposed bedrock and the actual sand on the beach is black, making the sand so hot that it tortures the bottoms of your feet. The Climbing Rocks: Yes, I know. I just talked about how these were awesome to climb and jump from. That is all true and I would definitely do it again. That being said, watch out because they will mercilessly slice your hands and feet open, and the salty Mediterranean is very unkind to exposed cuts.

photo by Wenzday01

Cons Taking the “Look at me! I’m holding up/pushing down the Leaning Tower of Pisa!” picture: Yes, I did it. I took the picture. Rarely have I ever felt so ridiculous in my life. You stand there, take your stupid picture and try to ignore that overwhelming feeling of “Wow, look at how stupid and touristy I am.” The Sun: Totally ruins any picture you try to take of the tower from the shady side, turning a beautiful (albeit crooked) tower in the background into a gray, ordinary (still crooked) tower. Also leads to further bunching of everyone trying to take their stupid picture.

I didn’t make it there. I recognize how ridiculous that is, since I lived in Florence for over three months. My friends all went without me on a weekend that I had a class field trip. I know—I’m an idiot. I don’t want to talk about it.

photo by Laurie Sadove

Pros The Leaning Tower: Located in the Piazza dei Miracoli, which is basically the only place worth seeing in Pisa. The tower is gorgeous, but leans so much that it is disconcerting to look at. Despite the “fact” that modern engineering has kept the tower’s leaning constant in recent history, I have my doubts. That thing is going down. Watching People Take the “Look at me! I’m holding up/pushing down the Leaning Tower of Pisa!” Picture: This is incredibly entertaining and is a great distraction from the fact that you just took a train ride to Pisa, walked twenty-five minutes, saw the tower and are now sitting there saying “What the hell do I do now?” Feel free to either adjust your angle so it looks like they’re holding up nothing at all or, for the experienced people watchers, make it look like they’re holding up a building that isn’t crooked. So that’s it. Everything you never thought you needed to know about traveling in Italy, you know. And everything practical you thought you might hear in a travel guide has been completely left out. Seriously though, Italy is a great place to visit so whenever you can pick up sticks and travel somewhere for about two weeks, give Italy some thought. Unless you can go somewhere REALLY nice like Aruba or Costa Rica or something; then you should totally go there.


New York City, New York, U.S.A.

A Glimpse into Chinatown by Becky Chao


am a Chinese-American. It’s who I Chinatown is so much more than its overam—my monolid eyes and the yellow un- priced souvenir shops selling “authentic” dertones of my skin identify me as so. Yet Chinese knickknacks. I’ve always had a bit of an issue with that laYou have to venture into the narrow, bel—why does the Chinese part come first? tucked-away streets where few cars brave Why can’t I just be an American, period? I the unpaved roads to get to the authentic mean, I was born in America. I’ve only been stuff: the restaurants with the chatty ladies to China once in my life, and that was when I who push dim sum carts and the slightly was just two years old. I have no recollection repulsing, yet intriguing sight of pigs and of it besides what I know from stories and ducks roasted whole, hanging in the winpictures: visiting relatives in rural China, dow displays. But even in Chinatown all the giddily chasing tiny chicks, refusing restaurants don’t serve the same type to use the bathrooms, and standof food; they are differentiated ing before animals at the zoo, by regional cuisine. There’s awkwardly smiling at the But Chinatown is so Shanghainese cuisine, with camera as we pose stiffly the signature little buns much more than its with relatives. I know filled with meat, shrimp, overpriced souvenir nothing of China besides or vegetables and pockets these superficial memo- shops selling “authentic” of soup which I eat careries and little tidbits from fully, making sure not Chinese knickknacks history books. I can’t even to take too big a bite and speak the language—my spill the soup all over. Or Chinese is awful. I am unable there’s tea-smoked zhangcha to really identify with the Chinese duck, Sichuan cuisine with its flapart of myself; after all, how can I claim to vorful, fresh, and woodsy aroma. There are be Chinese if I don’t really know what it also plenty of Asian supermarkets that sell means to be Chinese? more exotic things, like dried shrimp, beans, But getting in touch with my Chinese ginseng, and even dried snakeskin (which heritage has been a lot easier than I’d frankly freaks me out). Then there are the thought. I live in Brooklyn, where China- street markets that sell fruits and vegetables town is never more than a thirty-minute more to my liking, like fresh bok choy and subway ride away. Sure, on the surface, homemade tofu with its delicious, smooth Canal Street caters to tourists with its consistency. The options are endless and the tacky mobile street shops selling knock- food culture of Chinese cuisine is very real. offs, ready to get up and go at the sight of Without Chinatown, I wouldn’t have grown a police officer or the sound of a siren. But up with a taste of China. top photo by Ferryandi Chairul

right photo by kitch

But is it just a superficial experience? It’s Chinese culture, diluted at its best, mostly by the part that caters to tourists. However, Chinatown itself isn’t even exclusively Chinese; it’s a medley of Asian cultures: Thai, Vietnamese, and Taiwanese. Yet no matter who we are, we all come together every Lunar New Year, when Chinatown hosts a huge confetti party. We watch vibrant lions and dragons dance to the banging of drums and the smashing of cymbals. They move from the streets to the restaurants, eating balls of lettuce and accepting red envelopes for good luck. When I was younger, it meant a weekend of canceled calligraphy lessons at Chinese School and red envelopes holding free money. Now, I go with my young cousins who are experiencing this for the first time. They watch in awe, grins wide, from their parents’ shoulders. We all crowd around the lions and dragons, mixed together: the tourists from Germany and France, the first generation ChineseAmericans, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Taiwanese immigrants, people from everywhere around the world. But our identities are irrelevant—we’re all experiencing this part of Chinese culture, whoever we are.

a glimpse into chinatown


on KONY 2012 Why we are so eager to believe by Jennifer Hong


nvisible Children was founded in 2006 by Jason Russell, Laren Poole, and Ben Keesey as a non-profit organization focusing on raising awareness for “Africa’s longestrunning war—a conflict where children were both the weapons and the victims.”1 Earlier in March, Invisible Children released a video titled “Kony 2012.” The video calls for the arrest of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda that kidnaps children and forces them to be child soldiers or sex-slaves. Since its release, the thirtyminute short film has been viewed over 100 million times on Youtube and Vimeo and has received support from multiple celebrities and much of the American public. At the same time, Invisible Children has come under intense criticism for a variety of reasons: the lack of transparency in their funding allocation, the oversimplification of the situation in Uganda, their “violent” approach and solution, and the overall discrepancies in their presentation of Uganda compared to its current state.2 On March 17th, Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi released an official response to the Kony 2012 movement, thanking those who have united “across barriers of nation…to take a stand for justice.” However, he says, “the Kony 2012 campaign fails to make one crucial point clear. Joseph Kony is not in Uganda.”3 That Kony is currently not in Uganda and has not been for six years seems to be a point of agreement among the CIA, United Nations, and Ugandan officials. Additionally, the LRA now consists hundreds at most and northern Uganda, the region Kony once terrorized, is now relatively stable.3 Considering that these facts seem to be well known, it’s hard to believe that the makers of Kony 2012 were not aware of them.

Looking beyond Invisible Children’s reasons for portraying present-day Uganda as a war-stricken country, we should also consider why a good majority of us did not even question Kony 2012 before signing the pledge to bring Kony to justice. In a Chronicle article published March 16th titled “Kony 2012: an African perspective,” Duke student Nyuol Tong states that “Invisible Children is…built around the assumption that we in the so-called developed world not only have an obligation but very much the power to make a difference in the so-called poor countries.”4 This “white-man’s-burden” complex that Tong describes, or better yet, the superiority complex of “First World-ers” not only limits the capacity of service but also makes it disingenuous. Though programs like DukeEngage remind us of our obligations to serve those around us who may need it, we should serve with a humble mindset in order for our work to mean anything at all. Wanting to stop Kony is great— he is an evil man who committed atrocities that cannot be forgiven—but wanting to stop him without knowing its full implications is harmful, ignorant, and conceited. We are fully eager to believe and fight for Kony 2012 because it fits all our impressions of the way the world works: an African country is terrorized by war and evil leaders, and developed countries have the power to fix it. Yet to automatically believe that Uganda is how Jason Russell presents it does Ugandans more than a gentle disservice—it ignores the Ugandan government’s success in forcing out the LRA and dismisses any stability and peace Uganda has achieved. Furthermore, it does not consider the country’s actual issues left behind by Kony including poverty, separated families, and ravaged communities.


spring 2012


If anything, Invisible Children has been tremendously successful in raising awareness and once again reminding youth that they are capable of making a change in the world. Yet we must remember that although, like Kony 2012 states, “nothing is more powerful than an idea,” that idea must be made on proper foundations that are not self-presumptuous. We cannot approach the world with the expectation that we are the only ones who can fix it. If we want to help Uganda, we must recognize that it is a proud nation, one of success, growth, and beauty. We must acknowledge that we should help not because it is our duty as people of the so-called “developed world,” but that it is our duty as people of the world. We must understand that we do not work for the Ugandans; we work with them. Only then will any mobilization for change be truly meaningful, because that is the power of an idea supported by people across the entire globe, united and equal. 1. "Invisible Children." Invisible Children. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. <>. 2. Green, Laci. "Why I Don't Support "Kony 2012"" Laci Green, 08 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. <>. 3. “Transcription of the Prime Minister’s Message in Response to the Kony 2012.” Uganda Media Centre. Office of the President. Uganda. Web. 21 March 2012. < php?catId=3&item=1613>; Keating, Joshua. "Foreign Policy Magazine." Foreign Policy. Foreign Policy, 07 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. < not_in_uganda_and_other_complicated_things>. 4. Tong, Nyuol. "Kony 2012: An African Perspective." The Chronicle. The Chronicle, 16 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. <>.

all photos by Inivisible Children

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• dly n e i r F o c E g n i l e v Tra A

s you travel, think about how you impact Earth with your choices of lodging, food, and even sightseeing techniques. In this issue alone, you have heard of many of the world’s natural attractions. To help preserve these beautiful sites, here are some staff suggestions that can help you reduce your carbon footprint and bring your eco-friendliness with you internationally. Eating Green As you travel, what and where you decide to eat can have a huge impact on the environment and on local economies. Opt for restaurants serving local and organic food to limit your environmental impact and to support local farmers and businesses. Also, be sure to dine in at restaurants to avoid waste created by to-go containers and disposable silverware. Try to avoid restaurant chains and import drinks or snacks to support the local community. And if you’re ever in doubt about the origins of your food, just ask.

Eco-friendly Packing When you’re packing liquids for a trip, Ziploc bags are usually the way to go. However, Tupperware containers are a much more eco-friendly and versatile option. When your toiletries are all used up, you can convert your Tupperware into safeguards for fragile souvenirs by lining the inside with a washcloth. Be careful, though: if you’re putting this in a carry-on bag for an airplane, it might give you some problems if the TSA agents can’t easily identify the contents, especially if the container isn’t completely clear.

Tread Softly Nature walks and hikes through national parks can be a great way to observe local flora and fauna, but it should be done in a non-invasive manner. When visiting such protected areas, remember to not feed or disturb wildlife. Take photos from a distance, obey signs and warnings (both for your and the environment’s protection), and leave the area as pristine as you found it. Book “Green” Hotels If you want to enjoy your stay while reducing your carbon footprint, plan on staying at hotels that are members of the Green Hotels Association. By making drinking water available only by request and washing towels based on guest indication, these hotels save massive amounts of water. Additionally, by being Green Hotels Association members, many of their appliances are from EnergyStar and other energy-saving appliance brands.

A Postcard from Argentina

by Stormie Leoni

El Calafate, Argentina

back cover photo by Leslie Taylor

Beagle Channel, Ushuaia, Argentina

background photo by Laurence Zankowski

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Passport Spring 2012 Issue  

Passport Spring 2012 issue

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