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Editorial Staff Editor in Chief Kirsten Acuna Managing Editor Noelia de la Cruz Senior Editors Jill Feigelman Kathleen Kim Maria Qualtere Writers Jillian Anthony Kayla Chagnon Natthakan Garunrangseewong Kathleen Kim Sydney McMinn Charnice Milton Vania Myers Erika Wegener Fact Checkers Stephen Hughes Ashley Jonson Tress Klassen Malinda Masing Stephanie Smith Kyle Suba Copy Editors George Clarke Heather Drost LaPorsha Lowry Valentina Palladino Nikelle Snader Lauren Stefaniak


medley magazine fall 2010 8

President John F. Kennedy said, “One person can make a difference and every person should try.” This seemed unrealistic. I found it’s more effective for a group of people to rally behind a cause. We hold walks for cancer, organize blood drives for potential donors, and have food drives for the homeless. None of these are one man shows. However, I never considered the second part of the quote, that “every person should try” to make a difference—even if the odds are stacked against you. Only now do I believe. On October 16, Rutgers University played Army University in football. During the game, Rutgers’ defensive tackle, Eric LeGrand, sustained a neck injury while making a tackle, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. I’ve known Eric since elementary school. Eric was the star of my high school football team, leading the school to its first undefeated division record. It was impressive to see the state reach out within a week of the accident. Players from 150 high schools in N.J. wore scarlet decals of Eric’s football number, 52, on their helmets. The word “Believe” quickly became synonymous with the cause. Rutgers created a trust fund in his name: the “Eric LeGrand Believe Fund.” People sold shirts and wristbands imprinted with “Believe #52,” with all the proceeds going to the fund. I wished I was home to show my support. It wasn’t the same wearing red and black in Syracuse when no one understood you were trying to support a cause. Taking Kennedy’s advice into account, I sent Chancellor Cantor an e-mail. I didn’t expect a response, but thought it couldn’t hurt to try to get Syracuse University to honor Eric. Cantor immediately connected me wtih Daryl Gross, the SU athletic director, who helped put my vision into action. Together, Gross and I collaborated to get the SU football team to wear “52” decals at the Rutgers-Syracuse game on November 13. He helped raise awareness of the fund locally on television and radio broadcasts. SU’s athletic department also donated to the fund. When I went to Gross’ office to thank him for his generosity, I noticed a sign with two words: Be Extraordinary. Helping my friend from 250+ miles away felt pretty extraordinary. Kennedy was right; one person can make a difference. In this issue, we hope to inspire and motivate you to do the same. Get off the couch and learn a lesson from a stranger (p. 18), travel the country in an RV while helping a community with The Call to Serve (p. 5), or hold a bake sale with friends, using the proceeds to sponsor a girl in a developing country with She’s the First (p. 8). Don’t be afraid to try everything—every dollar donation, every service opportunity, and every extra e-mail. You never know the influence one person can have on another’s life. Be Extraordinary.

Kirsten Acuna

Design Staff Art Director Luis Rendon Design Editors Keith Edelman Ashli Truchon Brandon Weight Photographers Shaun Janis Kristen Parker Bridgette Werner Illustrators Sean Basista Jin Huang Susie Yong

Advisor Elane Granger Ph.D. Associate Director for Student Services, Lillian and Emanuel Slutzker Center for International Services



“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson



Can’t get enough of medley? Head to for exclusive Web content. Join the conversation by commenting on articles and submitting your own stories and pictures about culture and diversity that have affected you.

table of contents

04 Lost in Translation 7 cultural idioms you’ve never heard before

05 Call to SeRVe

4 5

07 Pursuit of Happniess

Strict education in China affects student life

08 No Girl Left Behind

A not-for-profit helps send girls to school

10 Scholar in Action

Q&A with a Fulbright

10 11 Band Together SU students volunteer with refugee children

14 Paving the Way


Promise scholar makes strides in community

16 Keeping Faith

SU’s Muslim students reach out to campus


“Road Rules” meets community service

06 Pace of Life

Cultural persepectives worldwide

medley magazine is dedicated to providing a forum for students to explore international and cultural differences and its manifestations on campus, in the city of Syracuse, and abroad. medley is published once a semester with funding from your student fee. All contents of the publication are copyright 2010 by its respective creators.


11 17 Making it in Bollywood

SU students gain film experience abroad

16 17 18

18 Couch Culture Couch surfing connects travelers with locals

19 Tidbits

Transportation worldwide PHOTOS BY ASHLI TRUCHON SU graduate student, Erica Monnin, plays with a SomaliBantu girl at the local Boys and Girls Club.

Lost in Translation

Idioms from around the world


f something is easy, we say it’s “a piece of cake.” When we break up with our significant other, friends assure us “there are plenty of other fish in the sea.” We’ve all had the experience of “an elephant in the room,” and our parents may try to convince us to do multiple chores by saying we can “kill two birds with one stone.” If you’re not used to hearing them, these idioms don’t make sense. Here’s a list of common phrases in different countries that may confuse you if you translate them literally. — Compiled by Erika Wegener

1 2 3 4 5

“Contigo, pan y cebolla” Language: Spanish Translation: I’m with you, bread and onions Actual Meaning: For better or for worse

も 木 から

saru mo ki kara ochiru


Language: Japanese Translation: Even monkeys fall from trees Actual Meaning: Even the best fail sometimes

“Entre menos burros, más elotes” Language: Spanish Literal Meaning: Among fewer donkeys, more corn Actual Meaning: More for me!

“Ogni morte di papa” Language: Italian Translation: Every death of a pope Actual Meaning: Every once in a while

“Hathi se chal” Language: Hindi Translation: Walk like an elephant Actual Meaning: To have a carefree attitude

4 medley | fall 2010


6 7

“Aus seinem Herzen keine Mördergrube machen” Language: German Translation: Not to make a murderer’s hiding place out of one’s heart Actual meaning: To say clearly what you think, though you may offend someone

“Appeler un chat un chat” Language: French Translation: To call a cat a cat Actual Meaning: To speak one’s mind


e V R e S o t l l a o t C l l Ca e country

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hile other college students intern, study, and work during the summer, Andrew Blythe and Adam Kunes drive across the country in an RV. Two years after Hurricane Katrina, Blythe, 24, and Kunes, 26, participated in a volunteer trip to New Orleans. The two enjoyed the experience so much they decided to create their own service opportunity. In fall 2008, Blythe and Kunes founded The Call to Serve, a community service organization on wheels, in the hopes of inspiring others to volunteer. Through fundraising and donations from family and friends, the two raised $20,000 to purchase an RV. For the first trip, they traveled from coast to coast, departing from New York City and arriving in San Diego, Calif. After a successful 30 days, they decided their dream for a nonprofit could become a reality. They raised enough money to rent a

second RV to accomodate more volunteers. “A lot of people believed in their mission and wanted to help them make their vision a reality,” says Kelly Fennessy, the public relations coordinator for The Call to Serve. However, their families were initially skeptical of the idea. “We had a lot of naysayers—even our own family members,” Blythe says. “But we knew all along that as soon as we had the idea that we were going to do this.” Last summer, Blythe and Kunes set out with a group of college students to volunteer in six U.S. cities, including Pittsburgh, Virginia Beach, and Savannah, Ga. They helped kids at summer camps, assisted the elderly, and cleaned up Virginia Beach. At one stop, the group cleaned out an elderly woman’s home. The house had become both a fire and safety hazard as the result of her hoarding problem. “You could see she was thrilled and that was very, very touching,” Blythe says. The trip has a profound effect upon those who volunteer. Anna Knestaut, a social work major at Seton Hill University, traveled with The Call to Serve last summer. In South Carolina, the group helped a woman turn her water back on, and the woman, despite the circumstances, was in high spirits. “It really hit me hard, just seeing the way she lived. The way she viewed life brought everything together for me,” Knestaut says. This past fall, The Call to Serve partnered with American Eagle PHOTO BY TYLER MCCLOSKEY through its philanthropic Andrew Blythe (left) and Adam Kunes (right) travel in outreach program. As a an RV, helping communities in the U.S.

result, Blythe and Kunes traveled around the country to seven college campuses to motivate students to join the program. The duo came to Syracuse University on Sept. 14 and drove up to the Quad in the RV— nicknamed the ‘Black Beauty’ for its color and ability to turn heads—yelling “the call to serve” from a megaphone. Then they headed to the Life Sciences building where they screened a documentary of their experiences from last summer. “Our goal is to have these young people come on this trip with us and have them realize, ‘I like that type of service and I am good at it. I want to go back home and do that or I want to start my own organization,” Blythe says. An application process tells Blythe and Kunes whether applicants will be able to live with each other for an extended period in the small space. Typically, RVs house five to seven people, and include a kitchen, sleeping area, and bathroom. The application also helps them choose people who are ready for adventure through quirky questions such as, “What is your power animal?” Kunes says the answers can be very telling of applicants’ personalities. Next summer, The Call to Serve plans to make three separate trips, with stops in Austin, Tex., Baltimore, Md., Nashville, New Orleans, Pensacola, Fla., and Wilmington, N.C. Applications will be accepted until March 10, 2011. The trip, described by its founders as “adventeering,” a mixture of volunteering and adventure, encourages young adults to have fun while getting involved in their communities. “We are like “Road Rules”, but with a good cause and minus the drama,” Blythe says. “We are trying to take ordinary young people and send back powerful and serviceminded people.”

Pace of Life A look at how lifestyles differ around the world Story Vania Myers


any stereotype Americans as ignorant, lazy, and rude. We live by the phrase, “time is money,” where family and friends often come second to a career and great salary. However, we don’t necessarily believe this. We know how to have fun – we go to the movies, dress up for Halloween, and gather for birthday celebrations. Similarly, we make assumptions of foreigners, thinking we understand everything in their culture. We all have different personal interests and priorities. Take a look at how other country’s paces of life compare to our own.




n Israel, “they would choose comfort over style any day,” says Robyn Goldhar, a student who spent a year living and traveling in Israel with the Jewish Youth Movement. “Who would want to wear high heels while they’re dancing all night long?” In contrast to the heels and dresses American girls wear to clubs, in Israel, women opt for jeans and comfy sneakers. This laid-back attitude, says Goldhar, is also evident outside of bars and nightclubs. Interning for a fashion designer, at a zoo, and at a ceramics studio, Goldhar didn’t realize how easygoing the work environment would be. “Many Israelis are very chill while also a bit impatient,” she says. “It’s a weird balance, but it works. They don’t stress about anything too much— unless they’re in a traffic jam.”

6 medley | fall 2010







ravel to Italy if you miss sitting around the table with family at mealtimes. Lauren Levy, a senior advertising design major who studied abroad in Florence, says these family-orientated Italians take time to enjoy the simple things in life. An Italian’s priorities have little to do with getting a promotion or making the most money. “I would watch fights about which pizza is the best or which soccer team is the best,” Levy says. “They’re just so passionate about everything.” Italians also aren’t in a constant hurry, she says. “They leisurely walk around the streets of Florence, stare at the scenery and appreciate every minute of it.”


hen studying abroad in Chile last fall, Alex Spychalsky, a senior magazine journalism major, learned Halloween takes on a darker tone in Latin America. “We were in the mindset of American Halloween, where you dress up as funny things,” she says. “We dressed up as belly dancers in very skimpy outfits.” When they arrived at the party, they were in for a surprise. “Everyone was dressed up as monsters. Girls were done up with fake blood and gore,” Spychalsky says. “We were so out of place because we did not grasp the concept that Halloween is supposed to be scary.” In South America, it’s perfectly normal for girls to dress as ghouls, zombies and skeletons over sexy cops, fairies, and witches.



wame Edwin Otu, a Ph.D. student in the anthropology department at Syracuse University, came to the U.S. from Ghana. When he arrived, he noticed Americans were rather reserved. Ghanaians, who live in communal societies, are naturally friendly and always excited to meet new people, he says. However, enthusiasm on his birthday from American friends and peers surprised him. “Everyone asked me why I didn’t celebrate [it],” Otu says. “I grew up in a culture where this is not a big deal.” Instead, Ghanaians celebrate death with grand festivities. “Funerals are more important than birthdays,” Otu says; a lavish funeral is a symbol of social class and of respect to the dead loved one.

Pursuit of Happiness Chinese students attempt to balance work and play Story Natthakan Garunrangseewong Illustration Jin Huang

The sweat beads build 10:57p.m. up as a 25-year-old college student flips between textbook pages, hustling to scribble down her last thoughts. The clock’s ticking becomes deafening. Her three roommates scramble around the room in a last attempt to race the clock. 10:59 p.m. Her heartbeat escalates, now in rhythm with the time. The pencil scratches against her notebook grow quicker and more violent as she wraps up her final sentence. She takes one more glance at the text. The room goes dark. Time’s up. Her heart sinks. The electricity in the dorms switches off at 11 p.m. sharp. Like it or not, it was time to call it a night. Last spring, students studying abroad through Syracuse University’s Hong Kong Program heard similar stories of college life in China. Volunteer students from Tsinghua University explained a strict collegiate lifestyle. A normal school day consists of 12 hours of classes, studies, and homework. If they do not devote that time, plus long weekends, to coursework, success seems unattainable. Their only chances to mingle are during meals and the few hours allotted per week for free time and shopping trips to local plazas. Due to China’s rapidly growing economy, the country places strict education standards for its new generation. Society discourages underage drinking and dating typical to the average American college student. The government censors social media websites like Facebook and Google. With so many rules and restrictions in China, students find it difficult to balance work and play. Wanqing Luo, a junior public policy major at SU, moved to the U.S. from the southwestern Chinese province of Chengdu. She recalls elementary school classes starting every day at 7:30 a.m. Middle school consisted of weekend

courses and after-school sessions lasting as late as 9 p.m. Some schools require students to attend mandatory full-day Saturday classes that don’t provide meals or transportation. “The situation is getting worse,” Luo says. Chi Wei Kong, a junior supply chain management, finance, and information technology management major at SU, attended an international baccalaureate

herself that career stability during harsh economic times is more valuable than taking a risk with a dream job in French culinary arts. “I realized, if I failed in my bakery interest, I can’t get a job with a high school degree,” Kong says. “So I put my dreams aside.” Despite high standards and restrictions, Kong and Luo don’t regret making

A normal school day consists of 12 hours of classes, studies, and homework. high school with comparable timeconsuming coursework. Still, she found no issues with the level of rigor. Unlike Luo and most Chinese college students, she didn’t have a curfew. Her father’s managerial position at a computernetworking company gave her access to Facebook. And unlike traditional Chinese families, her father allowed her to date. Yet like Luo, the Chinese education system influenced Kong’s views of happiness. During a time when she wants to explore other interests, Kong says college impedes on self-discovery. Because of strict education, focus on a steady career takes priority to personal interests. She reassures

education a top priority. In China, the girls had past times that included shopping, hanging out at karaoke bars, and browsing the Web. Although education remains important in America, the two have more freedom to indulge in simple pleasures. Kong says dessert satisfies her love for baking, while, for Luo, singing along to karaoke never gets old. For the two, college degrees and professional success are important; life’s other pleasures will follow suit.

No Girl Left Behind

A not-for-profit motivates college-aged students to sponsor girls’ education Story Kirsten Acuna


lizabeth David wants to break into the male-dominated business world of Tanzania, a country where she says women struggle to be viewed as equal. She hopes to one day serve as a role model for other girls in Africa, inspiring them with the self-confidence to take a stand against this continuing cycle. She’s the First, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing girls’ education worldwide, makes it possible for David to graduate from secondary school, something 95% of Tanzanian girls cannot afford. A year and a half ago, Christen Brandt and Tammy Tibbetts imagined they were going to start a small organization to help send girls to school. Tibbetts, an alumna of The College of New Jersey, met Christen Brandt, a senior magazine journalism major at Syracuse University, in 2007 after Brandt won a scholarship from New York Women in Communications that Tibbetts had previously won. In May 2009, a Liberian news article Tibbetts posted on Facebook caught Brandt’s attention. The story focused on difficulties Liberian girls face getting admitted into schools. “I sent her a message about how we need to fix this and how girls’ education is the backbone of so much,” Brandt says. “She wrote back and told me about this idea for an organization.” That same month, both women started a six-month process of intensive planning to make She’s the First a reality. Their goal was to create an organization that acts as liaison between collegeaged sponsors and schools in developing countries. They thought if they could help just a few girls receive an education, then they would accomplish their goal. What started out as a small media campaign fronted by pop singer JoJo, has transformed into a successful not-for-profit that has gained national recognition from outlets 8 medley | fall 2010

Elizabeth David is proud to be one of the few women in her country of Tanzania to receive an education. She was one of three girls sponsored by She’s the First, a not-for-profit that helps sends girls to school worldwide. COURTESY OF AFRICAID

ranging from Seventeen to Perez Hilton and Levi’s. In one year, the staff has grown from two to 14 and the program has managed to sponsor more than 30 girls. On November 1, 2009, She’s the First began with nine overseas schools in its directory including ones in India, Guatemala, Haiti, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Brandt and Tibbetts contacted schools they had heard about through both nonprofits and online research. Before schools

can enter the network, they must undergo a rigorous background check to ensure they’re a good fit for their organization. “We look for schools that work with local people and that are part of the community,” Brandt says. “The schools that get accepted into the network tend to be those placing an emphasis on girls’ education.” Today, their network consists of 14 schools worldwide. Brandt and Tibbetts

plan to expand their networks to schools in the Middle East, China, and South America. “I want to make sure all areas are represented,” Brandt says. As a not-for-profit, She’s the First holds two events per year – Girl’s Who Rock, a benefit concert co-founded by Tibbetts and Cynthia Hellen, a She’s the First board member, and an annual soiree each November to celebrate the organization’s birthday. The proceeds from both events go towards one of the schools in their

girl in India attending Shanti Bhavan boarding school. The cost to sponsor a girl’s education for a year can vary from as low as $100 in Haiti to as much as $1,500 in India. Brandt says the reason for the price range is the difference in cost of living. At Shanti Bhavan, sponsors pay for both educational and living costs. Brandt says the girls participate in a rigorous arts program which enables students to move on to toplevel universities by the time they graduate. However, in many rural areas where no schools exist, students may only need a two-room class to gain an opportunity to learn. “You’re breaking a cycle of poverty that would have continued had you not built that school,” Brandt says. “Just because the education costs less money does not mean that it is any less valuable.” Because She’s the First reaches a demographic of college-aged young professionals roughly 18 to 28, Brandt and Tibbetts realize many don’t have $1000 let alone $100 to dedicate to someone else’s education. To solve that issue, the organization stresses gathering people together to make a difference. “The fact is that it doesn’t have to break the bank or even your weekly budget to sponsor a girl’s education,” Brandt says. Tibbetts noticed the American dollar stretches a lot farther when donating to developing countries than it does here. “Whether you have five dollars to give or $20, that [money] could contribute to a year’s worth of books that [a girl] needs for a school year, whereas in the U.S. it would cover the cost of one textbook,” she says. The organization only hosts two events per year since She’s the First primarily focuses on grassroots methods to fundraise and raise awareness. “While we believe in having charity events, we also believe our own demographic has a desire and a need to make a change in the world, so we’re giving them a vehicle through which to do that,” Brandt says. She and Tibbetts also generate involvement through the She’s the First website and blog and on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The response has been overwhelming. In one case, a 13-year-old girl, Mackenzie held a yard sale to sponsor a girl in Nepal. “She sold all her American Girl dolls and toys she wouldn’t play with again,” Tibbetts says. “She also put jars in dress boutiques in her town during prom season so girls and moms would drop their loose change into them while buying dresses.” A discussion in school about the adverse

effects of the earthquake in Haiti on children’s education prompted ten-yearold Justin from Atlanta to action. “He himself is Haitian so he felt this huge connection,” Brandt says. “He went home to his mom and said, ‘I want to do something about this. I want to help.’ At ten years old!” He and his mom sponsored a girl in Haiti through She’s the First. Students on college campuses have caught on as well. Official chapters started at SU, Manhattan College, and Hofstra University, while several other informal groups have formed on some campuses, including the University of Notre Dame.


TOP: The founders of She’s the First, Tammy Tibbetts (left) and Christen Brandt (right) celbrate the one year anniversary of their organization in NYC November 1, 2010. ABOVE: Brandt and Tibbets at their fundraiser event, Girls Who Rock, this past June featuring Kat DeLuna.

network. Kat de Luna headlined their first Girl’s Who Rock concert this past June, where they managed to raise nearly $6,000. The money sponsored three girls in AfricAid’s Kisa Project from Tanzania, including Elizabeth David. In addition to secondary school, David is enrolled in a two-year leadership and computer training course. Proceeds from their first annual soiree this past November sponsored one

The fact is that it doesn’t have to break the bank or even your weekly budget to sponsor a girl’s education.” Christen Brandt executive director of she’s the first

“Originally we didn’t think we would have enough pull to have college branches all over the U.S.,” Brandt says, “but as more college-aged people began expressing interest in helping the cause, it was a natural extension of the She’s the First brand.” The support keeps growing. Tibbetts is now an ambassador of education with Levi’s “Shape What’s to Come” community. She was one of ten women chosen in the U.S. and Britain to represent the area where they have demonstrated a strong sense of passion and leadership. A grant from Levi’s will help build a new website and support the next Girls Who Rock benefit concert, Tibbetts says. Neither of the girls anticipated the amount of enthusiasm and support She’s the First has gained over the past year. “The goal at first wasn’t to become a worldwide sensation it was to make a difference in girls’ education in the developing world,” Brandt says. “Our goals have grown as the organization has grown. One of our goals now is to become a household name.”

Scholar in Action

One student opens up about fulfilling her Fulbright Scholarship at Syracuse University Story Kathleen Kim | Photo Keith Edelman


ara Bittar began volunteering with the Lebanese Red Cross at age 15. Through the organization, she made frequent visits to neighborhoods near her hometown of Tripoli. Shocked to find families of eight or nine living in single rooms, Bittar became determined to spread awareness of the poverty existing in her home country while studying journalism and international relations

as an undergraduate at both Lebanese University and Lebanese American University, she discovered the Fulbright Foreign Student Program. Sponsored by the U.S. government and operated in more than 155 countries, the Fulbright Scholar Program sends students, selected for their leadership qualities and academic merit, abroad to study and conduct research. It covers all expenses, including

tuition, round-trip airfare and additional school fees. Bittar came to the U.S. after her acceptance into the program in July 2010. As a current graduate student studying public administration in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, she hopes to apply what she learns here to help drive socioeconomic change back in Lebanon.

What kind of volunteer work did you do with the Red Cross in Lebanon?

What aided your decision to apply for the Fulbright Scholar Program?

I was lucky enough to be part of a training program trying to change the approach of the Red Cross from one of charity to one of development, support and sustainability. On one hand, we used to give people food stamps but we knew this was never the solution. So we tried to design a project with sustainable outcomes. Many women who live [in these neighborhoods] do not have basic knowledge about maternal health and sexual education so we provided sessions for them. We also [raised] diabetes and drug awareness. One time, several young men said they wanted to learn more about technology and computers so we arranged free training for them. We tried to do something more [effective] than just giving them food or clothes.

I wanted to go abroad to study but at the same time, I wanted to go in order to come back and do something in my country. That’s one of the pillars of the Fulbright scholarship. It’s about providing an opportunity for foreign students to come to the U.S. and learn and then go back to their country.

What prompted your interest in public administration?

How will your studies here help implement change in Lebanon?

When you’re volunteering in certain areas and you see and touch these social problems, it becomes difficult to ignore them. I decided to do something that can help improve the lives of people I worked with. So I started out in the journalism field and then I realized that journalism alone is not as effective as I want to be. After the July 2006 war in Lebanon, I was working with the relief team in my hometown and realized I wanted to study international relations and go into public policy. 10 medley | fall 2010

Why is the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at SU the right fit for you? I wanted to study public administration with an emphasis in international development and found the program in Maxwell really compatible with what I wanted to do.

I think one of the reasons we have a big socio-economic gap in Lebanon is the lack of research and academic work on these problems. Our policies need to be based less on politics and more on real research and real knowledge about these problems. We need to work on reassessment. This is what I want to do. I want to be in policy analysis and do research on the socio-economic problems in Lebanon. The perfect job for me would be working in a think-tank that deals with these issues.

Band Together SU students volunteer beyond the hill with the Somali-Bantu Community Childcare Program Text & Photos Keith Edelman and Ashli Truchon


s parents drop off and pick up their children from the Boys and Girls Club on Van Buren Street, they communicate in their native languages. As the kids turn their attention to the toys, some switch to English to converse with their peers and others don’t speak at all. They are Somali-Bantu refugee children, and while their language skills differ, they all love to play. Syracuse University students volunteer at this childcare program for children whose mothers are emigrants from Somalia and take English classes during the day. Erica Monnin, the SU graduate assistant for engagement programs at Hendricks Chapel, is one of 89 volunteers who devotes her time to the kids. “I’m surprised by how calm they are,” Monnin says of the children. “Most of their mothers are pretty strict, and they’re used to having a lot of siblings around.” According to the Somali Bantu Community Organization of Syracuse, refugees fled Somalia beginning in 1991 at the start of a civil war that continues today. Syracuse became home to SomaliBantu refugees in 2003 and continues to provide resources and services, including the childcare program. As photographers capture the youngest generation of these refugees in their safe, playful environment, one young girl in a pink sweater turns to the camera. “Take a picture of me,” she says. “Take a picture.”

12 medley | fall 2010

Paving the Way A native student uses his Haudenosaunee Promise Scholarship to make strides in his community Story Kathleen Kim | Photos Bridgette Werner


lex Jimerson grew up on the Allegany Indian Reservation watching his father, an ironworker, connect long steel beams on the junglegym-like frameworks of buildings. While he admired the craft, Jimerson remembers staring at his father’s hands, scarred and calloused from years of handling heavy slabs of iron and stone. “He would say, ‘Look at these hands. You don’t want to have hands like these.’ They were all beat up, bruised, fat, and swollen,” Jimerson recalls. “He said, ‘Use your brain.’” These conversations helped Jimerson, a Seneca Nation of Indians citizen and current resident of the Cattaraugus Reservation, decide early on that he would not follow in his father’s footsteps. He began looking at colleges as a student at Gowanda High School. When he visited

Syracuse University to watch the lacrosse team play the game he loved, he decided he would apply. But he wasn’t sure his family could afford the private institution’s expensive tuition. During his junior year of high school, the university announced the initiation of the Haudenosaunee Promise Scholarship. First proposed by Chancellor Nancy Cantor in 2005, the scholarship recognizes the historical and cultural legacies of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, comprised of six sovereign native nations scattered throughout New York state and Canada. The scholarship pays for tuition, oncampus housing and meal plans, and other mandatory fees for all admitted full-time undergraduate students who are certified citizens of one of the six nations. Its creation marked the first major

Alex Jimerson hopes for more native students to further their education. 14 medley | fall 2010

gesture by the university to break down the financial and social barriers that some native students face, says Regina Jones, assistant director of Syracuse University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and member of the Oneida Nation. “I told the Chancellor, ‘You don’t understand what this has done for our people.’ Just five years ago, our people didn’t even think to go to college. It wasn’t in their plans,” she says. “The guidance counselors in high schools never even talked to them about [college]. They just geared them toward trade.” When news of the scholarship reached Jimerson, he knew he had discovered the gateway to his dream school. With its financial backing, he enrolled into SU in the fall of 2007. “It was a groundbreaking, big thing for me and a few other kids who started coming to Syracuse,” says Jimerson, now a senior public health major at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. “We were going to the university and everyone back home was going to community colleges or small colleges around our area.” The large campus environment initially worried Jimerson, who had always been surrounded by familiar faces in his small, tight-knit community. A handful of people in his nation expressed feeling overwhelmed and even isolated during their time at SU, he says. “I think coming to a big university kind of scared the generations before,” Jimerson says. “Some say, ‘I went there but I didn’t stay around because I couldn’t find friends or a circuit where I could fit into this university.’” Any anxiety he felt at first quickly faded during the week-long orientation hosted by the Native Student Program. Under the direction of Jones, the program brings

Jimerson and other students gather at the Native Student Program located on Euclid Avenue. incoming students to campus early to help them through their transition. After the welcome lunch, students introduce themselves and break off into groups with student leaders, who show them around campus. By the end of the orientation, Jimerson had instantly connected with several other students.

“Just five years ago, our people didn’t think to go to college.”

Regina Jones

Assistant Director of SU Office of Multicultural Affairs

“That makes it better for the students in their first year to get to know each other, have someone to hang out with and someone to talk to,” he says. “It gives you peace of mind.” After adjusting to his new setting, Jimerson became increasingly aware of the lack of native representation on campus. “We make up than less than 1% of the SU population. I think there’s only 100 of

us, if that,” he says. A 2006 press release issued by SU reported 44 native students enrolled at the time of the scholarship’s creation. Now, there are currently 160 students—54 of whom are Haudenosaunee Promise scholars. Jones says while the number may be small, many students make an effort to share their unique perspectives with others. “The students on the scholarship know part of their purpose here is to educate the SU community about our ways and culture,” she says. As this year’s president of the Native American Students at Syracuse (NASAS), Jimerson seeks to actively reach out to non-native students. “People can see there is a native presence on campus, but they don’t know a lot about us,” he says. He and other members host events such as Indigenous Survival Day, during which the group gathers on the quad to meet and speak to passing students. Jimerson himself welcomes new learning experiences. When a newspaper flyer for a summer internship at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago caught his eye, he didn’t think twice about applying. During his four-month internship, Jimerson examined the effect of solar energy development facilities on

the Southwest Indian Nations in Arizona. Through his findings, he realized applying similar research methods in the Northeast would help develop more resources and opportunities for people living in the reservations there, he says. “It was good to research about these other tribes,” he says. “But I’d like to help my people too.” He hopes the health policy research work he pursues will improve the way of life in his home. For now, Jimerson gives back to his community by sharing his experiences with high school seniors in his hometown. “Whether they want to pursue an academic career in a college, at a university, or trade school I tell them just to push themselves, to improve themselves,” he says. “With any path they choose, I just tell them to challenge themselves daily.” While he doesn’t know where he’s headed next, Jimerson says he feels confident about the path his father urged him to take as a young boy and one he ultimately chose on his own. “I know I wouldn’t trade it,” he says. “It’s definitely helped me to relate to other people and to grow as a person. I’m thankful for everything that has happened and for being here at Syracuse.”

Keeping Faith

Muslim Students’ Association provides safe haven for students while reaching out on campus Story Noelia de la Cruz | Photo Brandon Weight


reshmen worry about many things when entering college—making friends, adjusting to schedules, and finding the right parties. When Azhar Ali, a sophomore exercise science major, came to Syracuse University last fall, he had a few added worries. As a Muslim-American he celebrates Ramadan, the annual month of fasting that often coincides with the beginning of school. He wondered where he would eat, break his fast, and pray. Ismail Pathan, a sophomore undecided major in the Whitman School of Management, felt more comfortable about his transition to SU as a Muslim student. The summer before his freshman year, he attended an Islamic convention in Connecticut where he met Yusuf AbdulQadir, a current research student at SU and the former president of the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA). Established in 1978, the SU MSA Chapter is one of the more than 140 chapters in the U.S. and Canada. Its main purpose is to help Muslims incorporate Islam into their daily lives, according to the MSA National website. Once on campus, Pathan called Ali, who he had befriended on Facebook a few weeks before, and introduced him to Abdul-Qadir. With Abdul-Qadir’s guidance, Ali and Pathan discovered how easy it was to practice Islam on campus. Practicing Muslims pray five times a day. The first prayer, fajr, starts at dawn, followed by zuhr, asr, maghrib, and isha. With three occurring during most classes, finding the time and space to recite them can be difficult. The prayer room in SU’s Hendricks Chapel solves this problem. “It’s so convenient,” Ali says, adding that many MSA’s don’t have the luxury of a central location for prayer on campus. Ali and Pathan, now the president and vice-president of MSA, regularly join other Muslim students and community members at the Islamic Society of Central New York on Comstock Avenue. The masjid, or 16 medley | fall 2010

mosque, is just a five-minute walk from the media at face value. main campus and close to Shaw Dining “People are directly associating Center, the only dining hall on campus that terrorism with Islam,” Pathan says. “It’s serves halal food, or food sanctioned by very wrong. People are taking actions of Islamic law. MSA members often gathered a group of Muslims and generalizing it to at Shaw during Ramadan to break their more than one billion people.” daily fasts, Ali says. To increase understanding, MSA Despite the decent turnout by members sponsors Islamic Awareness Week, a to dinners and meetings—there are about week-long series of events in the spring 35 to 50 active members, Ali says—he that includes educational lectures and hopes to increase membership within the panel discussions. MSA also organizes a organization. At the beginning of the Fast-a-thon, “an MSA staple,” Ali says, semester, he invited incoming Muslim and award-winning event that challenges freshmen to join via e-mail but received students to fast for one day to raise money no response. He says some Muslims for charities. Next semester, MSA will on campus may be afraid to publicly also bring respected Islamic experts and acknowledge their faith. performers to campus, in the hopes of “The thing with Muslims, at least attracting more student interest. nowadays, is that many are hesitant to “MSA is about ensuring Muslims get identify as Muslims,” Ali says. Others as good a college experience at SU as they might fear being judged for not practicing can without compromising their religion or Islam regularly or for being too devout. faith,” Ali says. But Ali fits neither category. “My As Muslims around the world face religion defines me to an extent, but it’s criticism for creating spaces to worship, a not necessarily all I am,” he says. He loves welcoming place in Syracuse exists. sports and, like any student, balances his time between studying and spending time with family and friends. Still, joining MSA and meeting other Muslims has motivated him to seek more knowledge about Islam. “Once I got to campus it strengthened my faith,” he says. Pathan, who also wants to increase his knowledge, wants to reach out to nonMuslims. Questions that peers ask him about Islam and current events give him the impression many students misunderstand the religion or take what Ismail Pathan (left) and Azhar Ali (right) aim to strengthen they see and hear in Muslim community on campus.

Making it in

Bollywood Students travel to India for film experience


Story Charnice Milton


hen Tuan Le arrived in India in June 2008, he knew he was in for a culture shock. He noticed the driving first. “The traffic laws in Mumbai are different, the drivers are more aggressive, the rickshaws are small and sneaky—weaving through tight spaces between cars—and there is a constant buzzing of horns from vehicles,” says Le, a junior television, radio, and film major at the time. “I distinctly remember seeing the sign that said ‘Welcome to Mumbai’ and thinking to myself, ‘I am going to have an unforgettable experience.’” Le was one of the first students to participate in Bollywood Snapshots: Syracuse University Internships in Mumbai. The summer program sends a group of SU students to Mumbai for one month. While there, students attend lectures at Whistling Woods International Institute for Film, Television, and Media Arts (WWI) and intern at film studios and on sets. Tula Goenka, associate professor of television, radio, and film at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, founded the program in 2008 after visiting the institute the year before. “It was one of the first film schools in [Mumbai],” Goenka says. “I knew we would get a quality experience there.” She worked with one of the institute’s founders, Subhash Ghai, to create the program. The program was held consecutive summers for its first three years, before Goenka announced it would be held every other year because she is the only one organizing the program. The next

The 2009 class poses by the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune. opportunity to participate in the program will be in 2012. “We had a really fantastic experience,” Goenka says of the first group. However, after seeing the groups’ unfamiliarity with Indian culture, she realized she needed to better prepare future students. In 2009, she began teaching the spring semester course TRF 560, “Bollywood and Beyond: an Introduction to Indian Cinema.” The course highlights Indian culture and its aesthetics through studying Bollywood movies. During the class, Goenka also facilitates video conferences via Skype, where students ask questions to experts in the field. Allison Nast, a former television, radio, and film student who traveled to Mumbai in 2009, says the class prepared her for an internship as a writer’s assistant at Red Chillies Entertainment, a production company in Mumbai. “Much of the dialogue in Indian films is recorded after filming, [because] central power is not reliable and generators are often used on set, making filmed dialogue unintelligible,” she says. “Knowing things like this before I got to Mumbai helped my understanding of the industry and helped me to fit in with the filmmakers there.” Students are placed in internships matching their interests. In Le’s case, he wanted to work on an independent feature film tackling more intricate subjects than standard Hollywood fare. “Indie films are just as capable of telling a great story as a studio film with lots of money,” Le says. He helped on the set of “Sale Up to 40%,” a romantic comedy shot in multiple formats. The one-month experience involves

more than taking classes at the film institute and having an internship. For Kelsie Testa, a junior television, radio, and film student, it meant visiting the set of the television show “Indian Idol” and attending the premiere of the movie “Raajneeti” – all while working on “Ishaan,” a popular Disney Channel series in India. The program has helped students gain new perspectives about their future aspirations. Since his time in Mumbai, Le has worked for HBO Documentary Films, shot commercials and music videos, and submitted some of his work into film festivals. He currently works for ABC as a production assistant on the show “Off the Map.” Le credits his time abroad with reaffirming his decision to become a cinematographer. “I learned more about filmmaking in a month on set in Mumbai than I did during my whole Newhouse education,” Le says. “As a filmmaker, it’s all about perspective; the Bollywood program is definitely the best way to gain a new vision.”


Allison Nast captures a music video shoot at the Whistling Woods International Institute for Film, Television and Media Arts.

Couch Culture Online site enables travelers to connect with locals one couch at a time Story Jillian Anthony | Photo Shaun Janis


ran Camosse just completed his 152-day trek across the United States. His 3,300 mile journey, which began in Newport, Ore., ended on Oct. 9 in Boston, Mass. Camosse, a graduate from Roger Williams University, walked about 2,800 miles of the journey. He attributes his best experiences to, a non-profit organization and online community that connects travellers with locals willing to host them for free. During his trip, Camosse stayed with 25 different couch surfing hosts for a total of about 40 days. He’s stayed with a number of people ranging from a couple on an organic farm to a host in the Midwest who invited him to a three-day family reunion. “Probably the biggest thing is being open to allowing good things to happen,” says Camosse. “Always keep your eye open for an opportunity. You don’t know how [people] can change your life.” According to, the organization’s vision is to give travelers an opportunity to explore and create meaningful connections with others. More than one million members use the website to find lodging in more than 150 countries and territories. Each potential host or surfer creates a profile on the site, where they can include a picture, state their current location, and list places they’ve traveled to or are

interested in seeing. Hosts can post details about their homes, other household members, what sex or age group of surfer they prefer to host, and where the surfer would sleep. Couch surfing provides a more in-depth experience to the culture of a place than staying in a hotel. In addition to never charging for lodging, most hosts are willing to share the culture and lifestyle of their city with guests. One of Camosse’s stops included Syracuse, N.Y. on Sept. 21 and 22, where he stayed with Risa Hiser, a senior geography major at Syracuse University. In two days, they went on a seven-mile hike around the area, saw an art show, and ate at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. “It’s fun because the profiles really help you judge who you want to be with,” Hiser says. “[Camosse] chose me because I live in this art community and I’m very creative. It’s great meeting people that are a lot like you, but [with] different stories.” Hiser has hosted couch surfers four times in her art studio and strives to provide the best experience for each guest. She provides bed sheets, towels, and free reign of her kitchen. She lives alone but never feels unsafe when hosting someone. “I’m not very scared,” Hiser says. “Maybe I should be, but it’s hard to be

with such a great organization.” To protect couch surfers, the website set up a series of checks to keep participation honest and safe. To become a verified member, you must confirm your location as well as donate $25 to the organization. After a stay, surfers can leave positive or negative feedback on the host’s public profile. Users also need to send an online request to surf on someone’s couch and can talk with the host online or by phone beforehand. Matt Smith, a senior acting and computer science major, who has couch surfed in North Carolina and Virginia, always feels safe when he surfs; however, he recommends taking certain precautions. “I wouldn’t recommend staying with a member that’s not verified,” he says, adding that a person unwilling to donate to the organization may be less credible. Christian Bucknell, a part-time SU student pursuing a humanities degree, stayed in a woman’s tree house in Big Sur, Calif. and hosted two young men who recently served in the Israeli army. “I think the coolest thing is [the type] of sharing,” Bucknell says. “Usually when you think of sharing you think, I’ll give you item A for your item B.” But with couch surfing, the rewards surpass materialistic value, he says. “The best part of the journey is the people,” Camosse says. “I’ve been shown such generosity and hospitality that you really just want to pay it forward. If I don’t have to, I’ll never pay for a hotel again.”


more couch surfing sites to explore

18 medley | fall 2010


Transportation around the world


typical Monday morning commute may consist of riding the train, driving to work, or grabbing a taxi. Across the globe, commuting takes on many different forms – jump off a boat, take a ride in a rickshaw, or bounce downtown in a giant hamster ball. These are some daily modes of transportation used worldwide. -compiled by Sydney McMinn

In Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand locals navigate crowded city streets in “tuk-tuks,” small auto rickshaws slightly larger than smart cars that drive faster than traditional taxis. Word to the wise: never put your feet in the rail behind the driver; it is considered disrespectful.

A student at Rockwood High School outside Knoxville, Tenn., started riding his horse to school in order to save money on gas. Other students are catching on to the idea; however, the school does not have the needed stable space to accommodate the horses.

New Zealand citizens have invented a new way to roll out to their destinations. “Zorbing,” allows riders to bounce down hills in an inflatable ball surrounded by a cushion of air.

Residents of San Cipriano, Colombia use brujitas to maneuver through the jungle. The wooden platform sits on a set of ball bearings and moves down railroad tracks. Called “little witches” because they fly quickly down the tracks, brujitas were originally propelled by a driver with a stick. Recently, motorcycles have been attached to the back of the vehicle to propel it forward.

When riding to work in Thailand, boats do not stop for passengers to get off.Instead, riders must jump out at their stop while the boat keeps moving.

If you take a trip to Peru and think you see the Loch Ness Monster on Lake Titicaca, don’t worry; it’s just a Tortora. Named after the tortora reeds from which they’re made, Uros tribes use these boats for local transportation. The dragon-shaped design of the boat is thought to repel evil spirits.

Japanese subways are so crowded they recquire packers, whose jobs are to shove as many passengers into train cars as possible before the doors close.



your student fee. 20 medley | fall 2010

Medley Magazine  

Issue No. 8, Fall 2010

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