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issue 11 | Spring 2012

see the world differently The ShifT Dance crew breakS iT Down



see the world differently

medley magazine spring 2012 | 11

Editorial Staff Editor in Chief Kathleen Kim Managing Editor Lauren Stefaniak Senior Editors Colleen Bidwill Nikelle Snader Valentina Palladino Assistant Editors Breanne Van Nostrand Nazia Islam Writers Donasia Sykes Elizabeth Reyes Jillian D’Onfro Kendra Okereke Madelyn Perez Meghin Delaney

Design Staff Art Director Zoë Mintz Design Editor Benjamin Jackson Photo Editor Christopher Trigaux Designers Amanda Marzullo Christopher Ballard Dan Berkowitz Kristin Cordon Sahra Roberts Photographers Carmen Ramirez Drew Shapiro Elizabeth Reyes Hannah Nast Mark Hoelscher Stacie Fanelli Tracey Wishik Illustrators Alicia Zyburt Evan Bujold


Sometimes, curiosity can get the best of you. Make one discovery and you’ll want to make another. There’s no controlling a restless mind, or that nagging itch to experience something new. But here at medley, we consider the innate human trait a virtue. And with this issue, we encourage the constant wondering—and wandering. So sink in, satiate that hunger to know. Learn about a distinct culture at La Casita Cultural Center (p. 12). Then, roam into the nearby neighborhood of Westcott to taste Las Delicias owner’s Caribbean spin on his mother’s home cooking (p. 21). Step into Syracuse University student Kathy Calella’s shoes as she dedicates her Saturdays to tutoring

Along the way, remember this quote by author Roald Dahl: “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” It mirrors the motto I’ve adopted this semester, my last as editor-in-chief and as a student at SU: go with your gut. I’ve learned to follow my instincts and to never stop questioning. So stretch your mind, and open your eyes wide to take it all in. There’s much to see. Happy reading,

Public Relations Public Relations Director Esther Chen

Advisor Elane Granger Ph.D. Associate Director for Student Services, Lillian and Emanuel Slutzker Center for International Services 2 medley | Spring 2012

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” - Maya Angelou, American author and poet

WHAT’S INSIDE 04 Contributors 06 I Thee Wed Marriage Customs

06 Snack Attack Tasty Cultural Treats

07 Sweep The Board Global Chess Variations

08 A Broad Perspective Know Your Abroad Stats

6 10 12


10 A Common Place A Religious Dialogue

12 Under One Roof Center Cultivates Connections



14 Shape-shifters The Shift Dance Crew

24 Snap Judgement Student Finds Strength Despite Adversity

Mixes It Up

18 In Their Corner Volunteers and Local Youth Bond 21 Soul Satisfaction Savor Flavors of the Caribbean

21 24

25 Quiz Unique Class Options BEHIND THE COVER >

Contributing photographer Elizabeth Reyes took The Shift Dance Crew exploring in Syracuse’ urban landscape.

medley 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 magazine is published once per semester with funding from your student fee. All contents of the publication are copyright 2012 by their respective creators.

CONTRIBUTORS evan bujold

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Activate your taste buds with three unique treats P. 6

Dive into an abroad adventure with smart stats P. 8

Join the conversation with two scholars of different faiths P. 10

Pairs unite through various cultural traditions STORY | MADELYN PEREZ ILLUSTRATION | ALICIA ZYBURT

“There is no such thing as traditional marriage,” says Terry Reeder. Last semester, the Ph.D student and instructor taught a course called REL 300: Marriage, Weddings, and Religion, where she challenged the idea of traditional marriage. “What you want to do is look at how complicated individuals take traditions from their religious, their cultural, perhaps their sex and gender orientation and you bind them for their own wedding.” Reeder and two SU students


Snack Attack JAPAN

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Munch on these international treats




Sweep the Board


Outwit your opponents with these unique chess variations STORY | DONASIA SYKES GRAPHIC | BENJAMIN JACKSON




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Know your stats before venturing off through SU Abroad



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a trip to down Otisco Steet’s cultural hub P. 12

an SU student to educate local youth P. 18

Taste the Caribbean P. 21


Under One Roof Cultural center invites Syracuse community to connect STORY | MEGHIN DELANEY PHOTOS | STACIE FANELLI

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n unassuming red brick building sits on Otisco Street in downtown Syracuse, surrounded by bleak houses. But inside the modern structure lies a local treasure. Tucked inside the Lincoln Building is La Casita Cultural Center, a vibrant cultural, artistic, and educational center. Its makeshift library exemplifies the center’s aim to provide a gathering place for Latino residents in Syracuse. Bright books like “Perros y Gatos” and “Las Cosas Grandes y Chicas” line its little cubbies. The center occupies 5,000 square feet of the building now, after existing for four years without a physical space. April marks the center’s sixth month in downtown Syracuse. It’s the second office and brainchild of Inmaculada Lara-Bonilla, the center’s founding director and assistant professor of Spanish at Syracuse University. In her first year as a visiting professor at SU in 2001, Lara-Bonilla asked a group of graduate students the best spots in Syracuse for coffee, or to hang out. They returned her questions with blank stares. “That made me think: ‘Why don’t they know? Aren’t they curious?’” she says. When she returned to SU in 2005 after spending a few years in her native Madrid, Lara-

Bonilla decided to bridge the obvious gap between students and their surrounding community. “With an outsider’s eye, you come to see structures that you wouldn’t see sometimes in your own city or in your own culture,” she explains. The idea for La Casita was born. Although the project has been in the

Casita has proven to be a great point of contact. The opening of the center’s current exhibit, “The Photographer as a Child: Memories of Guatemala,” is a perfect example of that. It amazed Tjornehoj to see SU students and professors mingle with community members and artists. “I


works since 2008, with the help of Silvio Torres-Saillant, an English professor at SU, the center officially opened its doors in late September. In addition to the library, there’s a classroom for afterschool activities, a small auditorium for dance shows, an art gallery, and a meeting space. Lara-Bonilla runs the cultural center with a few students. David Pittman, a senior international relations major, is an employee and one of two students who intern at the center this semester. Regardless of position, the employees and interns work toward the same goal: to promote the arts and culture in Central New York’s Latino population through events. The center collaborates with other organizations in the area like La Liga, the Red House Arts Center, and The Near Westside Initiative. The programming is participatory, and visitors are encouraged to pitch what they would like to see happen at the center. “If someone in the community is like, ‘Hey, I want to do a painting workshop,’ then there can be a painting workshop,” explains Rachel Tjornehoj, the communications intern at La Casita and a senior graphic design and Spanish dual. She started her internship there because it blended her majors perfectly, and she wanted to get beyond the campus bubble. Specifically, Tjornehoj works on increasing publicity by updating the website, designing the newsletter, and creating postcards to send out. She tries to convey the point that the center will cater to the community’s needs, and La

studied abroad in Chile, so I was talking to people who had also studied abroad in Chile, and then I was talking to an artist who lived around the corner [in Syracuse], all in the span of 15 minutes,” she says. It’s this merging of the community and university that the center is looking for in the long run, says Lara-Bonilla.

to see the empowerment of new leaders in the community and proposals from new leaders, and also more projects from students,” Lara-Bonilla explains. One project comes from Amy Behr, a graduate student in the School of Information Studies and the library intern at La Casita. The center’s small library allows visitors to check out books. It’s a minimal but important first step to provide more resources, which Behr hopes to give to the center’s visitors. Several have expressed they want access to popular books from their countries of origin or books written in the English language translated into their native tongues. “It’s an extremely wide variety of things,” Behr says. “And not even just books, there’s a huge, huge want for movies and films, too.” As she sits in her SU office in the Tolley Building and reflects on the center’s growth, Lara-Bonilla seems determined. Determined to keep going. The dream began more than 10 years ago, and while the project has been open for just more than six months, Lara-Bonilla plans to see the center thrive through

Inmaculada Lara-Bonilla, founding director of La Casita Cultural Center, helps lead a workshop session for students from Blodgett Middle School in March. During the workshop, students learned the basics of photography and curated their own exhibition for La Casita’s Arts Gallery. She aims to implement a hybrid, ongoing community counsel for the center that would generate more programming. Anybody from the university would be welcome to the counsel, as well as other community members and leaders. “I’d like

community support. “Those moments of collaboration— when they become a reality—is priceless,” she explains. “The bridge is happening in so many directions and at so many levels that it’s not difficult to keep going.”


Hip-hop crew translates str uctured form into fluid motion STORY | COLLEEN BIDWILL PHOTOS | ELIZABETH REYES AND DREW SHAPIRO


“The Edge of Glory” remix. The two beats echo inside the cycling room of Archbold Gymnasium. Unfazed by the occasional passers-by glancing in through the large side window, the members of The Shift Dance Crew stare intensely ahead at the mirror. The notes slowly fade and Courtney Yeh, decked in sweatpants and a black tank top, pauses with a bright smile as she places her hands on her and rhetorical studies major. Founded in 2008, The Shift Dance Crew has nine members, though two are currently studying abroad. What originally began as students who simply wanted to perform at ASIA Night, a showcase of Asian-interest organizations, have become a diverse group that shares a common passion for dance. The name symbolizes that, well, shift. The members erupt in friendly chatter. Some continue to practice the

two shows: ASIA Night on April 15 and the Multicultural Spring Program on April 22. What the members hope to bring to their performances is summed up in one word: versatility. Their choreography delves into a variety of hiphop styles, from tougher street hip-hop and sultry R&B, to a new style of dance called “tutting,” in which the dancer’s body makes sharp angles and geometric shapes. “We wanted to be a crew that’s not only a family but a group to explore different styles of hip-hop and show the community what we have,” says Yeh, who has 11 years of dance experience under her belt. The music trickles back on and everything restarts. Again and again and again. After repetitively practicing separate sections but not the routine as a whole, one member poses a question to the group: “Why don’t we just do it?” “Excellent idea,” says Yeh with a smirk. And the music starts again. Turn the page for a glimpse into The Shift’s practice session.

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The members of The Shift Dance Crew consist of 9 members. Two are currently abroad. The four featured here are Stanley Huang, Courtney Yeh, Jeannette Hanna, and Victoria Wong, respectively.


The members of The Shift Dance Crew practice inside the cycling room of Archbold Gymnasium on a Tuesday night. The group practices three times a week to prepare for future dance showcases.

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factor of the group’s choreography. The members delve into various dance styles, like street hip-hop, sulty R&B, and a distinct style called “tutting.”


In Their


SU volunteers forge bonds with youth through tutoring program STORY | NIKELLE SNADER PHOTOS | CHRIS TRIGAUX

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Kathy Calella has already put in several hours of work. She looks up with an apologetic smile. “I never really know what they’re going to be like,” she says, picking up stray worksheets and pencils strewn across the round table. Standing in the middle of the music room in Dr. King Elementary School in Syracuse, N.Y., it would seem as if Calella is a bit lost. She’s only a mile or so from the Syracuse University campus, but the Westside can be a completely different world.

Still, it’s Calella’s second home every Saturday morning when she spends two hours with six energetic, yet sometimes distracted, ninth-grade boys. Calella, a senior English education major, devotes weekend mornings to a tutoring program called International Young Scholars, or IYS. SU students volunteer at various times throughout the week to help immigrant students in the Syracuse community improve their reading, writing, and math skills. Many of these students

(From left) International Young Scholars mentor Kathy Calella uses the game Boggle as a learning device. Another mentor, Thomas Badman, discusses a reading with student Hussein Yerow (Top). The program includes games and activites. During one Satuday session, students had a chance to touch a “singing bowl,” in which vibrations from your hands create a resounding tone.

are Somali Bantu refugees, whose families have relocated to the Syracuse area. The students often struggle with basic skills in school, which is where Calella and her fellow mentors come in. “The kids need more help than the schools can give,” she says. “They’re certainly not ahead, though they have the ability to be, if given the opportunity.” Upon entering the room, Calella asks the six boys around the table if they have homework. One of them,

Adin, doesn’t have anything in front of him. “Do you have homework?” Calella asks. He shakes his head no. “Promise?” The first focus of IYS is to help students understand their schoolwork. After, they complete practice exercises organized by Calella, other students, and staff who work in the IYS office. The program also lends time for games in the gym to foster bonding between the mentors and the students. IYS began in 2002. Syeisha Byrd, the director of the Office

of Engagement Programs at Hendricks Chapel and the supervisor of IYS, says it was initially started as a way to help Haitian immigrants. Now, the program focuses on helping Somali Bantu refugees in cooperation with two community organizations, the Northside Learning Center and the Somali Bantu Community organization. To the students involved, the program is much more than completing homework assignments or following a curriculum.

It’s about establishing relationships with much stronger bonds than a simple mentor-student dynamic. “Sometimes it’s like a brother-sister relationship,” Byrd says. “They love each other and then the next day they don’t. Because the mentor pushes them to do what they have to do. But it’s a nice bond.” Ron Harvey, the program assistant and tutor for the Wednesday night math program, agrees. “It’s a really interactive experience, to see how everybody meshes together,” he says. “It really becomes something like a family.” IYS has programs on Monday and Wednesday nights and two programs on Saturdays. About 70 SU students volunteer as mentors in at least one program each week, and about double that amount of youth participate in the program. Byrd says keeping up with all the students can be a challenge. “Once the youth find out that there’s help, they flock to you,” she says. “They want that help.”

SU student and IYS mentor Sam Myers (left) helps Adey Amir and Nuria Mohamed, respectively, with their English and reading skills. She also says that mentors can face other challenges with the students. “Behavior… um, behavior,” she says, laughing. “Stubbornness.” Calella encourages her students during her sessions. Despite complaints that the worksheet is difficult—she’s peppered with pleas of “This is hard, miss,”—she knows they can understand the work if they try. “You guys should be able to do these no problem, because you guys are so smart,” she replies. But there are other times that call for Calella to be more adamant. “Abshir—Do. Your. Crossword,” she says. Abshir focuses back on the worksheet for another minute, then goes back to fiddling with his pencil and murmuring to Yukub and Reger beside him. But along with the challenges, Byrd says the rewards are great. She says that the constant support from the same mentors helps students learn about life, as well as math and reading. “It’s really nice to watch them work together,” she says. “Especially because they’re from different faiths and different cultures and they’re able to learn and teach one another. Many of the mentors that I’ve spoken to have said, ‘They’ve helped me more than I’ve helped them.’” Harvey sees this in his own experience as a mentor. “They’ve helped develop me into a better person,” he says. “My drive toward being successful and wanting to create programs like this in my lifetime has been increased. My willingness to put

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my time on the line to help others has definitely been expanded as well.” And that time has been well spent, says Byrd. “The youth we’re working with now—they’re really starting to get it,” she says. “They’re starting to learn to read, to write—and I’ve worked with a few middle schools and other programs we’ve ran and the American kids, I feel like are now behind them.” Byrd would like to see the program expand to help other students in the Syracuse community, not just the refugee population. Harvey sees the program as a place to help the students grow and thrive. “It’s such a great experience to see someone that has struggled and persevered and fought their way up past their hatred of a subject, past their preconceived notions that they can’t do it,” he says, “and to really see the strength of these students and these young men and women is really great.” Calella apologizes that the boys weren’t model students this morning. But despite a few moments of disorder with a soccer ball, she handled the morning with a seasoned experience that can only come with time spent with the boys, and a passion to see them succeed. It’s not an easy road to overcome a language barrier, a concept of the math system, and the cultural nuances woven into every aspect of education. But with Calella and the whole program in the boys’ corner, the future looks bright.


Local restaurant mashes up traditional Caribbean dishes that warm hear ts and fill stomachs STORY | JILLIAN D’ONFRO PHOTOS | MARK HOELSCHER

ord for the wise: don’t hit up Las Delicias at 2 p.m. on a Thursday. Turns out, bellies all over Syracuse start to rumble for home-cooked Caribbean food at that precise time. The light blue walls and white tiled floor of the restaurant contrast the wooden tables with their golden-brown glow. Upbeat Caribbean music, heavy on the percussion, bounces from the speakers.


Diners transport to a southern region of the world. The woman working the front counter laughs and jokes with customers, sending sassy, good-natured prods toward those in line cranky due to the wait. Delicious scents waft from behind the glass at the front counter. Stew chicken, stew steak, fried pork chops: all served with rice, beans, and salad. The woman ladles enormous portions into to-go containers for other customers until I pronounced the name of my desired have the, uh… mofongo please?” Mofongo is one of the restaurant’s specialty dishes. Francisco Rodriguez, the owner and chef, smashes up fried green plantains with olive oil and fresh garlic. He molds the mash into a bowl-like tower and drenches it with a red sauce that contains green peppers, tomatoes, olives, and more fresh garlic. Rodriguez heaps creole shrimp onto the already loaded plate. “When I grew up, all the time, this is what we would eat,” Rodriguez says. Born in the Dominican Republic, he learned how to cook from his mother. Since moving to U.S., Rodriguez has made each traditional dish his own. He

Las Delicias owner Francisco Rodriguez learned to cook from his mother and serves up traditional Caribbean dishes, like stew chicken and fried pork chops with rice and beans.

had the opportunity to experiment with different meals while working in the food business for years before opening Las Delicias. “I would make something, and if it came out good, I would put it on the menu,” he says. “And here it is!” While waiting for the meal to arrive, I could hear the smack-smack-smack of Rodriguez pummeling the plantains for my mofongo. Talk about freshly made food. Upon arrival, the mofongo looked like a tower on the large plate. I was hooked Syracuse afternoon, the food burst with Caribbean spice.

The juice of the salty sauce seeped into the dense plantain mash. I never tried Caribbean food before but the textural uniqueness of the mofongo won me over. It was simultaneously hidden in the sauce added an extra Fried sweet plantains complimented the meal. A crisp outer skin gave way to a hot, smooth, plump explosion of tangy sweetness. I ate about 15 and probably could have continued to consume them, if only my stomach was bottomless. All of the food tasted authentic. What Rodriguez cooks at the restaurant is the same food he cooks at home for his family. As Caribbean food, Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban all blended together to create delectable dishes. main concern, but the results are worth the wait. Las Delicias takes its name seriously: the experience proved to be a delight.

Las Delicias Address: 552 Westcott Street Phone: (315) 422-0208 Hours: Mon – Sat, 11 am – 10 pm Price Range: $10 – $30 22 medley | Spring 2012

See through the eyes of a student who learned to embrace her ethnicity P. 24

in one of the most adventurous courses SU has to offer P. 25


SNAP JUDGEMENT One sorority sister strengthens her identity in the face of adversity STORY | KENDRA OKEREKE PHOTO | COLLEEN BIDWILL

Growing up in a predominantly white suburb in Vancouver, Washington, I always grappled with my selfidentity. My parents emigrated from Africa and instilled a strong understanding of African-American culture in me, but I was the only black girl among classmates and friends and always felt different.

“ Every experience I’ve had has contributed to my understanding about my race and myself.” – Visual and Performing Arts

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Medley Spring 2012  
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Spring 2012 Issue