Medley spring 2011

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s p r i n g 2 0 1 1 | i s s u e 9

medley message

medley magazine spring 2011 9

Editorial Staff Editor in Chief Kirsten Acuna Managing Editor Noelia de la Cruz Senior Editors Natthakan Garunrangseewong Kathleen Kim Melissa Savignano Assistant Editors Valentina Palladino Lauren Stefaniak Fact Checkers George Clarke Tress Klassen Writers Kathleen Corlett Tony D’Alleva Jillian D’Onfro Marwa Eltagouri LaPorsha Lowry Alanah Rodriguez Nikelle Snader Alex Spychalsky

Design Staff Art Director Luis Rendon Designers Ashley Calarco Brandon Weight Photographers Isabel Alcantara Jillian D’Onfro Reid Searls Ashli Truchon Bridgette Werner

Public Relations Public Relations Director Dan Kaplan Asst. PR Director Katrina Caraboolad

BEYOND THE HORIZON One of my favorite books when I was little was “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss. It inspired me to challenge myself and try my best. The book told you to keep an open mind and be fearless when facing new adventures. For my last semester at Syracuse University, I’ve made sure to make time to explore my horizons despite the exams, 10-page papers, and job applications. Whether by going to the zoo, lying on Boeheim court, or borrowing trays from the dining hall to go sledding, I’ve pulled out all the stops because when I leave here, I want to say I’ve done it all. Therefore, in this issue, we hope to inspire you to search for new ventures. If you’re up for trying a new dish in cuisine, I recommend a taste of the Irish. Read about Kathleen Corlett’s experience at Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub on page 9. Though you can help out at home, there are many other opportunities to take advantage of while overseas. Learn about great organizations that allow you to volunteer abroad on page18 and read of one student’s trip to Haiti during winter break with Campus Crusade for Christ to help in the rebuilding process on page 22. Maybe you’re more into self-expression through the arts. In that case, Verbal Blend’s poetry (p. 20) or drumming group Cheon Ji In’s beats (p. 11) may be your calling. I’ve been with medley since my sophomore year. As my chapter as editor in chief ends, another one is about to begin. I welcome coming opportunities with open arms. It’s been a great three years on staff, but today is my day. My mountain is calling. Carpe Diem,

Advisor Elane Granger Ph.D. Associate Director for Student Services, Lillian and Emanuel Slutzker Center for International Services 2 medley | fall 2010

Kirsten Acuna

table of contents

06 Hungry for Turkey A glimpse at SU Abroad’s new Istanbul program

7 8 9

07 Meaningful Connections

Sister-to-sister mentorship

08 Faith in Fashion

Headscarves shape one SU student’s identity


09 Irish Hospitality

Kitty Hoynes pub serves up traditional meals

11 In Sync

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 a semester with funding from your student fee. All contents of the publication are copyright 2011 by their respective creators.

Korean drumming takes the stage at SU

14 Somewhere I Belong

Four countries, three continents, one global perspective


16 The Kids Are All Right

Two friends talk about their gay parents


18 Aid Across the Map

Volunteering abroad

20 Brave New Voices

SU poetry group grows

11 21 Snapshots from Abroad Your best photos from around the world

22 Help in Haiti

20 21 22

SU student reflects on his trip over winter break

23 Tidbits

Board games from abroad PHOTOS BY ASHLI TRUCHON

“People need to see that, far from being an obstacle, the world’s diversity of languages, religions, and traditions is a great treasure, affording us precious opportunities to recognize ourselves in others.” - Youssou N’Dour

Jae Hoon Bae, a sophomore chemical engineering and math major plays the buk during the Cheon Ji In drumming performance of “Welcome to Our Wonderland.” Senegalese singer

learning curve l e s s o n s i n c u lt u r e

Lost for Words Vocabulary to translate your life Ever wish there was a word to describe a certain situation, feeling, or emotion you’ve experienced? Odds are, there is one—just not in English. Here are five words that don’t exist in our native tongue. 1. You know it’s a good party when the table is covered in culacini. Culacino (n) Italian: The circular mark left on a table by a cold glass. 2. After Kate let go of Jack, she felt nothing but saudade. Saudade (n) Portuguese, Galician: A nostalgic feeling of longing for a thing or person someone once had, but can never have again. 3. As soon as I left class I was hit with l’espirit d’escalier as I realized all the things I could have said during the debate. L’espirit d’escalier (n) French: The feeling after leaving a conversation, when you think of all the things you should have said. 4. Guy - I’d like you to meet my Girl - I can’t believe I’ve just been tartled. I met you five seconds ago. Tartle (v) Scottish: The act of hesitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten his or her name. 5. I thought my knock-knock joke was brilliant, but the blank stares told me I’d pulled a jayus. Jayus (n) Indonesian: A joke so poorly told and so unfunny, one cannot help but laugh. -Compiled by staff PHOTO BY JILLIAN D’ONFRO

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learning curve l e s s o n s i n c u lt u r e

The Morning After Blues Americans turn to hangover remedies such as staying hydrated, sleeping it off, and eating a hearty meal. However, other parts of the world offer different treatments. Next time you wake up after a night of partying with your head spinning, try one of these unique cures.


International Ideologies Black cats, broken mirrors, and Friday the 13th—while these superstitions may seem strange to foreigners, we’re not the only ones with a list of unusual beliefs. Here are five worldly worries that make black cats seem friendly. -Valentina Palladino

-Marwa Eltagouri J A P A N – Never stick your chopsticks into a bowl of rice. In Japanese funeral traditions, people place bowls of rice with chopsticks sticking upright on the altar of the deceased—doing so outside a funeral setting brings bad luck.

MONGOLIA Try a “Mongolian Mary”—tomato juice paired with a few pickled sheep’s eyes. This recipe dates back to the days of Genghis Khan, whose crew would supposedly use the remedy. Though it sounds worse than a hangover, the drink is said to get rid of any illness within 45 minutes.

I T A L Y – While Americans fear the number 13, Italians stay away from the number 17. They avoid getting married on the 17th, living at address number 17, or going to the 17th floor of a building.

I TA LY Sicilian men once believed nausea and headaches could be prevented by the healing abilities of the testes from a bull. Made into a sausage, this spicy delicacy delivers a jolt, ridding all headaches.

R U S S I A – Russians often leave food in their homes for the domovoj, a house spirit who protects the family and home, according to Erika Haber, associate professor of Russian language, literature, and culture at Syracuse University. “But he can cause mischief if he’s treated poorly,” Haber says. Creaking heard in the house at night is often attributed to the lurking of the hungry domovoj.

FRANCE If you’re suffering from a hangover in France, simply go to another bar. Instead of alcohol, some bars serve air. Oxygen bars in Paris provide flavored oxygen to inhale, replenishing the body and breaking down remaining alcohol in the bloodstream.

RUSSIA Pampering is the ultimate remedy for the Russians who all head out to the banya, or sauna, the next day after a night of drinking. The heat and humidity of this public bath area is said to clear the mind as well as steam alcohol out of the system. Russians also take lemon slices, top each with a teaspoon of sugar and coffee, and bite into them, allowing the taste to overcome any groggy feelings.

G E R M A N Y – Next time you find yourself at a German dinner table, finish all your bratwurst. According to Taural Rhoden, host of the myGermany travel and culture podcast, Germans are sticklers when it comes to cleaning off plates. Food left on plates brings bad weather.

MOROCCO Moroccans believe inhaling smoke ultimately cures a hangover. Scientific research shows health benefits indeed exist in the charcoal smoke, which Moroccans would burn as if it were incense. Doctors worldwide prescribe charcoal tablets to cure indigestion. GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATIONS BY LUIS RENDON

A R G E N T I N A – Argentineans take education seriously. According to Sang Hee Park of Brigham Young University’s English Language Center, to pass an exam one must wear the same clothing he or she wore while studying because the clothes retain the answers. Argentineans also sleep on the book they studied from to absorb the knowledge directly.

a b ro a d i n t e r n at i o n a l l e a r n i n g


A man prays at noon inside the famous Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.

Hungry for Turkey SU Abroad starts new program in the Middle East



s Catherine Mehta looks out her bus window, bright sunlight illuminates the crowded, narrow streets lined with markets, boutiques, and cigarette stands. Cars and pedestrians weave in and out of the streets, all headed in different directions. Looming above and stacked like boxes, the layered buildings show the progression of a city steeped in history. Ornate mosques and palaces rise from the landscape, still treasured by the people who call the city home. This is Mehta’s first glimpse of Istanbul, Turkey. Mehta, a junior anthropology and international relations major at Syracuse University, is one of 16 students taking classes at Bahçeşehir University this semester—the first group to participate in SU Abroad’s Istanbul program. Suzanne Shane, director of programs for SU Abroad, says the program began as part of a new vision that emphasizes university partnership and integration with local students. “For most SU students, it will be the first time they have lived in a Muslim majority city, or looked at the Middle East and central Asia through a non-Western lens,” she says. Mehta knew little about Turkish culture before starting the semester. She also didn’t know how to speak the language, but the Istanbul program’s pre-semester seminar helped Mehta comfortably 6 medley | spring 2011

transition into her new home. Camila Lertora Nardozzi, the SU Abroad counselor for the Istanbul program, says the seminar gives students a crash course in the Turkish language, lessons on the city’s history, and day trips to ancient sites in Istanbul. Mehta says that knowing key phrases, such as “nerede...?” (“where is...?”) and “teşekkür ederim” (“thank you”), helped students navigate the city better. Living in Istanbul has given Mehta many eye-opening opportunities. “Sometimes I will be walking down a street and it will start to feel like I am just walking down a street in Europe, then the call to prayer will begin and I forget all about that,” she says. The call to prayer, known as the ezan, occurs five times a day as outlined by the tenets of Islam. Mehta describes the call to prayer as a beautiful and moving sound. One person’s voice calls out to other mosques in the city, and Muslim believers in those mosques respond with a mix of singing and chanting. Mehta says that at this time, many of the Muslims in the city go to one of the 3,000 mosques located in and around Istanbul to pray. The blend of cultures in Istanbul attracted Mehta to a semester in the city populated with almost 13 million people. The European Union chose Istanbul as the European Capital of

Culture for 2010 because of its history as a central hub for the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim cultures. The city’s diversity fascinates Mehta. “You walk down the street and see women wearing hijabs next to women wearing high-end European fashion,” she says. When she goes out for lunch or dinner, Mehta can choose from many types of food—everything from Middle Eastern cuisine and Mediterranean dishes, to steak and French fries. Mehta particularly loves kofta, Turkish meatballs typically made with ground beef or lamb and mixed with spices. Mehta says she enjoys meeting international students, especially native Turkish students. The ones she has met do not wear sweatpants or T-shirts in public, and Mehta says they are always prepared to meet and impress others. “It is now the majority opinion in my group that Turkish men and women are the most attractive people in the world,” she says. Though the program’s students stay in dormitories near the university, they embrace the thriving culture around them. Mehta says she takes advantage of the city’s many entertainment options. “In my opinion, Istanbul beats New York City by ten,” she says. “There is so much to do here day and night. Taksim Square and clubs near Ortakoy are the best places for bars, clubs, and hookah.” Mehta loves to walk the Galata Bridge spanning the Golden Horn, a body of water that forms the harbor of Istanbul. Underneath this pedestrian bridge lies a huge walkway where locals stroll by the water, drink chai, smoke hookah, or pick up a fresh fish sandwich. She also suggests visiting the Blue Mosque, one of the city’s most famous places of worship, or the Grand Bazaar, a covered market that boasts more than 4,000 shops selling spices, rugs, and food. As Mehta continues to adapt to her surroundings, her excitement about the city and the program strengthens. Nardozzi says she hopes the enthusiasm for studying in Istanbul spreads. “It’s just going to grow, and it’s just going to get better,” she says.

c u l t u re d c o n v e r s a t i o n s

Meaningful Connections

a q+a with an su insider

SU student comes full circle by mentoring first-years BY LAPORSHA LOWRY AND LAUREN STEFANIAK


iffany Bender came to Syracuse University from New York City searching for a way to make her mark on campus. During the fall semester of her freshman year, Bender, now a senior communications and rhetorical studies major, found the outlet she was looking for: Dimensions, the mentorship program aimed at empowering and helping women of color adjust to life at SU. Created in 1994 as an extension of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Dimensions gives SU students a platform to discuss different issues that may arise for women of color on campus, says director Jossette Burgos. First-year students pair up with upper-class women who share similar majors, interests, and goals. After their first year, mentees have the opportunity to become mentors, and relay the lessons they’ve learned to the incoming freshmen. Bender, a mentee-turned-mentor, serves as the program’s only intern, taking the leadership skills and confidence she gained as a mentor and applying them to her new position. Bender talks to medley about her experiences as a mentor, the program’s latest project, and the lifelong bonds she has formed with her first-year “sisters.”

WHAT IS THE MESSAGE DIMENSIONS TRIES TO GET ACROSS TO WOMEN OF COLOR AT SU? You can’t let the color of your skin or your gender hold you back from being a leader in the classroom, the workroom, in internships, or wherever you are.

WHY WAS DIMENSIONS A GOOD FIT FOR YOU? After spending my sophomore year as a mentor for the first time, I was able to build a relationship with my mentee. I never experienced a relationship with another minority woman that was my age because I have an older brother and no sisters. It was rewarding to have that type of bond with another female; I still refer to her as my little sister.

HOW HAS ONE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH A MENTEE EXTENDED PAST THE PROGRAM? One of my mentees competes in pageants. We [became] really, really close and were talking about pageants. I said, ‘I always wanted to do pageants when I was younger, but that’s not really my thing.’ And she said, ‘There’s this


pageant called Miss Black New York and I think you should do it.’ Two weeks later, I got a phone call for an interview for Miss Black New York. This girl filled out an application on my behalf and submitted it, and now I’m competing in the pageant this November.

DOES DIMENSIONS HELP OUT IN THE COMMUNITY? We just started a brand new initiative this year called the Syracuse City School District Mentoring Initiative at the Blodgett Middle School. It has about ten mentors and about 15 middle school girls. The first day I was literally in tears because I fell in love with the girls. When I was in seventh grade, I was trying to figure out who was going to be my first kiss, yet [some of] these girls are dealing with issues like abortion and sexually transmitted diseases while [trying to] maintain their innocence. It was a really different experience for me.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES HAS DIMENSIONS GIVEN YOU? Dimensions has gotten me a job in the Office of Multicultural Affairs. I’m now an official mentoring intern, so I help out coordinators of other mentoring programs with programming.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST THING YOU HAVE TAKEN AWAY FROM THE PROGRAM? No matter how independent you try to be, you still need a support system. You need a circle of privacy and confidence to vent and get things off your chest; a place where you can say whatever you need to say to keep your sanity. That is what Dimensions was for me.

viewpoint a different perspective

Faith in fashion SU student unfolds religious identity by wearing headscarves by alanah rodriguez


s Dania Souid gathered her belongings after class, she adjusted her black-and-white patterned headscarf. Every day Souid wears a new scarf with intricate designs, her hair pulled neatly into a bun so the fabric covers her entire head. That day, she chose a black-and-white headscarf to match her black jeans, black tank top, and white long-sleeved shirt tucked underneath. Whatever her outfit, Souid finds a scarf, called a hijab in Muslim culture, to match. Souid, a sophomore broadcast journalism and French dual major at Syracuse University, is a young Muslim woman born and raised in Syracuse, N.Y. Her parents emigrated from Syria and settled in New York to pursue medical degrees and start a family. Though Souid grew up in a predominantly Muslim culture and visited Syria every year, she didn’t start wearing a hijab until the summer before her freshman year of college. “When I started high school I didn’t understand enough about my religion, so it didn’t occur to me to wear one,” Souid says. When Souid was younger, she realized other people noticed her mother wearing her traditional dress and hijab. Though it seemed odd that people would stare at what was so ingrained in her culture, she didn’t comprehend the clothing’s importance. Souid says as she grew older, her understanding of Muslim culture did as well. 8 medley | spring 2011


The purpose of wearing a hijab in Muslim culture is to exhibit modesty, Souid says. According to the Muslim religion, a hijab keeps with the commandments of Allah, which state women should cover their beauty, including their hair and chest. Women also wear the hijab so people focus on other important aspects of their lives, Souid says, such as their jobs and education. During the first semester of her freshman year, Souid wore a different-colored hijab each day to represent her Muslim identity. Her transition to wearing one was a big step, but she says it didn’t change how others treated her. “When I came to SU I didn’t know anybody. It was interesting to be seen as Arab and more interesting because my headscarf was such an easy thing to pick out. Now, it’s just such an interesting characteristic about me. I don’t find it a bad thing at all.” Souid says though she does get “looks” occasionally, the only time she’s been singled out for her religion was during

a freshman year philosophy lecture of 400 students. Souid says during the lecture, her professor talked about political correctness and how people have become afraid to describe a person’s ethnicity. She says the professor pointed her out and told the class it was obvious she was Muslim, therefore it wouldn’t be incorrect to connect her hijab to her religion. “There isn’t anything wrong with calling me a Muslim because that is who I am,” Souid says. “It’s true and not offensive. The purpose [of the lecture] was to show that we can’t be so worried about trying not to offend a person and ignore obvious characteristics.” Souid acknowledges her religion could be an issue when searching for jobs once she graduates. Because she’s interested in reporting in different countries, including those in the Middle East, she’s particularly concerned about on-camera positions. “I think it might affect [future jobs]. I just hope people don’t deny me a job because of my religion and what I choose to wear,” Souid says. Yet being turned down for a job due to her religion is not something that would set her back. “I wouldn’t be surprised and I wouldn’t mind. I’d rather not get that job and not work for those people. I would never change who I am just to get a job.” Despite the potential consequences, piecing together an outfit with a hijab is a highlight of her morning. She has more than 50 from which to choose. Anytime she buys a new shirt and doesn’t have a scarf to match, she buys a new one. Souid says wearing a hijab is an important and fun way to display who she is. Though wearing a hijab is central to Muslim culture, anyone can learn from Souid’s decision to display her culture with pride. “Stay true to yourself, and be confident about the choices you’ve made,” she says. “Be proud of those choices and stick with them no matter what happens.”


a ro u n d t h e w o r l d , a ro u n d t o w n c u lt u r a l f i n d s i n s y r a c u s e

words by kathleen corlett photos by ashli truchon

Preceded by its savory aroma, the grilled sandwich arrives plated with a side of lightly battered fries. Its plump, juicy tomato balances the meaty combination of thick ham, melted Mozzarella, and cheddar on sourdough bread. The Naughton’s Galaway Toastie is one of three favorites recommended by Derek, a waiter in his mid-30s who has been serving at Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub & Restaurant for five years. He recommends saving the chicken ranch and cranberry turkey sandwiches for another lunch. This heavy sandwich satisfies with one half, but its smell tempts diners to reach for the second. At three o’clock, a late lunch means a choice of tables and extra facetime with the waiter. The high stools upholstered with burgundy and gold striped fabric stand empty and inviting around the mahogany bar. The bar’s rich, dark wood stretches from the countertop to an ornate fixture with a clock set in the middle and carvings of corn, onion, apples, banana, and pineapples—a majestic centerpiece for the restaurant.


a ro u n d t h e w o r l d , a ro u n d t o w n c u lt u r a l f i n d s i n s y r a c u s e

Soft Irish music plays over the speakers and the hospitality reflects Irish pubs overseas. Beyond the two-sided bar, a middle-aged man dressed in a gray suit passes through the front door. Derek greets him with a quick hello: “Saw the missus in here last week.” The guest chatters about his wife’s visit after a Syracuse University basketball game, seating himself and saving two more seats for business clients at a tall table by the corner windows. Like many pubs in Ireland, Kitty Hoynes has attracted regulars since its opening in July of 1999. “There weren’t any TVs in Ireland, so that’s how the news got shared from people stopping in and sharing their stories,” says David Hoyne, who owns and operates Kitty Hoynes with his wife Cindy. The value of a familyrun business—and much of the interior décor of Kitty Hoynes—comes from Hoyne’s hometown in Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Ireland. David Hoyne worked with his father at the family business: a grocery store, hardware shop, bar, and uptaking business by the name of Wm. Hoyne & Sons, founded by his grandfather. Catherine “Kitty” Hoyne, David’s mother and the restaurant pub’s namesake, also employed her sons with the housework at the end of the workday. “We didn’t have any sisters in a family of five boys, so we learned to do quite a lot, from washing clothes to washing dishes, and helping

THE PERFECT MEAL For a traditional Irish experience, Kitty Hoynes owner David Hoyne suggests a pint of Guinness—“which we

10 medley | spring 2011

David Hoyne, an Irish native, opened Kitty Hoynes in July 1999 with his wife Cindy. The pub, located at 300 West Fayette St., is known for serving traditional Irish cuisine and some of the best pints of beer in town.

her in the garden,” Hoyne says. Today, Hoyne operates his restaurant and pub with help from his family. His mother-inlaw works the door three days a week, greeting and seating guests. His nieces wait on tables. His sister-in-law bakes carrot cakes three times each week for the dessert menu. The Hoyne children, ages 10 and 14, still have a few years before they join the team. Many of the menu items draw from family recipes once made in Kitty’s kitchen in Ireland— with slight tweaks, Hoyne says. For example, his mother cooked Shepherd’s Pie with lamb, meat widely available in Ireland. Here in the States, he substitutes it with beef sirloin. take very seriously here,” he adds, nodding to the Perfect Pint Award the pub received in 2000—and a plate of Reuben Fritters (corned beef with Swiss and cream cheese and sauerkraut) to start. Order

The bar room exudes a liveliness with its goldenrod walls decorated in antique beer advertisements and Irish memorabilia. Its corner-platform stage fits five entertainers on weekends for live Irish and Celtic music. Toward the back of the pub, tables and booths offer a more intimate setting in a dimly lit nook. A pair of stained glass pheasant doors, rescued from the renovation of Kavanagh’s Pub in Thomastown, transforms a traditional pub in Dublin into an Irish country kitchen. Pine wooden hutches hold memorabilia from home behind glass doors, including items from the hardware shop. Hoyne lifts the eyeglasses from the bridge of his nose and lets them hang from

the restaurant’s biggest seller, fish and chips (beer battered haddock and fries), but save room for homemade Baileys Irish Crème cheesecake and a cup of Irish coffee to cap off the evening.

a chain around his neck as he gingerly touches the black-andwhite photograph of his family store in Thomastown hanging on the wall—one of two nearly identical pictures in the room. When his brothers visit from Ireland, they feel right at home, he says. The restaurant and pub’s varied atmosphere caters to crowds of all ages—people come to watch Syracuse sports games at the bar, listen to local bands on the weekends, or enjoy family dinners. “You can come here on a Friday night by yourself and have a good time,” Hoyne says. “But you can also come back to enjoy Saturday [lunch] with your parents.”

HOURS The kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Bar food is available until 1 a.m.

An inside look at SU’s Korean drumming group words and photos by ashli truchon

yracuse University experienced a spectacle of drumming, dancing, acting, and singing during Cheon Ji In’s annual Korean drumming performance this semester. “Welcome to Our Wonderland” gave performers an opportunity to mix Korean culture with Lewis Carroll’s classic novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Throughout the skits, audience members watched the novel come alive through Poongmul and Samulnori, forms of Korean folk drumming. Poongmul stems from farming culture, and was originally played during festivals to celebrate planting and harvesting. Four traditional instruments, kkwaeng gwa ri, jing, janggu, and buk, represent different aspects of nature: thunder, wind, rain, and clouds. Recently, Poongmul has been adapted into stage performances, called Samulnori, in countries all around the world. The SU chapter does both. It also reaches out beyond campus, participating in educational projects with local Korean schools and the Korean Cultural Outreach Network that connects the group to other university and collegiate Korean percussion groups. Other annual performances include Lunar Year celebrations, Syracuse’s St. James Festival, and the Korean-American Pride Parade in New York City. The group works together as one system to produce synchronized beats. If any one person is off, the group pauses momentarily before getting back into the rhythm. The hour-glass shaped janggu helps keep everyone, especially the conductors playing the kkwaeng gwa ri, on beat while the buk, a smaller barrel-typed drum, provide the bass line. While watching the group perform, the audience can see the importance of unity in Cheon Ji In.

12 medley | fall 2010

Globetrotter finds solace in no longer being the new girl story

| kirsten acuna


uring the first two years of Alanah Rodriguez’s life, she never uttered a word of English. Concerned her daughter had a speech disorder, her American mother brought her to a hospital near their Kenyan home. The doctors reassured her she was fine—she was simply speaking Swahili. Growing up in Africa for the first seven years of her life, Rodriguez identified as Kenyan. She went on safaris, seeing wild hippos and giraffes, and feeding cheese balls to gorillas from the back of a Range Rover. At home, her nanny spoke Swahili to her and she carried Hannah, a brown-faced Cabbage Patch™ doll, wrapped in a traditional cloth on her back. “That’s just how I identified myself,” Rodriguez says. “Everybody who I saw had a brown face. To me, I had that face too.” However, Rodriguez was only culturally Kenyan. She was Puerto Rican by blood, but that didn’t mean anything to her when her mom told her she’d be packing her bags at the age of seven to move to Thailand. From Kenya, to Thailand, then Japan, and eventually Puerto Rico, Rodriguez, a sophomore broadcast journalism major at Syracuse University, has never called one place home. Because of her mom’s position as a microbiologist in the U.S. Army, relocating every few years became routine. Rodriguez says her first move from Africa to Thailand was the most difficult. “Being told as a kid we’re leaving forever—you’re not coming back—I was so, so sad. But, I learned how to deal with it.” When she arrived, Rodriguez was the girl from Africa who spoke Swahili. At the age of eight, Rodriguez’s parents divorced and she began living with her mom and sister. She relocated again to Japan at the age of 12 to live on a military base. “People would go, ‘That’s the Thai girl with a British accent, but she says she’s from Puerto Rico.’ I was a joke.” So, Rodriguez forced herself to speak with an American accent to fit in. However, her time in Japan was cut short when her mom was deployed to Iraq two years later. Rodriguez and her sister moved back to Thailand with their father. When her mom returned three years later, she and her sister moved 14 medley | spring 2011

to their current home in Puerto Rico. There, she was the Thai girl. “It was so hard trying to tell them I was Puerto Rican. They were like, ‘You don’t speak Spanish like us, you speak Spanish weird.’” To avoid confusion, Rodriguez keeps it simple by telling people she’s Puerto Rican. “Could you imagine me going up to someone and saying ‘I’m Thai, but maybe a little bit African, but maybe Japanese?’ That doesn’t make any sense,” she says. “My blood is Puerto Rican. I speak Spanish fluently. Every summer I went there so it makes sense for me to say I’m from Puerto Rico.”


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Alanah, with her family at a wildlife preserve in Kenya. At age seven, Alanah (far right) with her family in a traditional Thai family portrait. Alanah (left) and her older sister Elyse with their nanny, Regina, who taught Alanah Swahili.

Rodriguez says her mom helped make transitioning to a new home less difficult. Before each move, her mom prepared her sister and her to live in a new place by teaching them some of the language and familiarizing them with the customs. “In Thailand, you can’t show the bottoms of your feet because it’s considered rude,” Rodriguez says. “You have to stand up for the national anthem before a movie.” To further adjust, her mom enrolled Rodriguez and her sister in several activities—school plays, ballet, and the piano and clarinet in Africa and Thailand. However, Rodriguez preferred sports. In Thailand, she joined Fobissea, a group in which Rodriguez competed against other groups in Southeast Asia in soccer, track and field, tee-ball, and swimming. In Japan, Rodriguez competed on the Japanese junior Olympics swim team. Rodriguez says her mom kept her daughters busy so they wouldn’t have time to be sad or think about the next move. Yet sometimes, despite the amount of preparation and activities her mom delivered, she could never fully prepare Rodriguez for the first day of school. She hated having to sit by herself and watch the other students stare in groups. “I was always the new girl,” she says. “When I moved to Thailand, I was sitting by myself. When I moved to Japan, I was sitting by myself.” By the time she moved to Puerto Rico, she already knew what to expect. “By then, I was like, I’m going to be sitting alone today. That’s fine.” Times like these made Rodriguez envy children born and raised in one location, she says, because, unlike her, others made childhood friends and stayed with them through elementary, middle, and high school. Whereas

they could come back every summer and share their vacation experiences, she may find herself in a new classroom. Despite the frustration of the first day of school, the unreserved Rodriguez made friends quickly. Being around people comforted her and made her feel at home. “You’re always leaving people behind, and you don’t want to let people in because there’s a lot of sadness; [however], there’s a lot of happiness too. I remember thinking—why am I not going to be at my fullest and let people in just because I know I’m leaving?” After she moved, Rodriguez frequently mailed letters to friends she left behind. Today, she relies on social media to reconnect with old friends from Kenya and Thailand. “My kindergarten class from Africa added me on Facebook because there was a picture of all of us. Seeing everyone tagged in the photo, we all added each other.” Rodriguez says if she never lived abroad she might have become as judgmental and closeminded to other cultures as some of the people she has met over the years. “Maybe this normal life I wanted wouldn’t have been so great. You always want what you can’t have,” she says. “I would have rather been exposed to these different cultures. But, it’s always going to be that little dream [to live a normal life], even though it’s weird.” Her nomadic lifestyle led her to pursue a career in broadcast journalism at SU. “I want to go out into the world and just write. I would love to work for a travel channel and write about places, and meet more people.” Coming to Syracuse was a completely new adventure for Rodriguez as it finally put her on an equal level playing field with her peers. “Everyone was awkwardly making friends and awkwardly sitting by themselves,” she says. “Everyone made friends together and to me that was just the best thing in the world, because I was like, finally this is the first day of school and I am not sitting by myself.” Just because Rodriguez has settled down in Syracuse for the next couple of years doesn’t mean she has lost the travel bug. Next fall, she’ll return abroad during a semester at sea where she’ll travel to 13 different locations, including Ghana, Morocco, China, and Panama. “I’m going back to Africa at one point, and it’s going to be so nice because even though it’s not Kenya, it’s Ghana and it’s going to be like home.” Despite the difficulties and uncertainties Rodriguez faced growing up abroad, she still considers them a great learning experience. “It was an identity crisis, that’s for sure. It takes a lot out of you—it’s very exhausting emotionally, but the reward is priceless. I’d relive it all over again. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”


Two students find common ground in their modern families | jillian d’onfro | bridgette werner

story photo

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iernan Mendes grew up in a home where his father would rather go to DSW than a baseball game, or attend a drag show instead of the Super Bowl. Maren Daly, on the other hand, was raised in a home where it was possible for every member of her household to be simultaneously affected by premenstrual syndrome. When Daly and Mendes first met through a mutual friend during their freshman year, Daly sensed an immediate connection. What the two friends see as normal, most would consider out of the ordinary. As children of gay parents, this is everyday life. Mendes, a freshman engineering major, didn’t always have two dads. His two parents, Jeff and Alissa Mendes, raised him in a more standard parental structure until he was five years old, when his parents filed for divorce. Two years later, Mendes watched his dad walk down the aisle with another man, Michael Labadie. Due to restrictions in their home state of Maryland, the couple married in Vermont, one of only four states that allow gay marriages. Even though Mendes continued to live with his mother most of the time, he would

spend every other weekend with his dad and Michael. Once a week, Mendes, his two sisters, his father, and Michael would all go out to eat. Daly, a freshman psychology major, always lived with her two mothers. Maren’s parents, Lois Daly and Kate Zimmerman, lived together for three years before utilizing Assistive Reproductive Technology to impregnate Lois. Nine months later, Bryn Daly, Maren’s older sister, arrived, with Maren two and a half years after her. Bryn and Maren were born from artificial insemination by different, unknown donors, meaning they only share 50 percent of the same genes. Neither has a relationship with their biological fathers. While Mendes has a mother and two father figures, Daly has always been satisfied without a father. She doesn’t feel the urge to contact her biological father, nor does she miss the fact that she didn’t have one growing up. With nothing to compare it to, Daly says her living situation always felt normal. “I say that people have moms, dads, and Kates,” Daly says. “[Kate] was actually the one that said that me and my sister should use ‘Mom’ and ‘Kate.’ She said that we should have

someone to call ‘Mom’ rather than ‘Mom’ and ‘Mom,’ because that can get confusing.” Mendes also reserves the traditional parental moniker for only one of his parents. Although Jeff encourages him to adopt the affectionate term “Papa” to call Michael, Mendes refuses to use anything but “Mike.” “First of all, Papa’s just a strange name,” Mendes says. He acknowledges Michael’s role in raising him, but doesn’t consider him his father. Daly has also dealt with building a connection with a parent to whom she is not related. Although they don’t share a single strand of DNA, Daly says she shares Kate’s sense of humor. She likes to joke with Kate that, since the two are not bonded by blood, Kate is just a woman who happens to live in Daly’s house. Though Daly may tease her mother about being a virtual stranger, the subject is no laughing matter in the eyes of the law. Gay marriage is currently illegal in New York, and, until September 2010, so was gay adoption. Since Kate has not yet legally adopted Daly or her sister, she wouldn’t have any authority over the

children in the event of an emergency. A hospital would try to contact Lois first, but if that failed, they would go to the children’s grandmother next. Several different types of gay adoption exist, including single-parent adoption, joint adoption, second-parent adoption, domestic partner adoption, and guardianship. In Kate’s case, second-parent adoption—where a non-biological mother can obtain adoption rights if the biological mother agrees and the biological father has given up his—presents a viable option. New York represents one of only ten states in which second-parent adoption is allowed. Alternatively, if Michael ever wanted to adopt Mendes, he would have to do so through a domestic partner adoption, where a registered domestic partner adopts a child born to the other partner. This is not legal in Maryland. Gay adoption laws vary from state to state, and although each year more states begin to allow gay adoption, laws change slowly. Likewise, stereotypes regarding gay parents remain prevalent today. “If you have gay parents then you’re going to be gay,” Daly says. “That’s the biggest one.” Mendes agrees that projections about his sexuality are common. “I’m definitely into women,” he says. “And I’m not,” Daly says. She admits she would argue a child is more likely to “come out” with gay parents because he or she wouldn’t face the same abandonment risk, but having gay parents is in no way an impetus to being gay. Daly also rebukes the assertion that in a lesbian relationship there is one woman who takes on the masculine role. “I’ve heard it so many times,” she says. “Like, ‘Which of your moms acts like a man?’ Uh… neither?” Daly gets upset when she hears people making assumptions about relationship roles, because it encourages the type of judgment and misinformation that can lead to homophobia. Both Daly and Mendes have dealt with various forms of stereotyping, teasing, and homophobic discrimination for as long as they can remember. Daly recalls antihomosexual picketing outside her school before a production of “The Laramie Project,” a play based on the 1998 murder


of a gay college student. As a non-denominational Christian, Mendes explains he has faced an internal struggle regarding some aspects of his father’s sexuality—whether homosexuality is a choice, or a sin. Mendes admits he once punched another student for calling him the “sin of the world.” Nothing in his religion could ever threaten his relationship with his father. “You don’t have to love what a person’s doing, or love what they think, or how they act,” he says. “You have to love that person. That’s basically what we preach. And so I love my dad. End of story.” Both Mendes and Daly agree having gay parents has changed the way they act and look at the world. “Basically, most of my friends come to me as a person that listens,” Mendes says. “I don’t say you’re wrong. I will listen to your situation.” “It gives you a broader perspective of the world,” Daly adds. “It doesn’t make you better, it doesn’t make you worse. It’s just different. But I think that the ‘different’ can be in a good way, because you learn how to accept people for anything.”












If the idea of serving meals at a local soup kitchen or tutoring kids sounds mundane, look no further. Whether you have a week, a month, or a year, many international aid organizations offer the opportunity to combine travel with volunteer work. Here’s a look at four programs and the people who have worked for them.


Four organizations combine travel and volunteer work

Aid Across the Map




d o i n g y o u r pa r t


Caitlin LeQuire and her sister Rachel worked with La Tortuga Feliz, a non-profit organization located on an island 30 minutes off the shore of Costa Rica. The program is dedicated to protecting sea turtles from poachers and predators. For Caitlin, the deciding factor was her schedule. “We would have all day to relax on the beach, and then we would patrol the beaches at night,” says LeQuire, a freshman culinary arts major at Johnson & Wales. During patrol shifts, volunteers walked on the beach in black clothes, lighting the way using red LED lamps invisible to the turtles. They collected any laid turtle eggs, and took them to a hatchery for documentation. Afterward, they dug new nests to keep the eggs safe. La Tortuga Feliz also provides local islanders with jobs, giving them an alternative to poaching turtle eggs—the island’s primary source of income. Rachel, an international relations junior at SU, found this aspect most important. “I try to invest my time in organizations that have the best interest for the locals in mind,” she says.

Global Medical Brigades helps students lead their own trips in Honduras, Panama, and Ghana. Students start chapters on their college campuses then fundraise and plan for the trips themselves. “Before we went, a lot of time was spent figuring out what supplies we could get from where,” says Kristen Culmo, a senior public health major who went on Syracuse University’s first brigade to Honduras in January 2010. “Almost everyone had an extra suitcase that just had medicine in it.” In Honduras, the brigade set up three one-day medical clinics in rural villages. Spanish-speaking students would take vital signs of patients and listen to their complaints. Though it may help, knowledge of Spanish is not required for the trip. “The group leaders and the doctors could translate, so it wasn’t necessary,” Culmo says. “But it’s something I wish I had known.” Culmo says a few schools travel there during vacation times, but because there are so many villages, they can only visit each once or twice per year. “It was difficult to constantly reach them,” says Culmo. “Even though we were making an impact, we were only supplying medicine for one month.”

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GLOBAL MEDICAL BRIGADE Disappointed with the insufficient international business aid in Ghana, Kristin Johnson, who received a master’s of business administration from Northwestern University, co-founded her own non-profit organization to provide resources to female entrepreneurs. “Women were telling us that you can provide us with business support, but our markets in Ghana are dying, and we need to find export markets,” Johnson says. Women In Progress (WIP) provides training in business management, marketing, and technology to female entrepreneurs. The program is built on the belief that growing sustainable businesses can eliminate poverty. WIP graduates will be able to provide more jobs for other females in their villages by learning to expand their businesses. Many student volunteers or interns come from technology or business backgrounds, but some are interested in women’s studies or fair trade volunteerism. “It’s easier to develop projects where they can start something and finish it,” Johnson says. She encourages students to stay for at least three weeks. “[They’ll] feel like they’ve accomplished something.”


In 1986, Global Routes sent its first group of volunteers to Kenya. Since then, it has offered summer programs for high school students, semester-long programs for college and gap year students, and custom programs for post-grad volunteers. Laura Litwiller, program director of Global Routes, sees volunteering as beneficial to young people. “You see a community that is completely different, and it opens your perspective,” she says. The semester programs are intended for students taking time off from college. For three months, they teach English in a rural village and live with a local family. Group leaders support volunteers by checking in weekly, communicating with host families, and organizing group activities and travels. For older college students, Global Routes recommends custom programs offered in Thailand, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Belize, Kenya, Tanzania, and India that act as independent studies. The programs encourage students to stay a minimum of one month.


Brave New Voices Poetry program encourages student expression BY NOELIA DE LA CRUZ mix of old and new members listened one evening in February as Alecia Gordon, an undecided sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, explained why Verbal Blend, a spoken word poetry program at Syracuse University, needed a public relations chair. “We have to convince [people] why these stories matter,” she says. “I feel like there are so many people on campus that haven’t heard our stories.” The stories Gordon referenced are shared in workshops Verbal Blend poets attend during the semester, where they discuss, write, and perform poetry about their experiences, feelings, and ideas. Topics range from relationships and identity to history and politics. Students join the program to become better performers and writers, release their inner thoughts, and receive constructive critiques from their peers. In 2007, Cedric Bolton, coordinator of student engagement in the Office of Multicultural Affairs at SU,

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Christiona Hawkins and Cedric Bolton listen as a student shares her poetry at a Verbal Blend workshop.

created Verbal Blend to build students’ confidence in writing and performing poetry. Since then, the program has expanded to include weekly workshops, on-campus performances by the poets, and a poet’s learning community in Boland Hall. Most recently, the creation of a P-Board, or poet’s executive board, will allow members to take responsibility of the program, Bolton says. The six representatives of the board will expand the program by organizing more workshops, making the group into a recognized student organization,

schools one of her priorities. “I always had a passion for the public education system because I grew up in it, so I know that everything isn’t always as it should be,” she says. Hawkins received help from Bolton and Marcelle Haddix, an assistant professor in the School of Education, to create Merging Expression and Scholarship through High Schools (MESH), an online literary magazine that features poetry by and for high school students and Verbal Blend poets. It debuted in April. Through MESH, Hawkins also conducts poetry workshops with eighth graders from the Institute of

“No matter who you are, everyone has a view or an opinion and if you can hone or master your craft, you can change the way people think.” Rice’s peers voted him president of the P-Board because of his enthusiasm; they consider him the “face of Verbal Blend” because of his charismatic presence and powerful performances at open mics and slam competitions. As president, Rice wants to draw more people of all backgrounds and cultures to the program, he says. Verbal Blend has come a long way since 2007, Bolton says, but he still wants to see it grow. As Verbal Blend’s first members

“POETS CAN BE LEADERS, TOO.” and increasing membership. Bolton also expects the P-Board to continue reaching out to local city schools, he says—a service he encourages. Christiona Hawkins, a sophomore policy studies major and one of three community outreach chairs on the P-Board, makes community service in

Technology at Syracuse Central on Thursday and Friday mornings. Tyler Rice, a sophomore marketing major and elected president of the P-Board, believes the welcoming environment and opportunity to become a better writer are two of the most appealing aspects of the program. “Words affect people,” Rice says.

prepare to graduate, Bolton feels optimistic about the younger P-Board chosen to guide the program. He says, for now, the program sits in good hands. “Poets can be leaders, too, leading programs and ideas that can inspire other people, whether on campus, in the community, or around the world.”

s n a p s h o t s f ro m a b ro a d showing off your best from around the world



MEDLEY ALWAYS SEEKS TO SEE THE WORLD THROUGH NEW EYES. In our first installment of “Snapshots from Abroad,” we conducted a photo contest for readers to send in their most striking snapshots from around the world. Here are the photos that made the cut.



re f l e c t i o n your time, well spent

I spent ten days of my winter break helping in Haiti.


Through a student organization named Campus Crusade for Christ, a group of about 25 students from schools within the Northeast region volunteered to assist a non-profit organization near Port Au Prince called Nehemiah Vision Ministries. The organization, a haven for the local village of Chambrun and surrounding areas, supplies food, clothing, and water to locals. Their facility also has a K-12 school, church, medical clinic, a housing development for orphaned children, and will host a future hospital. Each day we were responsible for reorganizing and taking inventory of charitable goods from around the world, moving large amounts of cinderblock for the future hospital, and installing solar panels for sustainable energy. Beyond our daily chores we explored Haiti outside the facility. We toured Port Au Prince, where the epicenter of the earthquake occurred one year ago, and saw the considerable amount of damage and rubble where Haitians say undiscovered bodies still lie. We also saw the beautiful coast of Haiti, which contrasts with the rest of the dry and unfruitful land. But the highlight of the trip was interacting with the locals of Chambrun, especially the children. We played basketball and soccer with them. There was one big game, where we constructed a large soccer net for their field. We played Americans versus Haitians and they kicked our butts—even without shoes! During a few days of the program, we had the opportunity to walk to the village and see how local Haitians lived. Though they deal with great poverty and trauma, they seemed so joyful and thankful to be alive. On January 12, hundreds of Haitians gathered from miles around in a memorial service on the anniversary of the quake to remember and share stories. They talked about how God guided them to safety, allowed them to miss death by inches or seconds when the quake struck, and how He helps them to continue living. My once in a lifetime experience ended too soon and left me hoping to return again to help in any way possible. - Tony D’Alleva D’Alleva is a senior accounting major. He has been a part of Campus Crusade for Christ since his sophomore year.

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tidbits board games from around the world



Mancala, a game from Africa and Asia, begins with four marbles placed in two rows of six board slots. The game has many variations, but the main objective is to clear the marbles off one side by picking and moving them around the board. The person with the most marbles in their home wins. Winning depends heavily on strategic moves.

Classic American board games may have taken a backseat to Playstation and Xbox, but that’s not the case in most countries. Many family-night games were derived from international games. Chutes and Ladders comes from an old Indian game called Snakes and Ladders dating back 2,200 years. Check out these games played by children and adults worldwide.

-Compiled by staff BAGHA CHAL This widely played Nepalese game is all about dominance. Four tigers (player one) and 20 goats (player two) take turns moving on a square board with 25 spaces. To win, the tigers must jump over and eat five goats. Similarly, goats can win by surrounding the tigers so they’re unable to move. Players are prohibited from repeating successive moves to ensure a winner.




The Bruneian board game Mak-Yek looks like checkers, except each of the 32 pieces moves like a chess rook—forward, backward, or side to side. Instead of crossing over pieces to capture them, Mak-Yek players win by sandwiching an opponent or by “intervention,”— placing one piece between two opposing pieces to capture both.

This nine-by-nine American board game, gained popularity in the mid-19th century. Two players on each team start with seven pieces and try to capture their opponents’. Pieces can be moved as far as they can while staying on a single color. When a player gets close to capturing, they can call out “jinx” and the threatened opponent needs to move or will become “jinxed”— similar to checkmate in chess.

An Indian game played since the 18th century, Carrom is similar to pool but played with fingers. Two to four players take turns flicking 19 disks into corner pockets. The first to remove nine of the opponent’s pieces and then their red queen piece wins the game.


your student fee. 24 medley | fall 2010

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