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Flag of the Week - South Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. It has 1,739 mi of coastline that stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian oceans.

South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution's recognition of 11 official languages, which is among the highest number of any country in the world.[11] Two of these languages are of European origin: English and Afrikaans, the latter originating from Dutch and serving as the first language of most white and coloured South Africans. Though English is commonly used in public and commercial life, it is only the fourth most-spoken first language.


About 80 percent of South Africans are of black African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (white), Asian (Indian), and multiracial (coloured) ancestry. All ethnic and linguistic groups have political representation in the country's constitutional democracy, which comprises a parliamentary republic and nine provinces. South Africa is often referred to as the "Rainbow Nation," as a metaphor to describe the country's newly developing multicultural diversity in the wake of segregationist apartheid ideology.

South Africa is considered to be a newly industrialised country. Its economy is the second largest in Africa, and the 28th-largest in the world.. South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs, and maintains significant regional influence.


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Our Voice: An Interview with Nandhini Narayanan

Our Voice is a monthly series that highlights students and alumni by Rinzin Dorjee, a student programming assistant at the CSGD. The goal of Our Voice is to create a space for conversations related to LGBTQ issues and the Duke experience from the perspective of students and alumni from different social, cultural and political backgrounds.  For October’s installment, Rinzin interviews Nandhini Narayanan from Chennai, India pursing a Masters in Engineering Management.


Rinzin: Hi, I am really happy that you agreed to have this conversation with me. I know we have met before but for our readers, could you introduce briefly, where you are from, where you grown up, etc.?

Nandhini: Sure! My name is Nandhini. I am from Chennai, India. I grew up in a lot of cities in India and I speak about four different Indian dialects. I love India because of its unique culture and food! I enjoy reading and usually read a book ever week. Being here at Duke is extremely hectic but I am not going to give up reading.


Rinzin: What kind of books do you read? Is there one you’d particularly recommend to our readers?

Nandhini: I like reading science fiction. I think I’d like to recommend “The Fountain Head”. It proved a wonderful read. Everyone should read it.


Rinzin: So, I understand that you are a graduate student here at Duke. What is your stroke? What do you enjoy during your free time? (I doubt anyone here at Duke has it!)

Nandhini: I enjoy meeting new people and Duke is a great place for that. I am into my first semester here at Duke now and so far, it has been great. I will be studying engineering management for the next 18 months of my stay.


Rinzin: What was your first impression of Duke?

Nandhini: Gorgeous campus, friendly people who would hold door for you and say hi despite being complete strangers.


Rinzin: How is being here at Duke different from your previous institution in India, especially as relates to the LGBT community? Have you any experience with LGBT individuals at your previous school?

Nandhini: Yes, there is a huge difference. I worked with HIV positive men while I was in India for some time and I realized that there isn’t really an open discussion or a discussion of any sort that would bring attention to these kinds of issues. And these things really need to be talked about in an open discussion! I think people back home still associate the term “Gay” with being happy and the like. We are still in that state, probably at least 50- 60 years behind in terms of our knowledge regarding LGBT issues. People are still not aware of what it means to be an LGBT individual or if such an individual exist in the society at large or in their family. Kissing someone you love is still seen as an aberration. I honestly think that we are 60 years behind. It is quite sad in that sense.


Rinzin: I was born in India and I have lived there before leaving for the UK. I had the impression that a lot of adolescents are developing an interest in LGBT issues, if not the wider Indian society. What is your opinion on this?

Nandhini: Yes, this is true. A lot of youngsters are learning about these issues directly from US TV series such as Glee, which for one is quite US centric but it deals with LGBT issues to some extent and because it is such a popular show in India, it has its perks. There are several LGBT related organizations in India such as LGBT India that support groups in elevating the level of education regarding LGBT issues, exposure, awareness and what it means to be an LGBT individual.


Rinzin: So, now that you brought up this important point. What does it mean to be an LGBT person in your opinion?

Nandhini: I personally think being an LGBT person means being absolutely no different from a straight person.  For the individual, it would mean coming to terms with his or her or their own skin, that this is who he or she is or they are. In the US, you have actual space to do this and people living here are fortunate in that way. Like I said earlier, being an LGBT person means nothing different from being a straight person. You do not wake up in the morning and become a straight person, an LGBT person, a dinosaur. You are who you are and everyone should respect you for your being.


Rinzin: Why do you support LGBT rights? Why do you think it is important?

Nandhini: Because it is human to stand up for it. A hundred years ago, people discriminated against people because of their skin color and look where we are now. We have so much to learn from each other if we overcome our differences.  There is no reason whatsoever why someone should isolate or discriminate against someone who is different, who has a different sexual orientation. I think I am just being human when I say I support sexual and gender diversity. I need to and have to associate with someone who is different, who has a story to tell. This is one of the reasons I left India so that I’d be exposed to more cultural openness and understanding. I am a biologist. I tell you one thing – homosexuality exists in nearly all mammals but homophobia exists only in humans.  What does this say about us? Come on, we can be so much better! Like I mentioned earlier, shows like Glee has played a big role. Its popularity among the youngsters has sparked a lot of awareness and discourse, have led to many political statements. I mean in India, even heterosexual relationships are under scrutiny, let alone homosexual relationships.  Important issues related to the spread of AIDS and different types of STIs are not very much talked about. It’s considered taboo. What is education and awareness in this country is seen as taboo there. How can I emphasize this enough? In India, people get disowned because some parents do not approve of their partners and these are heterosexual relationships. My cousin married someone of a different religion and she was disowned instantly. So, you get what I mean when I say we are about 60 years behind. On the bright side, many Bollywood movies such as Dostana brought discussion related to LGBT issues to the dining table. My friend who took his family to see this movie was able to discuss homosexuality with his parents after watching it. Dostana had a huge reception at the LGBT community in India.


Rinzin: It is always very interesting to hear what someone from a different cultural background has got to say about being an LGBT individual in a different cultural context. It is insightful in that it gives a picture, very different from the US centric one that we are aware of. To wrap up, could I ask what is one of your favorite quotes?

Nandhini: There are quite a few. Do you know this one – “it is not the mountain ahead that wear you out, it is the pebble in your shoes”. Again, this relates back to how it is crucial for people to change their mindset and try to look at the world differently. Respect everyone for who they are irrespective of their gender or sexual orientation and learn from their personal experience. We have so much to learn from each other.


Rinzin: Lastly, what is the one most played song on your Iphone?

Nandhini: Adam Lambert! His voice is made in God’s design studio. I love what he stands for – being bold and different. When he competed in American Idol, his style was deemed too theatrical and despite being predicted by judges that he will not stand a chance, he kept forging ahead and pulled it off in the end. His voice is so powerful. It gives me chills.


Rinzin: And, your most embarrassing moment so far at Duke?

Nandhini: Ordering food anywhere on campus!


If you would like to be featured in an issue of Our Voice please contact the CSGD at csgd@studentaffairs.duke.edu with the subject title : "Our Voice"


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“Soy” What?

As a dietitian I am often asked questions about soy foods acting like estrogen in the body, are they safe? Do they contribute to causing breast cancer? I will admit over the years the information has been varied, but for the past several years researchers have found more and more information confirming that eating soy in moderation even as a breast cancer survivor is not a problem.

Since it is breast cancer awareness month I decided to do some additional research and explain for you in more detail.

First of all let’s think about where you might find soy in the diet, the following is a list of dietary sources:

·         edamame (raw soy beans),

·         soy milk, soy cheeses, soy yogurts

·         tofu (which is made from the bean curd)

·         tempeh (fermented soy)

·         miso (a Japanese flavoring made from fermented soybeans)

·         vegetarian foods like veggies burgers

The parts of the soy bean that are in question when it comes to breast cancer are the phytoestrogens (estrogen hormone-similar chemicals found in plants) known as isoflavones. There are two types of isoflavones in soy, genestein and daidzen. It is important to know that although these compounds can act like estrogen, they are only slightly as potent as the real stuff.

Large population studies of healthy women who reported details about their usual diet and were followed for many years, have shown no association between moderate soy intake and breast cancer rates.  Studies in Asian women have found a lower risk of breast cancer rates with higher soy consumption (4 or more servings per day), whereas studies in the U.S. have not found any association between how much soy a woman consumes and her risk of breast cancer.   Other things to consider are lifelong dietary and lifestyle patterns not noted in these studies.

What about soy intake for breast cancer surviviors? There are studies that show that small amounts of soy are safe and may be protective for surviors. However the best advice is to discuss the pros and cons with your health care provider until more conslusive data is available.

When it comes to taking supplements research is finding mixed results, basically the jury is out and the recommendation is to “avoid concentrated sources of soy such as soy-containing pills or powders, or supplements containing high amounts of isoflavones.” (American Cancer Society).

When making the decision to consume soy or not, remember that tofu and other soy foods have considerable health benefits and are linked to lower rates of heart disease. Because they are excellent sources of protein, soy foods may replace other less healthy foods in the diet and therefore help lower cholesterol. Also soy is an excellent good quality protein alternative for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Bottom line: avoid pill and powdered soy supplements and enjoy soy foods in moderation.


The American Institute of Cancer Research (www.aicr.org) and The American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org)




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Eating Healthy on a Budget - CLG at IHouse

Do you enjoy grocery shopping - getting lost in the maze of various aisles, trying to decide what to buy - fresh or frozen produce, generic or name brand, organic or not, wondering if healthy means expensive? No? I thought so. At this week’s CLG, hosted by Seun Bello Olamosu of IHouse, Duke Student Health Dietitian Toni Ann Apadula answered all these questions and also gave us the perfect recipe for a healthy, delicious meal on a budget.

Balancing your Plate
It is always good to start with a plan. Establish a budget, plan your meals and snacks for the week, and remember:  
½ of your plate should be fruits & vegetables – for vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber & carbohydrates
¼ of your plate should be grains – for fiber, B vitamins and carbohydrates
¼ of your plate should be protein – for protein, fats and iron
Healthy Fats – for essential fats to enable the body to work properly.

Then make a grocery list. Be sure to check out the store’s ‘Weekly ad’ for what’s on sale, look for digital / printable coupons and at the store, ask about a loyalty card. Seems quite simple, doesn’t it? Let’s go grocery shopping!
Shopping Strategies – What are your options?

Fruits and Vegetables: Try to make your selection as colorful as possible – it is not just for looks but to get the full spectrum of health benefits. You could choose between Fresh produce which is most expensive vs Frozen which is not so pricey, nutrition content is intact and has longer shelf/freezer life vs Canned which is least expensive, but may contain more salt that can be reduced by rinsing. If you are not able to decide whether to buy Organic, the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” gives you some help. Fruits & vegetables are freshest and taste best when they are bought in season (www.ncagr.gov/markets/availabilitychart.pdf).

Grains: Try to choose whole grains. You could pick Name brand which is more expensive vs Store brand which costs less, but usually tastes the same and may have the same ingredients as name brand.

Protein Foods: Try to choose a leaner option. You could buy Animal protein which are most expensive, provide “complete protein” but contain more fat vs Dairy / Nut based protein, which are not so expensive vs Plant based protein / eggs which are least expensive and contain low fat & more fiber.

Is your shopping cart almost full? Before rushing to the billing counter, let me add a few more tips from Toni, as garnish.

Unit price – Compare unit price per lb/oz of various sizes. Larger sizes are often a better buy.
Nutrition facts – This label tells you the % Daily Value of various nutrients in each serving.
Ingredients – The ingredients are listed from most to least. So, if the first ingredient is salt, then you may be in a pickle.

Psst! – Stores stock most expensive items at eye level; so look at higher and lower shelves.

There was never a dull moment. It was amazing to see the active involvement of the participants, asking the most perceptive and interesting questions, and Toni’s patient and informative responses. If you have an appetite for more, try chewing on this.


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Letter from DSG President Lavanya Sunder

Dear Parents,

It’s a great time to be a student on campus right now. Fall Break, along with the temporary end of midterms, has given the student body a needed surge of energy, and the improved attitude on campus is definitely palpable. Durham is cooling down, and we’re finally beginning to feel autumn in the air. Our Homecoming game against Virginia is tomorrow (it will be over by the time you read this, GO DUKE!), and midterm elections are right around the corner. With all of this positive momentum, I truly feel that Duke Student Government (DSG) is well positioned to enact many great changes on campus.

One of DSG’s biggest priorities this year has been to make sure that students are able to register to vote for the midterm elections, and get to the polls on Election Day. Primarily, we want to make sure that North Carolina’s new registration and identification requirements do not deter students from registering to vote. Moreover, I am happy to say that we have successfully carried out a large voter registration drive, and are in the midst of planning a voter mobilization campaign.

We’ve also been working on mobilizing students in other ways. One way is through the new Zagster bike-share program. This program was conceived of last year, and after months of deliberation and fine-tuning, the program was finally launched in September. It allows students, faculty, and staff, to rent bikes from any Zagster rack location on campus, ride, and drop them off at any rack location, similar to bike-share programs many municipalities are implementing. We’re hoping that these bikes become a second form of transport between campuses, and provide students with increased mobility in Duke and Durham.

Finally, we’re working on a number of smaller projects throughout the year. Our most recent initiative is the creation of the Duke Student Government Research Unit (DSGRU). DSGRU is a group of students tasked with statistically analyzing large research questions, such as “How do students spend their food points?” or “In what ways do students interact with the Duke Curriculum?” We’ve also continued our work on expanding curricular offers in LGBT studies, strengthening the Duke House model, managing the impact of construction on campus, and much more.

If you’re interested in following any one of these initiatives, or the many more we’re pursuing this year, I encourage you to check out our new website. We have blogs for our Senators, Vice-Presidents, and Cabinet members, and general news updates as well.

It has been a great start for DSG and Duke students in general, and I am looking forward to many accomplishment to come.



Lavanya Sunder

DSG President 


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Trip to Historic Hillsborough - CLG serise at IHouse

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” – St. Augustine

When we make travel plans, we often look at the most popular destinations while missing the hidden gems close by. One such destination is nearby Hillsborough, just 20 minutes away. As part of the CLG series, SangHee Jeong of IHouse, organized a trip to this quaint little town, rich in history, culture and beauty. It was a grey, cloudy morning so we trooped into the vans armed with umbrellas, rain jackets, cameras and the itinerary for the day.

Guided Walking Tour
Our trip began with a guided walking tour of Historic Hillsborough. The town was founded in 1754 as the Orange County seat. It is located where the Great Indian Trading Path crossed the Eno river. The tour started at the Alexander Dickson House (1790), known as the “Last Headquarters of Confederacy”, which also serves as the Orange County Visitors Center.

After trying to assimilate more than two and a half centuries of history through maps and exhibits, we headed to the Regulator Marker, the hanging site of colonial protestors. Then, we visited the Hughes Academy (mid – late 1800s), a small private school whose graduates were accepted at UNC without examination. We walked past William Reed’s Ordinary (1754) that was a tavern, the old County Courthouse (1844) that has a clock tower and the old Town Cemetery (1757), where William Hooper, who signed the Declaration of Independence was buried.

Our final stop was the Orange County Historical Museum. On entering, one can see the Orange County Timeline of important events from 1650 to 2000. Then, a quick stop at the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts, owned and operated by artists. After 1½ hours of sightseeing, legs and stomachs started complaining. So, we split into groups and headed in different directions to try out Hillsborough’s unique dining and shopping. I lunched at Weaver Street Market (their Vegan chocolate cake is delicious), which is a “community owned cooperative grocery store”.

Tour of Ayr Mount Historic Site
After lunch and a little rest, we headed straight to Ayr Mount Historic Site that includes a 19th century house museum and almost 300 acres of woodlands. Some of us took a guided tour of the house, while others enjoyed the Poet’s Walk, which is a one-mile trail that runs along the bank of the Eno river.

Ayr Mount is a federal-era plantation house built in 1815 by William Kirkland, and later purchased, restored and donated for public benefit by Richard Jenrette. Our guide, Bill told us about the ancestry of the owners and the archaeology of that site. In the house, the brick construction, high ceilings, transverse hallway, ornate fireplaces, huge mahogany tables, walnut shelves, grand piano, old time wavy glass windows, the various portraits and artwork (etchings of North Carolina architecture including Duke Chapel) all vie for attention.

We left Hillsborough with the satisfaction of having seen new places and made new friends.

Thanks, SangHee and Annette for making this trip so enjoyable.


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Your Career Story: What to Say and When

Think about the best story you’ve ever heard. What were the components of it? Was it the introduction that got you interested? The center of the Tootsie Roll, where the story began to take shape? Or was it the end, when you finally saw what the author intended when setting out the share the story?

I think all the parts are the best. But then again I WOULD, because I have loved every single page (2,464 pages after three books, #nerdalert) of each of the Game of Thrones books I have read and I #cantstopwontstop until I am done with the whole series (And yes, I do know that the series is called A Song of Ice and Fire. Who’s the nerd, here, hmmmm?)

Back to telling your story… Since George R.R. Martin probably tells his editor “Too bad” when encouraged to shorten his stories, he isn’t a good guide for how you should talk about your career questions/plans/second guesses. As you consider the purpose for sharing your career plans, reflect on what it is you’d like to say to which audience. To put storytelling into an extended metaphor related to narrative, here is what you can share when telling…
1. The Twitter story—140 characters to talk about yourself at a career fair or in your LinkedIn summary
2. The short story—a few paragraphs when conducting an informational interview, networking or writing business correspondence (resumes and cover letters, for example)
3. The novella—for when you are interviewing

If you’re wondering how to prepare for ALL of these story-telling scenarios, take 10 minutes to review and answer the questions below. Think of ONE experience, such as an internship, a volunteer activity, an independent study, or a leadership position, and answer the questions with that single occurrence in mind.
Big Picture Questions
• What is the purpose of your particular story?
• What does this story look like, depending on who you’re telling it to and in what setting?
• What have you learned in this experience (i.e. your internship, the volunteering you’ve done, or through serving in your SLG)?
• Were the skills you learned the most critical part of the experience, particularly when you think of what you would take from that story at this point in your life?

Developing & Editing Questions
• What do you say within each version of that story?
• What are your chapter titles, the sections you want to highlight the most?
• In what settings are you demonstrating different parts of your character?
• What is the first line of your story? The last line?
• What is the sequence of events?
• Where’s the conflict? What challenges have you faced? What have you overcome?
• What is important to retain when you condense the story? What do you want to include when to expand your narrative?

When you’ve written out the answers to these questions, begin to shape language for each of the settings mentioned above. Remember that career counselors are here to help you practice what you’d like to say. Through rehearsal and editing, you’ll find the best parts of your story to share. There will be no dragons to get you down, because you will be ready as winter is coming. (Sorry I’m not sorry, I’ve been with HBO Go a LOT lately. The Rains of Castamere is a sad song.)


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Not Insignificant

We had just wrapped up at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, drained from taking in all the incredible history exhibited in the museum’s three buildings. The consensus was to take the tram to a spot for lunch, then hop on it again to find a baklava shop we’d heard is amazing. The tram is one of several fantastic methods of public transportation used by what feels like everyone (at the same time) in the city of Istanbul. A seat on the bus, metro, or tram is a highly coveted spot that is not easily attained. In fact, sometimes just getting on any of these vehicles is a nearly impossible feat because they are so crowded. “Maximum Capacity” doesn’t seem to be a concept as firmly held here as it is in the U.S. As we approached the tram, desperately seeking nourishment after an exhausting outing of museum-going, we discovered hoards of other people on the platform who we would soon have to fight for a spot. The tram arrived and its doors opened, the poor passengers inside desperately trying to escape before being trampled by the masses boarding. Amidst this commotion, while trying to edge my way in without elbowing an elderly woman in the face, I felt a hand squeezing my butt. Suffering some sensory overload from the experience of getting on the tram, it took me a few seconds to realize this was happening, and to notice that the hand had not let go. When I did finally realize, I whipped around—no easy task when one has no more than a half-inch radius of personal space around her—and attempted to identify to whom the brazen hand belonged. My friend had witnessed this all go down, and pointed to a short, middle-aged man in a blue dress shirt and grey slacks who was holding a briefcase. He had turned to face the door, but looked over his shoulder a few times at me as I glared at him and shared some choice words I wish I knew how to say in Turkish. Our stop came soon after my futile attempt to give him a piece of my mind, and he was quickly lost in the crowd of passengers exiting.

The incident, his subsequent looks of complete indifference at me as I uselessly berated him, and the absence of a reaction from any of the passengers nearby who’d also watched it all happen brought me to the disturbing realization that what I had just experienced was, in a word, insignificant. I felt violated and uncomfortable in my own skin. The members of our group did their best to console me, through belatedly cursing the perpetrator or sharing their own stories of being publicly groped by strangers. I was overwhelmed with fury, but social etiquette urged me to stifle my anger and attempt to distract myself until I could be alone and reflect.

I never thought I would feel more like a compilation of body parts, assembled solely for the purpose of being assessed, criticized, and used by men, than at a Duke fraternity party—until I came to Turkey. I was warned, of course. Both of my parents effectively told me to put my feminist identity on hold during my time in Turkey, reminding me constantly that my views would not be received well in a country whose deputy prime minister told women they shouldn’t laugh out loud in public. They and many others warned me that life would be different as an American woman in Turkey—especially one who does not look Turkish in the slightest—and I would be expected to adapt. I’m okay with adapting. I want to be challenged. I enjoy exploring beyond my comfort zone. Being transformed against my will into a walking piece of meat for men to invade with their stares and debase with their words, among other things, does not fall into any of those categories. Nor does being expected to accept it as normal.

Throughout my first month and a half here, I have already met several incredibly intelligent, outspoken, headstrong Turkish women whose respective brilliances inspire me. Simultaneously, I have seen how the day-to-day culture of male entitlement, especially as expressed through street harassment, treats these women and all women as disposable objects. My experience on the tram was insignificant—to be expected, even. Because, from my western point of view, if you identify as a woman in Turkey, you automatically forfeit the basic human right of being treated as an equal to someone who identifies as a man.

The realization that the previous sentence requires no “in Turkey” to be true is an incredibly uncomfortable truth to accept. The idea of women as objects—to be owned, to be used, to be disposed of, to be replaced—is certainly not unique to this country. As I mentioned, the most objectified I’ve ever felt prior to coming to Turkey is when in attendance at a frat party at Duke. I have realized how easy it is to sit on the high horse of a westernized perspective and criticize other countries for the inequalities they are enforcing and perpetuating. It is far more unsettling to recognize the fact that, though it may manifest itself in different ways, gender inequality is as much a constant in our society as it is anywhere else. Being violated by a stranger on the tram was a blatant reminder that I am living in a man’s world, a world in which my womanhood renders my rights, my experiences, and my value insignificant.


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Daniel Kort at the Queering Duke History

Daniel Kort is a senior psychology major from Los Angeles. He has appeared in The Washington Post, CNN, Cosmopolitan UK, and The Huffington Post for his work as an LGBTQ advocate. He attended 14 years of Jewish day school, spent a high school semester in Israel, and is a part of the Freeman Center's new LEAD program. In his spare time, Daniel enjoys listening to EDM and is a dedicated Cameron Crazie.Daniel Kort T'15, president of Blue Devils United, speaks at the Queering Duke History event held on September 25th.  Please listen as Daniel uses Rosh Hashanah and his Jewish experiences as a way to frame his message.


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Top 50 Colleges with Active Jewish Communities - Best Colleges

For many incoming Jewish freshmen, the presence of a Jewish student body is crucial. Learn more about the top schools with active Jewish communities.  Read more.



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“I like your boy’s haircut”, said the Duke bus driver to me, and thus began a very delightful conversation about school, teens, peer pressure and before I knew it my stop had come. I am sure all of us have been in similar situations, but we may become tongue-tied because we are shy. At this week’s CLG Workshop, the host Paige Vinson of IHouse helped us to become “conversant” with how to recognize attempts at small talk, start a conversation, maintain and end it politely.

Paige broke the ice by introducing herself and then gave the participants a chance to practice among themselves. Like many people, I used to think that small talk is just that – talking. Now I know that it could be the start of some meaningful conversations and wonderful friendships. Even people who enjoy talking, may be at a loss for words when they want to start a conversation with someone. Through the presentation, we learned some interesting opening lines. Some of my favorites are:

  • Hello/Hi/Hey, I’m Paige – Nobody can go wrong with this.
  • Nice weather, isn’t it? – This one is evergreen.
  • I really like your scarf/necklace – Makes me feel good about my choice.
  • I haven’t seen you for ages – Wow! She still remembers me.

Once you have picked up courage and started a conversation, how to keep it going beyond the initial exchange?

  • Find a meaningful topic
  • Give extra information
  • Pay close attention to what is said and how it is said
  • Use active listening, Trial and Error

Before you start making small talk, prepare yourself by identifying some “hot” topics like books, movies, restaurants, hobbies and travel. And, some topics to be avoided are: Personal, health, money or family problems, death, crimes, moral values, or any social, economic, political issues.

While it is important to make a good beginning, it is equally important to end the conversation on a positive note. During the course of the workshop Paige explained the difference between Ritual Interactions and Literal Invitations. In her inimitable way, she also gave us some useful tips and tricks on what to do when you don’t remember somebody’s name or if someone doesn’t respond to your attempts at making small talk. By the end of the workshop, I saw the participants eagerly practicing their conversation skills with each other and ending it on the right note too, with invitations to meet again.

Good-bye, or shall I say “Let’s keep in touch”.

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Student Health Closed Saturday 10/11

The Student Health Center will be closed on Saturday, 10/11, for Fall Break. We will re-open with normal operating hours on Monday, October 13th, at 8:30am.

For after hours health care options, please call us at 919-681-9355.


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The Big Three

More carbs! Less carbs! No carbs! More protein! Less protein! No protein? Swimming in a sea of conflicting nutrition advice? Have no fear! The "BIG THREE" are here! Read more...


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More carbs! Less carbs! No carbs! More protein! Less protein! No protein?

Swimming in a sea of conflicting nutrition advice? Have no fear! “The Big Three” are here!

“The Big Three” tutorials are streamlined guides to understanding carbs, proteins, and fats. Complete with colorful pictures (featuring some of your fellow Dukies!) and “take-home messages,” these user-friendly tutorials offer the basics on the 3 essential macronutrients - what they are, where to find them, why they’re important, and how much our bodies need to succeed!

“The Big Three” tutorials will hopefully serve as a springboard for more extensive discussion in the “Nutrition in a Nutshell” series, coming soon!

Hungry for more??

Follow Duke Student Health Nutrition Services on  Facebook and Twitter for nifty tips, nutrition myth-busters, and news on awesome foodie events (like “Meatless Monday” specials at Penn and Marketplace for Vegetarian Awareness Month). 


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Flag of the Week - Republic of Liberia

Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north and Ivory Coast to its east. It covers an area of 43,000 sq mi and is home to about 4 million people. English is the official language and over thirty indigenous languages are also spoken within the country.

Beginning in 1820, the region was colonized by African Americans, most of whom were freed slaves. The colonizers (who later become known as Americo-Liberians) established a new country with the help of the American Colonization Society, a private organization whose leaders thought former slaves would have greater opportunity in Africa. African captives freed from slave ships by the British and Americans were sent there instead of being repatriated to their countries of origin.

In 1847, this new country became the Republic of Liberia, establishing a government modeled on that of the United States. The colonists and their descendants, known as Americo-Liberians, led the political, social, cultural and economic sectors of the country and ruled the nation for over 130 years as a dominant minority.

Liberia was a founding member of the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity. In 1980 a military coup overthrew the Americo-Liberian leadership, marking the beginning of political and economic instability and two successive civil wars. A peace agreement in 2003 led to democratic elections in 2005. Today, Liberia is recovering from the lingering effects of the civil wars and their consequent economic upheaval, but about 85% of the population continue to live below the international poverty line, and the country's economic and political stability has recently been threatened by a deadly Ebola virus epidemic.[5]


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What I Say, As An RA

October is one of the hardest months of the fall semester, especially for freshmen. Up until midterms, the first few weeks of class are a time for settling in, meeting new people, and trying out new clubs at Duke. After about a month of wavering between friend groups and activities, many freshmen start to wear out and become frustrated with their experience. Around this same time, they are taking their first midterms and writing their first papers, adding to the overall stress of feeling uncomfortable here.

Midterms can leave freshmen shocked and disappointed with themselves. Most of them are accustomed to being straight-A, top of the class students, and they expect to continue this successful academic trend in college. It’s frustrating to work as hard in college as in high school, but receive substantially lower scores. In many math and science classes, the average test grade can be lower than 50%, and even though the freshmen know their classmates all failed the test with them, it’s still hard for them to feel comfortable with the score. It takes time at Duke to realize that being average here is something to be proud of. We’re surrounded by superstars of all types, inside and outside of the classroom, so being perfectly average is actually amazing compared to the world outside the Duke bubble. With time the freshman class will begin to understand that they don’t have to live up to the expectations of high school. Courses in college are designed differently than they are in high school, and it takes a couple semesters for students to build a new academic identity.

Another aspect of college freshmen struggle with during the fall is finding their niche. From O-Week up to about the third week of class, East Campus is an exciting place to be. There are always new people to meet and new events to attend. It’s almost like summer camp. As the school year becomes more intense, people have less free time and the social scene dies down. Freshmen start to feel lonely and can’t seem to find a place where they fit in at Duke. Friend groups from O-Week can dissolve quickly once classes start, and there aren’t any more large orientation events to help the entire class meet new people. After the activity fair is over it can also be difficult for freshmen to find student groups that interest them.

In my experience, it took more than the first few weeks to fully understand where I fit in at Duke. It took me my full freshman year, and my idea of where I belong is still evolving. It’s important for freshmen to keep trying new activities to meet new people, especially when they’re at the point of giving up. It’s frustrating to feel out of place for such a long time, but the only way they’ll find their place at Duke is if they continue exploring.

Balancing work and social life is a third way freshmen have to adjust around this time of year. This combines what I previously said: trying to get good grades while also making friends. School and social life always seem to be at odds with each other. To stay in and study, or go out and have fun? Something that impressed me my freshman year was how many people decided to stay in to do work rather than go out. It often seems like everyone goes out to parties on weekends, but only because we don’t see the people studying in their rooms or the library. It will take time, but eventually freshmen will find friend groups who will help each other make good decisions about balancing life.

If I could give all the freshmen one word of advice this semester (and I do as an RA), it would be “patience.” Balancing the workload and finding true friends takes time for everyone. No one makes a best friend immediately. Relationships need time to grow and strengthen. At this point in the semester it gets tough to keep a positive attitude through feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, but no freshman is alone in this struggle. It’s a class-wide difficulty that happens every year in college across the country. Luckily for the freshmen at Duke, they’re at one of the most diverse colleges in the nation. There’s something for everyone here, and as long as they don’t give up they’ll figure out where they fit in. Before we know it, the class of 2018 will be next year’s sophomores and a new set of freshmen will arrive on campus looking to them for guidance on how to find their way at Duke.

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Hi, I'm, um...HIRE ME!

[Gearing up for the Career Fair]

9:35: I'm eating breakfast and reading The Chronicle. Kind of. Pancakes at Penn are really hitting the spot, and consequently distracting me. 

9:36: Headed to the Career Fair today. Job. Career. The Future. Watcha gonna do with your life, Elizabeth? Nerves? Nah, it's just the rest of my life starting right now, in a gym that smells like sneakers, at a table, with a stranger who can only be so excited to work yet another career fair... Piece of cake! 

9:37: Advice I read in The Chronicle from the Career Center: Know what you want to get out of the fair. Right. Obvious. Hi, I'd like an internship-that-becomes-full-time-job, please. Preferably highly paid that allows me to eat local and organic. Got one? Great. See you this summer.

9:38 – Know what you want. Ok, seriously. What do I want?

[Walking to the Career Fair]

11:37: Also read in The Chronicle: The Career Center recommends having a 10-second shpeel that you can use to sell yourself. Hmm. Maybe I should have visited the career center for help? They keep saying they can help. But I didn't go, because…I dunno, just don't have a good reason.

11:38: Besides, I've got this. I know myself well. Right? I'm… I'm...

11:39 : “Hi, I'm Elizabeth and I am a current junior! [1s] I'm an Economics and Global Health major and, though I have interests and am passionate like most other Duke students, I, in all honestly, have no idea what I want to do for a career. [4s] ….Employ me!! [5s] ….[8s] ….[10s]”

11:40: Crap I should have gone to the Career Center.


11:42 – I'm here. It's hot. Not like “fun! a dance club!” hot. Like the kind of hot where a bunch of people I've seen on campus wearing flip flops, shorts and t-shirts are now dressed to kill, and looking totally uncomfortable. And I can see the nerves. Lots of people... Jeez, lots of sweaty people.

Just be yourself. But not.

[Walking Around]

11:44 – Walking around now. That company looks interesting. I'll go over. Ready, set… GO.

11:45 – Wait. Stop. What the hell am I going to say? Hi, nice weather we're having. I'm Elizabeth… uggh.

11:46 – I'll just wing it. Bring it on, recruiters!!! Bring. It. On.

11: 55 – I'm in line waiting to speak to an employer. I'm listening in, getting geared up with my pitch. Ready to kill it. KILL IT.

11:56 -- Girl in front of me: “Hi, I'm [---]! Here's my resume. I'm really interested in consulting.”

11:57 – My turn. To repeat my unoriginal mantra: Bring. It. On. “Hi! ...Here's my resume, too. And I, too, am really interested in consulting.” Wow. I just said that? God my resume better be killer, because that was … well it sucked.

11:58 – At least my mom thinks I'm special.

[One Conversation]

11:59 – Ok, let’s try again with another one. Deep breath. This recruiter says: “You look different than a lot of our applicants.”

12:00 – What I want to say: Different in a good way? Or different in a you're-not-what-we're-looking-for kind of way? Can you expand on that? Should I be offended? Or maybe that's one of those test questions they ask to see how you'll react, like a recruiter psychology experiment. Maybe I should say, "you look different than a lot of our recruiters." But he doesn't.

12:00 – I throw him a curveball right back: “Are your arm-pits as sweaty as mine right now?”

12:00 – Just kidding. What I actually say (awkwardly): “Oh! Well I hope that means I can bring a new perspective to the firm.” Wow. Who talks like that? Me, apparently, ladies and gentleman. How in the world can I get to know about a company and tell them about me in two minutes. My future in two minutes.

12:02: Definitely going to the career center.

[Days Later]

Winston Churchill said “success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” I wonder if he ever went to a Career Fair feeling like his future was on the line. It wasn't, my future that is. But sometimes the pressure gets to you, and it just feels like it. Most of the people there looked like they felt the same way, or worse. (Particularly the sweaty ones.)

And though it might be a bit of an exaggeration to call my career fair experience a “failure,” Churchill's wisdom still applies. I think that success, at a career fair or in life in general, is about maintaining enthusiasm. It's about walking into every opportunity desiring to learn something from it, even if you don't know what that something is. It's about acknowledging that, sure, you might have a potential employer call you “different.” You might trip on your tongue when trying to explain what you're interested in. But that doesn't make the horizon of your post-Duke future any less bright.

Because despite all the pressure to “know” what they're interested in, no 21-year-old actually “knows." We're all just swimming around pretending to know, some of us better than others. And it's funny because every successful professional was, at one point, 20, 21, 22 years old; I doubt they knew much at that point either. So why do we feel all this pressure to have "it" together? I might not have a 10-second shpeel ready, but I do have my passion, my earnestness, my enthusiasm. And for this 21-year-old, for today at least, that feels like enough.


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“How are you doing?” - “I am doing well”. We go through this exchange so often that we don’t even stop to think what we mean by “well”. For that matter, how many of us know the difference between wellness and well-being? Last evening, Maralis Mercado, Program Coordinator from Duke Student Wellness Center (DUWELL) guided us along the path to achieving individual and community wellness during the workshop hosted by Lisa Giragosian, IHouse.

DUWELL’s Model of Wellness
First, we were introduced to the Wellness Tree. Haven’t seen the tree anywhere? Sure you have, it is you. Just as a tree has roots, people’s roots are their individual identity, values and choices. Then comes the trunk of the tree, which represents self-care i.e. how we take care of ourselves and meet our needs. The branches of the tree are the different dimensions that lead to over-all wellness. The various dimensions are:

  • Intellectual Wellness: Integration of academic and personal pursuits with an internal drive to learn about and explore the world.
  • Social Wellness: Focus on importance of relationships in life and the social skills like active listening, ability to cope with conflict and involvement on campus and in the community.
  • Mind-body Wellness: Caring for the body’s physical and emotional health and reducing stress through exercise, nutrition, rest, meditation, breathing techniques and muscle relaxation.
  • Environmental Wellness: Impact of campus and community environment (noise, safety, social culture and cleanliness) on how safe, comfortable and healthy we feel.
  • Spiritual Wellness: Developing a sense of purpose and meaning in life which is a source of strength and can be beneficial to health and well-being.
  • Financial Wellness: Incorporates financial security, access to resources and perceptions of needs vs wants.

I was reminded of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with two differences: (1) The dimensions are not necessarily in any order of hierarchy, all are equally important. (2) The pursuit of wellness is not only for the individual, but the community as a whole.

Maralis kept us on the move (literally) as we went to different marked parts of the room identifying our strongest and weakest dimensions. Through guided imagery, she helped us create our own space and meet our future self (I didn’t know time travel was so easy). It was quite intriguing!


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Tis the Season…For Coughs and Colds

With temperatures dropping and students hunkered down together in classrooms, libraries and dorm rooms, the germs are starting to fly around campus.  Not surprisingly, there is an uptick in students looking for help from the Student Health Center, and demand for appointments is high.

While most of what they're seeing at Student Health are common cold symptoms, there are some things to watch out for.

Read more.

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Experience to dispel assumptions and find what is right for you

“He insists on wearing that Paisley blazer,” the producer announced.

“Oh brother!” the director lamented, understanding that it was just another issue he would have to deal with on the day of the production. “Well he can’t wear it. Let his daughter find a nice replacement for him and we’ll deal with it later.”
The conversation between the two managers went something like that as they tried to figure out how to negotiate with the talent, Earthquake, as he remained steadfast in his attire selection for the night’s performance. The problem wasn’t the pattern itself, it was rather how it would read on camera. No, there was no attempt on the Director’s part to stifle the creative expression of the talent in anyway. On the contrary, he claimed that whatever Earthquake wanted he would get. But the Director had a job too—ensuring the multicam shoot in the Carolina Theatre on Foster Street produced a beautiful image on screen.

Shadowing Director Marcus Raboy in his production for Earthquake’s stand-up on June 28 was very much like the above, navigating through competing ideas to create a cohesive show. When I entered as an intern much of the grease had already been put into it. The pre-production stage took place a few months in advance, where the venue was chosen, the performance times set, the marketing commenced and the general ambience conjured.  Thus as the director’s intern, my task was to follow Marcus around and observe how he managed it all. 
I wasn’t particularly sure what to expect, but I certainly mused that it would be the likes of an over-the-top Hollywood set with cameras at every corner, props and stage gear stationed to transport you to a different dimension, and of course yelling from a neurotic director. None of that was the case however.

The greatest portion of my experience was sitting in on logistic strategizing. Where are we gonna put his teleprompter? Can we lay down the floor to make it look this way? Let’s move the platform ahead so we don’t get the overhang in the shot. The action definitely occurred during the show when the interns, director, producers, and lighting designer were all in the production van surrounded by around 15 different screens displaying the performance on stage. Marcus was live cutting all the cameras, and managing the angles to create specific shots. He had to think on his feet to decide which camera to switch to and how wide the angle should be or whether he wanted to capture the audience laughter in the balcony or in the mezzanine.

As a director, Marcus was extremely professional and experienced. Being his intern allowed me to also find out more about him. He was extremely down to earth and yet decidedly staunch in his decisions of how the layout of the space would be, sequencing of cameras, numbering the equipment, and dealing with the talent’s requests. Even though he had directed on the likes of Friday After Next and the “Waka Waka” music video, he never seemed to carry any sort of hubris with him. He simply wanted to complete his job to his vision. He was very patient with interns and took time to talk to us about his life and how he got to where he was. But he also managed to cut any tension created by our disparate status by giving me a nickname, conversing about his interest in food, and playing tricks on his staff.
All in all, the experience opened my eyes and gave me perspective on what a lower-budget production would entail, while also dispelling assumptions and conceptions I originally had about working on set. I’m not sure if it is indicative of the whole industry, but I would certainly advise landing an opportunity out in the field and see whether it is the right fit for you.


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