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Holiday Clinic Closings

The Student Health Center will be closed during the holidays according to the following schedule:

Friday, December 19th - Close at 10:30am

Saturday, December 20th - Closed

Closed for the Winter Break beginning on Wednesday, December 24th and extending through Sunday, January 4th.

For health care options during closed hours, please contact us at 919-681-9355.

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Transition to Duke

We spoke to Gerald Tan, a Trinity freshman from Singapore, about his transition to Duke and the United States. The Economics student has a great sense of humor and loves all things food.

1. Where have you lived or traveled?
I have only lived in Singapore. But my Mum was born in Malaysia, so I would often head there to visit my relatives.  It’s a 3-hour drive away.

2. Why did you come to Duke?
Many reasons: the liberal arts education, the community of friends, the weather, the over-aggressive squirrels. But most important of all - to explore. My mum left her hometown, alone, when she was barely 16, to seek a new life in a foreign country. Coming to Duke is, in some way, my lesser emulation of that immense courage and entrepreneurship she had.

3. What are you planning on studying while you are at Duke?
I want to study Economics. I am also interested in Philosophy – Philosophy 101 is an excellent course to take!

4. What are you involved in outside of the classroom?
I am on the Duke Debate team. Over weekends, I would travel out with the team to other schools, like Yale [University] and [University of] Vermont, to compete in inter-varsity tournaments. I am also in Duke Consulting Club: I write for the Duke Consulting Review and work closely with a Durham start-up, Ripcog, under the community-consulting program. Ripcog is a platform that helps local businesses generate more referrals at a lowest cost. I have also most recently been preparing for the regional Federal Reserve Challenge.
During my free time (if there is even such a thing), I cook.  Pork Belly stews; caramelized chicken wings in Chinese cooking wine; Tangyuan – colored rice balls in sweetened ginger broth. I also play the viola.

5. How did you feel when you first came to United States? Were you surprised or were things similar to life in your home country?
It was almost dreamlike; partly because it was after a 24-hour flight, but mostly because the moment I had waited for 2 years finally arrived (I deferred my matriculation to Duke by 2 years to complete Singapore’s mandatory military service). I was most surprised to find strangers greeting me whenever they saw me, and blessing me whenever I sneezed.

6. What was the biggest adjustment you had to make to get immersed into the American culture?
To speak in an accent-neutral way that could be understood. People used to ask me what language I was conversing in, even when I was speaking in English.

7. Are there some parts of the American culture you haven’t gotten used to? If so, what are they?
The food. The food here is fantastic, but every so often, I miss authentic Chinese food (no offense to Panda Express).

8. How did your thoughts about the USA change after coming here?
As an international student, I was initially afraid that I would not be able to integrate into the Duke community. But the folks here are friendlier than I expected. Everywhere I go I bump into affection. 

9. Is there something you wish you had known about America before coming here?
How hot it really was in the first few weeks of Fall.

10. What do you miss the most about your home country?
My family, my old friends and food, glorious food.

11. What do you like the most about Duke?
The faculty. I am always amazed by how approachable (and humorous) many of the faculty members are. They really make learning more enjoyable. Earlier today, during my Economics lecture, Professor Zelder put on a woman’s scarf and began to shout in Italian. It was to demonstrate the effects of negative externalities.

12. What are your plans for this summer?
I haven’t really decided what I will do for this summer. But as of now, I am inclined to use that time to explore the States and to volunteer.

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Flag of the Week - Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea, officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is an Oceanian country that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and its offshore islands in Melanesia, a region of the southwestern Pacific Ocean north of Australia. Its capital, located along its southeastern coast, is Port Moresby. The western half of New Guinea forms the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.
Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. 848 languages are listed for the country, of which 12 have no known living speakers. Most of the population of over 7 million people live in customary communities, which are as diverse as the languages. It is also one of the most rural, as only 18 per cent of its people live in urban centres. The country is one of the world's least explored, culturally and geographically, and many undiscovered species of plants and animals are thought to exist in the interior.

Strong growth in Papua New Guinea's mining and resource sector has led to the country's becoming the sixth fastest-growing economy in the world as of 2011. Many people in the country live in extreme poverty when measured in terms of money, with about one-third of the population living on less than US$1.25 per day.

At the local level, the majority of the population still live in strong customary societies and - while social life is overlaid with traditional religious cosmologies and modern practices, including conventional primary education - customary subsistence-based agriculture remains fundamental. These societies and clans are explicitly acknowledged within the nation's constitutional framework. The Papua New Guinea Constitution expresses the wish for "traditional villages and communities to remain as viable units of Papua New Guinean society" and for active steps to be taken in their continuing importance to local and national community life.

At the national level, after being ruled by three external powers since 1884, Papua New Guinea established its sovereignty in 1975 following 70 years of Australian administration. It became a separate Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations in its own right.

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Internationals Celebrating An American Tradition: Thanksgiving

Let me start by sharing two things that comes up to my mind when I think about Thanksgiving. Firstly, as an international student whose home is approximately 5,430 miles away from Duke, I am always nervous about being left alone during short breaks like Thanksgiving when none of the on-campus eateries, stores, libraries are open for their regular hours and almost all of my friends leave campus to go back to their homes. This year, fortunately, International House organized an amazing Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday, Nov 26th, for a group of internationals that included undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty. I thought the event was a great success!

There were many delicious traditional American Thanksgiving foods such as turkey with gravy, green beans with garlic and parmesan, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and pecans, macaroni & cheese and a variety of pies for dessert. The best part was that lovely IHouse staff cooked all of this food in their homes and brought them in, just like a real Thanksgiving meal in someone’s house. We met with people from all around the world, had interesting and enjoyable conversations while eating delicious food.

The second thing I remember every Thanksgiving is related to the main dish of this day: the turkey. As a Turkish myself, Thanksgivings are always in a sense stressful for me since whenever someone talks about the turkey they ate, I immediately attend to the conversation because it could be something related to my country, Turkey. Last year, I decided to research why this traditional Thanksgiving food is named with my country and whether it is named after Turkey (the country). This is really intriguing for me because in Turkish, a turkey is called “Hindi” which refers to India. I found that New York Times’ Mark Forsyth wrote a beautiful and informative op-ed to answer these questions. It turns out that this exotic bird is imported all the way from Madagascar, off the southeast coast of Africa to Europe by merchants from Turkey, so the name of this bird stayed as Turkey. Ironically, French and Turkish people thought that turkeys came from India so they call it dinde and hindi respectively.

All in all, we had a great time in International House to celebrate Thanksgiving together as internationals. I would like to thank all IHouse staff for this nice event! I wish a Happy Thanksgiving for everyone with amazing people and delicious food. ☺

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Student Health Closed for Thanksgiving

The Student Health Center will be closed for Thanksgiving beginning at 12:30pm on Wednesday, 11/26, and will re-open at 8:30am on Monday, December 1st.

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

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Student Health Closing Early 11/20

The Student Health Center will close at 3:45pm on Thursday, 11/20. We will re-open with normal operating hours at 8:30am on Friday, 11/21.

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

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Introduction to US Taxes - CLG workshop at IHouse

“We are from Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, UK, Vietnam and many other countries. We are students, scholars, postdocs and spouses. What unites us all is Taxes.” This is not a Tom Lehrer song, but about the last workshop of the Fall 2014 CLG Series, presented by Dr. Li-Chen Chin of IHouse.

Taxes are ubiquitous. So, the workshop began with a discussion among participants about taxation in their home country. Dr. Chin started the presentation by explaining about the taxes that we pay – sales tax, property tax, income tax and the governing structures. Then we plunged headlong into the main topic of discussion for the evening, Income tax.


The first step is to understand the difference between immigration status (F, J or H) and residency status (Resident or Non-Resident) for tax purposes. In the US, the Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number determines your identity. Therefore, it is very important not to share it with anyone unless it is deemed necessary. Sources of income that are taxable are wages, scholarship/fellowship that covers your living expenses, awards & prizes, while tuition scholarship that does not cover local expenses and bank interest are not taxable.

We have to file separate tax returns for federal and state taxes. The forms for federal returns for Non-residents are:

  • Form 8843 - If you had no taxable income
  • Forms 1040 NR / 1040 NR-EZ & 8843 – If you had taxable income

Confident that we had understood the basics, we bravely tackled some word problems about federal tax forms. If you are from one of those countries with which US has signed a tax treaty, you may get some tax benefits or exemptions. But it is important to file the paperwork in order to get these benefits. If you are not sure about this, you can get information from Duke Corporate Payroll Service.

Now, let’s look at to the state tax forms. In North Carolina, you have to file a tax return if your federal gross income exceeds $5,500 or if you believe, you are eligible for a tax refund from the state.

If you feel that income tax is the hardest thing in the world to understand, don’t worry, Einstein is said to have felt the same way☺. But, you have enough time to figure this out. For income earned in 2014, the due date for filing tax returns is April 15, 2015. You can get all this information and more at IHouse.

And finally, kudos to IHouse for their grand efforts in stimulating us to Connect, Learn, Grow.
 

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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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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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