Contributed by SangHee Jeong, Program Coordinator at International House
Jun 108:42 am
Hello everyone! How is your summer going? I am sure it is going well, but here is an idea to make it even more flavorful! IHouse Summer Social with Music in the Gardens Concert Series kicked off last Wednesday, June 5. It was a perfect evening for an outdoor concert – the weather was very pleasant, and the rain was courteous enough not to come down in Durham in that evening so we could enjoy the concert happy and dry.
If you have never been to local outdoor concerts here in Durham, you should come with us. You will see how relaxing, summary and friendly atmosphere it has. People come in couples, families, and groups; sometimes alone – I saw a guy sitting in a lawn chair and reading from his Kindle while listening to the soothing live music. When a fast-beat, cheerful country music is played, you will see moms and dads with babies and toddlers stand up and dance with their kids. It is such a harmonious environment, and you will feel that you are having a quintessential experience of the local American culture.
Last Wednesday’s concert featured Jkutchma & The Five Fiths. They played country rock, featuring the pedal steel guitar, harmonica and guitars. I am always fascinated by the unique sound of the pedal steel guitar in country music. Do you know what that instrument is? It is a guitar placed horizontally in front of the player who plucks the strings and uses pedals to control the pitch. Even if you don’t know what it is, you must have heard of its sound. If you are interested, see this YouTube video clip featuring a pedal steel guitar playing “Desperado”. Its melancholy sound has special “country” characteristic!
The lead singer said he came to North Carolina when he got an offer to teach at an art school in Durham, and now he cannot imagine living anywhere else! I hear many international students say they will miss Durham so much when they go back home. So, why don’t you make the most of it while you are here? The Summer Social will meet every Wednesday evening in June, and the next one will be on June 12. The concert starts at 7pm and the seating begins at 6:30pm, so we will meet in front of the Duke Garden Visitor Center at 6:30pm. Come through the Garden’s main entrance on Anderson Street, and you will find me on your right, sitting at the fountain with the IHouse sign. Hope to see you there. Seize the day!
Contributed by from the Chronicle of Higher Education
Jun 710:46 am
American students who interact more with their classmates from abroad don't just gain greater cultural awareness but also develop skills that benefit them after graduation, according to a new study by researchers at Duke University.
The study, which is described in an article published in the Journal of International Students, draws on data from comprehensive alumni surveys of some 5,675 former students from the 1985, 1995, and 2000 graduating classes of four highly selective private research universities. The surveys were administered in 2005, approximately five, 10, and 20 years after those classes graduated. (The institutions are part of a pre-existing research consortium and agreed to share survey data.)
The researchers—David Jamieson-Drake, director of institutional research at Duke, and Jiali Luo, an assistant director of institutional research at the university—found that students who had substantial engagement with peers from abroad reported significantly higher levels of skills development in a variety of areas.
“He doesn’t get points for that.” It’s one of the most common “sheilaisms” you will hear in my office. We quite simply live in a culture that literally awards boys points for merely NOT walking into a room and punching a woman in the face or raping her or telling her to go make him a sandwich. How often do we get annoyed with young mothers in grocery stores for their loud children and how often when it’s a dad struggling, do we offer help or at the very least think to ourselves “oh look at that great dad babysitting his children?” Imagine thinking a mom is babysitting her children.
Speaking of her boyfriend, she tells me “Sheila, he’s such a great guy.” When asked for data to support this conclusion, she tells me this story. “The other night we were ‘hooking up’ (again, can we please stop using that phrase?). We were just about to ‘do it’ (vaginal intercourse - side note, we shame young women so much for their sexual decisions that even the brightest and most liberated cannot use the words.) But back to my story….
“We were just about to “do it” and I got scared and said, stop, no wait, stop.” And guess what?? He stopped! And if that wasn’t enough to earn him the “good guy of the year award,” he was not mad at her, not sulking, not angry.
“Honey,” I said, “I’m glad you have made the decision to date a decent human being, but hear me say this – he doesn’t get points for that.”
Silence, staring blankly at me, integration of what was just said. I continue….
“Do you understand? I’m not trying to be mean. I am so proud of you for verbalizing what you needed in that moment. It’s very brave. But he does not get points for that.” “Yes,” she says smiling, nodding, “yes, Sheila, I see what you mean.” Then I pull out my sense of humor and thicken my southern drawl to drive home the absurdity of the point. “In ahl mah vaaast sexual experience, not once, in mah 28 yeeers of having sex have I evah done anythang different than your boyfriend when one of my sweethearts asked me to stop doing whut I wuz doing sexually. And yet not one of them has evah said ‘wow, Sheila, you are a such a good guy for stopping doing that thing to me that I asked you to stop doing.”
What are we doing to young women that they are GRATEFUL when a guy respects their bodily integrity? What next? I am reminded of Oliver Twist, given voice by Charles Dickens, bravely saying to the Master, all fat and healthy, “Please sir, I want some more.” Yes, indeed, more. And not just tasteless, sticky, uninspiring gruel, either. I want some more time, space, bodily integrity, respect, humanity. I want it all. Here’s to the sassy girls in our lives who demand it.
The week before last, award-winning Chinese writer Yan Lianke paid a visit to Duke and UNC Chapel Hill, delivering a talk titled “My Literary Self-criticism”. I never read his novels but his controversial works have been under heated discussion in China for some time. I was curious about the talk, especially the title, so I went to attend it at UNC Chapel Hill.
Over the 50-min talk, Yan touched on several main topics – ranging from social responsibilities of contemporary writers in modern China era to his fear of detachment (of him and his works) to the masses, among others. All of them are thought-provoking to me, and I will select two to talk about here.
The first is about the detachment to the masses. Like many successful persons in his generation, Yan was born in some poor rural town far away from the cities. His success in career brought him respect and reverence from people in his hometown, but at the same time, their hope of being helped by him, both financially and politically. Yan doesn’t blame these people, and I agree with his rationale. Most of time, it’s not these people are greedy or lazy, it’s the political system that only allows certain percentage of people to enjoy the prosperity that China’s fast development has brought to, while most of the population (the massive group without proper education, without money, without political power) still lives in a quite bad condition. Moreover, in Chinese traditions, especially in the rural areas, people who became successful in the cities are sort of responsible to help the poor. Sometimes it’s in the form of donating money for road construction; sometimes it’s in the form of recommending jobs for them in the cities, among others. Therefore, once they found out that someone among them got famous and/or became rich, they believed they will be helped. Yan feels really bad that every time he visits his hometown, villagers constantly visit his home only for asking help. Between them there seems to be nothing else worthy being talked of. (My father was born in rural area too, and though he’s not famous or rich, but every time we went back to visit his family in the village, all I could see was the begging – no emotion involved, no interests in how my father’s life etc. ) Yan, being a writer, is pretty concerned about this detachment as he’s afraid that his works cannot reflect what the masses are thinking and perceiving.
The other is about his controversy in China. One of his recent novels had been criticized to be expressing his hidden sentiments and feelings to one scholar by means of gentle allusions and ambiguous phrases. Other than this, his invited comments on the disputed island between China and Japan appeared on New York Times and another Japanese newspaper in 2012 and were under heated debate among Chinese people. Some blamed him to be a traitor. My concerns are more on an individual Chinese level, especially the bad feelings of criticizing my own country and countrymen in front of foreigners, therefore I asked him a question during the Q&A session after the talk: as a Chinese student studies abroad, how should I respond to foreigners' criticism of China and how should I talk about China's problems in front of an international audience; I felt bad about saying anything bad but true. His answer: remain truthful and the world would respect you. Not sure why but I was almost bursting to tears upon hearing these.
I am very glad that I took the time to attend his talk. It’s always interesting to meet different Chinese scholars, businessmen, politicians and others, to listen to their opinions and they usually help me shape my thoughts about my motherland in a more clear, systematic and firmer way.
The Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture Cordially Invites You to Enjoy A Late Afternoon Delight featuring Live Jazz & Fabulous Dessert
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 3:00 - 5:00 Mary Lou Williams Center 201 West Union Building
In celebration of YOU, our 30th Anniversary & in gratitude for another successful year... In honor of our namesake’s 103rd birthday & In gratitude for the awesome service of our graduating student staff!!!
THIS WILL BE THE LAST MARY LOU DAY BEFORE OUR BIG MOVE TO FLOWERS!!!
Each year we seek to make the Abele Awards an extra special event by theming it with something from the history/creative genius of Black life. In the past, we’ve honed in on the Harlem Renaissance, contemporary Hip Hop, and The Wiz. This year we take for our inspiration both the year of integration at Duke and the sound of Motown. We imagine that young people in 1963 had to be listening to the “sound of young America” as artists like, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Temptations, Mary Wells, The Marvelettes, and The Vandellas played on their record players. Thus, the sound of Motown would have been spinning on their record players, as the world would have been spinning toward equality.
We have designed an Abele Awards that continues to highlight the contributions of Black students annually, and that honors what five courageous "crossovers" did in the evolution of a world class university! This year's Abele Awards is a tribute to 1963 and the Motown Sound. In our planning we seek to honor the style and significance of the Motown era by designing the space to emulate elements one would expect to see from that era. Our research has included menu, video, songs, attire, people, and history. We are hoping to bring all of that alive in this “Circa 1963.”
So, the 27th Annual Abele Awards, seeks to turn the Searle Center into a musical soundstage that brings the music of Detriot to Durham on Saturday, April 13th, 2013 at 6PM. Join us in our celebration of Black student excellence!
As the Mary Lou Williams Center is engaged in honoring the legacy of those first Black Undergraduates who came to Duke in 1963, we have begun to imagine that time and space. We imagine that some of them would have been watching the news and would have seen James Meredith graduate from Ole’ Miss. We imagine that weeks before entering Duke, some of them would have just heard Rev. King at the March On Washington.
And, all of them would have been listening to the burgeoning sounds of Detroit emanating from Berry Gordy’s Motown. We imagine that many of them would have been listening to singers like Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Temptations, Mary Wells, The Marvelettes, and The Vandellas. Thus the Sound of Motown would have be spinning, as the world would have been spinning toward equality.
With beauty, drama, talent, and intrigue all a part of the Motown legacy, we thought it important to showcase “the music of the 60’s” as an homage to our beginnings. Come see our new “wall” exhibit as it uses albums, images, and all things “sparklely” to highlight the legacy of Motown, as both a reminder of 1963 and as foreshadowing to our upcoming Abele Awards, entitled “circa 1963.”
I am on my flight back to Barcelona. It has been an amazing spring break so far: visit Barcelona and Paris in 10 days. My boyfriend is in Barcelona for a week-long conference, so I took some time to visit Paris by myself. I’ve got some friends in Paris, so I had a place to stay and people to show me around. It’s also a good time to catch up.
The city I grew up in China has been on good terms with France in general, so there has been a lot of encouragement from the government for students to study abroad in France for all different kinds of degree. Among my friends, there are at least 10 that I know of who had been to France for at least a year, and half of them are still here, either studying or interning or working. Other than Chinese, I also had a French friend who I got to know well during my exchange semester in the US in my college years. He was in International Relations major and quite interested in politics. When we were in the US three years ago, we traveled together to big cities and talked a lot about different countries, different cultures etc. I was surprised at that time that he was particularly interested in French-speaking African countries. I knew that after he went back to France he took several internship positions in Africa, some in banks and some others in French consulates over there. I also knew before my trip that he is going to Senegal for a full time job in a bank there for at least one year. I was very much looking forward to meeting him in person in Paris to catch up.
His passion for Africa has been as strong as ever. And this time in particular, looking at the Euro crisis eating up France, he was more determined to leave France for good soon. From our conversations, I got to know that in general French people are very conservative, in a way that they are satisfied with being in a small circle. They are reluctant to welcome new people (especially non-French), let along to get to know people from different backgrounds/cultures. He went to a good college in Strasbourg, and the students there are always in cliques. He’s not from that city, so it had been difficult for him to make friends with other French there. Quite interestingly (or I should say not surprisingly) he had many more international friends, particularly African students study abroad in France. Maybe that is part of the reason why he got super interested in Africa. The French higher education system encourages students to study/intern abroad several times during their program, and he chose all of them to be African countries. His working and living experiences over there make him fall in love with Africa: people there are energetic, passionate, and open; workwise he felt that companies in Africa are more willing to take risk to get some gain. It’s quite the opposite in France, and he felt no hope of more growth (or just getting out of the current Euro crisis).
He is still interested in going back to the US to get a master degree in International Relation or Public Administration. But before that he will be working in Africa for a few years to gain more experience. He said the US is still growing and the education is no doubt the best in the world.
It had been quite interesting for me to listen to his ideas and thoughts about Europe, USA and Africa. Being a student from China (less-developed region) myself, I had always been eager to go to the US for better education and more opportunities. I didn’t consider Europe much due to the language barrier. The UK is fine but it’s very difficult to get working visa afterwards, which prevents me from going there after college. I have to admit that Africa is a big region that I have no idea about at all and sort of afraid of going because of I feel it’s even less-developed than China, i.e. I see no point of going there if I am trying to get something better than what I can back in China. It’s interesting to see the viewpoint of someone from the developed world like my friend, who would much value the possibility in Africa and make plans to go to work there to be part of it. Having a friend like him would “remind” me of not being too stubborn and stick to my old impression of seemingly wonderful Europe and seemingly awful Africa.
While you've probably heard a lot about Duke, this is the time when you come see for yourselves. We believe you will come away informed, inspired and impressed and in fact have been working hard to make sure of it. We know you all have a choice - and so we are grateful that you have chosen to give us the chance to show you the Duke that is so special to us.
Below (and attached) is the schedule that gives you a sense of what will be going on. Should you have questions about this weekend’s events, please do not hesitate to contact us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone 919.684.3814.
Duke University’s Black Student Alliance Invitational 2013 Thursday, March 28 – Sunday, March 31 At-A-Glance Schedule Events are open to the Duke community unless otherwise noted.
ITEMS IN BOLD ARE MANDATORY FOR PROSPECTIVE FIRST YEAR [P-Frosh] STUDENTS
Thursday, March 28 8:00 am – 4:00 pm Students Arrive & Registration [WEST UNION, OLD TRINITY ROOM/ROOM107]
8:00 am – 4:00 pm Classes
9:00 am – 4:00 pm Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture Open House
10:00 am & 12:00 pm Tours of West Campus 11:00 am & 1:00 pm Tours of West Campus
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Chapel Climb sponsored by Black Campus Ministries