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Active and Efficient Reading Strategies - CLG workshop at IHouse

“The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know” – Albert Einstein
In this knowledge era, we have to keep updating ourselves to make sure that we are not left behind. There is so much to read and so little time to do it. The only way out is to read faster but, there is a catch – you may not understand / remember what you read. Jackie Ariail, Learning Specialist from Duke’s Academic Resource Center elaborated on strategies for reading efficiently and retaining what you read, at this week’s workshop hosted by Lisa Giragosian, IHouse.

The Mechanics of Reading & Strategies for Reading Faster
If you are taking forever to read something it is (either because it is boring :| or) because you are a slow reader. Some strategies for reading faster:

  • Don’t sub-vocalize
  • Do take in more words with one look (fixation)
  • Don’t reread (regress) unless you have to

In the workshop, we all did a ‘one minute read’ to check our reading speed (typical range for adults is 250 – 300 words per minute). To practice reading faster:
1.    Understand the typical construction of the English sentence – Noun, verb, object. Use the orienting information provided at the beginning of the sentence.
2.    Recognize the word groupings.
3.    Read more vertically than horizontally.

Reading Actively and Efficiently
Once you learn to read faster, it is equally important to ensure that you understand what you are reading. Jackie outlined a few steps to read efficiently and effectively:
1.    Understand the purpose of reading within the context of your course.
2.    Before you start reading, familiarize yourself with the material by looking at TOC, headings, illustrations/diagrams.
3.    Read the introduction and conclusion, and try to form an idea about the material.
4.    Read the material.
5.    Remember what you read by writing marginal notes, highlighting or writing a summary.

Finally, we discussed a reading technique called pseudo-skimming which combines, “the comprehension benefits of reading and the speed of skimming”. The secret is to identify the meaty versus filler paragraphs and focus on reading the important ones.

Thanks Jackie, for inspiring us to “Read, Read, Read……………. To Succeed”
 

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Flag of the Week - Jamaica

Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea, comprising the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles. The island lies south of Cuba and west of Hispaniola, the island containing the nation-states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Jamaica is the fifth-largest island country in the Caribbean.

Once a Spanish possession known as Santiago, in 1655 it came under the rule of England (later Great Britain), and was called Jamaica. It achieved full independence from the United Kingdom on 6 August 1962. With 2.8 million people, it is the third most populous Anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada. Kingston is the country's largest city and its capital. Jamaica has a large diaspora around the world, due to emigration from the country.
Jamaica is a Commonwealth realm, with Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch and head of state. Her appointed representative in the country is the Governor-General of Jamaica, currently Patrick Allen. The head of government and Prime Minister of Jamaica is Portia Simpson-Miller. Jamaica is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy with legislative power vested in the bicameral Parliament of Jamaica, consisting of an appointed Senate and a directly elected House of Representatives.

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American Culture 101 : Music, Party Culture, and Food -CLG workshop at IHouse

During my last trip back home, my niece started asking me questions about life in America, especially about college life. I knew Dukies worked hard and partied hard, but beyond that I was clueless. The CLG Workshop on American Culture, hosted by SangHee Jeong, IHouse and presented by Duke students, Joanna Blaszczak and Ellen Gambrell gave us a brief peek into American Music, Party Culture, Food and more.

American Music
Joanna started the presentation with the National Anthem – not singing it, but talking about it. Then we were introduced to the various genres of American classics like
Folk –    Bluegrass, Appalachian, Indie folk
Blues – Originated in the Deep South
Jazz – New Orleans, Jazz Capital of the world. You can listen to Jazz at Duke’s Mary Lou
Williams Center @ 9:30 pm on Wednesdays.
Country – Originated from American folk and Western music


Through the decades, the classics evolved into new styles of music like Rock N Roll, Pop, Classic Rock, Rap, Hip hop, Disco and Soul, made popular by stars like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Rhianna... We had great fun listening to short pieces of music and trying to discern the difference in rhythm and tempo of each genre.

(No Reason Not to) Party in the USA
Ellen’s presentation gave us a very clear picture of how and why Americans party. She enriched my vocabulary by explaining the meaning of terms like House Party, Dinner Party, Tailgating, Binge Drinking, Starting a Tab… We also learned about Do’s and Don’ts of partying and how to party safely. I liked the way she used photographs to make her point. She shared with us the importance of tipping, since waitstaff may not be paid minimum wages. The rules of tipping are: 10% if service is bad; 15% if okay; 20% if good; 25% if outstanding.


American Food Culture
The presentation covered different categories of American food, Ethnic & Regional blends and Soul food.

Wait, it is not over yet. After the presentations were done, the presenters faced a barrage of questions about peer pressure, frisbee (!), music, radio stations, music sites, balancing work and partying, Southern hospitality, attending church and just about everything the participants could think of. I was amazed by how readily they fielded all the questions. It was a refreshing evening, I went home feeling younger.

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South’s Tastiest Town: Exploring Durham through Food - CLG serise at IHouse

When I decide to eat out, I often look for a restaurant that is not too far, clean, with relaxed ambience and friendly service staff. And, for me it should definitely offer vegetarian options. With my limited knowledge of local eateries, I can only come up with three options that I have tried – Chipotle, Dominos and Subway and I mostly do take-out. So, I hardly eat out. Oh! I and my family have had coffee outside. Want to know where? At the nearest gas station of course.

You must be thinking what a bland life I have been living. Not anymore. This Thursday’s workshop hosted by Annette Moore, IHouse has added spice and variety to my life. We were taken on a gastronomic journey covering the various food options in the “region’s new culinary capital”. Most of these restaurants can be reached by the Bull City Connector, “a Fare-Free route from Duke to Golden belt, including Ninth Street and Downtown Durham”. So, don’t worry if you don’t have a car.



In 2013, Durham ranked as the South’s Tastiest Town according to Southern Living magazine. Some of the things that make the Durham food scene unique are:

* Fusion of old with new: Some of the restaurants in Brightleaf Square were originally tobacco warehouses built in 1900’s.
* Seasonal, local organic ingredients
* Variety of options from Fine Dining to Quick Service, to satisfy your palate without emptying your wallet.

After a brief introduction, the participants got a chance to taste samples from local eateries like The Cupcake Bar, Dales Indian Cuisine, Monuts and Pizzeria Toro. Then, we played a game ‘Name that Restaurant’. You guessed it, I got only three answers right. While going over the answers, Annette gave us a brief idea about each restaurant, special foods they serve and also showed us some video clips. She peppered her presentation with snippets of information about the different restaurants. Overall, we had a feeling that we had visited about ten different restaurants (and a Food Truck Rodeo at Durham Central Park) in the course of the evening.

Want to know where Duke gourmets like to go? (Based on an online survey)

* Favorite place for coffee: Cocoa Cinnamon
* Top restaurant / bar / chill-out place: Full Steam
* Best dining place in Durham: Bull City Burger and Brewery

What better way to end the day than eating food and talking about food! From fine dining to food trucks, pizzas to paninis, sandwiches to samosas, gelato to gingerbread waffles, coffee to cupcakes, donuts to dumplings, outdoor seating to golf courses, breakfast to brunch, small plates to large portions, bakery to brewery, gluten-free to vegetarian, vegan – there is a restaurant in the Bull City to cater to every foodie. So go ahead and explore Durham’s celebrated cuisine at these restaurants.
 

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flag of the Week - Cambodia

Cambodia, officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia and once referred to as the Khmer Empire, is a country located in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest. With a population of over 14.8 million, Cambodia is the 69th most populous country in the world. The official religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced by almost the entire population. The capital and largest city is Phnom Penh, the political, economic, and cultural center of Cambodia. The kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with Norodom Sihamoni, a monarch chosen by the Royal Throne Council, as head of state. The head of government is Hun Sen, who is currently the longest serving non-royal leader in South East Asia and has ruled Cambodia for over 25 years.
Cambodia faces numerous challenges and sociopolitical issues that stunt its development as a nation. In 2013, Cambodia was named one of the most corrupt nations in the world. According to Freedom House, Cambodia is also “not free.” With a low human development index, Cambodia is a low income economy having one of the lowest annual incomes in the world. Finally, Cambodia currently ranks as the 32nd hungriest nation in the world.

Despite its social and political difficulties, Cambodia has had one of the best economic growth records in Asia. Strong textiles, agriculture, construction, garments, and tourism sectors led to foreign investments and international trade. However, Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in the world with two million people living in poverty, government corruption and a poor record on human rights. That said, national and international NGOs have a huge presence in the country hoping to improve living conditions.​

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flag of the Week - Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia is a sovereign island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the Lesser Antilles, it is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique. Its capital is Castries.
One of the Windward Islands, Saint Lucia was named after Saint Lucy of Syracuse by the French, the island's first European settlers. They signed a treaty with the native Carib Indians in 1660. Britain took control of the island from 1663 to 1667; in ensuing years, it was at war with France 14 times and rule of the island changed frequently (it was seven times each ruled by the French and British). In 1814, the British took definitive control of the island. Because it switched so often between British and French control, Saint Lucia was also known as the "Helen of the West Indies".

Representative government came about in 1840 (with universal suffrage from 1953). From 1958 to 1962, the island was a member of the Federation of the West Indies. On 22 February 1979, Saint Lucia became an independent state of the Commonwealth of Nations associated with the United Kingdom. Saint Lucia is a mixed jurisdiction meaning that it has a legal system based in part on both the Civil Law and English common law.
The island nation celebrates its independence every year with a public holiday. It is also a member of la Francophonie. The financial sector has weathered the global financial crisis, but the recession has hurt tourism.

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Are you considering buying a car? - CLG workshop on Purchsing a Pre-owned Car

When my family and I came to Duke, we did not feel the need to own a car. With Duke buses and the regular trips to Target by International House, we felt we had it all covered. But when we started expanding our horizons and wanted to explore things around us, we missed a car. When we made the all-important decision to buy a pre-owned car, there were lots of doubts and questions in our minds. If you are going through a similar situation, this Thursday’s workshop on purchasing a pre-owned car would have been perfect for you.

The workshop was hosted by Paige Vinson, IHouse, with valuable inputs from Paul Elliot Cornsweet, an experienced mechanic. It started with an informal discussion on what kind of information the participants were looking for. Then Paige made her presentation that answered the queries that many of the participants had. Some important points discussed were:

* Do I really need a car
* Where do I buy a car
* Can I use unexpired license from home country to drive in NC
* How to get a license
* How much does it cost to own a car

Then we came to the part that many of us may hesitate to do - asking the right (and uncomfortable?) questions to the prospective seller. Paul told us about what to look for in the Carfax report and also emphasized how important it

is to have the car checked by a mechanic. (Anyone remember Barney Fife’s car buying experience in the Andy Griffith show?)

The actual sale or transfer of title can be done in the presence of a notary at the DMV, where you can check for lien on the title. So, the car is yours now but wait, before you drive away remember to register it and get the new license plate.

I know, this seems like a lot of information. But we enjoyed the presentation and scored 100% on the Post quiz. The participants had lots of questions. Paige and Paul’s answers were quite informative and insightful.

Going by the audience feedback, the workshop was “very useful and covered everything”. If you missed the workshop, not to worry! A lot of useful information is available here.

 

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Flag of the Week - Lithuania

Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in Northern Europe, one of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It borders Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 3 million as of 2013, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius. Lithuanians are a Baltic people. The official language, Lithuanian, and Latvian are the only two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family.

Lithuania is a member of the European Union, the Council of Europe, a full member of the Schengen Agreement and NATO. It is also a member of the Nordic Investment Bank, and part of Nordic-Baltic cooperation of Northern European countries. The United Nations Human Development Index lists Lithuania as a "very high human development" country. Lithuania has been among the fastest growing economies in the European Union and is ranked 17th in the world in the Ease of Doing Business Index.

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To all new international students - From an alum

Welcome to a new and exciting life of being a blue devil. My name is Leonard Ng’eno and I am a software developer at Duke. Just like you, I once was a first year international student at Duke from Kenya. I too felt some of the feelings that you are currently going through: the excitement of starting college abroad, the fear of being in a new country and school, the prospect of meeting people from other cultures, the homesickness and the longing to be in the comfort of family members, among others. However, you should be happy in the knowledge that you have arrived at a place that will not only serve as a fountain of knowledge for the next four years of your life, but will also become your home away from home. The friendships and connections that you will make here will be a big part of your life from now onwards.

One of the hardest things you will have to deal with as a first year international student is not knowing what to do in certain circumstances. Each and everyone of you was good at something in your previous schools. Now you are in a different country with its own norms and an environment where everyone is as good as you. When faced with such as a situation, don’t think your world is coming to an end. You just have to work a little bit more to find your place in this new environment. This is where your residential assistant, academic advisor, people from the International House and other students from your country/region become very important. So talk to them and they’ll guide you on what to do. They too had to deal with the same situations as you.

As you begin your academic journey at Duke, you should always keep in mind that you are in one of the best universities in the US. You therefore have to take the most advantage of the opportunities that Duke avails to you. Duke has great professors and you should learn from them both in the classroom and outside. I know from experience that some of them might be very intimidating inside of the lecture hall, but once you actually get to know them outside of class, you’ll know that all that is for show. So don’t let the theatrics stop you from getting to know them if you have an interest in their areas of research. I come from a culture where the words of the teacher in the classroom is the law and the incontestable truth. If you also come from the same background as me, be assured that you are now in a school that encourages open discussions in the classroom and should therefore come out of your comfort zone and voice your thoughts.  

Duke has a lot of research programs, and getting involved in them will go a long way in shaping your future. Duke also has a wonderful liberal education system that you should take full advantage of. Like I once was, I am sure some of you have misgivings about taking courses in fields that are not related to your areas of study. You come from different education systems, but the fact that you chose to come to Duke means that you are willing to give a chance to the education system that exists here. So take those T-req courses with gusto, you might just find your calling in one of them. You are now studying abroad, but Duke also offers undergraduate students a chance to study in other countries for a semester. I know that this might not sound like a good idea, especially after going through the culture shock that some of you will experience during your first year here, but it is a chance worth exploring. At this stage in your life, you should be open to new opportunities and cultures.

Being a Duke student also means engaging with the community in which you live and the society at large. So join student groups that have interests in community engagement and go out into Durham. You will get a chance to learn about and experience the lives of common Americans, something that you might never get if you just stay within the Duke confines. Before I came here, I had my own thoughts of what America might be like. When I came to Duke, I saw a part of it. When I participated in Project Change, a service-oriented pre-orientation program, I got a chance to experience the side of America that is not defined by Duke. The families of your friends from Duke will also show you their version of America. So if you happen to be invited to their homes for thanksgiving or winter break, accept their invitation and tag along.  

Above all, I urge you to have fun and enjoy your experience here to the fullest. If you are a sports fan, then you have come to the right school. Duke has a phenomenal school spirit. I remember going for my F-1 visa interview at the American Consulate in Nairobi and the interviewer asked me about the basketball rivalry between Duke and UNC and I had no clue what he was talking about, let alone why he was so excited about it. As a freshman, I remember wondering why any sane person would camp out in K-ville in the middle of the winter just so they can get to go to one basketball game. But I eventually became a die-hard blue devil, and all that seemed crazy before now makes a lot of sense. However, if you are not a big sports fan, don’t feel left out, there are many other campus communities that you can join. They are all out there waiting for you to discover and be a part of them.

Part of what makes Duke unique is that the students are very passionate about the things that they care about. You are now part of that culture by virtue of having chosen to pursue your studies here. If you have a cause that you are really passionate about, now is your time to press for that cause. All the good things that currently exist at Duke did not just happen to come by, it is because previous students set the course for what they are now. Now is your chance to do the same. At some point, you will have to stop being a visitor and start feeling at home.

I wish you all the best as you begin your journey at Duke. Thank you.  


 

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