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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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Flag of the Week - Andorra

Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra, also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, is a landlockedmicrostate in Southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe, having an area of 468 km2 (181 sq mi) and an estimated population of 85,000 in 2012. Its capital, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital city in Europe, at an elevation of 1,023 metres (3,356 ft) above sea level. The official language is Catalan, although Spanish, Portuguese, and French are also commonly spoken.

Created under a charter in A.D. 988, the present Principality was formed in A.D. 1278. It is known as a principality as it is a monarchy headed by two Co-Princes – the Spanish/Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell and the President of France/President of the French Republic.
Andorra is a prosperous country mainly because of its tourism industry, which services an estimated 10.2 million visitors annually, and because of its status as a tax haven, although it is in the process of reforming its tax regime. It is not a member of the European Union, but the euro is the de facto currency. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1993. The people of Andorra have the 3rd highest human life expectancy at birth in the world – 84 years.

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Guatemala

Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, Honduras to the east and El Salvador to the southeast. It spans an area of 108,890 km2 (42,043 sqmi) and has an estimated population of 15,438,384, making it the most populous state in Central America. A representative democracy, its capital is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City. Guatemala's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contributes to Mesoamerica's designation as a biodiversity hotspot.

The former Mayan civilization was a Mesoamerican civilization, which continued throughout the Post-Classic period until the arrival of the Spanish. They had lived in Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, the southern part of Mexico and eastern parts of El Salvador. After independence from Spain in 1821, Guatemala was a part of the Federal Republic of Central America and after its dissolution the country suffered much of the political instability that characterized the region during mid to late 19th century. Early in the 20th century, Guatemala had a mixture of democratic governments as well as a series of dictators, the last of which were frequently assisted by the United Fruit Company and the United States government. From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala underwent acivil war fought between the government and leftist rebels. Following the war, Guatemala has witnessed both economic growth and successful democratic elections. In the most recent election, held in 2011, Otto Pérez Molina of the Patriotic Party won the presidency.

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Flag of the Week - Uruguay

Uruguay, officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay or the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, is a country in the southeastern region of South America. It is bordered by Argentina to its west and Brazil to its north and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to the south and southeast. Uruguay is home to 3.3 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the metropolitan area of its capital and largest city, Montevideo. With an area of approximately 68,000 square miles, Uruguay is geographically the second-smallest nation in South America after Suriname.

Uruguay remained largely uninhabited until the establishment of Colonia del Sacramento, one of the oldest European settlements in the country, by the Portuguese in 1680. Montevideo was founded as a military stronghold by the Spanish in the early 18th century, signifying the competing claims over the region. Uruguay won its independence between 1811 and 1828, following a four-way struggle between Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil. It remained subjected to foreign influence and intervention throughout the 19th century, with the military playing a recurring role in domestic politics until the late 20th century.

Modern Uruguay is a democratic constitutional republic, with a president who serves as both head of state and head of government. The government is considered to be one of the world's most democratic and the country is one of the freest in the world. There is complete separation of church and state in Uruguay, making it the most secular state in Latin America. Uruguay maintains progressive social policies, having recently legalized same-sex marriage and cannabis. Uruguay is also the first country in the world to provide a laptop for every primary school student. It frequently ranks as one of the most developed and prosperous countries in Latin America.

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