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Green Dining Awards

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How is Your Microbiota?

Excuse me? When was the last time someone asked you about YOUR microbiota?  Most people don’t realize that our bodies are made up of more bacterial cells than human cells. “We are walking ecosystems, as our bodies are colonized from top to bottom by microbes that, not happy with behaving like guests, are actually integrated into our biology. “They help us digest food, shape our immune system, alter our metabolism and evidence is even starting to show that they affect the nervous system, influencing our mood and behaviour,” explains Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford University (USA).”

Keeping the microbiome, or the environment that the bacteria live in, optimal is key. As you might have guessed, this brings us to the discussion of our diets. Our GI bacteria, although very adaptive, love plant materials and fiber.   Those who follow vegan and vegetarian diets have different combinations of colonies in their guts, than carnivores, the bacteria in our colon actually help break down the fiber that other enzymes cannot.

Stress negatively impacts the health of our bacteria, for many reasons, but often due to poor dietary choices. Bacteria, or our bodies in general, don’t like the highly processed, highly sugared foods – (although they may taste great in the moment) they’re actually inflammatory. However these are often the types of foods we reach for when we are stressed. If you want to keep your microbioata happy, be selective with your diet. These microbes produce 95% percent of the body’s serotonin. Yes, serotonin – that neurotransmitter that can make us “sleepy” or “relax” us. Eating a diet that is rich in plant materials and dietary fiber is a good way to nurture your microbiome.  Consider yogurt and Kefir and even sauerkraut, yes sauerkraut to help keep a healthy environment. Just don’t lose sight of balance in the diet. Plant materials may be important but protein and fats are equally as important. Just living on salads is also not the answer.

So the next time you’re stressing, like right now or in the upcoming weeks, remember to be kind to your microbiota by eating well; have some yogurt with “live culture” bacteria, along with some granola and fruit, consider some hummus and raw veggies for a snack, sandwich on a whole grain bun along with some minestrone or vegetable soup at lunch, cheese and whole grain crackers as a mid-afternoon treat and maybe some schnitzel and sauerkraut for dinner.
Want to learn more: Follow http://www.gutmicrobiotawatch.org/


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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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Rubenstein Gift to Enhance Jewish Life at Duke

Duke University trustee David M. Rubenstein is giving $1.9 million to Jewish Life at Duke to expand programming, fund building renovations and enhance the college experience for Jewish students.

Most of the gift -- $1.5 million -- will fund new initiatives and staff positions for a Jewish student population whose needs and interests are changing, said Rebecca Simons, the center's director. New programs are expected to reflect an increasing student demand for information and resources related to globalization, leadership and community, she said.

Read more.

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Making Choices

Social life?  Sleep?  Good Grades?  It seems we can only ever get two of these at a time here at Duke.  Even after countless time management lectures, and many hours spent on schedules, I struggle to find balance. The careful plans I make always seems to fly out the window within a matter of hours.  An exciting social event will come up, assignments will take longer than I expected, or an unexpected wave of exhaustion will wash over me as I grow tired from trying to keep up.  Life can certainly be chaotic here, especially at the end of the semester.  The stresses of Duke have a great influence over the choices we make on an everyday basis. Should we eat dinner with friends or get an extra hour of studying?  Is it worth an all-nighter to study math?  Pressure comes from parents, other students, teachers, and even people we don’t even know. The future employer, the kid in the class who destroys the curve, and the thought of our own future selves looking back on Duke all add to the stress of making choices here at Duke.

As a sophomore this year, I am already looking back on my freshman year and making changes to my life accordingly.  There isn’t usually much free time to reflect carefully at Duke, but two years have already gone by and before I know it I’ll be graduating.  While some freshmen saw college as a new start, I arrived here intending to hang on to my high school identity for as long as I could.  It was a safety blanket, and I felt comfortable defining myself a certain way.  I had excellent grades, I ran track, and I played in the orchestra.  I defined myself by the activities I participated in and placed importance on my skills and abilities.  I was also quiet and introverted, and a little bit dorky.  These bits of my personality have certainly stuck with me through college, but what I thought were my most defining characteristics evaporated when I set foot on this campus.  I didn’t know how to describe myself to others; My grades here aren’t anything special, I’m not a student-athlete, and I haven’t played my violin in two years.  Coming to college, freshmen have to redefine themselves, and for a lot of people that’s refreshing, but for some it’s uncomfortable and scary.  Making choices during orientation week seemed life-changing.  Do I go to Shooters, or not?  Will I have any friends if I don’t?  Looking back now it seems ridiculous to base long-lasting friendships on such an inconsequential choice.

Throughout freshman year I fell back into the habits of high school.  I felt the same pressures to achieve academically, and I stayed in a relationship with my high school boyfriend (who was still in high school at the time).  I couldn’t seem to let go of anything from the past and grab hold of life in college.  I spent most nights in my room doing work or talking to old friends and family.  I chose good grades and sleep over a social life.  Other freshmen chose social lives over sleep or grades, or grades and a social life over sleep, but I did know one thing for sure: I wasn’t the only one who didn’t have it figured out. 

This year, however, I’ve been better at balancing academics, health, and friends.  I look back on my freshman year and regret spending more time with books than with people.  I had unrealistic expectations of myself; 4.0?  Double major and a minor?  Shooting for the moon may land us among the stars, but it can also isolate us from the people and community at Duke.  Goals are important, but many times it’s the journey to achieve it that teaches us the most.  Duke is an opportunity I’ll only have this one time, for two more years.  I want to remember it in a positive light, and over-stressing about grades and achievements isn’t going to make many happy memories for me.  As a sophomore, I’ve focused more on making choices that will result in my mental well-being.  I want to have friends to catch up with and crazy stories to tell when I graduate.  Of course, I also want to have decent grades, but I don’t want to define myself on my academic abilities all the time.  Sometimes it’s ok to have a little fun, especially in college!  One of the hardest parts of Duke is actually being accepted into the University.  When the going gets tough, it’s time to think about all the wonderful opportunities we have had as students here and make choices that will truly benefit us.  Staying happy and healthy is just as valuable as an A+.


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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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Meet International Scholar Maria Christina Müller

March 2014

International Scholar Profile:
Maria Christina Müller
Country: Germany

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I am 27 years old and was born in the South of Bavaria, near Chiemsee. It is a very nice area, and the castle of Ludwig II is located there as well. I moved to Augsburg, where I studied to become a high school teacher. I was very interested in history, as well as German language and literature studies. After gaining my masters degree in history and education, I have since been working on my PhD in history. Currently, I am located at Duke’s Center for European Studies as a visiting scholar.

Can you tell us a bit about your PhD thesis?
My PhD thesis investigates delusions and hallucinations of patients during the mid 19th century until 1945. These records are all from one hospital, the Psychiatry of Kaufbeuren. I am not looking at the themes of delusions and hallucinations from a medical perspective, but rather a historical one. Through these records, I am able to see the beliefs and fears of the people from that time, and how they shifted with each year. For example, during the time of technological changes, many people heard voices of hallucinations in the telephone and radio or feared x-rays and magnetisms. During the 1920s and 1930s, many hallucinations about Hitler and other political rulers became more common.

Why did you decide to come to Duke?
Duke is very high ranked, even on the international rankings, and it is known as a place with many possibilities for me to do research. It is a pleasure for me to be able to come.

What is your impression on Durham?
Augsburg is perhaps a little bigger than Durham, but German cities are usually not so dispersed. Durham is a small but nice city, and seems to have everything you need like places to eat and go. I think that if I were planning to stay for a longer period, it would be important to have a car.

How did your expectations of the United States match up with reality?
This is my first time in the US, and some of my impressions of the United States were accurate. For instance, in Germany, we assume that Americans are always eating meat and burgers, and that seems to be the case. However, some things are very different. For example, Americans are very proud of their universities, and I got to see this when I went to Chapel Hill last weekend and watched a lacrosse game between UNC and Maryland. It was nice to see how lively it was. In Germany, students don’t usually stay on campus during the weekends because there is not much to do.

Did you have any culture shock?
I had culture shock in a positive way - the people here are very friendly and helpful. They are always smiling, open-minded, and pleasing. When I first arrived here, my associate director spent two hours showing me around the campus and drove me to the city. I felt very welcome.
However, I was very disturbed to see that the campus has its own police, signs that say you are not allowed to carry weapons on the bus or on campus, and services that bring students back home. Even if you are a little scared at night on a German campus, you don’t have the chance to call someone. On one hand, it’s disturbing, but on the other hand, it’s a good service.

What do you think of the people you have met at Duke so far?
Everyone has been very friendly. I’ve received tips for future funding and research. I’ve noticed that when you talk to someone, like a professor, their advice is much more positive and constructive. I think this is because they are more open-minded. I have met twice with a professor who does not study the time period I do, but has given me great advice. The experience was very positive and stimulating for my educational research. In Germany, it is not so easy to get in contact with somebody, and people are usually not so open to talk about a research topic that isn’t related to their own. The professor who invited me to come to Duke is more invested in Jewish studies and theology, but thought my research topic was interesting and told me she would like me to come.
It was a great experience to see how free the sciences can be. You get more help here, which is a great thing. German universities are usually more structured and people have less time. If there is an opportunity, I want to apply for a grant to last half a year, and compare my results with those of the United States to see differences or similarities in delusional and hallucinatory themes.

What do you miss about Germany?
I miss public transportation services because they are much easier and more convenient. The US has nice museums; in fact, I’m planning to go to the Nasher this weekend. I went to the Planetarium in Chapel Hill last weekend, and it was very nice.
I also miss the cultural life that comes with churches and older houses. From a historical perspective, Duke’s Gothic style architecture is not authentic, but its a beautiful environment to study at.

What do you do on a typical day?
On a typical day, I go to the office and work on my PhD. Right now I am at the stage where I am evaluating my sources. I often go to the library and work there, or I borrow some books and take them to my office. Sometimes I go to a lecture or have meetings with professors. I’ve been to the International House for their CLG talk on St. Patrick’s Day. It was very nice to learn about American traditions.

What are your future plans?
I am highly motivated to finish my PhD in one or two years. My huge desire is to publish it in English as well. If this isn’t possible, I would like to publish an article of it in English. I am attending a conference in Romania this July, and I will present my first paper about how hallucinations changed with technology.


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Leadership Learning from a Canine

When asked to submit reflections on leadership, I immediately desired to have the reflection correlate with the topical focus of ethos and leadership. That after all is what I would spend time and energy speaking on at Framework Friday (April 11th 3pm UCAE…shameless plug).  However, I was reflecting upon the idea while walking Diamond, our family dog.  Our life at home revolves around her anyway, so it was not surprising that she became my immediate focus regarding leadership.  Here’s what she taught me…

In the evening when I arrive home from work and put my purse and laptop bag down, I open one of our kitchen drawers. Immediately when Diamond hears that sound, she excitedly runs downstairs. In leadership, we must answer the call to lead! Perhaps there is an issue that is buzzing in the ethos, and it requires attention.  Or perhaps, there is an issue that is so challenging, that people feel powerless or silenced to address.  Whichever the case, leaders should be curious enough to see a need and begin, with excitement to maneuver with readiness.

After I secure Diamond’s leash out of the drawer and attach it to her collar, she runs to the door, jumping high and wagging her tail to go outside and begin her walk.  As leaders, we must be enthusiastic about our journey.  When Diamond goes outside, she surveys our front yard, and looks in both directions of our street.  She notices everything before leaving our area.  Leaders must be acutely aware of their immediate resources.  Even though Diamond repeats this behavior daily, and is so keenly connected to her foundation, she never fails to notice any changes that may have emerged since her last outing.  As leaders, we cannot become so entrenched that we fail to look for newness in those who have elected to support us in our leadership.  We must take time to survey our landscape and appreciate the gifts of those around us before we elect to start on our destined path.

Once Diamond has completed her inventory, she sets out on her walk.  She typically walks ahead of me, but she is constantly stopping and looking back to see if I’m following.  Dr. Johnetta B. Cole once said, “If you are a leader, and no one is following you, you are just taking a long walk.”  As leaders, we must ensure that we have enlisted support and that what we are leading actually matters.  Of course, there are times when one must stand alone, but those are fewer and more far apart.  On the average, what you elect to provide leadership for should emerge from a space that others share a similar passion and are placing trust and faith in you to stay the course.

Even though we typically walk the same path, day after day, Diamond never ceases to loose focus of the end point (which happens to be our mailbox).  She is determined to get there, despite the wind, rain and as we experienced this season, the snow and ice.  The ethos around us may change regularly, as well as people’s opinions, but when we are focused with our predetermined end goal, the elements won’t matter.  We are instead as leaders, committed to the greater goal.

As we return home, Diamond always stops and speaks to someone along the way.  As leaders, we must never forget to take time along the journey for interacting with others.  We don’t have all the answers.  Sometimes a brief exchange may provide just what we need to support our work.  These brief moments may awaken the desire to lead in another.  Small beginnings are critical!

When we reach home, Diamond looks for water and finds a place to rest.  Restoration and self-care is critically important and essential as leaders.  Without it, we will not be well for self, those we are leading or for the work we’re expected to do.

As leaders, we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to learn and to grow.  Only then will we create a path for success and sustainability.  As much as I believe I know about leadership, I’m still learning more everyday.  Yes, in fact you can teach an old dog new tricks!

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50 Shades of Black: A Small Piece of My Black Experience

Throughout this piece, Black will be referring to all descendants of the African Diaspora, a definition I first heard given by Ms. Guinn. Maybe this dispersal (both forced and voluntary) can be seen as a means to understand the almost schizophrenic fluctuations of the definition of Blackness and the subsequent complexity of my people. It is a complexity that the majority of Black folks are unaware of. We seem to forget that the different shades of brown we wear are not the only variations amongst Black people, which can be seen in the ‘light-skinned’ vs. ‘dark-skinned’ feud that has followed us from the plantation. Each individual comes to define and reflect Blackness differently based on their experiences and environment. My arrival to Duke has caused me to look at my own reflection questioningly.

Back home, Blackness is characterized by grammatically incorrect sentences, dope boy dreams, athletic prowess, and ‘being about that life’, or at least that’s the way it seemed to me then. My story is like many walking the quads of Duke. I was called an Oreo, and when I spoke, I was told I ‘talked white’. Regardless, I continued to use Standard English, and I refused to take part in activities that made you ‘about that life’. My life may have been easier had I given in and went further to fit in, but I found myself taking pride in the fact that I didn’t. I looked down upon those who did. The story changed at Duke.

Duke was where I was supposed to fit in. Finally, there were Black people that understood that my culture was a reason to obtain excellence not debauchery. I was amongst some of the biggest and brightest Black minds in the country. Grades suddenly mattered to Black men, and Black females wore business jackets to class. The Mary Lou, which effectively acts as a community center, encouraged professionalism, class, and community rather than hoop dreams. Let’s not get it twisted. I am aware of the ‘ratchetivity’ that can take place; but somehow, it doesn’t come to define us. What transpired in response to these facts was shocking. My private speech got even more ‘ratchet’, and I yearned for the small talk conversations of the country. Suddenly, I realized that it needn’t be either or. I could be both a black scholar and be at home at home a) because it was my desired expression and b) because they function as different sides of the same dice, not opposite entities. It also dawned on me that my picture of home was not complete. Just because it is not Duke does not mean that each male is a thug and every female a breeding ground. I had to make my understanding more nuanced. In reaction to this, I have reached a few personal inferences.

I have come to the conclusion that my people needn’t be saved from themselves, as I had believed before Duke. Like we admonish students for going overseas with a savior’s complex, I had to chastise myself for thinking that my presence and education should somehow teach other people, my people how to live. In reality, my only job is to expand their options and learn from the experiences that are unfamiliar to me. I had to reconcile my ignorance to historic hip hop performers and the intense dependence that others had on their message and power with the shared understanding that you can’t walk around a store for hours and not buy anything when your skin looks like ours.  In other words, it’s about realizing that though some reflections of Blackness are a different shade from mine, they are still black.
After my own moment of fleeting enlightenment, I am curious. Do we accept and acknowledge the hues of Black culture being represented in the ‘hoods’ and ‘country bumpkin towns’ many of us are trying to break out of? More importantly, do we appreciate them? Should we? Or am I wrong? Are we all representative of one grand Black culture, because of our shared subordination? As Black Duke graduates, what shade of black will we be? It is my hope that, once we are out of this space, we will not forget to acknowledge each person’s shade of Black with understanding and openness, as we are equipped with the understanding that there are gradations, there is no one color.


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I Don’t Say “Queer"

During last week’s Greek Ally Week, Blue Devils United hosted a student panel about being both Greek and LGBTQ on Duke’s campus.  The next day’s Chronicle article incorrectly identified one of the African-American panelists as “queer,” which made her uncomfortable.  “What is ‘queer’ supposed to mean?” she asked me later.  The term is vague, politicized, and simultaneously lacking a concrete meaning while burdened with decades of history.

Picking a label is one of the most difficult parts of coming out.  Speaking in stereotypes, “lesbian” calls to mind masculine-of-center women with buzz cuts and motorcycles.  “Gay” often refers to flamboyant, cisgender men.  Many people believe “bisexuals” don’t exist, but when they do exist, they’re hypersexual animals—for example, when I came out to my parents as bisexual, my mother thought I just wanted to have a boyfriend and a girlfriend at the same time.

When I was a freshman, I identified as “queer” and moved primarily within the LGBT community, where people knew what the term meant.  PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) defines queer as “an umbrella term…[anyone] who feels somehow outside of societal norms in regards to gender, sexuality or/and even politics.”  Academic E. Patrick Johnson, however, believes that “queer” is only for white people, and that blacks should identify as quare: “Odd or slightly off kilter…one for whom sexual and gender identities always already intersect with racial subjectivity” (Quare Studies, 2001).

As my friend groups changed and I transitioned socially to Duke’s “Black Community,” I couldn’t leave behind my sexual orientation.  As I came out (or was outed) to new people, I had to pick a label.  When I picked no label, people assumed I was a lesbian.  When I said “queer,” people didn’t understand.  “Bisexual” was the most familiar; people had at least heard of bisexuals, even if they didn’t understand the particulars, and so that’s what I’ve chosen for the past two years.

This isn’t to say that black people are unenlightened or homophobic—we’re no more “unenlightened” than any other racial group in the United States.  And some of the most progressive, gay/bi/queer/quare/anti-oppressive, anti-normative, anti-labelist activists I’ve ever met at Duke are black.  To that end, I also don’t say “queer” to white folk; if I had joined a PanHellenic or Multicultural sorority instead of NPHC, I would have come to the same conclusions. I don’t even say “queer” to myself anymore.

Maybe it’s my job to educate people about the nuances of the LGBTQIA community.  I should start conversations about the differences between being genderqueer and genderfluid, the subversiveness of drag, the dynamics of being capital-A Aggressive versus capital-F Femme, and the politics of polyamory.  The list goes on and on.  The LGBTQIA (and I’m still missing letters) community is diverse and lovely and confusing.  By hiding its nuances, I’m doing it a disservice and erasing people from the conversation.

I’m getting better about starting these conversations, because I know that I don’t give people enough credit.  As I have come out to people within the Black Community and within Duke’s campus at large, they have accepted me.  They have wanted to learn more.  And some have even come out to me, confused about their place in the broader LGBT community.

I no longer identify as queer because I feel that it doesn’t apply to me, but the next time someone asks, I won’t be afraid to have that conversation.


Original Duke Chronicle Article

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What’s Eating You?

If you’ve never heard the term ‘mindless eating’, you are not alone. Mindless eating is much more common than you would think especially in college students.

What is mindless eating?
When you eat an amount of food large or small in quantity (usually large) while not paying attention to the food or how your body feels as you eat it.

Mindless eating typically occurs:
Late at night after long periods of studying, watching TV
● If you have gone long periods of time without eating
When you finally eat you are so hungry you consume a large amount of food quickly which can lead to overeating.

So how can you prevent mindless eating? Good question!
It is important to know there are two pieces to help you avoid mindless eating; physical and emotional.

• Eat regularly throughout the day (three meals and snacks in-between as needed). This will help prevent you missing meals and then becoming too hungry later in the day.
• Try to identify your own personal hunger cues (they aren’t the same for everyone). Physical hunger can be your stomach talking to you (growling) and feels empty or you begin to feel weak and low on energy, you may lose concentration or become cranky (“hangry”). Those are all signals your body uses to tell you it needs fuel and you need to eat. It is important to honor these cues by eating either a meal or snack.

• Learn to cope during periods of higher stress in your life. During periods of higher stress many of us turn to food for comfort whether it is for reward, or coping with stress and anxiety. When you catch yourself wandering to the vending machine or fridge or that box of cereal sitting in your room, and you don’t feel physically hungry you are about to mindlessly consume whatever is the next thing you eat.
• There are many ways you can cope with periods of stress in your life. Attending a yoga class, meditating, deep breathing, talking to a friend, taking a walk, working on a puzzle or doing moderate (45-60min) exercise at the Wilson Recreation Center can help. If you feel you need more help and want to talk to someone, Duke Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) can help.

On the flipside you also want to be a mindful eater
Pay attention to what you are eating
● Notice the tastes, feels, and smells of foods
● Notice how the food makes your body feel
● What type of mood are you in before you begin eating?
Positive moods make it easier to eat mindfully versus negative or sad moods make it difficulty to eat mindfully.
● Do you get hungry soon after eating these foods; do you feel energized or sleepy after eating?
● Pay attention to how well the food you eat makes you feel. And most of all enjoy your meals.

If you would like to talk to a nutrition professional in more depth about how you can become a mindful eater visit Duke’s Student Health Nutrition Website.  You can email any of our Registered Dietitians and make an appointment. This service is included in your tuition and does not cost extra.


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Flag of the Week - Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a contiguous transcontinental country in Central Asia. Kazakhstan is the world's largest landlocked country by land area and the ninth largest country in the world; its territory is larger than Western Europe. It has borders with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, and also adjoins a large part of the Caspian Sea. The terrain of Kazakhstan includes flatlands, steppe, taiga, rock canyons, hills, deltas, snow-capped mountains, and deserts. With 17 million people (2013 estimate) Kazakhstan has the 62nd largest population in the world, though its population density is less than 6 people per square kilometre. The capital is Astana, where it was moved from Almaty in 1997.

    The territory of Kazakhstan has historically been inhabited by nomadic tribes. This changed in the 13th century, when Genghis Khan occupied the country. By the 16th century, the Kazakhs emerged as a distinct group, divided into three jüz (ancestor branches occupying specific territories). The Russians began advancing into the Kazakh steppe in the 18th century, and by the mid-19th century all of Kazakhstan was part of the Russian Empire. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, and subsequent civil war, the territory of Kazakhstan was reorganized several times before becoming the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936, a part of the Soviet Union.

The current President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been leader of the country since 1990. Since independence, Kazakhstan has pursued a balanced foreign policy and worked to develop its economy, especially its hydrocarbon industry.

   Kazakhstan is ethnically and culturally diverse, in part due to mass deportations of many ethnic groups to the country during Joseph Stalin's rule. Kazakhstan has 131 ethnicities, including Kazakh, Russian, Ukrainian, German, Uzbek, Tatar, and Uyghur. Around 63% of the population are Kazakhs. Islam is the religion of about 70% and Christianity is practiced by 26% of the population. The Kazakh language is the state language, while Russian has equal official status for all levels of administrative and institutional purposes.


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No More Utensils for Duke Dining!

A new study has recently been published by the American Academy of Food Science that eating with your hands, instead of utensils, is better for your body. According to a study published by AAFS, where 100 men and women were tested over a four-year period, eating with your hands enables your body to absorb more nutrients because the food is easily absorbed through your hands as opposed to eating with forks and spoons. By eating with your hands you are getting twice as many nutrients because you are not only taking the food orally, it is also absorbed into your bloodstream through your hands. In addition eating with your hands curbs the appetite and makes you feel full, sooner, than if utensils were used. The groups were split into two with one group using utensils for 5 meals a week and the other group using their hands. It was noted at the end of the four-year period that the group that used only their hands for eating had a significantly higher amount of vitamins B, D & A in their system, which correlates directly to the foods they were given in the mentioned time period. Western cultures have been using this model for years and the AAFS is encouraging our generation to forgo Emily Post’s Table Manners Etiquette and get down and dirty while reaping the benefits of eating with our hands. Duke Dining is climbing aboard and embracing this new table model and will be withholding all utensils until further notice! April Fools!


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First-Year Student Blog Series: The Duke Chapel

In this week’s segment of my blog series describing “The ‘What’s,’ ‘Who’s,’ and ‘Where’s’ that Make Duke So Special”, I will introduce you to a campus celebrity who ironically happens to be one of Duke’s best-kept secrets. His name is Oscar Dantzler, his title is Chapel Housekeeper, and his wisdom is absolutely remarkable.

For anyone visiting or exploring Duke for the first time, I would certainly recommend that the first place he or she should visit is the Duke Chapel. It is undoubtedly a campus landmark and is full of history and character. On the other hand, I would recommend that the first person he or she should meet is Oscar, because he is someone who can really bring that history and character to life.

I first met Oscar in a serendipitous way during my first semester. One early morning, I entered the Chapel while it was vacant. I was in search of a quiet place to think and reflect on my own before starting another busy day. Before I knew it, a kind man wearing glasses, a baseball cap, and blue collared shirt approached me to ask how I was.

During my first encounter with this man, I learned that his name is Oscar Dantzler, and he prefers that everyone call him Oscar. Oscar quickly establishes a first-name basis with everyone he meets. He is the kind of person who you can be sure has interest in getting to know you from the very second you come across him.

In addition, I learned two more basic things about Oscar…

1. Oscar works diligently from within the Chapel.
Oscar’s job is to work daily from 5am onward cleaning the Chapel. As he likes to describe it in the words of his mother, “if you can't keep the House of God clean, you can't keep your own.”
2. The Chapel’s beauty and serenity works similarly from within him.
Having worked at the Chapel for quite some time, Oscar has truly gotten to know it inside and out. His positivity and wisdom are representative of the Chapel’s ambience and his personality is representative of its beauty.

The Chapel is one of the most beautiful symbols of Duke as well as one of the most visible chapels among American research universities. It was constructed and completed in 1932 and, since then, has served the Duke community in more ways than one. According to the Chapel’s mission, “It serves students by convening and contributing to a dynamic and diverse culture of religious life on campus—a culture that models respectful and enriching engagement in the context of profound difference.” The Duke Chapel is certainly unique, and so is everyone who walks through its doors. Sunlight pours into it through seventy-seven stained-glass windows and fills it with warmth. In addition, people like Oscar embody its spirit and further its mission of “engaging all to look to the future with faith, gratitude, and hope.”

On another note, Oscar happens to be somewhat of a campus celebrity. On the first day that I met him, he introduced me to The Philosopher Kings, a documentary about college custodians like – and including – him. The film introduces its audience to several custodians from some of America’s most prestigious universities. According to IMDb, a major movie database, The Philosopher Kings teaches us that, “wisdom is found in the most unlikely places.”

After meeting Oscar, I wouldn’t simply call him the Chapel custodian. I would call him a friend. Without knowing who I was, Oscar was genuinely interested enough in how I was doing to approach me in the Chapel that morning. I am certainly glad he did.

In the next blog post of this series, I will introduce you to another campus landmark that I admire. Wallace Wade stadium is the home of Coach Cutcliffe’s excelling Blue Devil football team… as well as some of my fondest memories of Duke athletics thus far. 


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Announcement of Nominees

Congratulations to the following students, organizations, faculty and staff, who have been nominated to receive Duke University’s most prestigious campus-wide honors for leadership and service. Awards will be presented at the Duke University Student Leadership and Service Awards Ceremony on April 21, 2014.

Betsy Alden Outstanding Service-Learning Award

Nicole Daniels
Nicholas Grace
Leah Mische
Noha Sherif
Jacob Tobia
Katharine Waldman

Baldwin Scholars Unsung Heroine Award

Caroline Kiritsy
Alexandria Lattimore
Karmyn McKnight
Hanna Metaferia

Faculty and Staff Student Interaction Award

Janie Long

Lars Lyon Volunteer Service Award

Emily Harris

Leading at Duke Leadership and Service Awards

First-Year Student
Ileana Astorga
Bryce McAteer

Sophomore Student
Daniel Kort
Isabella Kwai
Pranava Raparla
Jay Sullivan
Emma Zhao

Junior Student
Elisa Berson
Mariel Charles
Emily Feng
Elena Lagon
Joyce Lau
Jen Lunde
Viju Mathew
Janvi Shah
Aarti Thakkar

Outstanding New Student Organization
Duke Athlete Ally
Community Empowerment Fund (CEF)

Outstanding Established Student Organization
Mi Gente
Senior Class Council
Know Your Status
Duke Marketing Club
GlobeMed at Duke University

Julie Anne Levey Memorial Leadership Award

Hala Daou
Rinzin Dorjee
Steve Soto
Gary Yeh

Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award 

Ryan Bartholomew
Hannah Ward
Edwin “Will” Woodhouse, III

Class of 2017 Awards
Carlton Adams
Elena Baldwin
Anna Bensley
Amina Bility
Tina Chen
Phoebe Donovan
Rinzin Dorjee
James Ferencsik
Lauren Hagedorn
Ben Hoover
Will Floyd-Jones
Raina Kishan
Leo Lou
Aishu Nag
Beatrice Pepera
Basil Seif
Lauren Shum

William J. Griffith University Service Award

Outstanding Contributions to the Duke Community
Lindsay Barnes
Li Chen
Robert Collopy
Danping (Donna) Dana (Sun)
Leilani Doktor
Valentine Esposito
Denzell Faison
Kristina Hallam
Andrew Hanna
Nikki Jenkins
Joyce Lau
Grady Lenkin
Derek Lindsay
Melina Lopez
Danny Nolan
Parker Poliakoff
Lillie Reed
Kyra Socolf
Nandini Srinivasan
Lynn Vandendriessche
Guang Yang

Outstanding Contributions to the Durham and Local Community
Grace Benson
Steven Blasner
Andrew Hanna
Eneka Lamb
Shane Stone
Emma Wilson

Outstanding Contributions to the Global Community
Joy Liu
Leah Mische
Craig Moxley
Jacob Tobia
Jessye Waxman

Student Affairs Distinguished Leadership and Service Award

Building Alliances through Collective Engagement
Kelly Bies
Steven Blaser
Andrew Hanna
Katie Howard
Anastasia Karklina
Anays Murillo
James Paul Senter
Remi Sun

Commitment to Diversity
Jacob Tobia
Rachel White

Demonstration of Integrity
Athidi Guthikonda
Andrew Rotolo

Expanding the Boundaries of Learning
Vishnu Kadiyala
Leah Mische
Nandini Srinivasan

Respect for Community
Andrew Hanna
Adriana Guzman Holst
Anays Murillo
Adam Rodriguez
Megan Stanford
Kristen Westfall

For more details, visit https://studentaffairs.duke.edu/ucae/leadership/leadership-service-awards

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CLG workshop-History of Durham

Japan, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, China, England, Korea or Spain…we may come from all over, but we are coming to call Durham home. But with many of us never venturing beyond the ‘Duke Bubble’ what really do we know about our new home? Well, after CLG’s last workshop…lots!

We were lucky enough to have Michael Verville, weekend manager at the Museum of Durham History and marketing coordinator at the Visitors Center in Hillsborough, share his knowledge with us about Durham. We learnt all about the history of Durham from colonists, Washington Duke and tobacco and slavery and Civil Rights. It turns out that Durham has a really rich history with all sorts of interesting people and events.

Some of the questions from the audience brought out fun facts about Durham. For example: Is Durham related to the city of Durham in the UK? The answer is no, Durham is named after the Durham family who lived on the land where Durham railway station was built. Another: Why is Durham called “Bull City”? Durham was very famous for its world-class tobacco industry, and one of the tobacco companies used a bull for its trademark, launching the famous brand “Bull Durham Tobacco”.

If you want to know more about the history of Durham’s tobacco industry, visit the Tobacco Museum inside Duke Homestead where the Washington Duke family lived and farmed. Other interesting places to visit: Stagville, North Carolina’s largest pre-Civil War plantation and Bennett Place, where the Southern armies surrendered to the Union, ending the American Civil War.

And that is only the tip of the iceberg! Go for a walk around Durham, check out its amazing restaurants (dinner at ‘Toast” and then ice-cream at “The Parlour” is my personal favorite!) and embrace its quirky atmosphere.

Durham is our home. Start making an effort to get to know it!

Tierney Marey
Class of 2017 at Trinity School of Arts and Social Sciences
Sydney, Australia


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A Word About Lavender Graduation

You may ask,  “Lavender graduation…why the need for a special ceremony?”  I’m glad you asked.  A lot of seniors at Duke have been positively affected by their existence at Duke as a LGBTQ student and/or as an ally.  Some students have also been very negatively affected and found the Center to be a safe haven at some point in their journey… a place to get support, a place to be greeted by a smiling face, a place to get a hug, a place to crash on the couch, a place to have fun and forget your troubles even if just for an hour.  But most of all Lavender graduation is about celebrating who you are and one another as you have walked the campus of Duke as an LGBTQA students…even if you consider that part to only be a small part of who you are. 

Whether a student has been in the Center every day or only just passed by our doors they are welcome to participate.  And yes, there have been students in the past who participated in Lav grad who had never entered the Center door before, but who as they leave Duke want to celebrate/embrace who they are, and we welcome them! We also especially welcome allies to participate because it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to thank you and recognize your contributions to making Duke a safer place to be for LGBTQ students staff, and faculty.  
If you are not a graduating senior why should you attend?  If you are a Duke staff member or faculty member why should you attend?  What a very visible show of support your presence is to the seniors as they leave this place they have called home for four years. It’s one of the last memories they will have of their time at Duke and you can help make it a very positive one that they will never forget.  It will also fill your heart with pride for them and hope…hope that we are making this campus a more welcoming and safe space for all students and recognition that you play a very key part in making that happen and in ensuring its continuance in the years ahead. 
I look forward to seeing you there!

Click here register to attend Lavender graduation


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Finding on-campus employment

Many students work during their time at Duke, holding jobs in a wide range of locations and environments. Finding campus employment is an important part of your professional development as you prepare to launch your career—you will likely engage in the same processes you’ll use for finding internships and post-graduate jobs, e.g., creating job-search strategies, preparing professional application documents, interviewing, developing skills and attributes that contribute to strong job performance and others.

Information on work-study funding for both undergraduate and graduate students is available from the Duke Financial Aid Office. Refer to the Work Study section of their site for information specific to this type of financial aid. The job search process is the same for both work-study and non-work-study positions.

Resources to assist and guide you in the process
On-campus Job Search Resources
• Browse DukeList, a centralized listing of campus opportunities, to identify potential jobs.
• Check The Chronicle classified section for job ads.
Network! Talk to friends and upperclassmen with on-campus jobs and find out how they landed their positions.
• Identify places on campus where you might like to work and approach the department or organization directly. View the index of Trinity departments, departments in Student Affairs or directories for specific schools to get started.
• Be aware of fliers, bulletin board postings and “word-of-mouth” advertising.
Think broadly—consider academic departments, student services departments, shops, restaurants or any place where business is taking place.
Sampling of on-campus employers: Duke Recreation and Physical Education, Duke University Libraries and Nasher Museum of Art
• Consider Durham Community Employers funded by federal work study.
American Reads, America Counts and Duke University Community Service Center
• Refer to the Employment Fact Sheets from the International House if you are an international student or scholar for guidance in navigating U.S. policies and procedures.

Professional Communication: Inquiring About a Job
You may respond to a job posting of interest on DukeList or reach out to a department to inquire about possible jobs. Recognize that your first email to a potential employer will make an important first impression!
• Use professional salutations, e.g. “Dear Dr. Smith” or “Dear Hiring Manager” to begin your email message.
• Write a clear, concise note introducing yourself and expressing interest in a position.
• Close your email with a professional signature, including both first and last name, class status and contact information (this helps the reader identify you).

Professional Application Documents: Resume and Cover Letter
Most employers will ask for a resume and many will also ask for a cover letter when you apply for jobs.
• Be sure both documents are tools to show how your skills and experience fit your job of interest.
• Refer to Career Center Resume and Cover Letter Skills Guides for tips and templates to assist you in the process of creating these documents.
• Visit the Career Center’s Drop-in Advising (during the academic year) for review of your resume and/or cover letter. Schedule an appointment if it is over break or during the summer.

Professional Communication: Interviewing
An employer may want to interview you as part of their selection process, so be prepared!
• Review the Career Center Interviewing Skills Guide to learn tips for developing strong interviewing skills as well as sample questions that may be asked during an interview.
• Practice crafting a response to the question “Tell me about yourself.”

Professional Behavior: Attitudes and Character
Campus employment is an excellent way to establish good work habits you can carry into internships and jobs after graduation. Qualities such as timeliness, dependability, collaboration and good work ethic are characteristics ALL employers are seeking in their employees, on-campus or in “the real world.”
Get a start on developing these attributes even during part-time work in college!
Learn to connect your campus job to broader career exploration or planning by scheduling an appointment with your career advisor, (919) 660-1050.


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“The British are coming!” “I had a dream” “That's one small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind” “Sharkeisha! Noooooooooooooooooooooo” “Go to hell Carolina, go to hell, eat…you know the rest”

What do all these phrases have in common? They are all under 140 characters, but are memorable messages of great importance (depending on who you are). Twitter is a website and application that gives its users the agency to declare a thought, feeling, opinion, fact, picture, and so much more, so long as it fits within the limit. Twitter is great for having your voice heard amongst those that find you interesting enough to follow, but does it encourage fellowship, or hinder it?

Every Thursday night at 10 o’clock hundreds of thousands of people gather on twitter in front of their TVs ready to retweet, favorite, or reply to the best tweets about Olitz and Mellie, or of how annoying Quinn is, Scandal’s biggest stars. There are also Duke basketball days or nights on which twitter timelines are filled with tweets about how bad UNC is and how Duke basketball can’t be touched (whether true or false). One of the biggest highlights for many of us avid tweeters in the Duke black community occurs at random times. These occasions include late nights doing homework, on snow days, or bored on a weekend night. We all gather together to form what is called #BlackDukeTwitter. Often times you won’t even see the hashtag, but all who call themselves a part of it know when the entity is at work. Topics of discussion in the past have included possible new SAT questions, the poor living conditions in some of Duke’s dorms as told by some of their residents, and gratitude towards Larry Moneta for our many snow days. #BlackDukeTwitter meets to discuss everything from Scandal, Duke basketball, and food point struggles to the LDOC lineup, micro aggressions on Duke’s campus, and the struggle bus.

While these vibrant discussions are the highlight of many students’ paper and problem set filled days at Duke, I found myself asking the following question during spring break: “Imagine if we got together and kicked it and joked around in real life like we do on Twitter when Scandal comes on “slash” there's a trending topic.” While I joke around often with my friends, I have never had the opportunity to joke around like I do on twitter with a population as big as the people I regularly interact with in real life. During an event for the Black Women’s Union, a large group of us were together, but we also had our heads in our phones and laptops waiting for the next funniest tweet. What happened to discussing current events together while hanging out without our phones and laptops in hand? I sometimes find myself talking more about how funny a trending topic was, then about the topic itself.

In the end, we are all extremely busy here at Duke, and I don’t think lightening your mood by scrolling through tweets is detrimental, in fact, I think everyone should have a twitter. I just encourage people to not forget their friends behind the twitter handles. Be a part of #BlackDukeTwitter, but don’t forget what it means to be Black at Duke.

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Flag of the Week - South Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa, is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. It has 2,798 km of coastline that stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian oceans. To the north lie the neighboring countries of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe; to the east are Mozambique and Swaziland; and within it lies Lesotho, an enclave surrounded by South African territory. South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world by land area, and with close to 53 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation.

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. 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 colored 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, Asian, and multiracial ancestry. All ethnic and linguistic groups have political representation in the country's constitutional democracy, which comprises a parliamentary republic and nine provinces. Since the end of apartheid, South Africa's unique multicultural character has become integral to its national identity, as signified by the Rainbow Nation concept.

South Africa is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank, and is considered to be a newly industrialized country. Its economy is the largest and most developed in Africa, and the 28th-largest in the world. In terms of purchasing power parity, South Africa has the seventh-highest per capita income in Africa, although poverty and inequality remain widespread, with about a quarter of the population unemployed and living on less than US$1.25 a day. Nevertheless, South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs, and maintains significant regional influence.


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