American College Admission Process for Japanese Students: Do Not Neglect Extracurricular Activities.

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By Koto Haramiishi, Columnist

There are many interesting differences between college admissions in Japan and college admissions in the United States. These differences can be barriers that both American and Japanese students encounter when they apply for their top choice colleges. However, the main difference in the importance of extracurricular activities is one of the most prominent differences. While most of colleges in Japan admit students based on their grades or recommendations from their high schools, grades are not enough to be to the ideal candidate for most U.S colleges.. According to Steve Loflin, a founder and CEO of National Society of Collegiate Scholars, extracurricular activities matter much more than you may think (U.S News and World Report 2011).

Even though many colleges and universities in the United States accept certain numbers of international students due to the good reputation of multi-cultural environments in the campus, international students need to realize that it is important to show their qualities in other things besides studying to make themselves stand out from other international student candidates.

Japanese colleges, however, have more value in students’ collectiveness among other students in their colleges or in the community. Japan is a collectivist society: this means that Japanese students are encouraged to be like their peers to be a good team player. Individuality is not as prized as is being a good team player who can blend in with those around them. Therefore, having unique extracurricular activities is not as important in Japan.

In addition, the Japanese Ministry of Education has been reinforcing standardization of curriculum within the country, and so it is no longer unique for Japanese people to go to college or university.

These cultural differences in educational systems lead many Japanese students who come to study abroad at two year colleges in the United States think that all they need to do is study to get higher grades and transfer to a good four year institution. Indeed, higher grades do positively increases students’ possibilities to be admitted by good colleges, but when it comes to the American college admissions process at the most selective schools, good grades are not enough.

In addition to good grades, what American colleges are looking for in new students is whether they have leadership and self-achievements. According to the prestigious Harvard University’s admission website, the characteristics of students they want are the following: “maturity, character, leadership, self-confidence, warmth of personality, sense of humour, energy, concern for others and grace under pressure.” Other college admissions centers advertise the importance of leadership, extracurricular activities and work experience.

Why are American colleges so obsessed with leadership and extracurricular activities?

A a recent New York Times article focused on the entering students’ qualities in college admissions. In this article, NYT reporters interviewed William R. Fitzsimmons, the long-time dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard College in 2009. In this interview, Fitzsimmons answered the question that why many students are required to do extracurricular activities to be admitted into American colleges. While Harvard admits several thousands of students with stunning academic credentials every year, it is difficult to judge each students’ personalities in order to distinguish between other applicants. To make one’s academic profile more attractive to the college admissions staff, leadership experiences and extracurricular activities will be used to increase quality and one’s suitability to their ideal college.

Another reason young students are pushed to pursue their interests during their secondary school days for college admission is that if one showed outstanding achievements in other activities such as sports or artistic activities, college will consider it as the students has pursued own interests as well as keeping well academically due to his strong persona qualifications. Because it is not easy for students to commit to something they love while they need to keep their grades high, colleges will weigh the value of those students greater when it comes to personal qualities. And such personal qualities are also useful long after they graduate.

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Student Visas, OPT, and Green Cards: a Primer for International Students

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By Koto Haramiishi, international student guest writer

Introduction

The majority of college international students wish to work and stay the United States after graduation. Their opportunities to work with a student visa, however, are limited when they first come to America. Nevertheless, both American and foreign students find it difficult to afford college tuition fees without any financial aid. Part time jobs are indeed indispensable for most college students. However, international students are not allowed to work off campus until they receive special permission to work by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The process and system for international students to work in the United States is totally different than the process for American students. While the number of international students in the United States continues to climb every year information on work eligibility remains spotty for many students. Because of the huge increase in international students and the little information available to them regarding work status, I decided to write this informational blogpost about how to gain employment within their student visa allowance.

There are two major options to work for students who are not U.S. citizens that I will discuss: OPT (including military) and green cards (marriage, asylum, and lottery).

OPT

For international students, OPT is the most common way to be able to work off campus. What is OPT? OPT is short for Optional Practical Training. OPT is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students on an F-1 status who have completed or have been attending college or university for more than nine months are permitted by the USCIS to work at a maximum of 12 months towards getting practical training to complete their field of study. This is open to every student on an F-1 Visa. Students must know that OPT applications take usually more than 3 months to process and requires a recommendation from their international student support office at their college. Furthermore, once the application arrives at USCIS, the student will not start until USCIS sends them an EAD card, which is proof that the student is an OPT holder. Students who major in STEM degree (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics), will approved to work more for 17 months, due to a recent change in 2008.

The time cost and high expected grades in a student’s field of study to be qualified for OPT means that students would must start preparing for OPT eligibility if they want to work in the United States while they are students. According to one of my friends from Japan who attempted but did not get in, ‘OPT is only available to those who are planning to study more than 2 years. I do not have the intention to stay in U.S after college and also changed my major as well. But international students just want to earn money off campus while we are in college.’’ I assume that there are many exceptional cases, such as major changes that might confuse students who want to do OPT, because the job for which is OPT qualified has to be related the specific field that international students complete or are pursuing.

Green Cards: an Introduction

If students become lawful permanent residents, how does their OPT status change? The USCIS offers foreign nationals green cards, which are documents that gives them an authorization to live and work in the United States. In short, green card holders get most rights and civil liberties of U.S. citizens (notable exceptions being voting in national elections or running for public office). As an international student, there are several ways to get a green card.

Green Card: Sponsoring Employers

The first method to get a green card is similar to an OPT program – through a sponsoring employer. It is less likely, and not everyone can have this option, but if one is highly-skilled and considered as a person who can contribute a lot to the company, the company may sponsor of the student by applying for the National Interests Waiver.

Green Card: Marriage

The second common way is through marriage. Getting married to a U.S. citizen is the easiest way to get a green card. You must live together and know each other or other things that married couples normally do because immigration officials conduct interviews of the married couple in order to confirm that the marriage is real. Once a green card application is approved, the person will get a temporary 2 years valid green card, and then they will get a permanent one.

Green  Card: Lottery

For another option, it is worth it to try the Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery, which is as the name indicates, is an annual lottery for immigrants from diverse countries to get a green card.

Green Card: Asylum

The third method of getting a green card is applying for asylum. What is an asylum seeker? The most common kind is a refugee – someone who is fleeing their home country because if they go back, they will be killed by or tortured by their government. This is unusual for international students, but not unheard of. If you can prove that if you return to your home country because you will face government sponsored torture, the United States will not deport you.

Green Card: Military Service

The final way to get a green card is to enroll in military service. However, the military service green card it requires applicants to have lived in the United States at least 2 years before enlisting, and enlistees must have good health. OPT permits applicants to work in the military as well, as long as their job within the military is related to their field of study.

Crimes and Work Eligibility

Crimes are very serious for all students. Committing a crime means that you could face jail, fines, mandatory community service, and loss of financial aid and housing options. A criminal record will also limit students’ future employment options because employers do not want to hire criminals. However, for international students, the immigration consequences are very severe. If you are an international student, commit a crime and are convicted, you may have disqualified yourself from applying for a green card and/or OPT status. The United States lets students work in the country with the condition that they are law abiding people. If an international student is convicted of a crime, especially a serious crime, then the United States can reject the person’s visa application.

Conclusion

Generally speaking, many international students try and fail to gain legal rights to work and live permanently in the United States, because there is so much demand for green cards and OPT status and not enough supply. International students sometimes have to be satisfied with minimum wage on campus jobs until they get qualified to apply for a green card or OPT. The United States is not the only one state that has strict rules and policies for immigration work adjustment status, because security in this country is prioritized.

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Coco For Chanel – Book Review

Coco

By Jasmine Bager, Reporter

Take a walk in any city and you’ll find traces of Chanel at every corner and (literally) at every step. We all know what that looks like: the visible interlocked C logos, signature flat shoes, quilted purses, costume jewelry, cardigan sweaters, tortoiseshell sunglasses and an air of mystery. “I have tried to be both invisible and present,” Chanel famously said. That seems to describe all of these women, then and now. But who was the woman behind the little black dress? Do we know much (or anything!) about the person whose initials we wear on special occasions?

Academic writer Rhonda K. Garelick’s new book, Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History (hyperlink: http://www.amazon.com/Mademoiselle-Coco-Chanel-Pulse-History/dp/1400069521) attempts to find out. “What is Chanel? What every woman is wearing without knowing it,” read L’Express Magazine in 1956, but that line could have easily been written today. Prof. Garelick did just that.

For a century (and counting), Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel has made an impact in fashion design, but she was a savvy businesswoman, too. Chanel’s company is the highest earning privately owned luxury goods manufacturer today. In the whole planet.

Born in 1883, Chanel lived in a man’s world, but her aim was to dress powerful women. In 12 fascinating, yet lengthy chapters, Garelick allowed Chanel to answer that same question: “I dressed the universe,” Chanel said in 1947.

With a background in academia, Garelick went to the corporate headquarters for the House of Chanel in Paris and read the novels that Chanel is said to have read and visited surviving people identified in old photographs. We learn quickly in the book that Chanel often dressed her past as she did her models: with a dash of drama. Chanel jumbled dates and dramatized events so often, it seemed like she reinvented herself with each new design. In short, Garelick tried to channel the fashionista and follow her alluring footsteps to separate fact from fantasy. Who better to attempt that than an English professor?

Orphaned and abandoned as a child, Chanel dreamed about leaving the obscure village in France where she came from. With an active imagination and few friends, she became a pathological liar, embellishing her life and the details within it, since the truth was dull and depressing.

Entrepreneurship was in her blood. Chanel’s father was a charismatic peddler who sold women’s undergarments on the streets and ran away from his responsibilities. Chanel’s mother was a kitchen maid and at 20, had her first daughter out of wedlock. Chanel was born next. Her given name was Gabrielle, meaning, “God is my mighty,” in Hebrew. The nuns named her when her exhausted mother was too tired to think of a name and her father was nowhere to be found. Chanel had fragmented memories of her charming father but he disappeared often until he left for good, leaving her mother to care for all six children on her own. Chanel’s mother died at 33 from poor health. Chanel was 11.

Chanel moved to the convent, where she worked as a laundress for the orphanage and learned how to sew. That is where she got the basis for her fashion aesthetic; the simple and conservative white and black garments the nuns wore, carried through to her design palette. The mother superior was the first woman boss she’d ever met and helped her realize that she could be her own boss, too.

At 19, the sheltered Chanel left the convent to the bright lights of the city. She was introduced to the flamboyant ladies of the night, which greatly impacted her fashion sense. She tried her luck as a café singer, with limited success. She was charismatic and charming, like her father, however. Rumor has it that customers picked her famous name, Coco. She used to sing “Ko-ko-ri-ko” (Cock-a-doodle-doo) and “Qui qua’a vu Coco?” (Has anyone seen Coco?)—songs about a lost dog and a rooster. Hurt from being abandoned, Chanel invented that her father immigrated to America and that he affectionately nicknamed her Coco. The truth was, her father likely never left the country.

Two of Chanel’s sisters committed suicide as young, overworked mothers with young children and failed relationships. Chanel became the only female survivor in her family by 1920. Determined to break the pattern of hardworking Chanel ladies falling for deadbeats, Chanel strived to make a name for herself. And that, she did.

By the age of 30, Chanel became a household name. Her clothing was androgynous, conservative and classic—silhouettes the nuns who raised her might have been proud of. Chanel’s boyish figure, slim hips and flat chest helped her ease into wearing men’s suit shirts and straw hats while riding. She figured that thinking like a man would be her way to success.

Chanel was a genius at the public relations game and befriended many fashion journalists in Europe and America. Soon after launching her hat making business and designing costumes for dancers, Chanel became a lifestyle brand. She used subliminal seduction as a marketing ploy. “A bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume is sold every three seconds,” the book reads. Unlike most perfumes sold at her time, her bottles did not have poetic titles, but contained her lucky number: five. She sprayed the scent in her boutique’s fitting rooms and when the buyers asked what the lovely smell was, she handed them tiny samples to take home. Those women grew addicted to the perfume and returned for more. Soon, bottles began appearing for sale on the shelves.

Chanel loved excitement and some speculate that she was perhaps a spy. She was involved with very powerful and rich men: a Nazi officer, the Duke of Westminster, a diplomat and a composer. Did she briefly turn to discreet prostitution? Was she a mother—was the little boy she affectionately cared for her own child and not that of her sister? The book talks about those possibilities.

Chanel’s last words at 87 were reportedly: “So, this is how one dies.” Forty years after her death, it doesn’t seem like her legacy has died at all. Fashionistas everywhere, and Garelick’s book, bring Chanel back to life.

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Apartheid South Africa: An Interview with Colin Wes

By Shinnosuke Shigenaga and Shiori Nemeto, special guest writers.

Colin Wes. Photograph courtesy of Colleen Dishy.

Colin Wes. Photograph courtesy of Colleen Dishy.

Tell us about yourself and your life here in America.

I work for Costco, and I have been with them for 28 years. I am a buyer and work for corporate headquarters. When we first came to America, we didn’t have jobs, and we had 4 children. Our youngest was 9 months old. I was very lucky that I found a job with Costco. I grew and developed with Costco. Colleen, my wife, was fortunate to get on board with Cornish College’s Junior Preparatory Dance as a ballet teacher. She loved teaching and loved Cornish. A lot of doors and windows have opened for us and we are grateful to be American.

Colleen Dishy

Colin Wes and his family, newly immigrated to the United States. He references his wife Colleen Dishy (in light blue blouse) throughout this interview. Dishy’s father, Les Dishy, a contemporary of Nelson Mandela, was a former mayor of Johannesburg who was sympathetic to the anti-apartheid cause. Photograph courtesy of Colleen Dishy.

What was it like growing up in apartheid for friendships?

Well, first of all, our schools were segregated. I went to a whites only school. Not only did I go to a whites only school, I went to a boys only school. There was no interaction with black children my own age. There were stories of kids developing life lasting friendships. But for the most part, the South African government did not want black and white children to integrate. It was also illegal for whites and blacks to intermingle [interracial sex]. And of course, there was no question of interracial marriages.

What were the things that troubled you the most about apartheid? How did you try to change them?

This is a very complex question because it was not only the part that apartheid was a very unfair system, you developed an acute paranoia about being a South African. You would say that you were from England because you were too embarrassed to say that you were South African. The perception of the rest of the world was that all white South Africans were racist. But in reality, there were a lot of us who were against the system. There were a couple of main factions of white South Africans. The first were Afrikaans speaking (Dutch). The next were British English speaking, immigrants who came to South Africa (i.e. Eastern Europe): they adopted the English/British culture. Almost exclusively the first language throughout South Africa was English, even though Afrikaans was official language. However, we all had to learn Afrikaans in school. In 1976, there were huge riots over the mere use of the Afrikaans language. Anti-apartheid activists were angry that kids were forced to learn classes in Afrikaans (considered the language of oppressor). English was considered the language of the rest of the integrated world. Lots of people in South Africa did nothing to change the system. There was a sense of overwhelming helplessness. You could be nice to black people you came in contact with and be branded as a troublemaker. Those people labeled as anti-apartheid activists got into trouble with police, went into exile, and got murdered on a regular basis.

Japan was one of the only countries that traded with South  Africa during apartheid. How did this affect the goods available in South Africa during this time?

This was something that I was very much aware of because I was in the retail trade. Most countries were not doing business with South Africa at the time. This was because of pressure from the United Nations and from President Reagan. Many organizations disinvested, for example, the University of Washington cut off ties with South Africa. Lots of European countries, as well as America, had previously invested in gold mines. Johannesburg was built on the basis of gold. That’s how Johannesburg became big city. I was aware because I had a relative who was doing business with  Japan at the time. There were a lot of Japanese goods. Sony, Nikon. They were all there. In those days there were very little Chinese goods available. When something was Japanese it was made in Japan. We were actually making Japanese cars that were being exported to Japan. In South Africa, they drive on the left side of the road. South Africa would make Toyotas and export these vehicles to Japan and other countries where they drive on the other side of the road. There was a real big industry between Japan and other countries. There still is today, though there is a lot of Chinese infiltration. The Chinese are taking advantage of opportunities in South Africa, and they are buying huge amounts of property. It’s common knowledge that South Africa is currently owned by the Chinese.

What was the purpose of apartheid?

I think there were a few reasons for apartheid. First, there was the air of superiority. This originated from missionaries that originally came to Africa. They regarded blacks as “uncivilized” and themselves as “better”. Another reason for apartheid was that the white government that came into power in 1948 realized that blacks would soon overrun them in terms of numbers. By creating apartheid, which they called separate development, the white government thought they could secure their own future as the dominant group.  If you have 4 million people versus 40 million people, it’s simply not very realistic to think that you could be the dominant group long term. Another reason for apartheid was fear. The apartheid architects thought if they could control, they would be able to prevent the “other” from overwhelming them. But they were wrong. However, I would like to caution you that to ask what was the purpose of apartheid is similar to asking what was the purpose of World War II. These are big questions. There is no easy answer.

Tell us about apartheid on a daily basis.

We saw discrimination every single day. Black people needed paperwork to give them permission to simply walk in the street. We saw on a regular basis police vans pulling up to random black people. We saw them  (the police) haul South African black citizens without the proper paperwork to the back of these police vans. The vans – they were called the Black Mariahs. They were arresting people en masse. Growing up, I had experiences in our own house where we had employees who were black, and the police broke down the gate and wanted to know who was on premises. They would barge in with their demanding questions: “Who are you? Where is your paperwork?” Only the blacks got harassed like this, never the whites. On a daily basis the whites in South Africa would work alongside black people. However, blacks were getting paid 20 percent of what the whites were getting paid. There were also fewer privileges for blacks at work in other ways. For example, we had a cafeteria in our workplace. There was a separate place for whites to eat (and the whites’ cafeteria had more amenities, from the menu to the furniture). This comprehensive and systematic discrimination was about separate development. Whites were considered the privileged race and had a better deal in every way. For example, if there was a bus service the government would take the old, falling apart busses, transfer them to the segregated black circuits, and buy new ones for whites. Because whites were considered superior, they got the best of everything.

If you broke the law regarding apartheid or helped others break the law under apartheid, what kind of punishment would happen?

This is a broad question. One of many examples was how the government would respond when someone who was outspoken was branded a troublemaker by the government. Police would arrest this person and would interrogate them in a terrifying fashion. Very often these people would disappear. They would be arrested under very suspicious circumstances, and then there would be no trace of them. We all knew that they were killed. One of the activists who was branded as a troublemaker who was the famous Steve Biko. It was  approximately 1978 when Steve Biko had a very large following: he was very outspoken and he organized protest marches. He had become representative to the international community as the leader to end apartheid. The government arrested him numerous times. One day, he was arrested and taken to police headquarters, where he was tortured to death. Biko’s death was a terror tactic. The police were immune to prosecution because South Africa became a police state and the police controlled everything that happened.

Tell us how your family were connected with the anti-apartheid movement.

Colleen’s youngest sister  attended the university in Johannesburg. While she was a student, there was a mass protest about someone having been arrested/disappeared. All the students protesting were arrested and thrown into jail. My brother in law was involved in a team of lawyers sympathetic towards anti-apartheid activists, and helped the students out of jail. Mass arrests of students happened a lot. This struck hold because of Colleen’s sister. Colleen’s father [Les Dishy] was an active politician. He represented the Progressive Party. The Progressive Party was anti-government, but operated within the realms of legality to have some semblance of democracy. They had a small role in Parliament because they were always squashed by the government majority. Whenever he [Les Dishy] saw black man or woman abused for any reason, he at his own risk intervene, often ordering police to “let them be.” Dishy never got arrested, but we know that the secret police were watching him. If you look at the records from this time, it reminds us of Nazi Germany, where S.S. were watching everybody. They were, particularly people who were outspoken against the apartheid government.

Colleen’s father eventually became mayor of the South African city of Johannesburg. During the last of the apartheid years, Dishy was the mayor of Johannesburg and did whatever he could do to alleviate the unfairness of apartheid in the city of Johannesburg and anywhere else where he could be effective. When [Les] was sick in the hospital, Nelson Mandela heard about this in his entourage and came to the hospital to visit him on his deathbed and thank him for his work. Colleen did meet Mandela, and there are all kinds of indirect ties to Mandela to our family. Colleen’s cousin was engaged to Mandela’s daughter at one point. My brother in law, an attorney, was involved in the trial where Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment. My brother in law was on the defense team. It was a very serious trial, because Mandela was a black man who was being accused of treason. The defense knew that he would be convicted; therefore the defense’s chief goal was to prevent the death sentence, because in South Africa that was the penalty for treason. They were positive Mandela would get a conviction for treason, so their main goal was to mitigate the sentence, which turned out to be life imprisonment instead.

What were segregated neighborhoods like, and how did it affect the population?

Imagine Downtown Seattle as a whites only area. During the day, blacks would come and work but at night they had to leave to their homes in townships.  In our case, it was Soweto. These townships were areas where black people lived without housing, electricity, and running water. They had to get up early in the morning while whites slept in their fancy suburbs. The blacks were there to serve the whites. The whole horrible concept of apartheid was that black man was there to serve him [the whites]. We all lived double lives. We worked side by side during the day, joked around, and interacted like normal people and at night they went the blacks went away. This was a strange situation because of forced apartheid. It was gratifying to us when we came to America and didn’t experience that. It was a huge sense of freedom we had not experienced before.

The Wes children as adults.

The Wes children as adults. Photograph courtesy of Colleen Dishy

What kind of long term effects of apartheid remains today in South Africa?

When Mandela was finally freed and they negotiated, the prime minister negotiated for free elections. 1994 was the first year where there were free elections in South Africa. Lots of people thought there would be a bloodbath. I thought it would happen. I was amazed and grateful that there was a relatively nonviolent transition to a new majority government.

However, the transition was not without challenges. Mandela had spoken of equal housing, job opportunities, and the reality was that after apartheid ended, the social inequities did not end. The rich got richer, poor got poorer, and there remains still lots of unemployment. The stark reality of recovering from apartheid was that at the time apartheid ended, South Africa had a population of 40 million, 4 million of whom were whites. To provide work, housing, and general infrastructure for 40 million people recovering from a system that was designed for only for 4 million people was impossible to achieve in the short term. A lot of promises were made and not yet delivered.

However, if you look at the big scheme of things, if a country is only 20 years old, it’s only the beginning. In time the country will catch up. In time, equality will emerge. People will have more opportunities. Mandela was a fantastic leader, and he not only inspired black people to embrace this new South Africa but whites as well. He was only in power for 5 years and I think he did a wonderful job. But given the fact that he was aging and needed to make room for a younger man, unfortunately the two presidents who followed him were not as successful in bringing the country together.

The current South African president is named Jacob Zuma. He has been accused of corruption. He used public money to build lavish mansions. He has 11 wives. He is very much an inadequate leader and a very corrupt leader. This is unfortunate because what South Africa needs right now is a strong leader like Mandela who can guide the country and can keep the things on a positive road.

After the independence, South Africa had a reconciliation program where people spoke about what had happened. This was a great program. Truth and reconciliation occurred through this process. White police that had been responsible for atrocities came forward and spoke about what they did and begged for forgiveness. South Africa could be a great model for the rest of the world, but it will take more time.

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My Draw to Journalism

Nancy headshot

Nancy Zhang, Reporter

I have aspired to be a journalist since I was in primary school.

However, the turning point in my journalistic experiences was when I had the privilege to work as an intern journalist in the local TV station of my hometown, Lanzhou, China, last winter break. This incredible internship experience was one of the pivotal reasons that led me to this my passion for journalism and desire to learn more about journalistic writing.

The complex  situations I came across made me realize that I am still lacking much knowledge on how to become the best journalist that I can be. During the internship, I assisted my supervisor in conducting over 150 interviews and edited all the reports. Our reporting mainly focused on local people’s daily problems to the public.

Even though I helped some people solve their problems, I still met a lot of challenges. One day, I answered a phone call from a single mother, who claimed she bought a new heater one week ago and that the heater that did not work at all. She had allegedly called the retailer twenty times a day for the whole week and hoped that they could fix the heater. A repairman did come over, but the only thing he did was accuse the woman of breaking the heater and left without repairing the heater.

When I arrived her house, I saw a little boy sitting in the coach with a red face. It was so cold, I did not feel any temperature difference from outside. I started to ask the details and the woman could not stop crying because she was so worried about her boy would get sick in such cold weather. She begged me to report her suffering so that public attention and relevant government agencies could help her through the situation. I wrote a report that fully showed my sympathy for the poor family and expressed my anger to the retailer. After my adviser read it, she returned it to me with one sentence “Never say how deep the river is when you are standing on side”. She also told me “You even did not go and meet the retailer. You was totally put yourself on the side of the woman only because she was weak. You ignored that as a journalist, your responsibility was not to express sympathy, but to collect the information, value the content and report the truth to the public objectively.”

At that moment, I realized that to be a journalist is not simply to write about how I see the situation. Being a good journalist requires one to collect information specifically, value content, and report objectively.  Therefore, I am eager to expand my knowledge about journalism to help me in my future truth seeking endeavors.

 Nancy Zhang is a student at the University of Washington studying journalism and communications.

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The Benefits and Challenges of Organic Farming

The Benefits and Challenges of Organic Farming

By Elise Watness

 

Labels such as ‘organic’ or ‘fair trade’ allow consumers to make ethics-based decisions knowing standards have been set for certified products. But the organic certification label can mislead consumers to think they are always free of chemicals. To really know how their food is produced, consumers must get to know their farmer or grow it themselves.

 

Benefits of organic farming:

 

Organic is GMO-free.

By USDA standards, nothing organic is allowed to be grown with genetically modified seed. Food containing genetically engineered products are usually not labeled as such, so the organic label is important for consumers who are cautious about consuming these new types of food.  Most genetically engineered crops are made to be resistant to herbicide, so it is likely that these crops have been sprayed with glyphosate pesticides.

 

Organic home gardening is less expensive than using chemicals.

Applying pesticides is more work than most home gardeners want to embrace. By talking with neighbors and garden center professionals, the home grower should be able to identify crops and growing techniques that do not require pesticide applications. Organic has more meaning when it is practiced at home. Organic gardening at home tends to lead to a deeper understanding of the intent behind the organic label.

 

Organic growing is proven to be sustainable over long periods of time.

Organic principles work well when practiced over time. A good organic plan will not only yield a good harvest, but improve the land’s productivity for the next crop. Industrial agriculture is a relatively new practice with a checkered record on agricultural sustainability.

 

Food produced without chemicals is better for the environment and our health

Pesticides and fertilizer registered for organic production are usually derived from natural products and have a more limited impact on the environment. Neonicotinoid pesticides linked to the decline of honeybee populations are not allowed in organic production. Exposure to pesticides among agricultural workers should be of greater public concern. Workers around the world are still routinely exposed to toxic pesticides regardless of cautions printed on their labels. Despite FDA approval there are still too many unknowns about chronic health effects of consuming pesticides for them to be considered completely safe.

 

There’s pride in cooperating with nature.

There is beauty in a closed loop production system that does not rely heavily on outside inputs. It is a great challenge for farmers to develop a system that works within the constraints of their environment. The creativity required to develop such a system can be appreciated like a work of art.

 

Challenges of organic farming:

 

Mainstream consumers have standards for quality that are difficult for organic growers to meet

Lettuce with holes in it, or apples with a bit of scab are always passed over by shoppers, although nutrition and flavor quality might be excellent. Consumers have been trained to seek out food with Barbie-doll features. Organic growers have higher rates of unmarketable blemished product and that limits sales revenue.

 

Profitability is low because food prices are low and land is expensive

Most of the farmers I know have a day job to support the farming they do on nights and weekends. Despite increase exposure small farms have gained in recent years, the reality is that most are still not profitable businesses.

 

Farming organically on an industrial scale is difficult.

Many organic crops are grown in monocultures, like conventional crops, but use organically registered pesticides and fertilizers. It is common for organic growers to spray pesticides even more frequently than their conventional counterparts to keep up with insect and disease pressure. Organic methods are much more effective on a small scale than on the industrial level.

 

There are many conflicting ideas of what organic means.

Many consumers buy organic because it seems like the ethical choice. But how can big businesses (like Wal-Mart, General Mills, and Kellogg) grow organically, and be any better than the produce grown in your own town? Is organic really synonymous with pure? How do ethics of shopping for organics compare with shopping local, or fair-trade? Perhaps we’re ready for a new standard. How about farm-direct?

 

Organic certification is exclusive

Many small farmers don’t justify the expense for organic certification. Some use methods that are very well suited for their production and environment, but still don’t qualify for the organic label. If you shop at farmer’s markets, you can talk to the farmer about how the food was grown.

 

My analysis: Organic is progress. Buying from a farmer’s market or farm stand is better. Growing it yourself is best.

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CHURCH EXEMPTION FROM FORM I-990: VESTIGIAL FIRST AMENDMENT MISINTERPRETATION

I was going to submit this paper, which I wrote and presented in Fall 2011, to a number of relevant journals. However, recent events affecting those whom I dearly love made me realize that rather than signing away the rights to an obscure journal read primarily by academics (a journal that likely requires a hefty subscription fee to view), this paper on preventing corruption within a church setting by reforming current tax law (which currently allows an ostentatious minority of church leaders to commit egregious financial fraud with very little accountability) might better serve the general public by becoming free, online, and easily downloadable.

You can click on the link below to download.

UMETSU CHURCH EXEMPTION FROM FORM I 990 10 5 14

Sincerely,

Laura Umetsu

Editor in Chief

Civilian Global News

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