Intercultural Life deals with all things diversity. We define diversity as anything and anyone outside of yourself. In short, we deal with life, the universe and everything.

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As Easter Break comes closer and Intercultural Life, CAB, and Residence Life work hard to prepare for our celebration of Holi, I thought it would be fun to learn about other religious festivals that also celebrate spring. While I am sure there are numerous spring festivals around the world, each one is celebrated a little differently by different regions. Tonight I’m going to focus on a handful of some well-known religions.


Christianity
For those who are from a Christian faith, or are familiar with the Christian faith, the celebration of Easter may not be new to you. For those who aren’t as familiar, the celebration of Easter is the celebration of the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead after being tortured and crucified for others’ sins. This holiday has since become a celebration of new life and rebirth. It wasn’t until around the 1600’s that the Easter bunny and Easter egg were included.1


Judaism
The Jewish holiday of Passover is one of the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar because it is the celebration of Moses freeing the Jewish slaves from the rule of the Pharaoh. This is celebrated now by a feast, singing, and the reading of Moses’s tale from the book Haggadah.2
Another Jewish spring holiday is Purim. This holiday celebrates the rescue of the Jews from the Persian Empire and is celebrated similarly to that of Passover; with food and drink, as well as the giving of charity to the poor; and for some, wearing masks and costumes.3


Hindu
While I’m sure you all have been reading I-Life’s signs all over campus promoting Holi and the Color Me Central Run, I figured I would give you a little bit more information on the Hindu holiday of spring. Holi is the celebration of spring, love, and the triumph of good over evil. There are many myths that are part of the origin of Holi, each one giving significant meaning to each tradition of the festival. The festival itself is traditionally celebrated first with a bonfire the night before Holi, then the next day all social barriers break down as everyone takes to the street. In the streets children are throwing colored water at elderly people, adults are putting away their differences and covering each other in dyed cornstarch, and everyone is coming together to make music and celebrate life.4


Iranian

The Iranian New Year’s festival, Nowruz, marks the first day of spring; taking place on or near the vernal equinox. This is a 13-day festival that involves spring cleaning, jumping over bonfires, visiting family, and exchanging gifts.5

There are many other spring holidays from many other religions in the world. If you want to find more, or read more about the ones I mentioned, visit the links below!

1.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Bunny

2-5. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/25/spring-holidays-around-th_n_178955.html

Links to Spring Festival info:

This post has amazing photo’s and a great general description of several different religious, spring holidays.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/25/spring-holidays-around-th_n_178955.html

This website has all the different kinds of spring celebrations organized into different regions of the world.

http://www.metaphysicalcenterofnewjersey.org/article/spring.html

Thanks for reading!

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As spring break comes to an end and all of us in the Midwest are wondering when exactly spring is going to arrive, I thought I would bring to light a spring festival that might lighten everyone’s spirits.  Last week when many people in the US were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, the Hindu population of the world were celebrating Holi.

Holi is the Hindu traditional spring festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil.  Westerners might know this festival as the Hindu “color festival” (this is where the Color Run originated) or “festival of love”.  The festival starts with a Holika bonfire.  This bonfire is supposed to represent the Bonfire that Holkia, who is the “evil” in the Holi origin story, was burned on.  The next day is sometimes knows as the “carnival of colors”.  This day everyone takes to the streets throwing colored powder and spraying people with dyed water; and everyone is fair game!  During Holi all social barriers fall away as strangers throw color at strangers, children at the elderly, and the poor at the rich.  People also carry musical instruments, playing music and dancing in the streets during the celebration.  Holi is also a time for friends, family,and foes to all come together and laugh, talk, and make amends.  Finally, that night everyone cleans off the color and dresses up to go visit family and friends.  

This is a beautiful festival that not just is a celebration of good vs. evil; but is also a time for people to make amends and start new in a time of spring.

If you want to read more about Holi you can visit the two links below.  

http://www.holifestival.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holi

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Earlier this month I. life decided to address the issue of gender inequality by using the average wage gap between men and women. To do this I. Life had a free bake sale in which sugar cookies were handed to the students with the wage ratio written out on them. The cookies with blue frosting had $1 designed on it (they represented the amount males make on average) and the pink frosted cookies sported the $0.77(they represented the amount females make on average). Thus, providing a tasty way to talk about a rather bitter topic.

To continue the theme I. life would like to talk about some other numbers that just do not add up about gender inequality:

Source: interculturallife

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Earlier this month I. life decided to address the issue of gender inequality by using the average wage gap between men and women. To do this I. Life had a free bake sale in which sugar cookies were handed to the students with the wage ratio written out on them. The cookies with blue frosting had $1 designed on it (they represented the amount males make on average) and the pink frosted cookies sported the $0.77(they represented the amount females make on average). Thus, providing a tasty way to talk about a rather bitter topic.

To continue the theme I. life would like to talk about some other numbers that just do not add up about gender inequality:

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Below is the link to a video that we can all learn from. It’s a long one (around 20 minutes), but I highly encourage you to watch it! In the video, the Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, tells the story of … well, a story. Or rather she tells of how we must be aware that many times, we see a one sided view of the things around us; we only hear only one story. This video points out that we mustn’t make judgments based on these shallow bases of knowledge, but we should instead seek the multi-sided truth of the people, cultures, and situations of the world. All of these things cannot be described with only one story. Enjoy!

http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story

So how can this be applicable for us here at Central?

Well, there are some pretty obvious answers such as trying to not judge people without getting to know them. But beyond that, we must recognize that others’ stories are not the same as our own, and we can try to be a place where people can share their stories that they have. To foster the sense of cultural awareness and acceptance that Intercultural Life strives to maintain, it is imperative that we recognize and appreciate our differences as well as our similarities. This week, this month, and for the rest of the semester, I challenge you all to continue to move closer to this acceptance and openness that will create a heightened sense of community on campus. Instead of being okay with not knowing the people around you, invest in this community and find out the stories that have led to your classmates being here in Pella, IA.

I will leave you with this quote from Mahatma Ghandi:

“A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.”

Intercultural Life  would like to invite you to test your knowledge of who is involved in the history of the LGBTQ community with this crossword puzzle. The answers will be posted on Tumblr at a latter date. Have fun!

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With tonight’s showing of Dallas Buyers Club I thought it would be a good idea to address some of the issues that movie touched on and the whole issue of AIDS/HIV as a whole.  

In the movie Ron Woodroof, played by Matthew McConaughey, is a kind of outlaw from Texas who discovers has HIV.  He then goes about different ways to try and beat the 30 days that the doctors have given him to live.  In the process of finding a cure for his HIV, and eventually AIDS, Woodroof starts to import non-FDA approved drugs to help other HIV/AIDS victims.  This is the start of the Dallas Buyers Club.  

Woodroof named his “club” after the New York Buyers Club that had been established in New York at the time.  These “Buyers Clubs” were underground organizations that would import unapproved, and eventually illegal drugs, that would help HIV/AIDS patients.  The reason behind these Buyers Clubs was the fact that ATZ, the only FDA approved drug for treating HIV/AIDS, was starting to harm patients when used in high doses.  In the movie Dallas Buyers Club it is pointed out that the pharmaceutical companies had a monopoly on the treatment of HIV/AIDS and wanted to keep it that way.  Buyers Clubs fought against this monopoly and instead were trying to treat victims with drugs, and other methods that were not actually harmful.

Other issues that were raised in the movie Dallas Buyers Club is the treatment and stigmatizing of HIV/AIDS patients and its association with the LGBT community.  In the 1980’s, when this movie took place, doctors were still unsure of how to treat HIV/AIDS just beginning to understand how it was spreading.  But what research did show was that HIV/AIDS was most prominent in the LGBT community, causing many to believe that only those part of the community could get it.  Because of that society demonized and dehumanized those who had HIV/AIDS; and would assume that they were a part of the LGBT community.  But early on in the movie views were shown that it wasn’t just he LGBT community that got HIV/AIDS; but that those who used drugs or had unprotected sex were could get infected too.  

There are many things about the HIV/AIDS victims that has gone unknown, or is just ignored by the dominant society.  Dallas Buyers Club does raise some really good issue about the treatment of HIV/AIDS victims and how it was associated with the LGBT community; along with the stereotypes that went only with those who got HIV/AIDS.  But it is good to under that this movie is just one story of those who fought against HIV/AIDS, and that there are many more impressive stories out there.  These other stories will bring to light more information about the HIV/AIDS fight that was very prevalent in the 1980’s in the US.  I encourage readers to look up Buyers Club’s and find out more about HIV/AIDS.  Spreading knowledge is the first step in fight for something, and we still haven’t won the fight against HIV/AIDS.  

To find out more information about HIV/AIDS go to AIDS.gov 

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"A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words"  We all know this quote, and it is very true.  When we think important times in our history, whether personal or global, we think of those images that captured the feeling of those moments perfectly.  Whether it is the picture of your family smiling at a birthday party, or the image of Black and White Americans marching on the Capital demanding equal rights for all; pictures and images are used to relate us back to a moment and influence the way we perceive reality.  

 With Black History Month coming to a close I have been wracking my brain on different ways to educated the community on African American issues and culture, both historically and currently.  It wasn’t until I watched a news cast from Democracy Now! that I found an idea for my blog post.  Through the Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People is a new documentary that was just released at the Sundance Film Festival this year.

This documentary explores the use of photography and how it has been used to represent the African American population throughout American History.  But more importantly it shows how Black families have counteracted the stereotypical imagery of African American’s by taking their own photographs, and documenting their own lives and culture without racial bias.  This documentary is meant to educate the public on how skewed the image of Black Americans is, and how they have fought against this imagery with photographs of their own.  

So while we celebrate the amazing feats of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Frederick Douglass had against the stereotype that plague the African American population, this month; we should also honor those ordinary people who fought against the stereotypes by taking a photos, after all a picture is worth a thousand words and there are millions of families out their who have plenty to say.    

I have included a link to the trailer for Through the Lens: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People as well as the Democracy Now! broadcast where Thomas Allen Harris (the director and creator of the film) talks more about why he decided to make this film and what these photographs mean to the Black community.  

Trailer

http://filmguide.sundance.org/film/13958/through_a_lens_darkly_black_photographers_and_the_emergence_of_a_people

Interview with Thomas Allen Harris

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/1/23/through_a_lens_darkly_how_african

Photo taken from google images: Scene from “Through the Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People”

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It’s that time of the year again: February. As 14th draws near, more and more people of all ages are turning their attention away from their studies or jobs to consider what their Valentine’s Day will look like this year. As we look at the love in our own lives, it is important to take a moment to remember those who have seen the worst side of love. Domestic violence is a growing problem all over the U.S., and the same is true Iowa. What do you know about domestic violence? Keep reading to learn about the issue and what you can do to help. 

Learn the Facts:

Domestic violence may seem like something that doesn’t affect us here at Central College, but the truth is that it affects many more people than we realize. Look at these startling statistics:

  • One in four women will be the victim of domestic violence at some point in her lifetime
  • On average, three women are killed every day at the hands of a current or former intimate partner
  • 1 in 5 female college students are sexually assaulted
  • Over 50% of middle and high-school girls experience sexual harassment in school

Not only is domestic violence a big problem, but it is becoming a bigger problem. The Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) is an organization that offers help services to victims of domestic violence by providing shelters, counseling services, and a help hotline. In 2012, the ICADV noticed a 29% increase in the number of clients served and a 72% increase in the number of bed nights their shelters offered. Clearly, domestic violence is a growing issue in Iowa. 

Hear a Story:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBih4C-zXYM

Do Something About It:

  1. Know someone who is in a violent relationship?  Offer them a safe place to turn to and urge them to seek help. The Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence has a 24 hour crisis hotline: 641-673-5499 or 1-800-270-1620. Non-emergency services are available at their office in the United Way building at 500 High Avenue West, Oskaloosa, Monday through Friday, from 8:30am to 5:00pm.
  2. Get active by taking part in Student Day at the Capitol 2014! This is on February 13th from 11am to 4pm, and it is an amazing opportunity to get involved. Participants will hear about a dating violence bill and the public policy around domestic violence, meet with state legislators, and witness the Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month governor proclamation signing. If this is something that you are passionate about, email Tess Cody at tessp@icadv.org to get registered! Be sure to include your name, hometown, and school in your email when you register.
  3. Get active in our campus community by spreading awareness. Tell your friends about some of the startling statistics surrounding domestic violence and hear what they have to say about it. Big changes often times start with conversations around a topic. 

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Several years ago I had the opportunity to speak with Myrlie Evers-Williams just prior to her remarks at an event honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. As I expected, her manner was polished and refined; her words warm and yet substantive. Myrlie’s life was forever changed with the murder of her husband, Medgar Evers, a civil rights activist, at the hand of a white segregationist in 1963. I was three years old at the time of his death.

As she offered her reflections for the audience on that occasion, she noted something that left us all a bit unsettled. That year, for the first time, she had seen a sales circular in the newspaper announcing an “MLK Day Sale.” She maintained a light-hearted spirit about her discovery noting perhaps that was a sign the holiday had finally “arrived” in the broader American culture. Yet, there was also something vulgar about the notion of losing the deep meaning of the day.

At about that time, I was in conversation with a colleague whose career has been dedicated to issues of social justice, equity and diversity. He is about my age and remembered well in his early life learning about the struggle for racial equality. Those like Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King had been quite near to his sense of personal and family identity. In some ways, their story was also his.

One day he described for me the greatest challenge he faces today as one who seeks to advance American society in the pursuit of social justice. The generation that lived through the time we often call the civil rights era is passing and the subsequent generations are less connected to that narrative. It was an important observation for me. As time passes holidays become less focused on memory and legacy and more focused around family activities and fun. As generations pass, the direct knowledge and experience of a great struggle in which lives were sacrificed is lost as memory becomes history. The distance only grows with time.  

For much of my life, ideas about social justice have been rooted in the struggle for the equality of women and African Americans in society. We can point to many accomplishments in this journey, though many more tasks remain undone. I am also mindful that the agenda for social justice also has expanded significantly during the course of my life. Today we think in more global terms about intolerance and violence connected to ideology and religion. We have a growing sense of income inequality and the affects on our culture. Sustainability brings to us concerns about environmental impacts that are disproportionately felt by those less fortunate. Issues of sexual identity are stretching long-held definitions and boundaries. Opinions about all these issues vary widely, yet the strength of America has been found in its ability to struggle with very tough challenges and yet survive. There are many places in the world where that is not a reality.

We remember Martin Luther King these days less for the specific historic events that cut short an amazing life and more for the values and ideals he represented. We would do well to follow his example and heed his words as the emphasis for social justice continues to evolve and grow on so many levels. As memory becomes history, preserving those values and ideals may be some of our most important work.

Guest Post

President Putnam 

Central College

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