Embroidering for Peace and Inequality

“My best friend was raped.”

“Love is not abuse.”

“Igualdad” or equality in English.

These are only three of the 150 messages you can find at the Embroidering for Peace and Memory at the University of North Florida.  The event was started by Dr. Constanza Lopez four years ago in order to let students voice out their opinions against violence around the world and to raise awareness.

Dr. Lopez was inspired by the actions of many women around the world who would embroider for peace. She mentioned mothers in Ciudad Juárez, who used sewing as their way of raising awareness when their daughters disappeared and were killed. She also mentions arpilleras, or burlap pieces sown together, that were created by people who were suffering under the Chilean dictatorship.

Dr. Lopez keeps two arpilleras in her office. Both pieces were created by students, who were inspired by the arpilleras in Chile, to voice out against violence. On one of the arpilleras, the words “Donde están nuestros queridos Pinochet?” This refers to the several thousands of people who have either disappeared or been murdered during the Chilean dictator’s, Pinochet’s, rule.

Though Dr. Lopez was inspired by other people’s works, it was her students who encouraged her to start the event at the University of North Florida. She mentioned students in her Latin American Literature and Film feeling discouraged because they felt as if they could not do anything to help.

“I realized that people here at UNF want to have a voice and they want to be heard, and they  can do it through sewing and tracing with needle and thread. By doing that, we also put an invisible thread around the community,” said Dr. Lopez.

Dr. Lopez mainly funds the event herself. She receives some funding from the university to cover some of the materials, but most of the cost comes out of her pocket. However, she enjoys being able to share the experience with students each year, being able to raise awareness for human rights, and being able of “building a community that can help change the world.”

“One piece really doesn’t tell you anything, but when you begin to put all those pieces together it really begins to tell a story. That’s when the story becomes strong and important,” Dr. Lopez said.

Some students enjoy the event so much they return year after year. She even mentions some students who return to participate even after graduating from the University of North Florida.

“My grandmother taught me how to sew. It’s time to test my skills and make her proud,” said Paola Hernandez as she joked around with several of her classmates.

However, students without prior experience in embroidering are encouraged to participate. They start by sketching the message they choose with pencil on a white cloth. After that, they thread a needle and start following the trace marks starting from the back of the cloth to the front. Then, it is a matter of repetition, patience and determination.

“I have never embroidered in my life, but the event was fun and very peaceful and therapeutic,” said Natasha Gisela, who is in Dr. Lopez’s Communication and Communities class for native Spanish speakers.

Dr. Lopez hopes to take her project beyond the University of North Florida into the Jacksonville community. She hopes to one day be able to set up at Hemming Park and let others in the community be able to peacefully “speak” for human rights.

To learn more about Dr. Lopez’s Embroidering for Peace and Memory or to see some more photos of the event, you can visit her website in the following link: http://constanzalopez.weebly.com/teaching.html.

“By embroidering their stories, we honor their memories and make others aware of their struggles in hopes that their stories are not repeated.”

-Dr. Lopez

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Embroidering for Peace and Inequality <a href=”https://t.co/fjUXLRThdS”>https://t.co/fjUXLRThdS</a></p>&mdash; Alex Torres-Perez (@alextp12) <a href=”https://twitter.com/alextp12/status/724829462043435008″>April 26, 2016</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Dr. Constanza Lopez speaks about her project that lets students speak out against the world's problems. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/BeHeard?src=hash”>#BeHeard</a&gt; <a href=”https://t.co/d4nDKAlPRX”>https://t.co/d4nDKAlPRX</a></p>&mdash; Alex Torres-Perez (@alextp12) <a href=”https://twitter.com/alextp12/status/721914257982533632″>April 18, 2016</a></blockquote>
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Humans of Jacksonville: Politics Edition

 

 

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Roxana is giving a presentation about Hispanic voters in her class today. Photo credit: Roxana Sudderth   

What do you want for the election?

“The main things I want for the elections are for there to be an agreement on immigration that obviously doesn’t include building this wall, and that helps those immigrants that are here. I do want a plan to prepare them for citizenship that can include fines, or them learning English and then doing the necessary things.  Obviously, if they have a criminal background or anything like that, the do need to be deported. As far as health care, I don’t think there should be a change in Obama Care. I think everybody has a difficult circumstance, and I think we should offer health care for those who can’t afford it. Those are the main issues for me.

For abortion, it is difficult for me. I feel like it is wrong, but at the same time if someone ends up in a difficult circumstance through rape or something like that it is unfortunate. So, that is a difficult topic for me and I am unsure about that. Education is obviously important. I know Bernie Sanders said free public college for everyone, but I need to do some more research on that.”

 

Who are you going to vote for and why?

“I’m not sure who I’m going to vote for. I need to do some research. I’ve been to Marco Rubio’s rally and Bill Clinton’s rally at a church. Bill Clinton basically talked about how he met his wife, what she has done in the past and what she will do in the future. I have to do more research on Bernie Sanders…For Trump, I am not one of those who can’t stand him and won’t listen to him. I still listen to what he is saying because he is a presidential candidate, so I’m not just going to shut him off. Most of the things he says are unpresidential and just unhuman. He doesn’t like a lot of people, and he doesn’t care how he says it. It is the way he talks in public and just in general.”

 

As a Hispanic, there is a lot of “Hispandering” as one Democratic debate described it where candidates say what Hispanics want to here. What do you think Hispanics wants to hear?

“They just want to be included in the plan as far as education, jobs, and their status here. They don’t just want to be excluded and deported. I’m not just thinking about the illegals, but I’m also thinking about the citizens that have been here or that are towards that. It covers everybody. I think they want to hear positive things just like everyone who is here.”

 

 

Righties More Likely to Outlive Lefties

Diane Halpern from California State University and Stanley Coren from the University of British Colombia were trying to understand why there were less left-handed people in the elderly population.

“The results are striking in their magnitude” said  Halpern.

By looking at the death certificates of almost 1000 people in the past year, the researchers concluded that right-handed people are more likely to outlive left-handed people.

They found the average age of death to be 75 for right-handed people, but 66 for left-handed people. They also found a six year age gap in women and an eleven year age gap in men.

This raises questions as to how and why these left-handed people are dying sooner than right-handed people. One reason may be car accidents. The study says that left-handed people are four times more likely to die from injuries from car accidents.

“There are many more car and other accidents among left-handers because of their environment” said Halpern.

Claudia Beshears is a freshman from El Paso, Texas. She is currently studying music performance at the University of North Florida, and is one of the few left-handed musicians. She mentions she has trouble driving with her right foot.

“Things I do are a little different, maybe backwards a little. I actually drive with two feet. One foot for gas, and for brakes. A lot of people say it is really dangerous though” she said.

David Fagre is a student from Characas, Venezuela. He is currently in the English Language Program at UNF, and is also left-handed. He doesn’t have any issues driving. However, there were many other issues when it came to writing due to the position and not being able to see what he previously wrote. His writing also smudges as he writes.

Adriana Vargas a freshman business student from Cochamba, Bolivia says, “There are many things that aren’t made for left-handed people like scissors, desks and can openers. It is the little tools that don’t fit to them.”

Other mentions of struggles for left-handed people included the inability to write in binders or notebooks due to the rings, nudging into people while eating, and even pouring something out of a one spout ladle.

Kaitlyn Powell, a freshman criminal justice student from Gainsville, says “We live in a world for right-handed people. Everything is made for right-handed people, so it makes things a lot harder for left-handed people.”

There have been many adaptations for left-handed people that make their day to day life easier. For example, desks for left-handed people can be found in some classrooms. Also, many tools like left-handed scissors and left-handed spiral notebooks can be found.

Claudia Beshears also mentioned that she often gets asked a lot of questions due to her being a left-handed cello player.

“People think it is cool. They ask me a lot about the technical matters and the technique, but it is pretty much the same thing. If anything, I am stronger and more flexible with my left hand” she said.

Talking about the study, Halpern says “it should not, of course, be used to predict the life span of any one individual” She even stresses the fact of there are still many left-handed elderly people.

 

 

 

Safety and Health Abroad

The study abroad program at the University of North Florida sends over 600 students abroad to several different countries including France, Japan, Peru and Egypt to name a few. With recent terrorist attacks and development of the Zika virus, some students may find study abroad to be unsafe, but UNF has taken active steps to keep students safe and healthy. Ruth Lopez talks about what steps students must take before studying abroad, and also talks about things to avoid when in a different country.

Students are required to attend a safety session that goes over health and crime alerts. It gives students tips to stay safe while abroad like practicing the buddy system or staying away from large crowds or political events.

When abroad, students need to know how to be able to reach their emergency contact. Telephone systems are different around the world, so you want to make sure you can be able to call someone in case of an emergency. This includes making sure you can stay in touch with the U.S. Embassy.

The Embassy is who you want to contact during an emergency abroad, but students should also know how to contact local police. Note that 911 is not a universal number to contact police. Several countries have different numbers. For example, in South Korea, France and many other countries you want to dial 112, but in Brazil you want to dial 192.

The safety session also lists a couple of things students should do prior to their trip. For example, students are encouraged to give family members a schedule of what they are planning to do while they are abroad.

Students will also receive a country information packet from the State Department that goes over specific tips on how to stay safe in a particular country. This packet also includes very helpful information about the country’s demographics and political information.

Students are encouraged to enroll their trip with the Department of State through their Smart Traveller Enrollment Program or STEP for short. By enrolling in the STEP program, it will help facilitate communication in case of emergency either in the United States or the country the student is visiting.

Kaitlyn Powell is a freshman from Gainsville studying Criminal Justice at the University of North Florida. She hopes to study abroad next semester in England, and is currently in the process of finding a program.

“My mom is worried because of the terrorism, but she just wants me to be safe. I honestly don’t care. I’ve been wanting to go, and I will go no matter what.” Kaitlyn said.

She also mentions that since she is in the beginning process of picking a program she hasn’t really talked about health or safety regulations, but she is aware of the information on the website.

Ruth Lopez, who is the director of the International Center at the University of Florida, speaks about how the university chooses to continue or discontinue a program abroad. 

The UNF Travel Clinic also helps identify what kind of diseases students will be exposed to at the country they are traveling abroad to. Once they identify these diseases, the clinic will help provide immunizations like pills or vaccines to help prevent students from catching these diseases.Students are recommended to meet with the Travel Clinic six weeks before leaving the country.

The country-specific information packet also provides valuable information diseases found in that country. Some of the information includes how one can get the disease and steps students should take to prevent getting sick.

“Your body adapts to where you are at. Once you are there for a while, your body learns.” said Shane Biery, a public relations student at UNF.

For more information about health and safety while participating in a study abroad program, visit the International Center’s website through the following link: https://www.unf.edu/intlctr/Health_and_Safety.aspx.

On this site, you can find several of the country specific packets with valuable safety and health information. It also provides several links to several sites giving students more information on how to stay safe.

Eco Adventures at the University of North Florida

Spring Break is next week for students at the University of North Florida. Students can finally take a break from class, and start visiting the beach rather than the library. Many students choose to go home or travel to a different city, but some students do stay on campus during the break.

Due to it being Spring Break, a lot of the facilities at the University of North Florida are closed like the Game Room and Field House. So, what can these students do for fun? Some fun options include camping and hiking the nature trails.

Katie Nickelson goes over the process of checking-out gear and answers some questions you may have about renting equipment. Some equipment that is available include tents, sleeping bags, canoes and kayaks to name a few. Though the Eco Adventure office will be closed over Spring Break, students can still rent some equipment before the break and return it after Spring Break is over.

Don’t know where to camp? Not a problem. There is a camping site at Native Heart Island in the middle of Lake Oneida, which is all conveniently located at the University of North Florida. The shortest route to the camp site is about five minutes, but students may choose to walk through the 2.85 miles of the Goldenrod Trail.

Another activity students can do over break is hike the different nature trails. There are four nature trails that students can walk through during the day whenever they want to. The longest trail is the Goldenrod Trail, which can be made longer by adding different shorter trails. For example, add the Gopher Tortoise Ridge to admire the population of tortoises and other animals, or to visit the hidden Lake Surprise. These trails allow students not only to get out and get some fresh air, but also allows them to admire the flora and fauna at the University of North Florida.

 

All photos were taken by Alexandra Torres-Perez. 

Do You Like Curly Fries? Then, You Must Be Smart.

Thunderstorms, Morgan Freeman’s voice and curly fries. Though very different from each other, each of these things have one thing in common. They are all indicators that someone has a high IQ according to a study for the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS).

In the study, Michal Kosinsk, David Stillwell and Thore Graepel took a sample of around 58,000 Facebook users and examined each user’s Facebook Likes. From examining these Likes, they went on to predict what kind of personal characteristics the users had. There were a wide variety of characteristics that these examiners were able to determine like substance use (cigarettes, alcohol and drugs), party affiliation and emotional stability to name a few.

So, how does liking the curly fry page show intelligence? Even though both matters aren’t related, one theory suggests that these two can be linked through homophily.  Homophily is when people look for friends who are like them and have the same interests. The theory suggests that one intelligent individual started the curly fry page, which was then liked by his or her smart Facebook friends until there was a population of smart people on the page.

“I’ve been able to build models that can predict all sorts of hidden attributes for all of you that you don’t even know you’re sharing information about,” said Jennifer Golbeck in a TED Talk, “As scientists, we use that to help the way people interact online, but there’s less altruistic applications.”

For example, Golbeck mentions she could start a business selling reports about your attributes to businesses that want to hire you, and there is nothing you could do about it since it is posted for everyone to see. Some of the information predicted may be information you may not want to share. So, there is an invasion of privacy in that sense.

Due to this invasion of privacy, it is important to be aware of the risks you are taking when you post or even like something on Facebook or any other kind of social media site. By knowing what the risks are, you can choose whether or not to share something online.

“If users don’t want me to use that data, I think they should have the right to do that,” said Jennifer Golbeck, “ I want users to be informed and consenting users of the tools that we develop.”

 

 

Here is a link to the PNAS study:

http://www.pnas.org/content/110/15/5802.full.pdf?with-ds=yes

Here is a link to Jennifer Golbeck’s TED Talk:

 

Featured image of loaded curly fries provided by Arby’s website: http://arbys.com/our-menu/limited-time-offers/loaded-curly-fries

Safety and Health Abroad

 

The study abroad program at the University of North Florida sends over 600 students abroad to several different countries including France, Japan, Peru and Egypt to name a few. With recent terrorist attacks and development of the Zika virus, some students may find study abroad to be unsafe, but UNF has taken active steps to keep students safe and healthy. Ruth Lopez talks about what steps students must take before studying abroad, and also talks about things to avoid when in a different country.

Students are required to attend a safety session that goes over health and crime alerts. It gives students tips to stay safe while abroad like practicing the buddy system or staying away from large crowds or political events.

When abroad, students need to know how to be able to reach their emergency contact. Telephone systems are different around the world, so you want to make sure you can be able to call someone in case of an emergency. This includes making sure you can stay in touch with the U.S. Embassy.

The Embassy is who you want to contact during an emergency abroad, but students should also know how to contact local police. Note that 911 is not a universal number to contact police. Several countries have different numbers. For example, in South Korea, France and many other countries you want to dial 112, but in Brazil you want to dial 192.

The safety session also lists a couple of things students should do prior to their trip. For example, students are encouraged to give family members a schedule of what they are planning to do while they are abroad.

Students will also receive a country information packet from the State Department that goes over specific tips on how to stay safe in a particular country. This packet also includes very helpful information about the country’s demographics and political information.

Students are encouraged to enroll their trip with the Department of State through their Smart Traveller Enrollment Program or STEP for short. By enrolling in the STEP program, it will help facilitate communication in case of emergency either in the United States or the country the student is visiting.

Ruth Lopez, who is the director of the International Center at the University of Florida, speaks about how the university chooses to continue or discontinue a program abroad. 

The UNF Travel Clinic also helps identify what kind of diseases students will be exposed to at the country they are traveling abroad to. Once they identify these diseases, the clinic will help provide immunizations like pills or vaccines to help prevent students from catching these diseases.Students are recommended to meet with the Travel Clinic six weeks before leaving the country.

The country-specific information packet also provides valuable information diseases found in that country. Some of the information includes how one can get the disease and steps students should take to prevent getting sick.

 

Steve Wozniak’s Vision For the Future

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Tickets for Tuesday night’s event were sold-out. The audience eagerly waits to hear Steve Wozniak speak.

Co-founder of Apple Inc. Steve Wozniak spoke to a sold-out audience at the UNF Arena Tuesday night. President John Delaney asked Wozniak a variety of questions about his early life, work with Apple, and his hopes for future technology. Wozniak answered Delaney’s question with ease, and even gave audience members a look at what might be ahead in our future years.

After establishing Apple Inc. with Steve Jobs, Wozniak’s goal shifted from creating new technology to educating the younger generation to promote creativity and innovation. Wozniak taught computer classes to fifth graders for eight years after leaving Apple. Wozniak tells students to “find what you love, and take it out of class.”

“He spent the latter half of his life focusing more on children, the education, and providing younger generations the technology. As opposed to what he, himself could do or what he, himself could invent or patent.”

– Mattie Ledew (audience member)

He now travels and gives speeches at different locations hoping to aspire the next generation.  “If you try to get good at something when you are young, maybe that turns out to be the valuable things,” said Steve Wozniak to a group of high school students before the speech.

“It’s not about what they can do now, but what they can do five to ten years from now. I want kids to get into this mindset of I can do anything if I sit down and apply myself.”

-Mark McCombs (audience member)

Steve Wozniak hopes that with his influence he could inspire someone to follow his footsteps and “create things that have never existed.” Some of the things he sees around the corner include Amazon drones, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and self-driving cars. These ideas got the audience excited, and made them think about steps we could take to promote the innovation of technology.

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Steve Wozniak speaks about his early career in Apple and his future hopes for technology.

 

UNF student Jay Lacanilal mentions that a way to promote innovation is by staying up to date with technology as it moves forward. “I think that guidance counselors at high schools and advisors for incoming freshmen should push for more technical classes no matter what degree the students are studying for. This is to raise awareness since technology is in every field and always changing.”

Other audience members like Mark McCombs are already promoting children education in technology. McCombs is part of Renaissance Jacksonville that helps teach students from Kindergarten to 12th grade how to design and build robots for competitions. “The goal is to build more competitive robotics teams in North Florida than in anywhere in the country to get companies like Apple to relocate to take advantage of all the talent.” said Mark McCombs.

In the end, Wozniak’s message can be narrowed down to finding one’s passion and pursuing it to find happiness. For technology, this means building a foundation of kids who are eager to learn and create.

“This was the message: give the kids in the house the best computing powers that the family’s got and give the parents the hand-me-downs because the kids are the ones that are going to learn how to exploit it. They’re going to be the creative ones, the curious ones that go there, poke around and take it to the limits of what its abilities are while the parents are just going to mess around on Facebook.”

-Mark McCombs (audience member)

 

 

 

Yuval Ron Ensemble Performs at the University of North Florida

“Without you we are half, but with you we are a whole.”-Yuval Ron

The lights dimmed and the audience got quiet. Four people dressed in all white walked on stage, and the crowd applauded loudly welcoming the performers. They each sat in a chair in the middle of the stage and started tuning their instrument by ear. The woodwind player then started playing a hypnotic melody on the duduk. The sound of sparkling bells subtly joined the melody, but didn’t overpower the combination of sounds. The oud then joined and took over the melody with an added array of intricate notes that only mesmerized the audience more. The bells stopped and percussion was added to the mix making the music go faster. Then, a high female voice sang a simple melody that the audience could sing along to, which they did as the oudist conducted the audience. A duduk solo brought the song to a close, and the audience applauded for a wonderful performance by the Yuval Ron Ensemble. The oudist Yuval Ron then addressed the audience saying, “This is an unusual concert event. This gathering is a community circle, theatre, prayer, contemplation and celebration. We sit in a semi-circle. Without you we are a half, but with you we are a whole.”

The ensemble is made up of four people. Nourik Manoukian plays the woodwind instruments like the duduk, zuna and clarinet to name a few. Jami Papish is the percussionist. He played the bells as well as several different drums like the dumbek and udu drum. The singer is Najwa Gibran, and the oud player is Yuval Ron.  According to their website, “The Yuval Ron Ensemble endeavors to alleviate national, racial, religious and cultural divides by uniting the music and dance of the people of the Middle East into a unique mystical, spiritual and inspiring musical celebration.” They have won several awards for their music and promotion of peace across the world. Some awards include the Los Angeles Treasures Award and the Lincoln/Standing Bear Gold Medal. “It (the concert) certainly projected a mood, feeling, an appreciation for the different races and kinds of mankind, and the need of coming together to enjoy what God has given us, which is life,” said Joseph Board, an audience member.

The Yuval Ron Ensemble played a total of eleven songs from various backgrounds. Some of the music included Jewish prayers, Andalusian music, and chants in Yemeni, Israeli and Armenian. They also shared many stories that promoted peace and coexistence between Christians, Muslims and Jews. “Some of the stories are in my book,” Yuval Ron said, “Some of the stories happened to me. Several stories actually I experienced. There are several stories like Father Bruno that I get from different sources. Sometimes I read a newspaper article.  I like to incorporate them in my concert.” Towards the end of the concert, the Yuval Ron Ensemble invited the University of North Florida’s Women’s and Men’s Chorale to join them in their performance. Together, they sang a prayer of peace called “Zamman en Salam” (“This is the Time for Peace”). This piece was previously performed by a Palestinian choir at the Noble Piece Prize ceremony. The ensemble and choir also sang their version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” to bring the concert to a close. Audience members stood up and sang-along with the performers.

“It (the concert) certainly projected a mood, feeling, an appreciation for the different races and kinds of mankind, and the need of coming together to enjoy what God has given us, which is life.”-Joseph Board

The Yuval Ron Ensemble were hosted by OneJax as part of their “Oneness of Humanity” celebration. According to OneJax executive director Nancy Broner, “OneJax is an organization that is devoted to creating a city of inclusion and respect. Our motto is ‘Different Together.’ We hope people can find strength and beauty in our diversity in our cities through educational programs and events like this. We bring people together. We can understand better each other’s differences and celebrate the different cultures, religions, races, national origins. I mean all of the things that we find different about each other we also find very enriching. This is a perfect example of an opportunity to share cultural richness particularly of three faiths and cultural origins. What a beautiful way to celebrate together.”

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OneJax hosted this event as a part of the “Oneness of Humanity” celebration.