Christmas: all about the presence
Nov15

Christmas: all about the presence

By Katie Maze As the holidays approach, on-campus organizations aren’t wasting any time preparing a joyful holiday experience for the less fortunate. The Spanish Club held its second annual Salsa Night to collect items and spread awareness for Operation Christmas Child, a project created by Samaritan’s Purse to send shoe boxes filled with toys, school supplies and necessities for children in impoverished countries around the world. “We created this event to share the culture with a salsa class. It ended up being a mixture of cultural awareness, gathering toys and, of course, having fun,” said Director for the Spanish club Dr. Rubi Ugofsky-Mendez as she stood in the middle of the whirling crowd inside Shelton Theater.  “Just to make sure we contribute to somebody’s Christmas is thrilling.” Coincidentally, the same day, Nov. 1, was a prominent Mexican holiday, Dia de Los Muertos, celebrated by remembering deceased loved ones through food, dancing and altars designed to remember them. This year’s patron was Elvis. “We needed someone dead,” said Vice President Mariana Jauregui. “The altar is something that people do to honor the dead. They can put pictures or anything that reminds them of their relatives.  We used Elvis as an example with his pictures because, well, who doesn’t know and love Elvis?” The energy, laughter and mutual embarrassment shared by those who were brave enough to participate in the dance lesson created a friendly atmosphere for the task at hand. Ugofsky-Mendez said this year is her first time to be involved with the operation, although the club has a startling 15-year run with OCC. “We couldn’t do it without the support of the department,” she said. “They are so supportive and busy doing whatever needs to be done. I have a feeling this year will be a great success.” The Spanish Club, however, is not alone in its efforts. For the past three years, the women’s basketball team has packed and distributed boxes to local collection sites in Belton. This year, Head Coach Kim Kirkpatrick-Thorton said the team wanted to involve the rest of the school. “I love the simplicity of what you can do to provide for and meet the needs for ‘the least of these.’ It’s not just a chance for a community service project for us, but it’s a chance to reach out a little bit beyond the borders we could normally reach.” Kirkpatrick-Thorton explained that this time of year is an important experience and highlight for team members to bond with each other off the basketball court. “It gives them a chance to get to know each other on a personal level and to help those...

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Non-profit aids Ugandan victims
Nov15

Non-profit aids Ugandan victims

Editorial The Bells Staff Civil war has been tearing apart the African country of Uganda for more than 20 years. The Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony has devastated Uganda with mass violence and countless abductions. In 2003 a group of young film makers went to Africa in search of a story. They found it when they discovered the “night commuters,” children who leave their homes every night to go sleep in the safety of a shelter. The LRA abducts these children, gives them a gun, and in many cases forces them to kill their families to forge their allegiance to the LRA as child soldiers. Appalled, provoked and earnest to help, Jason Russel, Bobby Bailey and Laren Poole founded Invisible Children, a non-profit organization focused on rescuing child soldiers and protecting the people of Uganda. Invisible Children is a great way for people to learn exactly what is happening on the other side of the world. The website is helpful, and it allows people to make donations to a good cause as well as increase awareness in communities. Getting on the LRA Crisis Tracker online should open the public’s eyes to what is going on in these people’s lives and the fear  they live in every day. One certainly could not imagine having neighbors and relatives bound to trees and massacred on a regular basis, or their house being ransacked and all of their belongings stolen. These are the things many Ugandans live with constantly, due to the evil and greedy ways of the rebel group. Americans need to remember to keep these people and their circumstances in their daily prayers. Hopefully more people will join this movement to help children who are in such desperate need of attention and care. The work that Invisible Children has been doing for the past several years is really quite admirable, especially in raising awareness and making others listen. The most heartbreaking part of the whole situation is that people know and yet seldom do anything about it. Right now, thousands are suffering from this cruel and unnecessary war, yet here in America, we are so consumed with the latest scandal and celebrity gossip, that it continues to happen as we pretend these children and their captures do not exist. If those who are able to do something, even a little something, in the same way those with Invisible Children have, there is no reason why this injustice cannot be stopped. With their new Frontline tour, Invisible Children, Inc. will tour the U.S. taking donations to speak and raise awareness in communities all over the country. The University of Mary...

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Indians in American Politics

By Natasha Christian With a population of more than 2.8 million Indians living in the U.S., the rise of Indian politicians in American government is long overdue. Joining the club with high profile politicians like Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Texas’ own Rick Perry, are Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and several other South Asians who have taken their place in American politics. Currently 15 Indians are involved in different areas of government. While the majority represents the Republican Party, a few have chosen to be part of the Democratic Party. Mayors, senators, representatives and governors are slowly but surely allowing themselves to be voices for Indian-American everywhere. The very first Indian to make it to Washington, D.C., was Dalip Singh Saund in Jan. 1957. The Indian-born American emigrate, served in the U.S. House of Representatives for California District 29. Nearly 50 years later, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal came onto the political scene. Jindal is the first Indian-American governor. He was born in Louisiana a few months after his parents flew over from India. A major conflict of interest for some Indians is his conversion from his parent’s Hinduism faith to the U.S.’s dominant religion, Christianity. Older Indians who have emigrated from southern Asia disapprove of Jindal’s transition and believe he cannot truly represent the entire Indian population. However, they do not realize that Hinduism is not the only religion. Muslims, Christians and even Jewish Indians live in the land of the free. Barely five weeks ago, Jindal kept his reign as current governor. He won the re-election with an impressive 60 percent of votes. Strongly due to his efforts after the disastrous BP oil spill of April 2010, Jindal proved to natives of Louisiana that he knew what it took to be governor of their state. Jindal is not the only one to stray from India’s basic roots. American born Namrita “Nikki” Haley is an Indian politician who abandoned the traditional religion. She is currently the youngest serving governor and the first female non-white governor of South Carolina. With an Indian culture aimed at male bravado, Haley has proved in both American and Indian cultures that she can compete with the men in a male-dominated field. During her first campaign, Haley was endorsed by current presidential nominee Mitt Romney and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. In addition, she is gradually becoming part of the Tea Party movement. She can quickly lose interest of the younger Indian crowd because of her partnership with Sarah Palin and growing involvement with the right-wing Tea Party. Other notable Indian-Americans include, Iowa State Senator Swati Dandekar. Kumar Barve,...

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Chocolate companies linked to child slavery and human trafficking

By Natasha Christian America’s love for chocolate has no borders. From dipping everything imaginable into chocolate fondue to the classic story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the candy has melted its way into American hearts. Major chocolate corporations feed the hunger America has for chocolate. However, a tragic trend  is slowly dominating headlines about companies that practice unethical production, using human trafficking and child slavery on the cocoa farms. The businesses receive cocoa from fields in West Africa, which use improper child labor and illegal human trade to harvest and pick cocoa beans to supply the ingredient on a mass scale for American   companies. Nell Green works as an Internationals Ministry Network coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. She represented the organization during UMHB’s Mission Emphasis Week last month and gave a brief explanation of the issue during a human trafficking seminar. She said, “Organizations … have been identified, have been chastised, have been fined. … Yet they still refuse to correct their act.” For senior psychology major Amanda Gigante, who attended  Green’s seminar, the irony of the situation is appalling. She said, “America represents freedom…. And doing these things, such as having child labor, I believe that’s just against what America is. It’s wrong.” Chocolate companies have known about the child slavery for a decade. However, they are not taking legal action to  protect the children. A national protest has ensued. A petition to legalize Fair Trade 2012, an act to end child slavery specifically on cocoa plants, is gaining momentum across the nation. So is a boycott of chocolate businesses that use slave labor. Countries in West Africa, like Ghana and the Ivory Coast, predominately profit from cocoa plants and supply the beans globally. They are also well known for adult and child slavery. Due to so many cocoa farms, owners use “quick and able bodies,” Green said, to plant and also pick the beans. The conditions the children face are horrific, and the abusive system takes a toll physically and emotionally on the workers. Green said, “Those who own the fields and those who are buying from these fields know that these families are in a vulnerable situation. … So the children are forced to work extremely long hours … and they can abuse the giving of salaries.” Because Africa has some of the poorest nations, child labor is not only an option but a necessity for many families. Green said, “You have to understand the extreme poverty of the Third World country. There is no description.” To prevent forced labor and provide a legitimate wage for child workers on the farms, she believes...

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Non-traditional students seek to find niche

By Nicole Johnson It is the middle of the afternoon and freshman interdisciplinary studies major Lori McDaniel is finally bound for home after a grueling overnight shift at work followed by an exhausting full day of class. The 44-year-old single mother now has to focus her attention on the most important aspect of her life, which is being the matriarch of her family. She, along with more than 20 percent of the student population, is considered a non-traditional student. The term is used for students over the age of 25, married or who have children. For many, finding a balance between school, work, raising children and being a spouse is a task that is easier said than done. But for McDaniel, the problem is overcome by sheer determination and standing strong in her faith. “The one thing that works for me is always, before anything else, make sure that you have that time alone with God sometime during the day. You have to make that a priority. And then everything else tends to fall into place,” she said. McDaniel explained that the advantage of being a non-traditional student is she brings life experiences to the classroom. While her professors are speaking about certain issues and events, she can relate because she has lived through them. The disadvantage, however, is the generation gap. Being substantially older than her peers creates uncomfortable circumstances that result in being an outsider. Graduate management student Ruby Bowen, 32, is a wife, a mother, works full-time and is currently pursuing her life-long dream of becoming a commercial pilot. She explained that when her higher education journey began, she struggled with finding her place. “You don’t really fit in anywhere. You need someone to point out where you can fit in,” she said.  “I did not feel like I fit in when I first started college. I felt like I had to go ‘hey guys, notice me.’” Over time Bowen became involved in activities at the university that aided her integration into student life. She motivates other non-traditional students to do the same.    “Find your niche. And if there isn’t one, then make it,” she said. “That’s the best thing you can do. You just have to make yourself get involved.” Non-traditional students have many reasons for pursuing a degree in this season of their life. For some it is a matter of raising their children before receiving their degree while others do it for the success of their family. Many students just want to simply begin a quest toward a deferred dream. But for senior art education major Iona Gazzola, it was all of...

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