Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bullying, Safety, and Studying Aboard

Bullying, Safety, and Studying Aboard

Bullying, Safety, and Studying Aboard

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 03:54 PM PDT

Greeting, My name is Charron Monaye and I am a Playwright, Advocate against Bullying, member of Visionaries and Proud Mother from Philadelphia.

My question is in regarding Bullying. How can we ensure that our children are not being bullied, discriminated against, or humiliated while studying overseas, especially with other countries not sharing the same laws, protections, and freedoms as we do here in the states.

What policies or protections, do we have in place to ensure that our children are getting a quality education and free from hatred.

You can learn more about my mission and fight against bullying at Let's continue to fight against bullying!

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Building Mutual Relationships Through Exchange Programs

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 03:19 PM PDT

Thanks to U.S. Department of State sponsored study abroad programs like the Gilman Scholarship and Fulbright Program, I was provided the opportunity to learn about different global histories, cultures, and surprisingly, a great deal about the United States. I was introduced to unique stories and perspectives through conversations with people from all parts of the world. Study abroad programs provide the foundation for American students to build genuine and mutual relationships with citizens of other countries, which in return bolster bilateral relationships through the power of consistent civil society engagement.


As a Fulbright Scholar in Australia I learned for the first time that earth's unprecedented environmental changes continues to adversely impact the safety and security of millions of citizens residing on low-lying Pacific island states. I have used this new knowledge into a final thesis for my master's degree in global affairs, where I am working on identifying best practices and recommendations for the United States to develop long-term plans to assist Pacific islands to adapt and build resiliency in regard to our changing global environment.


Because of the significant personal and professional growth I experienced from traveling abroad, I am a major advocate for American students to study overseas, and for citizens from other countries to study in the United States. As a student who has benefited greatly from exchange programs, I have realized that similar programs aimed at building mutual relationships in the U.S. can positively contribute to the United States' education system and international relations. This idea would translate into a domestic version of the Fulbright Program where, for example, American high school students residing in New York State can spend one academic year studying at a high school in Tennessee State; education requirements, courses, and host families would be arranged through pre-established exchange agreements. A domestic exchange program will help foster mutual understanding among America's diverse citizens, which can potentially help increase the number of Americans who study abroad in the future.

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Citizens of the World

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 11:35 AM PDT

I imagined the relations between the U.S. and Iraq, had there been a student exchange program between the nations prior to 9/11. Would a cultural gulf exist between the two countries had there been cultural exchange programs established prior to the Gulf War? If President George Bush Sr./Jr and Sadaam Hussein took part as college students in a student exchange program, would their relationship be different?


I asked my self many questions as such before making the decision to study International Relations in London, U.K. I knew ignorance was the main cause of the many divisions which segregated international policies from country to country. Fear was the driving factor of past and current conflicts between nations, and remains till this day. I'd come to believe that a person who exposed themselves to ideals, traditions, and cultures outside of their norm, would be a person who could break down the barriers of ignorance, which cause us to fear one another. The United Nations, in my opinion, could be the ideal institution to promote such interaction, however too much in-fighting has weakened its position in the world.


The declining influence of the United Nations as an arbiter between nations, is a direct result of the declining number of students who study outside their homeland. I had a couple of friends in Africa before studying abroad, now I have friends in over 67 countries, some now politicians, businessmen/woman, CEO's, amongst other things. I understand the world a little more because I'm exposed to multiple perspectives, of many colors.


In order for the international community to progress, study abroad/and exchange programs must become a part of academic institutions in every country. It's one thing to hear about Islamic Culture, however to experience firsthand from a Muslim in Pakistan, is another thing. Heads of State must reform education as we know it in order for global progress to be achieved.

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Keep Digging Lads

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 10:37 AM PDT

Well this is day two at the disaster zone and there is still a massive amount of rubble on the ground that needs to be removed in order for the search to be continued.

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Stepping back into the happiest days of my life

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 09:56 AM PDT

My name is Kirti Nahar and I'm currently a junior concentrating in Marketing and Global Business Management at Babson College. Through Babson, I took advantage of the opportunity to study abroad in Perugia, Italy at the Umbra Institute from August - December 2013, aka the happiest days of my life. Studying abroad in such a small close knit community was one of the best decisions of my life. I got to travel, eat, study, work, and volunteer with students from all around the world and locals from right there in Perugia, giving me the chance to learn so many different perspectives on life. Stepping back from our busy U.S. lifestyles for 4 months was the perfect opportunity to just relax and reflect on the way we live our lives. It's incredible to see the differences in how Italians live versus Americans. The pace of life is so much more relaxed and family, food, and enjoying life are of utmost importance. As an American trend, it's normal to go to the grocery store at the beginning of the week and get everything we need for the rest of the week in order to save time and effort. Whereas, in Italy, you walk to the store once a day, if not before every meal, to ensure you get the freshest items to make even the simplest meal extraordinary. We as Americans, often tend to take these things for granted. Then, there are the small things we tend to forget that are in fact privileges, like being able to blow dry your hair, while doing the laundry, and while your dinner is baking in the oven; my roommates and I found out the hard way that it's not possible in every country. As a class trip one afternoon, we went to a local sustainable vineyard to help harvest the grapes and then enjoyed the most delicious meal cooked and served by the host family. That trip is one of my favorite memories from abroad because you could easily see how relaxed and happy everyone was with the simple task of picking grapes and then stomping on them to get the fresh grape juice. To finish the day, we had an incredible yet simple 5 course (standard) meal and played with the many adorable puppies on the vineyard. Going home that day, I realized that my friends and I would never spend such a quality day like that in America, because it just wouldn't be the normal thing to spend a day stomping on grapes and playing with puppies. I urge EVERYONE to study abroad and learn about all of the different cultures and lifestyles in the world. There are so many characteristics of other lifestyles worth picking up and adding to our own daily lives. If given the chance and time, I would go back in a heartbeat and begin the next 4 happiest months of my life.

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How Can We Help Parents Be Supportive of Kids Who Travel Abroad?

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 09:15 AM PDT

I was blessed to have a family who traveled and were very supportive when I was selected to study in Denmark at age 16. Today, I don'f find a lot of parents who support international travel. The kids can't go if their family will not support them. How to get the message out to more parents about how international travel can help their child grow?

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Photos from the Emerald Isle

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 09:01 AM PDT

These were over the course of two trips to Ireland.

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Reliable Sources with Marcus Harun

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 08:49 AM PDT

"Lifelong CNN fan and regular iReport contributor Marcus Harun has waited years to officially join the news team at CNN. Now, he asks CNN and Brian Stelter for a chance"

Thank you for taking the time to watch this video. I am applying for the "Staff Reporter Media" position.

My contact info: / / 203-823-8172

I am passionate about news, media and CNN. Anyone who has ever met me is aware of my dream to work at CNN. I am writing because I am interested in the "Staff Reporter Media" position.

I am interested in online video in combination with social media and written reporting, so I have produced this special video to go along with my application.

I started contributing to CNN iReport when I was in high school in 2007. Since then, I have been honored to appear on AC360°, The Situation Room, CNN Newsroom, and other CNN programs.

In the past six months, I submitted interview packages to iReport featuring a Nobel Prize winner, former ABC news anchor Charles Gibson, and an exoneree who was wrongly jailed for murder for 18 years. My exoneree package was featured on the front page of and CNN producers wrote an article about me following my Gibson interview.

Over the past three years, I have gained experience and connections in five different newsrooms, including NBC Nightly News. I wrote an article for about the Colorado movie theater shooting, which led the site as a top story and gained over 200,000 views in two days. Now, I am writing articles and producing videos for the websites of NBC's 10 Owned TV Stations, including NBC New York, on topics ranging from a behind-the-scenes look at NBC's Fourth of July Fireworks Broadcast to Olympian feature stories during the Sochi Games.

I am very happy CNN is investing in covering the media. Reliable Sources has done a great job covering the media on television, and increased coverage online will be beneficial, especially in the changing digital media industry. I am very excited about media innovation—I love observing the trends and seeing what is next for television and the web. I am very interested in seeing how the news industry develops on Instagram—it is my favorite social network, it has my largest social media following, and I have experimented with Instagram video news updates. I hope to bring that idea to CNNmoney, also.

I am a curious, hard-working innovator and I strive to work efficiently using technology. Please take a look at my website,, to see examples of my work. I am so excited at the possibility of finally joining your team and I am anxious to bring my innovative ideas to CNN.

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Post "100,000 Strong": Where to next?

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 08:08 AM PDT

Besides China, what other countries do you think American students should study abroad in?

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My question for First Lady Michelle Obama

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 07:30 AM PDT

For my opinion on studying abroad see my iReport at:

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Crossing Borders: The power of the study abroader in dismantling concepts of the 'other'

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 05:16 AM PDT

I can't think of the words 'world peace' without remembering watching Miss Congeniality as a kid, their association tied inextricably with mocking images of beauty pageants and a clumsy, belligerent Sandra Bullok. The seeming impossibility of such a state cannot put us off of its pursuit, however. And it hasn't. Together with many Americans, I pray for peace. I want it desperately, more than knowledge or power or money.


It is to this end, that I believe in the value, or rather the absolute necessity of promoting study abroad among American students. Peace has no chance, none at all, unless we actively seek to understand those who have become the 'other'. The best way I know of to break down the walls—both real and metaphorical—that have been erected between religious, ethnic, political, and cultural communities in today's world, is to cross the boundaries that divide us, armed with a determination to learn.


Going to a country and living in a community with a language and society different from one's own is terrifying, challenging, beautiful, and transformative. And what better way to build bridges between the diverse group of people that identify themselves as Americans and other communities in the world than to go abroad as an American student—by definition someone humbling themselves to learn, to listen, to observe, to experience life from a different cartographic perspective.


Learning another community's language, sharing meals, studying their history, culture, politics, these are the ways that we further the cause of peace in the world. We return from these study abroad experiences, from our semesters abroad, our Fulbright, Boren, and FLAS fellowships, as Americans who understand a little bit better the people that we share the world with and need to cooperate with to promote peace in the international community. My experiences studying in India, Nepal, Ireland, and Azerbaijan have taught me the importance of asking questions and being willing to listen to unexpected answers, of building relationships based on things more fundamental than race, religion, or borders, of sharing ideas and dreams that were born in different places but ultimately bind together the fabric of humanity.

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I've Been Exchanged

Posted: 13 Mar 2014 07:31 PM PDT

Everyone who lives must die, but not all who die have truly lived.


I'm not sure who said the above quote but it is something I have tried to live by my entire life, and it especially applies while I am on an exchange in Singapore. There is so much to see, to experience, and to learn... it's impossible to not be open to new things, to not have an open mind and an open heart if you really want to live and experience the culture. And that is what is so neat about being here. I've become friends with people from over twenty different countries, I've taught Cambodian children how to write letters, play games, and speak a little bit of French, I've jammed on guitars with a group of students from South Korea, Canada, and the Philippines, I've helped Singaporean's cook traditional meals for the lunar new year, and the list goes on and on. As a supplement to education, an exchange teaches you how to adapt. Chances are the schooling system will be entirely different than it is in the US and will force students to study, work, and think in creatively dynamic ways. But adaption will occur in more than just education. An exchange will evolve you as a person.


Enter: Singapore.


Due to its small size, Singapore has been dubbed the "Little Red Dot" and lives in the shadow of the larger countries surrounding it. If you can find it on a map, you will be amazed to discover that Singapore is a rising power in the global economy and home to an eclectic culture. The food is delicious, the people are friendly and ever helpful, and Changhi International Airport serves as a launching pad to the rest of Southeast Asia. With seventy dollar round trip tickets, the world is asking to be explored and I am happy to exploit it.


But first, an introduction:


My name is Ethan Higgins and I am a second year Aerospace Engineering student with a concentration in Astronautics. Last Fall I worked very hard for the opportunity to complete an exchange this semester and the experience is indubitably 110% worth the effort. By pursuing scholarship programs and financial aid, in particular the Freeman-Asia award, I was able to lower the cost enough to make one semester at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore less expensive, by a few hundred dollars, than one semester at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona. This includes housing, food, travel, school supplies, and various other expenses I have encountered. In other words if you are worried about the financial burden of venturing abroad, don't be. The money is out there, it just takes a little bit of digging to find it. The experiences will pay you back tenfold.


The People:


Singapore is a cultural melting pot and I have been thrown into the thick of it. I've become friends with students and adults from over twenty different countries in the short time I have been here and it is fascinating to hear everyone's back stories: where they came from, why travel to Singapore, what is home like, etc… I find human interaction particular fun and befriending strangers is something I always try to do. This, however, was not always the case. Before I came abroad I was a shy engineering student, slow to make friends and quick to do things on my own. Singapore has changed that. After attending a Buddhism conference I have found a lot of time for introspection. I have learned incredible things about myself and have become an outgoing individual, always looking forward to the next cultural immersion with a positive attitude. This is the beauty of an exchange. In the poem Ulysses, Alfred Lord Tennyson says, "I am a part of all that I have met." This implies that the experiences we face in life will shape who we are, and who we will become. An exchange has provided me with the opportunity to face years' worth of new experiences in just five months, and I couldn't be happier with the results.


The Food:


Is delicious. At the hawker centres (outdoor food courts) one can find a potpourri of delicious dishes from countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Japan, Korea, China, and of course some local Singaporean favorites. For four Singapore dollars (three USD) one can eat like a king with a heaping plate of freshly cooked rice, two types of deliciously spicy and flavorful meat, and a big pile of steamed veggies. Not the meal for you? Try the delicious Singaporean chili crab, or the plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables from neighboring countries, or the delicious seafood that is fresh from the Malacca straights. Coffee drinker? Java in Indonesia is home to some of the world's most delicious brews. What is not to love about that?


The Education:


Singapore has become a technologically savvy nation and this becomes apparent within the educational system. All of the lectures are recorded and put online for later reference, the lecture halls are equipped with document viewers, microphones, and three projectors with huge screens, the libraries are dotted with learning portals, alcoves of technology to aid students in their studies, and even the bathrooms have the latest in green technology. As for the courses, the final exams here are worth 80% of the course grade. This is quite a bit heftier than back in the US which means more study and less play, but in the end it is manageable. The material is very similar but is finally in SI units rather than imperial. I cannot wait for the day that the US switches over to SI units!


The Travel:


There is no experience like stepping out of the airport with a single backpack into a country you know very little about and taking that first step into adventure. It is incredibly invigorating. And in a country like Singapore, it is easy to experience this. I have visited Cambodia so far and plan to explore Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Myanmar before the semester is out. It is affordable to travel once you make it over to the host country and I would highly recommend doing so. The experiences are phenomenal.


Would I complete an exchange a second time?




Where would I choose to go the second time?


I have no preference. The world is huge. It is incredibly diverse and every country has a wealth of culture to offer the adventurous, the patient, and the optimistic. Open your eyes when you travel. Take some time to slow down, to talk to strangers, to have tea with new friends. You will be amazed at the stories you hear, the friends you make, and adventures you experience. I have worked hard for these experiences and it is perhaps the best choice I have made in my life. After all, this is my life and I am living.


Pura Vita.



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Posted: 13 Mar 2014 05:39 PM PDT

March 13, 2014, Vatican City State. It is a holiday here. It celebrated the first year anniversary of the 'People's Pope' and 'Person of the Year'. Pope Francis' simple lifestyle and love for the poor who shepherds and brings out the church to the periphery, away from the Vatican centered curia, to the life of the people especially the poor had successfully brought about some changes, perhaps not on what his words said, but primarily some of his actions captured by cameras kissing children, a deformed man and the feet of prisoners—women and Muslims. These were only the beginning after riding a bus with other cardinals, paid his own hotel bills a day after his election, and his decision to live not in the papal palace but in an apartment inside the Vatican. No red shoes, nor limousines, nor precious things are visible in him. Without all these, perhaps, a simple and humble person will become a bit more visible.


Elected from the 'ends of the world', an Argentinian Jesuit Mario Cardinal Bergoglio began to introduce some fresh images of the church to the 'ends of the world', as the bishop of Rome who has chosen to call himself Pope Francis after one of the most revered saint and lover of nature, Saint Francis of Assisi.


Recalling my own experiences, while I waited for over four hours at St. Peter's square to get a good spot and to witness such an historic event. The rain, hunger and exhaustion standing for hours are nothing compared to the excitements of thousands of people who came to St. Peter's Square. An umbrella, a camera and a copy newspaper with all the pictures of cardinals were important things I had with me on that day besides the emotions of seeing the new pope for the first time.


All eyes: cameras, televisions and the eyes of the crowds were all glued on the chimney. Black or White? The color of the smoke tells it all. That evening, after 7 in the evening, it came out white. The crowd went wild, excited and at the same time curious.


After almost an hour, the white smoke disappeared and the bells were silent, the most awaited words were uttered: "Habemus Papam!" We have a Pope! Mario Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina became to be known as Pope Francis. Before giving his apostolic blessing, he prayed and asked the people "pray for me!"


Like many people, I faithfully followed Pope Francis by reading his homilies, encyclical and speeches. In fact I met him and kissed his papal ring four days after his election at St. Anne's Church inside the Vatican administered by the Augustinian Friars.


On his first anniversary, Pope Francis went for a Lenten retreat away from the Vatican.


Looking at the papal palace, I found it ironic to think that there are two living popes, Benedict XVI and Francis yet the papal residence remains empty for a year now. I used to look at the window where the pope lived, across St. Monica's College to see if the pope is still awake after 11p.m. I saw the lights in that room during the times of Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI but had never seen it since Pope Francis was elected. Well, he is somewhere else. Some speculated that he went out secretly to give food to the poor at night, other simply said, he is resting like many others to regain his strength for another day at Santa Martha's residence.


Before going to bed, I took these night photographs. It is a completely reverse image. Last year, on this terrace, the media occupied it to cover the Conclave but now I am the only one around. No crowds, no television coverage and not even the pope around. But in the silence of this night, I am still expecting more excitements, surprises and new ways of looking at the church, spirituality and the joy of having surrounded by the mercy of God.


The pope asked for prayers. Therefore, I offered my prayers for him today, for the poor and those that God loved the most, sinners.


(Francis Galvan)

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Posted: 13 Mar 2014 03:11 PM PDT

I have done 4 different study abroad programs on 4 continents since 2001. It started in high school when I participated in the Rotary Club's Youth Ambassador Program, studying for a year in FInland and getting to know Europe. In 2008 I did a history-based study abroad through Santa Barbara City College to China and Vietnam, living in Jinan and Hanoi. From 2010-2011 I lived in the "cidade maravilhosa," Rio de Janeiro, studying Politcal Science and History at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro through a program with University of California, Santa Barbara. Last year I was awarded a Boren Fellowship to participate in a Portuguese language program in Maputo, Mozambique, and to conduct my own independent Master's research there. All of my study abroad programs have led to new friendships, new adventures, and more self confident. I have repelled into caves, swam with whale sharks and manta rays, jumped into holes in ice covered lakes, and at least attempted to learn to dance samba. I did all this while learning more about the history and culture of the places I have visited and creating life-long bonds with local and international students along the way to a Master's Degree in Global and International Studies. I have now visited nearly 40 countries and hope to continue increasing that number.

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