Monthly Archives: January 2014

Happy Chinese New Year!

Tomorrow is the first day of the 15-day celebration of the Chinese New Year! The IU South Bend Chinese Student Association (CSA) is celebrating the holiday at the Student Activities Center (SAC) in rooms 221 & 223 from 10:30 am-1:00pm tomorrow, Friday, January 31st, 2014. The CSA invites everyone to join them for free lunch, interesting games, and prizes! If you have any question, please feel free to send email via

Happy Horse Year!

Every year, Chinese New Year is celebrated by the Chinese populations around the world. This year, the Chinese are celebrating the year of the horse on January 31, 2014. Traditionally, Chinese New Year is often referred to as the “Lunar New Year” (农历新年), but it is also referred to as “Spring Festival” (春节) throughout China. The Chinese New Year is considered a public holiday in many Southeast Asian countries like China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan), Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, and in any Chinatown where large populations of Chinese descendants reside. To celebrate, people watch movies emphasizing family values, sing songs wishing everyone longevity and prosperity, and make homemade goods for gift exchange between families.  Red banners are hung in both homes and businesses, red tableware are used, and red clothing is worn, as red symbolizes good luck for the new year.

There are 15 days of the celebration, but the preparation begins 8 days prior to the first day of new year, including a couple days dedicated to properly clean the house. Chinese New Year’s Eve (除夕) is very important because of the reunion dinner, also known as 团圆饭, or reunion dinner, where all family members gather for dinner. The first day of the Chinese New Year is dedicated to giving thanks to the deities and honoring the deceased in the morning, as well as visiting the elders and seniors in the paternal family bearing gifts. The second day of the Chinese New Year, more visits are to be made to the in-laws, the rest of the relatives, and close friends. By the third day, the holiday is over but the celebration continues in various ways: performing rituals on designated days, visiting the temples to pray for another prosperous year, and eating…lots of eating.

an example photo taken from web.

Reunion dinner- an example photo taken from web.

Making all the visits may be dreadful for married couples, but it is a most entertaining and profitable time for children and teenagers because cultural values and traditional custom dictate that the elderly and married couples are to pass out 红包,pronounced “hong  bao” (red envelopes or packets that contains money) to children and unmarried individuals — but not unless they’re asked for! The phrase used to request a red envelope is 恭喜发财, pronounced “gong xi fa cai” in Mandarin or “kung hei fat choy” in Cantonese, congratulating others with a wish for another prosperous year and good fortune. So, happy Chinese New Year everyone! Don’t forget the event hosted by the CSA in SAC 221 & 223 for free Chinese food — and stay for a few games!

Red envelopes sold in markets in different designs.

Red envelopes sold in markets in different designs.


A Forgotten Holocaust

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, so we are taking a moment to remember the victims of the Holocaust.  I’d like to discuss, in particular, some of the forgotten members of Holocaust. Most people know of the Nazi extermination of 6 million Jews, but unfortunately, few people know that the Nazis also murdered 6 million other people in their camps and death squads. Most of these remaining people were Slavs, but there were also 2 million Gypsies and 15,000 homosexuals.


German and Austrian homosexuals were sent to concentrations camps as “defilers of German blood” and for participating in acts that were against “wholesome popular sentiment.” The Gestapo raided gay bars, arrested the patrons, and used their address books and other personal artifacts to hunt other homosexuals.

ImageHomosexuals, arrested for no other reason than hatred, were sent to concentration camps for “rehabilitation.” At the camps homosexuals were forced to wear an upside-down pink triangle. If they were Jewish, one half of the two triangles that make up the Star of David was pink while the other was yellow, the typical color for Jews in the camp. Homosexuals were specifically targeted by the SS for hormone experiments, and several hundred were castrated. The pink triangle also singled out homosexuals in the camps for special humiliation, torture, and sexual abuse.

ImageThe investigation of homosexual persecution is a late development in Holocaust studies and only gained prominence after homosexual Holocaust survivors started talking out in the open about their brutal oppression, including Heinz Heger’s beautifully written, but haunting memoir, The Men with the Pink Triangle.

The Nazis designed the pink triangle as an instrument to shame. Currently, the triangle is often displayed inverted from the Nazi symbol, and it has become an international symbol of gay pride. Please take a moment today and remember all victims of the Holocaust.



Berlin/Prague Program Jan. 31 Deadline Approaching

The deadline to apply to the summer program in Berlin and Prague is just 10 days away, on January 31, 2014.  Here are some details:

  • Travel is from June 8 to June 24, 2014, with classes meeting from May 19 to June 30, 2014.
  • 6 credits for HIST-T190 (Literary & Intellectual Traditions) and ENG-A399 (Art, Aesthetics and Creativity), which count toward degree requirements for History Majors and Creative Writing Minors, and toward General Education electives for all students.
  • You do not need to speak a foreign language to attend. All classes are in English.
  • You can use financial aid, including loans, grants and scholarships, to pay for the program.
  • Submit the application to Prof. Lisa Zwicker or Prof. Kelcey Parker by January 31, 2014.

For more information, including a video about the program, click here.

Not sure if these cities suit your fancy?  Check out what had to say about Prague:

[T]he City of a Thousand Spires has become one of Europe’s hippest travel destinations — a cosmopolitan city where culture buffs and pleasure seekers mingle happily in chic cafés and Gothic cathedrals. Whether you’re sleeping at a former monastery turned five-star hotel or dancing in a onetime nuclear bunker, you’ll quickly realize that in Prague, the unconventional is conventional: after all, this is Bohemia.


Prague, Czech Republic

If that’s not enough for you, the Huffington Post calls Berlin “the most interesting city in Europe“; HuffPo blogger Melissa Biggs Bradley says, “Berlin is one of the most exciting, provocative and stimulating places I have ever visited.”

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

This is a fantastic opportunity for students of any major.  Download and submit your application today!

If this trip still doesn’t pique your interest, submit your application for the Florence, Costa Rica or Mexico trip instead!

Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social – Healthcare in Costa Rica

Next July, the International Studies Program is hosting a trip to Costa Rica entitled “Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Costa Rica.”  As a part of our continuing Healthcare Series, and because it’s so germane, today we’re taking a look at Costa Rica’s healthcare systems.

Costa Rica offers universal healthcare coverage, with an individual mandate, under both public and private insurance options.  The cost for public insurance is split among the one’s worker, his employer, and the state, with the worker contributing approximately 10 – 11.5% of one’s income.  Private insurance is slightly more expensive, but it’s still significantly less expensive than healthcare in the United States.  In fact, private medical insurance costs, on average, $60 to $130 per month — about one-third to one-fifth the average cost of care in the U.S.  Still, private insurance is only carried by about 2% of residents of Costa Rica.

The quality of care is considered to be excellent.  Facilities are well cared for and receive regular upgrades.  Many doctors were trained in Europe, Canada, or the United States, speak English, and will even make house calls for a reasonable cost.

Medicine is handled slightly differently in Costa Rica.  Many drugs that require a prescription in the U.S., like birth control pills and migraine medication, are sold over-the-counter in Costa Rica.  Often, the first trip someone who isn’t feeling well will take is to the pharmacy to discuss it with his local pharmacist.  If the pharmacist can’t help or believes it’s a more serious problem, he or she will send the patient to the doctor.

The low cost, high quality care in Costa Rica has led to a rise in medical tourism in the beautiful country:  around forty thousand people traveled to Costa Rica in 2011 for the primary purpose of seeking medical or dental care.  Often, even when considering airfare, lodging, and other travel-associated expenses, they save money on their treatment — and get to see some beautiful scenery while they’re at it.



Food and Culture

I believe the best way to explore a culture is through your taste buds. You can read all the travel guides you want, study the geography all you want and memorize all the different colors of the flags that you could remember, but there is nothing more satisfying, pleasing and remarkable for you (and your taste buds) to remember a cultural experience by dining in a local authentic restaurant in its native land or having a home cooked meal prepared by a native.

Being an amateur cook myself, I’m always looking for different opportunities to learn about international cuisines. Every year, the IUSB Japanese club hosts a “sushi demonstration” event in the University Grille to promote the Japanese culture on campus. This year, in addition to the sushi demonstration, they also incorporated a “mochi demonstration” that allows students to taste not only the traditional Japanese cuisine, but also learn how to prepare the delicacy. Organizing the event requires an abundance of hard work and dedication because Prof. Green, the Japanese club adviser and Japanese language professor at IUSB, emphasizes food quality and selects only the best ingredients to serve the campus-wide attendees.

Prof. Green during the Sushi and Mochi demonstration in the University Grill

Prof. Green during the Sushi and Mochi demonstration in the University Grill

Sushi is a common Japanese dish constituted of a mixture of cooked, chilled rice and rice vinegar topped with a choice of sliced raw fish, cooked eel or eggs.  It can also be formed into a roll by placing the rice and thin strips of vegetables on top of a sheet of seaweed, rolled and cut into small pieces for serving. Mochi, on the other hand, is a dessert made of cooked sweet glutinous rice stuffed or served with azuki red bean paste coated with a flavored flour or powder.

Make-your-own sushi plate

Make-your-own sushi plate

Many people frown upon foreign cuisines because of the way it looks or the strange pronunciation of the name of a certain ingredient. Personally, I believe in not judging a meal by its name or looks. Have the courage to step out of your comfort zone and challenge your palates today! Allow your taste buds to guide you as you take baby steps to diversify your understanding of a foreign culture by eating your way through your adventure.