Author Archives: aiwanie

About aiwanie

A mother, a full-time college student and a "third culture kid" who never thought she would become a blogger.


A group of 15 IUSB students began their study abroad experience after arriving in Mexico City last week along with Prof. Vanderveen and Prof. Davis. Above is the group photo taken in the indigenous site of the world’s largest pyramid (in terms of volume) in Cholula, Mexico. Later in the week, the group visited la Casa hogar hijos de la luna with Piñatas and tres leche cake. Recently, the group spent half the day in Monte Alban learning about the Precolombian archaeological site. If you are interested in knowing more of the 2014 Oaxaca study abroad program, follow our group on Facebook! ¡Oaxaca 2014!


Nelson López Rojas: El Salvador in Exile

On Friday, February 21, the IU South Bend Spanish Club hosted “El Salvador in Exilewith Professor Nelson López Rojas as a guest speaker

This presentation explored the current post-war situation of this Central American nation through the eyes of an exile. In his biomithographical book Semos malos (We’re Evil), Nelson López Rojas surveys the different facets of what it meant to grow up in a country at war and what people can learn of his experiences in his country now “at peace.”

Semos malos

“Yo no tengo patria: mitos e historias del terruño olvidado”.

In 1932, Salvadoran writer Salarrué was confronted by the rest of the academics of his country in order to get him react to the killings of thousands of peasants in western El Salvador. His answer was, “I don’t have a country, I have a piece of land that I call Cuscatlán.” A year later, Salarrué published a book of short stories that tell the life of these indigenes before the massacre. One story is Semos malos, and Nelson López Rojas borrowed the name of this story for his book in which he describes that so many years after The Massacre, still, “Semos malos” (We’re evil).

Mindgames/ Juegos de la memoria

Mindgames is a collection of poems that depict the life of an immigrant in the U.S.: having one leg here and one leg in their country of origin.

Nelson López Rojas is a Visiting Professor of Spanish at Marquette University. His interests range from Latin American Studies to Translation Studies. He is currently working on a translation of a book about the aftermath of peace in El Salvador.

Nelson López Rojas

“Talk Study Abroad, Eat Pizza” Recap

Did you miss the “Eat Pizza, Talk Study Abroad” event hosted by the Office of International Programs on Wednesday, Feb 12th? International-minded students with oversea studies interests gathered at the Grill in Fireside B at noon to discuss the possibility of participating in the study abroad programs available at IUSB. Currently, there are three study abroad programs available for the remaining academic year still accepting applications.

1. Costa Rica: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Trip Dates: Jul 5-Jul 19, 2014
Application Deadline: Feb 24, 2014
Trip Leader: Kristyn Quimby (

2. Florence: Painting and Sculpting
Trip Dates: Jun 19-Jul 18, 2014
Application Deadline: Feb 24, 2014
Trip Leaders: Dora Natella (, Ron Monama (

3. Mexico: Language, Culture and Society
Trip Dates: Jul 11-Aug 9, 2014
Application Deadline: March 20, 2014
Trip Leaders: John Davis (, Jay VanderVeen (

Can’t wait to apply? Here’s the link to the application on our website:

In addition to the trips administrated by faculties at IU South Bend, there are over 250 overseas study programs, in 52 countries, speaking 17 different languages, administrated by Indiana University on all eight IU campuses. Every year, a study abroad advisor from IU Bloomington visits our campus to promote the oversea programs. This year, Danielle M. Samek, an experienced study abroad advisor working with IUSB students, succeeded in sending few of our fellow students abroad.

Faneromeni, a senior at IUSB, stated in response to her experience working with Danielle Samek, “She is an amazing person to work with! I had the pleasure of working with her and she would respond thoroughly to every question I had about the program. She is extremely helpful and supportive. I don’t think I would have made it if I didn’t have her help, advice and encouragement throughout the entire process”!

Another student, Daniela, said, “Studying abroad is an experience of a lifetime, but you have to be ready for all that studying abroad entails, before and during. Working with the program in Bloomington was a pleasant experience. I would definitely encourage students from IUSB to look at all your possibilities with the IU programs so that you can find a program that fits your ambition”.

Study abroad advisor contact information:

Danielle M Samek (
Leo R. Dowling International Ctr.     (812) 855-9304 appointments
111 S. Jordan Avenue                         (812) 855-1145 phone
Bloomington, IN 47405-7709            (812) 855-6452 fax

For more information, please visit

“Sky lanterns”, or 天灯, originated during China’s Three Kingdom Period.  They were invented by Zhuge Kongming, an extraordinary elite, an exceptional military strategist, and a remarkable advisor of the state.  Kongming was unfortunately trapped in the enemy’s state, and was unable to send for help from his allies. It was under those circumstances that Kongming invented a used feather-weight paper or fabric, bamboo materials for a cage-like construction, and a small dish of oil along to successfully make a “sky lantern,” or hot air balloon.  With the help of his wind speed calculations, his invention was able to fly in the necessary direction for him to receive assistance. The “sky lantern” is also referred to as, 孔明灯, or “Kongming lantern”.

So how did this invention become a modern-day “make a wish” tradition in China? Legend has it that because the day Kongming signaled for help happened to be the fifteenth day of the Chinese Lunar New Year (which falls on February 14 this year), people began to use the lanterns on this day to symbolically signal their safety to their distanced family.  Instead of seeking help, as Kongming had, they began to write down their wishes for their loved ones, hoping that the lantern would carry them to the gods in the heavens for blessing. The tradition continues today throughout Asia with various forms of celebration in China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia and different regions around the world where Chinese heritage is observed, respected and celebrated.

Warning: Launching paper lanterns can lead to a fire hazard and is a potential threat to the environment if it is not monitored properly. Please be advised that despite the biodegradable materials of the Chinese lanterns, the lantern will eventually land in a different area that may cause potential fire hazard for others. Please be sure to read all warnings and follow the instructions as provided by the vendor prior to the occasion.

"Wish with the Chancellor"- Photo by Ai Wan Choong

“Wish with the Chancellor”- Photo by Ai Wan Choong

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.

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.

Mid-Autumn Festival and the IU South Bend Chinese Student Association

Earlier this semester, the Chinese Student Association and the Taiwanese Student Association co-hosted an event to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, a traditional harvest festival celebrated throughout China and Southeast Asia. Despite the cool weather, the celebration took place from 3-6pm at the Potawatomi Park with food, entertainment and great company!


Similar to the Thanksgiving celebrated in the United States, without the turkey, corn bread and sweet potatoes, the Mid-Autumn Festival is dedicated to giving thanks to the gods for the harvest. Traditional celebration includes people spending the day of the festival in local temples in the morning participating in different ceremonies for current and future harvests. Later, all members of the family would enjoy a meal together around the round dining table typically found in Chinese homes followed by an evening spent observing the full moon while partaking in a piece of round mooncakes. (As rooted in the Chinese culture, round or roundedness is essential because it symbolizes unity and completeness). In modern days, in spite of the changes through modernization, the festivity remains significant to the culture.


As presented during the celebration last week, Joy Qiu, the Chinese Student Association president, gave us an insight on the variety of celebration of the same festival in different regions. In major cities of China, parades are a necessity for the valuable festival, as well as in other countries where Chinese people resides. In addition, Ethan Chung, the Taiwanese Student Association president, shared that the Mid-Autumn Festival is a public holiday in Taiwan. Carrying out the traditional fundamentals of the unity and completeness, the delightful evening concluded in harmony after delicious food, amusing games, and the consumption of the round mooncakes.
-by Ai Wan Choong