Monthly Archives: December 2013

Nelson Mandela, South African Music and the Struggle Against Apartheid

December 26th, 2013

On December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela, a beloved hero, a giant of history and one of the greatest visionary leaders of our time who fought to protect and promote human rights, passed away. As we come to the end of 2013, we would like to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela by sharing a blog from our frequent guest blogger, Tom Schanbel, who writes about the important role music played in shaping the history of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

From all of us at ACEI, we wish you and yours a very happy holiday season.

Source: New Yorker, December 16, 2013

During my tenure as music director of KCRW (1979-1991), we had a dedicated African show (The African Beat) and often featured African music on other programs as well. We gathered South African music wherever we could: from Jo’Burg’s Kohinoor Store in Johannesburg, SA, from a woman named Di Brukin who brought us the latest SA grooves when KCRW was still on the John Adams Middle School Campus in 1981-1984. Roger Steffens, host of the popular Reggae Beat show (1979-1989), was sending Paul Simon the latest music from The Cockerel Boys, Kwa Thema High Jumers,  Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Boyoyo Boys on cassettes. Thus, inspiring Simon to record his epochal Graceland in 1985. We featured a lot of other Zulu Men’s Hostel Choirs too, such as the lesser known Abafana Baseqhudeni. Plus, lots of mbaqanga music–the infectious joy of Zulu jive. All this was during the period where Mandela was incarcerated in his small prison cell on Robben Island, a former leper colony and animal-quarantine center. During the 1980s, black South Africans were acutely aware of Nelson Mandela and the ANC (The African National Congress) that he led. And, music was a weapon against apartheid. We see this in the historic documentary Rhythm of Resistance, shot underground and clandestinely in the mid-1970s.


I once interviewed writer Rian Malan (the grandnephew of David Malan, a major definer of the doctrine of apartheid) on Morning Becomes Eclectic after his book My Traitor’s Heart was published. Rian Malan loved the exuberance of black South African culture, Zulu jive music and the joy it inspired. In this famous book he also wrote of the hatred and criminal horror inspired by apartheid. The irony of it all was not lost on me.

The cover image of the December 16th New Yorker magazine is of Mandela: a combination of both Tommy Smith’s unforgettable black power salute on the podium after winning gold at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and the Statue of Liberty. Random fact, Tommy Smith later became a track coach at Santa Monica College. This music not only celebrates Mandela’s courage, leadership, and legacy: it is a celebration of life and the triumph of hope over despair.

(Note: Please also read the tribute to Nelson Mandela by Amnesty International in this link: )

Tom Schnabel, M.A.
Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Host of music program on radio for KCRW Sundays noon-2 p.m.
Blogs for KCRW
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons

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Filed under Arts, Creativity, Education, Gratitude, History, Human Interest, Music

For-Profit Colleges, MOOCs, and the Future of Higher Education

December 19th, 2013

Salford Business School launches unique open access online course

Earlier this week I read a piece on the Huffington Post about some for-profit colleges making false promises of guaranteeing employment on graduation to lure students. In fact, these colleges created fake jobs to attract the students. How did they pull it off? By paying employers $2000 to hire their students for a month or two and then laying them off. Now why would these colleges do this, you may ask? The answer is that a solid job placement rates allow the for-profit colleges and their parent companies, to satisfy the accrediting bodies that oversee their numerous campuses spread across the U.S., while enabling them to “tap federal student aid coffers — a source of funding that has reached nearly $10 billion over the last decade.” Are you as outraged as I am about this fakery? Best that you read the post for all the gory details; I frankly don’t have the stomach.

Why are people willing to pay top dollar (one student paid $17,000 for a nine-month certificate program in air-conditioning and refrigeration) and fall into long-term debt when they can easily take the same courses at a fraction of the cost at a local community college? Perhaps the community colleges need to advertise and market themselves more, but I guess they need resources to do that which may not be so easy when competing with the for-profits.

I heard a report on KCRW’s To the Point on MOOCs, those Massive Open On-Line Courses which were all the rage a year or so ago, so much so that many were predicting the demise of the traditional brick and mortar institutions of higher learning. Two years ago, Stanford University attracted 160,000 students to take a MOOC. There was a lot of giddy chatter on how MOOCs will shake up the status quo with its promise of making higher education available to millions who otherwise can’t afford it. College professors began to fear losing their jobs. Panic had set in. Yet, despite big investment from Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Silicon Valley, MOOC’s have not lived up to the hype and haven’t revolutionized higher education. It appears that many of those who enroll in a MOOC do not complete the course which means the completion rate of MOOCs is not too promising. But, with millions invested, online education isn’t going away, though as a mass movement it’s not going to replace traditional routes to higher education any time soon.

In her post on October 9, 2013 in CampusTechnology, an online blog, Dian Schaffhauser reports: “A coalition of faculty groups has declared war against online learning, particularly massive open online courses (MOOCs), because it said it believes that the fast expansion of this form of education is being promulgated by corporations — specifically for-profit colleges and universities and education technology companies — at the expense of student education and public interest.” Interesting how the same for-profit colleges are the ones who are also moving in and incorporating the MOOCs into their program structure. Up until now, MOOCs have been cost free to those who enroll in an on-line course, but once these MOOCs are picked up by for-profit colleges, there goes the no-cost benefit to the learner.

If there is a point to my rant, it’s that these extreme attempts made to “revolutionize” higher education, whether through offering accelerated training programs with promises of guaranteed employment at their completion or access to on-line education to anyone and anywhere, are just that: extreme and profit-driven. I’m all for accessible and affordable higher education, not accessible with a high price tag and false promises.

Oh, and Happy Holidays and catch you next year!

The Frustrated Evaluator

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Filed under Credentials, Education, Human Interest, Politics

Reverse Culture Shock: Symptoms & 5 Ways to Cope

December 12th, 2013


International students coming to the U.S. are bound to experience different degrees of culture shock but they are just as likely to experience reverse culture shock, or re-entry, when they return to their home countries during semester breaks and holidays. Reverse culture shock is an emotional and psychological stage of re-adjustment, to some degree similar to the adjustments the international student initially experiences when living abroad and away from family and friends. The symptoms for reverse culture shock may range from feeling disconnected from family and friends because the person retruning feels misunderstood and is afraid of losing the new aspects of him/herself.

It is an emotional and psychological stage of re-adjustment, similar to your initial adjustment to living abroad. Symptoms can range from feeling like no one understands you or how you’ve changed to feeling panicked that you will lose part of your identity if you don’t have an outlet to pursue new interests that were sparked abroad. Some of the common signs of reverse culture shock are:

• Confusion
• Restlessness
• Boredom
• Uncertainty
• Rootlessness
• Isolation
• Feeling homesick for college and friends made abroad
• Wanting to be alone
• Depression


How to cope with reverse culture shock?

Adjusting to the rhythms of life at home requires much of the same coping skills you had relied on as a student in your host country.

1. Sleep
Arriving to your home country brings with it jet lag and depending on how far away your home is from the host country, the more intense the jet lag. Be kind to yourself and get as much sleep as you can and don’t forget to stay hydrated and don’t skip on meals.

2. Stay Active
When not asleep, stay active, engage in exercise. Strenuous physical activity will help realign the balance between your sleep and awakened state and a speedier way of getting over jet lag.

3. Suspend Judgment
Behave as you did when you first arrived in your host country. Suspend judgment and criticism of your family and friends. Avoid making comparisons of how things are better where you went to college. Friends and family will be interested in your experiences and will ask questions which you may hear more than once. Assume the role of ambassador by responding and sharing your experiences that is inclusive and engaging. Don’t showboat or brag, A little humility at the onset goes a long way.

4. Readjust to Changing Relationships
Just because you left and feel like you have changed doesn’t mean that those friends and family members back home stopped having experiences of their own. You may find that you may have outgrown some childhood friendships and vice versa. Be prepared to adjust to this change.

5. Stay in touch
Don’t forget your friends from college. Stay in touch and keep your friendships alive even though you may be separated by thousands of miles. Luckily, today’s assortment of communication technologies from Twitter, Facebook, Skype, email, make it possible for us to stay connected wherever we live. But don’t overdo it! Enjoy your time in your home country and get involved so that you have stories to tell and experiences to share when you return to college the following semester.

And remember to keep a sense of humor throughout it all and know that the initial unease of reverse culture shock will soon wear away. The more you practice the exercise of adjusting and adapting to your two “homes,” the easier it will be for you to apply the same techniques wherever you choose to travel and live after you graduate.


Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc.


Filed under Credentials, Education, Human Interest, Travel

Martin Heidegger’s Influence On “Riders On The Storm”

December 5th, 2013

Heidegger’s Concept: “Geworfenheit” (“Thrown-ness”)

The song is a 60′s classic: “Riders On The Storm”. We’ve heard it a thousand times. But do many people know it may well be associated with the thinking of a modern German metaphysical philosopher?

Jim Morrison was a voracious reader; even his senior-year high school English teacher said he read more than any other student. Later in the mid-1960s, as an eager UCLA Comparative Literature student in Jack Hirschman’s legendary classes (Hirschman was brilliantly unorthodox), he wolfed down works by existentialist writers like Genet, Sartre, Camus, Antonin Artaud, and others. I majored in comparative literature as well, and read these very same authors.

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) espoused a central concept he called “geworfenheit” (“thrown-ness”). It’s an ontological precept that states we are thrown into the world, a world we can’t understand or make sense of. Another perspective given by Toronto Psychotherapy Definitions describes it as: “the accidental nature of human existence in a world that has not yet been made our own by conscious choice.”

It is known that Jim Morrison knew and read Nietzsche and perhaps Heidegger too. The lines “into this world we’re thrown” (from “Riders On The Storm”) is identical to Heidegger’s notion of geworfenheit.

We saw this arbitrary “thrown-ness” in the classic poem by English writer Matthew Arnold, “Dover Beach” (1851) which presaged the metaphysical phase shift from religion to evolution, from spiritual hope to brute existence, that came when Darwin published the Origin of Species in 1859. Like Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest, Arnold’s lines are similarly bereft of metaphysical or religious optimism:

From “Dover Beach” — Matthew Arnold

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Similarly, in “Riders On The Storm”:

Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone
Riders on the storm…

Many of these themes turn up in Albert Camus‘ existentialist writings as well. In novels like The Stranger and The Plague, Camus questioned the meaning of existence in a world seemingly governed by randomness.

It was perhaps equally random and absurd that Camus should die in Paris in a car accident, a passenger in a luxury car called a Facel Vega en route to Paris from Provence to Paris. Camus, poet and theorist of the absurd, is supposed to have said that the most absurd way to die would be in a car crash. Morrison, died in a his bathtub in his Paris apartment of an overdose. You find more flowers on his grave in the Paris Père Lachaise cemetery than on other famous people buried there as well, such as Oscar Wilde, Honoré de Balzac, Sarah Bernhardt, Georges Bizet, Chopin, and Molière.

Listed below are the lyrics to “Riders On The Storm”. Note, the use of the word “thrown” just as in geworfenheit.

“Riders On The Storm” – The Doors

Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone
Riders on the storm

There’s a killer on the road
His brain is squirmin’ like a toad
Take a long holiday
Let your children play
If ya give this man a ride
Sweet memory will die
Killer on the road, yeah

Girl ya gotta love your man
Girl ya gotta love your man
Take him by the hand
Make him understand
The world on you depends
Our life will never end
Gotta love your man, yeah


Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone
Riders on the storm

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm

Tom Schnabel, M.A.
Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Host of music program on radio for KCRW Sundays noon-2 p.m.
Blogs for KCRW
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons

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