Category Archives: Politics

Political Correctness: Beware…Be Aware

February 2nd, 2018

BeAware

The ultimate stigmatization. The curse thrown across both sides of the aisle. It seems that the phrase “politically correct” may need a defender in the current climate and I’m happy to fill that role. I say first, a magic phrase that, should you use P.C. as a slur, might clear things up for you straight away. Listen up. NO ONE IS TELLING YOU WHAT YOU CAN AND CANNOT SAY. Political correctness isn’t a form of censorship, it’s not snowflakes with hurt feelings, and its not a trend. Political Correctness is some one or some ones telling you “Hey, what you said impacts me, or people of my group, in a way that is hurtful.” That’s it. From then on, how you choose to interpret this, and how you choose to react is on you. And there’s not always a right answer. There are times when hurting someone’s feelings is fine, as long as you take responsibility. Just understand the context. Realize the situation is probably bigger than just you or that person. Say what you want, just make sure it is what you want to say.

Political correctness, is a misnomer, and maybe that’s where we get into trouble. Perhaps if it was more appropriately called a “suggesting social awareness” (catchy right?) people wouldn’t feel as though they could play the oppressed or tough-guy card as a reaction. If they knew that all anyone was saying was “hey, I don’t know if you know this, but that makes you sound like an a–hole in this day and age”, it would be hard to react with anything but embarrassment. Unfortunately Politically correct stuck, and a movement forward became a bad word.

So ok fine you got me, Politically Correct is a slur. Fine, we can lose the phrase, language evolves right? HA! Got you! Language EVOLVES. And as such it is good to know whether or not you’re resisting the natural progress of that evolution. Think of PC as not saying Beware! rather, Be Aware! Think of PC, as my generation calls it, woke. We’re awfully good at giving cute names, my generation. But don’t let that detract from how much better a phrase it is. You’re not “correct” your awoken! It’s like the Matrix!

There’s a lot you can say for just being aware of the society around you, but it speaks for itself. The more you know, the more informed your decisions will be.  You know this. I know you do. So just keep reminding yourself of two things. 1. No one is telling you what you can or cannot do. And 2. Don’t be an a—hole.

AlexB

Alex Brenner – When he is not helping international students as ACEI’s Communications Officer, Alex puts his writing chops to work as a script doctor for Hollywood screenwriters and guest blogs for ACEI-Global. Alex has a BA in English from UCLA and has been fortunate to have travelled to many corners of the world as a child and an adult.

For further information on the international credential evaluations, visit our website at www.acei-global.org or contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Human Interest, Politics

The End of Foreign Language Education in US Schools

January 12th, 2018

language

When I read in a recent NYT’s article that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has decided to ban the teaching of English at primary schools because it views it as “culturally invasive,” I wondered why they are not considering doing the same for Arabic language which is now a required subject in Iran’s schools. Banning the teaching of English will be applicable only to public and government-funded primary schools, but this push to eliminate this required foreign language component that has been part of the school curriculum in Iran dating back to pre-Islamic Revolutionary days is alarming.

So, I decided to turn my attention back to home field, and see how our children are faring with foreign language offerings at our public schools here in America. It’s the old adage of before you judge another, first take a look at yourself. Well, I took a long look at myself aka USA, and guess what, there’s no difference between us and Iran, the country on our “enemy” list when it comes to our dismal track record on teaching foreign languages at our schools.

Recent studies paint a very grim picture of foreign language education in U.S. schools.

According to Education Week:

  • Only 1 in 5 students was enrolled in a foreign language course in 2014-15
  • Enrollment is lowest in cultural-need languages, like Arabic, which is considered crucial to national security
  • And almost 8 times as many students take Latin, a so-called “dead language”
  • Researchers say that lack of foreign language learning in public schools is a threat to U.S. economy and military security.

If written facts aren’t enough to shock you and visual graphics are more effective, take a look at this chart:

language_2

Now, if you’d like to have more salt poured on our language-deprived wounds, let’s switch our focus and look across the Atlantic and see how foreign language education is addressed in European countries. According to a blog posted by Quartz Media, The Pew Research Center  reports that “almost every country in Europe requires students as young as six to learn a foreign language.  Even more impressive, over 20 European countries require students to learn two foreign languages in school for at least one school year. In 2010, over 90% of secondary school and 73% of primary school students in Europe were learning English in the classroom, according to Pew’s analysis of Eurostat data.”

Turning our focus back to this country, it is important to note that the US does not have any national requirement for learning a second language. In a 2012 article, Forbes reported that only 15% of American elementary schools teach a foreign language.

At the rate we’re going, without getting into the current political climate in the US and its recent anti immigration, anti-globalist, anti-anything that’s foreign sentiments, and how this is affecting public education, we need to brace ourselves and prepare to say, Bye-Bye, Ciao, Sayonara, Au Revoir, Adios, Auf Wiedersehn, Khoda Hafez, to learning a foreign language in our public schools.

Frustrated
Frustrated Evaluator

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Language, Politics

30 Facts on the Education System of Iran

January 4th, 2018

Given these recent developments in Iran, where protests have broken out in towns and cities throughout the country, we would like to spotlight Iran and share with you the following facts on the country and its education system:

1. Iran is one of the oldest nations in the world, with a history dating back tens of thousands of years. The country’s first great city, Susa, was built on the central plateau around 3200 B.C.

Iran_2

2. Iran (pronounced ee-RAHN), formerly known as Persia, is situated at the crossroads of Central Asia, South Asia, and the Arab states of the Middle East. The name “Iran” means “land of the Aryans.”

3. Iran is a republic in Central Asia, sharing a border with seven countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, and Turkmenistan.

4. It has been officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979.

5.Iran is a Shiite Muslim country, but the majority of its people are Persian, not Arab.

6. Iran’s capital is Tehran.

Azadi
Tehran: Azadi Monument (formerly Shahyad Monument)

7. Iran has a population of 80,840,713 (median age 28) and covers an area that is 636,372 square miles (1,648,195 square kilometers), slightly smaller than Alaksa.

8. Official language of instruction in Iran is Farsi/Persian. English and/or French are taught in most private schools.

9. According to 2015 estimates, the literacy rates of total population age 15 and over is 86.8% of which 92.1% are male and 82.5% are female.

10. According to 2013 reports, Iran spends 3.7 of GDP on education.

11. Starting with 7th grade, English is taught as a second language in all public schools and is compulsory through the secondary level years.

12. Primary school is called “Dabestan” and includes grades 1 to 5 (ages 6 to 11). At the end of the 5th year, students take a nation-wide exam which they must pass in order to continue to the next cycle.

iran_school_1

iran_school_2

13. Middle school is called Rahnamaei also known as Lower Secondary School (Guidance) and includes grades 6 to 8 (ages 11 to 14). At the end of the 3rd year of middle school, students take a region-wide exam administered by the local provisional board of education which they must pass in order to continue to the next cycle.

iran_school_3

14. Secondary school is called Dabirestan and includes grades 9 to 12 (ages 14 to 17). The 4th year of grade 12 includes a college-preparatory year known as Pish-daneshgahi. In dabirestan, students choose subjects from either one of two tracks: 1) academic/general track that includes a] physics-mathematics, b] socio-economics, c] literature and culture, and d] experimental sciences; or 2) technical/vocational track in such areas as business and agriculture. On completion of 3 years of study (Grade 11), students receive their diploma before they are determined eligible to continue onto the 12th year (Grade 12) pish-daneshgahi studies.

15. Pre-university or Pish-Daneshgahi is the 4th year extension (Grade 12) to secondary school and last one year. It is an intensive year of study intended to prepare students for the national university entrance examination known as the Concour.

16. The Concour determines students’ chances to enter public and some private universities in Iran. It is a very challenging examination and only a minority of students who take it are successful in passing.

iran_school_4
Photo Credit:PressTV – University Entrance Exam (Concours) in Tehran

17. At the higher education level, Iran has private, public and state affiliated universities.

18. Universities, institutes of technology, medical schools, and community colleges make up the higher education sector.

19. Except for medical schools, all state-run universities are under the direct supervision of the Iranian Ministry of Science, Research and Technology. Medical schools are under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, Treatment, and Medical Education.

20. Currently, there are over 50 public universities and over 40 public institutions specializing in medical study and 200 private postsecondary institutions in Iran.

21. Tuition at public universities is free.

22. Private institutions charge fees.

23. The largest private institution in Iran is Islamic Azad University.

24. Women make up more than 60 percent of the college population in Iran but less than 20 percent of the working population.

iran_school_5

25. Out of 1.176 million people registered for higher education in the Iranian academic year of 2012-2013, women accounted for 522,248 (44.38 percent) while men’s share stood at 654,593 (55.62 percent).

26.The number of female university students also increased by almost twofold from 1,231,035 in the Iranian academic year of 2005-2006 to 2,106,639 in 2012-2013.

iran_women
Photo Credit: Ebrahim Norrozi/AP – Iranian women, shown here in downtown Tehran, are among groups in the country pushing for social and economic change.

27. Distance learning degree programs are provided mainly by the University of Payam-e-Hour.

28. University degrees in Iran include:
• Kardani (formerly Fogh-Diplom) – 2-year program equivalent to the Associate degree;
• Karshenasi (formerly Licence) – 4-year program equivalent to the Bachelor’s degree;
• Karshenasi Arshad (formerly Fogh-Licence) – 2-year program beyond the Karshenasi equivalent to the Master’s degree;
• Doctora (Doctorate) degree – 3-year program; requires a master’s (Karshenasi) degree for admission and is awarded on completion of 60 semester units and passing a comprehensive exam before entering the research phase of the program, during which they prepare and defend their dissertation.
• Specialized Doctorates – Degrees in dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine are awarded after 6 years of study and a thesis and require completion of the pre-university year for admission.

29. Grading system at primary through university is based on a 0-20 scale. At the primary, secondary level, and undergraduate levels, an average grade of 10 is required for promotion to the next academic grade. At the graduate level the minimum average grade is 12 and in doctoral programs the minimum average is 14.

30. Every year about 150,000 highly talented Iranians emigrate in what the International Monetary Fund calls the highest brain drain in the world.

Bonus Fact:
31. Since we love cats here at ACEI, here’s a bonus fact on the Persian cat; one of the world’s oldest breeds. They originated in the high plateaus of Iran where their long silky fur protected them from the cold. Italian traders brought the breed to Europe in the 17th century, where they became an exotic status symbol. (source: Rajendra, Vijeya, Gisela Kaplan, and Rudi Rajendra. 2004. Iran (Cultures of the World). New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish.)

Helpful links & Sources:
https://www.educationusairan.com/edu-professionals/education-systems
http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/iran_statistics.html
http://www.snipview.com/q/Schools_in_Iran
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ir.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14541327

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

1 Comment

Filed under Credentials, Education, Human Interest, Politics

Introducing ACEI’s 5-Step Refugee Guide

November 16th, 2017

A 5-Step Guide to Help Refugees/Displaced People without/limited Documentation

The displacement of people can occur at any time and to any one, whether as a result of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tsunami, flood, hurricane, wild fire, or civil war, political unrest and regional warfare. In the midst of such calamities, people may be left with nothing but the clothing on their back or a handful of memorabilia and essentials. Many fleeing their homes and in some cases, their countries, may leave behind precious documents or lose them in the aftermath of a natural disaster or war. In this blog, we offer our 5-step practical guide to those academic institutions faced with assisting refugee/displaced candidates from outside the U.S.

guide

5 Steps

  1. Assess the Overall Situation
  2. Reconstruct the Individual’s Academic History

  3. Gather Documents

  4. Assess Competency

  5. Verify

Let’s dive deeper into each one of these 5 steps:

Step 1.  Assess the Overall Situation

guide2

Assessing the overall situation helps us determine if the claim for lack of documentation is legitimate (e.g. is the source country at war or devastated by natural/environmental crisis and if so, when did this occur?).

  • Check U.S. Department of State Website for alerts and country updates
  • Search Internet on recent news
  • Email the institution
  • Telephone the institution (find a native speaker or someone fluent in the language to help you with the call)

Step 2. Reconstruct Academic History

guide3.png

Assessing a refugee/displaced person’s academic history is similar to trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle where several pieces maybe missing. Reconstructing the individual’s academic history will help you have an overview of the person’s studies so that you can begin to fit the pieces together.

Here are some suggestions to help you with this process:

  • Follow your institution’s general procedures (as you would all prospective applicants)
  • Require completion of an application
  • Require submission of official academic documents (this will demonstrate to you what documents, if any, the individual has in his/her possession)
  • Conduct an interview

Step 3. Gather Documents

guide4.png

Before you rule out the possibility of available documents, set out to gather any academic and supporting documents you can from the applicant.

These documents may include any of the following:

  • Student ID cards
  • Registration cards/enrollment slips
  • Any transcripts, certificates/diplomas
  • Copies of licenses/permits to practice a profession
  • Certificates of professional standing
  • Awards/Trophies/Medals for academic achievements
  • State examinations certification
  • Proof of tuition payments/receipts from institution’s bursary
  • Sworn statements/affidavits from exiled faculty/school administrators
  • Newspaper clippings or Internet links/articles/announcements or printed lists of graduated students

Step 4. Assess Course Competency

guide5

Academic institutions have the means to assess an applicant’s competency in a course or courses.

Assessment of course competency maybe carried out through the following:

  • Interview by member of faculty
  • Assignment of special project
  • Offer challenge/placement exam

Step 5. Verify

check

The final step is to verify and check everything that you have gathered to reconstruct a portfolio of your candidate.

Here are some suggested verification techniques to consider:

  • Confirm (again) the crisis situation in the country and institution with official sources (e.g. U.S. Department of State)
  • Ensure that you have in-house expertise on the country/region in question and its education system
  • Compare and verify any documents gathered against samples from same country and institutions in your archives
  • Use social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram for your applicant and LinkedIn and websites for scholars from the conflict area. (e.g.: http://bit.ly/2zd6k1x)  
  • When in doubt, consult the advice of colleagues through your membership with professional associations in the field, and/or reach out to external sources such as independent evaluation services (Endorsed Members of AICE – Association of International Credential Evaluators).

links

Useful Links:

Association of International Credential Evaluators

ENIC-European Network of Information in the European Region-NARIC-National Academic Recognition Information Centres in the European Union

NOKUT – European Qualification Passport for Refugees

UC Davis “Article 26 Backpack”

US Department of State

The World Factbook Central Intelligence Agency

For information and assistance with the evaluation of international academic credentials, please visit our website at www.acei-global.org or call us at 1-310-275-3530.

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

Leave a comment

Filed under Credentials, Education, Politics

25 Fast Facts on Kenya and its Education System

November 2nd, 2017

On October 31, 2017 Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was been re-elected for a second term after securing more than 98% of the vote in a highly-contentious rerun election that was boycotted by his main opposition rival.

The recent presidential elections in Kenya have prompted us to report our blog on Kenya where we share with you 25 facts on the country and its education system.

Fast Country Facts:

1. Kenya lies directly on the equator, and is surrounded by Uganda to the south, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia to the north.

Kenya_4

2. The size of the country is 582,000 square miles.

3. Some of the oldest known paleontological records of man’s history have been found in Kenya. Kenya’s Great Rift Valley was formed around 20 million years ago, when the crust of the Earth was split.

4. Kenya has a population of 43.5 million with 3.1 million people living in its capital city, Nairobi.

Kenya_5
Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya_6
Photo credit: Amateur South African Gareth Jones was one of the drivers stuck in the traffic jam on 6/25/13 and decided to get out and photograph the unique scene.

5. Although it does not have an official religion, Christianity is highly prevalent throughout the country.

6. English and Swahili are the country’s official languages.

7. It gained its independence from Great Britain in 1963 and became a parliamentary democracy with a presidential republic with a multi-party system. The government has three branches of power: the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The Executive is headed by the president, who is democratically elected for a five-year term. The current president is Uhuru Kenyatta.

8. The Kenyan flag is comprised of three colors, black, red and white edges, and green. In the middles of the horizontal flag is a red, white and black Maasai shield. The Massai shield is a traditional symbol in Kenya that is used to symbolize the defense of the country.

Kenya_Flag

Fast Facts on Kenya’s Education System:

9. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology oversee the country’s entire education system.

10. Old System: 7-4-2-3; established in 1963 after Kenya gained independence. The education system was modelled after the British system and included seven years of primary education, four years of lower secondary education, two years of upper secondary education and three years of university.

11. Current System: 8-4-4-; introduced in 1985 and uses the U.S. education system as a model. It includes eight years of primary education, four years of secondary education and four years of university.

12. School year runs from January to December. The academic year for universities runs from September to June.

13. In 1963 there were only 151 secondary schools, with a total enrolment of 30,120 students. Today there are nearly 3,000 secondary schools with a total enrolment of 620,000 students. Of this total, slightly over 40% are girls

14. Primary education usually starts at six years of age and runs for eight years. At the end of the 8th year, students take exams intended for the award of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) which covers the following five subjects: Kiswahili, English, mathematics, science and agriculture, and social studies.

15. Secondary school education usually starts at fourteen years of age and, after the introduction of the 8 4-4 system of education which replaced the 7-4-2-3 system, runs for four years. At the end of the 4th year of secondary school, students take exams intended for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). The KCSE are national exams administered by the National Examinations Council.

Kenya_7
Form four candidates at the Starehe Boys Centre sit for a KCSE paper.

16. Vocational secondary education is available at youth polytechnics for those wishing to pursue a trade and follows after completion of primary education and the award of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). These programs lead to a variety of diplomas and certificates.

17. Post-secondary technical study programs are delivered by various technical training institutes and institutes of technology. The admission requirement is generally a KCSE with a C average. The study programs offered by technical training institutes and institutes of technology vary in duration. Post-secondary study programs also lead to a variety of certificates and diplomas.

18. Higher education in Kenya includes universities that are either public or private. There are a total of seven public universities; these are independent and funded by the government. Public universities are established through Acts of Parliament. Private universities are established through the process of accreditation by Commission on Higher Education (CHE).

Kenya_8

19. At the tertiary level, there are also national polytechnics which offer higher professional education leading to a certificate, diploma and higher national diploma. Two polytechnics have been upgraded to university status and offer degree programs.
20. Admission to higher education at public universities in Kenya is overseen by the Joint Admissions Board (JAB) and has representatives from all public universities as well as the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology and the Commission for Higher Education (CHE). Acceptance to a bachelor’s degree program required the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) with a C+ average.

21. Admission to certificate and diploma programs at polytechnics requires the KCSE with a D+ or C- average, respectively.

22. University education in Kenya consists of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. Universities also offer Diplomas and Certificates.

23. Bachelor’s degree programs usually consist of major and minor subjects. Depending on the discipline chosen, a bachelor’s program may take 4 to 6 years.

24. Master’s degree program usually take 1 or 2 years. The first year mainly consists of lectures, with the second year spent doing research and end with a final paper. In most cases, admission to a master’s program requires a minimum of an upper second class bachelor’s degree. Those with a bachelor’s qualification below upper second class may be required to complete a postgraduate diploma in the related field before being admitted into the master’s program.

25. A doctorate degree (PhD or DPhil) is awarded after a period of at least 3 years of research conducted during the doctoral program. Admission to a doctorate degree program requires a master’s degree.

Sources:
http://nationfacts.net/kenya-facts/
http://www.kenyaembassy.com/aboutkenyaeducation.html

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

Leave a comment

Filed under Credentials, Education, Human Interest, Politics

Africa: Higher Education Interrupted

October 27th, 2017

Africa

In the past few months, government crackdowns on students and faculty protests at many African countries have disrupted and temporary halted classes and in some cases led to the indefinite closures of universities affecting thousands of students.

Here’s a look at some of the countries affected:

Cameroon

Cameroon

In the wake of demands by staff and students for greater independence for their English-speaking region, the two main public universities in Anglophone Cameroon, after months of partial closures, have been shut down indefinitely by the country’s president.  For more on the university closures in Anglophone Cameroon, click here

Democratic Republic of Congo

DRC

In August 2017, the teaching staff at the University of Kinshasa voted to continue their strike to express their unhappiness in solidarity with academic staff of several other institutions in the country over non-payment of salaries and the failure of reaching a resolution with the government. For more on this topic, click here

Guinea

Guinea

In June 2017, a number of private universities in Guinea suspended instruction complaining about delays in payment of student grants from the government and the signing of contracts for teaching bachelor-equivalent courses. For more on the suspension of instruction at universities in Guinea, click here.

Kenya

kenya

Students at the University of Nairobi are finding themselves in the crosshairs of politics brought on by the country’s elections and strike by lecturers. As a result, on October 3rd, following a rash of student unrest, the University of Nairobi Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Mbithi announced the indefinite closure of the country’s second largest institution. Earlier, the students had protested against police use of excessive force and sexual harassment at the universities of Nairobi and Maseno.  On October 8th, Mount Kenya University shut its doors due to continued student protests and strikes by professors. For more on the university closures in Kenya, click here.

Rwanda

rwanda

Since March 10th, thousands of students have found their studies suspended because of partial or total closure of the private universities which failed to meet satisfactory standards of teaching. According to a report in UniversityWorldNews, 10 universities were given until September 2017 to raise their standards, or risk being closed permanently. An update of their status is not available.  For more on the university closures in Rwanda, click here.

Awareness of these events is key for international credential evaluators and institutions of higher education whose students may be from the countries cited above. These students may not be able to procure their transcripts because of the problems back home. With universities temporarily or indefinitely closed, students from the affected institutions will have a difficult time in requesting official transcripts and those who have been able to obtain their records may show gaps in their studies due to the temporary halt in their studies.

For further information on the world education systems and credential evaluations, visit our website at www.acei-global.org or contact ACEI at acei@acei-global.org

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

Leave a comment

Filed under Credentials, Education, Politics, Travel

Facts on Puerto Rico

October 10th, 2017

BLOG_-_PUERTO_RICO
  San Juan, PR (before Hurricane Maria)                San Juan, PR (after) Source: YouTube 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the devastation it has wreaked on the island of Puerto Rico and displacing more than 3.3 million of its inhabitants, we are dedicating this week’s blog to Puerto Rico and its people.

Timeline of Hurricane Maria: For a timeline of Hurricane Maria and its aftermath click here

Status Updates: You can get the latest status report from the Government of Puerto Rico by going to its website and FEMA posts up-to-date resources and information on the federal response to Hurricane Maria on its website.

Here are some facts on Puerto Rico we would like to share with you in this blog:

1.  Formal Name: The formal name of Puerto Rico is Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, which translates to mean Free Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

2.  Origin of State Name: The U.S. changed its name to Porto Rico (Rich Port) in 1898. It was changed again to Puerto Rico in 1931.

3.  Nickname: Island of Enchantment (Source: Encyclopedia.com)

4.  Original Name: The original name of the island given by the Taino natives was Borikén. Today the name Borinquen is widely used.  Puerto Ricans proudly call themselves boricuas which carries pride and love for their island. (Source: IslandsofPuertoRico.com)

5. Population: 3,351,827 (July 2017 est.) (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

6. Capital: San Juan

7. History/Origins: Puerto Rico was populated for centuries by aboriginal peoples before 1493 when it was claimed by the Spanish Crown following Christopher Columbus’s second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a results of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917. Popularly elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self-government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998, voters chose not to alter the existing political status with the US, but the results of a 2012 vote left open the possibility of American statehood. (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

8. Geography: Capital of Puerto Rico is San Juan. Puerto Rico is located in the Caribbean; it is an island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic. It has an area of 9,104 sq km and slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island. (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

9. Government: Puerto Rico is an unincorporated, organized territory of the US with commonwealth status; policy relations between Puerto Rico and the US conducted under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President. It is a presidential democracy; a self-governing commonwealth in political association with the US. (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

10. US Citizens: As mentioned earlier, residents of Puerto Rico have been considered as US citizens since 1917, when the island was ceded to the United States at the end of the Spanish-American War. However, Puerto Ricans do not pay federal income tax to the Untied States and they do not vote in US presidential elections. (Source: Encyclopedia.com)

11. Language: Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico, but Spanish remains dominant among the residents. The issue of language has been an ongoing concern between residents and US authorities. A 1902 law established both languages for official use, but US officials pushed for many years to make English the dominant language in school and government use. In 1991, the Puerto Rican legislature issued a bill making Spanish the official language, but this decision was reversed in 1993, restoring both languages to official status. Puerto Rican Spanish contains many Taino influences, which can be found in such place-names as Arecibo, Guayama, and Mayagüez, as well as hamaca (hammock) and coanoa (canoe). Among many African Borrowings are food terms like quimbombó (okra) , guince (banana), and mondongo (a spicy stew). Some English words are incorporate into Spanish in what is commonly referred to as “Spanglish.” (Source: Encyclopedia.com)

12. Economy: The island’s most important industrial products are pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, and food products. The sugar industry has gradually lost ground to dairy production and other livestock products in the agricultural sector. Tourism is the backbone of a large service industry, and the government sector has also grown. Tourist revenues and remittances from workers on the US main-land largely counterbalance Puerto Rico’s chronic trade deficit. Federal funds to the government and directly to the people have been important to the Puerto Rican economy. (Source: Encyclopedia.com)

13. Migration: Economic recession on the island has led to a net population loss since about 2005, as large numbers of residents moved to the US mainland. The trend has accelerated since 2010; in 2014, Puerto Rico experienced a net population loss to the mainland of 64,000, more than double the net loss of 26,000 in 2010. (Source: US Central Intelligence Agency)

14. Pharmaceuticals: Before Hurricane Maria, Pharmaceuticals represented 72% of Puerto Rico’s 2016 exports, valued at $14.5 billion, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The island accounted for 25% of total U.S. pharmaceutical exports. The sector, which grew for years on the strength of tax breaks that were phased out in 2006, employed about 90,000 workers. On Monday, September 23, 2017, the FDA said it is taking active measures to help redirect production and preserve existing treatments to avoid a ballooning health crisis from Maria’s destruction. (Source: USAToday)

15. Island’s Chief Export: More than 70% of rum consumed in the U.S. came from Puerto Rico with Bacardi and Don Q as the largest producers on the Island. (Source: Trip Savvy)

Rum

16. History of Hurricanes: The word “hurricane” derives from hurakán, a term the Spanish learned from Puerto Rico’s Taino Indians. Puerto Rico, has unfortunately, been the victim of several severe hurricanes in the past century. Before Hurricane Maria, there was Hurricane Georges in 1998. On 7 October 1985, torrential rains created a mud slide that devastated the hillside barrio of Mameyes, killing hundreds of people; and considered the single most destructive landslide in US history. On 15-16 September 2004, Hurricane Jeanne, the tenth named storm and the seventh hurricane of the 2004 hurricane season, entered southeast Puerto Rico near Maunabo and traveled west then north across Puerto Rico and exited over the northwest tip of the island near Aguadilla. Following the storm, Puerto Rico was declared a federal disaster area. As the storm approached, the entire power grid of Puerto Rico was shut down by the government, indirectly causing over $100 million in damage and resulting in 600,000 people left without running water. Seven deaths were attributed to Jeanne and there was also landslide damage.(Source: Encyclopedia.com)

17. Energy Dependence: Puerto Rico has been totally dependent on imported crude oil for its energy needs. The island imports and burns oil to generate electricity. Oil has accounted for more than 90% of the island’s total primary energy consumption which means Puerto Ricans have been paying exorbitantly high electric bills for years. Millions of Puerto Ricans are living in the dark at home after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island in September 2017, knocking out its already fragile electric grid. Tesla CEO Elon Musk says his company can rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid using batteries and solar power, saying the decision to accept his offer would be in the hands of the local government and the island’s residents. (Source: The Guardians of Democracy)

18. Education: U.S. schools are bracing for an influx of students from Puerto Rico because of the damage brought on by Hurricane Maria. Schools were already facing problems of an economic nature. In May 2017, Puerto Rico’s government announced that 179 schools were closing because of the territory’s $70 billion debt. To save $7 million, about 27,000 students were relocated to other schools. Serious damage to the University of Puerto Rico’s 11 campuses have also prompted sector leaders to raise concerns about an impending crisis in higher education for the region – with academics fearing that displaced students will fail to complete courses and that research will fall behind. Within hours of the hurricanes’ hitting, academic communities on both sides of the Atlantic began discussing how to provide relief and how to keep research on track. (Source: The Times Higher Education; NPR.org; InsideHigherEducation)

19. Mascot: Puerto Rico’s unofficial mascot is a tiny tree frog only found on the island known as coqui. The inch-long amphibian has a powerful and melodic voice, and its high-pitched, chirrupy song can be heard for miles. The coquís sing from dusk to dawn, and while the locals find this a lilting lullaby, unsuspecting foreigners aren’t always comforted by their song. But they are a cute, much-loved symbol of Puerto Rico. (Source: Trip Savvy)

frog

20. Damage to Ecology: The storm also flattened farms. Puerto Rico’s Department of Agriculture has said that 80 percent of crops could be lost. (Source: ABC News)

devastation_puertorico
Flattened plantain trees, Yabucoa, PR 9/24/17 (Photo credit: Victor J. Bleu, NYT via Redux)

How You Can Help:

Artists for Puerto Rico Relief Effort: On Friday, October 6, 2017, artists like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Gina Rodriguez, Gloria Estefan, Luis Fonsi and several more banded together and released the Hurricane Maria relief song “Almost Like Praying” for Puerto Rico. All proceeds for the song will go to the Hispanic Federation’s Unidos Disaster Relief Fund.

Relief Efforts: Refer to the list provided in these blog by Consumer Reports  and NPR.

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Human Interest, Politics, Travel