Category Archives: Travel

Facts on Puerto Rico

October 10th, 2017

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  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)

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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)

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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.

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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.

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20 FACTS ON VIETNAM

August 3rd, 2017

Vietnam

Vietnam is a Southeast Asian country on the South China Sea. It is known for its beaches, rivers, Buddhist pagodas and bustling cities. It’s capital Hanoi, pays homage to the nation’s iconic Communist-era leader, Ho Chi Minh, via a huge marble mausoleum. Vietnam’s recent history has been largely dominated by headlines of war and oppression. The Vietnamese have a saying that they were dominated by the Chinese for 1000 years, the French for 100 years and the Americans for 10 years. The country is, once more, demonstrating its strength and resilience through its growing economy, tourism and promoting study abroad opportunities for its students.

Country Facts

1. Country size: 95,261,021 (July 2016 est.) Vietnam is about three times the size of Tennessee; slightly larger than New Mexico

2. Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer, mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)

3. In 1887, it became part of French Indochina. Vietnam declared its independence after World War II, but France continued to rule until its 1954 defeat by communist forces under Ho Chi MINH.

Fun Facts

4.  Vietnam is the world’s second largest coffee-producing nation after Brazil, producing 16% of the world’s total coffee (Brazil’s is 40%).   http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-25811724

5. Nguyen is the most popular family name in Vietnam, used by around 40% of the population and is also the birth name of the famous Ho Chi Minh.

6. Vietnam is the largest exporter of cashews and black pepper in the world, and the second largest exporter of rice. http://www.travelingeast.com/asia/vietnam/ten-interesting-facts-about-vietnam/

7. An estimated ten million motor bikes travel on the roads of Vietnam every day

Vietbikes

8. Sepak takraw (A.K.A calameae ball or kick volleyball), is a traditional sport in Vietnam. The sport originated in the 15th-century in Malaysia, with its first mention being from an ancient text in Malacca. Players pass a ball by hitting it with the head and feet. Sepak takraw also is widely played in Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia. https://www.rickshawtravel.co.uk/blog/5-strange-facts-about-vietnam/

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9. Vietnam’s flag consists of a golden star with five points to represent farmers, workers, intellectuals, youth and soldiers. The red background pays tribute to the bloodshed during the wars.

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10. Snake wine, which is made by steeping whole snakes in rice wine for their venom or essence, is commonly drunk for health, vitality and restorative purposes.

11. Ong Tao is the Vietnamese God of the Kitchen, advocate of the family and emissary between heaven and earth. http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/top10facts/671594/Top-ten-facts-Vietnam-Ho-Chi-Minh-city

OngTao

Education Facts

12. The country has a literacy level of 94%.

13. Vietnamese students of 15 years of age continue to score high in math on OECD’s latest global education survey, known as PISA. Their score is more on par with Finland and Switzerland than Colombia or Peru.

14. Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) oversees all aspects of education in Vietnam.

15. The education system consists of kindergarten, primary, secondary, upper-secondary (also referred to as high school), and university level, with nationally administered exit and entrance examinations between each.

16. Primary school is five years (6 – 11) and compulsory.

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17. Secondary school education is divided into lower secondary (trung học cơ sở) which is four years (grades 6-9, ages 11 – 15) and higher secondary (trung học phổ thông) education which is three years (grades 10-12, ages 15 -18) and neither of them are compulsory. There is an entrance and leaving examination. Students have to choose either the natural or social sciences track.

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18. Higher education: Institutions of higher education can be universities, senior colleges or research institutes. Furthermore, there are junior colleges, professional secondary schools or vocational schools. The entrance examination is very hard, and according to recent figures, less than one out of three students manage to pass.

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19. Studying at top tier international universities abroad provides the greatest job security for the future.

20. According to the April 2016 SEVIS report, Vietnam ranks sixth among all sending countries with 28,883 students studying at US institutions, mostly colleges and universities but also boarding and day schools.

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

SOURCES:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-25811724

http://www.travelingeast.com/asia/vietnam/ten-interesting-facts-about-vietnam/

https://www.rickshawtravel.co.uk/blog/5-strange-facts-about-vietnam/

https://nomadicboys.com/10-interesting-facts-about-vietnam/

http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/top10facts/602241/Vietnam-top-facts

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/vm.html

http://thefactfile.org/vietnam-facts/

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-33047924

http://www.businessinsider.com/vietnams-students-test-well-and-a-new-paper-has-figured-out-why-2016-7

http://www.nafsa.org/Content.aspx?id=50572

http://www.chronicle.com/academicDestination/Vietnam/61/

http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=2016011313585113

https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-releases-quarterly-international-student-data

http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/top10facts/671594/Top-ten-facts-Vietnam-Ho-Chi-Minh-city

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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.

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7 Reasons why International Students are good for the U.S.?

July 27th, 2017

world

According to the latest analysis from NAFSA, during the 2015-2016 academic year, 1,043,839 international students were studying at U.S. colleges and universities. In January 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order temporarily blocking entry to the U.S. by visa holders from seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa and indefinitely suspending the entry of Syrian refugees. In his article “Beyond Justification,” for NAFSA’s International Educator July/August 2017 edition, David Tobenkin provides a strong case on the importance of international education and the contributions of international students to the U.S. He also lays out a road map for international education professionals to use in order to convey and deliver the importance of this message.

Using Tobenkin’s report, here are 7 reasons why international students are important for the U.S.:

  1. Amount contributed to U.S. economic 2015-2016: nearly $33 billion
  2. Number of jobs created and supported: more than 400,000 U.S. jobs (this means that for every 7 internationals students, 3 jobs were created)
  3. They help drive scientific innovation which help advance technological improvement maintaining U.S. productivity and its competitive edge in the global economy
  4. ¼ of the founders of the $1billion U.S. startup companies first came to the U.S. as international students
  5. 40% of the Nobel Prizes won by Americans in medicine, physics, and chemistry since 2000 were awarded to immigrants.
  6. Out of the 6 American winners of the Nobel Prizes in economics and scientific files in 2016, all were immigrants.
  7. International students make significant contributions to our communities both economically and culturally.

It the travel ban becomes permanent, it will perpetuate the anti-immigrant sentiment that will drive international students away from the U.S. and to other more immigrant friendly countries, such as Canada and Australia. The ban is also a deterrent to students who are not from the list of countries blacklisted but may still see it as unwelcoming. A report from College Factual, a higher education research firm, which Tobenkin cites in this article, states that a permanent travel ban means “the loss of nearly 16,000 students annually from the seven countries” which “translate into U.S. colleges and universities losing as much as $700 million in revenue per year.” This is a significant loss and it will not only impact the institutions with a historic track record of receiving international students, hurt the communities benefiting from them but tarnish the reputation of the U.S. as a leading force in scientific and technological innovation.

At ACEI, we see the importance of international students as the hallmark of America’s greatness and we strive to maintain this reputation by assisting U.S. colleges and universities with our research and credential evaluation services that help enhance their reputation and competitive recruiting effectiveness. To learn more about ACEI and its services such as Credential Evaluation, Translation, Webinars and Training, and how we can assist you with your credential evaluation and recruitment needs, please visit www.acei-global.org or call us at 310.275.3530.

Sources:

NAFSA International Student Economic Value

NAFSA International Educator “Beyond Justification, How to Convey the Importance of International Higher Education” 

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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.

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Fulbright: A Two Year Photographic Journey

May 26th, 2017

During my two years in the Fulbright Program, I have taken thousands of photographs. I seem to have just as many stories about my students, the community I live in, and the nation I call home. In writing this, I wanted to give a diverse glimpse into the life of a Fulbrighter in South Korea and the development of my relationship with my students over the past two years. Living abroad is full of many complicated feelings: joy, depression, homesickness, excitement – there is no short story that can encapsulate the experience, but I hope through this photographic essay I can share life in the Land of the Morning Calm.

~*~*~
First, Let Me Take A Selfie, 2015
After three months, my first selfie with my students.
Until this moment, we had not reached the friendship point of pictures. I entered my school with a strong dedication to teach the English language as a professional. And part of this came with me creating distance between the students and I, not fully comprehending the culture of touch (hand holding is appropriate with teachers) or engaging with students outside of the classroom. In short, I had a lot to learn about being a good teacher. After a month, I began to change my approach and opened myself up to the students, which in turn lead to this moment on October 2, 2015 when I asked a few girls for a picture.

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~*~*~
An Artist At Work, Work Being My Classroom, 2015
I caught a student drawing in class. Usually, I would take away the drawings and talk with the student after about paying attention. When I walked up to this particular student she was so engrossed in her work she didn’t see me. Instead of taking the papers I stood and watched. After all, who am I to disturb an artist in the midst of a masterpiece?

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~*~*~
Special Snowflakes, 2016
The project was supposed to be simple. We had ended class early and I wanted to decorate the classroom with snowflakes. Some of my students listened to the directions. Others decided they knew how to make a snowflake.
Most of these students were wrong:

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~*~*~
The Battle of Sungsim, 2016
The first snowfall of the year brought with it the usual festivities. My students have a tradition of using dustpans as shovels and tossing the snow at each other. Just a word of advice to anyone reading this – if a group of teenagers have dustpans and you have a lone snowball, always remember you are older and will be the automatic enemy if you engage them in battle.

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~*~*~
Hanji, 2016
Hanji is Korean paper and has a long history on the peninsula. It can be used to make art and clothing. During my first year in Korea, I began taking lessons from a woman who has been making hanji art for 20 years! My teacher is an amazing woman who speaks 5 languages and is one of the happiest people I have met. Pictured is one of my projects, but don’t be fooled! My teacher saved it multiple times from my butterfingers!

 

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~*~*~

Closet, 2017
This past week we did a lesson on secrets, many of which broke my heart. In Korea, same-sex marriage is not legal, although being with someone of the same gender is not criminalized (military code exempt). You can be fired for your sexuality and support groups for LGBT rights are still growing. It has been painful watching students who have come out to me struggle with their identity, unable to share it with their peers. I have no clear answers – many expats simply say “its another culture” and brush aside the issue. But working with students who are in the closet changes the entire experience. And the worst part is not having answers or a fix for the situation.

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~*~*~
Do You Hear The People Sing?, 2017
Earlier this year President Guen-Hye Park was ousted after a money scandal. Millions filled the streets of Seoul demanding she be impeached. When the court ruling came down impeaching Park, the country erupted into celebration. On May 9, 2017, Jae-In Moon was elected president. Watching the whole process was intense. In my city there were nightly protests and my students covered their classrooms in signs demanding Park resign. The whole nation was against her and there was no way to stop the people. As one of my students said after the election, “Korea is a democracy, today shows our power.”

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~*~*~.
Good-byes, 2017
I had to rent a hanbok before I left, pictured here in front of my school. It has been an amazing journey and one I will not forget. Leaving Korea—there are no words to describe how I feel and perhaps that is the best. My students have transformed my life for the better. I am more compassionate, I am more patient, I laugh everyday, and I have found my calling in education. I just don’t know how I will live without them… or the kimchi.
안녕히 계세요.

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Nikki R. Brueggeman

Biography
Nikki Brueggeman is a graduate of the University of Washington s where she earned a master’s degree in 2015. She is originally from the town of Walla Walla, Washington where she was raised around sweet onions and wine barrels. Nikki currently teaches at Jeonju Sungsim Girls High School where she works with the most beautiful, vivacious, and hilarious girls on the Korean peninsula.

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International Student Mobility: 2017 Trends in International Student Recruitment

May 11th, 2017

portal

ACEI is pleased to share the 2017 report prepared by Study Portals in this week’s blog.  The following is an excerpt from the report. To read the full report, please click here

These days, there is a widespread and wide-ranging conversation about globalization; but only by visiting classrooms in every corner of the world can you see it in action. International students around the world are part of a movement bigger than themselves – a movement involving millions of people at thousands of campuses.

At the moment there are more than 5 million students pursuing their education outside of their home countries – a number three times that of international student enrolments in 1990l. By 2022, the number of internationally mobile students is expected to reach 7 million. The most significant growth in international education comes from Asian students, who are looking to study abroad in English.

International education is now open to the masses, and no longer only available the world’s elite. This expansion is particularly driven by a rising middle class that now exists on every continent.

Student mobility, like many other economic and social principles, follows the laws of supply and demand: The popularity of study destinations correspond to the number of globally-appealing programs that different countries offer, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. These are, unsurprisingly, also the countries with the highest number of English-taught programs around the world.

China’s and India’s rise to the word’s top 10 most powerful economies (and South Korea currently holding the 15th place) has given rise to an increased demand for higher education. These three countries are also leading sources of globally mobile students. One in every six international students now comes from China, while Asian students make up more than a half of the world mobile students.

International education is on a static phenomenon; it is influenced by international politics, changing demographics and economic factors.

What do we expect to see in the cooing year, based on our expert insights and the mountain of data we have gathered on international study choice? Here are our top predictions for the year!

Please click here to read the full report and learn more about Study Portal’s top predictions for 2017.

__________________

Study Portals  is the international Study Choice Platform. StudyPortals’ Mission is “Empowering the world to choose education.” How? By making study choice transparent globally. StudyPortals help universities with easier and more effective international marketing and recruitment solutions.

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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.

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10 Facts About Melbourne, Australia

April 20th, 2017

Aussie

ACEI President & CEO, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert will be traveling to Melbourne, Australia shortly to attend the Gronningen Declaration Network meeting on April 25-27. She will be representing ACEI as well as the Association of International Credential Evaluators and will be joining other invited guests to be a signatory of the GDN. The goal of the GDN is to making Digital Student Data Portability a reality so that citizens world-wide are able to view and share their “authentic educational data with whomever they want, whenever they want, wherever they are.” For more on the GDN, click here.

We thought that given Jasmin’s upcoming to Melbourne, we’ll share some fun facts about this city in southern Australia.

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1. Melbourne is Victoria’s capital city and the business, administrative, cultural and recreational hub of the state. (1)

2. The entire Melbourne metropolitan area covers 9990.5 km2 and has a population of around 4.5 million. (1)

3. Before Melbourne was called Melbourne, it was named Batmania after John Batman, a colonist farmer from Tasmania who landed in Port Philip Bay in May 1835. (2)

4. The Black Box flight recorder was invented in 1958 by Dr. David Warren at the Aeronautical Research Laboratories in Melbourne. Warren’s father had died in a plane crash over the Bass Strait in 1934. (2)

5. According to the RSPCA, Melbourne is officially the fox capital of the world, with between 6 and 23 foxes per square kilometre in the urban area of the city. Despite these numbers, it’s still quite rare to see one! (3)

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6. Melbourne’s tramway system is the largest outside Europe and the fourth largest in the world, stretching along 244km of track and boasting 450 trams. (3)

7. The world’s largest stained-glass ceiling is located in Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria. (3)

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8. Before Canberra, Melbourne was Australia’s capital city between 1901 and 1927. (3)

9. The University of Melbourne is ranked 42nd in the world and is one of the oldest Australian universities, having been established in 1853. It now has over 47,000 students enrolled, including 12,000 international students from 130 countries. The university is highly reputed for its research, with over 100 research centers and institutes and a research expenditure of $850m a year. (4)

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10. Seven universities in Melbourne are featured in the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017, the highest-ranked of which is the University of Melbourne at 42nd in the world – second only to Australian National University on the Australian leaderboard. (5)

Bonus:

11. Known as Australia’s cultural capital, Melbourne regularly tops lists of the world’s most livable cities, and is full of all the attractions that make the Australian lifestyle so appealing – including beautiful beaches, nightlife and a fair proportion of sunny days. (5)

Sources:

1.http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/about-melbourne/melbourne-profile/Pages/facts-about-melbourne.aspx

2.https://www.buzzfeed.com/simoncrerar/marvellous-melbs?utm_term=.kvJB0ZkE7#.tlb3NkqAj 

3.https://latrobetimes.blogs.latrobe.edu.au/2016/05/26/15-interesting-facts-melbourne/

4. https://www.topuniversities.com/where-to-study/oceania/australia/guide

5. https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings-articles/qs-best-student-cities/melbourne

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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.

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Kedi: A Sweet Film and Soundtrack for Istanbul’s Constant Companions

March 16th, 2017

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A scene from Kedi. Photo courtesy of Ceyda Torun

Istanbul is a city at the center of the old world, for millenia a crossroads of civilization, trade, and cultural exchange. On the many sailing ships entering the Bosporus over the centuries came the stray cats that kept mice and other vermin under control, who then left the boats and became landlubbers. Kedi is a wonderful new film about the street cats of Istanbul. We usually adopt cats into our homes, but in Istanbul the street cats choose to adopt certain lucky residents, who then take care of them. According to Oscilloscope Films, the film’s distributor, “claiming no owners, these animals live between two worlds, neither wild nor tame—and they bring joy and purpose to those people they choose to adopt.”

KEDi-22-800x450Aslan Parçasi—the hunter. Photo courtesy of Ceyda Torun

Istanbul native Ceyda Torun, who now lives in Los Angeles, directed this utterly delightful film, with cinematographer Charlie Wuppermann giving us great kitty-eye’s view of the feline characters, following them around in their haunts and daily travels. Thirty-five cats initially showed up for the “casting call,” but many were unreliable, so the cast was pared down to seven:

Sari—the hustler; Bengü—the lover; Aslan Parçasi—the hunter; Psikopat—the psychopath; Deniz—the social butterfly; Duman—the gentleman; and Gamsiz—the player.

The charming soundtrack features Turkish pop songs as such as “Arkadasim Esek” by Baris Manço, “Bak Yesil Yesil” by Emel Sayin, “Deli Kadin” by the Turkish psychedelic band Erkin Koray, as well as Eartha Kitt singing a Turkish classic, “Usku Dara,” plus “Amber Eyes” by an American musician named Lloyd Miller who plays over 100 instruments and is known for his expertise in world music and jazz. What makes the soundtrack music even more fun is that each cat character has his or her own theme song, kind of like friends who have specific ring tones on your phone.

2927116167_837950fd13_oA cat hanging out in a record store in Istanbul. Can you imagine fighting with a cat for elbow room in the bins at Amoeba Records? Photo by Amanda (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0) via Flickr

The cool score is by Kira Fontana, a classically-trained (Eastman School of Music, Yale University) pianist-composer. Her mentors include Steve Reich, John Adams, and David Lang. The playful and percussive music score—in which you clearly hear the Steve Reich influence—is performed by percussionist Sidney Hopson, a three-time alum of USC’s Thornton School of Music, and features marimbas, glockenspiels, vibraphones, and strings. The music was recorded at Cal Arts in Valencia, California.  The Arabic darbuka drum is used to highlight the hunt and fight scenes. As Kira described to me, they aimed for “an ethereal, magical sound-world to reflect the spiritual role Istanbul’s cats play in the daily lives of the city’s residents.” I think that together, the Turkish songs and score perfectly complement the feline stars as they pursue their daily adventures.

This is a movie not only about a great city and its colorful felines, but a tribute to the kind citizens of Istanbul who love and care for them. It’s a feel-good movie if there ever was one, whether you like cats or not. If you haven’t seen the documentary yet, the trailer below provides a taste, but you can also find screening information here.

And here is Eartha Kitt’s “Usku Dara” (theme song for Aslan Parçasi—the hunter):

And this is American Lloyd Miller’s “Amber Eyes” (theme song for Gamsiz—the player):

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Above, Sari—the hustler. This and banner photo at top courtesy of Ceyda Torun.

toms

Tom Schnabel, M.A.

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

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