Multilingualism and its impression on the world

December 1st 2017

Gugulethu

It is estimated that there are over 190 distinct languages in existence, it is near impossible to say exactly how many languages are actually spoken in the world. Language is the basis and one of the main pillars of a culture, for every language there is a correspondingly unique culture hence if anyone wishes to truly understand a culture a great place to start is with the language.

We are currently living in a world littered with hate, war and struggle, day by day people fight against one another for different reasons but I am of the opinion that an unfortunate but dominant cause of all this strife is misunderstanding. Our lack of understanding of others’ cultures results in misconceptions which ultimately lead to attitudes of selfishness and self-preservation with a clear disregard of the wellbeing and quality of life of others. I will go as far as to say, for peace’s sake we should all strive to learn and understand cultures other than our own especially the ones we assume we already understand.

There are places in the world where here are at least 15 languages spoken , some variations and versions of one another and others complete standalones and for each language there exists variations in culture and in some cases completely different cultures, yet people have found a way to peacefully coexist .In a lot of instances you will find people who can speak multiple languages and therefore relate to multiple cultures , I myself am an example of such a situation I was born to parents raised in two different cultures speaking different languages. As a result of my parentage and upbringing, I learnt from a young age that every single language and culture deserves a healthy level of respect.

I will not deny the fact that there are difficulties that may arise when learning a new language or being in the midst of a culture you do not understand or come from. When I was in kindergarten we moved to a city where a language I did not speak was the dominant one and as a result I struggled to communicate with my peers, frustrated I cried to my mother begging not to go to kindergarten but as I began to learn the language and became good friends with those I had struggled to relate to before for the first time I learnt the lesson of perseverance.

I am proud to say my experience with multilingualism and experiences with culture did not end with my childhood and upbringing. I have been incredibly fortunate enough to be able to learn new languages like Mandarin and Russian and not only that but to do so whilst experiencing the cultures and gaining more knowledge on the world around me and the people who live in it. I have learnt a lot, but every day is a new day and as such there is always something new to learn. Many people will tell you about the economic pros of being multilingual which are all true, but it should not be omitted how much of a role learning a new language plays in correcting prejudice and preconceptions about each other’s way of life.

I will be your witness, when I compare who I was and who I am becoming day by day I see so much more respect for others and less bias against what I do not know. My hope is that my story and my sharing can influence many others to the path leading to being more understanding and responsible human beings. In the words of Ludwig Wittgenstein “The limits of my language are the limits of my world”, and we could all gain from a less limited world.

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Gugulethu Jemaine Nyathi is a 20-year old Zimbabwean student currently studying towards her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at Jiangsu University in China. Gugulethu is an avid reader, enthusiastic writer and multilingualism is one of her passions. Her ultimate goal is to be a change maker and a force for good.

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.

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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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Our Message of Thanks to you!

November 22nd, 2017

Thanks2017

A big THANKS to all our subscribers, viewers, regular contributors and guest bloggers. Without you, our blog would not be the success that it is and grown to hundreds of thousands of viewers in a year!

Though we have one day a year to pause and give thanks, I am filled with gratitude every day of the year for the fulfilling work we do here at ACEI in helping students, immigrants, refugees and displaced people from around the world. On behalf of ACEI and its dedicated team, I extend a special greeting of Thanks to express to you our sincere appreciation for your confidence and loyalty. We are deeply thankful and extend to you our best wishes for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Day.

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– Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, President & CEO

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. It reminds me to be thankful and appreciate what I have and how lucky I am. Things become so little and insignificant when I realize how blessed I am. So, be thankful for what you have. Good thing will come to those who appreciate family, friends and their own wellbeing. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.

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– Alan Saidi, Senior VP & COO

I am thankful for my wonderful family and that we get to spend time together.

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– Nora Khachetourian, Executive Director

I couldn’t be more thankful this Thanksgiving because I have amazing family and friends in my life. I hope your Thanksgiving is yummy, delicious, and tasty. 

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– Yoli Moreno, Director of Communications

I am thankful for my ACEI and AICE family and the colleagues in our profession who make this world a better place.

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– Laura Sippel, Director of Marketing

I’m grateful for the wonderful family and friends in my family!

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– John Riley – Social Media Coordinator

I am thankful for the gift of life and the many blessings that come to me daily: The sunlight illuminating the petals, leaves and grass in the morning garden, the smiles exchanged with complete strangers, the countless blessings of my dear friends and family.  Every breath.

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– Jeannie Winston Nogai, Public Relations Administrator

I’m grateful to be working at ACEI!

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William “Scottie” Thompson, Client Relations

Lately I’ve been thankful for the pretty things in my life: flowers, graffiti, hugs, bugs, whatever.

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Alex Brenner, Client Relations

To be thankful is to transform. To be thankful for what made you is to be thankful for what you are to become.

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Clayton Winston Johan, Evaluator & Communications

Big thanks also come to you from our evaluators: Jennifer, Dmitry, Sanjin, Matthew, Katherine, Alex M., Mark, and Cindy.

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And for good measure, here’s a shout out from our resident feline, Scruffy, who is thankful for all the humans taking such exceptionally good care of her so she can meet and greet our applicants who stop by the office!

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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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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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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Dispatch from the NAFSA I, II, and IV Tri-Regional Conference in Denver

November 9th, 2017

Denver

Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI) attended the NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Tri-Regional conference this week in Denver.

855 international education professionals joined together to discuss issues surrounding the applied comparative education arena and looking toward to future to build bridges to advocate for our profession. The excellent conference held nine workshops, 131 professionals from all variety of services, 35 states represented, 115 poster sessions, the exhibition hall had record-breaking numbers with a total of 80 exhibitors, and they closed with a silent auction gala on the last evening.

From the Tri-Regional Conference website, it states that the NAFSA Region I, II, IV Tri-Regional Conference will bring sessions on current topics, established best practices, and emerging trends facing international educators in these regions.

Region I is comprised of the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington. Region II is comprised of the states of  Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming. Region IV is comprised of the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota.

Dr. Esther Brimmer, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, welcomed a large group of interested participants at breakfast on the first day of the conference.

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NAFSA Executive Director, Dr. Brimmer & Laura Sippel, ACEI’s Director of Marketing

As Dr. Brimmer welcomed the group, she expressed three ways we can build bridges to help move international education forward. First, she indicated that we need to keep honing our skills as international educators, secondly, building relationships and expanding our knowledge of working with colleagues, and lastly, being a collective community brings us together to improve our communication.

She indicated that learning about new techniques to address issues we face today will bring us together. “By joining together to be a bold voice to advocate for our field builds strong bridges for our international students,” Brimmer said. “We have to build on three levels: local, regional, and national. When we look to each other, we find strength and get tools to be a part of the solution. We have the tools to build a strong bridge and it will withstand the new challenges and we will have a more welcoming United States.”

Dr. Brimmer continued to ask what powerful and positive stories we can tell on our campuses, provide stories that resonate with our field, and that we build bridges together. She said we face roadblocks, but by speaking to State Representatives about the general climate for immigrants, we create a vibrant, diverse community.

The conference held several sessions providing trends, issues, best practices, and tools in our field.

ACEI held a lively “spin-the-wheel” to win a prize!  Many attendees stated this was the best way to get attendees involved and make new contacts and stay in touch with dear colleagues.

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The NAFSA Tri-Regional conference held individual state meetings and Dr. Brimmer personally attended the Region II (Arizona) state meeting, addressing the special needs of each state.

“NAFSA is dedicated to learning about our needs and providing ways to move us forward. I’m looking to the future and what helps our field in the first place,” Brimmer said. “We cannot be experts about your states, but we have a state-level tool kit. We can give back to our regions to be a part of such an amazing field.”

The well-attended business luncheon recognized leaders and emerging leaders of our field and indicated we are stronger than ever. The Conference Chair thanked all the people possible for making this great conference possible.

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NAFSA Luncheon

The conference concluded with an elegant silent auction and gala. This conference broke attendance records and indeed built bridges for our profession in Denver. ACEI had a very productive conference!

laura_sippel

Laura Sippel
Director of Marketing
Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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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.

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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.

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Nairobi, Kenya

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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.

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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).

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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

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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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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Keep a Tradition, Lose the Bad Habit.

October 19th, 2017

balance

Traditions. Tradition, and the importance placed on tradition differs from culture to culture as much as it does from person to person. Recently, in the United States, we have adopted Indigenous People’s Day as a replacement for Columbus Day. And given the recent “conversations” in the United States about confederate statues and monuments, the automatic response of “you can’t erase history”, and the reply of “yes but you don’t have to glorify it” traditions are fresh in the public consciousness. As John Oliver said recently, “Books are for history, statues are for glorification”.

I’m not one for knocking tradition. It’s fun! It can be something as simple as an inter-generational inside joke, or a family game, and its purpose, to unify and humble, is certainly a worthy cause. My problem is with tradition “for traditions sake.” The idea that we are honor bound to our traditions should be a relic of the past. We must remember our traditions but we must remember how they have always evolved. When we lose sight of why we honor our traditions, it loses its purpose, in other words, a tradition becomes a habit. And there are more examples than you might think. Which puts me in mind of a conversation with a friend from the Netherlands.

Always big fans of comparing cultures with light hearted razzing, we were having the recurring conversation our respective homelands and their history:

“Doesn’t your Santa have a slave?” I asked, already knowing the answer

“No, he has a helper,” Ralf replied defensively

“I see, and what is his helpers name?”

“Zwarte Piet”

“Which translates to…?”

Looking down, “Black Peter”

He adds, “But I think he’s a former slave that Santa freed or something… and now he’s black because of all the soot in the chimney”

“Right… so all good now. Remind me though, how do you celebrate?”

A little excited for the nostalgia he replies “All the little kids dress-up and paint their faces black and…”

At which point his excitement fades a bit, “That’s blackface, isn’t it?”

I laughed “Yeah it’s ok though, we celebrate the betrayal and genocide of an entire race every Thanksgiving, so I don’t either of us are completely in the clear.”

Ralf is able to laugh at the Dutch tradition of Black Peter, and me at Thanksgiving for their absurdity and how far these traditions are removed from their origins. But really, while people around the US defend monuments to those who upheld slavery, the story of Zwatre Piet and the demise of Columbus Day are glimpses of hope; glimpses of evolution, perspective and progress. Of course, we shouldn’t forget our history. Just have a little humility.

Which is what concluded mine and Ralf’s discourse.

“Yeah Zwarte Piet might be racist but I mean… we had slaves man, that’s like, our national shame.”

“Yeah but who do you think sold you those slaves?”

“…..Yeah, both of us DEFINITELY  not in the clear”

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.

 

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