Tag Archives: travel

40 Facts on Peru: The Country & its Education System

April 6th, 2018

peru

The Country

As a country, Peru has a deep rich history, dramatic and diverse landscapes, breathtaking architectural feats, incredible wildlife, and fascinating ancient culture. Peru is the third-largest country in South America. almost twice the size of Texas; slightly smaller than Alaska. Lima is the capital and largest city. Ancient Peru was the seat of several prominent Andean civilizations, most notably that of the Incas whose empire was captured by Spanish conquistadors in 1533. Peru declared its independence in 1821 and it’s government is a Presidential Republic.

Here are a few fun facts about the country:

1. There are 3 official languages in Peru: Spanish, Quechua and Aymara, but east of the Andes in Amazon jungle regions it is thought that natives speak 13 different indigenous languages.

2. The sacred city of Caral-Supe is said to the oldest residence of our ancestors as human beings in the Americas, and it is over 5,000 years old.

peru2
Interesting Facts About Peru: Sacred City of Caral-Supe. Photo by Christopher Kleihege

3. Peru’s Macchu Pichu was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, along with the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.

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4. The world has a population of 10 million Alpacas, but more than 3.5 million of them are found in Peru.

Alpaca
An Alpaca. It is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

5. There are over 3,000 different varieties of Potato grown in Peru. The potato is originally from Peru, and there are over 3,000 different varieties.

potato

The Education System

In 1996, the government of Peru passed education reforms that extended free and compulsory school education to all students aged between 5 and 16, known as educación básica (general stream) y técnico productiva (technical).

6. Literacy rate is 94.2%

7. Education is offered at four main levels: Primary; Secondary; Vocational and Technical; and

University.

8. Public education is free

9. Private schools operate at all levels of the education system.

10. As mandated in a 2008 ministerial decree, schools in both the public and private sectors follow the national curriculum which is set at the federal level and overseen by local education authorities.

11. The academic school year starts at the beginning of March and runs through to November/ December.

12. The language of instruction is Spanish. In some regional primary schools, Aymara or Quechua is the language of instruction with Spanish offered as a second language.

13. The Ministry of Education is the authority overseeing all levels of education from preschool through higher education and sets all education policy, legislation and curriculum guidelines.

ministry
Ministry of Education, Peru

14.  In January 2015, under the direction of the Minsitry of Education,  January 2015, a new higher education authority, known as the Superintendencia Nacional de Educación Superior Universitaria (SUNEDU, National Superintendency of University Higher Education) was formed replacing the Asamblea Nacional de los Rectores (ANR, National Assembly of Rectors) with the goal to improve quality standards and approving university operating licenses.

Elementary and Secondary School education

15. The school system is 12 years in duration.

16. Pre-school education (educación inicial) begins age 5 is 1 year and is compulsory.

17. Primary school (educación primaria) is for ages 6-11 and is 6 years in duration.

school

18. Secondary school (educación secundaria) is for ages 12-16 and is 5 years in duration.

19. General secondary education is 2 years in duration.

20. Academic secondary covering arts or science tracks is 3 years in duration and follows after general secondary.

21. Technical secondary education (Educación Secundaria Diversificada) is offered at colegios secundarios con variante técnica and is 3 years in duration and follows after general secondary.

22. Students who graduate from secondary school receive the Certificado Oficial de Estudios de Educación Secundaria which qualifies them to sit for university entrance examinations.

Post-Secondary Technical Education

23. Most technical and vocational training at the postsecondary level is offered at the following: Institutos y Escuelas de Educación Superior Technológicos – IEST (higher institutes of technology); Institutos de Educación Superior Pedagógicos – IESP (higher institutes of teaching); Institutos y Escuelas Superiores de Educación de Formación Artística – IESFA (higher institutes of arts).

24. The Título de Experto – or – Título de Segunda y Ulterior Especialización Profesional are available options for further graduate-level training in a field of specialty in which the candidate has obtained prior qualifications.

25. Credits, courses or programs completed in the technical and vocational higher education sector cannot be transferred to university study.

Teacher Training

26. Teacher training programs of 5 years in duration are offer at higher institutes of pedagogy (IESP) leading to the title of Profesor and mention of the educational level and specialization completed.

27. Teacher-training programs are also offered at universities.

28. Training of teachers in technical education are provided by the institutos superiors tecnológicos which are three years in duration and lead to the award of the Título de Profesional Técnico.

Higher education

29. Higher education is offered mainly through the nation’s university system.

30. Peru’s National University of San Marcos, which was founded in the year 1551, is the oldest university in the Americas.

nationaluni
National University of San Marcos

31. Currently, there are currently 51 public (nacional) universities and 89 private (particulare) universities – both for-profit and non-profit – operating in Peru. 

32. University-level institutions also include many specialized art, music and religious institutions that are called conservatorioinstituto, and escuela superior.

33. The academic year typically lasts 34-36 weeks and is divided into two semesters.

34. Courses are credit (créditos) weighted and start in late March or early April. A credit hour is equivalent to one hour (45-50 minutes) of instruction per week, or two hours of practical work per semester.

Undergraduate

35. The first two years of the academic degree of Bachiller requires general studies (estudios generals of at least 35 credits), followed by a period of specialization of three to five years (five to seven years total, minimum 200 credits). 

36. Students who hold the Bachiller and are pursuing the professional title (Licenciado / Titulo Profesional) must complete an additional requirement which can either be a thesis,  Six-month internship with a report or, in some cases, comprehensive examinations. The professional title is required in order to practice a profession in Peru.

Graduate

37. Admission to the graduate studies is based on a Bachiller or equivalent.

38. Graduate programs are typically two years in duration, require the defense of original research work and lead to the title of Grado deMaestro/Magister are typically two years in duration and require the defense of original research work.

39. The Titulo de Diplomado is a shorter one-year (24 credits) graduate certificate program.

40. Admission to a doctoral program requires a master’s degree which lasts a minimum of three years and requires the completion and defense of a dissertation.  Successful candidates are awarded the Grado de Doctor.

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At ACEI, we see the importance of international education in our global economy and strive to maintain the exchange and dissemination of information by assisting colleges and universities, professional organizations, and employers around the world 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:

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

https://alibi.com/blog/s/travel/31337/Fun-And-Not-So-Fun-Facts-About-Peru.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/50-fun-facts-you-probably-never-knew-about-peru_us_58507beee4b0a464fad3e4b5

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

Education system: Peru, NUFFIC, The Netherlands

Electronic Database on Global Education, Peru, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, Washington, DC  www.aacrao.org

Online Guide to Educational Systems Around the World, Peru, NAFSAL Association of International Educators, Washington, DC   www.nafsa.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/

soccer

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.

flag_vietnam

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.

vietnam_classroom

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.

vietnam_classroom_2

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.

vietnam_classroom_3

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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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.

Aussie2

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)

Aussie3

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)

Aussie4

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)

Aussie5

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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US-Iran History of Research and Collaboration

March 3rd, 2017

iranusaflag

Iran is included on list of the travel ban on entry for nationals from seven majority-Muslim nations in President Donald Trump’s recent Executive Order. One thing many may not know is the collaborative relationship in research and researcher mobility that exists between the US and Iran. The US and Iran have been benefiting from this collaborative relationship which has been the strongest of all the 6 countries according to the Elsevier’s. However, with Iran selected as one of the countries targeted by the travel ban this relationship is expected to be damaged effecting universities around the world.

Data from Elsevier’s SciVal and Scopus databases show how strong the research ties are between the US and Iran. The following is the Elsevier data as reported in The Times Higher Education:

  • US academic relationships with Iran are by far the strongest of the seven nations targeted by the order. In fact, the US and Iran have had a long history of maintaining close academic relations and collaborating in research endeavors as far back as the 1960’s.
  • Between 2011 and 2015, US researchers co-authored 8,821 papers with Iranian scientists. (Note: This makes Iran the US’s 36th closest collaborator in research, close behind the Republic of Ireland.)
  • US-Iran co-authored papers had a field-weighted citation impact (widely regarded as an indicator of the quality of research) of 1.84. This compares with a citation impact of 1.46 for US-only authored papers and 0.84 for Iran-only authored papers. The world average is about 1.0.
  • Medicine, engineering and physics and astronomy are the main fields in which US and Iranian researchers collaborate.
  • 1,500 Iranian researchers active in publications have moved to the US long term since 1996.
  • The average field-weighted citation impact of these Iranian researchers who moved to the US is 1.93, well above the average for researchers who remain in Iran (0.88) and marginally above the average for researchers who do not leave the US (1.92).
  • Another 2,900 Iranian researchers were classed as “transitory” and spending most of their time in the US in that period, with an even higher average field-weighted citation impact of 2.21.
  • According to the Institute of International Education, Iran was the 11th largest country of origin for international students enrolling at US universities and colleges in 2015-16. Iranian student enrolment increased by 8.2 per cent to 12,269, “the highest US enrollment by Iranians in 29 years”, the IIE said in its 2016 Open Doors

If the US limits entry to Iranian national, the number of internationally co-authored papers will decline and in turn effect the quality of its research.

Links:

List of Iranian-Americans in Silicon Valley and Beyond: https://www.forbes.com/sites/elizabethmacbride/2015/12/20/100-influential-iranian-americans-in-silicon-valley-and-beyond/#7f97aeb37c2f

List of Prominent Iranian-Americans:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Iranian_Americans

https://ir.usembassy.gov/education-culture/prominent-iranian-americans/

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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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One Rhythm, One Planet: Music from the Banned Countries

February 9th, 2017

ofra

I have always believed that music brings people together and bridges cultural divides. Music can connect us like no other arts, with its universal language of rhythm and melody. Maybe even more importantly, music—especially world music, helps us understand and appreciate other cultures and people. I have bonded instantly with immigrant taxi drivers from Nigeria, Cameroon, Armenia, Argentina, and other places simply by asking them about the music of their homelands.

This core belief in the binding power of music has underpinned my work over the past 30 years to popularize world music in Los Angeles and beyond. It’s been a joy to watch ecstatic crowds dancing to Pakistani qawwali (sufi gospel) music or Nigerian afrobeat and juju, to see people entranced by whirling dervishes from Turkey and Syria, and to swoon with others to achingly beautiful classical music from Iran. My life and personal horizons have been immeasurably enriched by these experiences. Sadly, some of these experiences may now be in peril due to the recently enacted immigration ban on seven predominately Muslim countries—Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya.

In this time of division and discord, it’s imperative to keep building bridges through music. With that in mind, I want to celebrate music that I’ve loved by artists from the seven countries targeted by the recent immigration ban. This sweeping ban will most certainly prevent artists from these countries from performing in the U.S., but we can still support their music and arts from afar—by continuing to share and learn about them through recordings and the vast resources of the internet.

We begin in SYRIA with the poet-musician Abed Azrie and his albums Lapis Lazuli and Aromates. Azrie was born in Aleppo but has been based in Paris for many years. Aromates was his first album released in the U.S., on Nonesuch. I put a beautiful cut, “Pareil à l’eau” (Like Water) from the album Lapis Lazuli on a compilation that I produced called Trance Planet Vol. 3. His poetry is as beautiful as his music.

IRAQ: Munir Bashir has been called the King of Oud and is credited by many as the greatest modern oud player. Algerian-born, French singer-songwriter Pierre Bensusan gave me my first Munir Bashir LP years ago. I immediately fell in love with his finely-filigreed music. Sadly, Bashir died at the age of 47 in an auto accident in Budapest. Here is a track from his album Mesopotamia:

I also want to mention an upcoming concert at the Getty Center by Iraqi-American oud musician Rahim AlHaj. His concerts take place on Saturday, February 18 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, February 19 at 4 p.m. Admission is free, but you must make a reservation. Click here for more information and reservations.

IRAN: Masters of Persian Music is a classical music ensemble formed in 2000 by true masters of Persian music. Iran has an amazing classical tradition, as complex and arabesque as any Mozart or Bach. Lyrics come from the classic poets and mystics: Hafez and Rumi, as well as more modern writers. The group once performed at the Hollywood Bowl with a live calligrapher rendering classical Persian poetry; it was one of the most stunning concerts ever to grace the Bowl’s celebrated stage. Here is a song from their album Hanan (Without You), featuring Hossein Alizadeh, Kayhan Kalhor, and Homayoun Shajarian. It is a gentle, passionate, and powerful love song.

YEMEN: When I think about Yemen, I immediately think of the late Yemenite Israeli singer Ofra Haza. Her parents moved from Yemen to Israel in 1950 in the airlift known as Operation Magic Carpet. She burst upon the scene in 1986 with her transcendent album Yemenite Songs. Many of the songs on the album were written by a 17th century rabbi. Her song “Im Nin’alu” topped the European charts, even rising to #1 in Germany. To me, her success was more convincing proof that music transcends language and builds bridges between cultures. Ofra once visited my UCLA World Music class—International Bandstand—and performed a Yemenite song, drumming a large oil can on her shoulder. It was a beautiful moment. Here is “Im Nin’alu“:

SUDAN: Sudanese music has incredible rhythms and deep groove. Crowds love it, though it’s featured more in big European summer festivals than in the U.S., especially after 9/11. Sudanese singer and oud player Abdel Aziz El Mubarak leads a large group, playing music that blends Arabic styles and Western forms. The great UK label Globe Style released his music back in the 1980’s, and I was listening.

SOMALIA: Somali poet, musician, and hip hop artist K’naan (born Keinan Abdi Warsame) was born in Mogadishu in 1978 and now resides in Canada. His hybrid sound draws from world music, hip hop, reggae, and of course, Somali music. He has collaborated with artists from the great Youssou N’Dour to Bono. Here is his song “Take a Minute.” Watch him as he walks by portraits of Gandhi, Mandela, Bob Marley, and Nina Simone:

LIBYA: We don’t hear too much from Libyan artists, especially here in the U.S., due in part to the country’s isolation under the four-decade long rule of Qaddafi. Ahmed Fakroun is a pioneer of modern Arabic pop music and one of the most popular Libyan artists, both in Tripoli as well as among Libyan expats. His crossover style blends Arabic instruments and lyrics with Western pop elements like synthesizers and electric bass. Here’s a track called “Ya Farhi’ Bik” from his 1983 album Mots D’Amour – it definitely has that 80’s pop sound but with an Arabic twist:

Finally, I want to mention the compilation album Lullabies from the Axis of Evil, released back in the days of the Bush 43 administration. It features music from all the countries above, as well as music from Afghanistan, North Korea, and other “evil” places.

I hope you enjoyed these tracks and will keep exploring musical riches from around the world.

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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Ranch of the Gathering Waters: The Other History of Beverly Hills

10/27/16

gatheringwaters

I was amazed to discover that the first owner of what is now known as Beverly Hills was a Black Woman. I had grown up in Beverly Hills during a time when a lone black man walking down the street was enough to summon the magical appearance of the B.H.P.D. Her name was María Rita Quintero Valdés de Villa, the descendent of one of the original 44 Pobladores or settlers of the City of the Queen of Angels, El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles Sobre El Rio de la Porciúncula), what we now know as Los Angeles. As a matter of fact, 26 of the original founding settlers were full-blooded Africans.

When colonial Spain got nervous about the encroaching presence of the Russians coming down the coast of Alta California from the Pacific Northwest, they decided to buttress their territory, Nuevo España, New Spain, securing the border by colonizing the lands in the north. In 1769, an expeditionary force led by Gaspar de Portola was sent out, and from the vantage point of what is now Elysian Park, spied an “advantageous” site, which was the Native American Tongvan village of Yangna.  El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles was founded on September 4, 1781, and according to Mexican laws and those of the Spanish Crown, each of Los Pobladores were awarded approximately 1 Sitio each, approximately 4,400 acres. Señor Juan Quintero Valdés, was one of the original expeditionary soldiers in the Portola Party, claimed his rightful plot, Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas, Ranch of the Gathering Waters. It was named for the streams that emptied into the area from out of the canyons above; Cañada de las Aguas Frias (Glen of the Cold Waters, now Coldwater Canyon) and Cañada de los Encinos (Glen of the Green Oaks, now Benedict Canyon).

María Rita Quintero Valdés married Spanish soldier, Vicente Ferrer Villa and eventually built an adobe in present day Beverly Hills, approximately on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Alpine Drive. She received the Rancho title from the Mexican government in 1831.

Rancho Rodeo de los Aquas was a fruitful plain, fed by the waterfalls coming down the canyons and because of this, had an extremely unique micro climate where plants and livestock thrived. However, times were difficult and volatile. By 1844 the initial contact with the Spanish had virtually wiped out the Native populations of Tongvas and Gabrielinos due to repeated abuse and slavery both in and out of the Mission System, followed by a virulent smallpox epidemic. As their numbers alarmingly dwindled, the Native peoples routinely launched incursions into the fertile ranch lands for food and livestock. Then in 1846 President James K. Polk, launched el Guerra del 47 (The War of 1847), and a US Marine force led by military commander Archibald H. Gillespe invaded the Pueblo de Los Angeles. This sparked a popular uprising of the Californios, who launched a vaquero lancer force led by José Antonio Carrillo and Andrés Pico. Ultimately, the invaders were chased out of their occupied headquarters in The Plaza and fled to the hill overlooking the square (Fort Moore Hill) where they eventually surrendered, but not before the women of El Pueblo took their revenge. Native, Mexican and Californios, after having witnessed the degradation of their men and the rape of their daughters, decided on a final act of defiance and offered the departing Gillespie and his troops baskets of peaches which had been rolled in cactus needles.

Following the Euro-American victory, Mexico ceded a large portion of its northern lands, upon the conditions drawn up in the 1857 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which provided that all the original land grants be honored. As required by the Land Act of 1851, a claim for Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852, but it was not until 1871, that María Rita Quintero Valdés de Villa was finally awarded the grant. Prior to the invasion, María Rita had also built a home within the boundaries of El Pueblo on land she had to foresight to acquire, located on current day Main Street.  This would later become the well-known center of social and political life in El Pueblo, the Bella Union Hotel, the very one Commodore Robert Stockton “commandeered” as the American headquarters during the war.  In her haste to flee the pueblo, Maria Rita neglected to take the original papers of ownership issued by the Mexican government, and they were subsequently “lost.”  Sadly, this was a common story for many original rancho claimants from the Mexican era trying to retain their land, and many had to mortgage their properties trying to prove ownership title under the new American laws and “tax codes.” The land grab was on.

As part of the Public Land Commission rulings in 1852, Henry Hancock did a second survey of el Pueblo based on partitioning the vacant ejidos, or municipal lands into larger lots. These became known as “Donation Land.” One could acquire the land for a nominal fee of $10, along with property “improvements” of $200. One could either build a small adobe, or plant fruit trees or gardens or all of these. The land had to yield a value. Word had traveled across the country and wealthy eastern Euro-Americans began to flock to the land of sunshine and promise, grabbing as much land as they could. One of the ways this was accomplished was by marrying widowed California women, and thus cementing status and place in the growing town.

Henry Hancock, grew to know good land value when he drew up the second survey and thus,   along with his business partner Benjamin Wilson, eventually purchased Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas from María Rita. She knew a thing about land values herself, as the great drought of 1862-1865 hit and wiped out previously thriving cattle and agricultural businesses.

María Rita retired to her property in the center of el Pueblo, on La Plaza, and lived out her days amongst other California women and descendants. Sadly, the Native American women of the region had all but been wiped out, and those remaining, fled into the interior. The sacred and fertile Tongva site of the gathering waters had slowly all but dried up, and would take years to recover. To this day the only remaining nod to its former glory, is the fountain at the corner intersection of Wilshire (a former Indian Trail) and Santa Monica Boulevards, which features a loin-clothed Tongvan man kneeling as he offers his hands in a prayer of thanks for the abundant flowing waters. 

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Jeannie Winston is a frequent guest blogger for ACEI’s Academic Exchange.  Jeannie is an artist and writer living and working in Los Angeles, California. Jeannie completed undergraduate studies in Illustration at The Arts Center of Pasadena, California.   Her vast and intricate knowledge of Los Angeles and its cultural history bring a new perspective to our understanding of the City of Angels. She draws her inspiration from the natural and inhabited world around her. She is especially inspired by her observations of cultural fusions and how people strive to invoke spirit in daily life.

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How to Be a Responsible Foreign-Language Learner and Speaker

August 25th, 2016

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As participants in the 2016 Many Languages One World essay contest, we had to submit an essay on multiculturalism and multilingualism. Writing about multiculturalism and multilingualism is a tough and broad task, but what we can do, as individuals, is write about our own experience. 

As a student in Chinese department and as a traveler, I do not believe in any so-called “clash of civilizations”, or in any “culture shock”. “The other” is always the result of a process of image-making. Moreover, I am strongly convinced that most of the distinctions we rely on are constructs and artificial distinctions, used by dominant groups to justify unequal situations and discrimination. Learning foreign languages aims to explore interstices, never to widen gaps. 

I would like to explain why my experience of multiculturalism and multilingualism has fostered a strong sense of responsibility, and has motivated my political and social commitment.

I was born in France twenty years ago, and was brought up in ten different countries, among which Spain, South Korea, Canada and China. I have been moving every one or two years because of my parents’ job as International School French teachers. I can relate to many different cultural habits and cultural backgrounds. “Where do you come from?” is a question I feel very uncomfortable with. Because I am unable to answer it and because experience has proven, it doesn’t actually tell a lot about the person you’re speaking to. I don’t feel like I belong to a specific country and don’t feel attached to one single language. I don’t want to choose between countries and languages. The first language I learnt was Finnish. My brother and I recently saw some videos of us speaking Finnish together, but we can’t understand a word anymore. It’s one layer among our multi-layered, multi-dimensional life. Since then, my little sister arrived in our family, adopted from China, and my brother left the French school system to take the International Baccalaureate. My parents have moved to Tashkent, in Uzbekistan, and started learning Russian. When we get together in France every summer, we speak bits and pieces of French, English and Mandarin Chinese. Each language allows us to express our ideas, hint at common references, play on words in a different way. In our case they are always related to a certain time period, linked to certain friendships, landscapes, food, books, movies and educational systems we’ve experienced and share, which thus inform our approach to each language. As my sister said once, what we truly share is our story, our passing by in many places and never settling down.

This had led me to think identity is not an enclosed and immutable entity, identity is evolution, identity is change, making one’s way between adapting and conflicting. Identity is like a tangled web, tying together places you lived in, people you met or crossed paths with, what you’ve seen and experienced. In my case, I feel that what has primordially influenced me are the most unbearable things I have witnessed. People suffering from leper, from hunger and thirst, children working in terrible conditions and whom childhood was stolen away, eager to escape from poverty and war, in the places I’ve visited or lived in. You can’t forget these things. You can only pretend, but somewhere deep inside, it’s calling out for justice and urging you to do something. I feel this is what ties all the puzzle pieces of my scattered life together.

Therefore my political and social concerns have always been the very basis, the starting point in the appreciation of the world and people around me. I have been volunteering for several NGOs. I have been working in Pnomh Penh for the NGO Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (For a Child’s Smile), which takes care of children living in slums and dumps and offers them access to healthcare and education. I participated in the planning of Charity Runs in Taipei and other cities I lived in. When I was in Paris I participated in helping homeless people and families to fill in paperwork and have access to basics. I have been writing down all their stories and hope to get you to read them some day. What revolted me is, some people would sometimes stop near me and say we – volunteers – were encouraging the present-day “invasion” of “immigrants” and poor populations in France. Some seem to consider solidarity as crime – but as I said, I don’t make distinctions between “us” and “them”, and by helping them I’m helping us. Recently I have been working in Lyon for the Secours Populaire, helping out in annual events and working to improve the reading and writing skills as well as self-confidence of children left behind. Wherever I’ve been I have felt the same emergency. Wherever I will be living, and wherever you live, there is probably something going wrong outside your front door and you can always do something, at your level, to instigate change. Multi-culturalism is about lending a hand to others, wherever you come from and wherever they come from.

Moreover, I believe that we have a duty to reflect on our ability to bring some change, not only as young people but also as students in Language Departments. I am studying in the Chinese department of my University. I think it is important for us to concentrate on building “cultural bridges” : we can study common, parallel aspects in order to create dialogues rather than orchestrate sensational “West-East” breaking points. For instance last year I have read some interesting studies on links between some French twentieth century surrealist works and early Chinese Daoist works such as the Zhuangzi : provocation, striking images, humor, rejecting of forged boundaries and rigid categories. Drawing parallels often teaches us a lot more and is definitely more stimulating. Also, I would like to emphasize the fact that cultural understanding should never be taken for granted. We have to fight for it. Some of my classmates in the Chinese Department, studying Chinese language and culture at a high level, have never been in a Chinese speaking country, have no intention of going there, no desire to learn more about or meet people who live there – because, as one of them told me once, their interest in Chinese is only “theoretical”, “aesthetic” – and sometimes they have harsh, shocking words, and many prejudices against Chinese people and culture – very dangerous ideas.

I plan on maybe becoming a researcher in Chinese philosophy or history; whatever I do later on, I hope I will never separate my work and my ideas. I was blamed once for refusing to complete an exercise in one of my Chinese courses. The problem was, the title was “Why women and men do not think alike” and the sentences we had to complete and read were very insulting. The teacher respected and understood my choice, but one of my classmates told me I should learn to separate the student and the “feminist” – that is schizophrenia – and then explained, China “never had and still does not have any feminist ideas” – which is completely false. Essentialism and distinctions between political and academic spheres are recurrent obstacles, and yet they can be overcome by raising awareness about our responsibility, our role as foreign-language learners and mediators. The issue is too important in our world today to be ignored.

That’s what I would like to conclude with: learning languages and traveling is a good start, but it is not enough. We need to stand up, and take action for what we believe in. We are responsible for what we do – and what we don’t do. Learning foreign languages is an urgent necessity but it won’t help if it’s just about playing with sounds and alphabets. It’s about making the others’ fear, anger and hope, our own.”

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Léa Buatois

About Léa Buatois: Léa was one of 60 winners of the 2016 international essay contest of Many Languages, One World® (MLOW) that included students from 36 countries and 54 universities. Her essay, shared in this blog, was selected from a pool of over 3,600 entrants. Many Languages, One World is organized by ELS Educational Services, Inc., and the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI). Léa  was born in Dijon, France, in 1996. Her parents teach in French international schools around the world. Because of her parents’ job as French teachers abroad, she has been moving a lot, approximately every one or two years. The first language she spoke was Finnish, and later she started learning English, French and Mandarin Chinese. She is now studying in the Chinese Department of the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Lyon, France. She is interested in becoming a researcher in Chinese philosophy or history, or working in cultural diplomacy or international relations. She love traveling, reading and writing.

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