Injustice: When Native Becomes Foreign

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This week, "Crossing the Globe" will focus on a topic quite different from its typical content: the Native American. As to be expected, many readers may stop and think, "Wait a minute- Native Americans? They aren't foreign!" My response is simple. The Native American who continues to live the traditional lifestyle of his/her people, has become so ostracized that they may as well be foreign. The people who are the original inhabitants of the United States have not only had their lands taken away, but many have been robbed of their culture. Today, descendants of Europeans- the real foreigners, if you think about it- make up the majority of America and are now considered "the norm."

However, to avoid turning this blog into a space for ranting and personal opinions, I seek to inform readers of an important event occurring on the IUP campus. Multicultural student organization Mosaic, which seeks to spread a message of equality among students, will host an event for "Stand Against Racism." Stand Against Racism is a national movement created by YWCA, a 154 year-old organization for American women.

Mosaic's event, to be held on Friday, April 27, at 2:30 p.m., involves a human chain which is set to encircle the Oak Grove. After the chain, Navajo Jean Whitehorse will take center stage at the HUB Susquehanna Room. Whitehorse has been described by the Navajo Times as a storyteller; on April 27, she will take on the role of activist. The event page describes her upcoming presentation as touching upon "issues such as boarding schools, sterilization, relocation and the American Indian Movement."

whitehorese.jpg(Navajo Jean Whitehorse, Courtesy of Censored News Blog)

Whitehorse's people have certainly received the short end of the stick, beginning with the 1864 deportation of the Navajo from their land. Now referred to as the "Long Walk," it claimed the lives of roughly 200 Navajo. In the years since the "Long Walk," the United States government has forced the Navajo into boarding schools where they suffered from abusive "teachers." Slowly, but surely, the Navajo were conditioned to become "normal," whitened, American citizens.

Whitehorse herself has had experience in these boarding schools and became heavily involved in the American Indian Movement (AIM), which seeks to address and fix issues affecting the Native American community.

For those interested in Jean Whitehorse's presentation, below is a link to a YouTube-hosted video featuring an earlier speech from the activist.

Finally, my question to any and all readers of "Crossing the Globe" is, do you think Native Americans continue to be treated unjustly?

Tibetan Lama Kathy Wesley Visits IUP

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The Indiana County Karma Thegsum Choling (KTC), a Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center located on Philadelphia Street, and IUP organization Friends of Himalayan Buddhism hosted a series of talks with Lama Kathy Wesley. Wesley was a student of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, who is a highly-regarded Buddhism instructor.

Wesley is a native of Columbus, Ohio, and has been practicing Tibetan Buddhism since the late 1970s. Her recent visit to IUP marks her third.

Beginning on Friday, April 20, Wesley delivered a speech in the HUB Monongahela Room regarding the effects of devoting oneself to one's community, the planet and themselves. The following day, Wesley presented a second talk followed by a Life Release ceremony.

Life Release is a practice central to Buddhism, which involves saving animals that are set to be killed. During Wesley's presentation, she offered Indiana residents to bring their pets in order to receive a blessing.

After a third set of speeches on Sunday, Wesley conducted a brief meditation session before concluding her visit with a prayer ceremony for Earth Day.

The Indiana KTC's presentation of Lama Kathy Wesley coincided with a series of Tibetan Buddhism Earth Day ceremonies. The center plans to host Wesley's instructor, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, next fall. Until then, the center offers a series of meditation sessions for anyone interested in the practice.

(Screenshot of Indiana County KTC's Meditation Fall 2011 Meditation Schedule; Courtesy of Indiana County KTC website)

Slideshow Featuring Images From Wesley's Visit, Informational Photos

Hey IUP Students! Need to Escape for a Day?

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The IUP Committee for the Study of Culture and Religion (CSCR) will sponsor a trip to Pittsburgh's Hindu Jain Temple at 9 a.m. on Sunday, April 22. 

(Hindu Jain Temple of Pittsburgh, courtesy of

According to the the Hindu Jain Temple website, the temple "provides a place for Hindus and Jains to worship while providing religious, humanitarian, cultural and educational resources to our members."

Hinduism and Jainism are both religions hailing from India that promote peace. While Jainism preaches non-violence against any and all creatures, it's practiced much less than Hinduism. The latter religion happens to be the main religion throughout the entire country of India, and has a multitude of different traditions. Hinduism is polytheistic, meaning that more than one deity (god) is worshiped. Neither religions have a single founder, and Jainism is taught to have always existed.

The Hindu Jain Temple of Pittsburgh opened in September 1990 and, since, has frequently played host to many different organizations. The temple offers an opportunity for non-Hindu/Jain visitors to gain a sense of understanding as to what the religions teach.

The CSCR's trip not only includes a visit to this beautiful place of worship, but, according to the event website, it also includes lunch at "a local Indian restaurant" before the group embarks on a trip to Monroeville's Sri Venkateswara Temple.

CSCR will meet at the HUB at 9 a.m. and return between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

A Mid-August Lunch in Mid-April

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mid august lunch.jpg

The Office of International Education at IUP will continue its Foreign Film and Music Series by screening Italian film Mid-August Lunch on Sunday, April 15, at 5:30 p.m. in Sprowls Hall's McVitty Auditorium. The film will follow in the footsteps of previous films in this series and will be shown in its original Italian language accompanied by English subtitles.

Writer/director Gianni Di Gregorio stars in this quirky tale of an Italian slacker who lives with his elderly mother. In the story, Di Gregorio's character (also named Gianni) has failed to pay the rent on the run-down apartment he shares with his mother. Gianni is hit with a stroke of good luck when, during Italy's largest summer celebration, the Ferragosto, his building manager offers to forgive Gianni's debt. In return, Gianni must care for the manager's mother.

The Ferragosto is, quite literally, a Catholic holiday marking the Virgin Mary's entry into heaven. The festival is celebrated in over a dozen countries, where it's observed as a public holiday. The Ferragosto is celebrated every August 15, hence the film's title.

Upon the release of "Mid-August Lunch" in 2009, critic Philip French of British publication The Guardian, hailed the film as a "delightful and witty homage to older people." While the film may not have garnered any Academy Award nominations, it has received a number of awards from various film festivals. "Mid-August Lunch" is a treat, however, because it provides an opportunity for audiences to take a respite from everyday life to partake in a light-hearted cinematic experience.

Meditation Invasion

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Each semester, while students are bombarded by stressful schoolwork and difficult classes, the Ascension Meditation and Yoga Association at IUP (AMYA) holds a weekly meditation/yoga session.

Meditation is individually-based and has been practiced for thousands of years. Perceived widely as a practice linked to religion, meditation has a place in nearly every religion still practiced today. Meditation acts as a personal stress-reliever and teaches people to broaden their mental capacity. 

Yoga, on the other hand, is rooted in India and, therefore, is mostly associated with eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Yoga combines the capabilities of a person's physicality, mentality and spirituality, with a goal of reaching immaculate spiritual balance. Yoga sometimes involves practitioners contorting themselves into difficult positions for long periods of time; however, long-term practitioners typically receive health benefits such as increased flexibility, better posture and greater strength.

At no cost, AMYA invites IUP students to improve their overall well-being by joining the group in the HUB Susquehanna Room, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. for a spiritually-beneficial session.

On April 11, the group gathered together to practice four distinct forms of yoga. According to the The IUP Student Organizations news page, attendees engaged in roughly 10 minutes' worth of laughter yoga, which involves exactly what it insinuates. Laughter yoga requires practitioners to laugh for, literally, no reason while incorporating pranayama, the yogic art of controlling your breathing.

Next, the group did a physical/hatha yoga exercise, which seeks to join the mind and body through exercises geared toward improving posture.

"I used to go to hatha yoga classes and they were really good," Lopa Chatterjee (junior, biochemistry major at New Jersey's Rutgers University) said. "Positions varied from easy, intermediate, to expert. It was a nice workout and it improved my posture."

(Woman performing hatha yoga; courtesy of

Following the physical yoga, AMYA led the group in a five-minute pranayama exercise which promotes the control of breathing. The session concluded with meditation/dhyana yoga, which requires practitioners to focus on a solitary object and successfully enter a tranquil state.

AMYA's decision to hold weekly yoga sessions is quite possibly one of the best student-run events to occur on IUP's campus- but why is yoga such an important practice? The answer is quite simple. The western world, largely, seems to be influenced minutely by eastern countries. One of the best exports the east could have given the west, therefore, is a simple method of achieving tranquility amidst the stress constantly placed upon most western nations. It's a common fact that many Americans tend to drown themselves in their careers and other work; for this reason, yoga remains an imperative and highly useful tool that continues to edge its way into the west.

I'm in the Mood for... Hungarian Food?

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If this doesn't get your mouth watering, nothing will.

The Department of Hospitality Management at IUP will host an event called "21 Magyar: A Hungarian Bistro" on Thursday, April 5, at The Allenwood.

The Allenwood is a restaurant, frequently student-run, located on the lower level of Ackerman on the IUP campus. Beginning at 11:45 a.m. and concluding at 1 p.m., guests will be able to dine on an all-inclusive Hungarian meal for no more than $6.95. Reservations and take-out orders can be placed by calling 724-357-2626.

Magyar, a term which refers to the people of Hungary; however, in The Allenwood's terms, it's a three-course meal. The meal commences with a cucumber salad, seasoned with spices and vinegar, before the main entree of chicken paprikash is served.

4023311760_6a0ccdaf6d.jpg(Courtesy of Hummingbird Appetite)

Chicken paprikash is a traditional Hungarian dish that provides diners with an enticing blend of paprika, sour cream and other ingredients to give the chicken a bit of a spicy kick. The Allenwood plans to serve this dish with a side of potato latkes (cakes of fried potatoes) and rolls of Hungarian cinnamon bread.

To conclude the Hungarian feast, The Allenwood will feature dessert choices of either a chocolate-walnut torte or apple-filled palacsinta; the latter of which is described by the event page as "fresh apple pie filling wrapped in a delicate crepe."

palacsinta.jpg(Courtesy of Cafe Liz)

In terms of current events, Hungary appears to be a fairly stable country. When searching Google News for articles regarding the eastern European nation, results included fairly light-hearted stories. The top articles mainly discussed the recent resignation of a university president due to plagiarism accusations, as well as the Hungarian citizens' push to get their president to step down from his duties.

The country as a whole, however, is one of stable civility- a peaceful nation that, based on the cuisine featured in the aforementioned event, has a knack for making delectable food.

"Last Train Home" shows largest human migration

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last-train-home-movie.jpg(Photo Courtesy of Chino Kino)

The Office of International Education at IUP will screen "Last Train Home," as part of its Foreign Film and Music Series, on Sunday, April 1, at 5:30 p.m. in Sprowls Hall's McVitty Auditorium.

"Last Train Home" is Chinese-Canadian Lixin Fan's attempt to document a mass exodus of thousands of Chinese migrant workers to their home villages during the Chinese New Year. The project is a result of an extensive project begun by Fan, who follows a couple during their trek to their village.

According to EyeSteelFilm, the production company that supported the film, "Last Train Home" focuses heavily on the couple's teenage daughter, who resents her parents for leaving her behind in the village years ago to work in an unnamed city.

While "Last Train Home" seems to focus more on the industrial aspects of China, it's essential to understand a little bit of what present-day China has become.

Four years after the release of this film, China has managed to remain one of the top industrial countries in the world. However, it is a country of oppression, with its Communist government maintaining a tight control on its citizens. According to a report by Freedom House, a website dedicated to reporting on every country's freedom of the press, China currently does not allow its citizens to exercise freedom of press. In the simplest terms, Chinese citizens are unable to write, publish and- most likely- speak out against the Chinese government and its practices.

As of this entry, The BBC has reported that arrests have been made against Chinese journalists who stated that military vehicles were allegedly congregating on the streets of Beijing.

"Last Train Home" was well-received by many critics, including American journalist Roger Ebert, who gave the film four out of four stars. According to the IUP page regarding Last Train Home's screening, prior to the film, there will be a musician playing a Chinese bowed instrument. The film will then be shown in its original language, Mandarin-Chinese, accompanied by English subtitles.

"Upaj" Provides Glimpse at Dancers' Trip to India

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Chitresh Das and Jason Samuels Smith performing on stage in Fast Feed India Jazz Suites.jpg

(India Jazz Suites, From Left: Pandit Chitresh Das, Jason Samuels Smit; Courtesy of

Snippets of India Jazz Suites' documentary "Upaj: Improvise" was shown to audiences at 7 PM on Wednesday, March 21st in Eberly Auditorium at IUP, as part of the Ideas and Issues Series

This particular Ideas and Issues series commenced with an opening speech from Lively Arts director Hank Knerr, who briefly explained the origins of the India Jazz Suites before announcing a Question and Answer (Q&A) session and reception after the film. Since "Upaj: Improvise" was still in its editing stages, the audience was notified that they would be viewing a copy of the film that had not been finalized.

The documentary showcased the India Jazz Suites, a dance team who combines Eastern and Western dance. The two-man team is comprised of Indian kathak dancer Pandit Chitresh Das, 68, and Emmy Award-winning tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith, 32. Kathak is a classical Indian dance which tends to tell a story through dance.

India Jazz Suites was conceived at a 2004 American Dance Festival in North Carolina, an annual festival which features over a dozen dance companies. The two men met by chance and decided to collaborate; luckily, Smith and Das were able to collaborate so easily given that Smith resided in Los Angeles and Das in San Francisco. Their union and fame grew as the pair began performing across the nation; this past year, they even managed to take a month-long trip to India. This trip was featured heavily in "Upaj: Improvise."

The film showed the dancers traveling throughout India, showing Smith's culture shock as he witnessed the extremely different culture in India. As Smith would later explain, his biggest shock in the film seemed to come within minutes of its start, when he experienced the traffic situation in India. 

The film also showed India Jazz Suites visiting different locations, such as a Mumbai television show and a college in India. Mumbai is the center of Bollywood, India's version of Hollywood, and the show featured a variety of subjects in Indian pop culture.

Also discussed was Das' inspiration for dancing, his guru- to put it in simpler terms, a spiritual teacher. In India, gurus are revered for their knowledge; for Das, however, his inspiration came after the tragic death of his guru. In the film, Das shared with the audience the tale of how his guru was thrown onto iron spikes and killed. Losing someone of such importance to him inspired Das to begin dancing and led him on a lifelong path full of dance.


(Photo Courtesy of Kristen Gilmartin; From Left: Pandit Chitresh Das, Jason Samuels Smith)

During the Q&A, Smith elaborated upon his experience with traffic, describing it as hectic and seemingly dangerous. He explained how a person may make a U-turn in the middle of the street and traffic is expected to simply go along with it. There is no signalling, yet Indians merely adjust. Despite the likelihood of these traffic methods resulting in an accident in America, Smith said, he had witnessed no accidents during his month-long stay.

The Q&A session also featured an anecdote from Das about an experience that shocked Smith during his stay. The two had experiences with both the wealthy and the less-fortunate of India. First, India Jazz Suites had performed during a wedding before rich diamond merchants; later, they had been around prostitutes, who would sometimes service their customers before children. It was the latter group that Das and Smith had taught to dance.

The "Upaj: Improvise" documentary and follow-up Q&A managed to show a side of India not typically witnessed in contemporary cinema. The interaction between the audience, Das and Smith further enhanced the experience by sharing personal stories about themselves and their trip to India. India Jazz Suites later performed in IUP's Fisher Auditorium on March 23rd at 8 PM.

Film Festival Documents Life Abroad

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The Foreign Film and Music Series kicked off Sunday, February 19th, with a film from Senegal, Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love. Youssou N'Dour tells the story of a Senegalese pop musician, Youssou N'Dour, who has collaborated with such legendary artists as Bono and Peter Gabriel.
(Courtesy of Jamhuriwear Blog)

The Foreign Film and Music Series is held each spring semester and features an array of films from foreign countries. The films are chosen and shown to audiences in Sprowls Hall's McVitty Auditorium each Sunday night between 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. The films are shown in their original language accompanied by English subtitles.

Spring 2012's selections include:
  • The Paranoids, a Spanish film following the life of a fictional screenwriter in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which was shown on March 4.
(Courtesy of
  • Kisses, an Irish film about two troubled teens exploring Dublin, which will be shown on March 18.
kisses poster.jpg
(Courtesy of Punch Drunk Critics)
  • Last Train Home, a Chinese film which aims to show the fictional homecoming of migrant workers in the country; this film will premiere on April 1.
(Courtesy of Wikimedia)
  • Mid-August Lunch, an unusual Italian flick that shows a reclusive man's relationship with his mother; this will be shown April 15.
(Courtesy of

  • Terribly Happy, a film about a police officer in Copenhagen, Denmark, who relocates after suffering from a nervous breakdown; the final film in the series, which will be shown on April 29.
(Courtesy of Wikimedia)

The film festival is organized by the Office of International Education; according to the Foreign Film and Music Series page, the festival has been held regularly for the past fifteen years.

The festival is a great contribution to the campus, as it allows students an opportunity to view films that tend to go unnoticed in America. What makes the event so particularly admirable, however, is that the films show life in other countries from the point of view of those who live and work in those nations. The fact that this event has also been held each year for the past 15 years also happens to be a quite impressive feat: it proves there is an active attempt by IUP itself to integrate foreign culture into the university.

The Sherwin Series: An Exploration in Nomadic Lifestyle

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The Sherwin Series exhibit, by artist Joelle Dietrick, has been on display at IUP's Kipp Gallery for nearly a month. According to Dietrick's official website, the artist hails from Pennsylvania, and graduated from Penn State in 1996. She has gone on to create an impressive repertoire of artwork, including The Sherwin Series.

Dietrick's website also states that The Sherwin Series features "a group of paintings, prints and animations that remix foreclosed homes and Sherwin-Williams 2007 Color Forecast paints. Sherwin-Williams chose the colors during the height of the housing bubble before the foreclosure epidemic began."

An intriguing exhibit delving into the lives of female nomads, "The Sherwin Series" utilizes an array of color and shapes to illustrate their trials through abstract art.

Life as a nomad is one of the most difficult and misunderstood lifestyles a person can choose. Nomads are constantly on the move, traveling the world and very rarely stopping for long amounts of time. The beauty of this way of life, however, is the opportunity to see the world and experience cultures unlike any you may have encountered before.

The flip side to being a nomad, however, is that you don't have any sort of citizenship. You are, quite literally, a person without a country to call "home." This can result in all sorts of difficulties, especially considering that most job applications require you to list if you're a citizen. If you're not, the next question is typically "what country are you from?" An expatriate is unable to provide an answer to this.

The other issue for an expatriate is a home to call their own. As they're frequently on the move, they're often overcome with a desire to have a home, as many people do. However, their desire for travel tends to overpower their desire for a home and, again, they're on the move.

Joelle Dietrick's exhibit hopes to shed a little light on this issue through art.


The exhibit featured a total of 32 different paintings, 28 of which were combined into four different groups.

The first painting I noticed was "Untitled." A spiraling mass of crimson, it appeared as though it were a set of stairs- perhaps symbolic of the uphill struggle for women to succeed as nomads in the world.

The second work, "Sherwin's Balance Living," appeared as a presentation of serenity with pastel yellows, blues, greens and greys. Standing at a slight distance, one could nearly visualize a globe out of the colorful shards.

"Sherwin's Kinetic Contrasts 21," although presented differently on the website, seemed to document a neighborhood besieged by flames.

Overall, the exhibit featured paintings with a very earthy theme. Shades of brown and green often appeared throughout the paintings, perhaps representing a nomad's traversing of earth.

Joelle Dietrick's "The Sherwin Series" in itself was a global project. The exhibition itinerary states that the exhibit material was "conceived in Salzburg [a city in Austria], created in Florida and Pennsylvania, and animated in Berlin."
(Courtesy of

With architectural beauties like this, it's not difficult to see how an artist can become inspired.