NY SENATE RACE 2004
Although Senator Charles Schumer is expected to win by a landslide come November 2nd, one should not forget that landslides are by geological definition piles of dirt, mud and muck cascading down onto lower altitude in which the population dwells. And this senatorial race, however wide the margins, certainly includes a lot of mudslinging.
Assemblyman Howard Mills, an Orange County Republican and Dr. Marylin F. O’Grady are also in the race for the seat. The latest polls indicate that Mr. Schumer, a Democrat, enjoys a 48% lead with 61% of the vote while Mr. Mills currently has 13% closely followed by Dr. O’Grady with 9%.
Mr. Schumer is a member of four Senate Committees: Banking; Housing and Urban Affairs; Energy and Natural Resources; Judiciary; and Rules and Administration. He also chairs two subcommittees: Administrative Oversight of the Courts and Economic Policy. He is New York State’s senior senator, having defeated Republican incumbent Alfonse D’Amato in 1998.
Mr. Mills, who is backed by Governor George Pataki, has run a rather quiet race in which Mr. Pataki has admitted at rallies that the candidate is little known and has little cash, but adding, “That’s what they were saying in 1994 about a guy named George Pataki.”
Dr. O’Grady, an ophthalmic surgeon turned conservative activist, is running a very different campaign. She has unleashed a volley of campaign ads attacking Mr. Schumer and Mr. Mills on a variety of topics as well as rock’n’roll artist Bruce Springsteen.
One advertisement entitled “Schumer and Mills-The Perfect Liberal Couple” opens with a picture of a wedding cake with two men representing Mr. Schumer and Mr. Mills and a narrator says that they both support civil unions for gays and lesbians. Another ad attacks Mr. Schumer, declaring that the senator “has a problem with deeply held religious views”. The advertisement claims that Mr. Schumer has tried to block “traditional Catholics from serving as federal judges.”
A third advertisement dubbed “Boycott the Boss” urges people who do not agree with Bruce Springsteen’s participation in a series of concerts called Vote for Change, not to buy his music. Mr. Springsteen, along with other artists such as R.E.M. and the Dixie Chicks are donating concert proceeds to the Democratic National Committee.
Dr. O’Grady, in an open letter to New Yorkers, talked of Michael Newdow, who took the battle over the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Supreme Court this year, as well as issues such as abortion and embryonic stem-cell research.
“I cannot remain silent when I see such things happening in the home that I cherish. If you feel the same obligation to defend our values, I ask you to join in a campaign to fight for our bedrock beliefs,” wrote Dr. O’Grady.
Mr. Schumer, who has only recently initiated a televised ad campaign, has voted in support of abortion, including partial-birth abortion, as well as for expanding embryonic stem-cell research. He has also voted in support for gay rights, including adding sexual orientation to possible hate crimes. Mr. Mills has said that he supports “a woman’s right to choose” and that he would not overturn Roe vs. Wade but he supports President Bush’s ban on partial-birth abortion in which the fetus is surgically extracted late in the pregnancy. He has issued a statement supporting embryonic stem-cell research.
It is because of the relative agreement between New York Democrats and Republicans on these social issues that the Conservative Party has a long history in the state. The Conservative Party was founded in 1962 to provide a “true conservative” voice in a state dominated by Rockefeller Republicans. In 1970 James L. Buckley, the Conservative Party candidate, was elected to the US Senate.
Whether Dr. O’Grady can emulate Buckley’s model seems unlikely, but she certainly will not give up until Election Day has come and gone and even more muck has been thrown.
PRIME TIME SLUGFEST: THE PRESIDENTIAL AND VICE-PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
“Want some wood?”…Hmmm, no thanks. But that’s our president for you. And sadly, our only other alternative is someone who thinks he deserves our votes just because he has a few military guys backing him up. And he is supposed to be liberal?! Interesting. I’m sorry to say this, but our choices for who will lead our country are starting to seem just as limited as this weekend’s movies. But hey, at least we’re a bit better off now, having learned what these guys claim to believe, as opposed to the endless stream of bashing that’s been coming from both sides during the past few weeks.
The first debate between President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry was one of little excitement. Bush said he would be reelected, and well, Kerry wouldn’t be. However, to Kerry’s credit he did keep our commander in chief on his toes, on the defensive. While he assured the American people that both he and Bush love our country equally, Kerry claimed that he would be the most effective at mending our alliances. He declared that Bush had made a “colossal error of judgment,” and that good judgment is the main thing people look for in a president. He also argued that Bush had broken his promise to go to war only as a last resort.
Bush retorted, saying he had to make tough decisions, and that at least people know where he stands. Bush went on to say that we must protect our children and spread liberty. “We must take all threats seriously,” he announced, and stated that the United States should look at the world differently after September 11. After all, we are on a mission to “defeat the ideology of hate,” and to stop the group of killers. In other words, BE AFRAID, very afraid!
The debate continued for a long ninety minutes, with the two candidates arguing over what should be the central issue of the war on terror. Kerry said the real threat is in Afghanistan, and that it is wrong to have ten times more troops based in Iraq. Bush on the other hand, argued that we have the capabilities to take on both countries, and that we must, in order to be strong and on the offensive. They then made their closing statements, with Bush failing to come up with enough to fill the two minutes given.
Friday’s debate, the second between the two, was a bit more theatrical, and in the famous “town hall” setup. The questions were asked by audience members, and while the debate started off yet again on the subject of the war, the moderator seemed to decide that the issue had been exhausted, and quickly moved on to conflicts a little closer to home. Issues of homeland security, the environment, and abortion were all touched upon. The two candidates disagreed about allowing the use of Canadian drugs, funding for the No Child Left Behind Act, and the methods of how to provide all seniors with Medicare.
Stem-cell research was also discussed, as well as plans to recover the economy. Kerry stressed the point that Bush was the first president to lose jobs in seventy-two years, and Kerry swore that he wouldn’t raise taxes for people making less than two hundred thousand dollars. Bush took every opportunity to bash Kerry’s record, and made it seem as though the Democratic candidate has been inconsistent during his last twenty years in the Senate.
The Vice President and Vice Presidential candidate also had a debate. Republican Dick Cheney and Democrat John Edwards went at it with vigor, both laying a solid foundation for their running mates. While many of the issues discussed were the same as those in the Presidential debates, Edward’s limited political experience was a recurring theme. However, Edwards effectively held his ground, and proved that he is more than capable of leading the country. Cheney was able to make up for Bush’s mistakes, and put him back into the running.
All in all, the debates have proven quite effective. Bush even used a big word- vociferously. However, the candidates demonstrated yet again, that the line between the Republican and Democratic parties is shrinking. The differences between what each man said were slight, with Kerry vowing that he would hunt down and kill the terrorists, but smartly. Yet, why should we expect any difference between the two? According to ingenious documentary filmmaker and political activist Michael Moore, the two parties have essentially become one.
Moore states that the only real difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that “the Democrats say one thing (Save the planet!), and then do the opposite – quietly holding hands behind the scenes with the ——– who make this world a dirtier, meaner place. The Republicans just come out and give the ——– a corner in the West Wing.” Hopefully, Kerry can prove Moore wrong.
What would be really interesting to know is what Kerry and Bush were saying when they shook hands at the beginning and end of the debates. They were almost too friendly and warm, as if they were laughing at the same inside joke, saying ‘Ha! We’re screwing them over and they don’t even know it!’
‘LA BOHEME’ AT THE NEW YORK CITY OPERA
Ana Nicole Rodriguez
This was my second time seeing La Bohème at the New York City Opera and contrary to my original thoughts, I found the opera to be charismatic and mesmerizing. The beautiful story of La Bohème revolves around two free-spirited, youthful bohemians, Marcello, a painter, and Rodolfo, a poet. In the midst of struggling to survive the harsh winter, the two learn that falling in love (with Musetta and Mimi) can soften a life of severe privation. Produced into an operatic score by Giacomo Puccini, La Bohème was refocused to highlight Mimi and Rodolfo’s relationship, which I find more appealing. Perhaps my earlier disappointment in the opera related to my overlooking the beauty of the power of love and its ability to help overcome adversity.
Much of the physical setting cannot be commented on due to the location of my seat, in the fourth wing (commonly referred to as the nosebleed section) as the characters and the details of their surroundings were blurred and difficult to see (bringing binoculars along to the opera is encouraged). I can, however, remark on the voices of the characters themselves; the music flowing from their lips was melodious and impressive to hear. Having taken classical lessons before, I know how demanding it is to achieve a high note that is reasonably pleasant-sounding, let alone singing harmoniously in a foreign language for three exhausting hours. Angela Marambio in particular, who played Mimi, had a strong, enthralling voice.
Mimi also had a strong presence; her character was believable and she gave it life. She engulfed the audience in her world, even up until her final moments of existence when she peacefully passed away in her sleep. This rendition of the story about a couple who falls in love at first sight and in the end experiences great loss seemed less sentimental and more appropriately passionate and heartfelt. In the first act, for instance, Rodolfo (Jorge Antonio Pita) professes his true love to Mimi declaring, “I am a poor man, but richer than any lord, I own all the rhymes of love!” By this, it is meant that the art of writing gives way to expressing the sensation of true love. In that instantaneous moment, he knows that he has found true love and he is compelled to reveal those ensuing feelings. Intimate moments such as these, which the couple share, prove to be charming.
The opera also exposes the harsh realities of destitution, like when Marcello (Grant Youngblood) and Rodolfo are trembling from the severe cold and are forced to burn Rodolfo’s poems in an effort to keep warm, or when they sell Musetta’s (Julianne Borg) earrings so that they can afford to purchase medicine needed to save Mimi’s life. An important aspect of the original story is that these two bohemians live an impoverished lifestyle, and for this reason, the opera does not sugarcoat the sacrifices that are made by them and their acquaintances. Accordingly, the best aspect of La Bohème is that it achieved a delicate balance between romance and realistic hardship originating from a life of poverty.
SUBWAY NOW ONLY A FORM OF TRANSPORTATION
It might seem like the only eating spots around Bard High School Early College are fast food joints such as Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts. However, there are several other restaurants right off Houston, which are inexpensive and carry delicious items. Recommended are two charming eateries near BHSEC- the Clinton St. Baking Company and Restaurant, approximately a ten minute walk from BHSEC, and Grilled Cheese NYC, a bit further from the school.
The Clinton St. Baking Company and Restaurant is located on Clinton Street and is perfect for eating out with friends. The environment is cozy and quiet- good for catching up with fellow students. Although at first glance the prices may seem a bit too steep for high-school students, one entrée is more than enough for two people to share. The most popular meal selections consist of different kinds of salads and classic American sandwiches. While the choices for meals are, to some extent, limited, the food is quite good. Furthermore, the variety of desserts is extensive. If there is any reason to go to this restaurant, it is for the desserts. Desserts are baked daily and sundaes are prepared on the spot with ice cream from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. The waiters and waitresses are laid back and very pleasant and polite. For one person, a lunch meal, including dessert, costs a little more than ten dollars.
It is not suggested for a BHSEC student to eat full meals there during a lunch period because there will probably not be enough time. Having dessert at the restaurant, however, would be a great idea. The desserts are perfect for a sugar boost and are definitely better than eating ice cream from Baskin Robins or doughnuts from Dunkin’ Donuts.
Another cute bistro, Grilled Cheese NYC, is great for high-school students because the food comes quickly and is inexpensive. The food quality, price, and service are enough to make you smile. There are so many different kinds of sandwiches that it can be hard to choose which one you want! Not only are there grilled cheese sandwiches, but there are also amazing mozzarella and pesto sandwiches as well. They also have a great selection of drinks, including smoothies and iced coffee. Many appetizers, from french fries to salads are offered at Grilled Cheese NYC. The service is perky and helpful. However, the restaurant can become a little crowded, so it may be better to go for “take out”. The costs of the sandwiches are worth every cent- they definitely do not rip you off. For one person, a lunch, including a drink, costs less than ten dollars.
Even though the walk to this eatery is a little far from BHSEC- about 20 minutes- the food and the price make the meal a real treat. I recommend this restaurant for a quick bite to eat during or after a long school day.
Clinton St. Baking Company and Restaurant
4 Clinton St. between Houston and Stanton St. (Closer to Houston)
Open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Grilled Cheese NYC
168 Ludlow St. between Houston and Stanton St.
Open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
POLITLCAL TENSIONS AT HOME AND ABROAD
Over the course of this past summer, political tensions surrounding the 2004 presidential election have risen. The summer began with the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and ended with the Republican National Convention, (RNC), both of which contained heated criticism and unrest. In previous elections, voters haven’t shown as much interest in the candidates, due to the lack of differences between their political platforms. It is obvious however, that this year will be very different. John Kerry and George W. Bush starkly differ on issues that are at stake, which has led to a very divided nation.
One of the most contended issues between the candidates this year is the war in Iraq. Earlier this year the 9/11 Commission stated that there was absolutely no connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda. The Republican Party claims that although there was no direct connection, the United States needed to end Saddam’s tortuous reign of terror over the people of Iraq. At the RNC, former mayor Rudolph Giuliani called Mr. Hussein “a weapon of mass destruction.” While both Iraqis and Americans continue to die each day, weapons of mass destruction have yet to be found.
The Republicans have accused Kerry of “flip-flopping” on issues- especially those pertaining to the war in Iraq. It is important to realize that when Kerry “voted for the war in Iraq” he was giving the president authority to invade Iraq after all possible diplomacy had failed, making it a last resort. Now, since Kerry has voted against pouring billions of more dollars into the war, he has changed his mind and therefore, according to the Republican Party, “flip-flopped.” What is wrong with a senator weighing his options and changing his mind? Maybe he believes that no more money should be spent on a war we were thrust into illegitimately. He may also be taking into account the deaths of young men, women, children, and soldiers.
Bush admitted in late August of 2004 that there was no plan to keep the peace after Saddam’s fall. Iraq has become more complex because there was no definite plan for peacekeeping or the establishment of a stable government. Was it a good idea for America to take the initiative to end Saddam’s reign, especially when considering the cost of American lives? A democratic government will offer the Iraqi people the most freedom, but is it the job of the United States to force the implementation of a democratic government?
Kerry wants to wage a more “sensitive war on terror,” but the current administration has a more preemptive attitude. Obviously the United States government should not wait until its country is attacked, but there are other ways of waging war on terrorism. The government should focus on building strong alliances with other countries around the world.
One of the main reasons we are on a friendly basis with countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is because the U.S is dependent on oil. It could be said that both of these counties indirectly fund terrorism because of their education systems. Neither country has public schools; instead, all children attend schools called madrassas, where anti-American sentiment is rampant. It is time for America to stop terrorism at its roots. Iraq is not doing well, and the current administration needs to reassess whatever their plan is for the future.
THE CHINA PROJECT: EXPREIENCE FOR A LIFETIME
China: a country of pride, patriotism, immense beauty, and rich culture. Growing up in America, China always seemed so far away. Even though I am of Chinese heritage, China seemed alien to me. My father, fueled by his loyalty and his love for his home, always told me passionate stories about China and its history. It was my childhood and, unexpectedly, my adolescence as well. This summer, I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to participate in the American Forum for Global Education’s China Project. The experience began in New York City’s Seaport, but in the end, the hearts of all the participants never left China.
On July 18, 2004, the thoughts that repeatedly crossed my mind were: What if I regret this? What if this is just a huge mistake? These thoughts were a product of fear, excitement, and lack of any sleep within the last twenty-four hours. I arrived at LaGuardia Airport at 5:30am in order to meet up with the rest of my group at 5:45am for our 7:30am flight. I walked through the large sliding doors that would lead me to the next three weeks of my life, and it finally hit me, I was going to China! I was frozen in a realization that I hadn’t used my time wisely at the pre-departure seminars that all China Project participants took part in during the weeks before the trip. I didn’t know anyone, except Nicholas Ugbode, a fellow student from BHSEC, who had not yet arrived at the airport. Time seemed to move horribly slow. I was looking forward to the moment I could say goodbye to my family and hello to a group of fourteen strangers and two chaperones. We stood waiting for everyone to arrive (conveniently blocking the entrance), when Nicholas finally arrived. I greeted him and his mother and then the wait continued.
Finally, it was time to say goodbye to our families. Parents hugged their children and bid them a safe trip, as children rolled their eyes and waited for the embarrassment to end. While waiting for the call to board our flight, we sat patiently, some of us attempting to get better acquainted and others wandering the airport in desperate search for affordable breakfast food and a bathroom. Soon, it was time to board the plane, and everyone was glad. Our seats were separate and the two and a half hour ride from New York to our stop-over in Chicago seemed endless. The seats were too close together and we were sitting with absolute strangers. I was conveniently placed in an aisle seat next to a man who refused to turn off his laptop and across from one of the chaperones, who I managed to make conversation with. The flight was tedious and everyone was overjoyed to be on land again. We had an hour-long wait in Chicago before we had to board our flight to Beijing. I was part of a small group of people who had managed to get slightly acquainted at the pre-departure seminars. We roamed around the airport looking for food that wasn’t horribly over priced, but in the end decided to buy cheese cake from a happy-looking woman who set up a small stand across from the McDonalds and adjacent to the Starbucks. After we had all decided on what kind of cheese cake we wanted, we paid separately and found the secret behind the woman’s smile. Finally, after an hour we had boarded our seventeen hour flight to Beijing.
After arriving in Beijing and smoothing out any issues anyone had left with roommates, we ate and were allowed to relax for the rest of the day because after the next day, we would hardly find time for ourselves. Sooner than we thought, we were into the full swing of things. Everyday we woke up at a familiar 5:00am to prepare ourselves for our daily Tai chi lessons at 6:30am. Luckily, Tai chi only took place on six mornings. Soon we had adjusted to life in China and learned to love every member of our group. It didn’t take long for our small group of sixteen students and two chaperones to realize thatt we had been given the opportunity of a lifetime to explore China and meet a group of incredible people from different backgrounds. Soon, after 10 days, we had to depart from what we learned to call home at Beijing University. We left our large luggage in a storage room and packed everything we would need for ten days in Luoyang, Xi’an, and Inner Mongolia.
Much of the experience of China was found in museums, tourist hot spots, and areas of ancient China that remained preserved. But for myself and many members of my group, the pleasure and wonder of being in China was captured in walking the downtown streets of small cities at night, learning to bargain in a Chinese market, hanging out with friends in town squares, running through water fountains like rowdy American teens, sleeping in Mongolian Yurts and fighting a spider infestation, playing volleyball with the towns people, riding double bikes on the ancient city wall of Xi’an, and horseback riding in Inner Mongolia. In the beginning, we were told that the trip would be an experience of a lifetime, but almost every participant had his doubts. We couldn’t even imagine that the experience would turn out the way it did. Spending our last few nights in China, ironically, in an autonomous region of China known as Inner Mongolia, my friends and I realized that this was the China that we had been searching for: peaceful, calm, open, loving, and ultimately unforgettable. The one night that we spent in a yurt, we participated in a beer commercial and a performance. We were blown away by the night sky and the performance that we could only see by the light of a large torch. That night, we all cried and wished that we could stay forever. We realized that America would never be the same to us again.
The day after that, we returned to Beijing. The whole group boarded a charter bus and drove to Beijing University’s beautiful campus. Upon seeing our hotel building, someone spoke the words “we’re home,” and the silence of the bus along with the smiles on our faces answered “we are home.” That night, we had trouble believing that in twenty-four hours we would be home, or at least in a place we once called home. It was hard sleeping that night and it was hard saying goodbye to a place we loved so much. China is my history, my culture, my love. China is me and even today, I must admit that my experience in China was ultimately unforgettable. Just as they had said it would be, it was the experience of a lifetime and I have no regrets.
On August 8th, 2004, I stared out of a small airplane window as I saw the familiar light of New York City at night. I stepped off a plane and walked into LaGuardia Airport and thought “I’m home?” In a matter of 15 minutes, I had retrieved my luggage and faced a crowd of parents with large smiles. I said my goodbyes, we exchanged phone numbers and contact information, we hugged, and it was over. The experience of my lifetime was over. At that moment there was nothing left. I grabbed onto my luggage and I walked through two large sliding doors towards the rest of my life as a new me.
KEEPING UP WITH WEBBLOGGING
In the past year the phenomenon of the online journal has reached incredibly high levels of popularity. Online journals, also called “blogs,” (a combination of “web” and “log,” termed by Robot Wisdom Weblog), are especially popular with teenagers; fifty-two percent of the blogging community consists of teenagers from ages thirteen to nineteen . So what is the hype all about? The only difference between a handwritten journal and a blog is that one’s conveniently located on your nightstand and the other is on the World Wide Web, right? Wrong!
“The line between journal and weblog is perfectly blurred,” posts Jorn Barger of Robot Wisdom Weblog. “One of the greatest pleasures of reading weblogs is getting to know their editors.” And how exactly might one go about this, you ask?
Weblog services provide profile pages with contact information provided by the authors of the web pages. Authors provide as much or as little information as they wish, often listing their AOL instant messenger names and e-mail addresses. Links to the websites that the authors subscribe to are usually available on their pages as well. Emotion icons are frequently used to represent users and show how users are feeling. It is up to each user to determine how much, how often, and what he or she posts on his or her weblog.
The first online journal was started by Marc Andreesen in 1993. Since then, popularity has increased to about 4.12 million blogs on the internet. Some popular weblog services include “Livejournal” and “Xanga”. Part of the appeal of the weblog is its ability to reach many more people than other conventional methods.
Stefan Glanzer, who was one of the founders of the blogging system, 20six, commented on the unique qualities of the weblog. “If you want to reach millions you book an ad on TV. If you want to reach one person you use e-mail or the telephone. But if you want to reach between 5 and 500 people a blog is the ideal tool to communicate.”
Communication is an especially important tool for companies, and weblogging is making this communication even easier. Some systems allow users to generate text only to certain people on an organized subscription list. Companies are using this option to communicate with one another. In May of this year, Bill Gates of Microsoft encouraged his employees at his keynote speech at Microsoft’s CEO Summit to use weblogs to communicate in the workplace and commended the weblog as a broader social phenomenon than older ways of communication. Seven-hundred of Microsoft’s employees maintain weblogs to communicate in the workplace. Some systems also feature communities made by users to find others with the same interests. For instance, on xanga.com, Bard High School Early College is a featured ring where BHSEC students register to allow friends and classmates easy access to read one another’s blogs.
For many teenagers, “Blogs are an area for self expression. It gives them a space to be candid or personal where they don’t usually have [one],” says David Huffaker of Georgetown University, who conducted a study on teenage blogs. He came across a few conclusions of his own abot teenage “blogging.” “I thought at first it was about exhibitionism, but a less cynical view is that they are trying to meet a common human need of finding connection.” It comes as no surprise that this might well be the case, seeing as weblog authors may also allow other users to leave comments on their posts.
Many people on the blogging scene actually do take their writing very seriously. Huffaker points out that, “The average blog post is over 2,000 words, which is really interesting when you are trying to get kids to write essays.” Individuals are shaping the blogging trend into what suits them best. It is no wonder that some people have actually turned their blogs into political platforms, with up to thousands of visitors visiting their sites every day! Weblogs have even been described as the “democratization of publishing.” Many say that in the future weblogs will stop journalists from getting away with sloppy research.
Weblogs are easy to use. They do not require any software or programming skills. Templates are available on weblog systems and on some, like greatestjournal.com, photos can even be uploaded manually from the hard drive to the webpage to enhance the user’s blogging experience
It is no wonder that weblogs continue to become more popular with people of many social backgrounds and to be used for various purposes.
NYC IN 2012?
Throughout the daily job hours, internships, or family vacations this past summer, many of us were able to catch at least a few of the competitions and games that made up the summer’s Olympic games. Perhaps some had time or interest to watch only the opening or closing ceremonies, where festive song and dance were central activities alongside the torch lighting and extinguishing. No matter how much or how little one was able to watch the Olympics this past summer, many know that the games took place in Athens, Greece. While there were many doubts originally regarding Athens’ ability to bring forth this year’s Summer Olympic Games completely and successfully, by August 29, when the games came to a close, Athens was praised for its success in hosting these summer games. Between proud speeches and celebratory dances, the closing ceremony left room for another distinct ceremony- the passing of the torch from the mayor of Athens to the mayor of Beijing, China, the city that is set to host the next Summer Olympic games in 2008. While Beijing has already been selected as the host city for the 2008 games, the city that will host the summer games in 2012 is yet to be decided. One of the cities that is bidding for the position to host the games is New York City.
New York City was chosen originally by the Internationl Olympic Committee (IOC) in November of 2002 to be one of the many cities competing for the title of host city for the 2012 Olympic Games. In May of 2004, the number of cities in the running was narrowed down to five, including New York, London, Paris, Moscow, and Madrid. The organization NYC 2012 is the central force behind New York City’s campaign. The Olympic plan created by the campaign revolves around sports venues in an “X” shape in the city. The various fields, tracks, pools, and other athletic centers would run along two transportation lines- one run by train and one by ferry. At the center, the two lines would meet at an Olympic village in Queens, where a living complex is to be built in order to house the athletes and coaches. According to the plan, which NYC 2012 calls the “Olympic X” plan, many of the forty or so sporting events would take place in existing arenas and stadiums. Basketball, for example, would be set in the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey, while baseball would take place in Yankee stadium.
There will also be new venues built, specially designed for specific Olympic sporting events. The Queensbridge Athletics Center in Queens, for example, is to host Badminton and Track Cycling, while the Olympic Stadium which is to be built on the West Side of Manhattan, will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the games, as well as track and field. The construction of the Olympic Stadium, which could later be used as a stadium for the Jets, has actually been surrounded by some controversy. While NYC 2012 claims that over eighty percent of New Yorkers would like to see New York City hosting the Olympics, some critics of the plan cite that the new stadium would cause distress to the local neighborhoods, causing extra pollution and blocking off the waterfront.
Others state, however, that the Olympics would leave an enormous legacy in New York City and the city would leave its mark on the Olympics. NYC 2012 also argues that many of the stadiums and arenas could later be used to help their prospective communities by serving as centers useful to nearby schools and neighborhood athletic groups. One of the main factors that NYC 2012 claims attract the Olympic games to New York City is the reflection of the “Olympic ideals” in the ideals of New York City. NYC 2012 claims that, “New York has rewarded hard work and distinguished achievement. In this most competitive, yet most accepting of all cities, we live by the Olympic ideals every day.” We will see, in July of 2005, when the International Olympic Committee selects the host city for the 2012 games, whether or not New York City will be chosen as the city to represent the ideals of the Olympics for that year’s games.
LEAD – A SUMMER PROGRAM FOR THE LEADERS OF TOMORROW
Ana Nicole Rodriguez
The face of corporate America has been gradually changing over recent years, transforming itself into a more accurate representation of the diverse world we live in. The business environment has begun to fully acknowledge that diversity in the workforce is essential for the success and development of a business. The Leadership, Education, and Development (LEAD) Program in Business foresaw this inevitable transformation. The LEAD program is intended to introduce some of the nation’s brightest minority high school students to the business world, with the notion that an early introduction to various aspects of business encourages participants to pursue business-related careers. The program seeks to increase the number of historically underrepresented minority students pursuing business degrees. As president of the LEAD program, Rick Ramsey, states, “Creating a talented, diverse workforce is key to America’s future. LEAD is at the forefront of making sure that American business is prepared for challenges of the new economy.”
So what does participation in the LEAD program entail? The LEAD program partners with leading summer business institutes (SBIs) across the nation and each individual SBI creates its own challenging curriculum spanning from three to four weeks. The programs consist of college-structured lectures, visits to partnering corporations, and team projects and presentations, all the while exposing participants to various aspects of business. The hosting SBIs are prestigious universities, some of which include: The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA, and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
This summer, I participated in the 2004 LEAD Program in Business at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. I discovered that my experience with LEAD was more than just exposure to the business environment but it also encouraged me to really trust that I had the capacity to successfully pursue a career in business. Prior to this, I had never really considered business as a career. I never had a mentor encouraging me to pursue any interests I had in that particular field. Nor did I perceive that business was a suitable career for me. Society’s image of the ideal CEO is Caucasian, and preferably male — an image contrary to my own. I had been trained to believe that professional success for me meant becoming a doctor or lawyer. But what about becoming a budding CEO of a fortune 500 company, or a marketing specialist for IBM, or an investment banker for J.P. Morgan Chase? The LEAD program opened my eyes to job prospects that I had not given serious consideration to or may have felt were out of my reach.
Upon arriving at Cornell University, driving over its narrow bridge overlooking powerful waterfalls, I took notice of the huge campus; there was a myriad of buildings standing on acres of land and the enormity of it was intimidating to me. I knew I was embarking upon a new journey- one that would require me to utilize the skills I had acquired over the years. On the other hand, I eagerly anticipated that the weeks ahead of me would not only be challenging but also exciting, and even life-changing. I didn’t know exactly what to expect and that worried me, but the first day set the tone for what lay ahead. During orientation, the students were asked to play a game called “the Green Glass Room”, the purpose of which was to note a pattern in what was being said and then come up with a statement that followed that certain pattern. The first speaker said “You can have apples but you can’t have oranges in the green glass room” Some caught on quicker than others did. When someone suggested that we try visualizing the Green Glass Room, it finally hit me. Then I uttered, “You can have winners but you can’t have losers in the green glass room!” Sure enough, I had discovered the pattern. This was precisely what LEAD expected of us; we were expected to be innovative, critical thinkers.
In the upcoming weeks, I would learn basic business principles from world-renowned business school faculty, go on a study trip to New York City and engage in two competitive case study analysis presentations. Some of the more memorable business lectures were on nanotechnology (we actually got to create microchips), entrepreneurship, accounting, oral communication skills, the hospitality industry, and modern ethics. The study trip was exciting because we were able to get first hand exposure to fast-paced businesses located in NYC. I recall students being overly enthusiastic about visiting the office of MTV Networks and eventually getting a tour of the MTV studios where the popular show, TRL, is filmed. In the financial district we had to patiently wait outside of the building of the New York Stock Exchange while we were asked for our social security numbers and photo IDs, but the inspection and long wait were worth it. We actually listened to traders talk about their work on the exclusive trading floor. At PepsiCo, we learned that Pepsi is a strong supporter of the arts and it even has its own garden containing unusual modern art structures. We were also told by marketing managers about some of the ways in which the company gets consumers to buy its product. This was fascinating because we were receiving private insights into business philosophy. And of course, when it was time to depart, we were given bottles of Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Tropicana juice, and Gatorade to satisfy our thirst on the long bus ride back to Ithaca, New York.
The first case study assignment was on the Stock Market and the guidelines were that we had a hypothetical $100,000 to invest in stocks with the intent of earning a substantial net profit gain. The only setback was that we weren’t allowed to sell our stocks once they began to lose value in the market. This was a complicated task because we reasoned that we needed to invest in both risky and stable companies so as to avoid losing a substantial amount of money. This was a valuable assignment because I learned many lessons that any investor, whether a beginner or an expert, should be aware of when investing. Our second project was not as technical, but it still involved a lot of research and creativity. We were to market a new ice cream product, and then a panel of judges was to select the ice cream product they deemed the most marketable. Our team, known as Team B- “The Biz”- created an ice cream product that had a blend of fresh strawberries and chocolate mocha chunks in a vanilla base and called it, “Espressoberry!” It also contained the herb ginseng, because our target audience was health conscious female college students. I learned so much about effective marketing strategies, and even better, I got to sample five other original ice cream flavors.
My experience at LEAD was undoubtedly exceptional, but I also believe that one’s experience at LEAD reflects how much work he or she puts into it. I dedicated myself to this program, whether by running frantically around campus in an effort to get the Cornell community to fill out an ice cream survey or by simply taking good notes during lectures. I feel assured that my dedication will help me in the near future. I feel more confident that I can work efficiently in a team, network effectively, and make informed decisions concerning career goals. I am appreciative that LEAD was the facilitator in helping me to hone the characteristics of a true leader.
If you would like to apply to the LEAD Program in Business, please visit its website, www.leadnational.org
YOGA YOUR TROUBLES AWAY
As the school year begins, students are generally enthusiastic about being reacquainted with old friends and are proudly looking forward to the next level of academic preparation. At the same time, some students are reluctant to experience the stress and anxiety that comes with more difficult academic challenges. Schoolwork can be overwhelming; especially when added to other everyday pressures. One way to stay focused, confident, and relatively sane is to find a productive after-school activity that helps you maintain balance and stability in your life. The question is: with the countless recreational possibilities out there, which particular activity can help you cope and is worthy of your time and money?
One suggestion, which is increasingly recommended by fitness experts, is for teens to become involved in yoga, a 3000 year old discipline, which involves “flexibility-inducing” body poses or “asana” and breathing exercises. Yoga, derived from a Sanskrit word that means “to yoke” or to connect the mind, body and soul, is becoming a popular trend. Robyn Ross, a certified Kripalu Yoga instructor in NYC, explains that, “adolescence is the time to develop good habits – physically and spirituality in every way, such as good posture, yogic breathing, consciousness, and emotional balance.” Yoga is particularly useful for teens that feel stressed out, irritable, rebellious, or moody. It helps the individual attain and maintain peace of mind. This ancient practice can help teenagers establish a sense of balance with their bodies while they are undergoing constant change during puberty. Perhaps the reason for yoga’s immense popularity in the states is the way in which it incorporates the mind, body, and spirit in a non-competitive, comforting environment
Yoga also tones, stretches, and strengthens muscles in the body while stimulating circulation and improving flexibility. This system of exercises is also helpful in developing self-confidence and enhancing self-awareness and concentration. Yoga has also been known to alleviate sinus problems, tension headaches, menstrual cramps, digestion problems, etc. According to Thia Luby, the best selling author of “Yoga for Teens,” yoga helps girls “develop greater poise, grace, and confidence, as well as a more accepting relationship with your body and a positive image of who you are in the world.” Yoga, however, is not only for young females. It can be beneficial to both men and women of all ages and you do not have to have athletic abilities to participate. If a fast paced New York student can set aside a period of time each week to reflect and to release negativity, he or she is likely to feel more rested and relaxed, and able to function more efficiently.
These health benefits have made yoga extremely sought out by various celebrities from Madonna to Julia Roberts to Sting. Ann Cushman, author of “Americanized Yoga” has said that: “Today, your doctor may well recommend yoga; your insurance company may pay for it. The Fortune 500 Company you work for might offer it during lunch hour. Your psychotherapist recommends it to reduce stress. Yoga and meditation are being taught in AIDS hospices, corporate boardrooms, battered-women’s shelters, inner-city churches. Yoga images permeate everything from your favorite sitcom to your least-favorite junk-mail catalog.”
This is a clear indicator that yoga is not only on the “it” list, but highly effectual and highly regarded.
If some students are apprehensive about signing up for yoga workshops because Hindu spirituality “clashes” with religious or cultural beliefs, John Schumacher, founder of one of the largest Iyengar Yoga schools in the U.S., points out that while “some teachers emphasize the spirituality aspect of yoga, others may not bring it into play.”
Judith Lasater, author of “Living Your Yoga: finding the spiritual in everyday life,” also acknowledges this concern and she adds that, “Yoga is American now… it’s taking an American patina rather than a Hindu patina”. In other words, yoga used to be exclusively for those who wanted to follow the Hindu lifestyle, but this is no longer the case in America today, unless, of course, you specifically desire to do so.
Finally, research has shown that teenagers who participate in healthy after-school activities are expected to have higher self-esteem and be more productive. Yoga might be just what the doctor ordered to help you sort through challenges, whether physical or mental, that may otherwise seem insurmountable. If this type of physical activity interests you, do your research, audit a class and, if possible, speak to the yoga instructor to ensure that his or her personal style of teaching yoga suits you best. Then, have fun, relax, and yoga your troubles away. Happy Yoking.