Teacher Comparison

During my fourth visit to the math class I decided to ask Mrs. Austin about the other math teachers in the building. She mentioned that there were two other teachers, but they bum heads quite a lot with their teaching preferences and their scheduled material. One professor only focuses on worksheet after worksheet. He does not make any fun, hands on projects or assignments for the kids. He only focuses on grades as to what matters in the classroom and does not make math fun. He also focused on memorization and simply throwing information to the students expecting them to study it, know it, and get a good grade on the next test. When Mrs. Austin visited this classroom she was appalled. His teaching style and overall philosophy differed from hers greatly and it upset her. Mrs. Austin’s goal is to make math fun and to make it relative to the real world. She comes up with new ideas to incorporate into projects while trying to bring in hands on materials for her students.

These classes differ because one math teacher follows the “banking system” of the class while Mrs. Austin tries to go around the normality and introduce a liberatory education for both her and her children alike. According to Bell Hooks, liberatory education questions the norm of the educational system overall, and that is exactly what Mrs. Austin is trying to do. The only difficult aspect is still teaching the students to pass the PSSA. This testing is a typical “banking system” model for all educational systems, but Mrs. Austin is trying to apply the material to the real world, such as problem solving instead of just doing it for the test scores. In her eyes, grades show improvement and do not measure the success of a student and I appreciate that she always points this out to each of her classes while teaching.

Another teaching style that differs within the school is the use of review sessions within the classroom. Mrs. Austin uses these sessions with dry erase boards or with a worksheet to make sure that each student is on the same page with understanding the material. She does do it for a grade; she just wants to have the opportunity to help students that are doing small mistakes. These sessions allow Mrs. Austin to individually focus on students that are having trouble and it usually only takes a few minutes because the mistakes are always small and easily fixable. Since there is not much time out of the classroom to teach each student separately, these review sessions give Mrs. Austin a few one on one moments for students that are falling behind, while others work on the next set of problems listed on the board. Of course these review sessions do not take place every week, but they are usually assigned when Mrs. Austin teaches a lot of the material at once or she believes her class is not on the same page as others. After experiencing this in the classroom, I believe that Mrs. Austin truly tries to treat her students as individuals and to accommodate their different learning styles as students. Because Mrs. Austin knows that her students are different and they come from different backgrounds, so her review sessions are almost like a regrouping to help her students out.

 

 

Dental Fair 2016

Last weekend, I attended a Dental Health Fair at Active Aging in Meadville.  I was unable to attend last year’s event, so I was glad that I had the opportunity to see what it was all about.  My friend Matthew Zaborowski designed this dental health fair through his own personal interests.  He believed there should be more emphasis on dental hygiene for both children and adults in the Meadville community.  Through funding from local dentistries and health related organizations, Matthew was able to construct yet another successful fair for the second year in a row.

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There was a tremendous turnout with the amount of kids that came to the event.  Each booth had different activities for the children such as coloring or leaning how to floss.  Magic Steve was even there to make them cool creatures and objects our of balloons.  Everyone had a blast and I too learned a lot about dental hygiene.  I learned that both Coca-Cola and coffee products stain your teeth, while fluoride protects the enamel and whiteness of your teeth.

Little girl posing with our giant toothpaste and toothbrush mascot
Little girl posing with our giant toothpaste and toothbrush mascot
SMILE
SMILE

Overall, it was a successful turnout and I was happy that I was able to participate in the events that took place.  Matthew worked hard to push through with this event and he did so successfully.  I hope this fair will take place each year because dental hygiene is more important than people realize, especially for children at such a young age.  Even receiving free floss and toothbrushes will improve the quality of teeth all around.  Remember to always brush and floss!

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Treating Students as “Individuals”

During my third visit to the classroom, I tried to incorporate my unit paper. The argument of my paper included the transformation of education for students of color by the practice of individualism and treating students as “individuals.” By this, I mean to explain that teachers should take into account the student’s cultural background and informal knowledge outside of the classroom to improve their teaching styles. By doing this, more students of color would be able to succeed as their learning capabilities along with their limitations based on their backgrounds are taken into account. After explaining this concept to Mrs. Austin, I wanted to ask her opinion on the matter. What we ended up discussing was the concept of “color-blindness.”

According to Mrs. Austin, she believes that the concept of “color-blindness” is not the solution to improving the education of students of color. She also brought up an excellent point that students are more “color-blind” than teachers and I completely agree with her. However, she did mention that teachers do view their students in different ways and “color-blindness” is of course one of those ways. The way she views her students is based on their socioeconomic status and where they come from outside of school. For example, the amount of money the student’s have almost determines their work ethics in some way. With more money means better grades and high work ethics, but of course there are always exceptions to the matter. For example, there is a specific student in the class who is very intelligent, but he does not do well in school. By taking his cultural background into account, as mentioned previously, this lack of work ethics may be due to the fact that the student’s parents are quite wealthy. Because they are wealthy, the student knows that they will always hand down money to him and support him no matter how well or how badly he does in school. Mrs. Austin thoroughly laid out this concept to me in order to understand how she believes that the thesis of my unit paper is indeed factual in the real world.

There was also a new student in the classroom. She previously went to school in Grove City and the teacher already knew that she had poor work ethics. She barely remembered the math she learned and she was making excuses to try and get out of doing work: complaining she had a headache or that she remembers doing this material in the 4th grade (which is not possible to learn at the young of an age). Because of her work ethics and mentality of trying to get out of doing work already, even if it was her second day in the new school, Mrs. Austin knew that her background brought something new to the table for her to analyze and take into consideration for her teaching. She also understands that she will have to focus more on tutoring the student and bring her back up to speed with the rest of the class. If Mrs. Austin simply treated this student the same as everyone else (even if she is white) then the student would never learn the material and always fall behind.

Life Outside of the Classroom

This week I visited the math class on a Thursday instead of a Friday because they would not have school that day. When I arrived, the teacher was explaining angles and the use of protractors. The students, in both class periods were more attentive and focused than I had witnessed last week. I am still not sure as to how or why, but it could be multiple reasons. One could be the fact that it was not a Friday, nor did it feel like one. It may have just felt like a normal workweek for the students and they could have been less excited not knowing that it was technically their last day before a long weekend. The second could be the material. It was a new topic for them so they were more engaged in learning and asking more questions. It was just very interesting to see the overall switch from last week, but it did show me that each student is capable of learning, even if they do mess around and act up in class. Sometimes that is just how 13 year olds work.

            One major aspect that I noticed during this visitation was one male student who never participated in anything. He never did any work and I mean never. He never took notes or did his homework. At the end of class I asked the teacher how she or the school as a whole has acknowledged this behavior. She informed me that both her and the school have done everything in their power to make him aware of his actions. They have even reached out to the parents, but even the parents do not care about his lack of effort in school. He has already flunked out of the 7th grade once, but again, his parents were unmoved by the incident. This is because both of his parents did not finish high school and this lack of educational motivation has rubbed off on the male student. Although he is extremely smart (getting A’s and B’s on math tests without studying) he will not put in the effort. Mrs. Austin told me that it was almost impossible to get him to finish even half of a math test in class or even picking up a pencil. But, what is interesting is that he is very popular in school and has lots of friends because he is a social butterfly.

After discussing the aspects of the student, it really brought me back to the influences of life outside of the classroom. The author that has emphasized this part of multicultural education includes James Banks. After reading and discussing his article in class, it made a light bulb go off in my head when witnessing this student. Life outside of class, personally, can and will affect your effort and actions in school. Personal knowledge can come from the home, family, community or friends, but no matter where or whom it comes from it can affect students in various ways. In this case, the family (parents in specific) has affected the work ethics of their son in the classroom. I sense no sign of equilibrium with this boy’s life inside and outside of school, which saddens me greatly. All students have great potential and capacity to learn, which Mrs. Austin emphasizes in her teaching philosophy. But, how can we acknowledge things that happen outside of school?

To tie into this aspect of knowledge and change outside of school Mrs. Austin and I discussed the incident that occurred earlier this week at Gill Village. The children that were coming home on the buses after school were driven back to the school to stay and be safe until the event cooled down. The school did not want them to witness the hardships of what was happening during that time, but it is real life and many students live there. Going back to James Banks, I believe this incident should have been discussed in class. I understand that this event is not part of the core curriculum or a practice for the PSSA, but it is still important in the growth of children and what they bring to the school. It could also relieve some tension or sadness from the students to talk about it and get it off their chest. Eventually, it may help them learn better by expressing their feelings out loud. Transformation is key and transformative knowledge has been emphasized greatly by James Banks and should be expressed more in the classroom.

Multicultural Education

Introduction:

I have been assigned to shadow a 7th grade math class at the Meadville Area Middle School (MAMS). Led by Mrs. Jennifer Austin, I was able to experience a 5th and 6th period math class for a total of 2 hours on a Friday. The topic at hand focused on scale models, ratios, and proportions. In order to put the course material into practice, the students were creating their own room model based on width and length through Lego building software online. Before I started to observe and analyze different aspects of the course, I needed to learn more about the background of the school and class in general.

Teacher’s Philosophy:

Mrs. Austin also informed me about her class philosophy which focused on the learning experience of the kids from their life outside of school to the classroom. What she understands is that every student is different and brings different parts of their lives to the school setting either it be negative or positive, but it is important to understand that each student has the ability to learn no matter what. During her lectures she tries to always keep this in mind when teaching her students. Overall, students have different backgrounds, but it does not make them incapable of learning. This realization applied to education is key to making Mrs. Austin’s math class a success and that is why she supports the Growth Development Program at the school, which explains the importance of student learning no matter where they come from or what they experience differently.

During her course material I liked the way the teacher analyzed the questions. She also pointed out the information that the students DID NOT need in order to answer the question at hand. She wanted to remove any confusion, which she did successfully by allowing them to only focus on the NEEDED information. Mrs. Austin also emphasized the importance of getting things wrong. For example, one girl did not want to share her answer, but Mrs. Austin told her that it was important that she at least tried. Other students may have done it the same as well, so the student understood that it was just a learning process. No one made fun of her, and everyone ended up doing the same thing she did. The teacher met the student at her level of understanding and grew from that, while emphasizing the importance of TRYING. You don’t always have to be right, you just always have to try and that is what is most important both in the classroom and in real life she stated.

Background Information:

The entire school as a whole participates in SSR, which is a 15-minute silent reading period to make up the extra time that lunch provides. Some students read books provided at the front of the class while others wrote in their planner, walked around, or laid their head on the desk. Of course, the goal is to have every student take 15 minutes to read, but not all of them follow the rules.

Each class that I witnessed was also labeled as a low or middle academic level. Even though each class was at different levels, they were still taught the same material, just in different ways that made them understand it better. At the beginning of each period, Mrs. Austin gave them Bell Ringer word problem to make the students practice. The world problems all follow the same format as the PSSA, which all of the students are learning about before they take the test in April.

Lastly, the layouts of the classrooms were all similar. The teacher’s desk was front and center of the classroom, while the student’s desks were laid out in rows facing the front of the room and the teacher.

5th Period Class:    

The 5th period class was right after lunch and was the one where students were required to read for 15 minutes. While they were reading away I took the time to look over the general aspect of the classroom. I noticed that there were a total of 11 students where the ratios of black to white were close in number. As this class is considered a low academic level class, I started to notice a lesser understanding of the materials and more questions being asked by the students because it was harder for them to understand. They also interrupted the teacher a lot as if to waste time to not learn the material, especially using me as an excuse since I was a new body in the classroom. I thought this was because they were afraid of asking so many questions or not understanding is quickly sense they have been practicing it sense after Christmas break. They were less engaged and more rambunctious, which took away from the class learning experience as a whole.

6th Period Class:

This class was considered the middle academic level course where a total of 15 students were present, but only 2 of them were black, which is less than the last class. This one however was more engaged, more respectful to the teacher in quieting down and they raised their hands more often. Less questions were asked when answering the word problem too because they understood the material better. It was a big switch from the last period and I am not sure if it is because of the level of academics or what because they are both in the same grade and age group.

Conclusions:

Again, the class focused on PSSA questions by following directions, but Mrs. Austin tried to point out that it was sort of a game. She stated that, “by following directions, you’re already winning.” And this definitely showed me that the “banking system” of schools still exists and influences teachers in some way. EVEN if they do acknowledge multicultural education, they still cannot move past the core requirements of the curriculum, which saddens Mrs. Austin AND Me. Mrs. Austin’s philosophy is perfect, but of course the required material of prepping for the PSSA goes against it by only following the directions of the test. But, I still appreciate her application of TRYING and do always do their BEST in order to gain a better learning experience, even though they HAVE to learn how to pass the PSSA. In my opinion, Mrs. Austin is trying to find a teaching structure AWAY from the dominant aspects of school, and so far is doing a good job in doing so.

What Gets Thrown Away?

For my Senior thesis I am looking at food waste reduction strategies in Brooks Dining Hall.  Through the month of October I have been gathering information based on the total amount of food that is wasted, including the content.  Rick Porter, the head of the composting program on campus has given me weights and the total # of bins that are collected every week at Brooks Dining Hall.  Through the entire month of October, the average weight that is solely from food waste is 14,459 lbs and the average # of blue compost bins collected is 34 (6 bins collected every day).  Brooks also spends an average of $22,653 every week on food purchasing.  Looking at these numbers frightens me a bit because students should not be wasting this much food, especially since we are such a small school.

Day 1 of digging through the compost bins at Brooks
Day 1 of digging through the compost bins at Brooks

With this given information my goal is to reduce the amount of the Brooks spends on each food category (seafood, produce, frozen etc.) each week.  To succeed in this I have interviewed Stephanie Lang, the head of Brooks about the most common types of food wasted.  She stated that pizza crust, pasta, rice, and chicken bones are the most noticeable to her.  To check out the facts myself, I started to dig through the compost bins with my bare hands (not literally because I double up on glove protection).

Whole hamburger patties and chicken breasts
Whole hamburger patties and chicken breasts

The first dig was a new experience for me.  What student in their right mind would want to dig through already eaten food mused together in a bin?  Weird looks were given and so many questions were asked, but once I explained the purpose they were thrilled that a student was researching this topic.  The amount of things students just throw into the bin without thinking was unbelievable.  First, there were 40 fresh pizza slices and 30 whole breadsticks that were thrown into the bin after lunch time the first day I started.  I then discovered that meat was the second most wasted food product in the bins.  Entire hamburger patties and chicken breasts were thrown away just after taking one bite.  Even apples and fruit were half eaten, including a large sandwich wrap straight from the deli bar.

40 fresh pizza slices thrown away from lunch time
40 fresh pizza slices thrown away from lunch time

My mind was blown, but I was glad I went through the bins myself to see first hand what foods I should focus on for reduction.  My next goal is to make students aware.  Not only do their choices affect the environment locally, but globally everyone is affected from fresh food being thrown away.  By making students aware, I shall post advertisements that have pictures of our own compost along with global facts that should make students think twice about the food they take and what they can finish.  A white board will also be hung next to the compost bins outside of the dish room where the weight of food wasted will be posted every week.

One of the advertisements that will posted in Brooks during November
One of the advertisements that will posted in Brooks during November

So during the month of November these tactics will be implemented and I will still be collecting numbers to see if there will be a decrease in food waste overall.  Of course, I hope my strategies work, but if not at least someone else can continue the research for me and find other ways to make food reduction a successful action plan.  So what I hope to change on campus is not only the numbers, but the mentality of the students.  I want to make them understand that they can always go back for seconds and to make sure their eyes are not bigger than their stomachs.  I will give them the information and they can do with it as they please.  No pressure is involved, just facts.

LOVE FOOD, HATE WASTE!

 

Danish Cuisine

Denmark cuisine is very unique and contains a wide variety of flavors that would be unheard of in the American culture.  Breakfast and dinner are usually eaten at home with the family, but most eat out for lunch with friends or co-workers at nearby cafes or restaurants.  For lunch, the foods are mostly served cold, even with deli meats such as sausage.  Of course, open-faced sandwiches are quick, healthy, and easy to make so they are the most popular food item during lunch time with a busy schedule.  

The "æbleflæsk" dish is over 250 years old - and has been a traditional everyday meal for generations of Danes that just want to taste some warm and healthy food in the wintertime. "Æbleflæsk" - or apple pork is one of the most popular and favourite dishes in Denmark.
The “æbleflæsk” dish is over 250 years old – and has been a traditional everyday meal for generations of Danes that just want to taste some warm and healthy food in the wintertime. “Æbleflæsk” – or apple pork is one of the most popular and favourite dishes in Denmark.

One such example of an open-faced sandwich served at lunch is called Apple Pork.  This Danish sandwich plate originated in the mid 18th century and is 250 years old. Of course, each plate is made and cooked a different way depending on different parts of the country, but the two main ingredients always stay the same: apples and streaky pork (bacon).  The apples provide the sweetness and the pork provides the saltiness, which balance each other out in the end and keep the taste buds on edge.  

 Choose always fresh thick slices of streaky pork for your "Æbleflæsk" dish - together with good and medium sweet apples - then you can be sure to succeed with your Danish Apple Pork
Choose always fresh thick slices of streaky pork for your “Æbleflæsk” dish – together with good and medium sweet apples – then you can be sure to succeed with your Danish Apple Pork

Apple pork is mainly served during the months of September to March, which is the apple and cold season in Denmark.  Rural areas love to cook this dish in their country kitchens because they are able to preserve their meats up to a year with salt like their grandparents had and it gives a lot of protein and energy to the men working out in the field or outside of the home.  Then, the 19th century rolled around where everyone migrated into the city for jobs and more opportunities so other native citizens grew fond of the open-faced dish as well.  Because of this, Apple Pork is quite popular during the winter season currently, especially at Christmas time shared with family.

Tart cooking apples is the best choice - when selecting the apples for the Apple Pork dish - and gives the best taste together with the thick pork slices.
Tart cooking apples is the best choice – when selecting the apples for the Apple Pork dish – and gives the best taste together with the thick pork slices.

Ingredients:

8 – Thick slices of streaky pork

3-4 – Apples (cored and diced)

1 – Tablespoon of sugar

1 – Tablespoon of brown sugar

1 – Tablespoon of water

1 – Large onion

4 – Slices of dark rye bread

Seasoning (optional) – Fresh rosemary leaves or bay leaves


 

Preparation: 

Select 10 thick slices of fresh streaky pork – and place the pork slices on the oven rack. Put a little bowl of water underneath the rack to keep the streaky pork slices juicy during roasting.


Then preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the rack with the slices of pork in the heated oven. Roast the pork in the oven for about 15-20 minutes – until the slices are crispy and golden. Remove the rack – and let the slices drip off on a paper towel.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Cut the onions in rings and fry them till they are golden. Remove the onions to drip – and then ad the apples into the saucepan – with some of the remaining butter from the onions. Let the apples simmer for 3-4 minutes with some bay leaves plus rosemary leaves to your taste – then ad some sugar and water until the apples have turned into a suitable rustic pulpy mash – where the structure of the apples still are visible. Then ad rest of the sugar.

Serve the apple pork on fresh rough rye bread – that is spread with Danish pork lard. Start with a layer of the apple pulp – then the fried onions – and then decorate with the golden and crispy streaky pork on top of the mashed apples. Garnish with fresh rosemary leaves. 

Students For Zero Waste!

For my Fall Break, two of my friends and I decided to attend a conference in New Hampshire.  The conference was all about preventing the amount of waste that we throw out and eventually goes into the landfill. It was located at the University of New Hampshire and about 500 students attended the conference overall.  It was a long drive for us from Allegheny but we made a stop in Rochester, NY to stay for the night, which we were thankful for.  If we did not break up the trip then we would have had to drive almost 10 hours to get to the campus.  I think I would have lost my mind!

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When we finally arrived to the university around 8:30 pm, there was free oven baked pizza waiting for us in the local church.  We were just happy to be out of the car and stretch our legs so we walked around the church where everyone was and just ate our pizza.  There were group discussions going on, but we arrived too late to attend the groups.  There was also a movie that night that would discuss the use of plastic and its negative impacts on the environment, but we decided to get some rest because of the long day of workshops ahead of us.  So the people who wanted to watch the movie and discuss more stayed in that church while the people who wanted to sleep (us) walked across the street to the other church.

The Episcopal church we spent the night in
The Episcopal church we spent the night in

It was a rough night sleeping on the cold hard ground of a church with only our sleeping bags, but it was definitely an experience.  It was hard to fall asleep because we had at least 15 other people sleeping in the same room, so some people moved around a lot and some were still playing on their phones.  I also had to find a shirt to tie over my eyes like a blind fold because there were lights everywhere and I could not fall asleep.  I do not know how I did it, but I finally got some rest.  I woke up the next morning to see that my friend who slept next to me was all packed up and gone.  It scared me, but he called us to let us know he was getting up coffee from Dunkin’ Doughnuts.  He was our life savior that morning, especially since the church only had 2 bathrooms for ALL of us to use.  We made it work, but we were still a little sleepy.

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We then headed to the building we needed to sign into, but we were a little earlier than they anticipated so we just walked around.  It was a gorgeous campus and the fall weather was phenomenal.  After a few minutes they finally signed us in, gave us an awesome goodie bag and we made fun little name tags for ourselves.  It felt cool to be the first ones in the conference rooms.  I even had the opportunity to speak to a non-profit I am involved with called The Food Recovery Network.  This is affiliated with our Food Rescue group that I am the co-president of on campus and it was an honor to meet the man in charge.  I even saw the president of the group from Allegheny on the poster board so I sent her a picture saying, “what a small world, you’re famous!”  I spoke to him for a while before I gave him my card because I would be very interested in working with him after graduation.  Especially since my area of focus is food access and sustainable food systems in general.  So I guess it was also a job fair without me knowing it!

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The contents of our goody bags
The contents of our goody bags

And for breakfast everything was produced or collected from local farms through a process called gleaning.  Gleaning is where you take unmarketable goods that are deformed or not sellable and deliver them to communities who are willing to take them for other purposes.  So we had fresh apples, granola, and yogurt for breakfast.  There was also no silverware because we reused our own, which was donated by a local Good Will store in our goodie bags.  This was helpful for us to not throw away utensils and to simply reuse our own to prevent trash.

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After the keynote speaker did a wonderful job engaging us in the purpose of this conference and why we were here, we were off to our workshops of interest.  I attended one called Do Math: How do we measure our campus waste?  I decided to go to this one because it was directly related to my senior thesis.  I needed to understand WHY and HOW I was measuring and collecting our food waste on campus for my project.  Overall, it was extremely helpful and I asked lots of questions since the speaker was the head facilitator of the Physical Plant at the University of Vermont.  I learned which direction to go with my numbers and how to express them for other people to understand the basis and importance of my project.

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At the end of the day, my friends and I headed to another family’s house to stay, eat dinner, and relax.  It was nice because they had a beautiful yellow lab named Eric and they spoiled us rotten.  It was so nice to have a full cooked meal and our own beds to sleep in for the night.  We all felt well rested the next morning, which was good because we had to make the trek back to campus.  Throughout our trip we decided to stop and look at the beautiful places we did not have the time to see before since it was raining.  There was a beautiful river, mountainside, and antique store that we ventured too.  The weather was absolutely perfect and our cameras were going a mile a minute.  For me and my other friend, we had never traveled to this area before so we were dumbfounded with the beauty of it all.

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It was an amazing time and I am so happy I decided to go to this conference so last minute.  I was very lucky that this sort of opportunity came around WHILE I was comping and even better, it had to deal with my topic of the prevention of food waste!  I am very thankful and I am glad I get to talk about this experience in my final thesis.  It was also nice to meet people with the same passions that I had, even if they work in a different field or area of expertise, we all still want the same ending; prevent the amount of stuff we waste and reduce that amount put in landfills.

 

Local Food=Happiness

I have been participating in the Dehart Local Foods Dinner for over 3 years now and it just dawned on me that this was my last year.  It is always a wonderful time for me, not just because of the wonderful local and fresh food being served, but the meaning behind it. This dinner was organized in memory of Jennifer Dehart, an environmental science professor at Allegheny College in 2001.  Her main focus of study was sustainable agriculture and food systems.  She played an important role in the Meadville community, but passed away due to a five year fight against cancer.  But, still to this day we appreciate her legacy during the dinner and all of her hard work that she has accomplished for the college.

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Each year a bunch of organizations, non-profits, and clubs come together to host a small market along Brooks walk.  There are food samples, organic fruits and vegetables, and a bluegrass band that plays while everyone walks around.  This year I actually hosted a table for our Food Rescue club at Allegheny so I made cinnamon rolls for anyone that wanted to take one.

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We also had an amazing bluegrass band that had a current biology professor as the main singer for the group, which was quite exciting.  While they played, students, faculty, professors and even president Mullen walked around chatting and trying new foods.  There was even a smoothie stand that was blended by riding a bike around!  I would have never thought of that for the market!

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When it came closer to dinner time, all of the students gathered into the Schultz banquet dining hall to find a table and snack on a few appetizers while looking at the menu.  There was fish, gyros, salad, apple pie, maple ice cream, and so much more to choose from.  Everyone was starving when they got in line to get their food, but of course they all eat  more than they can fit in their stomach.  I always remember this being the time of the year that I feel the most full because there is just so much food that I want but cannot fit into my stomach!

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Overall, it was an amazing time and we even had nice weather to go along with it.  I also understand how much planning and effort is always put into this event, but we could not have done it without the student volunteers.  I know for me, I spent 2 hours cutting greens for a specific dish and it ended up filling two large bins!  Others peeled potatoes, cracked eggs, and sliced apples in their spare time in the Schultz kitchen.  All of the hard work paid off and everyone enjoyed the food as always.  It also shows the importance of communication among farmers and the importance of supporting local food systems in Meadville.

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Middle Eastern Buffet

This semester I am taking a course called World Regional Geography with my advisor.  I was expecting it to be more environmental related since it was a course within my major, but it turned out to be more political than anything.  At first I was a little disappointed because I knew that political science was not my strong suit.  But, as the course went on, I realized how important it was for me to learn about different political matters around the world.  Especially since I like to travel, it is important to learn the background information about that area so you do not go in completely oblivious to current issues or conflicts.

Professor Pallant eating some Middle Eastern food with Professor Haywood
Professor Pallant eating some Middle Eastern food with Professor Haywood

Our first topic was discussing the conflict between Israel and Palestine.  These two states have been fighting for hundreds of years so it was a lot of information to take in.  But, we put ourselves in their shoes and learned that each person in the Middle East is both wrong and right at the same time.  Both have their different opinions and debating is a natural thing in a regular conversation.  Throughout the topic we focused on borders, refugees, Jerusalem, and water issues.  In the end, we had a peace conference and had to also create a final peace plan.

All of the political parties together for a photo
All of the political parties together for a photo

The conference was amazing because it was so realistic.  When my friend and I were about to enter the room we noticed a campus security officer guarding the door.  So when we approached he asked to look through out bag for weapons and then put our cellphones in a box outside of the classroom.  We smiled because we knew that our professor was pretending that this was a legit conference.  We walked inside and found our spot in the room based on our given political party and put on whatever props we had given to us from the Middle East.

Lindsey and Sarah playing the roll of the Hamas political party
Lindsey and Sarah playing the roll of the Hamas political party

The conference was a huge debate, but it was very fun to play a specific role and learn from it.  There were notes passed to make bonds, friendships, air strikes, and nuclear threats.  It was almost like the real thing if this conference were to take place by president Obama.

Overall, it was a tough topic, but I learned so much more than I could imagine.  Of course, I want to travel to the Middle East now and experience it in a different manner.  And to top off the course we all made a certain dish from the Middle East and cooked it for the class to have a buffet.

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