Global Education Committee celebrated Vietnamese Lunar New Year, also known as Tết, on February 13th at GCC. Carefully prepared by Nina Mortellaro from the Human Communications & Behaviors Department and with the help of other faculty from the Global Ed Committee, the event was filled with many authentic dishes, symbolic decorations and traditions of Vietnamese Tet.
The flavorful dishes were prepared and delivered by a Vietnamese restaurant, SEA, all the way from Rochester. The menu included many popular recipes in Vietnam, but might be rare to find in Western New York, such as fried spring rolls, crispy noodles complemented with dipping fish sauce and peanut sauce with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.
To aid the festive mood of Tet holidays, Nina arranged an altar to represent the ancestral altar that is presented in every family household during Tet. Just like Vietnamese traditions, the altar consists of a five-fruit tray, candles and a variety of flowers that resembles the Tet’s ancestral altars.
The five-fruit tray (mâm ngũ quả) is an integral part of Vietnam’s Tet that can be seen through every region of the country. It consists of fruit of different colors displayed in an artistic and coherent arrangements. Traditionally, the five types of fruits resemble the harmonious colors of oriental nature elements: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. But many households or localities have deviated from the strict ancient rules and modified the variety of the fruits as they seem fit.
Beside the charming orchids that were presented at the event, Vietnamese also embellish their houses and streets every Tết with yellow and pink apricot, peach blossoms, marigold, or Marumi Kumquat.
Adopted from Chinese Lunar New Year traditions, Vietnamese elders would gift children red envelopes of lucky money (or lì xì in Vietnamese) to little children and young adults. The attendees at the event also received a surprising token of lì xì from the Global Education Committee.
I was surprised to learn that GCC currently has four students from Vietnam, including me. To see and experience our culture being celebrated and shared 8,870 miles from our home country was such a delight at a small and close-knitted community such as GCC.
Event photos taken by Donald Lockwood (MarCom student assistant). Featured image by shutterstock; food images taken from Internet / Google.
February is not only the time to give out hearts to your loved ones, but also the time to take care of your own heart. February is American Heart Month, first proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 to raise awareness and urge Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle against the battle of heart diseases. As the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US and globally, American Heart Month pays tribute to health professionals, researchers and volunteers for their tireless battle in preventing and treating heart patients.
Heart diseases spare no one, not even the youth. The good news is that 80% of heart diseases are preventable. Below are some age-old critical reminders to ‘stay young at heart’, and prevent it from aging prematurely:
Keep a hearty diet of low-trans fat, low-saturated fat, low-sugars, and low-salt foods. 90% of Americans are consuming too much salt via pizza, pasta dishes, cold cuts, chicken and yeast breads, which are the top 5 foods that dominate American salty diet.
Stay active with two to three sessions of 10-15 minutes of exercises through out the day. Being active doesn’t mean toiling in the gym for hours. Something is always better than nothing; don’t give into the taking the elevator when you can take the stairs.
Track your numbers on weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.
Manage a healthy weight.
Screen for diabetes, which can lead to heart disease if left untreated.
Manage stress via mediation, exercise, and healthy relaxing techniques. Coping with stress using alcohol, smoking, or overeating is a huge no-no. You can even manage stress with proper breathing techniques for just 10-20 min /day. Laughing can increase healthy blood flow through your body by 22%.
Keep a high-quality sleeping pattern to restore your body and mental health. Sleep deficiency promotes weight gain, diabetes, and cause low-grade inflammation inside blood vessels that lead to heart diseases
Say NO to:
Smoking. The nicotine in smoke reduces how much oxygen your heart gets and raise the risks of blood clots.
Excessive alcohol use. Overdrinking alcohol causes irregular heartbeats (called atrial fibrillation), which increases your risks of stroke, heart attack or heart failure. The American Heart Association suggests no more than one drink per day for women and two for men.
Newborn babies have the fastest heart beats of 70-190 / min while an average adult has a resting heart rate of 60-100 beats / min. A regularly trained athlete has an even slower resting heart rate of 40-60 beats / min.
Before the invention of stethoscope, doctors had to press their ears into the patient’s chest to detect heart beats.
NOT-SO-FUN FACTS ABOUT HEART
One person dies every 37 seconds in the US from cardiovascular disease. By the time you finish reading this blog, we might have lost another six Americans to heart disease.
Heart attacks happen most often on Monday mornings. A rise in stress hormones and blood pressure cause heart blockages.
Heart attacks peak on Christmas Day, Dec 26th and New Year’s.
Your heart works twice as hard as the leg muscles of a sprinter. Sodo take care of your heart and give it a lot of love.
This blog is going to explore various Asian countries ‘s New Year celebrations by their similarities, which are grouped into 2 categories:
Countries influenced by Chinese’s New Year: Korea, Japan & Vietnam
Countries that celebrate New Year with water fights: Thailand, Lao, Cambodia, Myanmar
1. COUNTRIES INFLUENCED BY CHINESE’S LUNAR NEW YEAR: Korea, Japan & Vietnam
Under Chinese’s historical dominance and influence, Vietnam, Korea and Japan adopts many similar New Year customs similar to that of the Chinese’s Lunar New Year, which commonly occurs in late January or early February. Mongolia and Tibet’s Lunar New Year occurs near or on the same day as the Chinese’s Lunar New Year, but Mongolia’s and Tibet’s New Year celebrations are unique by themselves.
BUT, Japan celebrates New Year on January 1st. Initially, the Chinese’s calendar was introduced and adopted in Japan in the 6th century CE. During that time, Japan shared its New Year celebrations with China, Korea and Vietnam. However in 1873 during Meiji Restoration, Japan adopted the Western Gregorian calendar, and Jan 1st became the official New Year’s Day. Initial opposition to the sudden change was strong, but the resistance only lasted until the 1900s when the lunisolar calendar disappeared from annual celebrations.
Lunar New Year are also called Shōgatsu 正月 (Japanese), Chunjie 春节(Chinese), Tết (Vietnamese) and Seollal 설날 (Korean). The traditions outlined below are shared among Vietnam, Korea and countries that host large populations of Chinese ethnics such as Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. Each country has their own adaptations of the Chinese influences.
NEW YEAR GREETING
On the first day of the Lunar New Year, families visit the oldest male relative’s house to pay respect and wish good fortune to the elders for the upcoming year. In return, elders gift the younger ones with lucky red envelopes.
New Year greetings are even more structured in Korea. Children (and sometimes adult offsprings) dress in traditional hanbok and line up to pay their respect to elders (parents, grandparents) with a traditional, respectful bow called Sebae.
On the first day of Lunar Year, families and relatives gather at the house of their oldest male relative to pay their respects to both ancestors and elders. Before the New Year’s Eve, many families spend hours cleaning and preparing food and offerings which will be taken to their ancestors’ graves and ancestral altars, symbolizing many past generations.
The ritual begins when the eldest male kneels down in front of the altar with a burning incense in his hand, and he puts it into the incense burner and bows deeply three times afterwards.
After they have visited all of their ancestors’ graves or altars, all the food is gathered for a huge feast shared among families and friends.
Traditionally, only male members participated in the worshipping rituals while females prepare the food and offerings and are not allowed to partake in the rite. In modern times, the rite can be done by all family members.
The Chinese custom of gifting red envelopes (or “hóngbāo” in Mandarin) began in ancient Qin Dynasty. Elders would thread coins with a red string to ward off evil spirits. It stems from a legend that a demon named “sui” (Chinese: 祟) would quietly surround children on the New Year’s Eve, causing them fear and sickness. The threaded coins were eventually replaced by red envelopes as printing presses became common.
Similar customs have been adopted in Korea with a twist. Instead of red envelopes, Koreans use silk “fortune pouches” (Bokjumeoni in Korean) as a symbol of keeping good fortune and prosperity in the pouch. Since Korean traditional dress “hanbok” was not designed with any pockets, the Koreans created Bokjumeoni and tie it at the waist side.
Similarly, the act of gifting children decorated paper envelopes filled with New Year money is known as Otoshidama in Japan. It’s interesting to note that, unlike the Chinese and Vietnamese envelopes that are dominantly red/yellow printed with new year wishes, Japanese envelopes (called Pochibukuro) are decorated with unrestricted range of colors and topics.
Traditionally, older children would receive more money; but many adults in modern time gift the same amounts to their children, newphew or neices to avoid jealousy and arguments between siblings / cousins. This is usually the favorite part the New Year’s for many children, similar to how Western children excitedly look forward to presents during the Christmas or Easter holidays.
2. COUNTRIES THAT CELEBRATE NEW YEAR WITH WATER FESTIVALS: Thailand, Lao, Cambodia, Myanmar
Thai, Lao, Myanmar and Cambodia are known for their water splashing festivals during New Year Celebrations, which occur from April 13-15 in accordance with the sun’s movements. Other countries that also celebrate the New Year at the same time include Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, but they have entirely unique customs of their own.
Mid-April marks the end of a harvest season, the time when farmers can start enjoying their hard work all year before the monsoon season begins. April is when the summer reaches its peak temperature, make it difficult to toil long hours in the field, and allow farmers to have a break from the labor.
All four countries begin the New Year mornings with religious rituals and merit-making at the local temples to start off a New Year with good deeds. An iconic ritual for the New Year holiday in Lao, Cambodia and Thailand is bathing Buddha statues and images with perfumed water. It symbolizes renewal, purification and cleaning away evil deeds.
Other merit-making acts include preparing offerings to the monks, releasing and freeing captured animals (bird, fish, crabs, tortoises and mostly small animals) and helping the poor through charity.
In Laos and Cambodia, they build sand stupas, which are later decorated with flowers, flags and sprinkled with perfumed water, in remembrance of the deceased.
Traditionally, the act of sprinkling water on one another signifies respect and blessing, to wash away the staleness, the bad luck from the old year. Young people would pour water over their elders’ palms to pay reverence.
But since New Year holiday falls on the hottest month, many recently take the blessings to another level and splash water one another and bypassers with buckets or cannons. In Thailand, major streets are closed to allow for water festivals.
In this rushed and overloaded digital age, speed and productivity is power. Some of the tech tools below can be the very hacks you need for productivity so you can optimize your time and effort, and save more quality time for more quality tasks.
Unroll.me makes it super easy for you to unsubscribe from junk / spam emails without having to delete them manually so often. When you sign up for the service, it will scan through your email to display a list of subscriptions that are filling up your inbox, including subscriptions that you never knew you signed up for. It also helps to remove scam emails whose unsubscribe button doesn’t actually work.
It helps you waste less time skimming and sorting through your crowded mailbox every day.
“The design tool for non-designers,” this popular web-based graphic design platform allows users to create their own designs & customize graphics, prints, presentation slides from hundreds of professional layouts and templates. If you would like to create an eye-catching poster for an event or an enviable presentation without spending too much time or dabbing into more complicated software such as Adobe, Canva is the place.
For an individual who’s looking to create a quick professional-look design, free version of Canva is plentiful. You can compare their free & upgraded features here. Also, you’ll need to sign up for Google or Facebook account before using.
As the name suggests, the service helps you remove any navigation, ads, and junk to print a clean-looking article. You can also customize or delete the text and image deemed unnecessary before printing.
Equally important, if you don’t read the New York Times article frequently enough but already exceeded your limit of 10 free articles per month, you can paste the blocked article link into Print Friendly and see its entirety.
Available as: website & browser extension (chrome & firefox)
There is a good reason why this app is ranked at #2 on IOS App Store for Business category. Scanner Pro produces top quality scans, offering accurate intelligent character recognition (detects readable text and convert them into machine-encoded text), and doing it all with a smooth interface. It automatically detects borders, reduces distortions, lets you export it as jpg and pdf and share/upload right inside the app.
Since using this app, I feel like those bulky document scanner in the office and library will become museum artifacts in the near decades.
Available as: app (ios)(there are many different apps on both ios & google play store for the same purpose of different price range for you to pick from)
In this overwhelming information age, speed listening is the trick to learning more and quicker from multimedia such as videos and podcasts. If you find it torturous and distracted to sit and listen to an online lecture/video of a slow pace, or if you’re more engaged and focused in high-speed informative listening, this video speed controller is a must. A video speed controller also helps you quickly ‘skim’ through unimportant video sections without skipping/missing its main points. Equally important, this extension allows you to customize hotkey (keyboard shortcuts) to increase/decrease speed and skip forward/backwards without touching the mouse.
Available as: Chrome browser extension (Firefox also has similar add-on)
If you’re learning a new language or looking to improve your vocabulary through voracious reading, pop-up dictionary and translator helps to reduce interruptions of looking up a word. There are multiple chrome extensions available for this feature, including but not limited to, Good Word Guide, Dictionarist, Google Dictionary (multiple languages). Personally, I used 3 different pop-up dictionary extensions so that I can be exposed to different ways a word is defined.
Available as: Chrome browser extension (Firefox also has similar add-on)
I have personally used all the tools listed in this blog, and have loved them enough to recommend them to you! I hope you find them useful as well!
is a Batavia, NY”? were among the many questions, family members, friends, and
colleagues had asked me as I began to prepare for the move from the glamorous
city of Chicago to a region where there were more cows than people.
For most of my life Chicago was home. The people, the culture, the food, the music, and other key characteristics that define our great city, was an everyday experience I had come to know since I was born. For goodness sakes, I was born in 1993, a year the Chicago Bulls accomplished their first three-peat. If Basketball was our religion, Michael Jordan would be God himself. I had made good memories here, met interesting people, and lived a steady life.
So why leave?
When people from this region would find out about my Chicago origins, I was always asked by default “Why Leave?” “Why Batavia?”
For me, it was simple. I had grown tiresome of the fast-paced lifestyle that had encumbered my ability to be more flexible as it pertained to seeking opportunity. There was also the reality of friends moving across the country for academic and professional reasons, collapsing my social circle at home. Working in a hospital call-center, albeit with zealous colleagues whom I heap nothing but praise on to this day (except for one individual), was not something I envisioned for myself when younger. If anything, compared to previous years spent travelling across the country campaigning for politicians, this was a rather tedious tenure. While there were several enjoyable conversations with patients and physicians alike, I was beginning to grow weary of my long-term prospects and thus sought an opportunity to change course. In late summer 2017, I began a vigorous search for community colleges with on-campus accommodation housing and respectable tuition fees. At the end of this search were two colleges, GCC being one of them. On November 3, 2017, by way of a 12-hour Amtrak journey I made my way from the city Michael Jordan made famous to Rochester, N.Y. Assisted by my former advisor Lourdes Abaunza, I would register for Spring 2019 classes, spurring a new relationship with this community.
I remember my first day arriving on a cold and wet January vividly. Upon exiting my ride-share, I was introduced to the harsh Western New York weather with heaps of rain pouring down upon my face and luggage. I hurriedly grabbed my bags and began a brief sprint to a room beneath the safety office at College Village. I would be given my keys and a packet for new residents, including an itinerary of weekend activities. Escorted by a tall and lanky Resident Assistant known as Matt, I would find myself standing in the middle of my new home, miles away from the comfortable settings that had become familiar to me. The experience was foreign to me. The absence of 24/7 buses and trains with sprawling downtown buildings that made the city glow, was foreign to me. However, I soon became accustomed with my new surroundings. Learning about the region and inhabitants served as a history lesson. People I saw as strangers would become friends, some of them lifelong.
Getting acclimated to a classroom setting was an entirely different set of challenges. I recall my first class. Math 091 taught by Professor Mark Siena. I remember arriving 25 minutes before class began at 7:45 am. Awaken by the sound of my alarm at 6:30 am, I began to get ready for my first day of school in nearly five years since dropping out of high school. As the semester persisted, I would eventually find my place academically and socially. While there was hesitation to return, I did the following fall. It has not been easy being in Batavia. My race and sexual orientation as a gay man has proved to be an issue for some people. However, my brash and abrasive attitude gave it back in kind. Regardless of those struggles, there is some virtue during my time here. It is a theme I have kept coming back to recently.
Resilience has been a major theme in my life. I was born and grew up in one of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Left with a single mother at home who herself combated the issues of education and poverty as a child, me and my other siblings did not have the proverbial “silver spoon” by any stretch of one’s imagination. What we were given in place of the materialistic possessions not affordable to us, was education. My mother did not have the privilege of finishing her education, thus, she worked hard to ensure we would be the generation of our family to break the glass ceiling of the issues that afflicted my mother’s generation. When I left high school, she was obviously disappointed. I was always seen as the “one with potential” and for that to occur was an emotional hardship for the both of us. However, as life would continue for me, I would find myself in the company of high-profile politicians, working on their campaigns. Meeting President Obama was a turning point in my life as I began to realize the potential I truly had. How to revive and sustain it? Well, I set out to try. In 2016, I obtained my GED and the following year returned to work. It was during this time I began to be honest with myself and future ambitions.
When I was six-years old, my first Presidential Election was George Bush vs Al Gore and while not old enough to properly comprehend the events of that evening it left a small child on Chicago’s south-side awestruck. That feeling never left and would manifest itself over the course of my life. I wanted to be a politician. Which office would I hope to occupy? Senator does sound tempting. However, in order to attain that level of power and prestige, one must obtain an education. A conscious choice I made when arriving at Genesee Community College. Since being here I have been active in various clubs and organizations, winning numerous awards for academic and extracurricular achievement. At present I am working on a lengthy thesis paper, a project that I have come to appreciate for its rigor and challenge.
As for what is next upon departing Batavia? I go back home and then to the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, studying Political Science. I will not lie. I am hopeful for the future, but somewhat demurred that as this process continues, I will not get any younger. Comical, I know, however it does present a concern of how long I wish to be in academia. Time will tell. For now, I am excited at the prospects of what my new institution will offer.
As I prepare to graduate, I would like to take this time to thank the various professors, faculty and friends for imparting on me wisdom, advice, and friendship through the good times and rather questionable times. More importantly, I am thankful for the opportunity to understand the culture and way of living in this community. I have always believed that getting outside your comfort zone presents an opportunity to grow, and I feel that I have. My advice to those who are younger: Do not be afraid to take risks. The outside world can be intimidating, however, never turn down an opportunity to grow. Whether that process occurs through incidents of failure and frustration, learn to appreciate the journey.
I learned a valuable lesson from two mentors of mine who passed away a few years ago. Life is a like a train station, we all arrive and depart from stops—those stops being certain chapters in our lives. So, enjoy those “stops” along the way and more importantly, appreciate the people you encounter as you venture toward greater opportunities that await you.
Thanks to the many people who left an invaluable mark on me during my time at GCC.
As conductors on Chicago trains say “Doors Closing. Next stop is…”
Dennis Austin is a graduating Sophomore from Genesee Community College. He will enroll at the University of Illinois’ Champaign-Urbana campus in January.
internship is literally changing my life! I am an intern with the Marketing
& Communications department at Genesee Community College, also called
MarCom, and already have experience gained in areas that I never thought would
be within my reach. I have documented and created event calendars throughout
the local community. In doing this I found great free sites to advertise
publicly and the structure and manner of creating an event. I got the opportunity
to work under a trained photographer while practicing photography myself. At
this moment, I knew that I would enjoy being a part of MarCom at GCC.
The hours are flexible and my portfolio will definitely look a lot better because of the opportunities provided by MarCom. I have two days minimum in an office setting and one day minimum working from home. New opportunities come often and they are things to brag about. For instance, I arrived on one of my office days to a professional videographer hired by the school. I was able to witness the beginning process of videography. I was even able to sit in and brainstorm with the team for that project, which included my supervisor and the videographer himself. Not only was I able to sit in and bear witness but I actually felt as if I had a voice. That opportunity will forever stay with me because it became motivational in a way. It reminds me that this can be my life and that I can have a career!
I am also a student at Genesee Community College and MarCom is very understanding when it comes to education. If I have a test or need the day to study, they will not only assent but they would help me find the time to make up the hours that I’ve missed. My goal was to gain experience in an office like setting and in the business world and MarCom has made it possible for me to do exactly that plus more. I can’t wait to blog an update with even more experiences gained by completing my internship with the Marketing & Communications department at GCC.
This was the first event that I had attended for GCC’s Internship Program. This was also where I was able to learn from and work under a Professional Photographer. It was filled with students and donors, which made the moments I’d captured even more special.
At this event I got to practice taking in motion shots. This event was the same day as Discover the Stars.
This picture was taken at a car show at Genesee Community College. I love cars so this event was also a lot of fun.
As a GCC Honor’s Program student, I approached Professor(s) Garth
Swanson and Anne Wood last semester with a goal in mind: complete a thesis
project with a 100-page count. Suffice to say, I was met with concerned
reaction. Thesis projects of this size and stature are not normally undertaken by
community college students. Initially, I
was discouraged in approaching this project, and advised to seek a more
specific topic with a shorter page length.
I said no.
I’m glad I did.
Throughout my tenure here at Genesee Community College, I have searched
high and low for opportunities to expand and build upon my intellectual
capabilities, which undoubtedly will serve me will in later stages of life. I
had gotten used to the usual essay outlines which my professors feverishly
assigned me. In essence, writing an essay became too simple of a task. The
routine became boring, predictable, and mundane. There is no intention of
disrespect toward my professors. One in particular remarked to me that their
reason for being a light course load was their concern that many students would
be unable to keep if they increased the rigor.
Not entirely unpredictable but unfortunate. Education, to me, should be an opportunity for students to dive deep into a subject of their choice and familiarity, with no restrictions applied. Many days and nights pondering what the next academic challenge could be. As a six-year old, my first Presidential Election was Bush V. Gore. While not of an age to properly perceive the events of that campaign, I was enthralled by the pomp and circumstance of that evening. Getting older led to more political awareness which eventually I found across the “pond.” Inspired by the events of Brexit and previous political developments in the country, compelled me to choose Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as the basis for my project. While already familiar with her Premiership, I wanted to examine how her government’s economic policy and theory, led to what I deem as an unraveling of the British working-class.
Currently in my research, I am reviewing her flagship policy known as
the MFTS (Medium Term Financial Strategy), in which her decision to raise
interest rates, eliminate credit controls, and how the concentration of
Britain’s money supply range, led to unsavory conditions for
lower-income individuals and families. For example, 1981 saw a peak of
unemployment at 3 million, which was the highest number recorded since the
Great Depression. During the period of 1979 to 1980, industrial production fell
by 6.4%, with downturn in manufacturing output and capacity, at 20%.
As the project continues throughout the semester, it is with great
intention to (hopefully) provide updates on newer findings and to offer further
explanation of how her policies were applied in working-class Britain.
Professor Swanson remarked to me that this is the first project of its kind for
our Honors Program. While there have been other creative projects in the past,
nothing of this nature has been done before. To our knowledge, there has been
no other student at this institution, past or present, who conducted and penned
a project of this magnitude.
Why 100 pages? To admit, there is some braggadocio involved, however I
feel that for the first time since arriving on campus that there exists
a subject within familiar realms which require a discipline and focus arguably
unlike any other form of study I have taken here or anywhere. Not just due to
page requirement or quantity of work involved. It is due to the fact that I am
asked to go beyond my comfort zone in search of not just finishing the project,
but in search of my own potential, henceforth the insistence that I adhere to
this project—from start until finish. I have been given the support,
encouragement and occasional sternness from my professors, since this project
began. They know what I am capable of and as such, are holding me to a high
As I prepare to graduate from GCC, I hope this project in some way can inspire
one student to go outside of their familiar realm and seek an opportunity to
truly challenge themselves. Not for the prospect of failing, but for the virtue
of expanding one’s creativity. This has been a journey and while the final page
has not yet been penned, this has been an experience that I will appreciate
many years from now.