Monthly Archives: September 2014

Get Teens Talking About Mindfulness

September 25, 2014

TeensTalk_featured

Teens hear their peers’ voices and words in very different ways than they hear their parents and teachers. This is why getting teens to talk about their mindfulness experiences is a pivotal component of effective teen yoga classes.

I encourage teen yoga teachers to “get good” at facilitating potent group discussions. The benefits of the practices are enriched when teens dialogue about their challenges, goals, and achievements. Teens learn from each other’s shared experiences and get new ideas on how mindfulness can impact their lives.

Here are a few pointers to keep the discussion on track and democratic:

Write main topics and inquiries on the board or chart paper for everyone’s reference.

Set a time limit knowing you can always cut it short or extend, if needed.

Pose a specific set of inquiries such as, “What if your partner is having a tough time balancing in a pose that is easy for you? What is more important: to support your partner or practice harder poses?” Then ask for volunteers to answer. Give a few moments for students to raise hands or signify their desire to respond.

Resist the impulse to always call upon the first student who raises their hand, especially if it’s always the same student and his/her hand shoots up with an eager “oooooh, I know, I know.” For certain, eventually call upon that student, perhaps second or third. However, there is no surer way to a dead end discussion than to allow one voice to consistently set the tone or dominate the conversation. The eager student will learn by listening first to others ideas and letting those ideas integrate with their own. And, students who are more reticent to respond will be encouraged to do so if they feel they can enter in a more humble way.

Keep on eye out for meek students who really do have something to share, but don’t raise their hand or signify their desire to participate. Pose the question, “does anyone who has not responded yet want to share an idea?” Make eye contact with students who have not yet shared. Give them the opening without necessarily calling out their names. Be sure to let students know that while you would love to hear from everyone, it is perfectly fine to participate as an observer and listener. Let them know that holding space for others is just as vital to community as sharing explicitly. This will help to both alleviate any pressure to respond that quieter students may feel and send a powerful message to students who always share, but have a difficult time listening.

Limit your own commentary between students voices. In other words, you do not need to comment after every student shares! If a student shares an idea you find questionable or curious, try posing the question to the group for further discussion. For example, a student says, “I think if my partner isn’t as good at a pose as I am, I will tell them I am going to ask the teacher to be reassigned to a new partner because I really feel like practicing hard poses today.” I might respond, “Okay. Does anyone have a different idea on how to deal with that situation? How do you think your partner might feel if you said that to them?” Let the group respond. Teens hear feedback so much differently from peers than from teachers. As much as possible, guide teens to do the teaching themselves. You can guide a group of teens to water and let them show each other how to drink.

Wrap up the discussion with your commentary including a brief review of main ideas shared, your own wisdom to fill in any open questions you feel compelled to expand on and an outlook for how this discussion bolsters their practice. “Okay, time to move on to our physical practice. This was a powerful discussion on how to support each other, when to ask for help and how to help your partner find their center. I’d like to add that I trust you all to be compassionate and empathetic in your responses to each other. You all know how good it feels when another person really listens to your needs. You get to be that kind of listener for your partner today. Listening is absolutely critical to a safe partner yoga practice.”

Abby Wills

Abby Wills, MA, E-RYT

Shanti Generation, Co-Founder, Program Director

Abby brings her passion for developmental education and deep respect for the tradition of yoga to her work guiding youth and teachers in contemplative arts. Abby’s approach is informed by studies in social justice and democratic education at Pacific Oaks College, as well as two decades of training in yoga.

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Dispatches from the NACAC 2014 Conference in Indianapolis, IN & 8 Fun Facts About Indianapolis

September 19th, 2014

NACAC_FLAG

This year the national conference for the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) is held in Indianapolis, Indiana. Founded in 1937, NACAC is an organization of more than 13,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education.

This is ACEI’s first NACAC Conference and I am here with our Assistant Director of Marketing, Yolinisse Moreno, where we will be tending to our booth in the Exhibit Hall for the next two days. The conference and the exhibit hall officially opened on Thursday, September 18th and will end on Saturday, September 20th.

NACAC_MASCOT
Yolinisse Moreno, Anonymous Football Player, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

Yoli_at_NACAC
Yolinisse Moreno, Assistant Director of Marketing, ACEI

Hallview_NACAC
View of a corner of the Exhibit Hall

Our first day has proven to be a great success and we have our new display banner and glossy new literature to thank for helping attract visitors to our booth. We happily shared information about ACEI and the benefits of international credential evaluations. Visitors to our booth are counselors at public and private high schools, boarding schools, colleges and universities and with the increasing flow of international students to the U.S., they are recognizing the importance and necessity of having their academic transcripts evaluated for U.S. educational equivalence. We also met the folks at US News and Education. I was happy to see them stop by our booth since I follow their online blog and Facebook posts on higher education and related news.

USNEWS_EDUCATION

Since we’re here in Indianapolis, we thought it would be good to share some facts about this city:

1. Indianapolis is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Indiana, and also the county seat of Marion County. As of the 2010 census, the city’s population is 820,445.

2. There are 19 institutions of higher learning in Indianapolis, ranging from two-year colleges and technical schools to private and public four-year universities. The largest is Indiana University-
Purdue University at Indianapolis, which offers associate, undergraduate, and graduate degree programs. Private four-year institutions include Butler University and the University of Indianapolis. Other institutions of higher education include IVY Tech State College, Marian College, and Martin University.

3. Indianapolis is home to the two largest single-day sporting events in the world, the Indianapolis 500 (Indy 500) and the Brickyard 400.

race_car
A Formula One racecar, up close and personal at the Exhibit Hall

4. The Indy 500 track is so large that Churchill Downs, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Roman Coliseum and Vatican City can all fit inside the iconic oval, covering 253 acres.

5. Though Indianapolis is often a proving ground for stars from the world of sports, every four years Indianapolis hosts the International Violin Competition—a 17-day event—drawing competitors from around the globe. In fact, the finals were held yesterday, on September 17, 2014.

6. Indianapolis’ historic Union Station was the first union station in the world, opening in September 1853. In fact, Thomas Edison worked there as a telegraph operator in 1861.

7. Indianapolis is home to the world’s largest children’s museum in both square footage and number of artifacts (500,000 square feet in size and over 100,000 exhibits and artifacts).

8. Elvis performed his last concert in downtown Indianapolis in June 1977.

Well, that’s it for now. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more updates on the next two days here at NACAC in Indianapolis.

Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
President & CEO, ACEI

ACEI

http://www.acei-global.org

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25 Interesting Facts About Scotland

September 11th, 2014

scotland_map

On September 16, 2014, Scotland will hold a referendum that will decide its independence from the United Kingdom. Scotland is a sovereign state in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is part of the UK’s constitutional monarchy. If the referendum in favor of independence gathers the votes it needs, Scotland will secede from the UK.

As we wait in anticipation of the outcome of the referendum, we felt it would be helpful to learn more about this country and share with you a few interesting facts.

History

1. Scotland was an independent country and never took kindly to invaders but nevertheless it unified with England in 1707 when King James VI of Scotland became King James I of both England and Scotland after the death eased Queen Elizabeth I. Their merger formed the United Kingdom of Great Britain giving rise to factions which to this day opposed the unification. For more history check this link: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/scotlandshistory/

Geography & People

scotland_flag

2. The Flag of Scotland is a white X-shaped cross, which represents the cross of the patron saint of Scotland, Saint Andrew on a blue field. The flag is called the Saltire or the Saint Andrew’s Cross.

3. Scotland includes over 790 islands. These include groups called Orkney, Shetland and the Hebrides.

4. The population of Scotland in 2011 was around 5.3 million.

5. The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh while the largest city is Glasgow. Other major cities include Aberdeen and Dundee.

edinburgh
Image: Edinburgh

6. Scotland has three officially recognized languages: English, Scots (a relative of English) and Scottish Gaelic (a completely different language).

Education

7. As part of the UK, Scotland’s education system is separate and governed from within Scotland.

8. Scotland emphasizes on a broad education system and was the first country since Sparta in classical Greece to implement a system of general public education.

9. There are 14 Scottish universities some of which are the oldest universities in the world.

10. The University of St Andrews, founded in 1413, is the third oldest university in the UK after Oxford and Cambridge. It welcomed Britain’s first female student in 1862. It is also where the world’s first students’ union came into existence in 1882.

edinburgh_college

11. The world’s first infant school was opened by philosopher and pedagogue Robert Owen in New Lanark in 1816.

Economy & Resources

12. Aberdeen has become an important center for the oil industry after the finding of oil in the North Sea.

13. Edinburgh is Europe’s fifth largest financial center.

14. Scotland offers free water for its citizens, although oil and nuclear energy are governed by the UK.

15. Although their health system is part of the greater National Health Service, Scotland controls its implementation (which allows them to provide free prescriptions to everyone, something England does not do).

Government & Judicial System

16. Scotland also has its own judicial system and unlike most western systems, courts can reach the decision of guilty, not guilty, or not proved.

17. The police force of Scotland is separate from that of the rest of the UK.

18. Scotland also has its own distinct parliament, which is chaired by the First Minister of Scotland.

Inventions

19. Notable Scottish inventions include: the method of logarithms (1614), tarmac (1820), first-ever house to be lit by gas (1784), the waterproof raincoat (1823), the hot blast furnace (1828), the modern, rear-wheel driven bicycle (1839), the pneumatic tire (1845) and reinvented in a more practical way (1887) known today as Dunlop Rubber (now under the joint ownership of Goodyear and Sumitomo Rubber Industries), and the discovery of the anesthetic properties of chloroform in 1847 which was successfully introduced for general medical use. (There are many more inventions by Scottish inventors, a list too long for this blog. For more information check this link: http://listverse.com/2014/01/05/10-things-you-should-know-about-scotland/)

Fun / Odd Facts

20. Genetic studies are now pointing that the mutation for red hair, which now reaches a world maximum in Western Scotland and Northern Ireland, may have originated in Central Asia too. This means that Scottish people may be (partly) descended from ancient people from Central Asia. Surprised? So were we, so here’s one source: www.eupedia.com

redhair

21. Archaeological evidence suggests that the first toilets ever were possibly built in Orkney, Scotland in 3,000 BC.

22. Scotland is reputed for its whisky, known outside Scotland as Scotch Whisky. Yet, what few people know is that whisky was in fact invented in China, and was first distilled by monks in Ireland in the early 15th century before reaching Scotland 100 years later.

23. The most infamous Scottish dish is haggis, normally made with sheep’s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver, and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal’s stomach for approximately an hour.

haggis

24. Kilts, tartans and bagpipes aren’t Scottish inventions. Kilts originated in Ireland. Tartans ere found in Bronze-age or Iron-age Central Europe (Hallstatt culture) and Central Asia (Tocharian culture). Bagpipes might also be an ancient invention from Central Asia. These could be debated so here’s the link to the source http://www.tamos.net/~rhay/shenkman.html.

bagpipes

25. A few more Scottish dishes known for their odd names include: Forfar Bridie (a meat pastry), Cock-a-leekie (soup), Collops (escalope), Crappit heid (fish dish), Finnan haddie (haddock fish), Arbroath Smokie (smoked haddock), Cullen Skink (haddock soup), Partan bree (seafood dish), Mince and tatties (minced meat and potatoes), Rumbledethumps, Skirlie and so on. And, of course, there is the ubiquitous shortbread, Scotland’s most famous cookie.

Bonus fact!

26. Scotland, the official animal of Scotland is the Unicorn, appreciated for its purity and strength. http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/heritage/scottish-fact-of-the-week-scotland-s-official-animal-the-unicorn-1-2564399 .

seals

It was King James I who drew up a new royal coat of arms that included both the traditional English lion as well as the Scottish Unicorn. According to folklore (going back to the ancient Babylonians in 3,500 B.C.), the lion and the unicorn hate each other. The Unicorn is seen as representing spring and the lion representing summer. Each year the two fight for supremacy, and each year the lion eventually wins. A popular English nursery rhyme sums up the animosity and the old wars between England and Scotland:

The lion and the unicorn
Were fighting for the crown;
The lion beat the unicorn
All round about the town.

The lion’s supremacy may come to an end, if Scotland’s upcoming referendum tilts in favor of independence and secession. The unicorn will prove to be the victor after all.

Slainte! (That’s Good Health in Scots)

ACEI

http://www.acei-global.org

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INDIA: The 2014 Millennium Development Goals Report

September 4th, 2014

UN

In 2000, at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations, all 189-member nations (today the UN has 193 members) committed to help meet ambitious development targets across categories such as primary education, nutrition, health, mortality, sanitation and others.

The new Millennium Development Goals Report 2014 examines the latest progress made towards achieving the MDGs. It shows that millions of people’s lives have improved due to concerted global, regional, national and local efforts to achieve the MDGs, which serve as the foundation for the next global development agenda. 

The following MDGs Report on India, was released by Najma Heptulla, the Union Minister for Minority Affairs. Jayati Ghosh, Professor, JNU and Lise Grande, UN Resident Coordinator.

MDGs
(Source: http://www.in.undp.org/content/india/en/home/mdgoverview/)

As demonstrated in the table shown above, India has made moderate progress with respect to Goal 1: poverty; Goal 4: gender equality; Goal 7: HIV/AIDS. It is also on-track with respect to Goal 3: achieving universal primary education; Goal 9: environmental protection; Goal 12: developing global partnerships for development. However, the country is off-track with respect to Goal 2: hunger; Goal 5: reducing mortality rate, Goal 11: improving the lives of slum dwellers. Though there is partial successes achieved on targets and indicators with respect to Goal 3: education; Goal s 7 and 6: health, there are a few caveats. For example, the school enrollment rates are ahead of the targets, but the dropout rates are also high. The incidence of HIV/AIDS has come down, but what is alarming is that HIV/AIDS incidence is increasing in states where it used to be low. The performance of the majority of states on many of the goals and targets has been below satisfactory.

ACEI

http://www.acei-global.org

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