My Once in a Lifetime Trip

August 13th, 2015
Image: Siwathep (Thep) Singh Khaderpor (center with blue tinted sunglasses) and friends

When I realized that I won “Many Languages, One World” essay contest and that I’m going to New York, I was really excited. I packed all my nicest shirts, pants, and shoes hoping that I would look my best on this once in a life time trip! As soon as I got down from the plane at the New York airport, of course we took pictures and posted to our various social media since we were really happy! However my happiness didn’t last for long, 10 minutes later I realized that the airline lost my luggage. I had nothing with me apart from my passport and a selfie stick. My money, my clothes, my speech were all lost. “This is going to be the worst trip ever”, that’s all I could think of.

Image: @ American Museum of Natural History, New York

As soon as I got to Adelphi University, I started making friends with people from so many different countries. They came to know about my “losing luggage” story. Each of them agreed and decided to lend me a different thing. For example, Jefferson, my friend from Brazil, lent me his pants every day! Eric, my friend from Uruguay, lent me his socks every day! Alline my friend from Mexico lent me her hair dryer every day! And of course so much more people lent me their stuff. My “losing luggage” story wasn’t becoming that depressing anymore, in fact I’m glad that it brought me to get to know so many friends and to be able to quickly become so close to each of them.

For the first 3 days, we were so busy with meetings and we needed to separate into our language groups so that we can prepare our speech at the UN. Our Chinese group topic was focusing on developing a healthy life at all ages. Everybody did a really great job there at the UN which was held on July 24th, 2015. We all needed to give a speech for no more than 2 minutes. Personally, I think everybody did so great and I’m so happy for all of them.

Thep at the UN

After the speech, we all went to the New York Times Square and had dinner at a beautiful restaurant: Hard Rock Café. As for the next day, we went to the 9/11 Memorial Park, then had a wonderful boat ride to have a look at New York’s beautiful scenery, the Statue of Liberty, and so much more. After the boat ride, we went to the American Museum of Natural History. We came back to the Adelphi University around 6:00 that evening, all of us then went to our own individual’s room to get ready for our last dinner together.

Image: At New York Times Square, and at United Nations Headquarters building.

At our last dinner together, Mr. Mark W. Harris, the President of ELS, gave us a wonderful speech and awarded each one of us a certificate. Mr. Harris is such an inspiring person, his speech made all of us realize that from now on we all have a responsibility to make this world a better place. We are now brothers and sisters and we will always have each other no matter where life takes us. As I looked at my friends at the dinner table, I can feel how 6 days totally makes a difference, now it is so hard and painful for all of us to say good bye. Thank you ELS group people who were so amazing and gave us this wonderful experience. Every single memory of this trip will never be forgotten. I am so lucky to be able to meet and become your friends. Every single one of you will always be in my heart, missing you so much my friends.

PS. I found my luggage! Yay! I can lose my luggage a hundred more times, but can never lose those beautiful memories I had with you beautiful people.


Siwathep (Thep) Singh Khaderpor

Thep is an international student from Thailand who was visiting the U.S. this summer as one of the winners of the “Many Languages, One World” and it’s UNAI (United National Academic Impact)” essay contest sponsored by ELS Language Centers. He is currently a student at Jiangsu University in China where he is studying Medicine. Thep says his professional goal is to “become a heart surgeon to fulfill my love of the sciences and medicine, and to help my fellow human beings. Furthermore, I hope to volunteer my skills to provide heart care to those in need regardless of race and economic status.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Credentials, Education, Human Interest, Travel

20 Facts on the Origins of the U.S. Department of Education and its former Foreign Credential Evaluation Service (FCES)

August 5th, 2015


Unlike many countries in the world, the United States does not have a Ministry of Education, a centralized government body that oversees the country’s education system beginning with pre-school to doctoral level and professional education. The federal or national government of the U.S. does not have authority over education at any level. The U.S. does have in place the Department of Education.

1. 1867 – President Andrew Johnson signed legislation creating the first Department of Education, a Cabinet-level agency, but concerns the Department would exercise too much control over local schools led to its demotion to an Office of Education [OE] in 1868.

President Andrew Johnson

2. As early as 1867, OE staff was publishing information on educational systems of countries around the world covering topics intended for governmental agencies and professors of comparative education at U.S. universities.

3. 1940s – The Comparative Education Section (CES) of the Office of Education became responsible for keeping information on educational developments around the world.

4. CES was responsible for gathering research and preparing data on educational systems throughout the world and availed its findings through publications and responded to inquiries on educational systems and institutions.

5. Mid-1950’s – OE provided publications that offered information relevant for international credential evaluations.

6. 1919 – The first request to have a foreign-educated person’s credentials evaluated was received by CES serving as the impetus for the formation of the Foreign Credential Evaluation Service [FCES].

7. 1960 – FCES was processing about 5,000 requests for international credential evaluations.

8. 1965 – FCES was processing about 8,500 requests for international credential evaluations.

9. 1967 – FCES was processing about 14,000 requests for international credential evaluations.

10. 1969 – FCES was estimated to process between 17,000 to 20,000 requests for international credential evaluations.

11. Evaluation services provided by FCES were free of charge and available to U.S. secondary schools, universities and colleges, federal government agencies and state governments, private organizations, professional associations, employers and individuals needing to have international credentials evaluated.

12. Evaluation reports prepared by FCES confirmed the U.S. educational equivalence of a credential in the form of a one-page checklist and did not provide any further details on the program studied, coursework completed, units of credit and grade equivalences.

13. FCES was supported through funds diverted by the OE from its CES. The FCES did not receive funds through budget appropriations for its services.

14. 1963 – The Commissioner of Education requested a report from the Education and World Affairs [EWA], a private, nonprofit educational organization funded by the Carnegie Corporation and the Ford Foundation, on the role of the OE and its services to U.S. educational institutions.

15. 1964 – EWA submitted its report and recommended that CES needs to increase and bolster its research activities and eliminate the FCES.

16. 1966 – OE announced that FCES would be terminated by July 1, 1968.

17. June 30, 1970 – FCES was terminated and the CES was dissolved a few years after.

18. By the time the CES was dissolved in the late 1960’s, it had a staff of 25 of which six were specialists in comparative education, with six research assistant and thirteen clerical staff.

19. October 17, 1979 – Congress passed the Department of Education Act (Public Law 96-88) and President Jimmy Carter signed into law the conversion of the Education division of U.S. Department of Health, Education Welfare into the U.S. Department of Education (DoE). The DoE began operations in May 1980.

President Jimmy Carter

20. May 16, 1980 – DoE started its operation.

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan

Today, the US DoE’s official role is to set conditions for appropriation of federal funds for research, educational facilities, financial aid and education-related projects. The evaluation of international educational credentials is carried out by private credential evaluation agencies, educational institutions, state licensing boards, or professional associations.

US Department of Education:

Evaluating Foreign Educational Credentials in the United States: Perspectives on the History of the Profession, 2014, by James S. Frey, Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc.

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

Leave a comment

Filed under Credentials, Education, History, Politics

25 Fast Facts on Kenya and its Education System

July 30th, 2015


With President Obama’s recent visit to Kenya, we would like to put the spotlight on this country located in east Africa.

President Barack Obama delivers a speech at the Safaricom Indoor Arena in the Kasarani area of Nairobi, Kenya on Sunday July 26, 2015.
Image: Evan Vucci/Associated Press

President Barack Obama thanks the crowd after delivering a speech at Safaricom Indoor Arena, Sunday, July 26, 2015, in Nairobi. Image: Evan Vucci/Associated Press

Fast Country Facts:

1. Kenya lies directly on the equator, and is surrounded by Uganda to the south, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia to the north.


2. The size of the country is 582,000 square miles.

3. Some of the oldest known paleontological records of man’s history have been found in Kenya. Kenya’s Great Rift Valley was formed around 20 million years ago, when the crust of the Earth was split.

4. Kenya has a population of 43.5 million with 3.1 million people living in its capital city, Nairobi.

Nairobi, Kenya

Photo credit: Amateur South African Gareth Jones was one of the drivers stuck in the traffic jam on 6/25/13 and decided to get out and photograph the unique scene.

5. Although it does not have an official religion, Christianity is highly prevalent throughout the country.

6. English and Swahili are the country’s official languages.

7. It gained its independence from Great Britain in 1963 and became a parliamentary democracy with a presidential republic with a multi-party system. The government has three branches of power: the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. The Executive is headed by the president, who is democratically elected for a five-year term. The current president is Uhuru Kenyatta.

8. The Kenyan flag is comprised of three colors, black, red and white edges, and green. In the middles of the horizontal flag is a red, white and black Maasai shield. The Massai shield is a traditional symbol in Kenya that is used to symbolize the defense of the country.


Fast Facts on Kenya’s Education System:

9. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology oversee the country’s entire education system.

10. Old System: 7-4-2-3; established in 1963 after Kenya gained independence. The education system was modelled after the British system and included seven years of primary education, four years of lower secondary education, two years of upper secondary education and three years of university.

11. Current System: 8-4-4-; introduced in 1985 and uses the U.S. education system as a model. It includes eight years of primary education, four years of secondary education and four years of university.

12. School year runs from January to December. The academic year for universities runs from September to June.

13. In 1963 there were only 151 secondary schools, with a total enrolment of 30,120 students. Today there are nearly 3,000 secondary schools with a total enrolment of 620,000 students. Of this total, slightly over 40% are girls

14. Primary education usually starts at six years of age and runs for eight years. At the end of the 8th year, students take exams intended for the award of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) which covers the following five subjects: Kiswahili, English, mathematics, science and agriculture, and social studies.

15. Secondary school education usually starts at fourteen years of age and, after the introduction of the 8 4-4 system of education which replaced the 7-4-2-3 system, runs for four years. At the end of the 4th year of secondary school, students take exams intended for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). The KCSE are national exams administered by the National Examinations Council.

Form four candidates at the Starehe Boys Centre sit for a KCSE paper.

16. Vocational secondary education is available at youth polytechnics for those wishing to pursue a trade and follows after completion of primary education and the award of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). These programs lead to a variety of diplomas and certificates.

17. Post-secondary technical study programs are delivered by various technical training institutes and institutes of technology. The admission requirement is generally a KCSE with a C average. The study programs offered by technical training institutes and institutes of technology vary in duration. Post-secondary study programs also lead to a variety of certificates and diplomas.

18. Higher education in Kenya includes universities that are either public or private. There are a total of seven public universities; these are independent and funded by the government. Public universities are established through Acts of Parliament. Private universities are established through the process of accreditation by Commission on Higher Education (CHE).


19. At the tertiary level, there are also national polytechnics which offer higher professional education leading to a certificate, diploma and higher national diploma. Two polytechnics have been upgraded to university status and offer degree programs.
20. Admission to higher education at public universities in Kenya is overseen by the Joint Admissions Board (JAB) and has representatives from all public universities as well as the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology and the Commission for Higher Education (CHE). Acceptance to a bachelor’s degree program required the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) with a C+ average.

21. Admission to certificate and diploma programs at polytechnics requires the KCSE with a D+ or C- average, respectively.

22. University education in Kenya consists of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. Universities also offer Diplomas and Certificates.

23. Bachelor’s degree programs usually consist of major and minor subjects. Depending on the discipline chosen, a bachelor’s program may take 4 to 6 years.

24. Master’s degree program usually take 1 or 2 years. The first year mainly consists of lectures, with the second year spent doing research and end with a final paper. In most cases, admission to a master’s program requires a minimum of an upper second class bachelor’s degree. Those with a bachelor’s qualification below upper second class may be required to complete a postgraduate diploma in the related field before being admitted into the master’s program.

25. A doctorate degree (PhD or DPhil) is awarded after a period of at least 3 years of research conducted during the doctoral program. Admission to a doctorate degree program requires a master’s degree.


ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

Leave a comment

Filed under Credentials, Education, Human Interest, Politics

15 Facts on the Education System of Greece

July 23rd, 2015


Given the recent news on Greece and its economic crisis, we’d like to put the spotlight on its education system and offer you some highlights in this week’s blog post:


Greece has been a republic since 1974, and became a member of the European Community (now the EU) in 1981. Greece has an area of 50,949 square miles (131,958 square kilometers); roughly the size of Alabama, with a population of more than 11 million people (almost twice the population of Alabama which is around 4.8 million.) Voting is mandatory for everyone over the age of 18 who is a Greek citizen.

Education Facts:

1. The education system in Greece is centralized, with all levels falling under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs (“Ypourgeio Paideias, dia Biou Mathisis kai Thriskeumaton”).

2. The Greek Educational System comprises of three consecutive levels: Primary; Secondary; Tertiary.

3. Education from Grades 1-9, ages 6-15, is free and compulsory.

4. Primary (“Dimotiko”) education is sub-divided into Pre-school Education and Compulsory Primary Education. The Pre-school Education is offered by kindergarten classes and the Compulsory Primary Education is given by Primary schools.

5. Secondary education is divided into two stages, stage 1 is the Compulsory Lower Level Secondary Education provided in Gymnasiums and stage 2 is the Post-compulsory or Upper Secondary Education which is offered by the Unified Lyceums (“Eniaio Lykeio”) and Technical Vocational Educational Schools (“Techniko Epaggelmatiko Ekpaideftirio – TEE”).


6. The duration of studies in “Eniaia Lykeia” is three years and in the Technical Vocational Educational Schools (TEE) two years (a’ level) or three years (b’ level).

7. The Ministry of Education has overall responsibility for course development and approval, and also supervises most of these schools. Certain TEE are supervised by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Development.

8. Tertiary education is divided into university education offered by universities and non-university education offered by Higher Technological Educational Institutes and Higher Education Institutes.

9. Higher Education institutions in Greece are fully self-administered legal entities under public law, and are funded and supervised by the Hellenic Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs in accordance with Provision 16 of the Constitution.

10. There are 22 Universities, including Polytechnic Schools, the School of Fine Arts and the Hellenic Open University (EAP), 14 Technological Educational Institutes (T.E.I.) and the School of Pedagogic and Technological Education (ASPETAI).

11. There are also Higher Ecclesiastical Schools, supervised by the Ministry of Education and other higher education institutions mainly supervised by other Ministries (for example Merchant Marine Academies are under the supervision of the Ministry of Mercantile Marine, Higher Military Education Schools that are under the supervision of the Ministry of Defense, and Higher Police Academies are under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Order).

University of Athens

12. Students who successfully complete their studies in universities and T.E.I. are awarded a “Ptychio” (degree) which leads to employment or further study at the post-graduate level.

13. University and T.E.I. graduates can continue their studies to attain an MSc and a PHD provided they meet the criteria set by each department running the courses.

14. Doctorate degrees are obtained after a minimum of three years of original research, including the preparation and writing of a thesis. In some doctoral programs, theoretical courses are compulsory and are taken prior to individual research.

15. Students wishing to study at the tertiary level receive scholarship s from the State Scholarships Foundation (IKY) which also grants scholarships to graduates of universities and technical education institutions for post-graduate or post-doctoral studies in Greece and abroad based on academic achievement of undergraduate studies. In addition, students (at any level) can receive grants to study at other European Higher Education Institutes under the Lifelong Learning Programs (LLP).

T.E.I Patras (Technological Education Institute Patras) ]
National School Network
Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs
OECD Greece

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

Leave a comment

Filed under Credentials, Education, Human Interest, Politics, Travel

30 Facts on the Education System of Islamic Republic of Iran

July 16th, 2015


After intense negotiations, on July 14, 2015, the U.S. and five other world powers have reached a deal to freeze Iran’s nuclear program for the next decade in exchange for gradual sanctions relief that rolls out as Iran complies with a multi-step process. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ensures that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.

Given these recent developments, we would like to spotlight Iran and share with you the following facts on the country and its education system:

1. Iran is one of the oldest nations in the world, with a history dating back tens of thousands of years. The country’s first great city, Susa, was built on the central plateau around 3200 B.C.


2. Iran (pronounced ee-RAHN), formerly known as Persia, is situated at the crossroads of Central Asia, South Asia, and the Arab states of the Middle East. The name “Iran” means “land of the Aryans.”

3. Iran is a republic in Central Asia, sharing a border with seven countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, and Turkmenistan.

4. It has been officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979.

5.Iran is a Shiite Muslim country, but the majority of its people are Persian, not Arab.

6. Iran’s capital is Tehran.

Tehran: Azadi Monument (formerly Shahyad Monument)

7. Iran has a population of 80,840,713 (median age 28) and covers an area that is 636,372 square miles (1,648,195 square kilometers), slightly smaller than Alaksa.

8. Official language of instruction in Iran is Farsi/Persian. English and/or French are taught in most private schools.

9. According to 2015 estimates, the literacy rates of total population age 15 and over is 86.8% of which 92.1% are male and 82.5% are female.

10. According to 2013 reports, Iran spends 3.7 of GDP on education.

11. Starting with 7th grade, English is taught as a second language in all public schools and is compulsory through the secondary level years.

12. Primary school is called “Dabestan” and includes grades 1 to 5 (ages 6 to 11). At the end of the 5th year, students take a nation-wide exam which they must pass in order to continue to the next cycle.



13. Middle school is called Rahnamaei also known as Lower Secondary School (Guidance) and includes grades 6 to 8 (ages 11 to 14). At the end of the 3rd year of middle school, students take a region-wide exam administered by the local provisional board of education which they must pass in order to continue to the next cycle.


14. Secondary school is called Dabirestan and includes grades 9 to 12 (ages 14 to 17). The 4th year of grade 12 includes a college-preparatory year known as Pish-daneshgahi. In dabirestan, students choose subjects from either one of two tracks: 1) academic/general track that includes a] physics-mathematics, b] socio-economics, c] literature and culture, and d] experimental sciences; or 2) technical/vocational track in such areas as business and agriculture. On completion of 3 years of study (Grade 11), students receive their diploma before they are determined eligible to continue onto the 12th year (Grade 12) pish-daneshgahi studies.

15. Pre-university or Pish-Daneshgahi is the 4th year extension (Grade 12) to secondary school and last one year. It is an intensive year of study intended to prepare students for the national university entrance examination known as the Concour.

16. The Concour determines students’ chances to enter public and some private universities in Iran. It is a very challenging examination and only a minority of students who take it are successful in passing.

Photo Credit:PressTV – University Entrance Exam (Concours) in Tehran

17. At the higher education level, Iran has private, public and state affiliated universities.

18. Universities, institutes of technology, medical schools, and community colleges make up the higher education sector.

19. Except for medical schools, all state-run universities are under the direct supervision of the Iranian Ministry of Science, Research and Technology. Medical schools are under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, Treatment, and Medical Education.

20. Currently, there are over 50 public universities and over 40 public institutions specializing in medical study and 200 private postsecondary institutions in Iran.

21. Tuition at public universities is free.

22. Private institutions charge fees.

23. The largest private institution in Iran is Islamic Azad University.

24. Women make up more than 60 percent of the college population in Iran but less than 20 percent of the working population.


25. Out of 1.176 million people registered for higher education in the Iranian academic year of 2012-2013, women accounted for 522,248 (44.38 percent) while men’s share stood at 654,593 (55.62 percent).

26.The number of female university students also increased by almost twofold from 1,231,035 in the Iranian academic year of 2005-2006 to 2,106,639 in 2012-2013.

Photo Credit: Ebrahim Norrozi/AP – Iranian women, shown here in downtown Tehran, are among groups in the country pushing for social and economic change.

27. Distance learning degree programs are provided mainly by the University of Payam-e-Hour.

28. University degrees in Iran include:
• Kardani (formerly Fogh-Diplom) – 2-year program equivalent to the Associate degree;
• Karshenasi (formerly Licence) – 4-year program equivalent to the Bachelor’s degree;
• Karshenasi Arshad (formerly Fogh-Licence) – 2-year program beyond the Karshenasi equivalent to the Master’s degree;
• Doctora (Doctorate) degree – 3-year program; requires a master’s (Karshenasi) degree for admission and is awarded on completion of 60 semester units and passing a comprehensive exam before entering the research phase of the program, during which they prepare and defend their dissertation.
• Specialized Doctorates – Degrees in dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine are awarded after 6 years of study and a thesis and require completion of the pre-university year for admission.

29. Grading system at primary through university is based on a 0-20 scale. At the primary, secondary level, and undergraduate levels, an average grade of 10 is required for promotion to the next academic grade. At the graduate level the minimum average grade is 12 and in doctoral programs the minimum average is 14.

30. Every year about 150,000 highly talented Iranians emigrate in what the International Monetary Fund calls the highest brain drain in the world.

Bonus Fact:
31. Since we love cats here at ACEI, here’s a bonus fact on the Persian cat; one of the world’s oldest breeds. They originated in the high plateaus of Iran where their long silky fur protected them from the cold. Italian traders brought the breed to Europe in the 17th century, where they became an exotic status symbol. (source: Rajendra, Vijeya, Gisela Kaplan, and Rudi Rajendra. 2004. Iran (Cultures of the World). New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish.)

Helpful links & Sources:

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, History, Human Interest, Politics

The Otherworldly Voice of Soeur Marie Keyrouz

July 09, 2015

Soeur Marie Keyrouz
Soeur Marie Keyrouz

You may remember Nuns Who Rock. I featured the big 1963 hit “Dominique,” sung by Soeur Sourire or ‘The Singing Nun,’ and then the Sicilian nun-rocker, Sister Cristina Scuccia.

Now I’d like to spotlight a nun of another order: Soeur (or Sister) Marie Keyrouz, who has recorded numerous albums over the years with her Ensemble de la Paix (Ensemble of Peace). Based now in Paris, she has yet to appear in Los Angeles, and I don’t know that she’s ever performed in the U.S. I tried to bring her group to Los Angeles back when I worked for the L.A. Philharmonic, thinking that the Walt Disney Concert Hall would be an ideal venue, but unfortunately, the cost of doing so was prohibitive.

Cantiques de l’Orient, 1996.
Cantiques de l’Orient, 1996.

Soeur Marie Keyrouz was born in 1963 in Deir el Ahmar, Lebanon. She relocated to Paris and received her doctorate from the Sorbonne in both musicology and anthropology. She belongs to the Congrégation des Soeurs Basiliennes Chouerites and is president of the National Institute of Sacred Music in Paris.

She sings hymns from the Lebanese Maronite Christian church, as well as sacred songs and chants from the Greek, Syriac, and Arabic liturgies. In her crystal clear soprano voice, Soeur Marie Keyrouz embellishes her song with exhortatory ululations and other Arabic touches. I find her music to be utterly mesmerizing, even levitational. The term, ‘otherworldly,’ would not be overstating it.

Start with Soeur Marie Keyrouz’s glorious Cantiques de l’Orient.

Hers is a version of “Ave Maria” unlike any you’ve ever heard before.


Tom Schnabel, M.A.

Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Blogs for Rhythm Planet
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons

Leave a comment

Filed under Creativity, Human Interest, Music

20 Fun Facts about the 4th of July/Independence Day

July 02, 2015

On this federal holiday, also known as Independence Day, marking the Colonies’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, which declared independence from the Great Britain and its king, we thought it would be appropriate to share some fun facts about this historic day. We are already familiar with the fireworks, parades , barbeque and festivities like picnics, fairs, concerts and parties that take place on this day, but there are some things many people don’t know about the Fourth.

1. Congress made Independence Day an official unpaid holiday for federal employees in 1870. In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.


2. Only John Hancock actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. All the others signed later.


3. The Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 men from 13 colonies.

4. The average age of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence was 45. The youngest was Thomas Lynch, Jr (27) of South Carolina.  The oldest delegate was Benjamin Franklin (70) of Pennsylvania. The lead author of The Declaration, Thomas Jefferson, was 33.


5. One out of eight signers of the Declaration of Independence were educated at Harvard (7 total).


6. The only two signers of the Declaration of Independence who later served as President of the United States were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.


7. The stars on the original American flag were in a circle so all the Colonies would appear equal.


8. The first Independence Day celebration took place in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776. This was also the day that the Declaration of Independence was first read in public after people were summoned by the ringing of the Liberty Bell.


9. The White House held its first 4th July party in 1801.

10. President John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe all died on the Fourth. Adams and Jefferson (both signed the Declaration) died on the same day within hours of each other in 1826.


11. Benjamin Franklin proposed the turkey as the national bird but was overruled by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who recommended the bald eagle.

12. In 1776, there were 2.5 million people living in the new nation. Today the population of the U.S.A. is 316 million.

13. Fifty-nine places in the U.S. contain the word “liberty” in the name. Pennsylvania, with 11, has more of these places than any other state. Of the 59 places nationwide containing “liberty” in the name, four are counties: Liberty County, Ga. (65,471), Liberty County, Fla. (8,276), Liberty County, Mont. (2,392) and Liberty County, Texas (76,571).

14. The most common patriotic-sounding word used within place names is “union” with 136. Pennsylvania, with 33, has more of these places than any other state. Other words most commonly used in place names are Washington (127), Franklin (118), Jackson (96) and Lincoln (95).


15. Fireworks are part of the tradition of celebrating this national holiday. The U.S. imported $227.3 million worth of fireworks from China in 2012. U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $11.7 million in 2012, with Israel purchasing more than any other country ($2.5 million).


16. In 2012, vast majority of imported U.S. flags ($3.6 million) was made in China.


17. Barbecue is also big on Independence Day. Approximately 150 million hot dogs and 700 million pounds of chicken are consumed on this day.


18. Every 4th of July the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is tapped (not actually rung) thirteen times in honor of the original thirteen colonies.


19. Traditions place the origins of “Yankee Doodle” as a pre-Revolutionary War song originally sung by British military officers to mock the disheveled, disorganized colonial “Yankees” with whom they served in the French and Indian War. It is believed that the tune comes from the nursery rhyme Lucy Locket. One version of the Yankee Doodle lyrics is “generally attributed” to Doctor Richard Shuckburgh,a British Army surgeon. According to one story, Shuckburgh wrote the song after seeing the appearance of Colonial troops under Colonel Thomas Fitch, V, the son of Connecticut Governor Thomas Fitch.[2]


20. The tune of the National Anthem was originally used by an English drinking song called “to Anacreon in Heaven.” The words have nothing to do with consumption of alcohol but the “melody that Francis Key had in mind when he wrote those words did originate decades earlier as the melody for a song praise of wine.”

From everyone here at ACEI, we wish you and yours a safe and happy Independence Day!

Useful Links:

This was originally posted on July 3rd, 2013.

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Politics