Tijuana’s Youth Orchestra: Bach, Not Banda, Mahler, Not Mariachi

April, 7th 2016

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I know about El Sistema and the Simón Bolivar Youth Orchestra, where Gustavo Dudamel got his training. I also know about his work with YOLA, the Youth Orchestra of LA, something Dudamel was behind creating. Both El Sistema and YOLA give inner city kids a way off the streets into the world of classical music.

With Venezuela in turmoil,  the future of El Sistema, funded by oil revenue, may be jeopardized. It seems, however, that like a lesser-known youth orchestra in Tijuana may have a bright future. You don’t typically associate classical music with Tijuana, but the Tijuana Youth Orchestra gives the lie to that assumption.

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The story begins in January 1991, when the Soviet Union was breaking up. Eduardo Garcia Barrios was studying conducting in Moscow at the time. Barrios and his musician colleagues wanted to start a youth orchestra somewhere; that somewhere turned out to be a world away, in sunny Baja, Mexico. Barrios, along with a Russian harpist, Elena Mashkovtseva, moved across the globe from icy Russia to Baja, and founded the Baja California Orchestra for adults. The enterprising Barrios also founded REDES 2025, a program to train at-risk young people to become classical performers. In a Independent Producer’s Project feature, he told journalist Sam Quinones, “Music has this power. To play music you need discipline, to understand your body. It’s 120 kids doing one thing at the same time…it would be cheaper to make football teams, but music provides something different, spiritual order.”

Those words could have come from the much more famous Gustavo Dudamel. Both men, however, are doing the same thing: transforming young lives with the power of music.

Listen here to the NPR / KCRW feature. And watch a clip of the Tijuana Youth Orchestra — it’s a big orchestra, not as big as the Simón Bolivar, but big nevertheless. Have a look:

Tom Schnabel, M.A.

toms

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

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Happy 22nd Birthday ACEI!

April 1st, 2016

Today, we celebrate ACEI’s 22nd anniversary. And, this is not an April Fool’s joke! We are incredibly grateful for the trust and confidence placed on us by all our institutional and organizational clients as well as our international candidates who show their support through their referrals.

For those who may not be familiar with ACEI, I’d like to provide highlights of what we do and who we serve.

  • ACEI was founded and incorporated in the State of California in 1994.
  • ACEI is a Charter and proud Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators, a leading professional membership association which approves and endorses private organizations providing international credential evaluation services after a rigorous screening and vetting process.
  • ACEI offers evaluations of international academic and professional credentials of individuals who have studied outside the U.S. and need statements of academic equivalence.
  • ACEI evaluation reports are recognized by U.S. schools, colleges, universities, state regulatory boards, professional associations, employers, state and federal agencies.
  • ACEI has served tens of thousands of international candidates seeking evaluations of their academic credentials.
  • ACEI offers comprehensive course-by-course evaluations which include listings of subjects/courses, credits/units of credit (for post-secondary education), grades and grade point average, and course levels.
  • ACEI evaluations are based on official/original academic documents issued by the source institutions.
  • ACEI evaluations are prepared within 7 business days from the date the application and required documents are received.
  • ACEI provides RUSH processing for those applications that are to be expedited.
  • ACEI evaluation reports are released either electronically to the U.S. institution/agency for which it is intended or issued on transcript security paper and released by post.
  • ACEI provides a Translation Service.
  • ACEI business hours are from Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM PST. During our regular business hours, applicants and institutional clients can communicate with our Client Relations Officers by phone or email. Even during our non-business hours, applicants and clients have the benefit of speaking with live and helpful client service representatives. No automated answering machines!
  • ACEI senior evaluators have and continue to contribute as presenters at regional, national and international conferences on international education and to publications on country specific education topics.
  • ACEI provides webinar and e-learning programs on international credentials evaluation, updates on education systems from around the world, and reports on trends in higher education from student mobility, recruitment, to innovative approaches in teaching methodology.
  • ACEI issues a free monthly newsletter “The Report.”
  • ACEI remains engaged through social media sites as Facebook, Twitter and through its weekly blog “Academic Exchange.”

The above are a few highlights of ACEI’s achievements. 22 years of service is definitely not a joke. It has taken commitment, passion for our profession, dedication to quality and integrity in our evaluation, due diligence, and plain old hard work that has kept the ACEI engine purring and humming through the years. And, we couldn’t have done it without the help of loyal and dedicated individuals who make ACEI a socially conscious company where the bottom line isn’t just about profits, but how we treat our employees, our clients, but the community as a whole.

I’d like to recognize the services of the following individuals who help make ACEI a model for excellence and integrity:

Brian Aguilar
Client Relations Officer

Soheil Askarian
IT Specialist

Mary Baxton
Senior Credential Evaluator and our Latin American Specialist

Scott Brown
Client Relations Officer

Sajin Gacina
Senior Credential Evaluator and our Eastern European Specialist

Matthew Fisher
Senior Credential Evaluator and our Middle East Specialist

Behnam Heshejin and Grace Morillo
Accounting Service

Jennifer Hutnich
Senior Credential Evaluator and our African and Western European Specialist

Katherine Kang
Senior Credential Evaluator, and our South East Asia Specialist research and investigative analyst extraordinaire

Nora Khachetourian
Director of Evaluation & Translation Services and our Editor-in-Chief

Alex Martinez
Client Relations Officer

Yolinisse Moreno
Communication and Marketing

John Riley
Social Media Manager

George Renfro
Web Master

Alan Saidi
Senior VP & COO and uber senior credential evaluator

Sal Sarhangi
IT Guru

Scruffy
ACEI’s Resident Feline and Stress Relief Manager

scruffy
Photo Credit: Brian Aguilar; Graphics: Yoli Moreno (!)

William (Scottie) Thompson
Administrative Assistant with a big heart

jasmin_2015
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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 www.acei-global.org.

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Brussels: Impact of Terror Threats on Studying Abroad

March, 24th 2016

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Recent news of the terrorist bombings at the airport and subway in Brussels have justifiably raised safety and security concerns in American parents and their children studying abroad. Reading the news headlines and listening to reports on the radio and television with minute by minute updates do accelerate anxiety and a sense of vulnerability in anyone who travels, has loved ones traveling and studying overseas. We even sense the level of anxiety increasing here in our own towns and cities, yet we must never lose sight of our own inner strength and resolve to not cower and succumb to fear but to continue with our lives.

One thing that threats from terrorism do to our psyche is to react by taking actions that actually end up alienate us from our international partners. When it comes to education, the one thing we should commit to bolster rather than eliminate, is to continue our support and encouragement of study abroad programs. We need our young to travel and see the world beyond ours, expose them to the diverse cultures and peoples which will help them be good ambassadors of our country and return with a broader and better understanding of those living outside our borders. Our institutions of higher education need to be beacons of learning where qualified candidates from different corners of the world can pursue their academic dreams so they too can return to their home countries with a better understanding of the U.S.

We cannot build walls. How high does the wall have to be to keep the Internet out? We are not living in a time of moats and high walls to protect our domains. We cannot, in the 21st century employ primitive techniques of the 13th century. We will not succeed. We will, however, through our steadfast commitment to improving our education systems and programs that foster student exchange be able to overcome bigotry, distrust and xenophobia.

Helpful links:

Quinnipiac Students From Mass. Run To Safety After Brussels Airport Blasts

Following Brussels Attack, U.S. Universities Reach Out To Students Abroad

jasmin_2015
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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 www.acei-global.org.

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The Brain: Foreign Accents and Discrimination

March 17th, 2016

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I always cringe when I’m asked the dead-end question: “Where are you from?” (It’s got so old having lived here in the US for nearly 40 years.) And when I answer with a question: “Why do you ask?” The answer I get 99.9% of the time is: “I heard a slight accent.” Never mind that I speak English fluently along with a few more languages. What is bothersome about this question is that the person asking it isn’t at all interested in knowing more about me and engaging in a dialogue. The accent, no matter how slight, seems to trigger something in them and it’s not positive curiosity. If it was, they would have something interesting to say and continue the conversation instead they drop any chance for dialogue like a hot potato. 

In the post included in this link, it appears that our brains are wired to automatically switch to judge a person based on their accent, especially if we are not familiar with different accents or have had little or no exposure and interaction with people who have accents. However, as a resident of Los Angeles, a melting pot metropolis of ethnicities from around the globe, I don’t find this reasoning believable.

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I never forget my French friend Frederique who was so fed up with being asked this question that she finally began answering in her very distinct French accent: “I’m from Oklahoma City!” And the questioner simply nodded his/her head. Clearly the sarcasm escaped them.

In today’s world where borders are murky and we have such an incredible movement of people between countries and continents, discriminating against foreign accents or having an aversion to them is provincial and xenophobic. Let’s change the paradigm and if the need to be inquisitive about a person’s accent is just too much to suppress prepare for an engaging and educational discourse. Show genuine interest. You may just make a friend for life.

Frustrated
Frustrated Evaluator

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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 www.acei-global.org.

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5 Fast Facts on Recent Reforms in Higher Education in China

March 10th, 2016

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On January 8, 2015, The Academic Degree and State Council of the Ministry of Education put to law the Degree (2015) No. 18, also known as the “Degree and Degree-Granting Information Management Approach.” This law directly affects the role of the State in the granting of the degrees by academic institutions throughout China.

The law is set to support institutional autonomy by allowing institutions of higher education to grant their own degrees. As of January 1, 2016, the State in China will no longer issue university degrees. However, centralization of all certificate date will continue to be managed by the Academic Degree Committee of the State Council.

Here are a few facts on the new law concerning the autonomy granted to institutions of higher education and their degree-granting authority:

1. Each institution has the freedom to design its own degree template, however, the information to be presented on the degrees must be in conformance with the law to include all the following:

Name
 Gender
 Color photo with embossed stamp of awarding institution
• Discipline or professional degree category
• Degree-granting institution name
 Certificate number (16 digit number where the first five digits are the institution code, the sixth is the degree level [ e.g. doctor is 2, master’s is 3, bachelor’s is 4], digits seven to ten are the degree year [e.g. 2016], and the last six digits are unique to the certificate holder)
• Signature of chairman of degree-granting institution

2. Some institutions have published the templates of their degrees but many have not published them yet are still having open voting from February-March 2016.

a. Sample Degree Templates from Capital University of Economics and Business:

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Capital University of Economics and Business

b. Sample Degree Templates from Zhejiang University  (http://www.zju.edu.cn/c1429839/content_2843290.html )

I. Bachelor Degree

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II. Master

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III. Doctorate

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3. Photos on diplomas must be in color (it’s mandated).

4. Even if an institution issued a degree certificate in English, it is essential that the Chinese version as issued by the institution be provided.

5. The recent changes don’t change the dual qualification framework where we still need to see the Degree Certificate and Graduation Certificate.

Alan

Alan Saidi  Senior Vice-President & COO

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 www.acei-global.org.

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10 Facts about the now defunct Trump University

March 5th, 2016

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With Donald Trump taking center stage in the upcoming Presidential Elections, stories of his now defunct Trump University have been resurrected and making the rounds in the news. In this week’s blog we offer you a few facts on the Trump University and a pending lawsuit filed by NY State Attorney General’s office.

1. Trump University was founded in 2004 as an online operation. Mr. Trump made an initial investment of about $2 million and based the business in the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street in Manhattan.  The day-to-day operations were managed by the Trump Organization and its affiliates.

2. Trump University was not an actual university but rather consisted of seminars promising lessons in real-estate investing.

3. The sales pitch was for potential students to attend a free 90-minute orientation after which they were encouraged to sign up for a three-day seminar at the cost of $1,495.

 

4. Students who enrolled at the three-day seminar were told they would earn six figure incomes in a year just for working five to seven hours a week. They were also told that Mr. Trump frequently dropped by at the seminars to share success tips, which students say did not happen.

5. Students who finished the three-day seminar were advised to register for the next level, known as the Elite mentorship and apprenticeship programs for additional costs of up to $35,000.

6. As early as 2005, the New York State Department of Education warned Trump University that it was operating an unlicensed educational institution in violation of state law, according to the investigation.

7. New York educational regulators said it was misleading and illegal for the company to call itself a university.In 2010, at the insistence of New York education regulators, Trump changed the name of his school to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.

8. In 2014, a New York state judge ruled that the company had operated illegally by not meeting state licensing requirements for education providers.

9. The ruling was part of an ongoing lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, which also alleges that the company and its spokesman, Mr. Trump, made false and deceptive claims to students. As many as 7,000 people across the country bought the sales pitch, spending an estimated $40 million on the seminars offered by Trump University.

10. According to Mr. Schneirderman’s office, in 2009, an ad that was published at least 170 times promised students would “learn from Donald Trump’s handpicked instructors, and that participants would have access to Trump’s real estate ‘secrets.’ ” However, an investigation by Mr. Schneiderman’s office found this to be the contrary. Most of the seminars were found to have been run by motivational speakers and not instructors, one of whom was a manager at a Buffalo Wild Wings.

Update: On March 2, 2016, a state appeals court gave a green light to a civil fraud claim against the GOP front-runner and his Trump University. In a unanimous ruling, a four-judge panel of the state Appellate Division said the state attorney general’s office is “authorized to bring a cause of action for fraud” — despite Mr. Tump’s claims to the contrary. To be continued…

Sources:

Inside Higher Education: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/03/01/what-does-trump-university-show-about-state-regulation-profit-schools?utm_content=buffer089d4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=IHEbuffer

The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/27/us/donald-trump-marco-rubio-trump-university.html?_r=0

CBS This Morning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQ_IEvczweY

The New York Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/court-rules-g-trump-university-fraud-lawsuit-proceed-article-1.2548924

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 www.acei-global.org.

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Musical DNA Goes Everywhere Today

February 25th, 2016

James Brown’s 1968 hit “Say it Out Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” not only became a #1 R&B hit, the anthem for the Black Power movement, but also inspired new pride among countless Africans in newly-independent nations that had just become free of colonial power.  Hits like this were heard via the Voice of America radio, which broadcast from Gibraltar throughout Africa with the great Cameroonian host Georges Collinet, now @ Afropop Worldwide.

With social media and the internet, music travels around the world even faster.  Here are two examples of hit songs reaching artists and audiences far away:   a reggae cover of Adele’s “Hello” from the Solomon Islands:  never mind the bad lip synching:

An even better version is by this Korean student, for whom English is a second language,  but it’s weird that the guitarist isn’t showing.  Nevertheless, she really must have studied hard because she nails it:

Finally, a Peruvian teenager sings Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” in the Quechua language of indigenous Peruvians:

Finally, an Arabic version of the Frank & Nancy Sinatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid, by two Lebanese artists, Jean Marie Riachi and Abir Nehme, who sings the lyrics).

Although some might consider such covers to be English-language musical hegemony, I feel that such covers help spread musical DNA all over, revealing some amazing young talent as well.

toms

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
www.tomschnabel.com

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