Tag Archives: geography

How many countries?

August 5th, 2016

How many countries

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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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15 Facts on the Republic of Vanuatu

March 19th, 2015

Vanuatu

On March 14, 2015, the Republic of Vanuatu, an archipelago consisting of approximately 82 islands, which lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire between New Caledonia and Fiji in the South Pacific, was hit by a category five cyclone and sustained severe damages. We thought it would be helpful to share some facts about the Republic of Vanuatu. [Note: If you are interested to help with Vanuatu’s disaster relief, please refer to this link for a list of relief organizations “How You Can Help with Vanuatu’s Disaster Relief”]

1. Vanuatu means “Land Eternal.

2. Population as of July 2014 est. 266,937

3. The capital of Vanuatu is Port-Vila with a population of 47,000

Vanuatu_flag
Image: Flag of Vanuatu (The ‘Y’ in the flag signifies the chain of islands of the country.)

4. The country grained independence from France and UK on July 30, 1980. Its government is Parliamentary Republic.

5. During World War II the U.S. launched attacks from here against Japanese troops in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea, inspiring James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific

6. The official languages are Bislama, English, French and more than 100 local languages.. Pidgin is one of the languages spoken on the islands.

7. 65% of the population depends on agriculture which includes copra, coconuts, coffee, cacao and fish. Off shore financial services and tourism constitutes the remainder of Vanuatu’s economy. Copra, beef, cacao, timber, kava.

8. Vanuatu’s natural resources include: manganese, hardwood forests, and fish.

9. Christianity is the main religion followed in Vanuatu.

10. The traditional drink of Vanuatu is kava, which is made from the roots of piper methysticum.

kava
Traditional set-up for kava drining (photo credit: Tracy Moreno)

11. Literacy: 83.2%

12. 5% of GDP is spent on education (2009)

13. Primary education is available for almost all children except in a few remote tribal areas. Education is provided in either English or French.

14. Full secondary education is provided by the Anglophone Malapoa College and the French Lycée at Port-Vila; limited secondary education is also available in five English post-primary schools and three French mission schools.

15. For postsecondary education, especially medical and technical training, selected students go principally to Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand.

Bonus fact:

16. The national dish of Vanuatu is ‘lap – lap’, which can be either savory or sweet. It is made from a vegetable porridge, cooked in coconut milk.(See more at: Facts About Vanuatu)

Sources:

http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Vanuatu.aspx
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/nh.html

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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Travel: The Bridge to Friendship

November 01, 2012

Imperial Airways & Associated Companies 1938

A few days ago I was at Soaptopia–one of my favorite neighborhood stores–picking up a few bars of their heavenly scented handmade soaps when I noticed the exquisite earrings the lovely young saleswoman was wearing. The earrings were round in shape and made of gold but wafer-thin, almost transparent with detailed carvings studded with tiny stones which looked like coral and turquoise. I hadn’t seen anything like them, at least not here in the States. They were exotic and delicate. 

I felt compelled to compliment her on her earrings and she beamed me a bright smile and told me that she’s had the earrings since she was 16. “I got them when my family travelled to Persia!” She told me.

“You mean Iran,” I said.

“Yes, Iran,” she confirmed, her smile never leaving her lips.

I told her that I was from Iran and that I was half Armenian. She told me she was from Senegal and how much her parents loved to travel but that Iran had been one of her favorites. Though I haven’t been to Senegal, I had travelled to Kenya when I was 13.

“I had my ears pierced in Kenya,” I told Isabelle, my new-found Senegalese friend.

Soon Isabelle and I started chatting about Senegalese music, Persian food, Armenian coffee and the joys of travel.  A middle-aged woman standing nearby couldn’t help but join in on our fun. Turned out she was from Cape Town, South Africa and she too spoke of her trips to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt and would’ve loved to have visited Iran had politics not intervened. 

This is exactly why I like Los Angeles, in spite of the smog and traffic. The beauty of living in Los Angeles is the myriad of cultures that coexist and the stories we have each brought with us.

At Charters Towers School, the boarding school I attended in England, I had the privilege of meeting and making friends with girls from all four corners of the world. At 15, thanks to my friend Sheila Samani, I attended my first Indian wedding, dressed in a turquoise blue sari. I learned about miso soup and nori from my Japanese friend Masako Kawahara. I listened to stories of apartheid in South Africa from my friend Kavita. My friend Anupama, a devout Hindu, told me stories of the guru whose teachings she and her family followed. This was the first time I heard the word “meditation,” and techniques to sit, breathe and calm the chattering mind.

I owe my African adventure to my boarding school friend Anne Summers, whose parents had moved from England to Kenya like many other English expats. Anne had talked me into piercing my ears and I still remember the day I placed the long distance call from Nairobi to my parents in Tehran for permission. My mother gave me her blessing, but it wasn’t until we were on safari when the deed was done. Out in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles away from Nairobi, we happened upon a small white-washed box-like structure with the words “Clinic” painted in black. We were greeted by an English woman dressed in an all-white nurse’s uniform. She even had on her white nurse’s cap, white hosiery and sensible white shoes. There and then I decided to have my ears pierced. She agreed to pierce my ears and while numbing my lobes she casually mentioned that she’d never done this before, which made me nervous. But my worries quickly disappeared when she broke into Farsi on learning I was from Iran. Before relocating to Kenya, she had lived in Isfahan, Iran where she learned Farsi. I still can’t get over my encounter with the English nurse. What are the chances of having your ears pierced by a Farsi-speaking English nurse on safari in Africa?

Travel, be it in the form of a study abroad program, back packing or vacation, is the antidote to xenophobia, and the “us and them” mindset that prevents us from seeing the goodness in everyone. The experience of travel also broadens our minds and helps us appreciate the connections and similarities we all share, no matter where we’re from or the languages we speak, or the religions we follow.

Next time you’re in LA, Mar Vista to be exact, make sure you stop by Soaptopia, say hi to Isabelle and share stories about your travels and ask her about the Persian earrings!

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI
www.acei1.com

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Geography: Do you know where you are?

July 12, 2012

Old Globe

Geography: from Greek “geographia,” lit. “to describe or write about the Earth.”

It happened sometime during my junior year at college in San Diego. I was studying at the library for a midterm when a handsome boy (a business major in his senior year) whom I’d seen around campus, asked if he could sit at my table. Of course, I said “yes” and soon we began a flirtatious banter in hushed tones.

I don’t remember much of what we said, but I do remember him asking me what I was studying. “History of Latin America,” was my response.

“Oh, yeah, Latin America. That’s where there’s Brazil, Indonesia, Czechoslovakia…” he started to recite a mash-up of countries spanning three continents. When he was finished, he leaned back in his chair, his arms folded across his chest. He seemed so pleased with himself. I, on the other hand, sat frozen in my seat, speechless. Suddenly, he was no longer the boy I’d thought as handsome. His blatant ignorance of what I’d assumed was a given, or even more so, expected, of not just a fourth year university student but a high school graduate was embarrassing. How could this be?

Not knowing and yet thinking you’re right is a sad commentary on how many people go on about their lives these days. Nowadays, it seems that geographic mistakes and willful ignorance is the cool thing to do. Check out this video of some fellow citizens stopped randomly on streets on American cities if you want to see and hear this for yourself.

These geographic faux pas are even trickling down from the top. We can’t escape the slipups by our politicians who misname countries or mispronouncing them or can’t seem to distinguish one nation from another. The filmmaker Michael Moore had a point when he said, and I’m paraphrasing here, that we shouldn’t go to a war with a country if we don’t know where it is on the map. Just take a look at some of the gaffes made by our geographically-impaired elected officials on this link and you’ll be shaking your head in disbelief.

My fascination with geography, knowing the capitals of the countries and where to find them on the globe or a map, the different languages, cultures, and topography has been with me since an early age. I remember studying geography at elementary school in Iran. We not only studied the geography of Iran but also of the world. My tuition in geography continued through high school in England. I so loved drawing and tracing maps that when I ran out of tracing paper, I– along with fellow classmates–would resort to using the standard utilitarian transparent toilet paper as a substitute.

But today, here in the US, geography has become the stepchild of social studies and history curriculum and in many cases ignored altogether. Geography acts as a pointer in man’s life and should be taken seriously and not ignored. The results of a 2006 poll taken by the National Geographic Society showed the following: “62% of US citizens were unable to locate Iraq on a map, 75% were unable to locate Israel and 24% couldn’t find the Indian subcontinent. They didn’t fare so well when asked about their own country. Nearly half of the Americans polled didn’t know where Mississippi was.” My brother remembers a classmate in a World History class in his senior year at a public high school in West Los Angeles who pointed at the European continent when asked by the teacher to locate USA on the map. Mind you, the word EUROPE was printed in bold across the countries of the region.

Geographic ignorance isn’t simply about not knowing where a specific country is on a map but also understanding why the borders are where they are, the placement or displacement of different cultures and people, language, religions, political ideologies. It’s not just about where but why there.

A curriculum that includes geography enriches the individual’s overall understanding of contemporary events and global environmental concerns. Geography is about the earth and the more we know the better equipped and inspired we are to care about the planet and one another.


Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI, Inc.
www.acei1.com

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