Tag Archives: history

Creating Legacy: Biddy Mason

November 17th, 2016

biddy

I had a reoccurring dream for 5 consecutive years, which took place in Los Angeles starting and stopping in exactly the same place each time. I always awoke shaking my head and thinking, What is that––why do I keep dreaming of black women dressed like Southern Slaves, in the early years of Los Angeles? There weren’t even black people back in early California. But I was more than wrong.

Late one night while browsing an online photo archive, I stumbled upon an exact image from my dream. It was dated 1857. A gathering of black women dressed in similar fashion to southern plantation slaves, were sitting on the front porch of a single story wooden house located on what is now San Pedro Street. I paid attention. So began my journey into the history of the women of El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, and led me to Biddy Mason, former slave of African and Native American heritage, mother, healer, midwife, wealthy-businesswoman philanthropist, landowner, and not least, the founder of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church (the first black church in Los Angeles.)

As I began to explore the history of this powerful woman, I was repeatedly struck by the fact that although I had been born and educated in Los Angeles, neither I nor any of my friends had ever been made aware of her. Indeed, the recognition of the place of women in the development of the city of Los Angeles (El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, the City of the Queen of Angels) has been historically relegated to secondary status. This is reflected even in the name change from the city’s original name, by dropping the Queen out of the name of the city. As a sign of the times, this particular woman was destined to be a powerful force of vital change in the lives of many, even as the world she traveled through was itself experiencing a time of extreme tumultuous and violent change. In 1849 during the transition from Mexican to American rule, the state of California decreed itself free of slavery, and in 1850, was admitted into the Union.  Ironically, the Fugitive Slave Act was passed later that very same year––a definite nod to Southern sympathies.

Among the first, Robert Smith, a recent convert to the Mormon Faith, brought his slaves Biddy Mason, her three daughters, her sister Hannah and her children, across the continent by Ox Train to live in a Mormon community in San Bernardino. However, as the “anti-slavery” sentiment in California grew, he decided to leave for the slave state of Texas. He must have thought himself mad as he watched free black men ride as equals alongside white posse members, when they swooped into his canyon camp in the Santa Monica Mountains late one night, and rescued the women and children; the sheriff took them off into protective custody. By the time Bridget Biddy Mason arrived in el Pueblo in 1855, there was already a black community; some having migrated from deep southern, slave holding states, to the apparent freedom of California. Although the slave trade of Native peoples was in full force, there was a population of free black men, many having descendants traceable to Africans in Mexico in the 1530’s. As my research was revealing, I had been so wrong!

Biddy Mason and her family were granted their freedom in January 1856, and in another twist of time and fate, won their freedom by the skin of their teeth, as the Dred Scott Decision was passed in 1857 in which…” the Supreme Court decided that all people of African ancestry — slaves as well as those who were free––could never become citizens of the United States and therefore could not sue in federal court. The court also ruled that the federal government did not have the power to prohibit slavery in its territories…” The egregious injustice of this period in history is once again illuminated by the fact that, although Biddy Mason could petition for her freedom and be present at her trial, after 1850 there was a law forbidding Native Indians, Blacks, and Mulattoes from testifying against a white person in civil or criminal cases. However, precedent had been set in el Pueblo in the 1840’s by the rancheras, women who were the original land grantees. These were women who owned substantial land, and therefore had the key to economic independence, putting them on an equal business footing with the men of their time. Whether through direct land grants, marriage or inheritance, this allowed them to engage in business: investing, selling, loaning, or using their land as collateral. As a black woman in the 1850’s Biddy’s rise to social prominence and financial power was unprecedented. She created a paradigm shift by shrewdly parlaying her immense skills as a healer and a midwife, into a business empire equivalent to those most successful landholding business leaders of Los Angeles… Although neither Biddy nor her ranchera predecessors could read, write, or defend themselves or their interests in a court of law, they were astute enough to engage the powerful men of the time to defend them and speak on their behalf.

It is almost impossible to understand the scope of the legacy that Biddy Mason created, and it might read like somewhat of a “fairytale” if the particulars were not so overwhelmingly grim. The improbable circumstances she endured are all but unimaginable; from slave-life on the plantation, she literally trekked across the continent with her own small children, ultimately having the temerity to stand up and claim herself a free black woman in a white America about to be torn apart by the Civil War. Yet she did it, as did many of the rancheras, and other women who came before and long after her. Although women still struggle to attain equality in an historically patriarchal society, honoring and acknowledging those of enormous personal power who have come before us is a crucial step towards making things right in the future.

Biddy Mason remains one of my personal heroines. From a dream sent to me from our collective past, I feel it is essential to share her history, as one of our city’s fundamental foundation stones, inspiring us to do more, and to be more. I believe this history, the city’s history is especially timely for Los Angeles right now, as it reminds us that there is great strength and wisdom which comes from moving steadfastly forward with conviction, an open mind, and an open heart.

  1. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2932.html

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Jeannie Winston is a frequent guest blogger for ACEI’s Academic Exchange. Jeannie is an artist and writer living and working in Los Angeles, California. Jeannie completed undergraduate studies in Illustration at The Arts Center of Pasadena, California.   Her vast and intricate knowledge of Los Angeles and its cultural history bring a new perspective to our understanding of the City of Angels. She draws her inspiration from the natural and inhabited world around her. She is especially inspired by her observations of cultural fusions and how people strive to invoke spirit in daily life.

(El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, the City of the Queen of Angels.)

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20 Facts on Denmark

October 15th, 2015

denmark

In the recent U.S. democratic presidential debate on October 13, 2015, candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont mentioned Denmark as the bastion of healthy social programs for its people. According to Sanders: “We should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.” In this week’s blog, we’ve decided to put the spotlight on Denmark and share a few facts on this Scandinavian country.

1. The Danes are a homogenous Gothic-Germanic People who have inhabited Denmark since prehistoric times.

2. Denmark is the smallest of the Scandinavian countries (half the size of Maine). It is in northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, on a peninsula north of Germany (Jutland); also includes several major islands (Sjaelland, Fyn, and Bornholm).

denmark_2

3. Denmark is a Constitutional Monarchy. The Danish royal family is probably the oldest uninterrupted European monarchy. It traces back its roots to legendary kings in the Antiquity. Gorm the Old, the first king of the “official line”, ruled from 934 C.E.

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4. The population of Denmark is 5,581,503 (July 2015 est.) which include Scandinavian, Inuit, Faroese, German, Turkish, Iranian, and Somali.

5. The capital of Denmark is Copenhagen with a population of 1.206.million (2011 est.)

6. The flag of Denmark, Dannebrog, is the oldest state flag in the world still in use by an independent nation. It was adopted in 1219.

denmark_flag

7. The principal language in Denmark is Danish but English is a required subject in school and fluency in English is high.

8. Education is compulsory from ages 7 to 16 and is free through the university level.

9. Denmark has had no less than 14 Nobel laureates, including 4 in Literature, 5 in Physiology or Medicine, and one Peace prize. With its population of about 5 million, it is one of the highest per capita ratio of any country in the world.

10. Denmark boasts a literacy rate of 99%.

11. The Danish company Bang & Olufsen (B&O) manufactures some of the most upscale audio products, television sets, and telephones in the world.

12. Denmark guarantees religious freedom and 95% of Danes claim religious affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Islam is the second-largest religion in Denmark.

13. In 1989, Denmark became the first country to legalize same-sex unions (although same-sex marriage was not granted until 2012).

14. Denmark’s Industries include: iron, steel, nonferrous metals, chemicals, food processing, machinery and transportation equipment, textiles and clothing, electronics, construction, furniture and other wood products, shipbuilding and refurbishment, windmills, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment.

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15. Denmark’s Natural resources include: petroleum, natural gas, fish, salt, limestone, stone, gravel and sand.

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16. Denmark has the highest employment rate in Europe (75%).

17. In 2012 Denmark enjoyed the 2nd highest nominal GDP per capita in the European Union, after Luxembourg. At purchasing power parity (PPP), Denmark was ranked in 8th position within the EU.

18. Separate studies have ranked Danish people as the happiest in the EU (2007 Cambridge University study), and happiest people in the world (2006 Leicester University study) or 2nd happiest in the world (World Database of Happiness 2000-2009).

19. The Danish prince Hamlet, the fictional character of William Shakespeare’s famous play, was inspired by an old Danish myth of the Viking Prince Amled of Jutland.

20. The world famous building toys Lego are from Denmark.

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Useful Links:

http://facts.randomhistory.com/denmark-facts.html

http://www.visitdenmark.com/heritage/fun-facts-about-your-danish-american-heritage

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/da.html

http://www.eupedia.com/denmark/trivia.shtml

http://eng.uvm.dk/Education/Overview-of-the-Danish-Education-System

http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/14/clinton-and-sanders-why-the-big-deal-about-denmark.html

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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 Education System of Greece

July 23rd, 2015

Greece

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_2

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”).

Greece_3

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).

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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).

Sources:
T.E.I Patras (Technological Education Institute Patras) http://en.teipat.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3&Itemid=85 ]
National School Network http://www.sch.gr
Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs http://www.ypepth.gr
OECD Greece http://www.oecd.org/edu/bycountry/greece/

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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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50+ Interesting Facts on Sweden

May 21st, 2015

sweden_flag

ACEI recently offered a training webinar on Sweden and it’s education system, with particular focus on upper secondary (high school) education. We thought in this week’s blog we share with you a few interesting facts we gathered in our research on Sweden.

Geography & Population
sweden_waterfall

• Population is 9.7 million people.
• Capital of Sweden is Stockholm (built on 14 islands).
• The official language is Swedish.
• 3rd largest EU country in land area, after France and Spain.

History
sweden_viking_ship

• Sweden is one of the homelands of the Germanic ethnicity and culture.
• Around 2,000 years ago, the Svear people gave Sweden its name. In their language, svear meant “us” and rike meant “kingdom.” So, Sverige, the modern Swedish name of the country, means “Our Kingdom.
• In the 9th and 10th centuries, Swedish Vikings invaded and settled in parts of Eastern Europe as far as Constantinople and the Caspian Sea.
• In 1954, while excavating a Viking settlement in Sweden, archeologists found a Buddha statue from India.

Government
sweden_parliament
Image: Rosenbad in Stockholm, seat of the Government since 1981

• Parliamentary democracy.
• Sweden’s head of state since 1973 has been King Carl XVI Gustaf.
• Sweden is a member of the European Union, but has its own currency, the krona, or Swedis crown.
• In 1862, Sweden became the first country to grant suffrage for (married) women, although only for local elections.
• With 47% of female parliamentarians (in 2006), Sweden has the highest proportion of women lawmakers in the world.

Economics & Employment
sweden_money

• Sweden has the highest standard V.A.T. rate in the world (25%).
• Total taxation in Sweden amount to 54.2 % of GDP, the highest level worldwide.
• In 2010, 2011 and 2012, Sweden was ranked third in the world for the inequality-adjusted Human Development Index(HDI) defined by the United Nations Development Program.
• Swedish people have the lowest income inequality in the world, with a Gini index of 23 in 2005.
• Sweden has the smallest gender employment-rate gap in the developed world, with only 4% more men in employment than women.
• Sweden has the highest percentage of working mothers in the developed world, no less than 76% of them.

Society, Social Justice and Welfare
sweden_society

Lagom is an important and often-used word in Sweden. Meaning good enough, or just right, it sums up Swedish cultural and social ideals of equality and fairness.
• Homosexual relations have been legal since 1944, and same sex couples have been able to adopt since 2003 and get married since 2009.
• The country was the first in the world with freedom of the press (1766), and is at the top of global press freedom rankings.
• Secular and open to all religions. The national church, the Church of Sweden, is Lutheran, but Catholicism and other Christian denominations are also
• In 2006 Swedish people had the longest life expectancy in Europe (80.51 years).
• A 2007 UNICEF report on child well-being in rich countries ranked Sweden as the best country in terms of children’s material well-being, health and safety, and behaviors and risks.
• Sweden is the only nation where donations exceed 1% of the GDP.
• The Swedish maternity and paternity leave is one of the longest and most generous in the world, allowing the father and mother to take a shared total of 480 days (16 months) off at 77.6% of their salary.

Science & Innovations
sweden_science

• The astronomical lens is a Swedish invention.
• The pacemaker, ultrasound, safety match, astronomical lens, marine propeller, refrigerator, and computer mouse are all famous items that were invented in Sweden or by Swedes who weren’t living in Sweden.
• As of late 2012, Sweden had obtained 30 Nobel prizes, including 5 Peace prizes. This is the 5th highest number of laureates in the world, and the highest per capita ratio for any country with over 1 million inhabitants.
• Sweden has the highest number of patents granted per capita of any European country, with 271 patents per million people.
• Sweden ranks second in Europe (after Finland) in terms of technological achievement.
• In 2012 the Swedish company Ericsson was the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile telecommunications networks, with 38% of global market share.
• Sweden has an excellent reputation as a car-maker with Volvo and Saab. Scania trucks are also Swedish.
• The world-famous discount furniture chain IKEA was founded in Sweden in 1943.

Environment & Energy Self Sufficiency
sweden_environment

• Sweden is set to become the first country in the world to phase out petroleum for biofuel.
• Sweden has the highest number of nuclear plants per capita, with 10 reactors for 9 million inhabitants.
• Only one per cent of solid waste goes to landfill in Sweden – with the rest recycled or used to produce heat, electricity or vehicle fuel in the form of biogas.
• Sweden is so efficient in recycling that it has run out of trash and receives Norway’s trash to process and recycle.

Education Governance
sweden_college

• The Ministry of Education (Utbildningsdepartementet) is responsible for primary and secondary education as well as higher education with a few exceptions (agriculture, in particular).
• The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) is responsible for policy implementation and quality control concerning primary, secondary and adult education.
• The Swedish Council for Higher Education (Uiversitets- och Hogskoleradet) and the Swedish Higher Education Authority (Universitetskanslerambetet) are responsible for higher education.

Education: Compulsory and Upper Secondary
sweden_kids

• Nursery school (kindergarten, förskola) is open to children from one to five years of age. Almost all children also attend non-compulsory primary school at the age of six (sexårsverksamhet). In practice, this means ten years of education in all.
• Education is compulsory for children between the ages of 7 and 16 and free.
• Education at the upper secondary level is free.
• The academic year runs from August until June.
• There are also a small number of schools for the Saami minorities in the north of Sweden were classes are taught in Sammi
• The 12-year elementary and secondary system is divided into 2 phases: primary education (Grundskola – 9 years of compulsory school covering primary education and junior secondary education); senior secondary education (Gymnasia – 3 years of senior secondary school).
• Students who complete the Grundskola receive the Slutbetyg Från Grundskola (School Leaving Certificate).
• Student who complete the Gymnasia receive the Slutbetyg Från Gymnasieskola.
• Also at the upper secondary level there are Folkhögskola (Folk High School) and Komvux (Municipal Adult School) which are for Adults (with some previous education & work experience and do not charge tuition.
• Corporal punishment in schools was banned in 1979.

Education: University
sweden_university
Image: Uppsala University

• Sweden has two main types of higher education institutions: universities (universitet) and university colleges (högskola). Both grant bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but only universities grant doctoral degrees.
• Sweden has around 50 public and private universities and university colleges.
• Two of the oldest universities in Sweden are Uppsala University which was founded in 1477 and Lund University founded in 1666.
• The Swedes spend the longest time in tertiary education with an average student age of 25.5 years old.
• Swedish university students are required to pay a membership fee in the student union, but do not pay tuition.
• 40% of Swedish women and 32% of Swedish men aged 25 to 64 participate in education or training.
• Sweden has the highest proportion of personal computers per capita in Europe, with 500 P.C.’s per 1,000 people.

Bonus Fun Facts:

• There’s a golf course on the border of Sweden and Finland with half the holes in one country and the other half in another.
• Sweden has the highest number of McDonald restaurants per capita in Europe (although that is only about half of the US ratio).
• Swedish was made the official language of Sweden in 2009.
• In the interest of safety, Sweden’s auto company, Volvo, made the three-point seat belt design patent open and free to other car manufacturers.
• In Sweden, you cannot name your child Ikea or Elvis.
• The official Twitter account @Sweden is given to a random citizen every week to manage.
• The origin of the word Smörɡåsbord is Swedish which according to Merriam-Webster online dictionary is “a luncheon or supper buffet offering a variety of foods and dishes (as hors d’oeuvres, hot and cold meats, smoked and pickled fish, cheeses, salads, and relishes).”

For more random facts on Sweden click on this link: http://facts.randomhistory.com/sweden-facts.html

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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

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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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Istanbul: Seven of Many Wonders

February 19th, 2015

Instanbul

After spending 14 days in the extraordinary, international city of Istanbul, I began to liken it to a magical carpet, a monumental tapestry, created by millennia of weavers: the merchants, travelers, artists and craftsmen who’ve passed through it. As the only country in the world to span two continents, Istanbul has always been the nexus of the East and West. It is located at the point where the Golden Horn, a large, well-protected, natural harbor, meets the Bosporus Strait, which is the only waterway entrance to the Black Sea, and connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and eventually to the Aegean.

This weaving together of diverse cultures and history has created a unique dynamic tension, a mosh pit of centuries old practice, and modern imperatives in commerce, culture and art, making it extraordinarily rich in every possible way.

It is a place of historically significant geo-political intrigue and espionage, not to mention it’s choice as a location in several 007 James Bond films; Skyfall, The World is not Enough, and From Russia with Love. I swear my over active imagination saw spy scenarios everywhere, which had my husband shaking his head and rolling his eyes.

The minute you step out into the streets of Istanbul, the multi-dimensional layers begin to expose themselves almost immediately, and every one of the senses is activated–– at once: It was almost hallucinatory.

It is terribly dense, there are trams, seas of yellow taxis, pedestrians, vendor carts, motorcycles, old men pulling impossibly heavy loads on old wooden carts, men balancing towers of bread on the heads, mopeds rigged with wooden palettes stacked with (full) egg cartons, groups of women in various states of “covering”: the hijab, the veil covering the head and chest, the Chador, the Abaya, and the Burqa, young women in mini-skirts. I especially loved shopping for lingerie next to the Burqa clad women. There were men sitting in manholes checking their emails on their cell-pones as traffic whizzed by around them, stray cats, dogs, elderly blind people, a constant stream of ferries crisscrossing the Bosporus every 10 minutes, well into the night, midnight fishermen crowded on the Galata Bridge, 7 nights a week…it is utter chaos and somehow it works, it even flows. One lovely boutique in the bohemian section of the city, The Aponia Store, has a wonderfully succinct t-shirt: ”Some call it chaos, and we call it home.” That pretty much says it, but I would add one more wild fact which I read on a label under a photo, included in a photography exhibition of beautiful black and white images about the challenging and changing nature of Turkey, at The Istanbul Modern, (a fantastic modern art museum.) Dated 2013, it read: In Istanbul, 9 million people use 19 different means of transportation 21 million times a day. Whew.

It was my first trip to a predominantly Islamic country, and I was completely curious to experience how that fact would influence the ins and outs of daily life. To try and innumerate what it was exactly that was so extraordinary about the place is almost impossible but I will give it a go. Here are seven things (among hundreds) that make Istanbul unforgettable, wondrous and a place I must return to.

1. It’s Crazy History

As I mentioned earlier, the geographic location of Istanbul sets up the scene, and one must understand how it shaped and continues to influence the city, and has bestowed upon it the gift of seeing ancient Egyptian Obelisks, ancient Roman Viaducts, and Cisterns, Sultans Palaces, Mosques, Byzantine relics and ancient Roman city walls from 400AD, Roman Catholic Churches from the 6th century and on and on…Everyone wanted, and still wants a piece of the place. The strategic importance of the site was not lost on the Greeks, who founded it as Byzantium on the European side (the Western side of the Bosphorus Strait,) in 667 BCE.

In 196 AD it was besieged and conquered by Roman Forces, and then ruled by Septimius Severus, who rapidly rebuilt it. In 330 AD, it garnered the attention of the Roman Emperor Constantine I, who was moving away from the “old” Roman ways and had converted to Christianity. He was so taken with its beauty and qualities that he dedicated it as his imperial residence, thus the Eastern capitol of the Roman Empire, and as such it was renamed Constantinople after his death. Constantinople was the western terminus of trade on the Silk Road, from which ships sailed to and from Western Europe, and according to the UNESCO website, from the 4th century onward, it is most probably “the Rome” in the saying, ”All roads lead to Rome.” At such a crucial constellation between Asia and Europe, Constantinople instantly became the most powerful cultural, commercial and diplomatic center for exchange between the East and Western Europe, and the capitol of the Byzantine Empire.

In the 6th century, Emperor Justinian I ordered the construction of the Aya Sofya, (Hagia Sophia), and it was consecrated in 537, becoming the religious center for Eastern Orthodox Christianity. During the 4th Crusade, in 1204, it was captured and sacked by French and Italian Catholic Crusaders, effectively replacing the Orthodox Byzantine Empire. It is worth noting that the influence of the French culture remains strong in Istanbul, as in the latter centuries, a number of the Sultans maintained close ties with France and were greatly influenced by and had a great fondness for French artistic craft and architecture. In 1453, the city was overrun and conquered by the Ottoman Turks, led by Mehmet II, who promptly converted the Aya Sofya into a mosque. Other churches were torn down and mosques built on top of their ruins.

In 1517 the Ottomans conquered Egypt, and brought the caliphate to Istanbul, which then became the center of the Islamic world. The Sultanate, particularly during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566) dramatically changed the face of the city building palaces, mosques, bridges, as well as facilitating the exchange of ideas, customs, goods, skills, and crafts, transported via trade routes that passed through Istanbul, thus bringing new influences and cultures together, and promoting innovation in the Ottoman arts of ceramics, calligraphy and stained glass, which became vital components of the city’s history and identity.

After World War I, the British, French, and Italians occupied Constantinople and exiled the last sultan, Mehmed VI. In 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded the modern republic of Turkey, and renamed the city Istanbul in 1930.

2. Religion / Mindfulness

Although Atatürk transformed Istanbul into a modern, “secular “ city, the fact remains that it is a predominantly Islamic city, and the spiritual and religious life continues to dominate its very core. There is no escaping the practice of Islam, as Istanbul has 3,113 mosques, many of which were built during the Ottoman period, on the sites of former Roman Catholic Churches, either destroyed or altered and converted into Mosques. They are spectacular examples of religious architecture, one being more beautiful than the next.

A lesser known but good example of this cultural, religious layering is the Arap Mosque, or Arab Mosque, which was built in 1325 by the Dominican Friars as a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter, and is the only surviving example of medieval Gothic Architecture. It was altered, and converted into a mosque by Sultan Mehmed II, and during the Spanish Inquisition of 1492, given to escaping Muslim Arab refugees from Al-Andalus. It is also interesting to note that during this time period, Jews persecuted in Spain and Portugal were encouraged to establish themselves in Istanbul as well, and a number of beautiful Synagogues remain.

Of course the most famous and without a doubt the most magnificent example of religious transformation is the Aya Sofya, built as a Roman Orthodox Church in the 6th century, then converted into a mosque in 1453 by Mehmed the Conqueror. The transformation began with the construction of a Mihrab, an ornamental indentation or niche in the wall of a mosque, which marks the direction of qiblah, or the Ka’aba in Mecca, in modern-day Saudi Arabia, the direction all Muslim worshipers must turn to face during daily prayers. A Minbar, (a raised platform in the front area of a mosque, from which sermons or speeches are given) was also erected.

Other significant changes were made in deference to Islamic law such as the covering of the tile mosaics depicting Christ and other “beings” which were painted over with a thin covering of lime. Even the four Seraphs at the base of the large dome had their faces covered with metal discs, in accordance with the Islamic laws shunning the creation of images of sentient living beings.

When Atatürk created the secular state of Turkey, he declared the Aya Sofya a museum, which it remains today, and extensive restoration is constantly under way, which included the restoration of the exquisite mosaics and the faces of the Seraphs, which are now exposed. There are whispered rumors that the current president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, wishes to convert it back into a mosque…

Surprise, surprise, surprise

So many things of a religious and spiritual nature were of constant surprise to me. All of them pleasant and memorable. As Istanbul is a hilly city, there are seven hills, the beautiful domes of the mosques, and the slim towering minarets, reign over the city, dotting the skyline with a romantically magical quality. The minarets were originally constructed as the platform for the Muzzein’s call to prayer, and as you can imagine, with so many mosques there is a bit of a competition amongst them at prayer time. These hauntingly, melodious voices ringing out over the city five times a day, sent real shivers up my spine. I did not need to know exactly what they were saying, but I could feel the spiritual quality and was surprised by its effect on me. I would simply have to stop doing whatever we were doing and just listen.

Aside from the fact that the interiors of the mosques are just breathtakingly beautiful, there was something moving about participating in the rituals of removing ones shoes, and for women the covering of the head with head scarves enabled me to participate in the sanctity of the place. One particular day when visiting the Suleymani Mosque a large group of elderly women, all dressed in black, (their faces exposed), all the same height and roundness came in to worship. They were different than the others, obvious religious pilgrims, and were quietly whispering and often smiling in awe at the sheer beauty of the space. I loved how they felt, and took a quick moment to capture a few images. After I put my camera back into my coat pocket I looked up and saw that they had noticed me too, as they were smiling broadly and taking my picture! There I was, the tall lady, oddly out of place in her headscarf, and they seemed to find me hysterical. I was as much an anomaly for them as they were for me and we smiled knowingly at each other.

Outside of every mosque, were beautiful marble fountains for ablutions, where men (only), the women went into the restrooms, sat washing their hands, arms, faces and feet, before going in to worship. And it was cold outside. For that matter, there were such marble fountains all over the city with beautiful brass spigots also used for cleansing. Many also had a tin cup on a chain for shared drinking. Even in the wondrous Grand Bazaar, such fountains existed, where there was always someone sitting and washing, as a prelude to the call to prayer, which was offered at select locations, where men lined up, filling the Caddesi, or lanes with small prayer rugs, and the entire commerce in many shops would come to a grinding halt. It is unavoidable, no matter where you are. Things just stop.

And speaking of stopping, this constant awareness, a sort of collective mindfulness seems to prevail in many aspects of daily life, from the highly aesthetic display of food, to the carefully chosen and draped headscarf, or the constant cleaning of place and self, and just the general realization that one is not isolated and alone, acting independently, and that we are somehow all connected. We were so often struck by civil acts of kindness, between complete strangers. Everyone helps everyone.

When an elderly man fell in the street, a man jumped out of his car stopping traffic, creating a traffic jam in order to help. And when one Taxi directly behind him honked, twenty other honked and yelled at him, admonishing him for his thoughtlessness. I’ve never seen that in any major cosmopolitan city.

One incident in particular really stuck in my mind. We were walking down a congested street in the Textile district, when a man directly in front of us suddenly stopped, bent over and picked up a piece of chewing gum lying in his path. He carefully removed it to a safe place behind a pole, where no one else might step on it and continued on. We actually stood there dumbfounded for a few moments, struck by such a selfless act.

That‘s not to say that there are not slums, and that bad, mean and angry people don’t exist, but the overwhelming feeling was pretty awesome. Of course the intense police presence, with men in full riot gear, sporting dreadful looking machine guns, in anticipation of possible rioting, does not fall into that category.

3. Tea Time Rituals

Conversations without tea are like a night sky without the moon.
-Folk saying from Sivas, Turkey

Even those nasty looking policemen wound up surprising me though. We stumbled upon a large group of them sitting in a back-alley café serenely drinking tea, smoking cigarettes and playing backgammon? The ritual of Tea Time is as equally powerful and as often, if not more practiced as the daily prayer ritual. It is part of everyone’s daily routine.

No matter where you are, no matter what you are doing, there is always a Çay (Chai) a tea man running around with a silver tray, laden with small beautiful tulip shaped clear glasses filled with piping hot Turkish Tea, the tinkling sound of small spoons stirring tea is everywhere.

Like the time we were walking along the hippodrome, checking out Ancient Egyptian Obelisks, I heard that tinkling sound and turned to see burley construction workers taking a break from digging ditches for water-pipe repair, squatting on their break, stirring cubes of sugar into their delicate tulip-shaped tea glasses. Or the time we watched in amusement as a garbage truck stopped in the middle of an old, 19th century narrow, sloping street, and the garbage men jumped out and walked up onto the sidewalk, as a Çay man appeared out of nowhere with a tray full of those delicate glasses of piping hot tea. No paper cups here, no sir. These men stood drinking tea and smoking as traffic calmly and knowingly waited behind the truck until their 5-minute break was over. Really? Imagine that in New York or Paris!

The Hamal’ or the porters, are the men who carry impossibly heavy loads on their backs, (as well as homemade saddles which they also use as seats when they unburden themselves,) can be seen sitting in small groups, taking a tea-time pause on the sidewalk, as the Çay man seems to magically appear, once more.

And…the midnight fishermen on the Galata Bridge, indulge as well, with tea vendors setting up small mobile tea stands on boxes, preparing fresh, piping hot tea, to ward off the chill of the night air. That was the best tea I’ve ever tasted, and sitting with the fishermen, amidst the debris of their profession, happy to show us their angling talent was one of my most favorite memories.

4. Stray Cats and Dogs

Cats and dogs are everywhere, I mean everywhere in Istanbul, and I don’t mean pets. The streets are full of stray cats and dogs, large dogs which all mind their own business, walk around, take long naps and generally get along with each other and people. In fact, in most places it is common to see bowls of food and water discreetly placed for them by local residents and businesses.

Cats have it especially good, as Muhammad prohibited the persecution and killing of cats, and in Islamic tradition, cats are admired for their cleanliness. A popular saying goes: “If you’ve killed a cat, you need to build a mosque to be forgiven by God.”

So, there are definitely more cats than dogs. Almost every business seems to have a cat. Shoemakers, Music stores, Museum gardens, bookstores, high-end boutiques, bars, hotels, nightclubs–– everyone loves them, and allows them to come and go as they please. It is not uncommon to be trying on a pair of expensive shoes, while a beautiful, well cared for cat brushes against your leg, before darting out onto the street. I love that.

The dogs look ferocious but just spend their days hanging out, waiting for food, and occasionally barking at cars they don’t like. They never assault people and they seem to have an agreement with their local feline counterparts.

How can this be? One night we sat next to a lovely couple from Dublin, and the woman turned out to be a veterinarian, there to give a lecture on as she said,” bunnies and birds, as the exotic pet-trade has picked up in Istanbul.” I immediately asked her about the profusion of street animals and she cleared it up for us. Apparently Istanbul is a “no-kill” city, with the entire population standing behind this humane law. Whenever possible, the state actually rounds the animals up, inoculates them, cares for them if they’re sick, spays and neuters them, then sets them free, knowing they will be well cared for. We never once saw a mangy dog or alley cat. They all looked perfectly healthy and happy. There are even neighborhood favorites. That is so cool.

5. Tiles, Rugs and Jewelry

Those awesomely beautiful predominantly blue tiles that adorn the Blue Mosque, the Rustem Pasha Mosque, and many parts of Topkapi Palace are called Iznik tiles, which came from the town of Iznik in Western Anatolia, via the Silk Road. They were produced in the last quarter of the 15th century up to the end of the 17th century, when production began to decline as the massive building projects of the Ottoman Sultans were on the wane and competition from the more highly crafted Chinese Ceramics began to erode the marketplace.

In the Sultan Ahmed Mosque–also known as the Blue Mosque for its abundant 20,000 tiles originally cobalt blue–the color palate expanded to include, turquoise, and pastel shades of sage green and pale purple. In the middle of the 16th century, a Bole red replaced the purple and a bright Emerald green replaced the sage.

The Rüstem Pasha Mosque is famous for its Iznik tiles, which have beautiful floral patterns as well as geometric designs. I was surprised to see the tulip among the hyacinths, carnations, roses sprigs petals, and Pencs, (the stylized top view of flowers.) There was a sweet man selling books in the courtyard, who explained that the Turkish love of the tulip came from the Ottoman period, as the beloved flower of the sultans. I went back to the hotel and did a little research and discovered the Tulip Period, in the 18th century, when a “tulip craze” firmly established itself as the Sultans began to orient themselves towards Europe.
The tulip came to define nobility and privilege and became celebrated in the Ottoman court. This passion for tulips extended into paintings, silks, and textiles and was used in the Sultan’s Palace clothing, and came to represent the wealthy and elite. In Turkey today, the tulip is still considered to embody perfection and beauty. Who knew?

Turkish Carpets

The Tulip motif was carried over onto the famous Turkish Carpets, especially those commissioned by the sultans. Massive Turkish Carpets, cover the floor of every Mosque; a centuries old art, originally of practical use, from the region of Seljuk Anatolia, during the Seljuk Period, 1037-1302.

The history is long and complicated but it is worth mentioning the weaving workshops of Herke, established in 1843. These carpets are known for their fine weaves and used silk, or fine wool threads, and upon occasion, gold, silver and cotton threads as well. In the Topkapi Palace they featured intricate floral designs, of course including the tulip, as well as the daisy, carnation, crocus, rose, lilac, and hyacinth.

Jewelry

I have to say, I just fell in love with this city. Not only are the people warm and openhearted, we also share a common fascination with exquisitely crafted jewelry. The artistic craftsmanship in the city in general is absolutely outstanding and the jewelry is no exception. Once again, we’ve got those Sultans to thank, as their obsession with all things beautiful has carried over to modern times. However, the treasury at the Topkopi Palace, the seat of the Ottoman sultanate takes the cake. The palace’s ornate opulence is right out of a fairy tale, and legends, and stories abound about the pleasure seeking Sultans, their beautiful concubines, plotting courtiers and viziers, competing eunuchs and the general palace intrigues involving dignitaries and visiting world leaders. But my absolute favorite story is that of the-––Spoon Makers Diamond.

First of all, the palace treasury is brimming with one astonishing bejeweled object after another, to the point of making you dizzy. Heavily guarded vitrines displaying bowls full of emeralds the size of dinner rolls, flamboyant turban ornaments dripping with pearls, rubies, emeralds, gold and diamonds, called sorguç, which were the equivalent of crowns: a symbol of power and authority that was worn by Ottoman sultans on their quilted turban.

However…they paled next to The Spoon Makers Diamond. Here’s the story, talk about fairy-tales: There was once a poor fisherman in 17th century Istanbul who, while wandering by the shore, found a large stone in a pile of rubbish. It was so unusual looking that he picked it up and put it in his pocket, and carried it around for a few days. He eventually made his way to the marketplace where he showed it to the first vendor he came across, who happened to be a spoon maker. The man feigned disinterest, declaring it a large piece of glass, and offered the poor fisherman three wooden spoons. The spoon maker was not entirely sure what he had purchased, but had inkling that it was…something unusual

One day the Vizier of the Sultan passed by the spoon maker’s stall and was astonished to see the raw, unpolished diamond sitting there for all to see. He immediately offered the spoon maker a large sum of money, too good to refuse, and ran quickly back to the palace jewelers who polished it up and …

The diamond is an 86-carat pear-shaped diamond, and believed to be the fourth largest diamond in the world. It sits in a silver setting surrounded by 49 old-mine cut diamonds, just for that extra bling!

6. Education

I had no idea that Istanbul was home to one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the world. Istanbul University, was founded when Mehmet II conquered Constantinople. It began as a madrasah, a theological school, and catered to educating the ruling class of the Ottomans. During Ataturks reformation in the 1920’s, the institution was renamed Istanbul University and restructured to include departments in medicine, law, literature, theology, and science. Interestingly enough it benefited from the flight of Jewish academics that fled Germany during the Third Reich and became a vital force of the teaching staff. Many academics educated there were able to go on to establish other institutions of higher learning in Istanbul and in Turkey in general. The university prides itself as being a leader in the movement towards enlightenment, and modernization, bridging the gap between science and cultural life.

Then there is Boğaziçi University a public university located on the European side of the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul founded in 1863, it has the distinction of being the first American Institution of higher learning founded outside the United States. It has strong ties to the Robert College of Istanbul, a co-educational private[1] high school, and boarding school, with an awesome campus also on the European side of Istanbul. The 150-year-old institution is the oldest American school still in existence in its original location outside the United States, and is accredited by the New York State Association of Independent Schools.

Another university is the Francophone University, Galatasaray University, which was established in 1992, by an agreement of the then president of Turkey Turgut Özal and the French president Francois Mitterrand. It is a participant in the European Erasmus and Socrates exchange programs, and has close to 50 European students, as well as representing a secular tradition of teaching. The courses are tri-lingual: in Turkish, French and English;and fluency in both French and English are required. On top of that the university is housed in the former Feriye Palace, a coastal summer palace on the Bosphorus built in 1871; one of the many architecturally stunning second Sultanate homes lining the waterfront of Bosphorus. Nice place to study!

The Istanbul Technical University, ITU, is the world’s third oldest technical universities, dedicated to engineering sciences and recently to the social sciences.

And lastly, because one must stop somewhere, is the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, founded in 1882, as the “School of Fine Arts,” by the renowned Turkish painter Osman Hamdi Bey. It became co-educational in 1914, and the name was changed several times, finally becoming what it is today, in honor of the famous Ottoman-Armenian architect Mimar Sinan, responsible for many of Istanbul’s most beautiful Mosques.

Well, now I guess I have to stop, but I never discussed Turkish Delights, Hamams, Pomegranates, or the nazar boncuğu, the Turkish talisman against the Evil Eye. The thing about traveling is that you can have the most amazing, and profound experiences if you are willing to open yourself up and embrace the “difference” of the culture you find yourself in, without judgment, and without needing to find your “place” in it. Just be there, and be “present” and the mysteries will reveal themselves in the most wonderful, and unimaginable ways, which will invariably find you just where you need to be.

Jeannie Winston Nogai
Owner / Winston Nogai Design
www.jeanniewinston.com / E: jeanniewn@gmail.com

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25 (Serious & Fun) Facts about Norway

February 5th, 2015

norway

There is so much to be said of Norway, known for its breathtakingly beautiful natural environment, vibrant cultural life with cosmopolitan cities brimful of architecture that showcases the famous Scandinavian flair for design. But for the sake of brevity, in this post we’ll touch on a number of facts about the country and its education system and share a handful of fun facts. We realize we’re not doing Norway full justice, and apologize in advance, as there are so many interesting facts to share. We encourage you all to visit the links provided for even more fun facts and information.

First, we’ll start with the serious facts:

1. Known as the Land of the Midnight Sun

2. Head of State: His Majesty, King Harald V of Norway

3. Head of Government: Prime Minister, Erna Solberg (since 2013)

4. System of Government: Constitutional monarchy, Parliamentary democracy

5. Won independence from Sweden in 1905

6. Area: 148,747 square miles (similar in sq. miles to the size of Montana)

7. Population (2014): 5,109,059

8. Capital city: Oslo [Population: 624,000 (statistics 2013)]

9. Languages: 2 official Norwegian languages: Bokmål and Nynorsk), in some districts, Sámi is also an official language Sámi (spoken by the Sámi people), 100% literacy

10. Education dates back as far as the 12th century

11. In 1827 Norway introduced public education (Folkeskole)

12. In the 1970s and 80s the Folkeskole was abolished and the Grunnskole was introduced.

13. Education is free, even higher education.

14. Ministry of Education, Research & Church Affairs prepares the national curriculum for grunnskole (primary &
lower secondary education) and videregående skole (upper secondary school)

15. Compulsory education: 10 years (Grade 1-10)

16. Upper secondary school is 3 years after 10th grade and divided into general/academic studies track or vocational and apprenticeship tracks

17. Norway has seven universities, nine specialized university institutions, 22 university colleges, two national colleges of the arts and a number of private higher education institutions. Norway’s University of Oslo ranks 89th in the 2013–14 QS University World Rankings, and the University of Bergen at 151st

And now, we’ll share some fun facts:

18. The people of Oslo, Norway donate the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree in London every year in gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during WWII. Source: Trafalgar Square Christmas tree

19. It is illegal to spay or neuter your dog in Norway except under specific circumstances regarding health, quality of life, or utility. Source: Should dogs be neutered?

20. Norway has the World’s biggest sovereign fund, where it has been saving almost all the money it gets from the sale of oil and is worth almost a trillion dollars Source: Norway: Is world’s largest sovereign wealth fund too big?

21. To encourage more men to assume a greater share of care-giving responsibilities, Norwegian law states that 14 weeks of parental leave is reserved for fathers. Norway is the first country to introduce compulsory paternity leave Source: Father’s leave still a burning issue

22. King Harald of Norway vowed to remain unmarried for life unless he could marry his true love; the daughter of a cloth merchant. They both later married with help from the Government of Norway and she became the Queen of Norway Source: Queen Sonja of Norway

kingqueennorway
Photo: King Harald & Queen Sonja

23. Norwegian prisons are known to be the most luxurious prisons in the world. Norwegian prisons have also won a design award. Though accommodations may be ultra luxurious, the criminals on release demonstrate the lowest rate of re-offending in Europe, if not the world.
Source: Crime and punishment, Norwegian style

norway_prison
Photos of prison cells and accommodations in Norway

24. A valley settlement in Norway that lives in shadow for nearly half of every year has installed giant mirrors on an adjacent mountain to redirect sunlight into the town’s square, all based on a plan that was thought up 100 years ago

norway_glass

25. If you own a TV in Norway, you have to pay an annual fee of $300 USD. Source: 22 Interesting Facts About Norway

Bonus Fact:

26. Wondering how much your co-worker, boss, neighbor, friend, or cousin makes? It’d be no secret in Norway where income and wealth are public record; a practice shared by other Scandinavian countries. Making the data public demonstrates the Scandinavian tradition of jantelag, which translates roughly as nobody is better than anyone else.

ACEI

ACEI (est. 1994) is a U.S.-based full service organization assisting individuals, colleges and universities, regulatory boards, employers and state and federal government agencies with the evaluation, verification and translation of international education credentials. In addition, ACEI’s webinars and training programs provide international education specialists with up-to-date information on world education systems, student mobility trends, and credential evaluation methodologies. For more information on ACEI and its services, please visit www.acei-global.org.

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