July 23, 2014

Where’s Molly?

By Din Gjidija

It was 2 am on a Friday night around midtown and the only thing these clubbers could talk about was Molly. Molly isn’t the girl next door.  If a friend is speaking of “Molly” otherwise known as MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine) chances are they’re speaking of the party drug.

Molly is the purest form of MDMA. The capsule’s popularity is rapidly increasing amongst teens and young adults and can be found hanging out with party goers.Molly often comes in a capsule, but is also found in pill and tablet form.

According to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) “Molly is a powder crystal form of MDMA, a chemical that’s used in ecstasy.” It’s a chemical made in labs across the boarders which is then smuggled into the U.S.

Salesian High School senior, Valentin Berisha, said, “For those who party, poppin’ a molly just makes the party better for that individual.”
Berisha was wearing a dark grey tank top and bright neon beach shorts, in the midst of March. He was asked by many other teens that night, do you know where they can find her. Berisha knew the crowd was referring to the party drug, when asked about his certainty, he smiled and said “Either that or the Cedric Gervais song.” The song he was referring to was “Molly” by  Dj Gervais. The introduction of the song ask listeners “Do you know where I can find molly?” in the popular Iphone siri voice.

“Celebrities sponsor this drug heavily, to the point where it’s in songs, public media attention, etc,” said Valentin Berisha.

There has been references by celebrities over the past few years. Madonna most notably referred to the drug at last year’s Ultra Music Festival when performing for Avicii’s set (Avicii is a dj/producer). She asked the crowd “have you seen molly”, which stirred up a bit of controversy. Young adults might think it’s alright when seeing celebrities such as Madonna referring to the drug especially at such a large event.

Gezim Bruncaj, a club promoter for clubs like Highland Ballroom and Webster Hall, said “These celebrity references are building a comfort zone for its drug users and turning a potentially dangerous thing into an okay thing.”

As the drug’s popularity increases, more college students turn to Molly when attending raves and festivals.

Anthony Lafiandra, sophomore at St Thomas Aquinas, said “Many college students use it to rage at parties.” To rage means to party really hard. Molly is found at raves (dance music festivals), Dance is usually the genre of music played at these raves.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration MDMA is a scheduled 1 controlled substance, what this means is it has the potential to be abused if used improperly.  

Mixing molly with other drugs can lead to very harmful results, including hospitalization. Molly itself isn’t very addicting, but can be overused.

Some of the drugs side effects are muscle tightness, tremors, teeth clinching, muscle cramps, and nausea. Dehydration may also occur depending on the environment and temperature.

According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, there was a 123% difference since 2004 to 2009 in emergency room visits. The visits were also because the user took in alcohol and other pharmaceuticals.

According to a Feb 2013 LA Times news article, there has been about 14 deaths involving Molly since September of 2006. Michael Benway Jr, 37, was the most recent; he died of heart inflammation and was found at a campsite while attending Electric Forest in June of 2012.

Bruncaj said, “It’s been proven to be safer than ecstasy since it’s in its purest form. Ecstasy contains a bunch of other crap.”

Bruncaj also said, “Molly usually starts with an awful taste but later gets better as the drug starts to kick in. Molly makes them feel like they have so much energy. It just makes everything that much better.”

Molly users have a tendency to be from ages 16-24. MDMA is not something new; in fact it’s been around since the 90’s and was very mainstream. It is also a reason why many of New York City’s old night clubs have been shut down. Some night clubs were Sound Factory and Club Exit.

Bruncaj, giggling said, “Molly is pretty cheap; you could buy a capsule from ten to twenty bucks” that’s what keeps them coming for more. And it’s pretty easy to take and not get caught.

Anthony Lafiandra said “I believe college kids use molly and think its okay to use recreationally because it isn’t harmful to their bodies.”

Lafiandra, smirking said, “For me all I need is some good music and I just begin to dance and have fun. Molly is not needed to have fun and get loose at a party.”

How College Students Manage School Work and Their Jobs

By Alaa Alamin

To be a college student is one thing, to work while attending college is another. Handling full time college classes and part time or full time jobs can cause stress and difficulty in assessment. If you feel like you can connect to this, then you’re not alone.

According to the recent U.S Census, 71 percent of the nation’s 19.7 million college undergraduates were working in 2011. One in every five undergraduate students works at least 35 hours per a week on a yearly manner. John Jay College has not done a statistical study, however, it is known that most of the students here at the college are employed. The issue is then how to manage schoolwork, a job, and other aspects of a student’s life.

 Amongst the fast growing campus of John Jay are two students who have been victims of this new lifestyle. Tanya Dewan is a senior whose number one priority is school.  She has been working four jobs and attending college full time. Learning to cope with managing almost two full-time jobs and five senior classes has not been easy. She barely gets any sleep as many college students throughout the country experience. Unlike some students, Dewan has an advantage to set her own weekly schedule allowing room for planning out her hourly activities of the day.

To be ahead, here are some Do’s and Don’ts for handling this kind of intensity.

Do’s . . .

  1. PLAN!!! Have a calendar to set your daily schedule.
  2. “School comes first” as Dewan states, get your homework assignments done as soon as classes end.
  3. Use  your TV or “Facebook” time for reading your assigned chapters or articles.
  4. “Creating a bond with your professors for them to know you’re a hard worker.” For example, show them how far you are with your paper, or meet with them after class to build an understanding. Perhaps that will show your professor that you’re putting time and effort into the class.
  5. Get help from your friends. Have them edit your paper or assist in research. Yes, it’s not how it usually works but takes advantage of your surroundings.
  6. If you live at home, have family become a part of the picture. They’d know how hard your working and it’ll enhance the relationship.
  7. Eat healthy.  What you put in your body fuels your day.
  8. “Have an aqua therapy” said Dewan. Go swimming or maybe go for a walk.

Don’t . . .

  1. Walk blindly through the day not knowing what to do next. “It will swallow up the day” stated Dewan
  2. Spend too much time hanging out
  3. Overwork.
  4. Procrastinate your class assignments.

Francisco Pucciarello is an upper junior whose working hours are exceeding his part time title. Attending six classes this semester (Spring 2013), holding a position as Vice President of the African Student Association and being involved on campus is not enough for Pucciarello. To pay off rent and all his bills, he started his own cane business named “Cane King,” where he designs canes based on personal requests. When asked how he handles his work-load he simply says, “I write it all down” In a journal like notebook.

Puccuiarello writes down his daily activity of each minute of the day. If you’re aware of your tasks you are more likely to get them done. Another way to handle this weight is sharing it with others; like friends or classmates.

Believe it or not, it doesn’t just make you feel better; it is almost like a reminder to yourself. Let’s not forget to give yourself sometime on that daily journal, “be somewhere quite for a while,” said Pucciarello.

Some Do’s would be:

Do . . .

  1. Balance your time accordingly.
  2. Give yourself credit for what you do. It only motivates you to keep going.
  3. Have a friend or family member to talk to on a regular basis.
  4. “Have somewhere to write what you have to do down” said Pucciarello. Maybe your smart-phone would be a great idea since you can set reminders.
  5. “Have someone to continually have sex with,” Pucciarello added.
  6. In addition to actual class time, allow at least 5 hours each week for homework, projects and study time.

Even from an expert voice, it is clear that managing school and work can be a bumpy road, you just need to learn to drive slowly when there is a bump. Makeda Jordan, Associate Director of John Jay’s Office of Student Life, said, “life is going to always present you with difficulties, right now it’s managing school and work after you graduate, it’ll be something else.”

Therefore, it is important to become familiar with some ways to get around. Makeda Jordan, with the conjunction of Department of Athletics, started a wellness program for students at the college. The program includes fitness sessions and mind-wellness workshops that allows for no more excuses. It offers students boxing, yoga, kickboxing and boot camp sessions. Workshops run twice a week ranging from financial fitness to stress management called the Jay-fit. Jordan herself was once working and attending college “The Jay-fit is my experience,” said Jordan. In addition to attending the wellness sessions, here are some recommendations to consider:

  • Set your long term, and short term goal. It’ll help in assessing the reasons why you are in this situation in the first place.
  • Know your daily/weekly routine. On the one hand, use your syllabus!! Since you have your semester schedule to inform you, why not add it to the calendar. It’ll be your first step to planning.
  • Have a getaway activity, like the aqua therapy for Dewan and the cane designing for Pucciarello.

Both Puccuiaello and Jordan agreed that these are the tips that helped them succeed in what they do. If you want more, join the wellness program. It’ll eliminate a lot of worrying and even get you fit for the summer.

Wellness Workshops:Wellness workshops and group discussions are offered throughout the spring term in support of personal wellness. Workshops are developed based on student interest and topics that contribute to personal growth. Since the semester is over, take note of the what interests you because they might be offered in the fall 2013.

- Living your Passion (evening class)

- Back to the Basics ~ 14 Tips to a Happy and Healthy Life (evening class)

- Connecting your Mind, Body and Spirit

Jay-Fit Group Fitness Classes:

- Circuit Training

- Fight Club

- Boot Camp

Violent Crime in the Bronx: Summer Time

By Leon Moore

Between Burke Avenue and 219th street Bronx, New York, there has been an annual rise in violent crime during the summer. During the summer of 2012 this epidemic met its peak with five shootings in one week.

Crime occurs throughout the entire year however during the summer violent crime always tends to escalate. According to the Daily News writer Patrice O’Shaughnessy, “long hot summer, that’s the catch phrase. When the weather gets warm there are more people hanging out and violence erupts.”

Patrice O’Shaughnessy, author for the Daily News, gave some telling statistics during one of her newspaper columns. O’Shaughnessy wrote, “the murder rate has soared nearly 22% in the Bronx this year according to NYPD statistics.”There was an increase in homicides during the summer of 2010 as opposed to the summer of 2009. In 2009 there were 69 homicides and in 2010 there were 84 according to NYPD statistics. In 2012 that number increased to 97.

The continuous increase in violent crime has had an increasing negative impact on the entire community. Businesses are losing income because of earlier closing times and residents are not confident in their ability to be outside at certain times and because of this law enforcement agencies are under heavy scrutiny.

According to Ahmed Shabazz, “the five shootings between July 17th and July 24th forced me to close my bodega at 11pm as opposed to 12pm for safety concerns.” Many other bodegas have suffered similar conditions which has resulted in financial repercussions. According to Shabazz, “closing the store earlier resulted in me losing close to one thousand dollars in profit, in July, August and September.” Shabazz had a deep tone in his voice and the disgust on his face was clearly visible.

Residents say they are disgusted with the police and other law enforcement agencies. They have lost confidence in their police force and as a result of this, these residents will stay inside after dark during the summer.

According to Eric Williams “I have been living here my entire life and from my perspective the job the police are doing is terrible.” Williams suggested that police officers do not accomplish the task of keeping residents protected at all.

Gerry Fortuné had a similar but slightly different take on the job police officers are doing. “I think they are addressing the symptoms of crime without dealing with the cause.” Gerry expressed the desire for more police patrolling.

One of the biggest effects violent crime has, is its ability to dissuade individuals from participating within the community to their preferable extent.

Fortuné and  Williams both expressed concern for their safety. These concerns have compromised how willing both residents are to participate in social activities, particularly at night time. According to Fortuné  “generally speaking I feel safe, but at night time I avoid going out.” Williams stated that he always watches his back anytime he is outside.

Tracy Gordon sobbed as she told the story of having police officers, news reporters and coroners in front of her home. “I remember my dad taking me to see the dead body, a young man, my neighbor laying in front my house dead life less, I have never been so up close and personal to a victim of homicide it was surreal.” The traumatic experience continues to have an impact on Gordon’s daily life. “I work late at nights and coming home I have to watch where I walk.”

Derrick Kirk’s step father was one of the homicide victims during the summer of 2012. Derrick had tears dripping down his face as he recalled the phone call that changed it all. “I remember my mom who is a correctional officer calling to inform my siblings and I that our dad had been gunned down.” Kirk stated that his brother Andrew nearly fainted when receiving the news. The effect of that homicide is still being felt by Kirk until this day. Kirk had to drop out of college and pick up a job to help support his family.

All five of the residents have had personal experience and encounters with violent crime. Fortuné reported having his bike stolen from in front of his apartment building, Williams spoke about having family members who were assaulted during the summer of 2011 and the summer of 2012.

Residents do not believe that authorities will find a way to curtail the increase on violent crime. This disbelief stems from many different perspectives. Gordon implied lack of action “I don’t think the police are proactive in regards to dealing with kids hanging on the street.” Fortuné believes that the problem with police is their failure to launch community outreach programs.

There was a lot of advice from the five residents. Williams cited the lack of productive things for youth to do during the summertime, he also pointed out the lack of financial resources for residents, “I believe the economy affects how people behave especially with the recent drug war.” Shabazz suggested more frequent patrolling as a way to deter individuals from committing deviant behaviors. Gordon and Fortuné both suggested a community based outreach program as the only way to handle the issue. Gordon stated “ I remember having my home robbed in broad day light and no one would come forward with information, but yet everyone is so concerned with crime, the only way to eradicate this issue is for us to rise up as a community and fight back.” Fortuné suggested that the community reach out to its leaders and help out “residents need to contact Councilman Andy King and look towards him for answers but also give him suggestions, we all live here.”

Violent crime is something that can have a variety of negative impacts on a community. These impacts can span from lost loved ones to lost wages. It is important for law enforcement and residents to get this epidemic under control; otherwise this community can become a war zone.

Other Than A Major: Business Ventures That Don’t Involve Schooling at All

By Ricardo Cordero

“School’s school, I love what I’m doing there, but I have too many interests at heart.” said Lachelle Unyque Lewis, age 20, who attends the college of the Fashion Institute of Technology, other known as “FIT” for short.

“I mean, I get good grades, I worked so hard in high school to just even get here, but there are just too many things I want to do.”

Lachelle Unyque Lewis, an upper class junior, is one of the many other college students who studies underneath a major at a college institute,  is constantly picturing herself in a different work environment. Lewis, an Illustration major in her sixth semester, has several “dream” jobs.

“I want to own a bakery. I love to bake. I also want to become a well known Professional wedding planner.” Lewis is also an erotic author who self published a book called Room Temperature. Lewis is also the founder and proud owner of  Le Sweet Cupcakes, a cake making business.

Illustration majors at the Fashion Institute of Technology study a variety of arts, from professional illustration for clients, basic to moderate computer two dimensional animation, as well as web design and mastering mediums in the arts field. “But this is just my back-up.

According to the Northwest Education Loan Association website, Nela.net, “Nearly two-thirds of all college freshmen start off with no major, and 55 percent to 60 percent of college students change their major at least once during their college career.”

The Northwest Education Loan Association is a loan provider to students seeking funding to help fund their education. Northwest Education Loan Association is also affiliated with USA Funds and Sallie Mae.

It’s plausible to understand college students do in fact want to do other things in their college career or in any type of schooling, without even having the right college education. Even with the right education, that dream job for college students or even just anyone pursuing a certain career path where their heart is taking themselves, there is no guarantee for just about anything, including the idea of landing a picture perfect job after schooling.

“I love to work out, I love working out with others, and I love the idea of training others while making sure they stay fit.” says 18 year old Harry Gutierrez, who is about to finish his first year at Bronx Community College as a dietetics science and nutrition freshmen. “I first got interested in this field at first while suffering being overweight at 16 around 320lbs. I made a change for my life through healthy living and exercise and I would love to help people on their journey to healthy living, but I know it’s still difficult to even make a living off as a trainer let alone to maintain a career as one.” 

Gutierrez is also a college student who loves to enjoy time with his friends as well as partying with them. While making the transition from High school to Bronx Community College, Gutierrez decided to try and become a party promoter alongside his older brother, showcasing and hosting events inside of his family’s basement. “I mean yeah, it’s small time stuff, and sure there’s sometimes where the crowds tend to act too crazy  if anything, but that’s what life is.

Gutierrez plans on soon transferring into a four year school, most likely to his claims of Hunter college soon after schooling at Bronx Community College, but is also considering that if things become more promising than schooling itself, Gutierrez may end up skipping a semester or two.

A college education is important, where it is one of the many stepping stones that can lead just about anyone to success with the right insight and planning, however there are plenty of success stories of individuals who never obtained a college degree.

According to an article found on CNN.com, written by Kate Lorenz, November 3, 2006, expresses success stories by individuals who never obtained a college degree, yet has the right understanding and marketing strategies in the fields they pursued.

Urban Male Initiative: Changing Students Lives One Step At a Time

By Melissa Kong

While students anticipate the clock striking 1:30pm for community hour, they rush to turn the sharp right corner on level L in the New Building to enter into a new world.

“Sign the sign-in sheet” shouted a voice inside an office cubical. A cubical built to hold only three people, has nearly ten people stuffed inside. The woman sitting behind the desk is Maria Vidal. She wears a black cardigan, a famine black and white pattern scarf, dark purple pants, Nike running sneakers, and a high Kim Kardashian bun. Vidal, 25, is John Jay College’s Urban Male Initiative (UMI) program coordinator, who has expanded a small men support group into an academic and social program to help students of color achieve their goals.

Urban Male Initiative is an academic and social support system that provides assistance to students of color, particularly for young Black and Latino males. The goal of the program is to have African-American and Latino/a students graduate from college with a Baccalaureate degree within the time frame of four to six years. Although the objective of the program is geared specifically towards Black and Latino males within the John Jay College community, the Urban Male Initiative program does not limit it services to any gender, race, origin or ethnicity.

The program was originally named Black Male Initiative (BMI) but in the fall of 2008, the program changed its name to Urban Male Initiative (UMI). John Jay’s demographics of college students are predominately Latino/a. To better attract students, administrators felt it was necessary to change the program’s name in order to reach out to other races, origins and ethnic background.

As her fingers are shuffling through the foot high pile of papers, a work-study student appears from the cubical doorway. Vidal making a hand signal to indicate the student please come inside. The female work-study student passes a small stack of manila colored file folders, the kind that doctors who work in hospitals have with them when they visit there sick patient. The student pauses for a moment and asks, “What is this Maria?”

Clutching a small stack of manila folders with both hands, while facing the mess of papers created on the ground in front of her, she takes a deep breath. “This was what I was given when I first started UMI.” The folders were names of the very first students who joined the program. With a look of disbelief and disappointment in her dark brown eyes, she looks over her right shoulder, “The program before I took role as program coordinator had very little student involvement— there were only 16 active students.” says Vidal.

The look of seriousness and concentration is written on her face as she composes a new email message. After selecting a recipient email address, the vibrant excitement of her finger tips hammers the keyboard making a tick, tick, tick sound. A sudden pause of the ticks stop and her right hand is raised an inch in the air only to move the tiny wireless mouse to click on the white button that says SEND. Shifting her body to the left, “I want students to achieve their goals, and I want to help them.” Vidal says. For Vidal, the Urban Male Initiative program at John Jay represents student success through mentorship, networking, and image building.

Everyone has a story to tell and the Urban Male Initiative program at John Jay represents these student’s stories. “I wasn’t a good student so UMI helped me.” says Bevaughn Charles. “I joined UMI because it gave me the opportunity to perform better academically.” Charles a senior at John Jay College majoring in Economics is one of the 140 Urban Male Initiative student members. For Charles, his story began as the student who always showed up to class unprepared, never having a pen or notebook for class. But after joining the Urban Male Initiative program, Charles takes the program as a sort of motivation and one step closer to a brighter future.

While they sit at a large brown rectangular shape table, the kind of seating that a family has on Thanksgiving Day, crunch, crunch, crunch is the sound that Sean Serrano makes when he bites down into his Subway sandwich. As the crunching sounds gets louder and with the shine of his pearly whites and enthusiastic persona, he says, “I saw [UMI] at orientation; they looked appealing so I joined.” says Serrano.

For Serrano, UMI is more than just a program that helps him achieve his goals academically. Serrano expressed his thoughts that although the program’s main objective is to see him graduate with a four-year college degree, the Urban Male Initiative program at John Jay serves also as a safe space place to express himself and a place where he is surrounded by others who have the same desire and motivation of doing things to help better their future.

“My students motivate me.” says the Urban Male Initiative program coordinator Maria Vidal.

World Wrestling Fan Base at a Crossroads

BY ALBERT ALBANESE

April 7, 2013 marks World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) biggest event of the year, Wrestlemania 29. To be held in Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, fans from around the world will descend upon the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets for the hard-hitting, fast-paced, exciting action the WWE is known to deliver.

The main event of Wrestlemania has started to cause some controversy with fans. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will defend his title against number one contender and WWE’s biggest draw, John Cena. While this seems like the biggest marquee match-up in the WWE right now, fans are upset about the main event. The match is a re-match from last year’s Wrestlemania 28, and some fans are upset about seeing it again after it was promoted last year as a “Once in a Lifetime” match. Robert Williams, a life-long wrestling fan said, “If it wasn’t a rematch main event or that predictable as to who’s going to win I would be more excited.”

There is a general feeling that since The Rock is a part-time WWE superstar, John Cena is a lock to leave Wrestlemania 29 with the WWE Championship. This near certainty has other fans upset that they have tickets for WWE’s flagship show, Monday Night Raw, the next night. Nick Finocchio, 20, said, “If Cena wins, I will resent myself for physically going to the Izod center to see RAW.” However, avid Cena supporters are excited at the possibility of seeing him as WWE champion after not having the championship for well over a year.

Other members of the WWE universe feel that the WWE has let down its biggest fans when they created the matches for this year’s Wrestlemania. Avid wrestling fan and writer of the Cosblog, an on-line blog that discusses music, movies and wrestling, Marcos Cosme said “If [WWE] had created a great card with fresh matches then I might be thinking differently. But I feel that they are simply catering to their WrestleMania audience and not the wrestling fan base that they have the other 365 days.”

The Rock, known for his wrestling career and more notable film career, starring in such movies as GI Joe- Retaliation, Fast 5 and The Other Guys, returned to wrestling last year at Wrestlemania 28 to face John Cena in his second match since his return. The Rock was one of the biggest stars in the WWE from 1998-2003. He then became a part-time wrestler as he pursued his film career. He returned to the WWE as the host of Wrestlemania 27 in 2011, starting a yearlong rivalry with John Cena that culminated with the Rock defeating Cena at Wrestlemania 28.

John Cena has become the WWE’s main draw since his first WWE Championship victory at Wrestlemania 21 in 2005. Since then, Cena has become one of the most controversial superstars in WWE history. Due to his character being generally unchanged in 8 years, the WWE universe is often split when seeing Cena as he receives a reaction heavily mixed with cheers and jeers when he appears in front of the audience. Many people are upset that Cena will be in the main-event of Wrestlemania for the fifth time in the past eight years.

Despite the negativity, Cena’s merchandise sells more than any other WWE Superstar. He was also voted by the WWE universe as the 2012 Superstar of the Year, even though he had his worst year since his inaugural title run and former WWE champion CM Punk held the WWE Championship the entire calendar year. Also, Cena’s actions outside the wrestling ring, most notably granting over 200 wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the most in the foundation’s history, keep him a focal point of the WWE’s programming.

While many fans seem as if that they are uninterested in the main-event of Wrestlemania 29, other fans aren’t letting one match dictate their future of watching WWE programming. Rob Cossentino, a wrestling fan since 2000, said “If Cena wins, I’ll quit watching WWE… say so many people, but the next night on Raw all is forgotten and we tune in to the next new angles.” While The Rock and John Cena are the main attraction of Wrestlemania, the WWE has other stars like The Undertaker, former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, Triple H and Alberto Del Rio that attract other members of the WWE Universe to its programming.

While there are some detractors, many fans are looking forward to attending Wrestlemania 29 and seeing the future of the WWE after the big event. While some fans feel that in order to keep a fresh product, the WWE needs to turn John Cena against his legions of fans and into a “bad guy” or heel, others believe that by having great, entertaining matches and interesting storylines, the WWE will always do great business.

Despite some hardcore wrestling fans being upset about The Rock and John Cena’s spot in the main event of the biggest wrestling event of the year, the past has shown that with one blockbuster storyline, those fans can be drawn right back in. Jesse James Jobin, who at 27 is a life-long wrestling fan that has become increasingly frustrated by the direction of the WWE as of late, said “Cena as champ again would bother me. For the last 15 years we’ve had the same 5 or 6 guys trading the belt. Enough is enough.”

Wrestlemania 25

Wrestlemania 25 (Photo credit: eschipul)

The only question now is what will the WWE have in store for its fans to keep them coming back for more? Looking at its past, the WWE always seems to come up with something.

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Wall Street to The Great Wall

By Navita Nauth

A sound dinged overhead and the pilot announced the plane was cleared for land­ing. After two months of filling out tedious and repetitive paper-works, waiting on long lines for my visa, and making over $3000 in payments, I still could not believe that I was really here.

The plane descended faster now. I could tell because the change in air pres­sure affected my ears. The plane turned to one side and then the other after a few min­utes. I could see the night sky through my window; the city lights glimmering just be­low. The lights were getting closer by the minute.

There was a final push forward and we were on the ground. The tires screeched as they touched concrete. There was a hard break and I was pushed back into my seat. The plane started to slowdown un­til it came to a steady pace. The pilot an­nounced, “Welcome to Beijing.” I arrived a few minutes after 12 a.m. Thurs Jan 3. Despite all of my preparations and the 16-hour flight, it still felt unreal to be in China.

I gathered my book-bag as I rushed to put my jacket and hat on. I retrieved my duffel bag from the overhead bin and ex­ited the plane. I came to China to learn about its his­tory through a study abroad program, but I was honestly not sure what to expect. I was one among 60 students who were just as curious at being in China for the first time. I waited on line for about an hour to see the immigration officer and then I was off to find my suitcase. It was another hour until I reached the hotel, and by that point I was tired and groggy. I was only able to sleep for two hours.

That same morning, we left the hotel at 7 a.m. We were going to visit the Great Wall of China. It took me a while to wrap my head around that fact because the Great Wall was something I had heard of only through my history classes or TV. It is one of those marvels that you always say you want to visit, but don’t know if you ever will.

The bus ride to the Wall was not too bad either. The tour guide, Mark, was en­tertaining. He was a scruffy looking guy. Mark was below average height for a guy; I was about the same height as him and I’m 5’4’’. He had smooth black hair that hung a bit in front of his eyes and creamy yellow skin. He wore a cobalt blue bubble jacket and black slacks with sneakers.

He was friendly and didn’t talk us to death by explaining the history of the Great Wall in every intricate detail possible. In­stead, he pointed out important monuments here and there as we were driving and told us stories about China. When he got tired of talking, we took a nap.

A few minutes before we arrived, Mark said there is a tradition in China that says a person does not truly becomes a man if he does not climb the Great Wall. That got my attention. I wondered if that custom ap­plied to women as well.

I noticed the mountains outside my window. Each one was covered with trees in hues of green and brown, with ever­green trees scattered across in blotches. Each mountain curved into the other. The taller mountains almost touched the clear blue sky.

As we drove closer to the site, I saw there was something that snaked along the tips of some of the mountains. It was barely noticeable. I had to squint to see it from a distance. I realized that it was the Great Wall.

After straining my eyesight for a min­ute or two, we arrived at the tourist spot at the bottom of the Wall. The only thing I noticed, however, was the bitter cold wind. My fingers became stiff after a few min­utes. My cheeks felt prickly and my ears started hurting from the chill. I wore a vest, a thermal, a sweater and a jacket with my scarf, hat and gloves, yet I shook from the freezing wind.

But despite the icy atmosphere, I felt awed because here I was, standing at the foot of the Great Wall. I was eager to climb the wall because I secretly believed the story Mark told us on the bus. But then I noticed that the Great Wall was not exactly a wall; it was more like a very long and steep stir case.

The clay bricks were patchy, with piec­es missing. There was an ancient feel to the place, even though I passed a gift shop stand on my way up the stairs. Mountains surrounded the stairs; the same ones that I saw earlier. Walking up the stairs literally took my breath away because as I started climbing it became harder to breathe.

My knee would bend at a 90-degree an­gle at random intervals to climb the steps. Some steps were inches apart, while others were at least a foot apart. It was like a built-in cardio workout during my climb. My lungs hurt and my nose burned to breathe in the dense cold air. I took periodic breaks, so that I wouldn’t faint from light-headed­ness. By the time I reached the top of one of the stair levels, I was bent-over panting for breath.

I rested a little for five minutes, and then took my gloves off. I touched the brick wall because I wanted to touch his­tory. I stayed there for a while to take in the view and the fact that I was standing on the Great Wall of China.

The journey going down was just a dif­ficult. I was afraid that I might slip and fall from one of the uneven steps. By the time I reached the end, my cheek and toes were numb; I could not feel them. I stopped shaking because my body was frozen. By 3 p.m. we were ready to leave. As the bus left the site, I was thankful for two things. The first was that my body was able to thaw and the second was that I was able to have this experience.

 

Hello world!

Welcome to CUNY Campus Wire! We know you’re going to like publishing with us. To get you started, here’s a quick 5 minute introduction to WordPress, the software powering our platform.

WordPress is an open-source, database-driven web publishing tool free for anyone to install. It uses PHP for all of its programmatic logic, and MySQL for its database. Think of PHP as the brains behind the operation. When your browser makes a request to your website, the PHP code holds all of instructions on what data should be presented where. Think of MySQL as a spreadsheet with sheets, rows and columns to store all of the data. This abstraction, or separation of content and presentation, makes a bunch of things really easy, including improving your website design and reusing your content in other ways (e.g. feeding it into an email newsletter).

There are several concepts core to WordPress you’ll hear or see as you work with your website:

  • Posts and Pages – Posts and Pages are WordPress’ primary default content types. Every Post or Page has a title, body text, optional excerpt, author and publication date. Posts also have Tags and Categories, two different ways of categorizing your content. It’s common to think of Categories as sections of a publications, and to use Tags in a more free-form way.
  • The Admin/Dashboard – WordPress has a frontend (what your readers see) and a backend (what you see after you’ve logged in). The backend is often referred to as the “admin” or “dashboard”.
  • Themes – Themes are how the presentation of your website is determined. WordPress takes the content in your database and, depending on which theme you have activated, uses a theme’s rules to present content to the reader. You can browse and activate themes in the WordPress admin. One benefit to being on the CUNY Campus Wire is that you have access to over 100 themes from WooThemes, Graph Paper Press and Elegant Themes. Furthermore, if you want to use any of the open source themes WordPress.org has to offer, all you have to do is ask.
  • Plugins – Plugins expand upon default functionality offered by WordPress and add features such as editorial workflow management, integration with Twitter, and analytics. You can activate the plugins we’ve installed in the admin.

Obviously, this is just a small subsection of everything there is to know about WordPress. We hope it’s enough to get you started configuring your website to your liking (and publishing). To learn more, check out our documentation site.