21st Century Leprosy

On March 23rd of 2012 The Women’s Health Organization International (WHOI) was officially founded by fifteen-year-old Habiba Cooper Diallo of Toronto, Canada with a goal to advocate for and empower women suffering from obstetric fistula. Haling from Nova Scotia, Habiba Cooper Diallo came to the New York College Experience to major in Medical Science and minor in International Relations. Why, you ask? To acquire the skills to run her non-profit (Isn’t everybody?) Many of us don’t know what obstetric fistula is but it affects thousands of young women, often under sixteen, and they are isolated and shunned like lepers of the 21st century. “It [obstetric fistula] occurs when the baby, in an attempt to leave the mother’s birth canal pushed on her internal organs, usually her bladder or rectum, sometimes both, depending on the kind of fistula. In doing so he or she punctures one or both of these organs and that means she’s incontinent thus leaking urine and/or feces, depending on the organs affected at birth,” says Habiba. The babies are usually stillborn because as the baby makes its way out of the birth canal the uterine artery is compressed and his or her oxygen supply is cut off. This unknown illness gives the general public an excuse to ostracize these women for simply not having access to the necessary information, facilities and resources.

When asked what obstetric fistula means to her, the corners of her mouth curve upward with excitement as she said “It means a lot to me as a woman, growing and evolving into my womanhood, and as well being a woman of color, a black woman with direct ties to the continent of Africa where this illness is extremely prevalent.”  It’s what comes to mind when you think about yourself and seeing that in something else that gives you drive, passion and a cause.

She first heard of the illness by reading about Anafghat Ayouba from Niger. Anafgat was eleven when she gave birth and developed obstetric fistula and asked her father to let her pursue an education and not to let it happen to her younger sister. Anafhgat was so determined to overcome her illness and advocate for women in her community, disseminate education on the issue, and speak to locals about it she visited the only obstetric fistula hospital in the world, in Ethiopia. When asked on how the visit to the hospital changed her goals as an obstetric fistula activist she responds: “I did feel like I was on the right track but I think definitely it was time to step up my game and do more.”  In the fistula hospital in Ethiopia she got to talk to the girls there and she made it a point to share as much about herself as they were willing to share about themselves. “So, I didn’t just wanted to get to know them through their illness, although that was important, but more so I wanted to get to know them though their humanity, how they are as human beings” she expresses.  Their humanity and their hope gave Habiba that push she needed to turn her idea into a reality.

For Habiba, it’s her ties to Africa and her womanhood that lead her to embark on such a journey:  founding an organization. There are no books on how to found your own non-profit [trust us, we’ve searched], so how can a fifteen-year old just come up with one in three months? Habiba Cooper Diallo did have some family assistance: “My mom, she is an expert and a scholar, not particularly in the operation of non-profit organizations but she is a historian and had prior experience with some of these things so she was able to guide me and really help me along.” She describes her experience in dealing with her local registry in order to obtain legal status as a “very daunting process.”

The non-profit’s slogan is “The Women’s Health Organization International, empowering women through health. Habiba describes the non-profit’s philosophy” “In our mandate there is this emphasis about empowering women. The key aspect of empowering women is actually about self-empowerment. So, the whole idea that WHOI will provide certain resources and inspire women at the end of the day it will be up to them to take the challenge and empower themselves. So, we’re encouraging self-empowerment, we’ re encouraging these women to empower themselves and that is the central point of our mandate. ”

“I knew that I had the ability to do that and I had to do something with that ability.”

– Habiba Cooper Diallo

by Michelle Santiago

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Beyond my Expectations

It’s been said that time flies when you’re having fun… But the New York College Experience has not only flown, it has gone at supersonic speed. It was learning at its purest sense, using New York City as a backdrop, meeting accomplished people who inspire with their stories and knowledge, and being involved in classes that taught us without it feeling like conventional teaching. This program made me hungry for more!

The teachers brought their work experience into the classroom. They made us see the link between what we were learning and the work force. What better way to learn? Nothing was arbitrary and everything we learned was applied to a practical assignment. We could see the direct link between the classroom and the outside world.

I couldn’t have asked for a more vibrant canvas this month. From museums and discovering new neighborhoods to experiencing college life and seeing the mechanics of a world-class newspaper, so many moments stand out. I felt like I was in the center of the world, and in effect, I was! This special student life almost felt like an onion to me. On the outside lies the entire city of New York and the global community of this city. On the inside was the Barnard and Columbia campuses and the international student body I was part of.

It’s rare for someone to say that one month changed their life. With the great input I received from both teachers and fellow students coupled with amazing excursions, I can truly say that this past July changed my life. I was very lucky to be amongst a diverse pool of students here at the New York College Experience. I learned something new from so many of them and I’ve formed friendships that I hope to keep forever. On so many levels, this program resonated with me. Despite leaving the city, so much of what I’ve lived will stay with me back home.

By Léa Lotey-Goodman

The Trend of Hair Dye

With hair color ranging from blue to blonde, the students of Oxbridge seem to be obsessed with dying their hair. The trend began in the second week with a group of girls bleaching their hair in the bathroom on the14th floor, during the Olympics Saturday Night dance. It wasn’t until the week after that Oxbridge’s very own Nonno from Japan and Lizzy from California, dying a part of their hair a bluey greenish color. It looked extremely stylish and people were inspired to do the same, particularly Jin from Korea. He claimed that he wanted to put peroxide his hair. His attempt ended up resulting in his hair becoming a light reddish color with a tint of blonde, creating our very own Asian Ron Weasley. There was much talk of his hair that same night at the Talent Show when Jin performed his mastermind song of ‘Study Hall’ to the tune of Once’s “Falling Slowly”. His new hair sparked controversy and the trend seemed to spread like fire. Hong Kong’s Tin, with the assistance of Turkey’s Alara even bleached the front part of his hair the next day, followed by China’s Jason Huang bleaching his entire hair that same night after discovering the excess bleach leftover. People made the use of the bleach including Journalism’s very own Elisa having her hair tips bleached by sister, Sofia. The result of his hair shocked many with students asking ‘Is your mum going to approve of this?’ or ‘What were you thinking, Jason?’ He states now that he wants to dye his hair blue.

By Natalie Ho

Jason, with his new hair.

Journalism’s Elisa having her ends bleached with the assistance of sister Sofia.

Agustino Fontevecchia

Born in Argentinean city Buenos Aires, now living in New York City working as markets reporter for Forbes Magazine, Agustino Fontevecchia is a journalist who believes strongly truth and honesty when completing a story. Studying Philosophy in NYU and graduating from Columbia University Sociology, Fontevecchia claims that he enjoys doing stories on a wide variety of different topics. During his talk, he discussed the journalist’s role of informing the reader of important stories and entertained us with many of his hilarious, heartwarming stories including his encounter with Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. He also talked about the qualities a journalist must have which were being able to to think quickly, ask direct questions, be able to stay wide awake for many hours, if not all day and work extremely well under pressure. While he does not like the glamorous side of the industry, he enjoys his job even though it doesn’t earn him a lot of money. Agustino says that although he never saw himself being a journalist when studying in college, he couldn’t have asked for a better job.

Source: Forbes Magazine

By Natalie Ho

Good Morning America

For the first time, the Oxbridge journalism class started at the break of dawn. We took the subway to Times Square with our two big posters with only one thing in mind: the live broadcast of ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA). Although we were still groggy, the thought of seeing one of Saturday Night Live’s most famous alumni, Will Ferrell, woke us up quickly. Once we arrived in the area that was reserved for viewers (like us), the energy was palpable. Three quarters of those present had signs and cameras. We didn’t feel as out of place as we did riding the subway with our signs.

We peered through the glass to get a better view of the live broadcast. We felt as if we were in the studio since hair and makeup were done in front of our eyes. After an hour of standing outside speaking with fellow viewers, watching the segments and even meeting Sam Champion (the weather anchor for GMA), speculation came out about Will Ferrell going on air within the next 20 minutes. At this point, we were eager to see the broadcast start. We were handed posters of the movie that Will Ferrell was there to promote (The Campaign). We waved them to the camera, hoping to get our five seconds of fame. He did not disappoint and gave a very funny interview.

After he finished the segment, Robin Roberts (anchor) and Josh Elliot (news anchor) came outside to pose for photos and sign autographs. It was great to see them up close for the first time! The show is a healthy mix of news, entertainment and human interest stories, and it is easy to see why GMA is in a tight race with Today Show for first place in that time slot.

By Léa Lotey-Goodman

Lechonera La Isla

Walking around the streets of Harlem while trying to find the Puerto Rican restaurant, we had no idea that we had walked by it (probably because we were expecting it to be a little bigger.) On the display in the front of the restaurant were freshly made blood sausages, amarillitos and lechón, put there to open the appetites of people passing by. The size of the place and the fact that there weren’t any tables inside made us reconsider our decision to eat there until our Puerto Rican friend, Michelle encouraged us to go inside.
As we took our places at the bar stools, Michelle ordered for us. The plates of lechón with arroz con gandulez, which is pork with special baked yellow rice, were placed in front of us. What’s special about Puerto Rican food is that it is compromised of ordinary ingredients cooked with extraordinary sauces, making amazing dishes. This applies for every dish aside from the blood sausage, which was what I had. The blood sausage is usually filled with pork meat mixed with herbs, onions, spices and blood, and all of these are put inside the intestines of a pig.
As a Turk who does not even eat Kokoreç in her home country, I was not happy when I heard about the intestines! A 30 cm piece of the whole sausage was cut for the five of us and I took a small piece of it. Apparently we were supposed to suck the insides first and then eat the skin.
The sausage was hot and did not have a very strong smell, thank God. The skin of the sausage wasn’t very thick. The insides did not have a pretty look. The color of the blood did not help with my urge to throw the fork away. My first thoughts taking a bite off the sausage were on its salty and meaty taste. Before it reached my taste buds, I actually enjoyed it. I have to be honest, I’m not the one for exotic new tastes, and bloody intestines aren’t really for me. But overall, I could not stop myself from eating the pork and the yellow rice with beans. I especially loved how they had many different sauces. The service was fast and fulfilling. The cashier (also the waiter) even suggested some dishes for us. The music made us move in our seats and we literally got up from our stools and danced to the lively Puerto Rican beat.
I loved the little restaurant, the service, the atmosphere, and the music. Five people ate for 35$, so it was not expensive at all.
I would strongly suggest Lechonera La Isla for those who love new tastes!
By Alara Ozsan

Photos by: Alara Ozsan

Photo by: WiseGeek

Oxbridge has Got Talent!

My head is ablaze with the tapping of toes and the world class vocal talent we have here at Oxbridge! From instrumentalists and singers to beat-boxers and rappers, the Oval in The Diana Center was exploding with performers who are not only gifted academically, but musically as well! The venue was packed with students and faculty who were eager and encouraging towards the twenty entertainers last night. The show was extremely diverse; encompassing many cultures, languages and musical styles. Needless to say, the evening was nothing short of fantastic and the performances were jaw dropping, interactive, and brought laughs, smiles and even tears to the NYCE family! Oxbridge has got some serious talent. Bravo!