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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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

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!

Halal Food Cart Trip

Think flavorsome soft orange rice topped with succulent juicy chicken and scrumptious pita bread melting into your mouth. Now feel the delectable mouthwatering white sauce drizzling onto your taste buds. Hungry now? The 52rd and 6th Halal food cart, known as The Halal Guys is renowned for making some of the best Halal food in Manhattan. The word Halal in Arabic means permitted or lawful. Halal foods are foods that are allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines which include the rules of Muslims not being able to consume:

  • pork or pork by products
  • animals that were dead prior to slaughtering
  • animals not slaughtered properly or not slaughtered in the name of Allah
  • blood and blood by products
  • alcohol
  • carnivorous animals
  • birds of prey
  • land animals without external ears

Halal has been considered one of the most humane ways to kill slaughter an animal. Muslims are taught to kill an animal with respect, limiting the amount of pain the animal will endure.

The Halal Guys has delicious food ranging from pork, chicken and lamb dishes. Although there is a long line, many have said that the food is well worth the wait.

My lips were burning after eating. I’m definitely going back for more.’
Michelle, 16

‘I didn’t expect that type of delicious food off the streets. It was fantastic!’
Alara, 15

Need a cheap hearty meal for a mighty lunch or a late night dinner after a show? Visit the Halal Guys on 6th Ave & W 53rd St.

Source: Fatty Friday

By Natalie Ho

Summer Dreamin’ with the New York Philharmonic

Central Park, the lungs of New York City, is where the New York Philharmonic hosted another summer concert to bring classical music to the general public as it’s been doing since 1965. Summer salads and Italian antipasti accompanied by ice cold wine and pink lemonade were spread across countless gingham and tie-dyed cloths in Central Park’s Great Lawn. The place felt private and secluded with the Manhattan skyline peaking through the towering trees around us.

The lively chatter of friends, family, and couples came to a simmer as the musicians filed into their seats onstage. The mood was light and pleasant as the musicians masterfully played their instruments. The first chair violinist gave a mesmerizing solo during Wagner’s Prelude to Act I of Die Meistersinger Von Numberg. The cellists and violinists lifted Tchaikovsky’s notes and crecendoed them into the air. Finally, after Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 the Bay Fireworks splashed across the sky; simply spectacular.

And that is how you enjoy one of the simplest pleasures summer can bring. Bare feet, dewy grass and good company can turn a regular concert into something magical and unforgettable. The next Central Park Philharmonic Concert will take place in September.

by Michelle Santiago 

Brooklyn Graffiti Tour

Imagine viewing New York City as an outdoor contemporary art gallery and picture the building walls as an expansive canvas. This is what a street art tour is like! On Saturday July 14th, twelve Oxbridge students participated in this type of tour in Brooklyn. Given by Disco Bryso, a “graffitiphile” who obtained a degree in graffitti from NYU, the tour was educational and illuminating. Some art was edgy and other art was more visually appealing. The tour guide was very informed and gave colorful commentary on the various artists (some of whom he even knew personally) and their work. This tour was one of a kind and it has completely changed my perspective on graffiti (for the better).