Students: How to Navigate Christmas FHSS Style

It’s that time of year again! Candy canes, ugly sweaters, and an endless barrage of Hallmark movies. You may be tempted to navigate Christmas like this:

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However, that’s not what Christmas should be; we need to be focusing on its true meaning. Try these steps instead:

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If you need help, BYU Speeches has some great material that applies to navigating Christmas:

How do You Navigate Christmas?

When Marriages are Threatened by Addiction: Part 1

This is part one of a two-part series about marriages that are threatened by addiction.

In 2013, 17.3 million Americans reported being dependent on alcohol, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. While this was a decline from the 18.1 million Americans who reported such a dependency in 2002, it is still a large number.  The Institute also reports that the abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs exacting more than $700 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity, and health care. Addiction is large and difficult problem. That being said, over the years, as it has developed as a problem and developed as a science, with its classification changing to one of disease rather than moral problem, more resources, research, and treatments are available now than have ever been offered before. Faculty in BYU’s School of Family Life, like Jason Carroll research its effects. Jeffry H. Larson is a licensed marriage and family therapist who formerly taught in and chaired the Marriage and Family Therapy program. He now teaches a graduate-level addiction and violence course.

He has researched extensively the effect of addictions on marriages.  In an article published in the 2005 book Helping and Healing our Families, he provides suggestions for spouses on how to recognize addictive behavior in others and solutions for overcoming these addictions.

chains-19176_1280Recognizing an addiction

“Addiction is defined as the compulsive and out-of-control use of any substance or activity that leads to adverse consequences in a person’s life and that produces unpleasant physical or emotional symptoms, or both, when the use of the substance or activity is stopped,” he says, quoting a definition provided in 1989 by researchers Washton and Boundy. Many of us narrowly label only a few things as addictions: pornography, drugs, or alcohol. However, by their definition, an addiction could be any substance or activity.  “Many who would never dream of becoming addicted to a substance like alcohol or nicotine may not realize that they are in fact addicted to work, stress, eating, perfectionism, or extreme care taking.” An addiction cannot be turned off.  Its claws are in deeper than a bad habit or a temptation.  Loved ones of an addict must understand that the addiction is slowly taking control of its victim.

These are some of the signs of addiction:

  • out-of-control behavior, or no sense of personal power to stop
  • Need to keep using more and more of the substance or activity to achieve the same level of relief or benefit
  • inability to decrease or eliminate the substance or activity, even if they desire to stop
  • Devotion of a lot of time in activities necessary to be able to satisfy the addiction

To overcome, both spouses must change

“Addictions damage nearly every aspect of marriage, including trust, roles, intimacy and affection, feelings, conflict resolution, parenting, and safety,” says Larson and co-author LaNae Valentine. Because the addicted spouse is slave to their substance or activity, they spend an increasing amount of time satisfying it.  Their sober spouse feels neglected and abandoned as a result.  Dishonesty enters the relationship.  Marriage’s foundation of trust begins to crumble.

But, with support and motivation, addictions can be tempered and eliminated.  Elder Russell M. Nelson said, “Addiction to any substance enslaves not only the physical body but the spirit as well…. Each one who resolves to climb that steep road to recovery must gird up for the fight of a lifetime. But a lifetime is a prize well worth the price.” Some of the solutions that Larson and Valentine discuss are:

  • detoxification: becoming abstinent may first require detoxification for individuals dangerously addicted to alcohol and some drugs (e.g. cocaine). [It] is available at most hospitals and inpatient rehabilitation clinics.
  • therapy: individual and group therapy should focus on breaking through denial and altering addictive behavioral cycles and addictive thinking patterns. For example, people with addictions must learn to combat permission-giving beliefs such as, “I worked hard today so I deserve to have a beer tonight.”
  • find fellowship: these can be offered through twelve-step recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, or Sexaholics Anonymous. LDS Family Services also offers Substance Abuse Recovery Groups, offering addicts a chance to find fellowship but also, perhaps, regain spirituality.

When Therapy is Chosen

Therapy for couples and, where appropriate, with children, can help save and strengthen family relationships weakened by addiction.  In therapy for the married couple, the couple will learn a variety of skills and behaviors to improve themselves, Larson says.  As individuals improve, the couple will be better equipped to work as a team to strengthen their marriage.  He says that therapists will help addicts and their families:

  • Accept and face the real problems and real issues. Emerge from denial
  • Stop any violent behavior and establish safe and healthy boundaries, with consequences for unacceptable behavior
  • Stop enabling cycles to help the addicted person suffer the natural consequences of addiction and eventually break out of denial
  • Stop blaming, controlling, or changing each other. Focus on self-improvement
  • Rebuild trust by learning to express honest thoughts and feelings
  • Care for and serve each other. This will increase affection and intimacy
  • Learn to work together through healthy communication, not manipulation
  • Forgive each other for the past
  • Establish more shared and balanced family roles with regards to parenting and household responsibilities
  • Have a plan in case of relapse. See a relapse as a learning opportunity, not a failure
  • Accept and live by the mantra that it is OK to be human, make mistakes, and disrupt the status quo

 

directory-466935_1280Personal Discovery Through Recovery

Addictions do not have to mean the end of a relationship.  Like other trials in life, an addiction can be a chance to grow and change for the better.  People often find themselves through their journey out of addiction. “My husband and I have actually communicated more and grown closer because of his addiction, says one women whose husband experienced addiction. “I think our marriage will be better once we work through this.” Another woman said of her journey out of addiction to eating: “My eating disorder forced me to look deep within myself, to come home, and to realize that there was something very beautiful and powerful that lay beneath all of the outward self-hatred and criticism. My enemy was actually my friend; she showed me parts of myself I never knew existed and taught me to love all of myself.”

If you or someone you love is grappling with an addiction, know that help is as close as you let it be.  You can overcome.

The suggestions given by Larson and Valentine in their article are just a few of many provided throughout the entire book, on the subject of helping and healing families, on subjects such as:

 

  • Breaking the Chain of Negative Family Influences
  • Financial Stewardships
  • Joys and Challenges of Marrying Later in Life
  • Mental Illness in the Family
  • Teaching Children to Sacrifice

References

Larson, Jeffry H., and LaNae Valentine. “When Marriages Are Threatened by Addiction.” Ed. Elaine Walton. Helping and Healing Our Families: Principles and Practices Inspired by the Family: A Proclamation to the World. Ed. Craig H. Hart, Lloyd D. Newell, and David C. Dollahite. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005. 96-100. Print.

A. M. Washton and D. Boundy (1989), Willpowers’ Not Enough: Understanding and Recovering from Addiction of Every Kind (New York: Harper and Row), 13.

 

 

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Faculty News: Jonathan Jarvis on the Value of Education, Internationally Speaking

“I love teaching,” says Jonathan Jarvis,  a recent and valued addition to the Sociology Department in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. “I love interacting with students and discussing the topics sociology can help us understand about people and society. I really think it is a great way to engender empathy for difference (different people, different cultures). It’s especially exciting for me to talk about areas I am researching, like talking about education from an international perspective.”

Jarvis, Jonathan 02 1308-61 Jonathan Jarvis portrait August 27, 2013 Photo by Riana B. Bruce Goodsky/BYU Copyright BYU Photo 2013 All Rights Reserved photo@byu.edu   (801)422-7322
Copyright BYU Photo
All Rights Reserved

Dr. Jonathan Jarvis has lived and studied internationally, and is dedicated to helping others understand different cultures and ways of life.  “Living in Asia for 3 years prior to starting my graduate studies awakened me to a world with very different cultural practices than my own upbringing,” says Dr. Jarvis, “So much of culture is unseen or taken for granted, but going to a very different country made culture explicit. I was filled with questions about why people did things…that led me to sociology.”

Researching Asian Students Studying in Western Countries

He’s passionate not only about his teaching, but also about his research. He studies Asian students with high educational goals who immigrate to western countries, looking at factors that might contribute to why they have high goals and why they choose to “globalize” their education.   Regarding these students’ decisions, and the effects they have on their families, there are positives and negatives, which Dr. Jarvis researches. He also compares how countries preform educationally. Ultimately, he wants to determine if the globalization of education can be a “mechanism for upward mobility.”

Born in Canada and raised by Americans, Dr. Jarvis says “I went back and forth a lot. I think this also contributed to my love of sociology as I was always a little bit of an outsider observing (a Canadian in the US, but also an American in Canada).” Dr. Jarvis received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Alberta. At BYU, he obtained his masters in sociology, and he got his PhD from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  He speaks Korean and French. He has several publications, with many more under review and in progress.  Dr. Jarvis has traveled across the States and the world to present his papers at professional conferences. Dr. Jarvis teaches the following classes:

  • Social Problems (112),
  • Deviance and Social Control (380)
  • Qualitative Research Methods (404). Next semester he will teach 380 instead.

In his free time, Dr. Jarvis reads, watches movies and sports, and spends time with his family.

Read more about another FHSS faculty member, also named Jon and interested in Asia, here.

 

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Students: What Kind of Learner Are You?

What runs through your mind when you’re assigned a group project? For some, it’s excitement at the opportunity to cooperate, collaborate and learn with peers. For others, it’s viewed as a chance to slack off and get a good grade while their fellows shoulder the load. And still some don’t even register the difference–group project or individual, they’re going to do all the work anyway. How we respond to group projects is one indicator of what kind of learner we are. As sociologists have noted for decades, different students learn in different ways, and because these different learners are lumped into the same classes, not all teaching is optimal for all students. Researchers have worked at solving this age-old educational quandary for some time, and one of the latest to make headway is Ryan Jensen, chair of BYU’s Department of Geography.

Using what he’s termed “the Q-method,” Jensen (along with two other researchers) distinguishes between three different kinds of learners:

The Lone Pragmatist: Lone pragmatists don’t like group projects; in fact, they “prefer not to be involved in cooperative or group learning” of any kind, according to Jensen’s findings. They’re neither outgoing nor social with other students in their class, and they’re proactive and realistic in their approach to classwork. The lone pragmatist thrives when information is provided in a clear rather than abstract manner, and do well in an “I teach, you listen” classroom atmosphere.

The Explorer: Group projects are a bit more tolerable to the explorers, who, according to Jensen, “learn better when talking about new material with other students.” However, they’re still somewhat ambivalent about immersive group study. Explorers are visual learners, and appreciate learning in terms of concepts and theories (as long as the theories aren’t too abstract). They value sensibility over imagination, and exploring multiple ways to learn new things.

The Synergist: If you’re a synergist, you prefer to have things written down, not in maps in pictures, but in words. Synergists tend toward verbal learning over visual, and see themselves as detail-oriented. They’re also the most likely to be enthusiastic about a group project, perhaps because they “enjoy brainstorming as part of the group learning process.” Synergists try to make connections between their learning and the bigger picture; in this way, they better understand the details of why they learn what they learn.

Of course, no student falls completely into one of the above categories–each learner is individual, and grouping students into three pre-labeled factions instead of one would do little to personalize education. But in a 2013 study, Jensen provided some suggestions for how teachers could optimize their education to assist as many different learning styles as possible.

Ryan Jensen, Copyright BYU PHOTO 2007 All Rights Reserved (801) 422-7322 photo@byu.edu
Ryan Jensen, Copyright BYU PHOTO 2007
All Rights Reserved

“We propose adopting a balanced approach in which teachers create course plans to address the variety of learning styles present in their class,” Jensen says. One potential suggestion would be “moving from teacher regulation to student regulation in what [researchers] refer to as process learning,” or in other words, giving the students more leeway in deciding what projects would help them learn best. This and other optimizations allow greater chances for individualized learning; according to Jensen, this means that “instructors can think of using learning styles as a way of helping students gain satisfaction from learning and thus develop life-long skills by better understanding their own learning processes and preferences.”

ADDing Up: ADHD, ADD, and What They Mean for Everyone

Research shows that as of 2011, 6.4 million of children aged 4-17, 11%, have been diagnosed with ADHD. You probably know someone with it: a classmate, coworker, or friend. You may even have it yourself. Attention Deficit Disorders in one way or another affect us all.

A Student’s Perspective

The 2016 issue of Connections featured Information Technology student Richie Ramierez who has ADHD. He related the following story: “[I was] playing with lighters in [my] mother’s study room, at age 11. The room, filled with teddy bear stuffing (the highly flammable kind) turned into a fire hazard. ‘My mother called me so I left the room with the lighter and the whole room caught on fire.’” Is is these types of experiences, though not always to this extreme, that ADHD and ADD can lead to.

woman-1006102_960_720Ritchie continued to struggle with the disorder throughout his time in school. He says that his first year at BYU was especially hard: “…I was put on probation because I failed a few classes. I felt stupid because testing at BYU is crazy challenging. I got so depressed big time so the doctors put me on meds.” He then went to the University Accessibility Center where he was diagnosed with ADHD. Upon their recommendation, Ritchie began to take Aderol.

However, this was short lived; after one semester of improved grades, the student began to experience anxiety. His grades dropped. This prompted Ritchie to stop taking the medication. After several months, he was issued a prescription for Citalopram, which he still takes to help with his hyperactivity and anxiety.

Research

Ritchie’s story is just one of many; countless others struggle with Attention Deficit Disorders. BYU Psychology professor Rebecca Lundwall understands this and has a solution: “If we can identify significantly increased risk for a disorder via genetics, then we could do so at birth.” She proposes that by testing children for the disorder and others like it, we can alleviate, and in some cases, prevent it. For example, if you find that a child isn’t at the point where they can be diagnosed with anything but may reach that point sometime in their life, you can work with them then in order to prevent that. Dr. Lundwall says, “Diagnosis is often based on impaired functioning in school or home life. In many cases it would be best not to wait until the child qualifies for a diagnosis but to intervene before things get that bad.”

The professor is optimistic in terms of future research. She believes that within the next 10-20 years, we will have more knowledge so as to better treat those with the disorders: “Maybe my research will help treat the attentional symptoms of these disorders and, thereby, make these children’s lives better now and in the future and give their parents more hope and peace about the future.”

As for Ritchie, he has made peace with his diagnosis: “Everyone has a challenge. This one is mine.”

Do you know anyone with ADD or ADHD?

 

For more on Connections, check out: “New Insights Into Politics, Autism and ADD Diagnoses, Genealogy, and More: our Magazine

For more on health, check out: “What are the Costs of Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

 

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Sewing Lab Exhibit: Resourcefulness and Creativity on Display

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” Student’s grandparents may have chanted this phrase.  Those living through the Great Depression and World War II lived by this mantra by not buying unnecessary things.  They grew Victory Gardens, and got creative in how they made money.  Their children and grandchildren, some now-current faculty and students, are manifesting the motto in other ways. Students in The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences Sewing Lab created their own clothes and recently showcased them on campus.

Many of the students whose clothing was on display had not been able to find clothing in their size or desired style on the rack. Others repurposed and reworked old articles of clothing into new pieces; one student cut up her husband’s holed jeans to make pants for her toddler, thus extending their student budget. “It’s so rewarding to help them realize what they can do,” says Martie Heaton, adjunct professor in The School of Family Life (SFL) who oversaw the students.

In the Sewing Lab, students exchange goggles for thimbles.  Their experiments involve patterns and fabrics, rather than test tubes and chemicals.  Faculty members mentor student teaching assistants to become trained independent instructors.  These teaching assistants then help the students. The students have excellent and advanced sewing equipment, including:

  • Computerized sewing machine
  • Bernina super-steam iron
  • Cork surface for pattern-making
  • Rotary cutting surface
  • Pressing surface
  • Large desk

“Sewing skills contribute to fulfilling personal development needs and bring art, culture, and enjoyment to others. They produce joy in the simple act of doing them for the individual who loves them,” says the Sewing Lab website. “They provide avenues for income generation or serve as a stepping stone for employment. They enlarge abilities to gather, nurture, teach, and model. They expand and protect the nature and sanctity of family life.” Students in sewing classes learn how to sew skirts, pants, shirts, and anything they choose. There are more than 200 students in the five sewing classes combined. Approximately twenty students participated in the exhibit.

Like the Shoe Exhibit at our Museum of Peoples and Cultures, this exhibit shows that students in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences are interested in what the things we wear say about us.

 

Tips for Surviving Finals

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It’s the end of the semester; in a matter of days you’ll be free to binge watch The Crown, go visit your family, and sleep. But there’s one thing you have to do first: survive finals. Long, stressful, draining finals. But they don’t have to be that bad. We in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences want to help you get through these emotionally exhausting times. So, we present to you eight tips for surviving finals, as suggested by various FHSS students on Twitter, and learned by experience.

Tip #1: Pack Snacks

When you’re hungry you can’t focus. And when you can’t focus, you can’t study. And if you can’t study, you fail. Nobody wants that. But be sure to keep the snacks healthy. While caffeine can keep you awake, the crash can kill any chance you have of doing well. So whether you’re burrowed in the library or camped out at home, just remember that one apple can mean the difference between an A and a B.

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Tip #2: Sleep

Recommended by FHSS student Samantha Hawkins, who says:

You retain more and test better when you’ve had enough sleep. Don’t overdo it, but don’t cut yourself short either.

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Tip #3: Stay off electronics.

Unless, of course, you’re using them to study. But stay as far away from Netflix, apps, and social media as you can! Think you’ll go on Instagram  just for a minute to see if T-Swizzle posted something about her cats? Wrong! Four hours later and you’re on Facebook stalking some random dude you knew in middle school. Trust me, non-study related internet use is a bigger waste of your time than the new Ghostbusters.

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Tip #4: Go outside.

Every few hours, take some time to poke your head outside. Leave whatever cramped corner of the library you’re currently living in and go take a walk. Do a lap around the WILK. Climb the RB stairs. It doesn’t really matter. Whatever you do will help wake you up and clear your head, two things you need if you want to study efficiently and test well. If you don’t, pretty soon you’ll end up just like Spongebob.

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Tip #5: Take an hour to relax.

Take some time for yourself. Take a hot bath, watch your favorite movie, jam out to your music. Obviously, don’t make this a day(s) long affair- just let yourself breathe for an hour. (Unless of course, you’re two days away from finals and have just started studying.) This will lower your stress and help you focus.

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Tip #6: Before the Test,Wake up early.

This gives you some time for the last minute cram sesh. It also allows you to get to the testing center (or wherever your test is) early. This will help you relax and feel more prepared. Besides, who wants to wake up late and have to run to the testing center?

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Tip #7: Calm down.

You can do this. You’ve prepared and you’re going to kick this test in the butt.

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Tip #8: After the Finals,Congratulate Yourself.  

You’re done! Yay! And you learned so much! (Hopefully)

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Good luck!

What do You do to Prepare for Finals?

GIFs courtesy of giphy.com

Faculty News: Dr. Sarah Loose: Historian and Humanitarian

loose-sarahAn examination of history—particularly medieval times, which were rife with war, famine, and plague—wouldn’t necessarily lead one to focus on practices of aiding the poor and other forms of charity, but to Sarah Loose, a new professor of History at BYU, they naturally go together. Poor relief and charity “[provide] a window onto a lot of different aspects of society,” she says. By studying them, she can research political relations, religion, social history, and how they all tie into each other.

Dr. Loose graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s in History in 2002, then a masters of Arts in European History in 2007,  and a Doctorate from the University of Toronto in the history of Late Middle Europe, 1050-1494 a.d., in 2013. Her dissertation described the network of charity that existed around a hospital in Siena, Italy during the sixteenth century. She has spoken, published, and written primarily about civic humanism and politics in Renaissance Italy. Because of these academic interests, Dr. Loose is fluent in Italian and can read in French and Latin. She is also a part of the Renaissance Society of America, the American Historical Association, the Canadian Society for Italian Studies, and the Sixteenth Century Society.

Before coming back to BYU, the historian taught a variety of Renaissance and medieval history courses from 2014-2016 St. Jerome’s University and the University of Toronto. Of her Alma Mater, Dr. Loose said, “BYU is in my family blood.” Truly, she is correct: her father is a competitive swimming coach at the university, three of the five children in her family are alumni, and both her grandparents and parents met at the Y.

Currently, Dr. Loose is teaching History 300, Early Middle Ages and History 201, World Civilization to 1500. Her “great experience as a student” at BYU contributed to her applying for the position of professor. She wanted to come back to her alma mater and be closer to her family that lives in Utah.  Her goals in the classroom are to “[help] students understand and see the past in a new way.” As they learn and gain these perspectives, she hopes to in turn learn from them.

 

 

 

 

Student News: Even You Can Help Refugees, Right Now

Owing to an increase of global unrest, we have heard much about the global refugee crisis.  Because our country is not physically connected to the countries most affected by this unrest (like Europe, which is connected to the Middle East where many refugees are fleeing from), we mistakenly assume that there is nothing we can do to really help.  This assumption is incorrect.  There is more you can do than just donate money to refugees in Europe. There are refugees here in the United States. There are refugees struggling in Utah. Dr. Stacey Shaw, one of our new professors and a collaborator with the International Rescue Committee, says that the IRC resettled 1,245 people as refugees in Utah in its last fiscal year. The main countries of origin for these people were the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Iraq, Burma, Syria, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Sudan, Eritrea, Burundi, Central African Republic, and Iran. Most of them are being resettled in Salt Lake County and a few are going to Ogden, but agencies are also considering possibilities for resettlement in Utah County and St. George. She advocates, as do others, helping them, not only because of their obvious need but also out of sheer empathy.

“If we could see, hear, smell, touch, and feel what people are experiencing, I believe we would live differently,” she says. “[Like] Cecilia Razovsky, who was a great advocate for refugee resettlement and services during World War II when Americans were resistant to immigration in ways that are very similar to what is happening today, [we should recognize that], ‘When you are asked to help in the cause, bear these things in mind and say with others- There but for the grace of God, go I!’ Elizabeta Jevtic-Somlai, visiting professor of political science, adds, in a recent BYU Magazine article, “Look at refugees as human beings, not as a service project. If you want to extend yourself, be a real friend and be there. Do small, consistent acts rather than a one-time project. Really assess, ‘What can I do?’ and ‘What am I willing to do?’ If you can do more, a practical way to help is to create opportunities for self-reliance.”

For that very purpose, a club has been organized at BYU, to help BYU students empower refugees.

Join the Refugee Empowerment Club

14495385_615473538613308_7091328931985394175_nThe Refugee Empowerment Club offers students the opportunity to become aware of the refugee crisis in Utah and around the globe.  It also gives students opportunities to serve refugees.  The goal of the club is to change the community in to a more understanding, unified, and empowering place to thrive. Dr. Shaw said of the club, “It is great to see students interested in learning more about refugee issues and finding ways to serve.”

Students Norma Villenueva and Rachel McAllister created the club to help students know where to start in supporting refugees.

“We realized there wasn’t one source for students who want to get involved in refugee resettlement and the issues with that,” says McAllister, “So we started researching and compiling those resources and were connected with some other individuals who wanted to create a formal organization.” The Refugee Empowerment Club meets twice a month on Wednesdays in the FLAC in the basement of the JFSB.  One meeting will be the speaker series (mentioned below). The other meeting is an involvement activity. The club helped with the Spice Kitchen Incubator project for the International Refugee Committee.  They also had a refugee cultural night. The club’s involvement activities are chosen based on the refugee’s current needs and the interests of the club members. The Refugee Empowerment Club has the following events in the works:

  • a cultural night in collaboration with SID on Thursday, November 17
  • a refugee-run catering service where participants can buy the cultural foods sold by refugees
  • an evening to write letters to Congress and the UN to urge better human rights practices related to refugee resettlement
  • a benefit concert to raise money for refugees (Fall 2017)

The Refugee Empowerment Club will begin a speaker series about the refugee crisis.  In the series, a member of main organizations in refugee resettlement and assistance in Utah, or refugees themselves, speak about specific refugee issues, their organization, and how to get involved.  The first speaker will be the director of the Women of the World organization, Samira Harnish.  She will speak about what it’s like to be a refugee, and especially the experience of female refugees.  Harnish’s speech will be on November 30 from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in Kennedy Center’s main conference room.

chain-690088_1280If participating in any of the club’s activities is not a possibility for you, you could consider these opportunities as well:

 

De Lemar Jensen Lecture: The Ottoman Empire and How It Relates to Us

Despite what many assume, history is not just about the past. It’s about giving us the knowledge to understand the present and predict the future. This is exactly what Dr. Virginia Aksan illustrated through her presentation on October 27th.jensenlectureflyer_v4

BYU History Department Chair Eric Dursteler once said, “As historians, we look to the past to understand the present.” This served as the opening to the annual De Lamar Jensen Lecture, which is funded by and named after the esteemed former BYU professor.  This year’s distinguished lecturer was Dr. Virginia Aksan, who is a retired McMaster University History professor specializing in Ottoman History from the 1700’s to the early 1800’s. As such, her lecture was focused on that topic and how it relates to contemporary times.

History student Madelyn Lunnen attended the lecture. She says: “Dr. Aksan spoke passionately about the Turks and the Napoleonic War. Her eyes lit up as she expounded on their various rulers and changes made to the civilization.” Without a doubt, the Ottoman Empire is a very specific topic, one that will not appeal to everyone.

Modern Implications

However, that does not mean that it is not applicable to us today. The Ottoman Empire later dissolved into what is now known as Turkey and parts of several other nations. It may be argued that our relationship with the country is paramount, as they are a part of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the UN, and are being considered as a potential addition to the EU. The US State Department describes our relationship with the country thus: “The U.S.-Turkey partnership is based on mutual interests and mutual respect and is focused on areas such as regional security and stability, as well as economic cooperation.”

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Map Courtesy of GeoPolitical Futures

Despite this positive depiction of our friendship with Turkey, their president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in an interview with 60 Minutes indicated the opposite: “Well, let me be very frank in my remarks. I wouldn’t speak the truth if I said I was not disillusioned, because I am disillusioned.” He spoke on the the US’s involvement in Syria. According to Erdoğan, the US’s actions in Syria have led to an increased number of refugees (almost 3 million) coming to Turkey, hindered his ability to guard his country, and created a threat on his Southern border.

Because of Turkey’s close proximity to Syria and the Middle East, the U.S. maintains military bases in Turkey. To the extent that the U.S. still actively seeks to counteract the international threat that ISIS poses as the perpetrator of 1,200 deaths, a mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey would enable the U.S to maintain its counter-terrorism efforts in that part of the world, and perhaps the alleviation of Erdoğan’s concerns regarding the number of refugees in his country.

Erdoğan, like Aksan, reveres the Ottomon Empire as one of the oldest and longest lasting in human history. He has, in fact, stated that he would like to take his country back to the time when they were the most powerful nation in the world, to the time of the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, it is crucial that we understand what that empire was and its significance. This will aid us in repairing our relationship with Turkey and continuing our fight against terrorism.

Did You Attend the De Lemar Jensen Lecture?