Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter, The Joyful Day That Follows Lent

By Nchetachi Chukwuajah
Junior Reporter
NSUKKA, Enugu, Nigeria - Easter is here again! It marks the end of the Lenten season – a 40-day period of praying, fasting and penance by some churches.
Easter is viewed within Christianity as a time for celebration. It follows sober reflection and appreciation of the pains and sufferings of Jesus and self-assessment.
For many, it’s also usually a time for visitation and enjoyment. But for youth, especially teens, it is a time to get some rest from the drudgery of schoolwork.
The significance of Easter radiates through all the activities slated for the Holy Week, the beautiful decorations on altars and on the faces of the worshippers.

For Adaobi Okoli, 23, a student of microbiology at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, the celebration of Easter reminds us of how Christ eschewed selfishness and paid for our sins.
"It is a time for reflection on how his death affects our lives," said Okoli.
At the Assemblies of God Church in Hilltop, a stone's throw from campus, people were spotted studying in various Sunday school classes on the topic of “the Risen Christ."
"The death of Christ brought us victory and his resurrection has set us free,” said Pastor Chris Orumah, who leads the Hilltop congregation.
The Rev. Taddeo Onoyima, who officiated the service at St. Peter's Chaplaincy, encouraged Christians to "make necessary sacrifices for others so that life can be better."
A student of medicine and surgery, Jerry Ogbuanu, 25, said he appreciates the fact that Christ died for him.
“It brings to my memory the punishment I would have borne if not that he died for me,” Ogbuanu said.
The significance of Easter is enormous. Many Christians see it as a time for introspection and a time to strive to lead better lives. Christ's tribulation tells us that as Christians, we are not immune from rejection, persecution, trials and suffering.
On the whole, through Christ’s resurrection we are called to steel ourselves against the negative forces of the world and remain resilient in times of pain.
"It is all about God," said Tina Akor, 20. "It signifies the resurrection of Jesus and restoration of man to God. We now have free access to God."
Let this celebration bring us nothing but fulfillment, spiritual growth, good health and peace. Happy Easter! 

Horrific Sinking Of South Korean Ferry Made Even Worse By Irresponsible Media

By Tae Hyun Yoon
Junior Reporter
Wailing parents. Guilt-laden survivors. A horrified public.
As rescue efforts for the Sewol’s last survivors yield more bodies and less hope, it seems that the damage has been done. The South Korean nation must deal with the emotional trauma of a disaster unparalleled in its tragedy since 1993, when the overloaded ferry Seohae sank, taking with it the lives of 292 passengers.

What makes the Sewol’s case even more terrible, however, is that the majority of the roughly 270 people still missing are students supposed to be enjoying a final vacation at the paradise island of Jeju before kicking off a year of grueling preparation for the Korean SATs. It’s sickening business.
The fact that the disaster could have probably been avoided is equally appalling.
In a response to the initial problem that resembled more a horrific circus than a coordinated effort, the crew ordered all individuals to stay where they were, even though water was starting to rush into the ferry at an unsettling pace. Consequently, only one or two lifeboats were deployed out of more than 10, and passengers were left to succumb to watery hell.
Furthermore, sources report that it was not the passengers, nor the other crew members, but the captain that reached the lifeboats first. He now faces charges that may land him in prison for life.
Even after the sinking, rescue operations have constantly been thwarted by muddy water and choppy seas, thus allowing little hope for any survivors in the boat, as by now, they have probably succumbed to the effects of hypothermia and oxygen deprivation.
To top that off, there are reports that the media distorted information released to the public, so much so that the apparent texts that “survivors” sent after the sinking were fabricated. So it is no wonder why parents are frustrated at everybody. They lost their children for no good reason, government rescue teams seem to be doing little more than nothing and hope, in the face of reality, seems to be fading by the hour.
But the cacophony of the aftermath of the sinking seems mostly to be the result of a nation-wide blame game.
Parents who suffered the immense pain of losing a child understandably want answers, and the government’s attempts at providing them with either miracles or answers have failed. Therefore, to escape parental ire, the government has blurred the whole situation to the media – a fatal mistake which led to media accusations flying all over the place.
First, it was the captain who did it. Then, it was the inefficiency of the rescue teams, whom unreliable civilian witnesses accused of incompetence and laziness. After that, it was the ship itself, which is rumored to have been overloaded with cargo.
CNN has even used the situation to attack a supposed “acceptance of suicide” in Korea – a blind jab at an ideological straw-man that served to do nothing but anger even more South Koreans, who clearly do not wish for the death of their countrymen any more than citizens of other nations.
Indeed, one cannot blame anyone for starting this process of scapegoating, and in a sense, it’s inevitable, taking into account the enormous tragedy of the situation. But in the end, it shows the power of modern media to do more harm than good. By blowing up the facts of the matter to disproportionate extents, and by hungrily seeking new leads – wherever they may come from – the media proved their divergence from the most basic of journalistic morals.
In one case, Korean reporters seeking the upper hand for their organization interviewed a traumatized six-year-old girl on the fate of her missing parents immediately after the sinking. The attempts to cover the situation even when there was inadequate information sparked hope in parents’ hearts, only to snatch that hope away and point fingers at other major figures like the government, which had no part in the sinking and was forced to delay rescue operations because of natural obstacles.
Imagine the hearts of the parents of the missing when they see the large letters of newspaper headlines that constantly remind them of what they lost just a few days before. Imagine the anger they would feel as they realize that all of the tragedy they have suffered is simply a “developing story” or a piece of “breaking news.” Anger. Unimaginable hatred. And that’s where the blame-game starts all over again, and where the wheel of revenge begins to turn in timeless fashion, seeding one conflict after the other.  
Ultimately, most of us need to continue what we were doing before: praying for survivors and supporting the relatives of those missing.
But the mainstream media need to wake up. They need to realize that it’s not all about them, but about the families themselves, and about the nation that grieves by their side. They must understand that they’re not just profit machines, but organizations of people, who in the face of such tragedy must comfort each other, not stir up hatred with blown-up headlines and blame games.
May all those who passed away aboard the Sewol rest in peace. And may those who are still missing return home, safe and sound to their family’s arms.

Yoon, who attends high school in Concord, Massachusetts, U.S.A., is from Seoul, South Korea.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Passion Play Tells Christ's Story

Festus Iyorah /
Eze Valentine, in the white robe in the center, played the part of Jesus Christ in the Passion Play at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka on Friday.
By Festus Iyorah and Nchetachi Chukwuajah

NSUKKA, Enugu, Nigeria – Hundreds of people this week flocked to St. Peter’s Chaplaincy at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka to mark Good Friday as part of the activities scheduled for Holy Week.
For Christians, Good Friday, which is the last Friday before Easter, is an annual Lenten-season event singled out to commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.
In Nigeria, the day normally begins with the Passion Play –  a dramatic presentation of Christ’s trial, suffering and death. It ends with a church service.
The officiating minister, the Rev. Hillary Ogbaka, urged participants to emulate Christ’s perseverance before his death and reflect on the way they live their lives.
“We should have a heart of forgiveness as Christ forgives his persecutors amid his suffering,” Ogbaka proclaimed.
John Udeh, a student of agricultural and bio-resources engineering, said the Passion Play helps him to come to grips with the sufferings of Jesus.
“It was great! The actors and the play were great, because it reminds us of what happened at Calvary, and it brings back the passion and sorrow of what the followers then passed through,” said Udeh.
“It was okay; they did well. I enjoyed it!” said Nneka Okeifufe, another student. “They did more than students – they exceeded my expectations.”
The drama was stocked with many interesting actors. For Eze Valentine, the protagonist who played the role of Jesus, it was really a memorable event.
He said he is fulfilled to have played the role of Christ in this year’s Passion Play.
“I am happy I did what I can do, though it is not possible to act as it was then. But I am happy I played this role,” he said.
Festus Iyorah /
Participants follow the procession in the Federation Theatre's production of the Passion Play at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka.
The drama was presented by students of the Federation Theatre, an organ of the Nigerian Federation of Catholic Students.
“I feel accomplished and I am very happy because we showed a glimpse of what happened on the way to Calvary,” said Ogbe Salvator, the coordinator of the Federation Theatre group.
Playing the role of Jesus Christ, according to Eze, will not only help him to reflect on his life but will also go a long way to shape his behavior.
“Some people might see it as a normal play, but after seeing what happened today, my advice is for them to go back and meditate on this event,” Eze said.
Editing by Youth Journalism International Senior Reporter Linus Okechukwu in Nsukka.

Spring Is Blooming In Lahore, Pakistan

Arooj Khalid /
One of the many displays at Race Course Park in Lahore, Pakistan.

Story and Photos by Arooj Khalid
Senior Reporter
LAHORE, Pakistan – The arrival of spring season brings joy for many. Hundreds of flowers bloom to create an atmosphere that feels like a blissful garden of heaven. 
Race Course Park, on Jail Road, always stands prominent in celebrations to welcome the season with festivals, fairs, flower decorating contests and exhibitions.
Managed by the Punjab Horticulture Authority, this year the visitors to the park found themselves on grounds fully adorned with colorful and fragrant flowers.
The free exhibition was open for the entertainment of gardening enthusiasts as well as regular citizens. Some came from far away to see the wonderful display by their skilled gardeners and some found it as a surprise.
Either way, it was beautiful and captured the real joy of spring. 
The flowers seemed to smile and dance with the visitors who cheerfully took photos and praised the flowers. 
Events like this not only provide entertainment, but also inspire people to take an interest in horticulture and gardening.
It’s a pleasant escape from the mundane routine of life. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Grandmother's Lesson: Pysanky, The Ukranian Art Of Decorating Easter Eggs

Tom Vaughn /

A basket of dyed duck eggs in the traditional Ukranian style.
By Tom Vaughn
Junior Reporter
TERRYVILLE, Connecticut, U.S.A. – Every spring, when I was a little boy, I watched my great-grandmother, Milia Serino, color eggs in the traditional Ukranian way.
She learned how to do pysanka, or pysanky if there is more than one egg, from her mother, who immigrated to the United States from Ukraine many years ago.
She first took all her old candles and melted them in pot on the stove. Then she stuck a long sewing needle into an eraser on her pencil, dipped the needle into the melted wax and drew on the egg. This is a different way of doing pysanky, but it works.
Tom Vaughn /

Tom Vaughn's tools for pysanky
The traditional method, which is what I now do, uses a tool called a kistka. It’s a wooden dowel with a metal cone-shaped funnel on the end. Melted wax drips through the funnel onto the egg.
Although using a kistka is easier, I admire my great-grandmother’s needle method because it creates a teardrop-looking line, creating great detail.
The ducks on my farm give two eggs a day, and I use those for coloring. Duck eggs take color better than chicken eggs. And duck eggs have very thick shells, making them easier to hollow out and more durable. I’ve dropped hollowed duck eggs onto the floor by accident and they didn’t break.
Instead of boiling the eggs before coloring, I hollow them out. Boiled eggs can last a few months, but eggs that are drained can last a lifetime.
An old Ukrainian saying goes, “If you have been good since last Easter, your eggs will last 100 years.”
To drain an egg, I push a thumbtack into the top and bottom of the egg to make a small hole on each end.
Then I blow into one of the holes until the contents come out the other end. 
This can be especially difficult with a chicken egg because the shells are more likely to shatter.
After draining the eggs, I rinse them out and let them dry. Then I design them with wax.
I use beeswax, which I find works best. I get mine straight from my beehive, but it is possible to purchase it.

These five photos show
 part of the egg dying
process of drawing
designs, coloring
with wax and then
dipping in the dyes,
 beginning with
 lighter colors and
 gradually working
to darker hues.

The egg is first dyed yellow, and after it dries, more wax is applied, including over the yellow color to keep it intact. Then the egg is dipped into a darker color. The process continues with darker and darker colors until the last color, black.
After the egg is dyed black, the egg is held close to the heat of a candle, and the wax stuck to the egg melts away, showing all of the colors underneath.
You can stop dying the egg at any color. I usually end at black, red, or green.
I use European egg dyes that I get from a seller in Pennsylvania. They’re usually natural material and then you add vinegar and some water.

When my great-grandmother was growing up, hers was a poor farming family, so they stuck to one color – purple, the traditional Easter color – because they couldn’t afford more dyes. They melted wax in an old tin jar lid on the stove.
It also wasn’t okay to waste eggs, so they boiled them and ate all of them at Easter dinner.
Since they used just one color, the eggs were very simple, but I still learned her method.
Tom Vaughn /

A basket of eggs dyed by Tom Vaughn using his great-grandmother's "needle" method.
My great-grandmother was also a great fan of traditional "Egg Tapping" or "Egg Fighting" games.
Later adopted by England, the game can be traced back to 14th century Croatia. In the game, two hard-boiled eggs are hit together.
The egg with the shattered shell loses, and the winner gets to eat the opponent’s egg.
All eggs pictured with this piece were dyed and photographed by reporter Tom Vaughn. Below, an assortment of duck eggs, some plain and some decorated in the Ukranian style.
Tom Vaughn /

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Best Way To Feel Good? Do Good

Dina El Halawany /
Couples at a recent charity wedding for orphans in Alexandria, Egypt.
By Dina El Halawany
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – You know those days when you wake up feeling like crap? When you’d rather stay at home and do nothing?
I woke up one day not long ago, not feeling that great and I thought about missing the charity event I was invited to attend.
It was a group wedding for five couples, all orphans who couldn’t afford to get married.
Rotaract Ramleh Heights, a Rotary-sponsored service club for young adults, organized the wedding along with other charity events.
At first I thought it wouldn’t be any good, but then I changed my mind and decided to go.
After I got there, I was still standing outside the hall when one of the brides’ cousins arrived. She kept wandering around, astonished by how wonderful the place was. Then she started to cry because she couldn’t believe that her cousin was finally getting married, and not just at any place, but at the Hilton Hotel, one of Alexandria’s best wedding halls.
Dina El Halawany /
A newly married couple share a
slow dance.
I was honestly so touched that I couldn’t help but smile every time I looked at their relatives waiting impatiently to see the brides and grooms climb down those stairs wearing the best tuxedos and dresses.
It took a while because there were people still checking the sound system and the lights to make sure everything was ready before the wedding started.
Then it was finally the moment everyone had been waiting for, and all the relatives and the event organizers gathered near the stairs.Music started playing and the people clapped as the couples slowly climbed down the stairs. It was a spellbinding moment and the smiles on their faces proved that every effort made was totally worth it.
I can honestly say that this moment was enough to make my day much brighter.
I just felt so happy and excited for them. We danced and laughed all night – everything was simply perfect. I was really enjoying myself so much that I wished that it would last longer than it did.
Dina El Halawany /
Men take part in a group dance at the wedding.
That day I went back home after learning a very important lesson.
I learned that being the reason behind someone’s happiness can bring you more joy than you can ever imagine. It can even totally reverse your mood.
All those people who put so much effort into organizing this wedding deserve to be awarded, but they were not waiting for any prizes, because they already had one in seeing happiness all over the orphans’ faces.
After all, that’s what they worked so hard for and I was so glad I attended. It felt like I was a part of something really special.
In life, some people struggle to find happiness, but happiness won’t always come knock on your door. Instead, you need to go out there and always find a reason to smile.
If your life lacks joy, you’ll find plenty in helping less fortunate people.
Organizers of the charity wedding for orphans included members of the Rotaract Ramleh Heights and friends.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Must Our Brothers Be Killed Before We Care When Terrorism Strikes?

By Linus Okechukwu
NSUKKA, Enugu, Nigeria – It was the morning rush hour in the bustling Nyanya Motor Park, a bus station nestled on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital, Abuja.
Commuters were there, chattering and exchanging pleasantries. The day was fresh, and hopes were high.
Today is Monday, but all Mondays are never the same. Days are different, and so is today.
There was no premonition, no signs – just happy faces willing to take on the day and make ends meet.
Then it happened: a blast. Lifeless bodies. Pandemonium. Tears.
Sirens blaring, no doubt, but that noise in such situations could go unnoticed.
The day's happiness has morphed into sorrow as genial faces stiffened. Then evacuation and the casualty figure must be taken.
Vanguard, a Nigerian national daily paper, reported that more than 71 people were killed and 124 injured after a bomb blast at the Nyanya bus station today. It's about a six-hour bus ride from my campus.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but all fingers point to the radical Islamist group Boko Haram. The group has perpetuated such acts for many years. And there is no doubt they are responsible.
We are grieved by the death toll and the number of injured.
The Nigerian government must eradicate this menace and entrench a peaceful society bereft of killings and tears.
The onus is on the government and all of us to make life better here.
On his visit to the gruesome scene, President Goodluck Jonathan promised that we would rise above these challenges – but the feasibility of the promise is causing us pains. When? How?
Why is this group causing us anguished nights?
Our security networks aren't asleep, but their best we are yet to see.
The government is not too feeble, yet stringent measures are not adopted to curb terrorism.
We have suffered and we have lost a lot.
February 25, 2014 remains indelible, too, when 59 students in a federal government secondary school were brutalized and killed by the extremist group.
When did schools become grounds for war? Do we stop schooling because terrorism is on the increase?
Amnesty International reported that 1,500 civilians died as a result of the escalating violence between Boko Haram insurgents and the military. The radical group has attacked schools, markets, churches, mosques, and many other places. It hopes to foist an Islamic state in the northern part of the country on the people.
It’s really galling to see many Nigerians become impervious to such gory spectacle.
It is commonplace; it has become part of our everyday life. But then, must our brothers be killed before we share in the pains of the victims?
When stories of bomb explosion are broached, many people could not care less about what's happening. It is not in their vicinity, not in their state nor region – so why should they care?
Here are humans killed mercilessly. Innocent civilians made to pay for goods they never bought. Optimistic students whose hopes for tomorrow were destroyed by Boko Haram, children turned orphan by the scourge.
Do you see why we have to care?
Sad faces. Tears all over them. Nobody to console them. Yet, in their pains they can't stop clinging to the rope of hope. See why they need us?
Like us, they are human. We must learn to empathize with victims of such unimaginable violence.
Stop being clannish! Watch and see – we used to live like one big family, sharing in one another’s successes and failures alike.
Get over to the bridge and console that little boy who is crying. His parents are victims of violence. Give him hope, make him believe Nigeria will get better.
Tell him that terrorism isn’t routine in the world, that he can be an agent of peace.
There is no better way to do this than to come to grips with the sufferings of the victims and show genuine sympathy.
The government owes us some measure of responsibility. The media must enlighten the masses so they may become security conscious and alert. We must learn to take precautions and contribute to the eradication of violence, insurgency and ignorance in our society.
Forget blame – this is our collective responsibility. Today it is in Nyanya Motor Park. If we don’t act, who knows where terror will strike tomorrow.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Rock 'N Roll Hall Of Famer Steve Van Zandt Schooled Teen Reporter On Music History
Little Steven Van Zandt in New York City in December 2006

In late 2006, Zach Brokenrope, then a Youth Journalism International reporter from Aurora, Nebraska, visited New York City's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood with YJI co-founder Jackie Majerus for an amazing interview with rocker Steven Van Zandt.
Van Zandt, host of  Little Steven's Underground Garage on Sirus radio and owner of Wicked Cool Record Co. was starting a new initiative to bring rock 'n roll into high schools. He was then also star of the hit HBO show "The Sopranos." Beyond that, he's a key member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and previously organized Artists United Against Apartheid. He's an advocate for music education and bridging the generation gap with rock 'n roll.
Tonight, seven years after our interview, Van Zandt  will be inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame with the rest of the E Street Band. 
Today, we're revisiting the day he generously spent more than two hours with us, talking about a wide range of projects and issues.  We published the stories below on January 8, 2007. Editing by Majerus, Steve Collins, Joe Killian and Brian LaRue.

Rock and Roll High School

By Zach Brokenrope
After 40 years of living a life dedicated to rock and roll, Little Steven Van Zandt wants to go back to high school.
Listen to Little Steven talk about bringing rock and roll bands into America's high schools (Tattoo MP3)
It’s his passion for rock and roll that’s taking him there.
Van Zandt, guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and a star on the hit HBO series The Sopranos, is on a mission to introduce kids to the music that shaped his life.
“We want to spread the rock and roll gospel as much as we can,” said Van Zandt. “I want to go where the enthusiasm is.”
Though rock and roll was once in the mainstream, Van Zandt said, it’s become an underground movement. 
  -- Tattoo video --
Little Steven talks about acting on "The Sopranos"
For the story:
Van Zandt is introducing an eight-week curriculum, tentatively titled Little Steven’s Rock and Roll High School, that can be used nationwide within music classes or as an after school program.
He aims to have it in schools starting this fall.
“We have a basic history of rock and roll in 40 lessons,” he said.
The second stage of the program, Van Zandt said, will be concert tours of old and new bands, playing high-energy gigs together in high school gyms around the country.

“We’re trying to get it out of the museum and institutionalize it in public life,” said Van Zandt. “I want to reach kids.”

“Everybody’s welcome in the rock and roll world.” - Little Steven Van Zandt

A wicked cool record company
To spotlight new bands – and bring rock and roll back into the musical forefront – Little Steven Van Zandt recently launched the Wicked Cool Record Co.
As part of Van Zandt’s larger enterprise, Renegade Nation, Wicked Cool will produce predominately rock and roll records by new artists.
The concept for the new label grew out of the same idea that propels Van Zandt’s popular radio program, Little Steven’s Underground Garage.
“I wasn’t hearing my favorite songs on the radio,” Van Zandt said. Click here for the whole story.

Rock and roll renegade

New rock and roll bands will soon have a place on the internet dedicated to introducing their work, thanks to Little Steven’s Underground Garage website.
Little Steven Van Zandt, host of the popular Little Steven’s Underground Garage syndicated rock and roll radio show, said he’s making room on his website for unknown bands.
Within a few weeks, Van Zandt said, the website will start a community forum that will allow users to post video and audio.
It’ll be a way for unsigned bands to present their work to an audience that otherwise wouldn’t see them, according to Van Zandt, who intends to keep an eye on the new talent.
If he sees something he likes, Van Zandt said, he’ll give the band a call. Click here for the whole story.

Little Steven doesn't always win
Little Steven Van Zandt was part of the unsuccessful fight to save CBGB’s, New York’s legendary rock club that closed in October.
Its closure, Van Zandt said, was a blow against rock and roll.
“Literally tens of thousands of tourists would come to New York just to see CBGB’s, the venue where punk was born,” said Van Zandt, deejay of the hit rock and roll radio show, Little Steven’s Underground Garage.
“It’s a shame that kids will now not be able to go in there and be on the same stage that The Ramones were on,” said Van Zandt. “It’s one of our biggest disappointments.” – Zach Brokenrope