Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Rocket Launch Is A Vision Of Celestial Majesty - And The Magic Of Star Trek

Olivia Wright /
The July 23 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida as seen from Cocoa Beach.
By Olivia Wright
Junior Reporter
COCOA BEACH, Florida, U.S.A. – I stood on a bridge over the ocean in awe and wonder as a Delta IV rocket blast off and make its way into the galaxy.
Watching the rocket leave Earth on sent chills down my spine and made me realize that with hard work, anything is possible.
Ever since childhood, I’ve loved Star Trek. While my family and I raced down the road Thursday to get to an area where we would be able to see the launch, I decided to play Captain Wright and made the rest of my family join in and adopt a role in my own little Enterprise.
After racing down unfamiliar roads – with my brother, Sergei, and boyfriend, Garrett navigating – we finally made it to a bridge recommended for viewing.
At T-minus five minutes on July 23, my mock fleet and I jumped out of our vehicle and ran to the viewing area. Dripping from the salty waves and clad in swimwear, we were a sight, but never mind. We were on a mission.
My eyes scanned the ocean, looking for some kind of action that would show the shuttle was launching. Suddenly I heard a gasp and I saw it.
Olivia Wright /
The view of the rocket launch from 
Cocoa Beach.
My gaze landed on a spaceship, and with an explosion, it discharged from land.
I stood, starry-eyed, in the same place where people watched the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, their hearts in as many pieces as the ill-fated spacecraft.
With my feet planted in the same spot as those who’d watched with glee as the Apollo missions blasted off successfully, I viewed the Delta IV rocket make its way to the mystery that is outer space.
The launch I saw was a product of United Launch Alliance. It took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with a communications satellite for the U.S. Air Force.
It was the seventh Wideband Global SATCOM communications satellite for the Air Force. These communications are used to convey important information to America’s armed forces. 
While I watched the satellite launch, I realized that the United Launch Alliance was not that different from my beloved Star Trek.
Space flights helped to explore strange new worlds, as seen with the Apollo Missions to the moon. To boldly go where no man has gone before with Atlas V in the spring, which carried instruments to help study the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy via a process known as magnetic reconnection. It is a fundamental process, which occurs throughout the universe.
And much like the Star Trek Enterprise, space exploration strives for peace, which brings us back to the launch I witnessed of a Delta IV, which made the world more peaceful for providing a way for communication to America's armed forces through the satellite.
Space is seemingly without boundaries, and thanks to technology and the phenomenal human brain, we are exploring, and utilizing it, more and more every day. 
I had an experience worthy of awe that day. Watching the rocket ascend toward the infinity of the heavens – with my own feet planted here on Earth – I felt the majestic glory of the stars.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Selfish Killing Of Cecil The Lion Shows Wildlife Needs More Protection

By David Joseph Kapito
Junior Reporter
ZOMBA, Malawi – The killing of the beloved lion Cecil in Zimbabwe fouled ecological preservation efforts and casts doubt about whether man’s stewardship over nature continues to deteriorate.
A man, apparently an American using a bow and arrow, shot this 13-year-old lion – which lived on a protected wildlife reserve – without any reason or threat of harm.
Cecil’s death triggers many questions and brings to mind extreme anthropocentrism – a belief that the universe centers on humans. This view poses a threat to ecology.
If killing an innocent wild animal was part of this man’s pleasure, then the “hunt” was simply selfish.
According to philosopher John Stuart Mill’s principle of utilitarianism, the maximum pleasure should be to the greatest number of individuals.
In the context of Cecil, all the people who used to enjoy visits to see the famous lion are deprived of this pleasure. One person, the so-called “hunter,” sacrificed the enjoyable experience of all of the visitors for his own pleasure.
The slaughter of Cecil the lion should remind people to observe actions towards animals. Animal rights shouldn’t be neglected. Uncontrolled harmful human actions can cause scarcity in other species.
According to The National Geographic Society, the Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years.
We as humans must take on a bigger role to protect the wild animals while we still have them.
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Protecting Wild Elephants In Malawi

David Joseph Kapito /
An elephant in the Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve in Malawi
David Joseph Kapito
Junior Reporter
VWAZA MARSH GAME RESERVE, Malawi – The Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve is a habitat for many wild animals in the northwest part of Malawi, along the border with Zambia.
The reserve covers an area almost 1,000 square kilometers, or about 400 square miles. It contains open plains and woodlands.
The game reserve also attracts a lot of birds due to its marshy wetlands.
The life of an elephant is strictly monitored in most of the Malawi’s wildlife game reserves and national parks.
U.S. State Department map.
Click to enlarge.
Security is tight to protect from poachers who kill other animals for food or elephants in order to rob them of their ivory and sell it illegally at international markets.
Poaching is condemned and a crime in Malawi. It is illegal to hunt animals in the game reserve or the national parks.
Because game reserves are some of places that attract tourists to Malawi, they are a source of income and economic development in the country.
An individual can be sentenced to prison for poaching, which is an offense against Malawi’s constitution.
The Malawi reserve is the same southeastern part of the African continent as Zimbabwe, where hunters reportedly lured "Cecil," a popular mature male lion, out of protected area and killed him early this month.

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Museum Shows Array Of American Art

Laura Espinoza Jara /
From 1974, Untitled acrylic painting by Herbert Creecy on display at the New Britain Museum of American Art.
By Mary Majerus-Collins and Laura Espinoza Jara
NEW BRITAIN, Connecticut, U.S.A. – No matter what type of art you like, there’s always something interesting to see at the New Britain Museum of American Art.

The museum has both permanent galleries filled with old murals and classic Hudson River Valley paintings and it has temporary exhibits. 
The oil paintings of Tom Yost, mostly Connecticut landscapes, are currently on display.
An extensive collection of modern art fills the gallery on the second floor including an impressive piece from Andy Warhol.

It’s all a must-see for art lovers.

Mary Majerus-Collins / youth
West Rock, New Haven, an 1849 oil painting by Frederic Edwin Church of a Connecticut vista, is part of the museum's Hudson River collection. 

Laura Espinoza Jara /

Andy Warhol's 1974 acrylic painting Man Ray hangs at the museum.
Laura Espinoza Jara, 16, of Quito, Ecuador, studies some of the contemporary art at the New Britain Museum of American Art.

Laura Espinoza Jara /
From 1933, the Analogical Emblem Landscape, by Stuart Davis.
Laura Espinoza Jara /
Sol LeWitt's A Square Divided Horizontally and Vertically into four equal parts, Each with a Different direction of alternatin parallel bands of lines. The 1982 work, by the New Britain native son, is one of many of LeWitt's works on display.

Mary Majerus-Collins /
The 1806 oil painting Thetis Bringing Armor to Achilles, is part of the museum's collection.
Laura Espinoza Jara /
This 2011 work by Titus Kaphar is called Jaavon and the Unknown Gentleman.

Mary Majerus-Collins /
This oil painting, The Florist, is a 1943 work by John Koch.
No visit to the New Britain museum is complete without stopping to say hi to Syl Sijan, the security guard, a sculpture by Marc Sijan. Here, YJI reporters Laura Espinoza Jara of Quito, Ecuador, and Mary Majerus-Collins of Connecticut, U.S.A., pose for a picture with Syl.
YJI reporters Laura Espinoza Jara of Quito, Ecuador, and Mary Majerus-Collins of Connecticut, U.S.A., with some of the contemporary art at the New Britain Museum of American Art.
Outside, YJI reporters Laura Espinoza Jara of Quito, Ecuador and Mary Majerus-Collins of Connecticut, U.S.A., spend a little time with the penguins on parade in front of the museum.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Ethiopian Teens Like Obama's Visit

Youth Journalism International Junior Reporter Dawit Leake in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia asked teens there what it meant to them to have U.S. President Barack Obama visit their country this week. Their responses show a wide spectrum of views and are presented below with photos of many of the youth interviewed.

Photo provided
Absera Getachew, 16, is a student at Saint Joseph School in Addis Ababa. He said, "It means a lot for a nation like Ethiopia to be visited by a president of a super power." Getachew said he believes the American president is "a great man." He said he is reading a book by Obama and sees the president has intellectually developed thinking. "I get to find people criticizing him for something that they are not even sure of," Getachew said. "I really like his speech, and he could be an example to our youth society."

Photo provided
Mahlet Wolde, 17, attends Magic Carpet School in Addis Ababa. She said Obama's visit means that Ethiopia has good foreign relations with America. "Obama is as we all know, the first black American president and I think of him as a role model for other African Americans," she said.

Dawit Leake /

Posters on the street advertised President Barack Obama's visit to Addis Ababa.

Dawit Leake /
Henok Tsegaye, 19, attends Addis Ababa University, said he is neutral on Obama's visit. He said he considers him an "average" leader.

Photo provided
Bethlehem Admasu, 16, attends the School of Tomorrow in Addis Ababa. Obama's visit, she said, means a lot becuase he is the first U.S. president to visit Ethiopia while in the White House. "This visit could mean a great future for our country," she said. "I think President Obama is a well-rounded president. I like his ways, how he handles situations. I do, however, disagree with his approach to gay rights."
Another student at the School of Tomorrow, Eyoel Hafte, who is 17, said, "I feel that our country is getting the recognition it needs from the world. President Obama coming here points to the fact that our country is developing."
Amen Wubtaye, 16, also attending the School of Tomorrow, said Obama is an inspiration.
"I'm glad he came!" Wubtaye said. "It's a good way of knowing how far we have come, as well as [how] much we have left to go."
Gelila Seyoum, 16, also attending the School of Tomorrow, said the president's visit is significant.
"It means he knows we actually exist and don't live on trees!" she said. "I think President Obama is brave and talented to be able to win the respect and votes of the American people."
Dawit Leake /
Eyob Moges, 18, attends the Addis International School in Addis Ababa. "I am excited," he said, about the president's visit. "I think he is a good leader."

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Author: Journalists Should Report On Race

Mugdha Gurram /

Journalist Jeff Chang, author of "Can't Stop Won't Stop" spoke at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference in Grapevine, Texas this month.
By Mugdha Gurram
Senior Reporter
GRAPEVINE, Texas, U.S.A. –   One of the major issues facing journalists today is reporting on important matters, such as race, while respecting the sensitivity of the subject.
Speaking before fellow journalists, author Jeff Chang talked about how reporters deal with race.
Chang, who wrote Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, a non-fiction book about the early years of the hip-hop generation, was a featured speaker at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference in Grapevine recently.
Chang discussed his thoughts on writing about a different race, and why it’s so important that journalist take the time to write about it.
Riots people hear about it in the news, whether it’s about Rodney King, Michael Brown or Eric Garner, are happening for a reason, Chang said.
The uprisings, he said, are “not a mistake. It’s because we don’t get to the conversations we need to have.”  
He attributed the lack of conversation to “this sort of racial amnesia that Americans have regarding these kind of issues.”
Chang emphasized the importance of bringing awareness to racial issues and the tension that rises because of them. It’s the only way real progress can take place, he said.
He encouraged journalists to report on the issues of racial tension, even giving them a suggestion as to where to start.
“Re-segregation, I think, is the issue of the day,” he said.
Chang also stressed that when writing about sensitive topics such as race, it’s importance to be fair to the subject, and readers, by telling the story accurately and objectively.
Part of writing a story about someone, he said, is forming a relationship with them. Chang says it’s a journalist’s job to respect this bond, while also giving an accurate representation to readers.
“It’s about being accountable and remaining accountable.”

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Writer Barbara Ehrenreich Addresses Journalism And America's 'Great Divide'
Writer Barbara Ehrenreich

By Mugdha Gurram and Sydney Hallett
GRAPEVINE, Texas, U.S.A. – She never intended to become a journalist, the award-winning author Barbara Ehrenreich, told writers who recently gathered in Texas to celebrate and hone their craft.
Ehrenreich, a keynote speaker at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, said she just happened to realize that her passion for reporting on social issues she cared about was what journalism was all about.
But – citing low pay and other obstacles – Ehrenreich said it would be nearly impossible for her to start a career in journalism today and accomplish what she has.
“That’s what’s so heartbreaking,” she said.
Ehrenreich voiced her opinion about low-paying jobs and unpaid internships for reporters that might provide some experience but not a way to make a living.
“Who can live on an unpaid, or $10-15 an hour internship?” Ehrenreich asked.
There are lots of available platforms for publishing, she said, but said many don’t pay.
“The idea of paying writers is not in their business plan,” Ehrenreich said. “I’m so amazed when I meet an employed journalist.”
Ehrenreich – who brought the plight of impoverished minimum wage earner to light with her 2001 investigative book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America –criticized the Texas minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour.
She spoke about the hurdles people with low-paying jobs face on a daily basis.
Beyond that, poor or working class people are often viewed as unintelligent or even illiterate.
“Prejudice still exists that people who are poor or working class are unable to express themselves,” she said.
Because of this system built against the working class, Ehrenreich says that “those with the most to say are most often ruled out.”
The author also discussed the obstacles faced by working class people, many of whom are unable to attain a degree.
“Some of the most brilliant people didn’t go to college and are doing successful work,” she said.
Referencing the conference theme, “The Great Divide” Ehrenreich urged the journalists to raise awareness of the prejudices facing the working class and poor in America. It’s something she’s been addressing since 1985, she said.
“Everybody has to be looking at this great divide, which has gotten so much greater.”

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Escaping The Heat With A Beach Day

Celeste D'souza /
Sandspit Beach in Karachi, Pakistan, offers relief from the heat.
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Monday, July 20, 2015

Hunting For Alligators On Texas Gulf Coast At Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

Mugdha Gurram /
The landscape at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge is filled with tall wild grasses, where alligators live when they're not in the water.
By Mugdha Gurram
Senior Reporter
Youth Journalism International
FREEPORT, Texas, U.S.A. – Overlooking a vast landscape full of wild grasses that reach my waist, broken up by small bodies of water that the multitude of birds flock to, I am beginning to explore on my first day in Texas.
The Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge holds a small amount of animals, such as numerous kinds of birds, and alligators. Following a path that leads us to different viewing areas, we checked out different parts of the reserve, in hopes of seeing the different species there.

Mugdha Gurram /
While we missed seeing any elusive alligators, it was still a nice experience to see the beautiful landscape that surrounded us. It’s a quiet and serene place for taking a walk.

If you decide to visit, try to choose a day that is not 92 degrees and humid, although you may be hard pressed to find such a day during a Texan summer.

Mugdha Gurram /
Mugdha Gurram /
This boardwalk serves as a path through the alligator nesting habitat.
Mugdha Gurram /
The many birds that live in the preserve flock to its ponds.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

YJI Reporters Earn Places Among Nation's Top Young Writers At Mayborn Conference
YJI reporters Mugdha Gurram of Connecticut and Sydney Hallett of Missouri are two of the 10 young writers selected to take part in the prestigious Young Spurs program this year at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.

GRAPEVINE, Texas, U.S.A. – Two Youth Journalism International students are among the 10 top young writers in America selected to attend a prestigious national writing conference in Texas this weekend.
Each July, some of America’s finest journalists and non-fiction writers gather together in outside of Dallas for the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.  They meet to learn and share ideas, to hone their craft and forge relationships with kindred spirits.
Mayborn judges selected YJI students Mugdha Gurram, 16, of Connecticut and Sydney Hallett, 18, of Missouri for the Young Spurs program.
Young Spurs, who are selected through a national writing contest, win admission to the Mayborn conference and a pre-conference, full day session with an acclaimed author who serves as a mentor and writing coach. In a small group setting, they work with the author to improve their own writing.
This year, the Young Spurs will spend their workshop with biographer James McGrath Morris, whose newest work is Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press.
Morris is also a plenary speaker during the conference, which this year follows the theme of “The Great Divide.” Keynote speakers are writers Barbara Ehrenreich, Anne Fadiman and Alex Tizon.
“We’re thrilled that two of our finest young journalists will be able to take part in this amazing conference and learn from some of the world’s best nonfiction writers,” said Jackie Majerus, executive director of Youth Journalism International, an educational nonprofit based in Connecticut with students worldwide.
According to Majerus, the Mayborn’s friendly, welcoming atmosphere helps students feel comfortable and part of ‘the Tribe,’ as Mayborn attendees call themselves.
“The connections they’ll make, the memories they’ll share and the lessons they’ll take home with them are second to none,” said Steve Collins, board president of YJI. “We’re grateful that the University of North Texas and its Mayborn School of Journalism makes this incredible experience possible for young writers.”
To be selected for the Mayborn, high school or community college students must submit an original piece of unpublished non-fiction about a person or place that made a significant impact on a community. Judges then select the best from those written entries, which come from all over the nation.
Winning entries are later published in The Dallas Morning News.
The Young Spurs contest is now in its fifth year. Four different Youth Journalism International students have won places at the conference for each of the last four years.
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Thursday, July 16, 2015

'New Hope And New Light' For Iranians

By Frida Zeinali
Junior Reporter
TABRIZ, Iran – Divided into two different worlds, our country was nearly bankrupt, its politicians pretending the economy remained both growing and independent.
In reality, Iran has transformed into a bipolar nation where an elite holds the majority of political, military and cultural influence and grows richer every day while middle class, working people live in poverty. With frustrating corruption scandals and young people unable to land good jobs, living conditions grow ever worse.
Industries built to provide the country’s essential needs cannot supply a nation with 77 million people. The value of our currency, the rial, has shrunk. A chronic shortage of medicine is a huge problem for patients.
The nuclear energy plans the government pursued since the 1990s made everything even harder, a key reason that Iran still faced international embargos after 35 years.
Nearly everyone felt hopeless, their patience running down.
Only a miracle could heal all of the wounds and bring back the peace again.
And now, following the announcement of a nuclear agreement between Iran and a handful of powerful countries Tuesday, the miracle is happening. There is new hope and new light for the people.
The nation is ecstatic. The streets are full of Iranians celebrating the historic deal they knew they needed.
I watched with both hope and doubt in my heart, trying to see what is happening from everyone’s angle of view. After all, though negotiators set the terms, nothing is done yet. One small, crucial step remains: the approval of the United States Congress.
This is a strong deal that Congress should stand behind. It is a victory for Iran, but also for the world.
Rejecting the landmark agreement would be a big mistake.
We all have a big opportunity to bring back peace between Iran and the world. Everyone knows it. People here are waiting and watching.
But this time, they have hope. Peace seems, at least, to be very close.

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