Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympics Truly Are Inspiring A Generation

By Nicole Hendry
BIRMINGHAM, England – ‘Inspire a generation’ has been coined as the official slogan for the London 2012 Olympics, and that it will. 
Undoubtedly, thousands of children will be drawn to sport that had previously shunned it, myself one of them.
A previous sport phobic, only donning the trainers for the occasional sponsored run and avoiding P.E. lessons at all costs, I am now inclined to seek out what sports programs my university can offer me in September. I only wish I were young enough to take up a sport I might be able to take to such Olympic levels. 
Aside from mere involvement, the extraordinary values of the athletes should, too, be taken as inspiration.
Not only does the completion of such punishing fitness and training schedules mean they are they incredibly dedicated and focused – traits we might all hope to emulate in our pursuits – they have about them a certain spirit.
Following placing fourth in the Men’s 10m Synchronised Diving  event, British hopeful Tom Daley received abusive messages on the social networking platform Twitter. His steadfast reaction to this, along with his refusal to blame his teammate Pete Waterman whose entry to the pool on their fourth dive may have cost them the bronze, demonstrated an admirable state of mind.
Not only has it displayed an excellent level of sportsmanship, but also a resilience and refusal to be kept down. Both Daley and Waterman are set to dive again in the single dives later on in the competition. 
Yet it is not purely  in sporting terms that youth should be inspired.
In no other context can representatives from 204 different countries stand united. They may be drawn together under a common purpose, to perform and to win. The fact is, they are together and it should be noted by the next generation that it is possible.
Not just in athletics, but in the other areas, countries, no matter their differences, can and should cooperate. 
The opening ceremony saw the United States and Great Britain stand by old and new foes: Russia, Germany, Iraq, Argentina and Afghanistan, to name but a few.
Yet despite historical differences and modern quarrels, Olympic athletes shall, over the 16 days of the Games, compete, win and lose. They’ll do it beside one another in a city once rocked by international terrorist attacks and home to the British parliament, whose decisions have lead to many a conflict. 
If that is possible, then why not extend it further?
‘Inspire a generation’ is a very fitting slogan. Let’s hope the Games continue on the same positive footing and let’s hope their promised legacy is fulfilled.

Wrigley Field Turns Astros Fan Into A Cubbie

Eli Winter / youthjournalism.org

Chicago's historic Wrigley Field

By Eli Winter
Junior Reporter
CHICAGO, Illinois, U.S.A. – The feeling was one of exhilaration, anticipation, giddiness, awe, camaraderie.  I’ve only felt it once before in my life (and, being Jewish, the other time involved a bar mitzvah, and, thank God, not a bris). 
“What could make Eli feel this way?” you think. “Marriage? The Astros winning the World Series? Mitt Romney barely losing the upcoming Presidential election?”
No, actually, a Cubs game.
Just walking past Wrigley Field you get a sense of history. There are echoes of the Curse of the Billy Goat dooming the Cubs to baseball futility since 1945, of the bizarre College of Coaches used by the Cubs in 1960 (eight men – more than one opinion) and then you hear the first strains of a tune by the Chicago Cubs Dixieland Band.
This particular game, however, played July 18 against the Miami Marlins, was unique from the outset.
Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis threw out first pitches, and then had a pizza delivered to the mound. Perhaps said pizza gave them an adrenaline rush, as hearing the Cubs’ starting lineup was much different from hearing, say, the Astros.’
Each player’s name was randomly peppered with some “facts” about them. For example, Darwin Barney “likes taking long walks on the beach, completely naked.”
From “David Duh-JEE-zus” to “Jeff SaMARDzi-zi-zi-zi-zi-ja,” their introductions were so convincing I only realized mid-game that the Wrigley Field announcer doesn’t call the rest of the game that way.
Eli Winter / youthjournalism.org
Historic Wrigley Field offers fans a view of Chicago beyond the scoreboard.

A Jose Reyes homer to right in the third inning initially swung the game towards the Marlins. Cubs fans weren’t happy, berating Carlos Lee, newly acquired Marlins left-fielder (from, guess who ... the Astros), and telling him, “YOU NEED WEIGHT WATCHERS, CARLOS!” over and over and over.
Fortunately, the next inning showed Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro doing the same towards the opposite field.
For those of you poor, poor souls who haven’t experienced a Cubs game, seeing a Cub hit a homer is akin to discovering water when you’re stranded in a desert – you become crazy, giddily, uninhibitedly, happy. Even those who are just there “to see a good game” or are neutral to the Cubs and its opponent get caught up in the thrill ride for the next couple of innings.
Recently inducted Hall of Famer Ron Santo claimed to be the biggest Cubs fan ever, but it’s difficult to judge that based on the sheer exhilaration of seeing just one Cubby home run.
Then, imagine what four more runs can do to you. If you imagined “more of the same,” you’d be correct.
Nine Jeff Samardzija strikeouts add to the fun, assuming you’re a Cubs fan. If you’re a Marlin, tough luck. So does the feeling of open air at Wrigley, which has neither a dome nor a retractable roof.
Eli Winter / youthjournalism.org

Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija

Then it started raining. Oh, the rain. Fortunately we were shielded by the roof above our heads, as our seats – luckily close to the action – were still farther back than most. But the crowd started to file out and in the top of the eighth inning, we did the same.
I’ve been in the middle of hurricanes, folks, but Midwest rain seems worse, at least outside. The rain itself wasn’t the worst I’ve seen, though it was bad. The lightning, though, was unusually strong.
Chicagoans proceeded to jump for joy the next morning as they had a brief respite from the drought afflicting the continental United States, and then said Chicagoans slipped on the sidewalks, still wet from the storm.
I was getting rather anxious waiting for the ‘L’ train, which is basically a subway with rails that sometimes run elevated above ground. Then us Cubbies became sardines as we tried to wedge ourselves into the narrow doors and hope we wouldn’t fall over.
Speaking of falling over on subways, I did just that. A lot. I’ve only ridden Houston’s Metro train once or twice before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I then found that I have the worst time keeping my balance of anyone on the face of the Earth.
It’s safe to say that while riding the subway I looked the part of the Hapless Tourist we so often see – very often in my family – while on vacation.
In short: seeing a White Sox game will never be that much fun.
Eli Winter, 15, lives in Houston, Texas.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Texas Farms Feel Heat From Severe Drought

Kiernan Majerus-Collins/youthjournalism.org

A dried up and dead cornfield in Texas.

By Kiernan Majeus-Collins
Senior Reporter
GATESVILLE, Texas, U.S.A. -- Fields of corn burned and brown by the drought appear along the roads of the Texas hill country.
Looking over thousands of stalks, not one is green, not one is left alive.
From here, along state route 84, the deserted fields stretch for many miles, a number of them already plowed under. There are farmers who have already given up on this year's crop.
These fields are some of the American farmlands that are suffering from the nation's worst drought since the 1950s.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

YJI Grandpa Perfectly Typecast In 'Linotype'


Linotype expert Carl Schlesinger and  his granddaughter,YJI alum Natalie Minor, introduce the movie, Linotype: The Film at the Mark Twain House & Museum.
HARTFORD, Connecticut, U.S.A. – Despite ghastly predictions of thunderstorms and tornadoes, more than 50 people turned out for the Connecticut premiere of Linotype: The Film at the Mark Twain House & Museum Thursday night.
The screening – a fundraiser for Youth Journalism International in partnership with the Twain House – featured special guest Carl Schlesinger.
Schlesinger is “one of the preeminent scholars, and a former operator of, the linotype machine,” said YJI alum Natalie Minor, who is Schlesinger’s granddaughter. She traveled from New York to attend the screening and help him introduce the film.

Carl Schlesinger waits while his granddaughter Natalie Minor introduces him and shows off the biography he wrote of linotype inventor Ottmar Mergenthaler.
Minor, who now works at Facebook, said she likes to think that her career in communications honors her grandfather’s legacy in newspapers.
Schlesinger, who has a prominent role in the film, operated a linotype machine for 35 years at The New York Times. He also wrote a biography of Ottmar Mergenthaler, the German immigrant who invented the linotype machine, which revolutionized the printing industry and society itself.

Steve Courtney of the Mark Twain House & Museum appeared in Linotype: The Film spoke to the movie crowd about Twain's failed investment in the Paige Compositor, a competitor of the linotype machine.
He’s a delightful man and the crowd definitely loved meeting him and hearing what he had to say. We’re glad he could be with us and are grateful to Natalie’s parents, Laura and Craig Minor, for making it all happen.
Our wonderful audience also loved the movie, offering something rare at the end – applause. We’re so thankful they braved the elements and spent the evening with us.


Bob Brown and Erin King, two supporters of Youth Journalism International and former co-workers at The Bristol Press

YJI alums Stefan Koski and Joe Keo


YJI alums Joe Keo and Natalie Minor
Our generous hosts at the Mark Twain House, Jacques Lamarre and Steve Courtney, have our deepest gratitude for all the time and effort they put into making the night a great success.
We’re looking forward to working with them again.

Laura Minor, her father, Carl Schlesinger (seated)and Jacques Lamarre of the Mark Twain House & Museum pose with a Lego statue of Mark Twain after Thursday's screening of Linotype: The Film.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ramadan Off To The Right Start In Pakistan

Arooj Khalid / youthjournalism.org
The Aftari table, filled with the food to be eaten after the fast

By Arooj Khalid
LAHORE, Pakistan – The ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar is celebrated throughout the world by Muslims as Ramadan.
It is a month like none other because Muslims fast, or abstain from food or drink, from Fajr, which is the prayer at sunrise, to Maghreb, which is the prayer at sunset.   
Fasting is obligatory for Muslims to worship Allah, and so that we may feel how the poor and unfortunate starve for food and drink while we eat our fill. The offices and schools and other work places reduce their time so that everyone can engage in worship and gain as much reward as they can.
The night before Ramadan began in Pakistan this year, the committee for the sighting of the moon announced that the moon had been sighted around 10 p.m. I was quite excited, and for that reason, I didn’t sleep at night, and offered Traweh prayers. Also known as night prayers, or Qayam-ul-layil, these are special prayers offered in the nights of Ramadan.
At 2 a.m., we started preparing sehri, the meal before keeping a fast. I ate a paratha, or flatbread, and some stew and by 3:38 a.m., we were fasting.
After offering Fajr prayers, I went to sleep around 4:30 and awoke at noon. It was so hot, so much hot, and don’t talk about humidity!
But soon I got my mind off the weather and realized I had a lot of summer vacation homework to do. I don’t know why my school gives us vacation work even in 10th grade. I mean, who does? Anyways, I had to do it, so I finished my English literature homework all in one go. I was going to start computer science, when at 5:30 p.m., we started preparing for Aftari, the meal after breaking the fast.
Arooj Khalid / youthjournalism.org

Fruit chaat
We washed and cut vegetables for the most popular Aftari snack, pakoras, and then mixed chickpea flour and water in them, and then deep fried them. Most Aftari meals in the sub-continent have oily snacks, and fruit chaat, or fresh fruit salad, is a must.
It’s a hassle before the Aftari, as we want everything to be ready in time. Dates – don’t forget the dates!
It’s a Sunnah, or expected custom, to break your fast with dates. And as Ramadan comes closer, the prices of dates goes higher and higher. We also made dahi pakoriyan, a dish with curd pakoris, or fritters, and other vegetables and spices. We brought samosa and spring rolls from the market; another usual oily snack.

Arooj Khalid / youthjournalism.org

Dahi pakoriyan
Arooj Khalid / youthjournalism.org

Samosas and spring rolls

Arooj Khalid / youthjournalism.org

Doodh soda

For the first day, we decided to make the red drink, laal sherbet, which is an extract from rose flowers and the sandalwood plant, and doodh soda. It is not actually a soda, it's just a soft drink mixed with milk, and really yummy.

Arooj Khalid / youthjournalism.org


Drinks really matter in the Aftari as it is so hot during the day that when breaking your fast, you feel like rushing to grab a drink.
Arooj Khalid / youthjournalism.org

Laal sherbet

When they announced on television that it was time for Aftari, everyone grabbed a date, read the fast-breaking prayer, and broke their fast.
I just drank, drank, drank.  But I kept the fruit chaat in the fridge for later – I love fresh fruits.
After Aftari, we offered Maghreb prayers, managed the kitchen and finally the day was over.
The first of Ramadan passed graciously, and I hope it’s the same for the rest of the Ramadan. 
As we say, “Ramadan is generous,” or “Ramadan Kareem!” 

Bangladesh Mourns Humayun Ahmed, A Beloved Writer, Filmmaker

Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org

Humayun Ahmed's Mother Ayesha Foyez in the crowd of mourners

By Mehran Shamit
DHAKA, Bangladesh – He made his final journey to the land of no return on the shoulders of his son Nuhash and other relatives. 
Renowned Bangladeshi writer and filmmaker Humayun Ahmed was laid to eternal rest at his beloved retreat in Nuhash Palli in Gazipur as rain poured down and thousands of fans, well-wishers, family and friends gathered to say their last goodbyes to one of the greatest and most captivating writers of Bangla literature.

Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org

The writer's body is put into a refrigerated vehicle for transport
Ahmed, 64, died last week in Bellevue Hospital in New York while he was undergoing treatment for colon cancer.
The entire nation watched as the writer’s body returned home for burial to family drama that was covered extensively by the press.
Earlier in Dhaka, plans for his burial were uncertain and his family was divided on where to lay him to rest.
His wife, Meher Afroz Shaon, claimed that his final wish was to be laid to rest in Nuhash Palli, although recorded audio from before his death clearly shows that this was not what he wanted.
Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
Humayun Ahmed's widow, Meher Afroz Shaon

Humayun Ahmed’s children from his previous marriage with Gultekin Ahmed – Nova, Sheela and Nuhash – along with his mother Ayesha Foyez and brothers Mohammed Zafar Iqbal and Ahsan Habib wanted to lay him to rest in the Martyred Intellectuals Graveyard in Mirpur, where the public could have easy access to his grave and pray for him.
Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
Humayun Ahmed's children Nuhash, Nova and Sheela with their aunt, Yasmeen Haque 
Nuhash Palli is located inside a village in Gazipur. Getting to Nuhash Palli is not an easy task for the public or any of Ahmed’s family members, because of the horrible conditions of the roads leading to it.
Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
Humayun Ahmed's brother Mohammed Zafar Iqbal in front of reporters 

Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
Humayun Ahmed's coffin is carried through the crowd.
His children wanted their father’s grave to be accessible to everyone, but after hours of discussion when Meher Afroz Shaon refused to let Humayun Ahmed’s body be buried anywhere but Nuhash Palli, they gave in to her decision just wanting their father to be finally put to rest.
Before Humayun Ahmed’s burial, his coffin was surrounded by his family and friends as fans walked by one last time, making it a very emotional atmosphere. His daughters and son were crying and mourning the loss of their father as thousands of others cried to mourn the loss of an incredible writer and filmmaker.
Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
Thousands gathered to pay their last respects to Humayun Ahmed
Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
Humayun Ahmed's son Nuhash cries on his father's coffin 

Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
Refrigerated vehicle carrying Humayun Ahmed's body to Nuhash Palli 

Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
People gathered in Nuhash Palli to pay their last respects to Humayun Ahmed 
Rain was his favorite and this was what poured from above as thousands stood for the namaz-e-janaza, the final prayer before his burial. He was carried by his son Nuhash and other relatives to his final resting place, under his favorite lichu tola or lychee orchard.

Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
Humayun Ahmed's burial site in Nuhash Palli 

Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
People digging Humayun Ahmed's grave in Nuhash Palli 

Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
People washing up in Nuhash Palli 

Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
Humayun Ahmed's coffin being carried by his son Nuhash and others 

When his body first arrived in Dhaka it was taken to the Central Shaheed Minar, where thousands of fans from all over the country gathered to pay their respects and catch one last glimpse of a writer that captivated their minds and stole their hearts with his many books. His coffin was showered with flowers, a sign of love and respect from thousands.

His daughters and son were seen breaking down in front of his coffin, crying helplessly to see their father alive one last time. Ahmed’s death was especially hard for his children, who barely had any ties with him after his controversial marriage to Meher Afroz Shaon.
Ahmed was a writer and filmmaker known to captivate people with books and dramas that showed the adversities that ordinary Bangladeshis faced. He wrote more than 200 books, almost all of them bestsellers at the Ekushey Book Fair. At a time when writers from West Bengal dominated Bangla literature, Ahmed made a name for himself with his distinct and simple literary style.
I also love reading his books and watching his work on TV, but I am not alone.
Ahmed reached out and connected to ordinary Bangladeshis and was capable of combining fiction and reality and making it one. In fact, he did this so brilliantly that after watching Baker Bhai, a character in one of his dramas, people took to the streets protesting Baker Bhai’s death sentence in the drama before the last episode aired.
His son Nuhash and many of his male fans came to the Central Shaheed Minar wearing a yellow panjabi, just like Himu, one of his fictional characters. Many of his fans also said that they felt as if they were Himu or another one of his many fictional characters, once again proving how Ahmed truly touched people’s hearts and captivated their minds.

Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
Wrapped in white cloth, Humayun Ahmed's body is lowered into his grave as his son and others receive it. 

Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
Friends grieving for Humayun Ahmed

Tahasin Ahmed / youthjournalism.org
Humayun Ahmed's grave, decorated with flowers
Ahmed’s death comes as a blow to the entire country. He may not be alive today, but the books that he left behind are jewels for us to experience and enjoy.
As one of the brightest and most talented citizens Bangladesh has ever seen, Ahmed leaves a legacy as a legendary writer and filmmaker. The heights he reached in Bangla literature will keep him alive among us for many years to come.

More of Tahasin Ahmed's photos are in a slideshow below: 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rehearsal Reveals 'Bizarre And Spectacular' Opening Ceremonies For London Olympics

Noah Kidron-Style / youthjournalism.org

Wednesday's rehearsal of the July 27 opening ceremony,
"Isles of Wonder" for the London 2012 Olympics

By Noah Kidron-Style
Senior Reporter
LONDON – Following the wettest British summer in memory, the start of the London Olympics has, in a moment of real life pathetic fallacy, coincided with the sun finally coming up.
It has not been the easiest ride, with security cock-ups, athletes getting lost and even the North Korean football team storming off the pitch after the South Korean flag was displayed, but tomorrow night the problems of organization will be forgotten as the world tunes in with an expected global audience of up to 4 billion.
Last night was the final dress rehearsal where 30,000 people, many of them Olympic volunteers, were given the privilege of being the first few to witness the spectacle.
To avoid too many details leaking, Director Danny Boyle has created a twitter campaign #savethesuprise, so to avoid the inevitable wrath of the twitterati I cannot reveal all of the details but I would say to those wishing to avoid any spoilers, look away now!
The ‘Isles of Wonder’ ceremony is bizarre and spectacular in equal measure.
The show opens with a homage to the poet William Blake as a rural idyll – complete with real livestock – and is brought crashing down by a gang of cartoonish Victorian capitalists who bring about the Industrial Revolution to the tune of the hymn “Jerusalem.”
A set of flying pyrotechnic Olympic rings brings the first act to a close in stunning fashion.
From then on the show just gets weirder.
There is a film involving James Bond and the Queen that I have yet to see, though rumor has it that she has a speaking part. Then the surreal moment when hundreds of nurses team up with Mary Poppins lookalikes to battle against a giant puppet Voldemort in Disneyesque tribute to the National Health Service.
One thing that surprised me about the show was the huge number of British historical and pop culture references throughout. Perhaps our international readership can tell us whether Chariots of Fire, the Jarrow March and Fawlty Towers hold the same significance to them, given that the ceremony will be watched from Cairo to Caracas.  One hopes that they will embrace the madness regardless.
And madness it is. The musicians in the London Philharmonic Orchestra who were so upset at being made to mime over a recorded performance that they have refused to go to rehearsals, the national anthem being sung by a deaf and hearing impaired choir and the 10-minute hit parade of song clips and TV shows including an entirely appropriate performance of Bonkers by UK hip hop artist Dizzee Rascal – all projected onto an inflatable house.
Noah Kidron-Style / youthjournalism.org

Rehearsing the opening of the London 2012 Olympics
The organizers have claimed not to be competing with China’s opening ceremony but it is inevitable that comparisons will be made.
Whereas China impressed though incredible synchronicity, London focuses on individuals each acting out their own little scene as part of a larger performance. In any case with our top hatted Victorian industrialists, we have proved that in the post-credit crunch world, we, too, can do anti-capitalist propaganda. 
It seems that we are not so different after all, and isn’t that the Olympic spirit?