In an era of increased misunderstanding of the world’s Muslim community, Notre Dame recently launched a Quran Seminar project to encourage constructive new commentary on the Islamic faith’s holiest text. Project co-founder Mehdi Azaiez said the year-long Quran Seminar will draw numerous leading Muslim scholars and intellectuals from around the globe to offer their insight on 50 central Quranic passages. Azaiez said a main goal of the project is to demonstrate how new commentaries on the Quran’s biblical subtext help uncover the richness of its discourse. “The work of the Quran Seminar is to show that there is no separation between the Quran and the Bible, that reading the Quran with its biblical legacy helps us understand better the Quran and its message,” Azaiez said. Azaiez said two prominent Muslim intellectuals will give lectures this week as part of the seminar. Nayla Tabbara, director of cross-cultural studies for a Lebanese non-governmental organization dedicated to Muslim-Christian relations, will speak Thursday night about the Quran and the importance of interfaith dialogue at 7:30 p.m. in the Hesburgh Center for International Studies. Iranian professor Maryam Mussharaf will lecture Friday about mystical commentary on the Quran at 5 p.m. in McKenna Hall. Azaiez said he anticipates the seminar will positively change students’ perceptions of the Quran and of the Islamic community. “It is the possibility to learn from main leaders of Islamic thought today, to maybe be interested and discover more about the Islamic world and its culture,” Azaiez said. “I think it will be an occasion to improve the [students’] knowledge and hopefully break false representations of this world.” Moving forward, Azaiez said he hopes the efforts of the Quran Seminar project will encourage more scholars and students to offer their own respectful interpretations of the text, showcasing the pluralism of contemporary Quranic thought. “We hope this is the beginning of a project that will give ideas for Muslims and non-Muslims to continue in the same way our rich approach to the Quran,” Azaiez said.
The University’s International Development Studies (IDS) minor not only affords students the opportunity to study the challenges facing developing countries in the classroom, but it also allows them to go out and research these difficulties for themselves. Senior IDS minor Kristen Kelly spent the past two summers in rural Uganda conducting research on participatory development initiatives and the importance of women in these community-driven projects. “Issues, challenges and ideas regarding the struggle for this development have wholly and completely enthralled me,” Kelly said. “I love anything and everything related to development.” The Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, which is housed at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, created the IDS minor four years ago. Economics and political science professor Amitava Dutt, who is also a fellow at the Kellogg Institute, said the minor requires five courses, including a gateway and a capstone course and a summer research project. “The main focus is to allow students to develop a deep understanding of international development by taking courses from a range of disciplines, given the interdisciplinary nature of the subject, conduct field research in a developing country and write an essay related to their research,” he said. The interdisciplinary nature of the minor attracts students from a wide variety of backgrounds, Dutt said, such as the social sciences, philosophy, business and history. Part of the program’s popularity stems from its duality as a field of study that is both practically important and intellectually interesting, he said. “Students in the program share, with the faculty, a deep commitment to the issue of development in the poorer countries of the world, arguably one of the most important and difficult problems faced by the world today,” Dutt said. Kelly, one such student committed to alleviating these issues, said she decided to minor in IDS as soon as she learned of the program. “The ability to grapple with some of the most pressing development challenges of our time, for some of the most vulnerable people in the world, with some of the most passionate students and professors on campus was an opportunity I could not miss out on,” she said. In addition to her two summers in Uganda, Kelly said the minor has provided her with a wide range of opportunities at Notre Dame. “I have focused my entire course of study, as well as the extracurricular activities I participate in here at Notre Dame, around issues of international development,” she said. “I have also presented my research at a couple of different conferences, allowing me to share my passion and research findings with other interested students and academic professionals.” As a senior, Kelly said her background in IDS is instrumental in pursuing her chosen career path. She hopes to join an organization that is committed to fighting for human rights of the most vulnerable world citizens. In particular, Kelly said she wishes to continue working on development problems both in the United States and in the countries that require assistance. “As the IDS minor has taught me, we can’t hope to fix any of the world’s problems by sitting in a classroom or office reading about them,” she said. “If we hope to make any difference at all, we must engage in meaningful conversations with the people afflicted by these development challenges.”
Today marks the beginning of the third annual “Fighting Irish, Fighting Hunger” food drive kicks off this week, which will last through Sept. 29. Anne Kolaczyk, chairperson of “Fighting Irish, Fighting Hunger,” said the drive began in 2010 under the name of “Holy Cross Harvest.” “It combined all the small food drives held by departments into one,” she said. “We collected about 600 pounds of food and about $2,500 in cash donations.” The drive was originally envisioned as a joint effort between the Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross, but has since been converted to a Notre Dame drive, Kolaczyk said. She said the drive was re-named “Fighting Irish, Fighting Hunger” this year to reflect that. “The name reflects Notre Dame’s unique effort, but we are still part of the ‘Holy Cross Harvest’ food drive,” she said. “We also moved the date of the drive to September to coordinate with Hunger Action month.” Kolaczyk said the drive’s new time has allowed for the committee to use different fundraising techniques to target visitors on campus, as well as faculty and staff. “There will be a special collection in the Basilica the weekend of the Michigan State game,” she said. “Also, there will be donation jars at Food Service locations, and students attending the Blackhawks scrimmage on campus will be asked to bring a food item.” Kolaczyk said all the food donations will go to United Way, which has a coalition of local food pantries. “The money will be divided between the Food Bank of Northern Indiana and People Gotta Eat, a United Way organization,” she said. “United Way has a donor who is willing to match our monetary donation.” Kolaczyk said that the last food drive was in Feb. 2013. “People were very generous eight and nine months ago, and we felt it was important to have another drive now,” she said. “We didn’t want people to forget about us.” The demand for donations is very high, especially in Northern Indiana, Kolaczyk said. “A lot of kids depend on free breakfast and lunch at school because there’s not enough food at home,” she said. “Everything we get is needed.” According to a 2010 state report prepared for Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, Inc., 80 percent of Indiana food pantries have experienced an increase in the number of clients since 2006. “Many emergency food providers turn people away because they do not have enough food,” the report said. “29 percent of pantries, 11 percent of kitchens and 42 percent of shelters reported turning away clients during the previous year.” Donation barrels are located around campus. Check fightinghunger.nd.edu for more information.
Marika Kuspa, a Notre Dame graduate student in biological sciences, competed in a Jan. 9 episode of the iconic game show “Jeopardy,” placing second and beating the previous day’s champion.Courtesy of Marika Kuspa Kuspa said she was neck and neck with her competitors during most of “Double Jeopardy,” but fell slightly behind going into the final question. Unfortunately, her answer was not correct.“I was very excited to see the ‘Foreign Words and Phrases’ category in the ‘Jeopardy’ round and the ‘Two-Word Science Terms’ category in the ‘Double Jeopardy’ round,” she said. “I split that category with the other scientist.”As the “fun fact” she used to introduce herself on the show, Kuspa said she referenced her prior scientific research.“I said that I worked in a tuberculosis biosafety level three facility, which requires wearing a full suit, respirator and three pairs of gloves for protection,” she said. “I thought it would be interesting for people to get a glimpse of scientific research in real life.”Kuspa said she began the audition process with an online assessment and was one of more than 100,000 people who took the test that year.“About 2,500 people are called to in-person auditions in a major city,” Kuspa said. “I drove up to Detroit. During the in-person audition you take another written test and then play a mock game of ‘Jeopardy’ against your fellow opponents.“At this point, the producers know that everyone is pretty smart, so they’re looking for people who are TV-friendly.”The production crew tapes two weeks worth of shows in two days and requires contestants to bring several changes of clothing for filming, Kuspa said.In addition to shopping for outfits, Kuspa said she prepared for the taping by watching episodes of “Jeopardy” and reading 74-game champion Ken Jennings’ book “Secrets of the Jeopardy Champions.” Jennings’ winning streak ran during the 2004 season, when he won over 3 million dollars.“Basically I would peruse lists of facts and just see if any of it stuck in my head,” she said. “I also started doing crossword puzzles because those are a great way to learn random facts and they’re fun. Also, I try to stay up on more current events by listening to [National Public Radio] in my car.”Before the taping, producers explained the rules about contestants’ buzzers, Kuspa said.“You can’t buzz in on ‘Jeopardy’ before the question is over or the computer system will lock you out for a fraction of a second in which your opponent can ring in and score,” she said.Although she did not win, Kuspa said she was pleased with her performance on the show and was especially prepared for certain categories.“It was a really great game overall and it would have been even better to win, but I’m not disappointed by my performance.”Contact Tori Roeck at [email protected]: Jeopardy
Notre Dame’s Kellog Institute for International Studies hosted Dr. Sara Sievers, a principal thought leader in international development from the Earth Institute at Columbia University.Her lecture, titled “Making a Difference in the World: Connecting the Personal and Professional in International Development,” highlighted key strategies and requirements needed to implement effective changes in developing countries.During her lecture, Sievers highlighted how personal values and basic principles of international development frequently conflict when working within the developing country’s political context. Sievers said the main question at the core of the discussion is how good ideas and good intentions are sometimes sidelined when applied to a realistic scale.“This is where the personal and the professional become important,” Sievers said. “We can sit around and talk about all these glorious principles of millennium development goals, but if we violate that in the compounds that we live in, what does that say about who we are and what we really believe?”According to Sievers, Nigeria stands as a prime example of case studies in international development, due to its ecological complexity, relatively high economic disparity and maternal and infant mortality.“[Nigeria is] a large country with a very complex federal system,” Sievers said. “There are relatively few places in the developing world that are more complex than Nigeria.”Sievers said one of the greatest difficulties she faced during her work in Nigeria was living and working in a high-income household while witnessing the economic hardships faced by a local underprivileged family. Sievers was unable to help the lower-income family due to bureaucratic restrictions.Sievers said the experience of not being able to take immediate action helping is one of the most painful dilemmas that workers in developing countries must face.“Basically I was living in a violation of the things that I hold most profound,” Sievers said. “At some point you have to be able to take care of the people you can touch, the people that are closest to you. Don’t treat them like a statistic.”While universities remain important developers in aid strategies for developing countries, their theoretical approaches have difficulty translating because of the intricacy of political and economic structures, she said.“One of the things that happens a lot with universities is people come up with a lot of ideas that should happen, but they don’t take into account whether the country actually has the resources to make it happen,” Seivers said.Sievers said different strategies for implementing programs in international development include trying to understand the country’s political scope. By understanding the politics, developers can learn when to make concessions and when to compromise goals in the face of corrupt governments. Sievers said compromising constituted the hardest challenge for the majority of people in international development.“That [compromise] can be an especially frustrating step, because it feels like you’re compromising your principles and it can be a very unsatisfying stage,” she said. “If you’re able to make those compromises, then you have a chance at being able to achieve the real world results that are motivating you to be here.”Tags: International Development, Kellogg Institute
Saint Mary’s department of gender and women’s studies and the psychology department hosted Meghan Buell, a transgender woman who shared her experiences at Dalloway’s Clubhouse on Wednesday. Buell, who is the founder of Trees, Inc., a non-profit organization that brings education and resources about trans issues to small towns in the Midwest, said she grew up in a small town in Indiana and she spent 35 years struggling with her gender identity.“One of the toughest aspects of my personal journey is not finding, or not even knowing how to find someone who was like me,” Buell said. “When I had an experience or a curiosity or something happened in my life that didn’t fit in to what I was being shown around me as the binary and male gender, I kind of said ‘All right. I don’t know what that is, but I’m going to put it up in my head and not worry about it and not think about it.’”Buell said she searched the Internet to find other people like her, and spent five years reading biographies of other transgender people before she was able to self-identify as transgender.Monica Villagomez Mendez | The Observer “I have been described by a lot of my friends and people here in the community and the area as the most out and proud trans person they’ve ever met,” Buell said. “I’m just Meghan and I’m just living my life and I’m doing it the way I feel is best for me.“I hope other people realize it’s okay to be yourself and beat to your own drum and go about life in the best way you can and not let others push you into boxes and push you into a way of living,” she said. “Do it for yourself; it’s your life. Enjoy it and do it the way you want.”Buell emphasized that the journey for each transgender person is different. “For every trans person that speaks, the audience needs to remember this is just one trans person speaking,” Buell said. “The trans community is made of very diverse, very unique individuals, and every journey is their own and unique to them. I can tell you things about being in the trans community that are completely opposite of what someone else has experienced.“Give every trans person the opportunity to tell their story and to talk about their journey, the challenges, the successes, because it’s not going to be the same as the last trans person you spoke to.”Buell said one of the biggest questions concerning the transgendered community is the problem with which public bathroom to use.“Everybody needs to go to the bathroom,” she said. “It really has an impact on the transgender community. … It makes choosing a bathroom difficult sometimes when your gender expression is showing the opposite of what the gender marker on your driver’s license says or is different from what the stereotypical gender expression may be. There’s this point of hesitancy when you walk up to the bathroom.”Buell said this is dangerous to members of the transgender community because in some places, it is illegal to enter bathrooms that do not match a person’s assigned gender. She said transgender students have started avoiding bathrooms at school altogether by not eating or drinking during the day, which can affect both their physical health and academic career.Though Buell describes herself as an open book, she said the experience of being transgender is a hard one. She said one way to make it easier for transgender people is to not impose gender roles from a young age, and to raise children in a more gender-neutral way until they express gender on their own.“I don’t wish this upon anyone. This is tough,” Buell said. “I’ve made a lot more out of it than I ever expected to make out of it. It’s tough. So if you have children and you allow them to express their gender when they’re ready to express their gender, it gives them a better shot of not going down the wrong path and having to reverse direction or correct direction, which is tough.”Tags: Gender and Women’s Studies, meghan buell
The Saint Mary’s Department of Music will present their 44th annual Madrigal Christmas Dinner Celebration in the North Lounge of Regina Hall this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.According to Nancy Menk, the chair of the music department and the person responsible for putting the program together, the dinner — like other madrigal dinners — is a re-creation of a 16th century holiday feast. “The idea is that it takes place in a manor and the lord of the manor hosts guests from the community,” she said. “The dinner includes entertainment, instruments, dancers and there is sort of a little play going on during the dinner.”The choir group who performs at the dinner, or the “Madrigals,” have been rehearsing for the dinner since October, sophomore Riley Harber said.“I do women’s choir four hours a week and this is an additional two, which is challenging, but definitely worth it,” Harber, a member of the Madrigals, said. “It’s fun to be immersed in the middle ages atmosphere.”This year’s dinner will mark Menk’s 33rd year of involvement with the dinner at Saint Mary’s. Over the years, she said she has seen the performance change for the better.The Madrigals used to be a mixed group, including men and women from both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s. This tradition changed 10 years ago to make the group an all-women’s choir.“We changed it to all women so more Saint Mary’s girls could be involved,” she said.The night also used to include an opera during the dinner.“Apparently, before I came they would do a little opera during the dinner — back then it was an extended evening,” she said. “Over the years we’ve added dancers, changed the scenery and have improved it.”Laurie Lowry, a senior lecturer for dance at Saint Mary’s, has been the choreographer of the dinner for the past five years. She said dance brings another element to the dinner.“I think it’s really fun to look at another element in the arts,” she said. “The audience can sit back and enjoy the music and the patterns.“Early dance like that wasn’t really elaborate, but it’s tricky. It puts a different take on what the audience feels and sees.”Menk said madrigal dinners used to be more prominent among schools, which is why its preservation at Saint Mary’s is imperative.“Maybe 20 to 30 years ago, there were more madrigal dinners taking place, but some of them have died away,” she said. “It gives the students a chance to sing repertoire from a different era, which we don’t usually do.”Lowry agreed the Saint Mary’s tradition should be preserved not only for the fun, but for the historical experience.“I think the ones that are in it get a sense of the history of music, the history of dance and so they have a true experience that is happening,” she said. “They’re not just studying it in a history book — they experience it.”Lowry said she uses this method of experience in her classes as well.“I make my students go to the dance floor to experience the genre we are working,” she said. “Unless you experience it, you don’t really understand that.”Lowry said the experience is not only for the actors, but for the audience members as well.“I think that our society right now is so far away from history that regenerating the reality of the tradition of that period gives a sense of what it was like to live back then,” Lowry said. “And it’s just a fun Christmas tradition — it’s different rather than going to a movie or the mall.”The menu includes traditional Renaissance foods such as Cornish game hen, roast beef au jus, roasted vegetables and “wassail,” a traditional hot apple cider.Harber said the dinner helps her get into the holiday spirit, and she hopes it does the same for others.“When I was a kid my dad would always take me to Renaissance fairs, and in high school I always thought it was cool but I never got to participate, so when I got the opportunity I thought I would take advantage of it,” she said. “The Christmas spirit is alive even though it’s not really close to Christmas. I hope people go and have a good time, eat some food, get some laughs and I hope they get the same magical Christmas energy out of it that I do.”Tags: Christmas Madrigal, nancy menk, SMC Department of Music
175 years ago, on a snowy November day in 1842, Fr. Edward F. Sorin traveled more than 300 miles north from Vincennes, Indiana, to Notre Dame, where he developed his vision for the University. Over the course of 13 days, thousands of participants walked anywhere from 15-41 miles each day — some walking the full journey made by Father Sorin — to commemorate the founder’s journey, with the trek concluding Saturday morning.In a Mass following the venture, University President Fr. John Jenkins said Sorin demonstrated resilience and showcased love in his determination to found the University. He said the original dream constantly expands to include more individuals interested in enhancing the mission of Notre Dame. Peter St. John Members of the Notre Dame community gather to celebrate Mass after the conclusion of the Notre Dame Trail.“That’s the way it’s always been with Notre Dame,” Jenkins said. “It began with a small group and a dream. And as they struggled to realize that dream, so many others joined them to be part of the Notre Dame family and to help. We celebrate and thank all those who made this University what it is today.”According to Jenkins, troubling events around the world concern him, particularly recent expressions of white supremacism. He encountered an article arguing that universities should promote openness to debate, rather than offer moral clarity, he said.“Perhaps, we here at Notre Dame, following in the footsteps of Father Sorin, can offer something more,” he said. “We are certainly committed to these epistemic virtues and the pursuit of truth, but at this Catholic university, we add to them other values, such as a commitment to the dignity of each and every person, a willingness to take responsibility for the common good and a special concern for those who are most vulnerable.”One trail participant, Sara Klepper, joined her mother, a ’77 alumna for a five-day pilgrimage north.“For us, it was important just to come out and pay tribute to Father Sorin and the original founding of the University 175 years ago,” she said. “So to get back to our roots, the University’s roots and to celebrate Our Lady with family, friends and classmates was really special.” Some walkers documented their experiences in an online journal that included the geographical trail description as well as the lessons learned throughout their journeys. In an August 27 entry, participant Timothy Deenihan said the trail aided in self-discovery.“To go on this pilgrimage, I had to let go of who I was,” he said. “The same can be said for returning from it. … We mustn’t spend our days, not even our hours, holding on to what we were. We have to let go, we have to choose a direction, left or right, so that we may become what we will be.”Tags: 175th anniversary, Notre Dame Trail, Rev. Edward Sorin
In anticipation of the Global Climate Strike, final documents were drafted to establish a new Eco Belles club on Wednesday, which aims to encourage Belles to make sustainable choices and lead recycling and other sustainability initiatives on campus.Rebecca Klaybor, a Saint Mary’s junior and president of Eco Belles, said she was inspired to start the club after she took a costume shop class taught last semester by Melissa Bialko, professional specialist in costume design in the SMC Program of Theater and now faculty advisory for Eco Belles.“This class discussed ethics in the fashion industry so that’s what sparked my true interest in the environment along with climate change complications,” Klaybor said.Saint Mary’s junior and Eco Belles vice president Emily Emerson said she noticed a lack of sustainability clubs on campus and wanted to change that.Emerson, Klaybor and Bialko began to work together last year to develop sustainability initiatives for the Saint Mary’s community, which eventually culminated in the founding of Eco Belles.“We’re working with a group called TerraCycle,” Emerson said. “They have a whole bunch of free recycling programs, and eventually we would like to be able to use their boxes, where you can put anything besides food waste in and they will figure out a way to recycle it for you.”She said though the program is great, buying and shipping boxes is expensive and they are trying to raise the money to participate in the box program. However, other recycling initiatives led by the group are already active on campus.“We’re also currently working with Nike and H&M,” Emerson said. “Nike will take any kind of shoes in any condition and make them into different clothes, new shoes and even basketball courts. H&M recycles fabrics and is working with the theater department because we use a lot of different fabrics and we have a lot of scraps.”TerraCycle has multiple different recycling programs that Eco Belles are participating in, she said, including programs to recycle used Brita filters, contact lenses, razors, oral hygiene, clean makeup products, personal products and the packaging in which all of these items are sold.“You don’t really think about [the waste] until you see that there are ways you can recycle [these products] instead of just throwing them in the garbage,” Emerson said. “I hope this makes the campus much more sustainability-minded and recognize where things are being just thrown in the trash when they don’t need to be. And just being more conscious of how much waste we produce as a campus is huge. This is a necessary step to take as a school, because it can be broadened across the tri-campus community and to other colleges across Indiana.”The main way that Saint Mary’s students can get involved, Klaybor said, is to start collecting items to donate and recycle. On campus, there are bins outside of the costume shop where students can bring donations or recyclable items. Eco Belles will then organize and send that collection to the proper place.Eco Belles meetings are every other Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the Saint Mary’s costume shop in Moreau. Klaybor invites everyone to bring their own mugs for coffee and tea, as well as whatever donations and recycling they may have.“I hope that people will learn that being eco-friendly is easier than what people think,” Klaybor said. “People just need to be taught how easy it is to recycle throughout their day. I hope that campus can learn that being eco-friendly isn’t that difficult, and there are small things that can make a big difference in the long run.”Tags: Eco Belles, SMC Program of Theater
Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Photo: Mr Hyde at Czech / WikipediaWASHINGTON – The United States is running out of the only drug known to help with COVID-19.According to a doctor with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the last shipment of Remdesivir goes out June 29.The company that makes it is ramping up production, and hopes to have more this summer.A study shows Remdesivir reduces the numbers of days Coronavirus patients spend in the hospital.