Recently in Student Involvement Category

Hello loyal blog readers! Have you ever thought about where the everyday things you throw away go to? Do you guys recycle? Did you recycle back home in your country? To be honest I didn't and the habit of recycling came to me since I began my studies in the US. At first it was a bit of getting used to, identifying which trash goes to which bin but now I am getting the hang of it.

So this semester I am taking a class about recycling and we have to do a service learning project for that class. Basically it's volunteering at any recycling program or facilities. I managed to volunteer at the Como Recycling Facility which manages waste specifically from the University of Minnesota. I volunteered once every week for five weeks and I learned a lot of things.

When I started I was told what to do: grab a bin, dump the plastic trash on the conveyer belt, find any foreign trash besides plastic, separate the different types of plastic and push all the remaining plastic into the feeder. This feeder will clean and crush the plastics into bails which will then be shipped out to other recycling facilities. All the leftover garbage that cannot be processed will be sent to HERC, which is a facility that turns waste into energy.

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Basically that's what I do and it was a lot of work sorting the trash and you will definitely find interesting things in the trash. Even though the bins we see at campus are labelled 'plastics only', people still throw away non-plastic trash into these bins. This makes it harder for us to sort the trash in the facility. So when you throw away your trash please do the guys at the recycling facility a favor and throw them into the proper bin. This not only saves time but also energy.

To those of you who have not yet tried volunteering here in the US, I recommend you do it at least once. Volunteering here is a big deal and people really appreciate what you are doing. It will also be a good asset when you do interviews for jobs showing that you have done voluntary work. Here is a one link that you can go to to find volunteering opportunities in the Twin Cities : http://www.servicelearning.umn.edu/volunteer/ and for those interested in volunteering at the recycling facility you can go to this page and contact Dana who is the supervisor at the facility. So hopefully you will be inspired to get up and do some volunteer work! Oh and trust me you can get a lot of experience and knowledge from doing so.

What happens when your academic life and your dreams coincide

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The week of November 11th to November 18th is an International Education Week. It is a great opportunity for all international students to learn about educational opportunities around the world and in the USA in particular. As an international graduate student studying Comparative and International Development Education at the U of M, I would like to share about my contribution into the "world of international education."

When I just arrived to Minnesota to start my first semester as a grad student, I accidently got involved with the Civic Leadership Engagement Program for Minnesota and Ukraine due to my natural desire and ability to jump into any kind of unpaid job or initiative. I was just a very happy Russian-English-Russian interpreter for a while until I realize how much I care about this Program and how much I want something similar to this Program to be done for Ukrainian youth. As the result the idea of creating Youth Leadership Engagement Program for Ukraine and Minnesota youth was born. And thus, my new journey started. During next few month several people gathered together to discuss, create, and set up the Program. My classmates and some of my professors got excited and agreed to help out. We've contacted many youth driven organizations around the Twin Cities area to see if we can work together for the best learning experiences of our youth. The Youth Leadership Engagement Program for Ukrainian youth that once was just a big dream of mine turned into my Master's thesis project; and more than that, it turned into the everyday reality of my life.

The junior high and high school students from Ukraine arrived to Minnesota about two weeks ago and are going to spend two more weeks on Minnesota soil learning about youth empowerment, leadership, governance, transparency, and democracy. I'm completely overwhelmed with enthusiasm and all of the learning experiences we discover together every day. We've visited many organizations (Public Achievement, Fire Department, Police Station, City Hall, University of Minnesota, etc.) and interacted with many inspiring people (ex-Governor of Minnesota is just one of them). I would never believe I'd be a part of such an important initiative that someday, I'm sure, will turn into a movement and will give my country incredible leaders capable of making best decisions for the better future of our nation. Now I believe more than ever, big accomplishments start with big dreams. So never lessen your dreams.

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An Ambassador's perspective on the presidential elections

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Everything got quiet suddenly with everyone seeming to hold their breath. We were tightly packed together in a gym hall with blue signs of "Hope" and "Change we can believe" flaring across the crowd. Then out of the speakers blasted U2's song "City of Blinding Lights" and the crowd of students and community members erupted into a jubilant choir of cheers upon his arrival: Barack Obama.

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Back in February of 2008 I had the opportunity to hear Obama speak during his campaign trail for the Presidency. It was a surreal, cool event to see a charismatic political figure give an eloquent speech only several meters away from you. Of course, one couldn't help but being taken in by the crowd's passion along with Obama's charisma, charm, humor and outstanding oratory skills. At the end of his speech Obama made the rounds toward the crowd and fortunately, I had the chance to shake his hand twice (I still enjoy bragging about it to my American friends :)). To this day I think that that was one of the coolest events in my college career.

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In my 6 years of being here I had the privilege to witness two presidential elections. Overall, I have always found the time of elections here very interesting, in particular when it comes to the expression of preference for a candidate. It's not like every day that you suddenly see yard signs with political slogans or candidates' names decorating peoples' front lawns and properties. Whenever you drive or walk through the streets you can't help but noticing the multitude of bumper stickers glaring at you from passing cars. In addition, it's a time when you can encounter many political ads in social media, TV and radio and it's always fun to see how creative both campaigns tend to get with their messages.

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Apart from the candidates and slogans, I also enjoy the effects that the elections have on the people. One thing I have always appreciated deeply about the elections is the amount of passion and energy that is emanated from campaign volunteers, mostly consisting of students and community members. Often you see them on campus or in the community, spending countless, unpaid hours handing out literature or encouraging fellow citizens to register and vote in the elections. Back In 2008 I volunteered along some of them to knock on people's doors to remind them and obtain their pledge to vote in the election. It was a great feeling to do something for the common good with other Americans.


One may wonder then why as an international student who can't vote in this country I care about the elections here. For one, it's the fact that the selection of the next president will also affect the relationship with the leaders of my country and will have an impact on foreign policy in general. More so, I come from a household where being informed and having discussions about politics is important. Consequently, I enjoy hearing peoples' opinions and take on the politics that occur in their country. I remember having some of the best, profound conversations about politics with American friends of mine because they often asked for my opinions and views on the elections. Sometimes these conversations could become heated and emotional when disagreements occurred. But with all fruitful and healthy debates, we could all agree at the end of day to respect each other's' opinions and appreciate the opportunities for an enlightening discussion with insight into another person's beliefs.

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that if you have a chance to talk politics with people here don't hesitate to do so because it's a great way to explore people's passions and beliefs. My experience has always been that they also like to hear a foreign perspective on their elections or on politics in general. And if you have the chance to see a politician or candidate speak, don't hesitate to do so because it can be another insightful American experience for you. Make sure to check the news on Tuesday because it's probably going to be one of the tightest and most exciting elections in U.S. history. Until next time, my dear friends.

Volunteer group

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Hi all,
I am a member of the University's Medical Reserve corps, that held a pharmaceutical repackaging drill for it's new and old members during the last week. The drill was to train volunteers on how to package and dispense drugs to the public in situations of health emergencies.
The University of Minnesota's Medical Reserve Corps is a volunteer group of students, staff and faculty of the Academic health center at the University of Minnesota. The group is responsible for training volunteers to respond to local, state and national emergencies. As a student, it's also an opportunity for networking, to meet other healthcare and public health professionals and share ideas. I think it's a great opportunity for students coming into any health-related field.

You can check out their site for more details: http://www.health.umn.edu/facultystaff/oer/mrc/index.htm
I'm sure it's a group you'll find very exciting and they are always ready to welcome new members.

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