The call came early on Nov. 5, 2008, telling Bishop Bryant Robinson Jr. that his new church was ablaze. Only hours before, Barack Obama had been elected the nation’s first black president. Now Robinson’s nearly completed church, home to a largely black congregation, was burning like a matchbook, the flames lighting the night sky.The fire, which prosecutors say was set by arsonists angry at Obama’s election, was on Robinson’s mind as he addressed a group of Harvard undergraduates on a warm spring afternoon outside the Macedonia Church of God in Christ. The church in Springfield, Mass., had risen again, with their help.Forgoing a week at the beach or at home, the students joined the annual Alternative Spring Break trip sponsored by Harvard’s Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) to help rebuild churches destroyed by arson. During their week on-site, the volunteers helped to paint almost the entire interior of the 18,000-square-foot church in bright pastels.“You guys were on the other side of that flame,” an appreciative Robinson told them.Robinson said later that the students’ support “just renews the spirit, the soul.” Their participation reminded him of Obama’s optimism, Robinson added, “when he says we are moving toward a more perfect union.”Harvard’s service ethos is at the heart of its founding mission, which focused from the start in 1636 on educating ministers to serve their surrounding communities. Now, that service commitment extends across the modern University and includes students, faculty, alumni, and staff. Some efforts are embedded in altruism, and some in curriculum. But all aim to do good, as a rising focal point of Harvard life.Harvard President Drew Faust has made service a core value of her administration. She regularly reminds the Harvard community that with the University’s great resources comes great responsibility. “We as a University live under the protections of the public trust,” she said at last year’s Commencement. “It is our obligation to nurture and educate talent to serve that trust — creating the people and the ideas that can change the world.”Buttressing that ideal, Harvard will soon announce the winners of the first Presidential Public Service Fellowships – 10 students from Harvard College and the graduate and professional Schools who will work in public service for the summer. Created by Faust, the program provides grants of up to $5,000 for undergraduates and $10,000 for graduate students for a range of efforts, including government and community service, nongovernmental organization and nonprofit work, and innovative projects that serve the common good.For many participants, such public service proves transformative. Some volunteers say their experiences prompted them to change their academic direction, while others point to the lasting friendships they made in working toward shared goals.Emmett Kistler ’11, who for three years has participated in the Alternative Spring Break sessions led for a decade by Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and Harvard College lecturer on history and literature and public policy Tim McCarthy ’93, was so inspired by his experiences that he changed his concentration. After his first trip as a sophomore, the Eliot House resident traded his chemistry classes for ones involving religion and civil rights. He is completing his thesis on Martin Luther King Jr.“This has been one of the most shaping experiences of my college career,” Kistler said.Other participants point to the personal bonds they forged. Several students working on the Springfield church said they had made lasting friendships with fellow undergraduates.Freshman Rachel Horn said that she missed the break time that she could have spent with her family, but that her parents understood she wanted to make service “a big part of what I did in college.”“I love the sense of community that it has given me,” said a paint-spattered Horn as she added another cream-colored coat to a wall near the church’s sanctuary. “I love doing this work, but I also just love meeting the people. All the people on this trip have been incredibly friendly, and I feel like I am really close with them, even though I have only known them for a week.”PBHA is the gateway to service for Harvard undergraduates. The student-run organization has 1,500 students participating in more than 80 social service and social action programs. The numbers of participants and programs have risen steadily over the past decade.This year, 110 students participated in one of 11 Alternative Spring Break trips, which included everything from working with AIDS patients in New York City to creating affordable housing in El Salvador.Service, front and center For Harvard’s Schools, serving others is often part of the curriculum.At Harvard Law School (HLS), every student must complete 40 hours of pro bono legal services before graduating. But most students do far more. The HLS Class of 2010 averaged 556 hours of free legal services per student, and some students completed 2,000 hours or more of free services during their three years at the School. Such efforts are managed through the Office of Clinical and Pro Bono Programs (OCP).“It’s a dual mission of providing services to the community but also teaching students how to be competent and ethical lawyers,” said Lisa Dealy, assistant dean for clinical and pro bono programs. “We feel that all lawyers have an obligation to serve their communities (and the world). And through the HLS clinical and pro bono programs, we hope to instill in students that public service ethos.”One of the largest providers of free legal services in Massachusetts, the School’s clinical arm is also believed to be the largest clinical legal education program in the world, offering clinics in nearly 30 areas, including immigration, international human rights, and child advocacy law. Under the supervision of the School’s 60 clinical instructors, students represent clients in actual cases.Serving the community has another important benefit, said Ronald Sullivan, a clinical professor of law who directs Harvard’s Criminal Justice Institute, in which third-year HLS students, supervised by clinical instructors, represent indigent criminal defendants and juveniles in local courts.Providing quality representation allows defendants, their families, and friends to feel that they were heard, something particularly important in communities of color, where distrust of the criminal justice system can be widespread, said Sullivan.“One of the ironies that every good criminal defense lawyer experiences is a client who gets convicted and turns to you and says ‘thank you.’ It is a profound expression of the recognition that their voice was heard,” Sullivan said.Second-year law student Jessica Lewis recently helped a young man to gain asylum status through Harvard’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic. She said the work “changed my experience in law school.”Developing skills as a lawyer by working with another classmate and a clinical instructor, while forging a connection with her client, gave her a new perspective. “It makes you realize that the skills you are developing here are not just for you,” she said. “You can use them for other people to make a difference in their lives.”HLS also has a dozen student practice organizations that work on real cases. For example, the School’s Harvard Law & International Development Society collaborates with the OCP to offer opportunities in law and international development.In January, working with the Millennium Challenge Corp., a U.S. foreign aid agency, students visited the small African nation of Lesotho, where they worked on decentralizing health care services and on a land regularization project so residents could obtain formal documentation of their property rights.“The most satisfying thing was knowing right away that what we were doing was really helping, and that we were able to give back,” said third-year HLS student Alastair Green.Supplementing such efforts, last year HLS created the Public Service Venture Fund, which will start distributing $1 million in grants annually, beginning in the spring of 2013, to help graduating students pursue service careers. HLS students also have access to the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising to investigate such careers.Aiding in public healthThrough programs that address key issues such as global health, health policy, nutrition, and complex diseases, the Harvard School of Public Health works to inform policy debate, disseminate information, and support health as a public good and a fundamental right. The School has a network of students who work with local high school students on such critical concerns as violence prevention and safe-sex practices.At Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM), students and faculty offer their skills in local communities, including HIV counseling and testing programs, as well as free dental services to the underserved. Through the HMS Department of Global Health & Social Medicine (GHSM), faculty and students help to tackle problems such as malnutrition and infectious disease in developing nations.First-year HMS student Matthew Basilico ’08 plans to return to Haiti this summer to study the causes of poverty and ill health, working with faculty from GHSM and Harvard’s Department of Government. As a Harvard freshman, Basilico took what he called “a life-altering seminar” with Paul Farmer, founder of the HMS-affiliated aid organization Partners In Health (PIH), head of GHSM, and Kolokotrones University Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine. After graduating from the College, Basilico worked with PIH following Haiti’s devastating earthquake a year ago, helping to coordinate landing spots in the capital for planes carrying medical teams and supplies.“There has been an enormous range of opportunities to be involved with global health work at Harvard,” said Basilico, “and there are incredible mentors here who highlight these issues.”In addition, HKS trains public leaders to make a difference in the world. The Harvard Business School has a Social Enterprise Initiative that encourages “emerging leaders in all sectors to apply management skills to create social value” through enterprises involving teaching, research, and other activities. The Harvard Graduate School of Education prepares academic leaders who will work to improve community teaching and learning practices. The Harvard Graduate School of Design has a Community Service Fellowship Program in which students aid design and planning projects both locally and abroad. The Harvard Divinity School helps to bridge religious and cultural divides around the world.Helping neighboring communitiesLocally, the Harvard Allston Education Portal connects families in the Allston and Brighton neighborhoods with the University’s vast intellectual resources. The portal offers individual and small group mentoring, pairing Harvard undergraduates who have concentrations in science, math, and the humanities with local students to help polish their skills.The portal also offers a lecture series featuring professors from the University’s new General Education curriculum.Since the portal opened almost three years ago, 53 Harvard undergraduates have been student mentors.Chioma Madubata ’11, a molecular and cellular biology concentrator, is a regular mentor. She leads experiments such as teaching how to make ice cream, using plastic bags and rock salt to show what happens when something changes from a liquid to a solid.“It also shows that science is fun — and occasionally you can eat what you make,” said the Quincy House resident, laughing.The Public Service NetworkThe Phillips Brooks House, which houses PBHA, is also home to the Public Service Network, which supports independent, student-led service programs, as well as the Center for Public Interest Careers (CPIC) at Harvard College, which assists students in securing paid public interest placements during summers and after graduation.Natasha Alford ’08 said CPIC played a major role in “planting the seed” of her growing professional interest in service.Familiar with the shortcomings of inner-city high schools, Alford arrived on campus hoping to make a difference. “I came to Harvard with the idea that I needed to do something,” she said. Through CPIC, she was placed one summer with an organization involved in foster care. The next summer, CPIC helped her to secure an internship with Facing History and Ourselves, which helps teachers to educate their students about social justice issues.After graduating, Alford headed to a management investment firm. But she knew “something was missing.” Now she is working with Teach for America as an English teacher at a struggling charter school in Washington, D.C.“It’s so rewarding. Every morning I wake up and I have a purpose,” said Alford, who credited CPIC for helping her to “find my place.”One of PBHA’s programs is the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter. Student run with 28 staff members and about 200 volunteers, the shelter in a church basement offers warm beds and hot meals to men and women during the winter. Volunteer resource advocates assist the guests with job searches and with applications for benefits and transitions to permanent housing. An outreach team delivers food to the homeless in Harvard Square.Luci Yang ’11 volunteered at the shelter as a freshman, and quickly found her niche. Now, she is one of the two administrative directors. The experience made her think about public service in “many different ways,” giving her “a more rounded sense of what service could mean, and what it would mean to do service as a long-term career.”
Inside the Harvard University Herbaria, Steph Zabel is a curatorial assistant who spends her days digitizing collections of dried plant specimens. Sometimes she jokes that the botanical depository is like a “plant mortuary,” since it contains the preserved remains of specimens from around the world.Outside work, she tends living and local plants, running her own herbalism businesses, which are undergoing a major growth spurt. That’s because herbalism — “using plants for wellness and health benefits” — is experiencing a renaissance, according to Zabel.“Humans have co-evolved with plants, using them for healing and medicinal purposes,” she said. “They’re the oldest form of medicine.”So two years ago Zabel founded Herbstalk, a two-day educational festival based in Somerville, featuring classes on how to use herbs and for what purposes, complete with music, local vendors, and more. “I wanted to create something that made herbal medicine accessible,” she said. “Some people feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.”That concern also led Zabel to start Flowerfolk Herbal Apothecary, through which she conducts holistic herbal consultations with individuals, evaluating health concerns, and “discussing how dietary and lifestyle changes can complement herbal recommendations.”Zabel cites her South Carolina upbringing as the catalyst for her earthy interests. “I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house in the country, walking in the woods,” she said. “And my grandmother loved plants.”She attended Clemson University, studying horticulture and biological science before pursuing a master’s degree in ethnobotany at the University of Kent at Canterbury, U.K. She has since studied herbs during a three-year clinical apprenticeship with the CommonWealth Center for Herbal Medicine, at the Boston School of Herbal Studies, and elsewhere.Zabel doesn’t dismiss conventional medicine, but she turns to herbs first, for instance dismissing pesky but easily treatable headaches with peppermint.“Just smelling peppermint essential oil has a cooling, anti-inflammatory effect,” she said. “It’s also great for digestion, and it’s energizing as well, so it’s nice to drink in the morning or after heavy meals.“Common, culinary herbs are also very useful for day-to-day health,” she added. “One of the reasons thyme is so popular as an herb is that it helps us digest fatty foods and meat. It’s high in essential oils and can help fight respiratory problems and colds.”She recommends making thyme tea, or steeping the leaves in a pot of water and throwing a towel over your head for an old-fashioned steam bath.“I don’t get sick that often,” she said, “perhaps because I’m incorporating nourishing herbs into my life on a regular basis.”With spring’s arrival, Zabel advises locals to be on the lookout for chickweed, a low-growing plant that in bloom has tiny white flowers that “resemble stars.”“Chickweed is quite nutritious and you can eat it as a salad,” she said, before warning, “Just make sure you’re harvesting it from a place that hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals.” Chickweed is also good topically, said Zabel, “for relieving minor eczema, dry skin, and healing wounds.”“Plants are so amazing, and even in the city they surround us everywhere,” she said. “That’s part of what I do — especially with urban dwellers — is to help people make connections with plants.”Herbstalk will take place June 7 and 8 at the Center for the Arts at the Armory in Somerville. For more information.
By Geraldine Cook/Diálogo November 06, 2017 A unique academic environment pervades the halls of the Peruvian Air Force (FAP, per its Spanish acronym) Air War College. The school has high standards of quality and is educationally demanding for FAP officers. In its classrooms, students pay close attention and take notes on national defense and security, strategic planning, military operations, and civilian interaction, among other topics. They take on a great responsibility as they prepare to be the institution’s new leaders. “The academic level has been stupendous, really good professors,” said FAP Colonel Pablo Patrón, air defense specialist and student in the High Command Program (PAM, per its Spanish acronym). “The academic level is higher. It helps us understand how the state apparatus evolves, which propels us into public administration.” The yearlong PAM targets colonels who have the best chance at promotion, so they can fine-tune their knowledge on strategic design, planning, training, and execution within the military realm, while allowing them to analyze the domestic situation to resolve conflicts. “Our objective is to train all the FAP officers of different ranks, so that they are qualified for any position and can lead our institution when they finish their studies,” said FAP Major General César Augusto Fernández Corbetto, commandant of the school. “We want officers to be trained and leave here as prepared as possible. [We want] those who graduate to be as well trained as possible and for them to make the best decisions in their assignments.” The school The Air War College was founded in 1946, and officially inaugurated in 1947, three years before the official inception of FAP. It has operated on different military premises in Lima, Peru, but has maintained its own facilities in the district of La Molina since 1991. As Peruvian military aviation was still being developed, U.S. Air Force Colonel Robert C. Orth acted as the original commandant of the school from 1947 to 1948. The first class of officers graduated in 1950. The academic institution has an average of 250 students, including officers from the country’s other military branches. The students are selected by their respective units and assigned to academic work full-time for one year. The teaching staff comprises active and retired military members and civilians. “This school is highly sought after,” Maj. Gen. Fernández said. He explained that of an average of 80 prospective candidates each year, only 28 officers are admitted. The academic programs are divided into different areas, and the Peruvian Ministry of Education is in the process of accrediting it as an official school of higher education. The area of Military Doctrine, for example, includes PMA, the Command and General Staff Program (PCEM, per its Spanish acronym), the Service Officers General Staff Program, and the Tactics Program. In addition to being certified in their respective areas of specialization, PMA and PCEM students graduate with a master’s degree in Aerospace Doctrine and Administration from the National University of San Marcos, Peru. Other certification courses are offered as well, such as Accident Prevention and Investigation, Aviation Medicine, and Psychology, among others. The school also has academic internships with other institutions, both domestically and internationally. Officers from Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, and other countries have attended its classes. “Interacting with other forces is very important,” said Col. Patrón, who has completed nine months of studies and is attending classes with his counterparts from FAP and other Peruvian forces. “Although we are from the same country, under the same flag, and speak the same language, we do have some differences, but sharing experiences with them is very enriching,” he said. Quality education “It’s a great responsibility to be a professor at the Air War College. The officers come here with a high degree of knowledge and a vast amount of experience leading large units in the organization,” said Edward Pino Hurtado, faculty advisor and PAM coordinator. “We attach great importance to the evaluation of students in decision making and the critical analysis that they carry out during the planning process. This is complex and difficult, but it is fascinating and important.” Pino said that the academic programs are vital to the officers as they allow them to advance in their military careers. “Students who come here have many incentives; they’re thinking about their future and their profession.” FAP Major Nadia Maycook, a PCEM student, is motivated by such a future. Three months after graduating, Maj. Maycook has honed her knowledge on planning and operational application of aerospace power in war processes. “We put into practice all the tools and the resources we have to implement during war,” she said. “Operationally, I am learning things you don’t see every day in an administrative unit.” Maj. Maycook is part of a class of 32 students, including four women. “We are past the difficult phase of working as women and men,” she said. “At first, the change was more difficult for [the men], and the experience was the more difficult part for us, but not anymore, we don’t have any difficulty working as a team.” For FAP First Lieutenant Cristian Medina, a helicopter pilot and Tactics Program student, the course has given him enriching experiences, especially in the study of military doctrine. “This is the first time we are seeing doctrine in an assertive manner, with people who are specialized in resolving issues based on their knowledge and, more than anything else, based on their experience.” Sitting in his classroom with 37 of his fellow students, ready for the start of the day’s academic session, 1st Lt. Medina said that, in addition to the academic part, the relationship between the 38 students in the class has been essential. “You are with a lot of people, and each person is like a different world. So, you also learn what living together and working as a team means,” he said. “I am a helicopter pilot based in operations, and I am learning how others perform in their areas.”
5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr by: Christine DiGangi, Credit.comAbout 6.5 million mortgage borrowers could qualify for and benefit from refinancing their home loans, according to the “Mortgage Monitor Report” from Black Knight Financial Services, which could translate into massive savings for those consumers.The report, based on May 2015 data, puts the total potential annual savings at $20 billion, with as many as 3 million borrowers saving at least $200 a month in mortgage payments.The vast majority of homeowners could realize these savings through traditional refinancing, the analysis showed, while roughly 450,000 homeowners would be eligible for lower interest rates on their home loans through HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program. HARP is geared toward borrowers whose homes have declined in value, therefore preventing them from securing traditional refinancing.Black Knight arrived at these figures by analyzing borrower and mortgage data, specifically the 30-year fixed-rate loan. In a news release about the analysis, Black Knight noted that rate fluctuations could change borrowers’ ability to save. continue reading »
6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr Like it or not, government rules and initiatives have an impact on your credit union. This week – in addition to updates on upcoming regulations related to payday loans, electronic checks, military lending and Dodd-Frank – we consider White House cybersecurity czar Rob Joyce’s suggestion to retire Social Security numbers in favor of a more modern approach to identity. Once again, change rules.White House: Is It Time to Retire Social Security Numbers?PYMNTSWill the government ditch Social Security numbers in favor of a “modern cryptographic identifier?” Rob Joyce, White House cybersecurity czar, thinks Social Security numbers may be ready to retire, since they no longer fulfill their intended function – and bring a number of unintended challenges.New CFPB Rule Could Curb Payday Loan IndustryReutersThe CFPB released a new regulation that could put a chill on revenues for the $6 billion payday loan industry. The rule requires lenders to determine if borrowers can repay their debts and caps the number of loans lenders can make to a borrower. If this regulation survives challenges in Congress and in court, it could be a boon for consumers and conventional lenders alike. continue reading »
(WBNG) — The Broome County Health Department has issued two more public health alerts Thursday. Additionally, the health department says a person who was at Manni’s Donuts and Diner in Binghamton also tested positive for the virus. Earlier Thursday, the health department warned of people testing positive who were at a church service and at Olive Garden. The Tioga County Health Department is alerting people that several people tested positive for the virus after attending a wedding and dinner. If you were at Pete’s from 12 to 1 p.m. on July 10, the department asks you self-quarantine until July 24. If you were at Manni’s on July 14 from 7:45 to 8:30 a.m. the health department ask you self-quarantine until July 28. The department says a person who was at Pete’s Legacy Diner in Vestal has tested positive for the virus.
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Ellerbe confirmed to ESPN that Floyd’s family had accepted Mayweather’s offer to pay for funeral services.”He’ll probably get mad at me for saying that, but yes, [Mayweather] is definitely paying for the funeral,” Ellerbe said.Mayweather “has done these kind of things over the last 20 years,” added Ellerbe, who said that the former five-division world champion — who retired in 2017 with a 50-0 record — didn’t want to talk about his gesture himself.The lawyer for Floyd’s family said Monday that a funeral will be held on June 9 in Houston. Retired ring great Floyd Mayweather will pay for the funeral services for George Floyd, Mayweather Promotions chief executive Leonard Ellerbe told ESPN on Monday.George Floyd died last week after a Minneapolis policeman knelt on the 46-year-old man’s neck for almost nine minutes. Floyd, who was handcuffed, became unresponsive after almost three minutes.The death of the unarmed black man while in police custody has ignited violent reactions across America. Before that, the family will hold a memorial service in Minneapolis on Thursday and a memorial service on Saturday in North Carolina, where Floyd was born.An official autopsy released Monday found that Floyd died in a homicide involving “neck compression.”Police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with third degree murder and one count of negligent manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Topics :