Category Archives: Community


Exploring Religions: Islam and Christianity

Student essay comparing foundations of faith
Tara Elizabeth
Guest Writer
Islam and Christianity have always been viewed as two completely different religions, each with their own rules. Each have been viewed as radical due to the nature of the people who follow the religions, but are they really?
It’s all about interpretation of their own sacred text. Most of us know about the different sects in Christianity; Catholics, Orthodox, Protestant and many more within each category, but Islam also has their own sects within the religion. Shia and Sunni are the main two different sects, with groups of people who interpret the Qur’an in a multitude of ways within each sect.
Although both religions have their own laws given to them by their God, interpretation of the laws vary by each sect. Christians accept the Ten Commandments but core beliefs, according to The British Library: Elements of the Abrahamic Faiths, are:
The belief that there is only one God
Jesus Christ is the Messiah, sent to save the world as prophesized in the Old Testament
God’s Character is in threefold, The Father (the Creator), the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit (unseen guiding force).
Jesus Christ died to save the world and rose from the dead.
Muslims follow the Five Pillars of Islam, the Five pillars being that there is only one God, Allah and the messenger, Muhammad; that they are to pray 5 times a day; donate to charity; pilgrimage to their holy city of Mecca at least once in their lifetime; and to fast during Ramadan each year. According to the British Library: Elements of the Abrahamic Faiths, the core beliefs are:
There is only one God: Allah
Muhammad is the final prophet of God and the Qur’an is God’s truest revelation
Reverence for many of the prophets of Judaism and Christianity, particularly Moses and Jesus
This brings us to the prophets of each religion. To explain lightly, it began with a prophet named Abraham. According to the British Library: Elements of the Abrahamic Faiths, they all believe that Abraham was told by their God that if Abraham followed their God’s laws, he would become the father of a great nation. They also believe that he was told by their God to sacrifice his son, to test his obedience to God. Abraham listened but at the last second, their God sent an angel to intervene with the sacrifice. Christians believe the son who was to be sacrificed was Isaac but Muslims believe the son is named Ismael.
All three religions also recognize that a man named Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, to freedom of new land. They all believe that God dictated laws to Moses to pass down to the Israelites as well.
There stops the agreement on Prophets and other religious figures. Christians believe that a man named Jesus, is their Messiah, and gave him the name Jesus Christ. Muslims believe that Jesus was a great prophet but did not believe he was divine.
The last Prophet is a man named Muhammad. Only Muslims recognize him as a figure of importance, as he provided them with the Qur’an over a period of 23 years. They believe that the Angel, Gabriel, provided Muhammad with the sacred text. Muslims do not believe that Islam is a new religion but a restoration of God’s word, revealed by earlier prophets. They believe that that religion was corrupted and misinterpreted and they are merely restoring the religion itself.
It is described on the British Library: Elements of the Abrahamic Faiths that there are three Abrahamic faiths and “each religion acknowledges the proceeding text and draws from them, with difference of interpretation and emphasis.” Basically, Christians draw some of their faith from Jews and the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Tanakh or Old Testament) as they also use their own book, simply called the Bible (the Old Testament and also the New Testament). Muslims draw from both Christians and Jews and both their sacred texts but Muslims also have their own sacred text, called the Qur’an. The beliefs of each religion differ in some areas but are quite similar when you look at the origins of each religion.
Overall, this is just a small summary of each religion, the way that an individual interprets a religion is completely their own. Some honorable mentions to how people can interpret their sacred text in some questionable ways include: the Westboro Baptist Church, the KKK, and ISIS. All three of these groups are viewed by the religions they claim to be a part of as severely radical and are not very well accepted by many others who practice the religion.

Give it your best shot

Bringing change to the community
Jenelle Kalaf
Photo Editor

While it’s not easy to dedicate one’s life to making a community great again, that doesn’t stop Trina Kern-Avedisian.
Born in Port Huron, Avedisian, founder and president of the Citizens for a Vibrant Community (CVC) and employee of Wolverine Market, made it a goal to show the world Port Huron stands just as relevant as it did many years ago.
Avedisian’s father worked as a pressman in his print shop on the corner of Griswold and 9th Street. He then bought Riverside Printing in 1976.
“I went to work in the shop when I wasn’t in school,” Avedisian said.
In 1986, she married and had a son, Joshua in 1988. Her husband wanted to sell cars for his brother in Florida, so they moved out of state.
Avedisian then moved to Honeoye Falls, New York until she divorced then returned to Port Huron.
“When I moved back into Port Huron in the mid-90s, I saw how ridiculous Port Huron was being run,” Avedsian said. “They had just announced the $186 million sewer separation project. I was outraged that the state of Michigan would make us do that so I started writing letters to the DEQ as well as the Governor.”
Avedisian found out the city of Port Huron kept information from the public and began writing letters to the editor of the local paper exposing what she had learned.
This lead Avedisian to getting involved with a local activist group called the Mavericks.
It was Avedisian’s job to take any information she was given and share it how she best saw fit to make sure the public knew. Avedisian took to writing letters to the editor of newspapers and speaking at City Council meetings.
“I was told on more than one occasion that I had a target on my back,” Avedisian said. “Since I had been through a lot with an ex-boyfriend (who was very abusive and the son on the devil himself) I had very little fear of what the Powers that Be could do to me so I basically took on the attitude of ‘give it your best shot’.”
In 2007, Avedisian met a few women who wanted to see Port Huron grow again. They formed a group and called it Citizens for a Vibrant Community. The CVC formed first as a political group, speaking at City Council meetings.
The group started to tackle events as well, the first being Car Show Afterglow in 2008, followed by Happy Apple Days in 2009.
“Unrest in the group and infighting prompted me to shut the group down for a year (as I was president), take a step back and find something we could do that we could all agree on. After much thought, we came up with Art on the River,” Avedisian said. For the last 6 years, Art on the River brings music and art to Downtown Port Huron.
“This year we will be bringing Black Oak Arkansas as our headline band on Saturday, as well as hosting the Traveling Michigan Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Tess Tobolic, an award winning chalk artist, and much more. We are very proud of our efforts with Art on the River,” Avedisian said.
Trina Kern-Avedisian proves the attitude of “give it your best shot,” can make a difference.

Making the world better, one classroom at a time

Local college grad teaching Tanzanian teens
Nick “Chico” Hernandez
Managing Editor
Schooling, healthcare, food variety, what do all these things have in common? Most Americans have easy access to these things but across the pond, the story changes. Enter the United Republic of Tanzania in East Africa and the scenery changes metaphorically and literally. Besides being one of the poorest countries in the world, Tanzania is also home to Mount Kilimanjaro.
Tanzania is also home to Jason Sausser, 26, a Michigan native from East China, a graduate from Western Michigan University (Bachelor’s Secondary Education) and Peace Corps (PC) volunteer who teaches English in a secondary school in Rukwa.
Sausser said in an email interview his reason for joining the Peace Corps, “As a Christian, I believe we’re not supposed to stay in our comfort zone and we can’t ignore the needs of the world. So, those things led me to pursue teaching overseas and that led me to the PC. The PC also a way to get paid to see a different part of the world and get a new perspective on the world.”
Sausser also said, “I teach English to the equivalent of freshmen and sophomores. Most of them come in their first year knowing almost no English. And by the end of their second year they are expected to write essays in all their subjects for the national exam. I’m usually at school for 3-4 hours depending on the day.”
For many students, however, English is their third language. Even though Kiswahili is the national language, there are approximately 120 languages spoken in Tanzania. Especially in rural areas, a tribal language is often the first language learned by children.
When it comes down the education in Tanzania, the situation could be better. The annual tuition of a government secondary school is 20,000 Tanzanian shillings. This doesn’t include testing fees, lunch fees, and many others. In American currency this equals to about $10, but comparing America to one of the poorest countries in the world isn’t a fair fight.
Like any human, Sausser has missed his family, friends, and Taco Bell. He explained that, because of advances in technology, the communication bridge has been gaped mostly thanks to WhatsApp and Skype, “but really the best way to cope with missing family and friends is to seek out and develop friends where you are. My fellow volunteers are more than just friends. They’ve become my family and support system. And then developing friendships in my village has been key to making my home feel like a home,” Sausser said.
This does not mean the idea of living in West Africa for 27 months, learning a new language, eating new foods, or dealing a polar opposite climate didn’t put a mountain’s worth of weight on Sausser.
“For me, the hardest part was adjusting to a new culture. I had to relearn how to interact with people. Even after a year and a half of living here, I still have a hard time feeling like I’m able to express all of my personality. And it can be hard feeling like no one truly knows you, because of cultural and language differences.”
Sausser also added, “There is another Peace Corps volunteer who has made the joke, ‘Sometimes it feels like the only thing I’ve accomplished is turning sticks of chalk into chalk dust,’ and that can be a real feeling for a lot of us education volunteers. And the truth is that most volunteers never get to see the real impact that they make.”
Even after his backpack was stolen off a bus, Sausser never gave up no matter how much he might have wanted to. “I lost my computer, camera, bible, and other things that were quite important to me. The week or so after that I would wake up and say, ‘I’m not going to quit today… Maybe tomorrow… But not today,’” Sausser said.
As per PC requirements, Sausser has to do a project during his time in Tanzania. He has decided to build a library, as the school does not have one. Sausser has set up a GoFundMe ( for paint, bookshelves, tables and chairs, and more books. As of March 1st, people have donated $1,970 and the goal is $2,500.
“I recommend the Peace Corps as an avenue to pursue volunteering, because the Peace Corps strategy for development is solid. The Peace Corps doesn’t want to build monuments, they want to build people’s capacity,” Sausser said. The Peace Corps isn’t limited to any one individual. While most positions require Bachelor’s degrees, everyone can find something to help out with.
Sausser added, “I think everyone has something to offer as a volunteer, whether international or domestic. Find something you love and use it to make the world a little better. What the world needs, including our own country, is more people helping their neighbors. Whether that’s your neighbor across the Atlantic or across the street.”

Upcoming human trafficking seminar

Free panel educates about horrendous crime affecting Michigan
Mel Buskirk
Copy Editor

“Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery that occurs on an international, national, and local scale. Whether in the smallest town, rural areas, medium sized cities, villages, big cities – there is nowhere in Michigan that has not been touched by this issue,” according to the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force website.
The Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force (MHTTF) is a non-profit organization through the School of Criminal Justice of Michigan State University founded and directed by Jane P. White. White will be presenting “Human Trafficking: A Michigan Reality” on March 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm in SC4’s Fine Arts Theater.
The purpose of the MHTTF is to encourage collaborations between law enforcement and local communities as well as advocate support for victims of human trafficking. For more information about the MHTTF email Jane White at
For more information on the “Human Trafficking: A Michigan Reality” panel, call (810) 989 5678.

Free martial arts class

Kempo and kickboxing to help you kick butt
Mel Buskirk
Copy Editor

In this day and age crime fighting superheroes and kung fu pandas dominate our television and silver screens, karate chopping their way through bad guys and into the hearts and minds of children and adults alike. However many of us know the bad guys, unlike our heroes, are here in our world too. Whether you’re looking to learn how to kick butt or save your own, learning a martial art can be an invaluable skill.
Marty’s Martial Arts Class is a free class hosted by Marty Tonkovich at the American Red Cross every Wednesday at 7 pm. A blend of Kempo – an oriental combat art – and kickboxing is taught to students of all ages at their own pace.
Tonkovich is focused on teaching his students practical self-defense moves as well as the art of Kempo. “I want to have my students come out of here after a few classes and be able to defend themselves on the street,” Tonkovich said.
People of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to participate in this free class. The class is family friendly, with no swearing allowed. Other recommendations are good hygiene and appropriate clothing (loose fitting apparel, workout clothes).
This free class is held in the basement of the American Red Cross on 615 Pine Street in Port Huron every Wednesday from 7 pm to 8 pm. For more information, show up before class or email Marty Tonkovich at

Chillyfest 2016

It’s not just about chili!
Jamie Koebke
Business Editor
Downtown Port Huron hosted the annual Chillyfest on Friday, Jan 22 and Saturday, Jan 23. Chillyfest, held at multiple places downtown, brought people of all age groups out to the event.
The event offered a variety of events for the family. Ice sculpture carving, chili cook off, live music, bed races that included business teams in town, Orthopedic Associates being one of them, and a penguin hunt for the kids – there was something for everyone.
A Little Something shop downtown offered a free hot cocoa bar on Friday night. They were among the local business that participated in Chillyfest.
Macy Wurmlinger, 17 of Port Huron said, “I think it’s awesome that business are willing to host and participate in free events for the community!”
The Chili cook off and tasting started at 11am on Saturday in the event tent outside of McMorran, Loxton’s Family Restaurant, The Raven Café, Chef Shells, Military Street Music Cafe and Freighters were some of the Chili competitors.
Overall, Military Street Music Café was the winner of the chili Cook off. They won both people’s choice and judge’s choice. Loxton’s Family Restaurant and Vintage Tavern came in as runners up.
Along with the penguin hunt for kids, the movie Ice Age was offered with 400 bags of popcorn donated by event sponsor Great Clips. Face painting, snowball toss and more were offered for children.
Rich Drummond, 21 of Port Huron said, “Events like Chillyfest brings the community together, no matter what else is going, it allows them to have fun and enjoy each other’s company.”

Kro’s Krew returns to Studio 1219 with new artists

Four students display artwork
Mond Jones
Guest Writer
If there’s one thing SC4’s art program has, it’s creative and skilled artists, and the Kro’s
Krew student art show was no exception. Last Friday I visited studio 1219 where artists Emily
Mainguy, Kira Benke, Kaylee Knaggs, and Jason Grill exhibited some of their works.
Studio 1219 is home to artwork from many artists, young and old, from all walks of life within the Blue Water community of course!
Though the show wasn’t themed, variety of artists, mediums, and styles gave the show charm, and had a little something for everyone from delicate graphite drawings, dark digital illustrations, graphic cartoonesque prints, and natural photography.
One of my favorite pieces in the show was a piece done by Kira Benke titled “Zombie
Head” and it portrayed an oozing zombie head, like something out of a hardcore punk magazine. Benke has done lots of custom designs and works often with local musicians and bands. Her style is very clean, yet it still embodies a darker, more mysterious subculture.
Kaylee Knaggs also had a piece that caught my eye; a skateboard deck cut into the shape of an elephant, and painted as such in an eastern style. The artist informed me that it was somewhat of an homage to an exchange student she knew from Thailand, and was heavily influenced by an annual festival that happens in the country where people paint and parade elephants. The clever use of the board, not only as a canvas but a design element as well, was golden.
The show altogether was a pleasant spectacle to behold, and every piece embodied the individual style of each artist, which is important in developing a unique modus operandi. It’s funny how when asked, whether it was their first show or their 5th, each artist I spoke with admitted to feeling nervous. I guess no matter how good you are, the butterflies never really go away.
Friends, family and strangers alike gathered to peruse what the students had to offer. Not only did the exhibition show a variety of art, but it gives a taste of what the creative culture of SC4 has to offer.

Cheap textbooks websites

Save some money by shopping textbooks online
Nick “Chico” Hernandez
Managing Editor
The bane of many college students comes from not just finals and annoying classmates, but sinking hard earned cash into dead trees with words on them. Textbooks, while also giving large amounts of profits to corporations, are usually required for any class that a student would need to graduate. Amongst the rise of textbook prices has come web sites that sell textbooks as cheap as possible.
The first site for any penny-pinching student to visit is Amazon. Finding textbooks on Amazon is easy enough, and tracking ISBN through the search bar is just as simple. Amazon also has the option to rent the book from them, and it is usually cheaper than renting from the SC4 book store. Along with legendary customer service, Amazon should be a first draft pick for students hoping to save a few bucks.
eBay isn’t the best choice for textbooks. Use this site only if desperation is in full swing; however, eBay owns which specializes in selling books. Aside from that, a side list will pop up called “dorm entertainment.” That list, appropriately enough, has such titles as Wedding Crashers and Gears of War. brings a few choices to the table. On one side, it supports a “marketplace” for local buyers and sellers. Example: Seller A has a book for sale in the Main Building. Buyer B in the CEM building wants said book. They discuss where to meet, and then have a personal transaction. Alternately, Buyer B could also pay Seller A with PayPal and still have the face-to-face transaction. also allows you to use an internet search engine of sorts. This isn’t new, and many other book sites use this tactic as well. The search engine allows anyone to type in the name of a book (example: English Comp & Style) and the result will be a full list of sites that have this book in stock along with their respective prices.
Although the internet is scattered with thousands of other book sites, these three should be on the first round draft pick of any student hoping to save some money. Because education is cool, but overpriced textbooks aren’t.

Searching for Home

refugee 2
The European Refugee Crisis through the eyes of those experiencing it firsthand
Katie Hunckler
Staff Writer

An ocean away, there lies a crisis. Driven out by fear, people are fleeing from their homes and setting out on an indefinite journey, desperately searching for a place where they are safe and welcome.
The European Refugee Crisis has been a major topic of discussion recently, especially as political decisions are being made with regards to the matter. Yet what is the reality of it? How is it perceived differently by those who are seeing it through their own two eyes?
Nilüfer Çetik, 21, of Istanbul, Turkey provided some answers. “At first, people disliked to see them [the refugees] around,” said Çetik. “They were poor, they were escaping from the camps and live on the streets. They were considered as a life threat.”
However, attitudes have shifted. “Today, the community shows sympathy and also feels empathy for them,” said Çetik.
“Sometimes I hear that people in Europe blame Syrian refugees about ISIS. However, we know that they also escaped from them and this is why they are homeless,” said Çetik. She also noted that since the prominent religion of Turkey is Islam, it’s easier for them to accept that ISIS is not the Syrians’ fault.
Life is not exactly a piece of cake for the refugees. “People want to make more money out of refugees,” said Çetik. “They load buses and boats to double or triple their normal capacities.” This leads to many dangers in the travel itself. “In summer, everyday a boat sank,” said Çetik. “Sometimes security forces could help them, but mostly people died.” These boats mostly take people across the Aegean Sea from southwest Turkey to the Greek islands, where it is easier to enter Europe undetected.
Even those who do make it face continuing hardships. Çetik told of a Syrian family living near her school. Seven or eight people live together in a small house that is not in healthy living condition, and the youngest boy sells paper towels outside the campus gate. “This family is one of the lucky ones,” said Çetik. “Usually, refugees cannot find a proper place for a human in order to sleep.”
Aleksandra Grujic, 17, of Novi Sad, Serbia has observed similar circumstances for the refugees there. In August she traveled to Austria and crossed the Hungary-Austria border. “It was so sad to see those people and children sitting on the grass, trying to cross the border,” she said.
“The biggest problem for Serbia was in September I think, when both Croatian and Hungarian borders were closed and refugees literally had nowhere to go, so they stayed here,” said Grujic. “And of course, we provided them with food and everything, but it was a big attack on Serbia’s already low budget.”
According to Grujic, the borders are now open, but some hotels filled with refugees and Syrian restaurants remain in Novi Sad.
Stiliyana Kirilova, 17, of Plovdiv, Bulgaria noted that the refugees there are largely perceived as a threat. “The influence in Bulgaria for now is only the fear,” said Kirilova, “because we have been told that there isn’t a safe place in Europe and the main terrorists’ aim is to make all the Europeans frightened when they are going out.”
Maria-Yoana Stoynova, 18, of Plovdiv, Bulgaria has also noticed an atmosphere of fear surrounding the events. “I hope things get better, because many people are afraid that the third world war is about to take place,” said Stoynova.
“In France, you have heard, the situation is very dangerous, and everyday we hear about bombs in France and in Syria,” said Stoynova. “In short, this is all we talk about and listen to everyday.”
Brad Janiszewski, 22, of Chicago, IL spent ten weeks in Greece on a study abroad program this fall, and he noticed the opposite. “It’s strange,” said Janiszewski, “I was there for three months and I never really heard that many people talk about it… I mean it’s a big issue going on, you’d think people would talk about it.”
When he did hear people talk about it, Janiszewski noticed two general attitudes towards the refugees: some people felt the refugees were ruining everything they had and were depleting their resources, while others felt the need to take the refugees in, to care for them and house them.
Janiszewski encountered many refugees during his time in Greece. His group handed out food and water to the 2000 to 3000 Afghan refugees in Victoria Square in Athens, as well as giving showers and shavers elsewhere. In one place, they even played soccer with the kids.
“One thing I think we gotta know, we gotta understand, is that these are people,” said Janiszewski. “These are people that come from families, people that have jobs, people that had a house, a life, and that for whatever reason, normally, whether it be just warfare or terrorism, they decided to leave that.
“I remember the guy I was talking to,” said Janiszewski. “They took a 3000 mile journey across the Middle East, got on a little boat made for about probably like 12 people and they put 60 people on it or something like that. And they were being shot at. All for the chance that they could have a better life.”
It seems that the refugees are misunderstood in many capacities, and they recognize that. “We met a lot of refugees, and this happened to me multiple times,” said Janiszewski. “The people would come up and they’d be like, ‘Hey, we’re not ISIS, we’re not all terrorists.’ I wouldn’t even bring it up, like I wouldn’t even be starting the conversation, and they would just tell us that… Like they were so ashamed of that and they were so ashamed that people would think that’s what they were that they wanted to discredit it right off the top.”
Although he thinks it’s likely that ISIS is present in the refugees somewhere, Janiszewski feels that most of the refugees are truly hurting people who are looking for a better life. “The hard thing is distinguishing who is who,” he said.
Will these people ever find a place they are safe and welcome? Will they ever find home? The answer remains a mystery for many as they continue their journeys.

Pavilion sale not set in stone

Meetings continue to discuss the sale of the McMorran
Mel Buskirk
Copy Editor

The Alumni Room in the Student Center was packed with around 40 concerned faculty and citizens on Thursday, Nov. 12 as the Board of Trustees met to discuss whether to take the next steps in purchasing the McMorran Pavilion from the city of Port Huron.
Comments from citizens and faculty were allowed before the subject went to a vote. Professor Ben Hunckler and business owner Scott Worden, both of which attended the City Council meeting earlier that week, spoke the same message – why couldn’t a compromise be worked out between SC4 and the Minor Hockey Association?
Out of the seven Board of Trustees members, only five were in attendance with David Oppliger and Robert Tansky being absent. Another Board of Trustee member, John Adair, chose not to participate in the vote due to a conflict of interest. The remaining Board of Trustee members — Nicholas DeGrazia, Denise Brooks, John Ogden, and Robert Kusch – all voted yes to continuing negotiations with the city of Port Huron.
A final proposal was not made at the Board of Trustees meeting, and was not proposed at the City Council meeting on Monday, Nov. 23.
The meeting on Monday, Nov. 23 was quieter than the meeting on Monday, Nov. 9, with only 20 people in attendance. Little discussion about the sale of the McMorran Pavilion was made during the City Council meeting, including a comment made by one citizen of Port Huron, Frank Hoffman.
Hoffman inquired if Kramer Realty was the company that the city went through to get an appraisal on the McMorran Pavilion, which was confirmed by City Manager James Freed. According to Hoffman, Gerald Kramer, the owner and founder of Kramer Realty, served the SC4 Foundation for over two years, presenting a conflict of interest.
Scott Worden also spoke at the City Council meeting and said, “You have defied the will of the people.” Worden brought up that the council members had brought pre-written speeches with them to the meeting on Nov. 9, implying that they had already determined their course of action without first taking into consideration the public comments that were made that evening.
An official date has not been set by either the City Council or the Board of Trustees to determine the final sale of the McMorran Pavilion. The next Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Dec. 10 at 4:30 pm in room 150 of the MTEC building on SC4 campus. The next City Council meeting will be Dec. 14 at 7 pm in the Public Meeting Room of the Municipal Office Center.