Local college grad teaching Tanzanian teens
Nick “Chico” Hernandez
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 (https://www.gofundme.com/hh6fh43s) 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.”
2016 Polar Plunge a splash
From superheroes to Star Wars, scantily clad men to an individual donning a Donald Trump getup, participants paraded to from the Voyager Bowling Alley and Restaurant to the shore of the St. Clair Boat Harbor to jump into the water for the 2016 Polar Plunge.
The Polar Plunge is an annual fundraising event for the Special Olympics of Michigan. Sponsored by the local non-profit group Water Warriors, an estimate of almost $19 thousand was raised for the Special Olympics by this event alone, according to Tom Chauvin, spokesperson for the Water Warriors. Since 1991, the Water Warriors have raised almost $2.5 million for the Special Olympics.
60 participants jumped into the icy waters for the cause. Danny Woody, 64 of Casco Township, wearing a felt purple pimp suit claimed that he hadn’t participated in a Polar Plunge before, “At least not on purpose,” he laughed.
Woody was not the only first timer to the Polar Plunge. Annatte Bilek, 36 of Troy, was a new plunger and one half of “The Mighty X-Women,” accompanied by veteran of one year April Ryniewicz, 39 of Harrison Township. Both beautiful ladies dressed as characters from Marvel’s X-Men comic book series, with Bilek as Rogue and Ryniewicz as Phoenix. Last year Ryniewicz appeared as Wonder Woman.
Though spring is fast approaching, there still is a chance to participate in a Polar Plunge this year. The Special Olympics of Michigan hosted 28 Polar Plunge events for 2016, with three events still remaining on March 3 on the Capitol Steps in Lansing, March 19 on Marquette Mountain in Marquette, and March 20 at The Elks in Sault Ste. Marie.
The Water Warriors are also holding more events to raise money for the Special Olympics of Michigan. The Water Warriors are holding a bowling event at the Colony Bowl in Algonac on Sunday, March 13.
For more information on fundraising events for the Special Olympics of Michigan, check out somi.org.
For more information on the local non-profit Water Warriors and to see other upcoming events, go to www.waterwarriors.us or call Tom Chauvin at 586-850-3187.
Free panel educates about horrendous crime affecting Michigan
“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 email@example.com.
For more information on the “Human Trafficking: A Michigan Reality” panel, call (810) 989 5678.
The SC4 travels of Karen Jezewski
“I worked for Karen for two or three semesters, filling her shoes are improbable but replacing her would be impossible,” said Ryan McInnis, graphic design student.
The Visual and Performing Arts department is saying good-bye to their Academic Division Secretary, Mrs. Karen Jezewski, of 10 years this June.
Jezewski started working for the college July 13, 1990 in the business office part-time where she worked for 10 years. She then worked in Employee Services and after a year she transferred to the Continuing Education department where she worked for five years before they closed the department. After closing the department, she filled in as a temp working in the bookstore, nursing department and other various places. Her next career step was working in Advising until she started working in the Visual and Performing arts department.
Jezewski started her career without a college degree but during her employment with SC4 earned her Associates in Arts.
“I believe in positive atmosphere, laughter and getting the job done. I believe we should be open to our students, as far as our departments go, to reach out and help them. I have been lucky to work with a staff that really has the same vision to be there for the students. I believe this is the best department for that,” explained Jezewski.
During her travels, she was involved in many groups and committees to assist students and the community. Some of them are, the Executive Board, Educational Support Personal (EPS), Community Outreach, World Class Community College, C.A.R.E., and was one of the founding members of the Free College day committee.
“There has been a lot of changes you know I was here before the L.R.C. and now there are so many more places for students to meet and gather and to promote that,” said Jezewski.
Being the Visual and Performing Arts Secretary she has been responsible for setting up one of the annual art shows, the Beatrice Thornton, which she began eight years ago. “That’s been a fun way to get to know the local art teachers in the community both elementary, middle, and high school, and to keep up on what our schools are offering,” said Jezewski.
“I love the students and staff at this college. I’m excited about the McMorran agreement, I think it’s going to be great for the community and the college, I’m sad to see Dr. Pollock go, I’m looking forward to spending time with my husband and traveling,” explained Jezewski about her retirement.
Karen Jezewski’s last day working will be sometime at the end of May; she then will be using up the last of her vacation time. If interested in talking to her she can be found in the Fine Arts Building Offices.
Schoolcraft wins against both Men’s and Women’s teams
Jason Watts II
The St. Clair County Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams both suffered losses against Schoolcraft College in very close contests. Starting with the Men’s team in one of the final games of their season, the Skippers took the mindset of “it’s time for payback” and stuck with that state of mind. Although early in the first half the Skippers were down 17-2 in the first 6 minutes of action, the Skippers struggled to put the ball in the basket. They found a way to battle back to close the gap to end the half by the score of 30-35. The shooting woes continued for the Skippers as a team they shot just above 30% for the game.
On to some positive notes for the game, Chris Parker lead the way with 12 points, 5 rebounds and also 5 assists. Jason Watts had 8 points and 4 rebounds, and Rico Cook 8 points and 4 rebounds. Finally, after the game, I was able to catch up with Skippers assistant coach Mike Davis for comments. Schoolcraft hit 4 straight threes to start the game. Although our scouting report was to be aware of their top 3 point shooter, we allowed him to hit the first three and get hot. Our close outs of his threes were minimal, we ran out but didn’t get our hands up on shots. But we battled back and cut the lead to 5 points at the half. We battled in the second half but we could never get the lead under 6 points. Schoolcraft moved the ball well on offense and when took quick shots. They capitalized on it by scoring on the other end.
On to Women’s team who had a similar fate like the men’s team. The Lady Skippers lost by a score 66-52. By the half the Women’s team were down 34-39, once the second half started Schoolcraft to pull away as they went on a 14-4 run in the 3rd quarter that put the game further out of reach for the lady skipper. Once the 4th quarter arrived the ladies fought back in the game but struggled to take care of the ball late in the game. On a good note Briann Alspaugh lead the way with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Leah Humes had 11 points 5 rebounds and 3 assists, and finally Madison Valko had 10 points 3 rebounds and 4 assists.
Tips to stay healthy
Have you ever wanted to get heathier, but you don’t know how? Let’s be real, dieting sucks and the food that are the worst for us taste the best, and trying to count calories while getting six servings of grains, five servings of vegetables, three servings of meats, fruits, and dairy, all while balancing carbohydrates, fiber, protein, cholesterol, and fats is hard. Plus, what’s the difference between unsaturated and saturated fat? Fat is fat, right?
Well, relax. Before you go diving nose first into something that is going to take mass amounts of self-control, and restraint, understand that your health and wellness isn’t an all or nothing thing.
Here are some steps in order to help make sense of the situation:
1. Find a buddy. Whether you’re killing it at the gym, or taking a more secluded path and exercising at home, find a buddy. A friend is a solid support system that will push you toward your goals and make sure you get your recommended thirty minutes of physical activity a day.
2. Set realistic goals for yourself. Sadly, it’s near impossible to get a six-pack in two weeks, no matter how many sit-ups you do, trust me, I’ve tried. Instead, start off by setting a number of miles you will go by the end of the week, or having fruity Fridays, whatever you decide to do, it’s a start, and you should be proud of yourself.
3. Don’t get discouraged when you don’t see results right away. Say you eat healthy all week and step on the scale and haven’t lost a pound, or look the same in the mirror after working out hard all week, that’s normal. It takes your body time to get used to things, and some studies even suggest that it can take up to four months before your brain starts to notice the changes. Remember, slow progress is still progress.
Working out is hard and time consuming, and most people struggle with it. Who wants to work out after waking up at four A.M.? Add family into the mix and it becomes even harder. So, take the stairs, eat an apple instead of chips, or even take a lap or two around the office. Start small, and you will be more likely to succeed with your goals.
A game about performing dangerous stunts to entertain cats
It’s become common knowledge that cats can be jerks, but they wouldn’t catch a person and torture them for fun, would they?
In “Battleblock Theater,” a group of best friends need to unite to escape from an island filled with crazy cats making them perform in an old theater house.
All while figuring why the best-best friend to all, Hatty, has turned his back on them.
“Battleblock Theater’s” wacky story may catch some attention, but is it worth $14.99?
“Battleblock Theater” doesn’t set the bar for gameplay.
Being a puzzle, side-scroller, “Battleblock Theater” follows the genre well.
The player starts a stage (literally a stage) and then begins collecting gems to open the exit of the level, all while discovering secrets and avoiding bad guys (cats, sharks, whales, etc.).
Every once in a while, “Battleblock Theater’s” controls just don’t work. While the problem doesn’t persist, it happens often enough to make an impact.
“Battleblock Theater” multiplayer shines past any flaws the game may have. “Battleblock Theater” started out as a download for the Xbox 360, so being able to play with multiple people on one system was a given.
The Steam port for PC, Mac, and Linux carried this tradition, beautifully, on either keyboard or controller.
Replay value also very high with “Battleblock Theater.” After story mode, the game offers a challenge mode that keeps players coming back.
The story of “Battleblock Theater” can be slow and uninteresting.
It’s the narrator that knocks it out of the park.
“Battleblock Theater” begins with a bunch of friends traveling in a boat called the “S.S. Friends… ship,” to find adventure.
But then a storm hits, and the friends, along with the “Best-best friend,” Hatty, get ship wrecked on an island with some cats, who are “jerks.”
Hatty becomes captured, and the cats put an evil, “albeit fashionable,” hat on him. Now the player must save the friends and Hatty, because “Hatty would never betrayal us! Er… betray us… NEVER!”
The narrator also sings and makes fun of the player during each stage with quips like “This game is brought to you by yarn. Yarn: it’s a ball!” and “I was going tell you how much you suck. Turns out you don’t!”
And a personal favorite, “IT WAS AS IF POSIDEN EXTENDED HIS HAND IN FRIENDSHIP AND THEY SPAT IN HIS MOUTH. Boy he was pi- he was mad!”
While still short, the story and narrator really make the experience.
“Battleblock Theater” sounds like a cartoon from the 90s. The music, while upbeat, serves a purpose and send a message with each stage.
Some of the more novelty music, such as the “secret” music the player hears when in a secret level, can become annoying. The same song each time really stops being funny.
However, the secrets are hidden well enough that the player won’t be hearing it too often.
“Battleblock Theater’s” low and high are hit here. The cut scenes are cartoon “puppets.” That seem thrown together and match the narration well.
In game, the graphics match the cut scenes, except the characters and sets aren’t puppets. The graphics aren’t bad, but nothing really stands out.
The colors in each stage aren’t too busy and make it very clear what the player can and cannot interact with.
While worth the $14.99, “Battleblock Theater” can usually be found on sale on Steam, meaning it’s even more worth it.
So “buckle your pants” and ride with the crew of the S.S. Friendship. One never knows how the adventure ends.