World Kindness Day is one day a year that we can all take it upon ourselves to do something nice for someone else. Although we should be kind every day, this national holiday sheds light on the importance of caring for each other. Being kind is not about lavish gestures or spending money, but it is about the simple things. Smiling at someone may seem like the most silly thing, but it may truly make someone else's day. Make a pledge to yourself to be nice to someone this World Kindness Day and every other day. Remember: It's cool to be nice :)
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Our Veterans need our help
When I was a child, I used to look forward to Memorial Day Weekend from the time I returned to school after Christmas vacation. It was the yearly benchmark announcing the end of the school year and the beginning of summer vacation. It meant I was one step closer to regattas, swim meets and tennis matches.
Like so many of our nation's holidays, we've lost sight of what Memorial Day is actually about. It isn't meant to be known as the unofficial start of summer. It is meant to honor our troops and the innumerable sacrifices they've made in the name of protecting and fighting for the United States of America.
Truth be told, I would settle to a return to memorializing our troops. Israel flashes the name of each fallen soldier on television during their Memorial Day celebration. I can't remember the last time I saw anyone doing anything to honor our troops on Memorial Day.
More than memorializing, however, our country needs to take a long and hard look at the way we treat our veterans. This is an issue that has been talked about for years. Every now and then there seems to be an uptick in the outrage over how our men and women in uniform are treated both while they're actively serving and after they've been discharged. It never seems to be enough for any changes to be made to the system.
Are there public programs geared solely towards assisting our men and women in uniform? Yes, there are. Do these programs make any measurable or quantifiable difference in the lives of our veterans? Yes, they do. The qualifier is that the programs help veterans who meet arbitrarily created prerequisites. For example, in order to qualify for health benefits, you need to have an address to put down on the application. This does nothing whatsoever to help the thousands of homeless veterans in our country.
Many cite pacifism as a reason to avoid getting involved in this cause. Pacifism is a noble belief and an ideal the world as a whole should strive towards. What it is not, however, is a reason to avoid supporting our veterans. If you're a pacifist you don't have to fight in our wars—a luxury that would not be afforded to you if we still lived in the era of the draft. You should be thankful that there are enough volunteers to serve in the armed forces to make the draft unnecessary. The men and women who serve are protecting each and every one of us—regardless of whether or not you agree with every military campaign the USA becomes embroiled in. It is their choice to serve, but it is not their choice to fight no. This is a critical distinction. There are very few people in the country who have a say in where the military goes (the main person, of course, being the President of the United States). You don't have to like where the military is sent or the causes they are sent to fight for (or against) but refusing to support our men and women in uniform is not going to do change anything and you're naive if you think it will.
Mental health is another big concern for our nation's veterans. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (more widely known as PTSD) is rampant among veterans. Men and women return from war zones and are unable to connect with their friends and family members. They can't find the words to articulate what they've witnessed or what they endured overseas. The military, for their part, is still old fashioned (to put it kindly) when it comes to any kind of mental illness. They see it as a personal weakness and a defect that renders the man or woman suffering from it incapable of service. If you are diagnosed with PTSD or any other form of mental illness while still on active duty, you will most likely be discharged immediately. If you're lucky it will be an honorable discharge. More often than not the signs and symptoms of PTSD are ignored. When this happens, the result is often far more catastrophic and tragic than it would have been if it was caught early on. Sufferers of PTSD often lash out, sometimes violently, when they are subjected to one of their triggers (which can be something as inoccuous as a car backfiring because it sounds like a gunshot or an explosion). If an active duty member or a veteran lashes out violently because of PTSD they are criminally punished for their actions. This is both ineffective and morally wrong when you consider it may have been avoided if the sufferer had been provided with treatment.
This issue deserves far more attention than it can be given in one article. We live in a country where serving in the military is not mandatory. I for one am increibly grateful for this because I would be hopeless fighting a war. I recognize that in myself. That doesn't mean I don't need to concern myself with how veterans are treated, however. If anything, I am MORE invested in helping our veterans procure the services they so richly deserve because I am not obligated to join the military. The men and women who serve our country do so voluntarily. They put everything on the line for our safety: yours and mine. The least they deserve when they return from active duty is help securing a job (if they choose to leave the service), healthcare and a home. These are basic necessities that we all need to survive. Our men and women in uniform are doing a job that not everyone wants to do. Remembering their service once or twice a year is not enough. We need to actively care for them each and every day.
This Memorial Day Weekend, it is my fervent hope that you and your loved ones will take a moment to not only remember our fallen heros, but to do something to help our living veterans and active duty service men and women. Contribute to the Wounded Warrior Project or volunteer your time at the local VA hospital. However you decide to do it, celebrate the contribution these men and women have made to our country. What better way to start the summer season than by commemorating the very people who are the reason we have the last Monday in May off every year
Enjoy the sun, relax the wallet - here are the estimated costs
Camping in a National Park, US:
- Transportation: Round-trip gas if driving, approximately $100-$200 depending on distance and vehicle efficiency.
- Accommodation: Campsite fees, approximately $15-$30 per night. For a week, that's about $105-$210.
- Food: Groceries for cooking on a camp stove or fire, approximately $50-$100 for the week.
- Activities: National Park admission, approximately $35 for a 7-day pass.
- Total Estimated Cost: $290-$545
- Transportation: Round-trip flight to Berlin, about $600-$1000. Train from Berlin to Prague, about $20-$50.
- Accommodation: Budget hostels, approximately $20-$30 per night. For a week, that's $140-$210.
- Food: Budget meals, approximately $10-$20 per day. For a week, that's $70-$140.
- Activities: Museums, historic sites, etc. can range from free to $20 per visit. A week's worth of activities could be $50-$100.
- Total Estimated Cost: $880-$1500
Road trip along the California coast:
- Transportation: Round-trip gas if driving, approximately $150-$300 depending on distance and vehicle efficiency.
- Accommodation: Budget motels or campgrounds, approximately $60-$120 per night. For a week, that's about $420-$840.
- Food: Eating out and groceries, approximately $20-$40 per day. For a week, that's $140-$280.
- Activities: Beaches are free; parks, tours, and attractions may cost $10-$20 each. For a week, this could be $50-$100.
- Total Estimated Cost: $760-$1520
Exploring New York City:
- Transportation: Round-trip flight, approximately $200-$400 depending on location and when you book.
- Accommodation: Budget hostels, approximately $50-$70 per night. For a week, that's $350-$490.
- Food: Eating out, approximately $20-$40 per day. For a week, that's $140-$280.
- Activities: Many free sites; museums, Broadway shows, tours may cost $20-$100 each. For a week, this could be $100-$200.
- Total Estimated Cost: $790-$1370
Volunteer abroad with a program like Workaway or WWOOF (e.g. in Costa Rica):
- Transportation: Round-trip flight, approximately $300-$600 depending on when you book.
- Accommodation: Often included with volunteer program, $0.
- Food: Often included with volunteer program, but budget $50-$100 for eating out.
- Activities: Depends on free time; nature activities are often low-cost or free, but budget $50-$100 for tours, etc.
- Total Estimated Cost: $400-$800
It's just work, work, and more work.
I remember how exciting summer was when I was a kid. I would just be eagerly waiting for school to end so that I could fly to some exotic location with my family for the summer. Or hang out with my friends every day. Or just lay around in bed or read, paint, draw, basically do whatever.
What happened to that when I entered college?
While I definitely was counting down the days to summer, mainly because I was exhausted from the quarter and just wanted finals to end, I knew that this summer would not be full of family vacations and hanging out with my friends.
In college, summer is all about improving your resume and working on what you can do to get ahead, either in school or the job search. A lot of college students take multiple summer classes and have to deal with finals and homework all-year round. Other students study for tests like the MCAT, LSAT, and GRE, to name a few, so they're definitely not just chilling and partying.
In my case and several other students, we're working and/or interning at companies to get experience in the fields we want to pursue as well as funding our broke college bank accounts. A majority of us, including me, are back home with our parents as well, so it's much harder to go out with friends when we have to follow rules and curfews.
It is hard to squeeze in a family vacation when everyone has busy work schedules and working in different cities around the country. Even seeing your friends becomes tough. You don't get to see them every day between classes or have dinner or go out with them at night. You do the same "we really need to hang this summer!" and "I'm busy this week, how about next week?" cycle until summer ends.
Everyone's busy with their own thing and after work, you just want to catch up on sleep, watch some Netflix alone, or spend time with your family. Summer just isn't the same anymore but that's the consequence we face as we grow up and learn to be responsible, independent adults with budding careers.
In conclusion, summer is 13 weeks, which is about 5 weeks too long. It starts to feel like another quarter in school, but I'd honestly rather be studying in school than the same work grind every day and then doing nothing after it. I never realized how much I missed school and all the hell that came with it until summer came along. It's just too long of a break and disturbs my study schedule as well. I almost feel like I forgot everything about school, what classes I'm going to take, and the whole layout of my college campus.
Summer is great, but I've definitely gotten over it. Just wait till school comes along and I'll be talking about how I miss summer vacation so much.
It’s beautiful and in memory
Sometimes it's hard to remember that Memorial Union at the University of Missouri is actually a memorial, not just a place to take a nap on a couch and get Starbucks.
Yes, the Starbucks is so convenient and the fireplace is so cozy to warm up to and study, but before all those material resources existed, Memorial Union was just a memorial.
Construction of the gothic tower was completed in 1926. As soon as work was to begin on the north wing, construction was stopped because of the Great Depression and the tower stood alone for 25 years. In 1963, the tower, the north and south wings, and the A.P Green Chapel was finished.
The goal of Memorial Union wasn't to build a place for a Starbucks. It was built as a Memorial to honor the 117 Mizzou alumni and students alike who died serving the United States in World War I. The name of these men are inscribed in the archway of the tower.
To honor these men, the tradition states that as you walk under the arch, you remove your hat and speak in a whisper. However I can't even remember the last time I saw someone actually take off their hat or whisper when walking through the archway.
The 117 men that died about 100 years ago are no different than the active military men and women that walk through campus everyday. Next time you are walking through Memorial Union to grab Starbucks, remember the active men and women that are our friends, family and classmates. Take off your hat and speak in a whisper, and remember that the men whom Memorial Union was built for have given the same as those surrounding us everyday.
The whirlwind events of last week reflects the sad state of sports in Europe.
When we think of events that have transpired in the US over the last few years, a lot of it ends up in spotlighting the division in the country. However, things across the pond seem to be no better - at least when it comes to sports. Last week, Real Madrid - arguably the richest sports franchise in the world, had one of their Brazilian strikers subject to vicious racist attacks in Valencia. The player, Vini Jr posted this example video in his Insta account:
What was worse is the player was red carded by the referee and punished for highlighting the racial abuses. It's absolutely appalling and disheartening that we are still grappling with racism in soccer in the 21st century. The beautiful game, which unites people from different cultures, backgrounds, and races, has been marred by repeated instances of racism, particularly against Black players
The pitch should be a place where skill, talent, and dedication are all that matter. Yet, we continue to witness racist behavior from fans and, at times, even fellow players or officials. From throwing bananas onto the pitch, making monkey chants, to hurling racial slurs, the experience for many Black players is stained by bigotry and ignorance.
This is not easy to watch. Or hear. But it is essential. Vinicius Junior. Welling up with tears after being subjected to a fresh wave of racist abuse. This has been a regular occurrence for six months in La Liga. pic.twitter.com/Ro80mHhvCA
— Colin Millar (@Millar_Colin) May 21, 2023
In 2004, during a match between FC Barcelona and Villarreal, a banana was thrown at Brazilian player Dani Alves, a clear act of racial discrimination. Alves responded by picking up the banana, peeling it, and taking a bite, continuing to play the game. Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto'o, playing for Barcelona in 2006, was subjected to racist monkey chants from opposition fans during a game against Zaragoza. The player threatened to leave the pitch due to the abuse but was convinced by his teammates and the referee to stay.
And in Italy in 2019, Italian striker Mario Balotelli, playing for Brescia against Verona, kicked the ball into the stands and threatened to leave the pitch after hearing racist chants. The referee temporarily halted the game.
And what's more infuriating is the lack of decisive action from football's governing bodies. Yes, there have been initiatives to curb racism in soccer - campaigns, slogans, and even rules in place. But the lenient punishments and half-hearted condemnations do not do enough to deter such disgraceful behavior. A small fine or a partial stadium ban is hardly a strong message that racism has no place in football. Vini received almost no support from the club initially, although later Real launched an "official communicado" and the president of La Liga in fact blamed him from causing the fans uproar.
Brazil has suggested they could prosecute the Spanish citizens involved in the hate crimes
Brazilian protestors gathered outside the Spanish consulate in São Paul to condemn the racist abuse of Real Madrid's Vinicius Jr. pic.twitter.com/r9zDTz2EiP
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) May 24, 2023
However, many former players and coaches wrote in support of Vini, and we can only hope change is coming
"If anybody suggests to me that we don't have a problem in society with racism, then there's another example of what we're dealing with."
Gareth Southgate says the racist abuse suffered by Vinicius Jr is a 'disgusting situation' and it will hopefully force change. pic.twitter.com/LnP1oTdnPT
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) May 24, 2023
After worldwide protests, it finally seems Spain is taking some action:
The Spanish Federation has sanctioned Valencia with a partial closure of the Mestalla stadium for five matches and a $48,000 fine following fans' racial abuse of Vinicius Junior. pic.twitter.com/RnM3Gi26JV
— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 23, 2023
1. Brittany Morgan,National Writer's Society
2. Radhi,SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign