War Is Real, Not Something You Just See On TV

War Is Real, Not Something You Just See On TV

Believe what you see in the media, because it's happening.

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So, your first thought right now might be why I chose such a happy picture to be the cover of this article. You know the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" could never be more relatable in this picture.

I was lucky enough to have traveled to Israel on a 'Side by Side' mission through Hillel Milwaukee as a leadership opportunity. The purpose of the trip was to educate us about the conflicts currently going on in the Middle East and bring some sort of advocacy around campus for the coming fall semester. Over the course of the trip, I took many pictures, but none stuck out as much as this one did to me. I'll spare you the time of scrolling up and seeing the picture again, so I'll post it here.


Right where my forehead is, at the same level in the background is the border of Israel and Syria.

Stewart Kraus


In the picture you see me standing in front of a beautiful view off the top of a mountain in the Golan Heights on the border with Syria. The top of the mountain was filled with tourists taking in the breathtaking view. I posed for this picture, not quite aware of what was happening behind me.

You can't tell from the actual picture, but a war was going on behind me. From what sounded like thunder (I looked up in the sky to see if there was a storm coming, to prove myself wrong from hearing explosions, but there wasn't a cloud in sight) was explosions, machine gun shots, and death behind me. Beyond the border fence in Syria, you can see a lot of smoke coming up from a building. Not knowing what the actual cause of it was made me assume the worst.

Every now and then there would be another rumble in the ground from the war. Don't get me wrong, however, I was safe on the Israeli side, but at that moment and time, I got chills knowing that people were dying right behind me, and there is me, posing for a picture on a mountaintop that looks very happy, now gives me memories of war and death.

Growing up the concept of war seemed so surreal to me. We see it on TV and in movies, but living in the United States, we don't see warzones on our streets like some other countries do. War always was some sort of illusion to me because it felt worlds away (which it really was being on the other side of the world).

Since experiencing those eerie sounds while on the border of the two countries, that WAR IS REAL, NOT SOMETHING YOU JUST SEE ON TV. We are just fortunate enough to live in the United States where we don't need to worry about it happening in our backyards as much as other countries do.

Cover Image Credit:

Stewart Kraus

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A Playlist From The iPod Of A Middle Schooler In 2007

I will always love you, Akon.
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Something happened today that I never thought in a million years would happen. I opened up a drawer at my parents' house and I found my pink, 4th generation iPod Nano. I had not seen this thing since I graduated from the 8th grade, and the headphones have not left my ears since I pulled it out of that drawer. It's funny to me how music can take you back. You listen to a song and suddenly you're wearing a pair of gauchos, sitting on the bleachers in a gym somewhere, avoiding boys at all cost at your seventh grade dance. So if you were around in 2007 and feel like reminiscing, here is a playlist straight from the iPod of a middle schooler in 2007.

1. "Bad Day" — Daniel Powter

2. "Hips Don't Lie" — Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean

SEE ALSO: 23 Iconic Disney Channel Moments We Will Never Forget

3. "Unwritten" — Natasha Bedingfield

4. "Run It!" — Chris Brown

5. "Girlfriend" — Avril Lavigne

6. "Move Along" — All-American Rejects

7. "Fergalicious" — Fergie

8. "Every Time We Touch" — Cascada

9. "Ms. New Booty" — Bubba Sparxxx

10. "Chain Hang Low" — Jibbs

11. "Smack That" — Akon ft. Eminem

12. "Waiting on the World to Change" — John Mayer

13. "Stupid Girls" — Pink

14. "Irreplaceable" — Beyonce

15. "Umbrella" — Rihanna ft. Jay-Z

16. "Don't Matter" — Akon

17. "Party Like A Rockstar" — Shop Boyz

18. "This Is Why I'm Hot" — Mims

19. "Beautiful Girls" — Sean Kingston

20. "Bartender" — T-Pain

21. "Pop, Lock and Drop It" — Huey

22. "Wait For You" — Elliot Yamin

23. "Lips Of An Angel" — Hinder

24. "Face Down" — Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

25. "Chasing Cars" — Snow Patrol

26. "No One" — Alicia Keys

27. "Cyclone" — Baby Bash ft. T-Pain

28. "Crank That" — Soulja Boy

29. "Kiss Kiss" — Chris Brown

SEE ALSO: 20 Of The Best 2000's Tunes We Still Know Every Word To

30. "Lip Gloss" — Lil' Mama

Cover Image Credit: http://nd01.jxs.cz/368/634/c6501cc7f9_18850334_o2.jpg

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I Didn't Choose To Be A Dance Major, It Chose Me

How my passion became my purpose

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I don't remember the exact moment, but I do remember the process. I remember moments in time and the way joy has manifested itself into my life. Perhaps this is the meaning of life—a slow growing journey of finding yourself through experiences and delightfully long conversations with people we care about, long nights filled with laughter, early mornings with dew beneath our toes, waves of utter joy, followed by waves of somber; it's all just part of it. And within these waves and moments of our lives, we begin to see with clarity—a slow but steady process. Clarity occurs when the fog is lifted. It's when you find that thing you're passionate about, and you do it relentlessly. This is the art of becoming.

So, I don't really remember when I became a dancer. I suppose it's been a lifetime of becoming. I can't even really say that it's a choice. I don't think it is. I know that I was born to dance. And this has nothing to do with how I look or anything like that. But it has everything to do with how I feel when I dance. It's this sense of sheer release, and to be able to get to that point of really, truly not having a care in world; this is how you know you're in the process of becoming. It's in the moments where I'm the most lost—the moments where I've really given myself over completely that result in the greatest rewards, usually in the form of self-knowledge. This is clarity.

I have not chosen to become a dancer, but inevitably dance has so gracefully chosen me. And with great appreciation, I've accepted the invitation. I've since made the mindful choice to immerse myself in this art form, because to me this is how joy has chosen to manifest itself in my life. Through movement, and love of music, and love of creating, this is how I've chosen joy.

It recently dawned on me that dance is what we as humans use to declare our vitality. It's an appreciation of being alive. And more so, it's a celebration: of being alive, of our bodies, of human contact, but mostly just of life. We as humans dance to celebrate life.

So with this joy that I've been so lucky to find, I am compelled to study dance. And not just take classes, and not just take notes, but to really study—to really understand what it means to be alive, and to feel gratitude for every ounce of my life.

This is why I'm a dance major.

So before you question me, and perhaps tell me that my major is useless or is not setting me up for a successful life, maybe consider that I've chosen a life of joy. I've chosen to be passionate and throw myself into gaining a greater kinesthetic awareness, a more profound appreciation for music, and for art, and for culture, and just life in general.

I have chosen to celebrate my life, and celebrate what my body allows me to do every day. And through my choices, I've begun to master the art of becoming.

Author's note: The theme of "becoming" was subconsciously inspired by Michelle Obama.

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