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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Former South Sudanese Refugee Shares His Post-Independence Reflections

Posted By on Thu, May 24, 2018 at 5:06 PM

Abraham Awolich - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Abraham Awolich
In 2011, Abraham Awolich left the U.S. to return to his native South Sudan. He confessed that he had thought about moving back to Vermont since then. Intense clashes between rival political factions in 2014 and 2015 had left him "sometimes scared," and living conditions in the capital, Juba, remain difficult, he said.

Awolich is in Burlington for a week to reconnect with his friends, as well as to ask the public to continue to support his projects in South Sudan. On Tuesday, he gave a presentation to a group of about 30 people at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. Many, if not all, in attendance had known Awolich and his peers since they first arrived in Vermont 17 years ago.

What has kept him in South Sudan these past few years, Awolich said, is a sense of purpose and commitment. In the wake of the country's independence in 2011, he wants to help negotiate what he calls "rapid" and "dramatic" transitions.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Cultural Mosaic: The Kiesse Brothers Bring Congolese Performing Arts to Vermont

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 1:54 PM

Rodrick (left) and Beny Kiesse - COURTESY OF BENY KIESSE
  • Courtesy of Beny Kiesse
  • Rodrick (left) and Beny Kiesse
Beny Kiesse describes himself as a producer, singer, dancer, designer, illustrator and model. Recently,  he's earned another title:  community organizer.

On Saturday, May 12, Kiesse will perform alongside his brother Rodrick and other local artists at the Social Club & Lounge in Burlington for an event that he's dubbed "International Affairs Night."

"Many of the performers are talented but don't have any support," explained Beny, whose stage name is BenyGola. He said it took him about a month to organize the event, which will include performances by A2VT and Cadoux Fancy. "The sole purpose of this show," he continued, "is to show everyone that we, indeed, have undiscovered talents within the city."

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Bhutanese Community Prepares to Host Major Kirat Rai Festival

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 1:10 PM

Sakela dance rehearsal at the Old North End Community Center - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Sakela dance rehearsal at the Old North End Community Center
For the past three years since he resettled in Vermont in 2014, Harka Rai was unable to perform ceremonial rituals to celebrate Ubhauli Sakela. On that day, members of the Kirat Rai community ask Mother Nature for healthy crops and protection from natural calamities.

Last week, the octogenarian was at the Old North End Community Center in Burlington to watch a dozen people practice a dance that they'll perform on Saturday, April 28, to mark Ubhauli Sakela. "It's good. This is the way," Rai said of the dance rehearsal.

And Rai will lead the day's rituals, as the local chapter of the Bhutanese Kirat Rai Organization of America hosts the festival in Vermont for the first time.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Sudanese Community Rallies to Send Kids to Camp Rock Point

Posted By on Mon, Apr 16, 2018 at 10:51 AM

From left: Deacon Stan Baker, Rev. Sherry Osborn, Bishop Thomas Ely, Chol Dhoor - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • From left: Deacon Stan Baker, Rev. Sherry Osborn, Bishop Thomas Ely, Chol Dhoor
This summer might bring a new experience for fourth graders Nyankoor Anyang and Rosa Kuku. Along with their teammates from Chittenden County's Nile Bright Stars Academy soccer team, the students hope to spend a week at Rock Point Camp in Burlington. The entire local Sudanese community is rallying behind them.

Last Saturday, the Sudanese Foundation of Vermont and the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Burlington  organized a fundraiser dinner so that kids from the Sudanese community can attend Rock Point Camp, which is run by the Episcopal Diocese.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Young Writers Project's 'Soundcheck' Addresses Gun Violence

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2018 at 9:56 AM

Workshop attendees, left to right:  Rivan Calderin, Alex Haag, Emma Haag, Rick Haag, Liz Mariani - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Workshop attendees, left to right: Rivan Calderin, Alex Haag, Emma Haag, Rick Haag, Liz Mariani
The Burlington-based Young Writers Project held a special Soundcheck event last Friday to address gun violence, youth activism and school safety.

Twice postponed due to inclement weather, the event at the BCA Center consisted of a writing workshop led by slam poets and educators Rajnii Eddins and Denise Casey, as well as an open mic session.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Chip Appeal: UVM Students Mock 'Doritos for Her'

Posted By on Sat, Feb 10, 2018 at 11:21 AM

Woman with Doritos. - SEANLOCKEPHOTOGRAPHY | DREAMSTIME.COM
  • Seanlockephotography | Dreamstime.com
  • Woman with Doritos.
Remember when Kendall Jenner brought the revolution with a can of Pepsi? In an era when big brands seem especially desperate to prove they're woke, PepsiCo has again ignited ridicule, this time for CEO Indra Nooyi's comments in a January 31 interview with Freakonomics.  Speaking with interviewer Stephen J. Dubner, Nooyi described how  PepsiCo has been working to develop female-friendlier versions of their snack-food. Among the considerations, she said, were that women "don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth."

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Saturday, February 3, 2018

Local Radio Show Broadcasts Native Perspectives

Posted By on Sat, Feb 3, 2018 at 6:30 AM

Deb Reger, host of "Moccasin Tracks," at WRUV - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Deb Reger, host of "Moccasin Tracks," at WRUV
When Deb Reger began her weekly radio show, "Moccasin Tracks," on WRUV 90.1 FM last Tuesday at noon, she reminded her listeners where she was. "We recognize this area where we broadcast from as N'Dakinna, the ancestral homeland of the Abenaki nation," she said from the radio station's studio in the University of Vermont's Davis Center in Burlington.

As the song "Grandmother" by Navajo artist Radmilla Cody played in the background, Reger told listeners that her guest for the week was Grandmother Nancy Andry, an elder who lives in Connecticut and is of Algonquin and Metis heritage.

It took a couple of tries before Reger got through on the phone to her guest. So the seasoned radio host adjusted her playlist to include longer songs. She wasn't too frazzled, though. "It happens," she explained.

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Souped Up: Foodie Fundraiser Boosts Local Entrepreneurs

Posted By on Sun, Jan 21, 2018 at 11:53 AM

Lena Jacobs (left) and Lucy Scott serve soup at Study Hall in Burlington - SALLY POLLAK
  • SALLY POLLAK
  • Lena Jacobs (left) and Lucy Scott serve soup at Study Hall in Burlington
The other night at Study Hall Collective, a coworking space on College Street in Burlington, about 55 people gathered for an event called Soup. For $5, we each got a bowl of  minestrone soup thick with greens, veggies, pasta and turkey, served with slices of baguette.

For our money,  we also got treated to standup entertainment that was interesting, informative and original. This came in the form of pitches — four of them — presented by people who had conceived of projects and were hoping to fund them with a little cash. Soup money.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Cannabis
A Class Proves That Growing Cannabis Is Anything But Simple

Posted By on Mon, Nov 13, 2017 at 1:36 PM

Hemp in a grow tent at Green State Gardener - ELIZABETH M. SEYLER
  • Elizabeth M. Seyler
  • Hemp in a grow tent at Green State Gardener
In 25 years of growing organic veggies, I've never met a plant quite like cannabis. It responds to pruning the same way basil or broccoli does — by sending out multiple shoots that eventually flower. It thrives in nutrient-rich soil with the right amounts of light and water. And it's susceptible to the usual insects and diseases.

But terms like "mother plant," "screen of green," and "cloning" never quite enter the conversation when we're talking tomatoes and peppers.

Those cannabis terms rolled off Jahson Friedman's tongue on Saturday at Green State Gardener's "Free Cultivation Class: Vegging and Flowering" in Burlington. A GSG employee and registered medical cannabis cardholder, Jahson Friedman — who goes just by the name Jahson — is a consummate practitioner of the art and science of nurturing  the flowering plant.

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Old Spokes Home Wins Award for Exceptional Hiring Practices

Posted By on Tue, Oct 3, 2017 at 4:05 PM

Chuda Karki (second from left) with colleagues from Old Spokes Home - COURTESY OF OLD SPOKES HOME
  • Courtesy of Old Spokes Home
  • Chuda Karki (second from left) with colleagues from Old Spokes Home
Every Thursday, Jeremy Kehoe rushes home from his job at Old Spokes Home in Burlington to attend an American Sign Language class organized by Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront. He's been taking ASL lessons since this summer, when the bike shop and nonprofit community center hired Chuda Karki, a deaf Bhutanese man who doesn't speak English, as a technician.

"Chuda had become pretty ingrained in the shop, so I thought it would be much better to be able to communicate with him," said Kehoe. "Once I taught myself the alphabet, it became more and more interesting."

On Tuesday, both Kehoe and Karki were on hand when Donna Curtin, chairperson of the Vermont Governor’s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities, presented Laura Jacoby, executive director of Old Spokes Home, with a Spirit of the ADA award.

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