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Are these white kids spoiling May Day for everyone else? (Photo from Flickr by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/tiffany98101/">Tiffany Von Arnim</a>)
Are these white kids spoiling May Day for everyone else? (Photo from Flickr by Tiffany Von Arnim)

Ever since I moved to Seattle, I’ve avoided May Day affairs wholesale.

Why? Most news coverage of May Day focuses on wanton violence by anarchists who want smash stuff and fight the police. More thoughtful coverage critiques the black bloc for coopting May Day and overshadowing the efforts of peaceful, well-organized immigration and Black Lives Matter protestors.

So not wanting to tempt fate and potentially face agitated cops, I’ve stayed home, despite my own personal interest in the immigrant rights element.

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National Geographic Photographer Ami Vitale, covering flooding and the threat of rising sea levels in Bangladesh. (Courtesy photo by Michael Davie)
National Geographic Photographer Ami Vitale, covering flooding and the threat of rising sea levels in Bangladesh. (Courtesy photo by Michael Davie)

Every journalist has fantasized about traveling to remote corners of the globe to document far-flung cultures and ecosystems.

But how many of us actually get the chance to get out from behind our desks and explore our world?

Ami Vitale has one of those dream jobs. It’s taken her to over 90 countries, living in mud huts and war zones, contracting malaria and even snuggling with a sea of baby pandas.

She’s in town this week to share what a day in the life of a National Geographic photographer is all about.

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Vivian Vo-Farmer is an 18-year-old Asian American YouTube star based in Seattle whose channel has over one million subscribers. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Lemos )
Vivian Vo-Farmer is an 18-year-old YouTuber based in Seattle whose channel has over one million subscribers. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Lemos )

For young Asian Americans aspiring to enter the entertainment industry, Hollywood has long seemed like a distant, unattainable dream.

But recently, many Asian Americans have found a shortcut to success in the entertainment business: YouTube.

Vivian Vo-Farmer, an 18-year-old living in Seattle, is one of a growing cadre of Asian American YouTube stars who have leveraged the popularity of her channel on the video sharing platform for profit, and used it as a springboard into other business ventures.

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Community members greeted Leschi Elementary students with high fives to congratulate them on completing the first week of the school year. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo)
Community members greeted Leschi Elementary students with high fives to congratulate them on completing the first week of the school year. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo)

Recently, Sofia Deglel got home from work to find a message from officials at Sand Point Elementary School in Seattle to bring her first-grader to a 8:30 a.m meeting.

Confused and worried, she did. Eight school officials— administrators,teachers and others —  were there, heightening her sense of dread.

The staff members told her they were worried about her son because they said he appeared to be learning slowly, and they wanted to put him into a special education program.

To Deglel, that made no sense. Her son did well during a summer of advanced reading lessons at a private Kumon tutoring center.

It turned out, her son just stumbled a bit in classwork in the first few weeks of school. She convinced the officials her son was fine, and he has done well since.

Deglel and her son are African-American and to Deglel, the misunderstanding was an example of officials treating non-white students differently from white students.

Delgel believes a white student with a couple slow days in school would not have been routed automatically to a special education program.

It’s never intentional.  … It is an unconscious bias,” said Chandra Hampton, whose son also attends Sand Point Elementary School.

To Deglel and to Hampton, a Native American woman with a white husband and mixed-race child, such bias is not the fault of Sand Point’s staff, but symptom of the cultural miscommunications that happen frequently with teachers and students from different ethnic backgrounds. This miscommunication has ripple effects on the kids’ education.

The two joined Seattle legislators in Olympia last week to stump for a package of bills aiming to address the opportunity gap.

Sand Point Elementary’s students are more diverse than the Seattle Public Schools at large according to the PTA’s website: the ethnic and racial breakdown of students is 29 percent African-American, 26 percent Asian, 16 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Native American and 29 percent white. About 27 percent of students speak a first language that is not English — with 22 different native languages represented. And 60 percent of students qualify for free lunch and reduced price lunch programs — meaning they come from low-income families.

But county and statewide, teachers are less ethnic and racially diverse than the students they teach. In King County,  about 86 percent of teachers are white, 5 percent Asian, 3 percent Hispanic, 2.5 percent African-American, and 2 percent are of mixed races. Together, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders make up less than 1 percent of the county’s teachers.

Because of the lack of diversity in teaching staff, cross-cultural miscues between school officials and families are problems across the state, she said.

About 44 percent of students in Washington belong to a ethnic or racial minority group, according to the 2015-16 data from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction: 22 percent of the state’s students are Hispanic, 2.5 percent Native American, 7 percent Asian-American, 4 percent African-American, 1 percent Hawaiian and Pacific islander, 7.5 percent mixed race and 56 percent white.

In contrast, about 11 percent of the state’s teachers belong to a racial or ethnic minority.

Deglel and Hampton joined other parents and several Democratic legislators last week from Seattle in a press conference in support of education bills that would cover dealing with those cross-cultural gaps, as well as bills that address teacher recruitment, school construction and dealing with homeless students.

One bill, House Bill 1541, specifically addresses the cultural gap. It would develop a program to train all school staff members in cultural competence and focus on recruiting teachers of color. It also would require collection and analysis of racial and ethnic information on teachers and students.

Bill sponsor Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle, said the current public education system is not designed to adjust for cultural differences.

“But we know every child is different. One size does not fit all,” Santos said. “It’s our paramount duty as a state to provide each student with the unique and integrated supports they need to achieve academic excellence and  success. The best way to accomplish that goal for every  child is to close the educational opportunity gap.”

Santos’ bill was introduced last session and passed the Democrat-controlled House, but never came to the floor in the Senate, which is majority Republican. Republicans have said that while many lawmakers support parts of the bills, the package of education bills together tries to tackle too much, including addressing school discipline.

But for the Sand Point Elementary parents, the issues of cross-cultural communication can’t wait for the legislature to act.

The Sand Point PTA recently raised the cash to hire a counselor for the school specifically to handle cross-cultural issues, Hampton said.

The psychedelic effects of ayahuasca tea actually result from the combination of the ayahuasca vine with other plants that contain DMT. (Photo from Flickr by Jairo Galvis Henao)
The psychedelic effects of ayahuasca tea actually result from the combination of the ayahuasca vine with other plants that contain DMT. (Photo from Flickr by Jairo Galvis Henao)

Every year thousands of climbers risk their lives trying to summit Mount Rainier. But if altitude isn’t your thing, now you can confront your fear of death from the apparent safety of a cabin near the mountain — by taking Peruvian hallucinogen ayahuasca.

A 160-acre plot near Elbe, Washington is home to Ayahuasca Healings, a first-of-its-kind organization whose mission is to make ayahuasca, a medicinal and hallucinogenic tea, publicly accessible in the United States. The tea, a plant-based brew that includes Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is nicknamed “the vine of the dead.”

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While we Americans are busy playing football against a giant turkey, people in other countries are celebrating Thanksgiving in their own unique ways. (Photo from Flickr)
While we Americans are busy playing football against a giant turkey, people in other countries are celebrating Thanksgiving in their own unique ways. (Photo from Flickr)

Americans may stuff themselves with the most turkey this Thanksgiving season, but they’re definitely not the only ones giving thanks around the globe. Several other nations celebrate some variation of the holiday, too.

So if you’re fed up with all the conspicuous consumption, or you just want to escape that tired old story about Pilgrims and Indians, take some inspiration from these five nations that do Thanksgiving their own way:

Norfolk Island

Yep, these south Pacific islanders eat pumpkin pie on their Thanksgiving, held on the last Wednesday of November.

If you’re confused, that’s understandable. Hoards of American whalers who worked on the island during the whaling boom in the 1960s brought the tradition with them. It never left.

Now, many locals deem Thanksgiving as one of the most important holidays, says Kristie Wilson, a local who works with Norfolk Island Tourism.

Many locals visit churches, which are filled with produce and island cuisine, to give thanks. Typically, churches auction the food to raise funds.

Church goers tend to sing American hymns like Let the Lower Lights be Burning and In the Sweet Bye and Bye.

People feast on traditional fare including cold pork and chicken, a local mashed banana dish called pihli, and of course, pumpkin pie.

Puerto Rico

Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico. Are you sure you want to go visit your family in Michigan? (Photo from Flickr by <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/breezy421/">Breezy Baldwin</a>)
Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico. Are you sure you want to go visit your family in Michigan? (Photo from Flickr by Breezy Baldwin)

This U.S. territory celebrates Thanksgiving with a tropical twist — heavy on the plantain.

Tables boast appetizers including guineitos en escabeche, or boiled bananas with spiced garlic sauce and fried green plantains called tostones. Fried plaintain chips, platanutres, are dipped in garlic and lime.

Locals stuff the turkey with mofongo, or mashed fried plantains with garlic, pork, bacon and olive oil. It’s marinated with orange juice, vinegar, garlic and other spices. Morcilla (blood sasuage), arroz con gandules (slow-cooked rice and peas) and amarillos (fried sweet plantains served with sugar) commonly accompany the turkey.

For dessert, you can expect the colorful tastes of coconut custard, mango preserve and guayaba con queso, a guava and cream cheese treat.

As in the States, the day marks the start of frenzied Christmas shoppers flooding the malls in search of the best deal.

United Kingdom

Brits celebrate Harvest Festival, sometimes known as the Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving, which typically occurs on a Sunday near the Harvest Moon.

The day originated in pagan times, with people offering thanks and feasting in celebration of successful harvests.

Still, residents don’t seem to display much fervor for the holiday.

“We don’t celebrate that at all,” my friend Simon Mapstone from Brighton, U.K. told me. “At my grade school we used to have a harvest festival where everyone brought in cans of food to give to charity, though.”

Other U.K. residents echoed his views. Now, the day typically involves donating food to various charities. It does not include eating yourself into a coma alongside every aunt, step-uncle and third-cousin you never knew you had.

In Thanksgiving-type spirit, some British Christians may also use the day to express gratitude.

Harvest Festival flowers on display at a church in Shrewsbury, U.K. (Photo from Flickr by Marion Haworth)
Harvest Festival flowers on display at a church in Shrewsbury, U.K. (Photo from Flickr by Marion Haworth)

Liberia

On the first Thursday in November, some Liberians frequent places of worship, auction off fresh harvest fruits at church services, dance and attend concerts.

They also “feast and so forth… but not — clearly not on the scale that you do it in the United States,” historian Elwood Dunn told an NPR station.

In the 18th century, freed slaves from the U.S. founded the nation, and they carried the Thanksgiving tradition with them, swapping chicken for turkey and adding plenty of spice to the green bean casserole and mashed cassavas.

The tradition is predominantly celebrated by those with African-American ancestry, who make up a smaller portion of the population.

Now living in relative peace after decades of devastating civil war, Dunn said Liberians have many blessings to count on the day.

Canada

Even though they sport toques and slap “eh” on the end of their sentences, Canadians may not be so different from us, after all.

Although my Canadian boyfriend assumed the holiday was just another thing Canadians ripped off and “slightly amended in an arbitrary way” from us, it turns out Canadians held a day of thanks more than 40 years before us.

Arctic explorer Martin Frobisher first celebrated a version of the holiday in 1578, when his crew gave thanks for making it home after braving the Northwest Passage.

Though the celebratory feast is widely considered the first Thanksgiving on the continent, Native American and First Nations tribes organized harvest festivals long before any European ever did.

Still, Canada’s neighbors to the south brought the turkey. During the American Revolution, loyalists moved to Canada, bringing the harvest celebration with them.

From personal experience I can tell you that the day, aside from being celebrated on the second Monday in October, goes down much the same as in the states. Except there might not be football blaring in the background.

A supporter of Initiative 122 celebrates in Seattle as early results come in Tuesday night Photo by Varisha Khan.
Brianna Thomas, campaign manager for Honest Elections, which championed Initiative-122, celebrates in Seattle as early results come in Tuesday night. (Photo by Varisha Khan.)

Initiative 122, a campaign finance reform initiative that would set contribution limits in Seattle and also create a voucher system for public campaign financing, appeared to be leading easily in early returns Tuesday night.

More than 100 people celebrated the early returns at an Honest Elections event at Grim’s, with Seattle Councilmember Nick Licata and State Rep. Brady Walkinshaw (D-Seattle) in attendance.

“We may not be able to change Citizens United, but we’re doing everything we can by passing our own citizen initiatives to limit big money and give ordinary voters a stronger voice in government,” said Honest Elections in a statement.

Incumbent Seattle councilmembers Kshama Sawant (District 3) and Bruce Harrell (District 2) appeared to be leading in the races to keep their council seats in Seattle’s first district elections.

“If you’re excited by tonight, our fight is by no means over,” Sawant told jubilant supporters at Melrose Market Studios, saying that supporters still had to fight against corporate politicians.

As the first batch of results came in, District 3 candidate Pamela Banks’ supporters at Tougo Coffee let out a sigh, but she continued with reassuring words: “It’s early.”

In District 2, Tammy Morales, who trailed Bruce Harrell by about 900 votes in early returns, said at her election night party in Columbia City’s Royal Room that while she’d prefer if the numbers were a little closer, Morales still hopes to pull ahead as progressive voters tend to turn ballots in later.

Here is the summary of early results from the Nov. 3 general election:

Your language is dying out, fast. Only a few people speak it fluently, and once they’re gone, the language goes too.

With time running out, would you choose between learning the language perfectly, or learning to communicate despite minor flaws in how you use it – mistakes in pronunciations and accents?

This situation is playing out in Seattle. The Puyallup Tribe’s Lushootseed language is dying out. UNESCO recognizes it as a critically endangered language with only five speakers of it left, and all of them elderly.

With their language dwindling rapidly, several members of the Puyallup Tribe decided that traditional language teaching methods were not effective in instilling love and interest. A modern twist was needed to rekindle people to uphold their history and culture.

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Colors fly at a gay pride parade. (Photo by Tim Brown for the U.S. Department of State via Flickr.)
Colors fly at a gay pride parade. (Photo by Tim Brown for the U.S. Department of State via Flickr.)

On the Monday after PRIDE weekend, with the glitter finally removed from my hair and clothing, I let the reality of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage sink in. Coming down off a spell that was equal parts rainbow crosswalks and sunstroke, I began to wonder—what now?

Seattle Ferguson Protest Photos
Rally at the University of Washington on Nov. 25. (Photo by Jama Abdirahman)

Make no mistake. The terrorist massacre in Charleston at the Emanuel AME Church on Wednesday night is a backlash against #BlackLivesMatter. When a 21-year-old man guns down nine people while telling the victims that he believes that Blacks are “taking over the country,” he is reacting to a perceived ripple in the vast, undisturbed ocean of privilege, entitlement and supremacy that has been his norm and that he believes to now be under threat.

What should frighten us is how little it took. A few months of sporadic protesting and rallying and hashtagging under the umbrella of #BlackLivesMatter. That is all it took to fuel a young white male’s phobia.

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An Ethiopian woman at her community center holds a candle in remembrance for the Christians killed by ISIS Center. (Photo by Agazit Afeworki for the South Seattle Emerald.)
An Ethiopian woman at her community center holds a candle in remembrance for the Christians killed by ISIS. (Photo by Agazit Afeworki for the South Seattle Emerald.)

This story originally appeared on the South Seattle Emerald.

Seattle’s Eritrean and Ethiopian communities held separate vigils on April 25 and May 1 at the Ethiopian Community Center and Rainier Valley Cultural Center to honor the Eritrean and Ethiopian men brutally executed in a video by the terrorist organization ISIS last month.

During both events, community members moved from prayers and mourning to speak extensively about what may have caused their countrymen to be in Libya. Some at the open forums faulted their country’s economy and for not providing opportunities for youth to stay at home.

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Bruce Lee is buried in Lake View Cemetery next to his son Brandon, who died in 1993. (Photo by Chetanya Robinson)
Bruce Lee is buried in Lake View Cemetery next to his son Brandon, who died in 1993. (Photo by Chetanya Robinson)

Next to Volunteer Park in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood lies a spot that’s visited by 10,000 people every year. Through the gates of Lake View Cemetery and halfway up a hill with clear views of Lake Washington, the space is shielded by evergreen shrubs.

This is where Bruce Lee, legendary Chinese American martial artist and film star, was laid to rest in 1973. His grave is not only a Seattle tourist attraction but a national and global pilgrimage site.

Lee was 32 years old when he died from a brain swelling caused by an allergic reaction to painkillers. But in many ways he lives on still.

immigration rally 3
Mary September and her son in front of the federal building in downtown Seattle during a Nov. 20 immigration reform rally. (Photo by Mohamud Yussuf / OneAmerica).

It’s Christmas Day, and my eight-year-old son and I are in Denver on a layover to Austin to be with my sister’s family.

The airport TV screens are filled with year-end stats and reviews. I am pondering a few stats of my own: 4,272 is the number of days I’ve been married and 1,170 is the number of days my husband and I have been living on separate continents. Our son has been alive 2,598 days, and he has spent 45 percent of his life away from his dad. And on this day especially, it became abundantly clear to me we have spent far too many Christmases apart.

Three years ago, I left my life in rural Malawi — and 15 bouts of malaria — to return to the states with my son. I thought I was coming home. I assumed my family would be welcome, but instead, have found that on the issue of keeping my family together, my country is more my adversary than my advocate.

“Many things that shouldn’t have happened, happened because of money,” says Wang Youliang.

“The situation [in Wenzhou] is a secret everybody knows, but you can’t talk about it in public.”

He is a young entrepreneur and shoe manufacturer working in Wenzhou, China. Among his friends, five failed factory owners fled and one killed himself.

The country that is predicted to be the next big super power on the world economic stage has its own hidden crisis.

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Tuareg people spread across five nations in the central Sahara have long sought independence. But last January rebels in Northen Mali began a movement for succession. (Photo via <a href="http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/homepage/"> magharebia.com</a>)
Tuareg people spread across five nations in the central Sahara have long sought independence. But last January rebels in Northen Mali began a movement for succession. (Photo via magharebia.com)

Until a couple weeks ago, you probably didn’t think much about Mali, the large, former French colony that spans North and West Africa.

I know I didn’t.

But then we started hearing about French troops invading northern Mali, and militants kidnapping foreign workers in Algeria and that this all somehow connected to the fall of Gaddafi in Libya.

So, what’s going on in North Africa, and why does it matter to us way over here in Seattle?

Public transportation in South Waziristan, in the lawless Tribal Areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Photo by Gohar Masud)
Public transportation in South Waziristan, in the lawless Tribal Areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Photo by Gohar Masud)

My friend and I squeeze in the front seat of the pickup.

We’re lucky–others are stuck in the back without seats in the freezing winter, getting tossed in the air when the driver crests the hills.

It was another one of those days when I would travel between my home in Dera Ismail Khan and South Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s lawless Tribal Areas, to sell medical supplies for Abbott Labs, an American healthcare company.

Vitamins, antibiotics, Ensure, Similac, Sensimil, Formance, Isomil; basic products you’d find in any hospital or pharmacy in Seattle were a godsend to families in Waziristan. Nobody seemed to care that they were produced by an American company.

By the time I finished my sales at 4pm it was pretty late to start the six-hour trip back home through the so-called no-man’s-land along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

But I had a bad feeling. I just wanted to get out of there, despite the urging of locals who told us it wasn’t wise to travel during the night.

A late night game of street ball in Hong Kong (Photo by Marcus Hansson)
A late night game of street ball in Hong Kong (Photo by Marcus Hansson)

Once people discover that I speak some basic Chinese, the typical conversation I have here in Juijiang goes something like this:

A few standard queries regarding my nationality, occupation, marital status, salary, and maybe my opinions on Chinese food.

And then it happens.

“Which city are you from?”

“I am from Seattle.” I say, bracing myself for the nearly inevitable response.

“Ah, Seattle. The Chaoyinsu” (literally “Exceed Sound Speed” – the Supersonics).

Our hapless Seattleite protagonist now must explain how the Sonics have moved to another city, they are no longer called the Supersonics, and how Seattle sports fans constantly suffer from the trauma of having defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.