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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Why Asian students script success story in US

“Asian students are smarter and work harder than the typical American students,” said Charles Murray, resident scholar at Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, when asked why Asian students excel in US schools and universities.
“There are cultural reasons, too. Chinese and Indian students grow up in families where parents value education highly and parents are demanding. US parents, on the other hand, do not push their children so hard,” Murray said.
There were 194,029 Chinese students studying in the US in the 2011-2012 academic year, representing the largest group of international students from a single country and accounting for 25.4% of all foreign students studying in the US. The figure also marks a 23% increase from just the year before and a 207% increase from a decade ago, according to the Institute of International Education. The number of Indian students in US, on the other hand, stand at 100, 270 in 2011–12.
Giving out reasons for Asian students’ success stories, scholars and analysts have offered a number of arguments, but most of them agree on one aspect of Asian students that help them outperform their peers in schools and universities: Hard work, commitment and discipline.
Speaking to Global Times, Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. said, “Asian students tend to sport a strong work ethic and exert themselves academically. American universities offer rich opportunities and they take advantage of them.”
President Barack Obama said though the Americans used to be “head and shoulders above” the people of other countries, they are fast losing that position. He exhorted his countrymen to buckle up as the Chinese and Indians are catching them fast. “We have kind of settled into mediocrity when we compare ourselves to other advanced countries,” he said.
“We have got to pick up the pace, because the world has gotten competitive. The Chinese and the Indians are coming at us and they’re coming at us hard, and they’re hungry, and they’re really buckling down,” Obama said.
Asian parents realize the importance of education and give it a top priority. “There were times when my parents didn’t really understand the concepts. They would try to re-learn the concepts and re-teach themselves. They just made themselves available all the time,” said Arka Chaudhuri, an Indian IT professional with Proctor and Gamble in Cincinnati.
“For an Asian student, education is seen as the only path to success. Parental demands, fear of failure, competition and pride are fueling Asia’s academic ascension. Simply put, Asian students study with a purpose,” said Louise Cheng, a student of Columbia University.
Although a strong family support system has been credited as one of the reasons for the Asians doing so well in the classroom, parental pressure on their children to excel can be overwhelming. The heavy emphasis on education in Asian-American homes often begins at birth. Schoolwork is given so much importance in some Asian-American families that children aren’t allowed to have part-time jobs or even do household chores.
“In American families, we always hear them saying, ‘As long as you try, it’s O.K.’ In Asian families, they stress the achievement. They want you to put your best foot forward and they want you to achieve. Asian parents take the time out to really get involved and know what their child is doing in the classroom,” said Doddy Yan, a Chinese IT professional in Albany, NY.


An amazing tale of human kindness

As the world recalls the horrific 9/11, here is an amazing story from a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15 flying from Frankfurt to Atlanta on the fateful day:

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about five hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic. All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain. As soon as I got there, I noticed that the crew had that ‘All Business’ look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, ‘All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.’
“No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, Newfoundland. He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately — no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.
“While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings. We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander, Newfoundland, to have it checked out. We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30pm! …. that’s 11am EST. There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the US.
“After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason.’ Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the US. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put. The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the aircraft. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane. In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were US commercial jets.
“Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC. People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada. Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the US were either blocked or jammed.
“Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm. We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.
“We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6pm, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11am the next morning. Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.
“Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing. And they were true to their word. Fortunately we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.
“About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th, a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross. After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander! We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the US airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while. We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.
“Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the ‘plane people.’ We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.
“Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days. What we found out was incredible.
“Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 kms radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers. Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up. ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the ‘guests.’ Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kms from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged. Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.
“Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration. Phone calls and e-mails to the US and around the world were available to everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were offered ‘excursion’ trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests. Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests. Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft. In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.
“Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that US airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully.
“It was absolutely incredible. When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling. Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.
“And then a very unusual thing happened. One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said ‘of course’ and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days. He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers. He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte. He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte. He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travellers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!
“The gentleman, an MD from Virginia, promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.
“As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.
“I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them. It reminds me how much good there is in the world.
“In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world, this story confirms that there are still a lot of good and Godly people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.”


Denmark world’s happiest country

According to the 2013 World Happiness Report released by Columbia University’s Earth Institute, Denmark is the world’s happiest country. The report says Denmark is followed by Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden in happiness index. Rwanda, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Benin and Togo — all nations in Sub-Saharan Africa — are the least satisfied with their lives, according to the survey of 156 countries.
The US comes in at number 17 in the world in terms of overall happiness, but it still lags behind Canada (6), Australia (10), Israel (11), the UAE (14) and Mexico (16), according to the Earth Institute.
The report ranks the UK as the 22nd happiest country in the world. Other major nations included Germany (26), Japan (43), Russia (68) and China (93).
The global survey was conducted between 2010 and 2012 and follows the Earth Institute’s first rankings released last year. While “the world has become a slightly happier and more generous place over the past five years,” economic and political upheavals have resulted in greatly reduced levels of well being for some nations, the report said.
Rankings for Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain fell dramatically because of the impact of the eurozone crisis, while Egypt, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia registered a steep fall in the wake of recent political and civil turmoil.
Egypt had the greatest fall in happiness levels. On a scale of 1 to 10 — with 10 rated as happiest — Egypt averaged 4.3 in 2012, compared to 5.4 in 2007.
“We expect, and find, that these losses are far greater than would follow simply from lower incomes,” the report said, noting that the greatest single factor reducing happiness levels in these countries was a reduction in people’s perceived “freedom to make key life choices.”
Angola, Zimbabwe and Albania experienced the largest increases across all the countries surveyed.
“On a regional basis, by far the largest gains in life evaluations in terms of the prevalence and size of the increases have been in Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Sub-Saharan Africa,” the report said. Reduced levels of corruption also contributed to the rise.
Governments seeking to improve the happiness of their populations should spend a higher proportion of their health budgets on mental illness, which is the single biggest “determinant of misery” in countries assessed, the study authors said.
“People can be unhappy for many reasons — from poverty to unemployment to family breakdown to physical illness,” the report said. “But in any particular society, chronic mental illness is a highly influential cause of misery. If we want a happier world, we need a completely new deal on mental health.”
The 2013 World Happiness Report comes on the back of a growing global movement calling for governments and policy makers to reduce their emphasis on achieving economic growth and focus on policies that can improve people’s overall well-being.
An idea first proposed in 1972 by Bhutan’s former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the concept of “happiness economics” has now gained traction in many countries across the world, including the UK, Germany and South Korea. The UN first encouraged member countries to measure and use happiness of their people to guide public policies in July 2011.
“It is important to balance economic measures of societal progress with measures of subjective well-being to ensure that economic progress leads to broad improvements across life domains, not just greater economic capacity,” the report said.


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