Across the United States, many first-year college students leave home in late August and travel to their new home away from home: a college dormitory.
When asked, Jason told VOA he is nervous, or worried, about the move, much like most first-year college students. It will be difficult to leave his family. When he gets to Iona, Jason will meet older students who help the new arrivals move into student housing.
What they bring
In Harrisonburg, Virginia this week, music played outside dorms as long lines of cars moved slowly along the road, dropping off students at James Madison University.
The cars carried boxes and bags filled with things students will use to make dorm rooms into homes for the school year. The new arrivals bring clothing and cleaning supplies, lights for studying and pictures for the walls. Large cloths with brightly colored designs seemed to be popular for dorm room wall art this year.
Students also brought televisions, music speakers and equipment to store cold food and drinks in their rooms.
New home, new community
Jason Piccolomini will be one of almost 17 million students in U.S. college undergraduate programs this autumn. Most of them will be going to four-year publicly financed colleges or universities, notes the National Center for Education Statistics.
Courtney Ferrick is the director for residential life at Iona College. She says it plans many activities for both day and night on the school grounds.
“This will be their home,” she added. “They are living here and we want them to be comfortable… and safe.” About 1,300 students will live on Iona’s campus, and 450 will be first-years.
“Those first three weeks are key for college students to make their community,” Ferrick said. In addition to the classes, they build that community with programs like outdoor yoga, parties, trips, music events, and many other activities.
A major concern for most students entering a U.S. college or university is how to pay for higher education. Jason said he earned scholarship money for his high school grades and will live in a dorm with other Honors students. He is paying for the rest with a combination of money from his family and loans he will have to pay off after he finishes college.
Jason hopes to be a sports reporter one day. His “back-up” occupation, he said, is speech pathology or occupational therapy.
“(These are) the two things I’m passionate about,” he said. “I love sports and the sports world and it do love working with special needs individuals.”
It is close to his heart. His brother Brandon, a year younger than him, has Down syndrome, a genetic condition that affects him physically and mentally. The two brothers “have always been super close,” Jason said, and it will be difficult to leave him. Brandon is his reason to work with “special needs” children and adults.
Emotional… for the parents
For many families, it is difficult when their children leave for college. Jason’s mother Fran Piccolomini knows this.
She spoke to VOA before her son left.
“He is my first one to fly the coop,” she said. “I’m so nervous and happy and excited for him at the same time.”
She shares the worries of many parents: “This is what we prepared him for, but did we prepare him enough?”
One thing she knows she needs to teach him quickly is how to wash his clothes. It is something she has always done for him.
Karin Zwolfer has already sent one child to college. Soon her younger daughter, Sarah, will attend Seattle University in Washington State.
Z Wolfer says she will miss her daughter terribly, but she is “excited for the new chapter in Sarah’s life.”
Concerns, and hopes
Z Wolfer also worries about Sarah’s safety. She thinks “there are more dangers” in the modern world, compared to when she was in college. But she added that many people now recognize those dangers, and there is more security on campuses to deal with problems.
Sarah Zwolfer says she is ready to go to college. Like many first-year students, she found her roommates on a school-supported Facebook page for incoming students.
She said her older sister helped her prepare for college.
“The biggest thing that she showed me is that everyone is just as nervous as you are. So you don’t have to be so concerned about what others think because they are much more accepting,” she said, adding “and that will help you succeed.”
Sarah is paying for college through a scholarship and money available because her father was in the U.S. military.
Sarah said her main hopes are to do well in her classes and organize her time well. That is the “big thing” she said.
Another big concern for her is stress: how much pressure will there be, and how will she deal with it? She plans to plan her time well and work on projects a little at a time.
Sarah looks forward to “digging straight into my major” area of study: psychology. She is looking forward to doing experiments and research on human behavior and the mind.
“It’s really exciting,” she said.
Sarah also looks forward to meeting new people.
What will she be doing before she leaves for college? Spending time with family and friends.
“To maximize the time together until we all start new chapters of our lives separately.”
I’m Anne Ball.
And I'm Bryan Lynn.
Anne Ball wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.
First-Year College Students Away from Home
Start the Quiz to find out
Words in This Story
dormitory – n. a building on a school campus that has rooms where students can live
undergraduate – n. a student at a college or university who has not yet earned a degree
residential – adj. of or relating to the places where people live
comfortable – adj. producing physical comfort; allowing you to be relaxed, causing no worries, difficulty, or uncertainty
speech pathology – n. the study and treatment of speech and language problems.
occupational therapy – n. treatment for those recovering from illness that promotes healing through the performance of daily life activities..
passionate – adj. having, showing, or expressing strong emotions or beliefs
fly the coop – phrase means to leave one’s home, especially the one where you grow up
chapter – n. sections in a book
maximize – v. to increase something as much as possible
Plastics in Drinking Water Are a Concern
The World Health Organization says levels of plastic in drinking water present a low risk to health, but need more research.
On Thursday, the WHO released a report on microplastics, particles smaller than five millimeters.
Bruce Gordon is the WHO’s coordinator for water, sanitation and hygiene. He said one of the main findings of the report is: “If you are a consumer drinking bottled water or tap water, you shouldn’t necessarily be concerned.”
However, Gordon said that the available information is “weak” and that more research is needed. He also urged a greater effort to reduce plastic pollution.
Andrew Mayes teaches chemistry at Britain’s University of East Anglia. He was not part of the WHO study. He said that microplastics did not appear to be a health worry for now.
But he added that stronger measures are needed to reduce plastic waste.
“We know that these types of materials cause stress to small organisms,” he said. “They could be doing a lot of damage in unseen ways.”
Health concerns center on smaller particles that get into drinking water and into human digestive systems.
A study supported by the Word Wildlife Fund and released in June said that plastic is widespread throughout the environment. It estimated that people may be eating or drinking as much as five grams of plastic each week. That is equal to the amount of plastic in a credit card.
Plastics are everywhere
The study found that plastics exist throughout the environment and have been found in sea water, freshwater, food and drinking water.
Possible risks from microplastics come from small particles, chemicals and microorganisms that stick to plastic materials.
Gordon said that the WHO would continue to study levels of microplastics in water. However, he said that higher importance is given to proven risks in drinking water such as bacteria that cause typhoid and cholera.
The report notes that microorganisms are the biggest threat to healthy drinking water. For example, research blames 485,000 deaths in 2016 on drinking water infected with microbes.
“These are the things that cause immediate illness and can kill millions of people,” Gordon said.
I’m Mario Ritter Jr.
Mario Ritter Jr. adapted story for VOA Learning English from AP and Reuters reports with additional information from the WHO report. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
sanitation –n. the process of keeping places free of infection, dirt and disease by removing waste
hygiene –n. things that people do to keep themselves clean in order to maintain good health
consumer –n. someone or some group who buys goods and services
tap –n. a device that controls the flow of water or other liquids
absorb –v. to take in some liquid
priority –n. something that is more important than other things
We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.
6 Minute English
EPISODE 190815 / 15 AUG 2019
A new kind of money might be appearing soon - Libra from Facebook. Sam and Catherine discuss how different it is from Bitcoin, give you the basics about cryptocurrencies and teach you related vocabulary.
This week's question
Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, but when was it created? Was it:
The answer is at the end of the programme.
the use of complex codes to keep computer systems and information secure
the money of a particular country
digitally produced money that is not controlled by banks or governments
subject to the whims of
being controlled by unpredictable decisions and trends
well known for changing by a large amount in an unpredictable way
predictable and without big unexpected changes
Note: This is not a word for word transcript
Hello. This is 6 Minute English, I'm Catherine.
And I'm Sam.
Now, Sam, what can you tell us about cryptocurrencies?
The word is a combination of crypto, from cryptography, which is to do with using clever software codes to protect computer information and systems, and currency, which is the money of a particular country. So cryptocurrency, very simply, meanscode money. We usually think of money as notes and coins which come from a country’s bank. But a cryptocurrency doesn’t have physical money. It’s purely digital and is not controlled by banks or governments but by the people who have it and very complex computer codes. Perhaps the most well-known is Bitcoin.
Well, you seem to know a fair bit about cryptocurrency actually… anyway, now a new player is joining the digital money system as Facebook have announced they are launching their own digital currency. They are calling it 'Libra'. And we’ll be finding a little bit more about this topic in the programme, but first, a question. Now, Sam, you mentioned Bitcoin as being a well-known cryptocurrency. It was, in fact, the first cryptocurrency, but when was Bitcoin created? Was it:
b) 2009 or
I’m going to say 2010.
OK. Well, I'll reveal the answer later in the programme. Now, Jemima Kelly is a financial journalist. She was talking on the BBC radio programme Money Box Live about the plans for Libra. She says it's not really a cryptocurrency because it's actually backed up by a number of real currencies. So which currencies does she mention?
A cryptocurrency is normally subject to the whims of crypto markets, which are notoriously volatile, whereas Libra is kept stable by being backed up by a basket of currencies, in this case, the dollar, the pound, the euro and the Swiss franc.
So which currencies did she say were backing up Libra, Sam?
She said that the dollar, the pound, the euro and Swiss franc were the currencies that would be backing up Libra.
And this is different from regular cryptocurrencies, isn’t it?
Yes, cryptocurrencies are completely independent of financial institutions and other currencies.
And this can make them risky, can’t it?
Yes, she says that cryptocurrency markets are notoriously volatile. Something that is volatile can change very quickly. When it comes to currency, it means that its value can go up or down by a large amount over a very short period of time.
And it’s described as notoriously volatile because this has actually happened a few times in the past. Something that is notorious is well known or famous but for a negative reason. So the value of a currency going up and down in a volatile way – that's not positive.
If you want to take the risk you could make a lot of money, but you could also lose a lot of money - more than you invested.
So why are cryptocurrencies so volatile?
Most currencies are reasonably stable. This is the opposite of volatile. They don’t change a lot over a short period of time. There can be big changes but usually, governments and banks control currencies to prevent it. Cryptocurrencies don’t have those controls. What Jemima Kelly said was that they are subject to the whims of the crypto markets. A whim is an unpredictable or irrational decision or trend and if you are subject to the whims of something, or someone, it means that metaphorically you are a passenger in a self-driving car which may decide just to drive off the edge of a cliff. So it might be an exciting ride, but it could end in disaster.
Right, it’s time now to get the answer to the question I asked at the beginning of the programme. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, but when was it created? Was it:
I said 2010, but I’m not really sure.
And you're absolutely wrong! The correct answer is 2009, so no luck for you this time, but congratulations to everyone who did get that right. Well, anyway, let’s round off today with a review of today’s vocabulary.
First off there is cryptography which is the use of special codes to keep computer systems and content safe.
A currency is the money of a particular country, for example in the UK we have the pound, in the US there’s the dollar and in many countries in Europe the currency is the euro.
Cryptocurrency is a combination of cryptography and currency and it’s used for a finance system that is based on secure digital coins that are not connected to banks or governments.
We then had the expression subject to the whims of. Whims are unpredictable decisions and if you are subject to them it means you can’t control them, you have no choice but to go in the direction those whims lead.
This means that the value of cryptocurrencies are notoriously volatile. They have a history of going up or down in value by large amounts and very quickly. And that’s not good.
Well, it might be good if it goes up!
But if you want less risk, if you want your currency to be the opposite of volatile, if you want it, in other words, to be stable, then maybe cryptocurrencies are not for you.
Well, we are subject to the whims of the schedule which means our 6 minutes are up. We look forward to your company again soon. Bye for now.
By THE NATION
Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) will become mandatory, Director-general Phichet Wiriyapaha said on Friday, noting that most large-scale retailers in China sell only products thus certified.
Other policies Phichet unveiled for next year included storing agricultural produce at the department’s 824 provincial and district offices for up to three years.
Produce standards must be upgraded to increase farmers’ bargaining power with buyers, he said, and traditional or environmentally friendly croplands and livestock ranches will be assessed for their potential as tourist attractions as part of an Industry Ministry project.
Phichet said there are 8,097 cooperatives across the country, 4,547 of which are associated with agriculture involving 6.7 million people. Nearly 1,600 cooperatives buy or guarantee the quality of 5.5 tonnes of farm products each year.
Another 55 agriculture-related cooperatives directly export products to 28 countries, generating a combined Bt1.888 billion from the sale of 45,869 tonnes annually, he said.
Asean should guarantee safe return of Rohingya to Myanmar
By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
ANN/The Nation, Thailand
The authority in Myanmar’s capital Nay Pyi Taw announced last week that the country would accept 3,450 refugees from the list of 22,000 provided by Bangladesh earlier this month, as the first batch of people to resettle in Myanmar.
It is not known publicly how the list was made and on what grounds their names were submitted to the Myanmar authority.
The repatriation of nearly one million refugees, who fled from difficulties and conflict at home since the 1990s to shelters in Bangladesh, will be an uphill task, due to scarred memories of all involved.
Of the 911,000 people sheltered in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, nearly 740,000 left Rakhine state following brutal violence in August 2017. This saw Myanmar’s military (Tatmadaw) reacting in a disproportionate manner to a series of attacks by militants working under the banner of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).
Myanmar’s so-called clearance operation caused atrocities including arson, torture, gang rape, murder and massacre, acts which the United Nations considered ethnic cleansing. The UN even suggested that genocide charges be raised against those responsible from the Tatmadaw.
As the first attempt to send the Rohingya back failed in mid-November of last year, Asean, then under the chairmanship of Singapore, agreed to take part in the repatriation process for two reasons – saving Rohingya as well as enhancing the regional grouping’s role and visibility in the Rakhine crisis.
Thailand, which took on the chairmanship in January, fully supported Asean Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi and the Asean Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) in their effort to take part in the repatriation process and to explore sustainable solutions for the crisis.
But the regional grouping has faced an uphill task since it began to work on the issue last December.
The Asean Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT) was not able to enter Rakhine state when Rakhine ethnic insurgents under the Arakan Army brandished weapons against the authorities and made the situation more complicated. The insurgents are fighting for autonomy in Rakhine state.
The ERAT team was finally allowed to enter the state to make a primary assessment during the first half of March and it completed its first report a month later.
In the meantime, Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, representing Asean as the chairman, conducted quiet shuttle diplomacy between Bangkok, Jakarta, Nay Pyi Taw and Dhaka to explore possibilities for early repatriation and rehabilitation within Rakhine of the ousted refugees.
Don discussed the Asean plan for the Rakhine crisis with his colleagues in Bangkok in June and July when they gathered at the Asean summit and ministerial meeting respectively.
The discussion produced positive outcomes. As Don told media in June, Myanmar was ready to welcome Rohingya – who are regarded as “aliens” in the country – and will consider the controversial issue of National Verification Cards (NVC) for Rohingya refugees who wish to voluntarily return from Bangladesh.
The NVC is not Myanmar’s national ID, and many Rohingya say they do not trust it as it does not recognise them as citizens.
Although the Asean Ministerial Meeting joint communiqué issued after the meeting last month (July) painted a rosy road for the repatriation and rehabilitation of Rohingya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Professor Yanghee Lee, who was in Thailand in early July for her fact-finding mission, said the violation of human rights in Myanmar was rising, notably in Rakhine state.
She said she would report the alarming situation to the UN Human Right Council in September and to the General Assembly in October.
She said Myanmar is grossly violating people’s rights and had blocked her access to the country since late 2017.
Clashes have continued since 2017, and the conflict between the Tatmadaw and the non-Muslim militant Arakan Army is still raging, with reports indicating that human-rights violations and abuse against the civilian population is worsening, she said.
Given that information flow is not easy, particularly for information about what is really happening on the ground, it is hard to know how the outside world can assess that it is safe for the Rohingya to return, she noted.
Sources say the blockage of internet in nine townships in northern Rakhine since July has not yet been lifted.
The Asean, in its joint communiqué in July, stressed the need for the Asean Secretary General and the AHA Centre to conduct further work on the matter, including dissemination of information and an accurate assessment of the situation to guarantee the safe return of Rohingya.
With good cooperation from Nay Pyi Taw as a member, Asean has adequate mechanisms and ability to get access to the troublesome areas as well as to reach out to the local residents of Rakhine.
If the Rakhine crisis really matters to the regional grouping, it is time for Asean to connect and coordinate with all stakeholders including Bangladesh, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Myanmar to guarantee that the first batch of Rohingya return home safe and sound.
More importantly, that they would also be welcomed as full citizens of Myanmar.
The writer is the former editor of The Nation newspaper in Thailand and continues to contribute articles. This article is among the latest series in the Asian Editors Circle, a weekly commentary by editors from the Asia News Network (ANN), which are published by members of the regional media group. The ANN is an alliance of 24 news media titles across the region
August 25, 2019