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WORLD & NATION
Thousands harmed in
major Bolivian Hoods
BY ALLISON STALBERG
The Bolivian government recently
annotmced a state of national emergency
after months of heavy rain caused severe
flooding and landslides, devastating
thousands of families. People, their homes,
and chunks of land have been swept away
by the increasing flash floods.
And it's not about to stop.
"Several rural towns in the Cochabamba
Department are practically submerged
in water," Cesar P^rez, an environmental
engineer in Santa Cruz, told The
Guilfordian in an email. "Agriculture,
livestock and even human lives are gone.
"In the Beni Department, many losses
were registered," said Perez. "A total of
38 human lives were lost and more than
44,200 families were affected."
Mario G. Aranibar, the national
coordinator of search and rescue in Bolivia,
told The Guilfordian that although floods
have occurred in the past, Bolivia was ill-
prepared to respond.
Ninety percent of recovery efforts were
initiated by volunteer units with little to no
support from the state.
"We resort to using army soldiers with
little or no training in disaster response,"
said Aranibar in an email. "Of course,
they do not have the right equipment, and
instead of being a help, they increase risk,
since they risk flieir lives."
Not only has there been an inadequate
response to the disaster, but news of the
devastation caused by flooding has been
imder reported in the media.
"I was watching the news and CNN was
covering what tree the president was going
to pick, while I was reading newspapers
from Bolivia and seeing people really
suffering in my coxmtry," said junior Ines
Sanchez De Lozada.
"I think iP s about which story sells, and
the Christmas tree always sells."
With Bolivia having its fair share of
lowlands and valleys in addition to
moxmtainous terrain, post-flood issues
have also been a source of concern.
"This does not end here," said Aranibar.
"Post-disaster, a series of epidemics and
diseases will come and cause more deaths.
That's what comes next."
Some, like Perez, have begim to
speculate about a connection between the
flooding and climate change.
"I witnessed extreme cold a couple of
weeks ago in the U.S.," said Perez. "Last
year, Egypt received snow after almost
100 years. Now, in Bolivia, the imusually
heavy rain is affecting the whole coimtry.
'The worst part is that the climate
change is most affecting the poor," P^rez
continued. "Thousands of families depend
on agriculture and livestock production
to survive. Climate change is affecting the
weather stability that these families need."
Twenty-one thousand Bolivians are
homeless as of Feb. 10, and that number is
"We have a saying about how in January,
it is going to rain," said Sanchez De Lozada.
"But in February, the rain is going to wash
NCSSM holds 23rd successhd Powwow
BY CHASE CLAUSEN
The drumbeat continued throughout
the day along with a variety of traditional
dancing and singing, ranging from
competitive dances like the smoke dance to
honor songs that are sung to pay tribute to a
On Saturday, Feb. 1, the North Carolina
School of Science and Mathematics held their
23rd annual Powwow to celebrate Native
American culture and ancestry.
The NCSSM Powwow dates back 23 years
when Native American students approached
a former teacher of 30 years, Joe Liles, about
organizing an event to raise awareness of the
culture and communities of origin.
They also wanted to use the PoWwow as a
method to encourage other Native American
students to apply for admission to NCSSM,
a residential school recently ranked 23rd in
Newsweek's "America's Best High Schools."
At NCSSM, the Powwow emphasized a
Native American tradition that has been on
display for centuries.
"It's important to bring awareness to the
Native American population," said Liles
in a phone interview with The Guilfordian.
"February is a very opportunistic time
because it's a time when Indian people want
to get moving again."
Liles chose to have the powwow in
February to avoid interfering with other
traditional Native American powwows
across the region. Typical powwow
ceremonies resume in March, the beginmng
In Native American culture, the drum is a
strong symbol. It is a token of trust and faith
as well as a representation of ancestry. The
drumbeat remains constant throughout the
Powwow while families gather together to
embrace the singing and dancing of many
Native American tribes.
This year, Liles' most memorable story
was inspired by a group of young dancers
known as the "Eagle-Dancers," in which the
youngest dancer was a seven-year-old.
"The first place where natives actively sing
and dance is here at the NCSSM," said Liles.
"They feel a loyalty to keep coming back."
The Powwow serves as an occasion for
Native Americans to show belonging not
only to their respective tribes but also to their
"Native Americans are almost a forgotten
part of history," said junior Jace Sowden.
"Having celebrations like this brings
awareness to (non-Native American)
Sowden is a member of the Seneca tribe
in upstate New York, which is a part of the
larger Iroquois Confederacy, consisting of the
Onondaga, Cayuga, Oneida, Mohawk and
"I enjoyed talking to the people of the
tribes and learning about the Powwow
and what it represented," said Dan Kane
in a phone interview with The Guilfordian.
"I appreciated talking with (non-Native
American) students who still managed to
participate in the dances."
Kane is a writer for the News Observer and
recently published an article on the event.
In addition to promoting participation
for multiple tribes, the Powwow facilitates
the expression of culture to those who are
The next Powwow will be held at North
Carolina State University in Raleigh on
Beloved Tibetan town, study abroad site devastated by fire
BY ERIC D. MORTENSEN
Chair and Associate Professor of Reugious Studies
In the frigid inking of early morning on Jan. 11, 2014, a
space heater allegedly ignited a window curtain in a hotel in the
Old Town of Xianggelila — the very hotel in which Professor
of Justice & Policy Studies Jerry Joplin had stayed in the spring
of 2013 while directing Guilford College's Southwest China
semester abroad program.
The flampfi spread from wooden-shingled rooftop to rooftop,
and over the next 10 hours, at least 220 old wooden buildings in
the Old Town had been destroyed by the ensuing inferno. Fire
department crews demolished other buildings in an effort to
contain the bla2^. More than two-thirds of the Tibetan town's
beautiful homes, shops, restaurants, hotels and cultural centers
TTie good news is that nobody died in the fire. Images of
fiesh snow fallen on the blackened, charred remains of the
buildings, some of which had centered on pine pillars a meter
in diameter, leave the viewer dumbfounded as to how everyone
had escaped the winter night's conflagration. Nevertheless,
countless antique pieces of tantric Buddhist art, books, famUies'
valuables, investments in refitted hotels, hopes and dreams, and
venues of memories are utterly gone.
The Old Town will doubtless be rebuilt in order to satisfy the
stunned tourist market, but the town will be forever changed.
It win be interesting and painful to see how the economics of
reconstruction play out and whether the local Tibetan and Naxi
house owners or their Han Chinese lessees will most benefit
from whatever assistance the local government will decide to
Contrary to some news reports and YouTube video
commentary, the Old Town was not "ancient," per se. Only
a handful of structures, including our students' classroom
The Old Town of Xianggelia in Tibet has been part of the Guilford
community for years as the Southwest China study abroad site.
building, were more than a hundred years old, and much of
it had been redesigned and refurbished in the past decades
without much attention to architectural tradition.
Yet it was a lovely town indeed, with cobbled streets, no
motor vehicles, labyrinthine back alleys and barking dogs, stray
cows and disco lights both, with gentie views over the wooden
buildings to the seasonally snowbound peaks surrounding the
valley. The community is, for now, shattered.
The Old Town of Xianggelila (Shangri-la, or Tibetan:
Dukedzong) in the Tibetan region of rGy^thang, in Yunnan
Province of China, has for many years been the home base of
Guilford's Soutliwest China semester abroad program. It has
been in this Old Town wherein our students and professors have
lived, studied and built deep friendships. Dozens of Gtulfoid
students and alumni will fondly rememte the Old Town Square
(Sifangjie) with its dancing and its barbecue (shaokao) vendors.
The Raven, Arro Khampa and the Rebgong noodle restaurant
across the street and the Everest antique shop. All are now ashes.
Guilford's study abroad program will endure. We will return
this coming summer for a seven-and-a-half-week, 12-credit
version of flie program, replete with homestays in Geza village
(which is doing just fine) and an overland camping expedition
, to the nomad horse festivals of the high grasslands. We will
redesign a few aspects of the program, including locating
new housing and da^room space in Xianggelila for students
and faculty. Yet we will return and reinvest ourselves in this
' community so full of friends and kindness. like the town, our
I program win persevere.
: I write this piece to inform our community about the horrid
destruction of a distant but personal part of our Guilford culture
and community. I cannot begin to recount the m5niad memories
of Guilford students at their very best in the heart of this town
that now lies in cinders. Our fiiends have been profoimdly
affected, and our hearts are with them, and — pardon the
potentid pun given the recent flames — I hope we can hold
them in the light.
Applications for this summer's program are available in the
Office of Study Abroad in King Hall. If you have any questions
about the study abroad program or about how best to assist
folks in need in Xianggefila, please feel invited to contact Eric
Chunjie Kuaile. Losar Tashi Delek. ("Happy New Year," in
Chinese and Tibetan.)
Eric Mortensen and Dasa Mortensen (Ph.D. candidate in Chinese
History at UNC Chapel Hill) designed Guilford's study abroad
program in Southwest China and have led over 40 Guilford students
to the region. '