Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sexual Health and You

When it comes to sex--especially sexual health--a lot of college students like to let on that they know it all. 

But in fact, just the opposite is often the case.  While many students may know something  (from high school health classes) about condoms, HIV, the pill, and other sexual health matters, sexperts they're definitely not.

That's unfortunate, for sexual health is important.  It's as critical to everybody's well-being as a healthy heart, digestive system, and state of mind.  In 2013, there's absolutely no reason for anyone to be in the dark about sexuality. 

If you're part of this majority (don't worry--you don't have to tell anyone!), you owe it to yourself to get over to the lobby of the Phys Ed Complex at club hour (11:30 a.m.) this Tuesday, April 2 and get sex smart.  A student group known as S.A.S.H.--Student Advocates for Sexual Health--will join others on campus in sponsoring NCC's annual AIDS and Sexual Health Awareness Day program.

The experience will be incredibly valuable, fun even!  You can test your knowledge of sexual health by playing sex jeopardy and learn interesting facts about sexuality by visiting the sex museum (both in the PED complex).  You can also get questions about sexual health issues answered by faculty who teach HED 251: Family Life and Human Sexuality. 

For far too long, sexuality was a topic rarely discussed above a whisper--and then only behind closed doors.  Thankfully those days are behind us.  Programs such as AIDS and Sexual Health Awareness Day testify to how far we've progressed. 

You won't leave Tuesday's program knowing everything there is to know about sexual health (it's a pretty complex subject, after all), but you'll certainly be more informed than before.  You'll also be better equipped to make wise sexual choices, including some that could influence the course and quality of your life.


Monday, March 25, 2013

At Last, Sonia Nazario at NCC!

Superstorm Sandy may have delayed Sonia Nazario's visit to NCC, but even Sandy couldn't keep Sonia away forever. 

On Monday, March 11, the author of Enrique's Journey, NCC's common reading for 2012-2013, spoke to more than 800 members (mostly students) of the campus community.  Her topic: "Enrique's Journey and America's Immigration Dilemma."     

Nazario told audiences that her interest in immigration and the plight of immigrant families was fueled by a conversation with her housekeeper more than a decade ago.  Discovering that her housekeeper had left several small children in Guatemala to find work in America, Nazario got her first glimpse of the stark choices facing people in countries where survival is anything but a given.

Eager to know more, Nazario set out, in her words, on her own "interesting little journey," one that took her to Honduras and to a world of impoverished children, some as young as six or seven, many determined to be reunited with parents in America.  Her experiences and observations would eventually become the subject of Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper articles as well as Enrique's Journey.

Nazario's presentation touched on several issues, most poignantly the experiences of children risking their lives to get to the American border. Their journey, often atop a freight train (aptly called "The Beast") traveling through Mexico, was fraught with dangers: extreme temperatures, unsanitary conditions, and almost nonstop assaults by bandits, drug dealers, corrupt cops, and other predators. 

Nazario herself rode "The Beast" through Mexico, witnessing almost unimaginable brutality and violence.  Her own encounter with a would-be assailant caused her to have nightmares and (later on) to seek therapy.

But if the immigrant's journey was often terrifying, it also had its tender moments.  Nazario spoke of small Mexican towns in which residents--usually women--would provide food, water, and temporary shelter to weary children.  Though among the poorest Mexicans, they were living a life of compassion, Nazario said.  She recalled one woman who told her, "If I have one tortilla, I'm going to give half away.  I know God will give me more."

Nazario concluded by suggesting that a key to resolving the immigration issue lies in attacking the poverty that forces so many people to leave their countries.  She talked about the need for a foreign policy that would create jobs in other countries, a trade policy that offers other options besides immigration, and better education for girls.  She also said that offering a microloan of as little as $30--a project American students might undertake--would enable a woman in Guatemala or elsewhere to start a business that would provide for her family. 

No matter where people stand on the immigration issue, it would be difficult not to be moved by Nazario's account of children in search of their parents.  But her presentation did more than tug at heart strings. Those who attended her talk left informed, inspired, and with much to think about. 

It was education at its best.

                                          Sonia Nazario greets NCC student after her presentation.
                                                                                             (photo by Korey Oral)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Will This be on the Test?

Big tests around the corner?  Wishing your professors would throw out some ideas about what to review? 

Chances are they already have.  If you can learn to listen carefully in your classes, you can often anticipate test topics--and even test questions--long before the big day arrives.

Despite differences in teaching styles, many professors do in fact drop hints about material they consider important.

Sometimes these hints are almost impossible to miss.  When your professor tells your class, "This is something you absolutely need to know" or "You really need to understand this," you can bet the item in question will turn up on the next exam.

Other hints may be more subtle.  The faculty member who spends lots of class time talking about a specific topic or idea is saying (in not so many words) that this is important material--and something you need to learn.  So is the prof who makes frequent references to a particular point/theory/concept introduced earlier in the course.  Hearing about a topic again and again should tip you off to its importance.

And speaking of tips: don't overlook material that, for whatever reason, is near and dear to professors' hearts (and likely to appear on exams).  Most English professors, for example, have a favorite story, poem, or play, something they are passionate about.  Many History faculty have an historical figure or event they find especially intriguing--and highlight in class lectures.  Your Psychology professor may review several theories of child development in class, but he or she probably favors one, which you'll hear about in greater detail.

Pay attention to your profs' preferences!

Listening for hints and other clues isn't a substitute for giving your classes your best effort, but it can take some of the guesswork out of preparing for tests.  And who can quarrel with that?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tests Coming Up? Be a Smart Test Taker

Let's be honest: No one Iikes taking tests very much.  Though some people handle tests more easily than others, an exam--especially a midterm, final, or other "biggie"--is no one's idea of a good time.

Yet tests are a fact of life in college, which is why it's important that you learn how to approach them.  Even if you have done all of the right things in the preparation department (translation: attended class regularly, taken good notes, kept up with assigned readings, completed assignments, etc.), you can also help yourself by being a SMART test taker.

Here are seven smart test-taking strategies:

1.  Look over the test before you begin working.  Taking a moment to review the exam will not only give you an idea of its length and content but allow you to budget your time.

2.  Read directions carefully.  Not all tests come with instructions, but when they do, don't ignore them.  Otherwise you might miss something important.

3.  Start by answering the questions you know best.  Nothing like some right answers to boost confidence!

4.  Calm down.  Say a prayer, tell yourself a joke, count slowly to ten, imagine a peaceful place: whatever eases your jitters is good.

5.  Don't stress (or obsess) over that impossible question.  No matter how much you have studied, you're bound to encounter at least one question that will make you go "Huh?"  Take an educated guess and move on.

6.  Work at your own pace.  Don't worry if others finish before you (no extra credit for the first guy out of the classroom).

7.  Leave time to review your answers.  You may catch a mistake, notice a question you've overlooked, or discover an answer to something that stumped you earlier.

P.S.  Keep reading "What's Up, NCC?" for advice on answering test questions, including multiple choice and essay.  Also, check out NCC's free test-taking workshops scheduled for Tuesday, March 19 (11:30 a.m.) and Thursday, March 21 (11:30 a.m.)--both in Nassau Hall, Rm. 206.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g Your Mind

Funny thing about stretching: We go to gyms at crazy hours, run in all kinds of weather, and exercise religiously (sometimes excessively) to keep our bodies in shape.

But our minds? That part doesn't get nearly enough "stretch time."

Looking for a way to fix this imbalance?  Try wrestling with ideas, especially some you're not sure you understand or agree with.  You can get plenty of practice in stretching your intellect over the next week, as experts on a range of subjects will visit NCC to talk about issues that are important to everybody. 

On Wednesday, March 6 (12:30 p.m., College Center), Oran Hesterman, president of the Fair Food Network, an organization committed to building a sustainable food network, will discuss the nutritional and economic value of eating locally grown products.

On Thursday, March 7 (1 p.m., College Center), Michael Eric Dyson, a sociology professor at Georgetown University and author of "Know What I Mean? Reflections on Hop Hop," will examine the connection between Hip Hop and social justice.

And on Monday, March 11 (9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., and 2 p.m., College Center), Sonia Nazario, author of "Enrique's Journey" (NCC's common reading for 2012-2013), will talk about the need for new approaches to the immigration issue.

All of these talks are free and open to everyone on campus.  You don't have to RSVP or call ahead--just show up on the right day and time and take a seat.  Bring a friend for company if you'd like, but most of all, bring your mind.  Chances are it will be in for a good workout.