Around Russia with Sergey Gordeev

With impeccable skills in speaking English and native Russian, Sergey Gordeev presented to a library filled to the brim with Staten Island Tech students on March 16th. With great detail and vigor, he talked about his travels and the projects he has worked on as an announcer on international television. Traveling all over his home country, he was able to recite bits of trivia that painted a picture of the sights he’d seen on his travels as well as the rich history in every corner.

Studying English from the young age of 14, Mr. Gordeev went to the very prestigious “Russian Harvard”: Mrs. Ushakova’s nickname for Moscow State University. It was there that Gordeev studied English and eventually surpassed his professor with his English skills. After working as a Russian-English interpreter, Sergey eventually moved to America and went to a Texas university on a scholarship and then Columbia University. Afterwards, he started his career as a television speaker, appearing on channels like Fox and National Geographic. He played clips of his travels from National Geographic, where he spoke about the deep history of cities in Russia.

After his inspirational speech, where he stressed the importance of communication and doing what you love, I had the opportunity to speak with him quickly while he was passing to his next presentation with Ms. Maslyukova.

Q: You talked about how important language and communication is, I was just wondering if you ever studied or are interested in possibly studying another language?

A: Yeah, I have studied French because when I was in university we had a foreign language requirement. My native language was Russian, so they wouldn’t let me use Russian. Their native language was English, so I had to pick something else. I picked French and I have a decent command of the language but not like, y’know, awesome.

Q: Of all your travels, has there been one that has stood out to you?

A: Yes. What stood out to me actually, and it sounds weird, but I am from Russia, I was in Moscow, but I like got a chance to travel around Moscow and I think what’s very beautiful just as an experience, if you’re from somewhere it doesn’t mean you know where you’re from. You know what I mean? So like, rediscovering your own place which you think you know but you don’t until you take time to actually take in different parts of it, that’s a beautiful experience. To me, actually, the highlight for me was getting to know my country while traveling around.

Q: You seem so well versed in history, was that another one of your passions as well?

A: That is something that I ended up knowing a lot about because each place you visit you can only understand in context. You cannot understand the United States outside of the context that 300 years ago it was just a colony and before that it was just another colony, and before that it was indigenous people. So you can’t understand the U.S. without knowing it is only a 300 years young country of immigrants. Wherever you go educate yourself about where you’re going and your understanding of the place will be completely different.

 

And after that, he was rushed into another class to inspire a new set of students. It was great to see how dedication and commitment to one thing can lead to so many opportunities for someone. You can watch his National Geographic installments about Russian history, including how Russians make tea, here.

The Sun and Her Flowers

The Sun and Her Flowers is the second collection of poems written by Rupi Kaur, following her #1 New York Best Seller for 52 consecutive weeks, milk and honey. This long awaited sequel was published 2 years after the first anthology got a second print in 2014.

Adorned with hand-drawn illustrations, the books were designed cover-to-cover by Kaur and are perfectly imperfect in the best way. They are messy, but that only adds to their character and aesthetic qualities. The drawings reflect on the poems, which don’t use conventional English grammar nor fit any type of structure at all. Despite these “flaws”, the publication has sold millions and its popularity continues to grow.

There is no capitalization in her works, and people often criticize it as a cliché attempt to seem edgy. This also applies to her lack of punctuation and seemingly 

random line breaks. However, what is not known is that Kaur is from Punjabi descent, which is relevant because Gurmukhi script has the same qualities. There are no uppercase or lowercase letters, and the only punctuation is the period. Kaur says that writing in this way is “less about breaking the rules of English, but more about tying in my own history and heritage within my work.”

The Tumblr-esque nature of the poetry has drawn in millions as the topics and themes of the writing instill relatable emotions as well as empowering advice. This connection with the poems is shared by both her audience and Kaur herself, who says, “it’s like becoming my own best friend and giving myself the advice I need.”

Common themes include self acceptance, growth, femininity, heartbreak, and moving on. The relatable words describe feelings that are very difficult to pinpoint, but some of the works seem unoriginal or conventional as if you’ve heard it somewhere else before. For example, page 113 reads: “and here you are living / despite it all.” This seems to be limited to her shorter poems, however, because the longer poems are often her own real experiences.

The beautifully constructed poems are often minimalistic, but the motifs still shine through and are thought provoking. They often reference the weather, such as the winds of change or cleansing rain. The lengthier pieces feel like a story, but are still inspiring and have unique perspectives such as personal experiences with her psychologist.

The aura is often melancholic, but there are also surges of empowerment and togetherness. An effect of this includes how the people all relate and feel a little less lonely or alienated due to the knowledge that other people can feel the same emotions. That is one of the reasons I love her poetry: it is relatable and helps people get through adversities as well as give advice in a way. Kaur’s words always make me ponder the meanings behind her abstract words. This allows for a unique interpretation from person to person, and only strengthens my admiration of the book. If you have time, pick up the book at your local bookstore or check out Kaur’s instagram @rupikaur_ where she often posts excerpts of her own poems.

Final rating: 4.5/5

#DoingGoodIsContagious

The Jubilee Project was started by 3 guys in response to the earthquake in Haiti in January 2010. This led them to make a video to raise donations for relief. The Jubilee Project’s slogan, “Help a Cause, Make a Video, Spread Some Love”, began with the video “My Hundred for Haiti.” The video featured Jason Y. Lee playing on his guitar and singing around New York City in an effort to raise $100 to donate to Haiti. Although he only raised around $80, his video led to over $700 in donations from more than 1,400 viewers.

Members of the Jubilee Project Club in 2016.

This positive result has led them to continue this campaign, where they make videos to “empower, enable, and inspire others to do good.” This project has grown over the years, and led to the formation of a Jubilee Project Club here at Staten Island Tech.

Presidents Fion Lin and Rachel Kim have weekly meetings on Tuesdays in room 317, where they discuss video ideas, production, and more. They have continued the legacy of Jubilee at Tech for 5 years since its foundation in 2012 by Diana Wong, Tiana Wong, and Anna Lin. With the hope that Jubilee can stay at Tech for many years to come and expand to more students for greater diversity, the students are given the freedom to come up with and execute their own film projects. The Audio & Video Engineering course that freshmen take gives the students the skills needed to create such projects.

The great community between the members at Jubilee creates a fun atmosphere where students share laughs and come together to create videos to move and inspire viewers to take action against societal problems. The main themes of past projects include mental health awareness and friendship. You can view the videos they have made on their YouTube channel hereThere are currently 39 uploaded videos, with titles ranging from “What does your mom mean to you?” to “What keeps you moving in life?” While some of the videos are more serious and inspirational, others are lighthearted and fun. This balance is a great example of the diversity of the students in Jubilee. Overall, the channel has sustained more than 29,000 views since its creation on March 11, 2012.

The media platform allows students’ work to be shared and the impact – no matter how big or small – motivates the members to create more. The sharing of videos between members allows them to show appreciation for each other’s work and continue to spread positivity, because doing good is contagious! #DGIC

Visit www.jubileemedia.com for more information.

Sip and Shop at SIPS + MAKER

Estera P. Alvarado had the idea to open up a coffee shop for more than five years before setting her plan into motion. The result is SIPS + MAKER, a unique cafe located on New Dorp Lane. This shop has the laidback coffee shop aura, as well as a gift shop to purchase trinkets for amazing causes. This business is the embodiment of quality over quantity, as all of the coffee beans are organic and aged, carefully measured and timed for each drink. The espresso shots are taste tested throughout the day to ensure this quality. The coffee is sourced from Joe Coffee, a family business from Red Hook, Brooklyn, where quality is also a part of their marketing as they meticulously grind beans to perfection. The business has served all of NYC, and finally hit Staten Island with SIPS + Maker. Starbucks doesn’t even compare; with the large corporate company, quality is definitely not one of their main concerns.

The unparalleled gift shop in the back of the cafe is very inspirational. The market area has handmade items that support amazing causes such as jewelry made by human trafficking survivors from India, hand-knit items to support women in Bangladesh, and items from other various countries of the world such as Germany and Madagascar. All of the items are Fair Trade Certified, meaning that the craftsmen of the products all have safe and fair working conditions.

The whole concept for this store came from Estera’s observation that “Staten Island lacked many new and innovative shops compared to other boroughs.” By utilizing her 10 years of interior design/freelance experience, she can do many things other entrepreneurs cannot do themselves. For example, she doesn’t need her own contractor because she has usable knowledge about plumbing due to her previous employment. It was also while she worked as a freelancer that she realized that sometimes you don’t want to work at home, and because she often traveled to Manhattan for work, she saw the stark contrast between the coffee shops you could go in the city compared to Staten Island.

Estera put over 100 hours per week when she first opened her business, but even now after the struggle of trying to find employees with shared morals, she still works 70+ hours per week. Estera is also ambitiously hoping to open up 2 more locations, one on the North Shore and one on the South Shore. Make sure to stop by and #showyoursips!