Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio
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The Origin of Krampus, Europe's Evil Twist on Santa

The Origin of Krampus, Europe's Evil Twist on Santa | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |
The mythical holiday beast is once again on the prowl, but beware, he's making his way across the Atlantic
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

Very interesting opposite of Saint Nick that came from a lore displaying Satan figure. I've never heard of this Krampus character but from the origins of it, the character makes it feel very mysterious and give a little spookiness to the holidays. In addition, it gives refugees the chance to explore European culture as a way to adapt to different culture. 

Sarah Cannon's curator insight, 16 December 2015, 21:29

With new movies always coming out, its nice to hear films that are based on true stories or myths come to the theaters. Krampus is a movie that came out recently and is based on a myth that originated in Austria. This is scary tail of a beastly creature coming out Christmas and deals with the bad kids. Krampus is known to beat bad kids with birch branches or to be taken to his lair to be eaten or tortured. An interesting myth, people always look at Christmas as a good time with family.

Matt Danielson's curator insight, 11 October 2018, 00:51
I enjoyed the idea that Krampus was St. Nicolas Ying to his Yang. This tradition goes back to pre Christian Germany and though Christian Europe attempted to eradicate it, like many other European pagan traditions (Easter bunny, Halloween, etc) it survived and even fused with the Christian tradition of Christmas. To outsiders this must be terrifying, but still something id wish to see someday, plus it must make for better behaved children...
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India-Pakistan border Ceremony

Fascinating footage of a traditional ceremony that takes place on the Pakistan India border. From the BBC
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

This video was very fascinating. The soldiers preformed a traditional ceremony to display political cooperation without the use of force. They may have some differences in the past but they came together to show great sportsmanship.

Taylor Doonan's curator insight, 30 March 2018, 22:51
This video shows a ceremony that takes place on the India-Pakistan border and how precisely things need to be done to keep the peace. The two flags are lowered at a slow pace to ensure they are being lowered at the same pace, for if one were to be lowered before the other it could cause an international dispute. 
Nicole Canova's curator insight, 2 May 2018, 01:20
This is a really interesting display of hyper-nationalism and masculinity that has been taking place at the India-Pakistan border for years. On the surface, it seems like simply an entertaining, friendly competition. However, many are concerned that this tradition does nothing but enforce the tension between the two countries.
Matt Danielson's curator insight, 12 December 2018, 20:24
This event is interesting. Its almost reminds of me of two football teams staring each other down and chanting before a football game.  There is alot of tension between the two countries and some thing there is always a lingering possibility of war. This can seem to some as a way to be macho and "battle" without actually going to war. 
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Too rich for its own good

Too rich for its own good | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |
The Democratic Republic of Congo is potentially one of the richest countries on earth, but colonialism, slavery and corruption have turned it into one of the poorest
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

It's a shame to know that there's a country of hopelessness out there with a potential to be a great one. The long term causes of colonialism had a huge impact on their development as a modern country. They were once a great empire but was diminished down to nothing by the European. Hopefully there will light to the darkness of Congo in the near future.

Zavier Lineberger's curator insight, 31 March 2018, 21:47
(Africa) This article chronicles why the Democratic Republic of the Congo is among the lowest ranked countries on the Human Development Index despite its plethora of resources. The inciting action leading to DRC's modern problems is slavery. The Portuguese promoted internal warfare to topple the advanced Kingdom of Kongo in the late 1400s to allow better access to slaves. Later, the Congo's vast natural resources would actually be their bane; Europeans would be attracted to the land's fertile river soil, gold, diamonds, oil, and other minerals. The British and Belgian conquered the region ruthlessly first for rubber, then copper for WWI, then uranium for WWII, all the while keeping the Congolese subjugated without rights.

When the DRC gained independence in 1960, there was no framework or educated citizens who could provide stability and civil war predictably ensued, leading to a dictator unchallenged by the modernized world because of his sale of resources. Several African countries invaded, leading to hundreds of domestic and foreign militants fighting in chaos. Now, there is almost no infrastructure. The country's problems go back hundreds of years to a series of inhumane foreign interventions powered by the DRC's wealth potential.
Matt Danielson's curator insight, 19 November 2018, 18:45
It is mind blowing sometimes to look at a country at face value having that much wealth yet  being poor. There has been a struggle in the Congo for hundreds of years ranging from colonialism, to civil war, to today with rebel groups fighting for mineral control. The issues of needing minerals from the Congo, with its unstable corrupt government, will always lead to rebel groups (or the government itself) creating conflict to attain resources for wealth.
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, 14 December 2018, 18:30
Why are so many resource-rich countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo so poor and unstable? More modern reasons like the corruption, the dictators, and wars come to mind sure, but what put countries like the DRC is these positions? Naturally, it all goes back to colonialism and slavery. The second that Europeans learned of the immense resources they carve up the territory, they have a skirmish to see who gets a bigger slice, and oppress the people so there is no chance of rebellion. In the DRC after Belgium finally left the Congolese had none of their own who were trained or had the experience to run a nation. I am sure there are people fighting for the best of the country, but when you have been kicked down for so long by so many peoples it is tough to get back up.
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The Daily Show–Spot the Africa

Between rampant racial inequality and Ebola outbreaks, South African comedian Trevor Noah admits he hesitated to visit a country as underdeveloped as America.
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

There is no doubt that there a stereotype and a generalization people make to Africans. This clip really emphasize those points and turn it into comedy, which is very creative. It makes people like me laugh at ourselves sometimes at the things we do as far as branding a group of race base on popular culture.

Taylor Doonan's curator insight, 24 March 2018, 21:24
This video takes a South African and an American and they address misconceptions about Africa by playing a game where the American is shown two images and is to guess which one is in Africa and which is in America, of the images shown the worse looking ones were generally in America. They are not trying to say necessarily that America is worse off than parts of Africa, but that parts of Africa are doing well, and that they are not as bad as we may think. 
Stevie-Rae Wood's curator insight, 9 December 2018, 20:44
This clip is a whimsical but also a way for Americans to understand there labeling of people is actually very incorrect, rude, and offensive. Most of America juts makes assumption based on what Hollywood puts out , for movies and commercials that this place is all desert and needs vast amounts of help. That however is far from the truth. Yes, they have the Sahara desert but that only makes up half of Africa. The bottom half of Africa is prosperous and we as Americans need to not believe everything we see.
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, 14 December 2018, 17:06
This is such an amazing skit between Trevor Noah and Jon Stewart. It is so informative in how ignorant average U.S. American's can be. Jon Stewart is portraying many people in the U.S. are genuine in their ignorance. With the pictures of scenes from different countries in Africa and in the U.S., you see that these so-called "developing countries" do have some very good things that are happening and the "greatest country" also has issues. It is just one of those things where you don't notice how much better life is getting in the world today.
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Ghanaian coffins

Ghanaian coffins | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |

"Amid calls for a three-day weekend in Ghana to allow residents to attend more funeral parties (with the emphasis on party), here's a look at some of the country's famous customized coffins."

Kevin Nguyen's insight:

In some culture this might be something appropriate to celebrate. However, in some culture such as the west, it's a day of mourning. It's is very interesting to see how people celebrate the the death as a festive day because they might be moving into a better life. It all depends on the beliefs of someone to make something like this happen.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, 13 December 2015, 22:18

the idea that funerals should be festive is an idea with a large history. it is also, i think, a very good idea. many people already get together after a funeral and drink and talk about the good times they had with the dead person, and it helps with a sort of closure.

Sarah Cannon's curator insight, 16 December 2015, 22:24

I've never heard of this type of burial traditions. The typical burial that I hear about and experience are the old, wake and funeral the day after the wake.  I've also heard of funerals that are held in New Orleans, when someone died the people of New Orleans paraded down the street singing and playing happy music. This was a celebration of there life. Wakes and funerals that I'm used to are always sad and depressing and held at a church and funeral home then the deceased are to be buried at a cemetery. In this article, caskets are designed differently, as you can see in the photo above. Some caskets are in the shape of a shoe, fish, car, or even a camera. Interesting way to celebrate the deceased.

James Piccolino's curator insight, 8 February 2018, 11:44
I have actually seen this before, in the travel documentary "The Moaning Of Life", star Karl Pilkington (also star of previous travel documentary "An Idiot Abroad") travels the world to explore other cultures to see how they deal with issues differently than the rest of the world. In episode 5 "Death" he travels here and even gets his own custom coffin made, a double coffin for him and his long time girlfriend in the shape of a Twix bar package. This cultural attitude is an interesting one to say the least, especially compared to the way others interpret death. 
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Rise and Fall of the Ottoman Empire

Rise and Fall of the Ottoman Empire | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |

"Animated GIF map chronicling the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire." 


Tags: empire, devolution, Middle East, borders, historical, map.

Kevin Nguyen's insight:

The Rise and Fall of the Ottoman Empire can be clearly seen at the beginning and the end. They had a massive territory expansion at 1300 and it bloomed from there. from then to 1900 then only had some minor changes with some changes in territory. At the end, in 1900s was the most significant change with the Empire collapsing with the Republic of Turkey being established in 1923.  

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, 23 October 2015, 10:47

Many of the problems the Middle East faces today, are a result of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. During the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was aligned with Germany and Austria- Hungary to form the central powers. Following their defeat in the war, the empire collapsed in the ensuing chaos. The victorious allies divided up the ottoman territory amongst themselves. The Borders and nations they created, were poorly designed. They failed to take into account the wide divergences of ethnic groups in the Middle East. The artificial nations they constructed, were ripe for ethnic conflict.

Nicholas A. Whitmore's curator insight, 13 December 2015, 20:39

A fascinating look into the shifting nature of borders through history. Unfortunately it also reflects many atrocities that also occurred in those years. Geographically the Empire wouldn't last given its difficult to defend borders. Additionally its extremely conservative Political and Cultural nature made it nearly impossible for it to adapt to changing times in technology. Which is ironic in a way because it was their innovation that sparked the Empire and the seizure of Constantinople to begin with. Also it should perhaps be mentioned that the current nation of Turkeys borders are an unnatural creation on the part of the Turks when they were aware their Empire would collapse. This unfortunately also means this map hides events such as the Armenian Genocide to try and purify Anatolia so that the Turks could claim it as its sole homeland while abandoning the rest of the Empire (so in effect they consolidated to try and keep as much land as possible).

Richard Aitchison's curator insight, 7 March 2018, 16:08
This is a very simple GIF map, but one that we can look at using other outside materials and really used to our advantage of seeing the every changing Middle Eastern Area. The Rise and Fall of the Ottoman empire is a key geographical and political  fallout from the 1300's until what is now present day Turkey. When you examine the map and see how big the Empire eventually got and what lands it covers we can use this map to interpret some current conflicts like the one in Syria.  Also nowadays we do not think of Turkey as a world power or even a regional power. However, it shows there past history as a world power and that can drive a country (see Russia) to wanting to regain that power. Will Turkey look to regain that power as well? What could they possibly to do to regain this power and how would that effect other Middle Eastern countries. We also can look at the map and realize that the region probably contains many people of Turkish acenstory and what effect does that have on political polices in certain countries that had previously been under the power of the Ottoman Empire. 
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Teaching about Syrian Refugees

Teaching about Syrian Refugees | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |
The Syrian Civil War that stemmed out of the Arab Spring in 2012 morphed into a conflict unlike any of the other Arab Spring protests. In the years before the Arab Spring, Syria experienced an extended drought led to declining agricultural production and social discontent even before the spark of revolutionary change swept the region. The rise of ISIS in the power struggle has led to horrifying atrocities that leave ordinary citizens seeking the most basic of human needs: safety, shelter, food and water.
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

The conflict in Syria that stemmed from the Arab Spring led to many refugees fleeing to escape the horrible political condition. These people are different from migrants because they have no choice but to leave. According to UN laws they are provided necessary aid and a place to stay until their country is safe again. However, the Syrian War is escalating quickly rather than showing any sign of stopping. It may be possible these refugees will not have a home and will be an ethnic minority in host countries. 

Adilson Camacho's curator insight, 11 September 2015, 22:13

The Syrian Civil War... 

Luis Cesar Nunes's curator insight, 17 September 2015, 14:40
 Syrian Refugees
Gene Gagne's curator insight, 4 November 2015, 21:40

Its amazing how a civil war sparked a total of 11 million refugees or displacement up to date. Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, are a major help in providing space for these refugees.

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Syria's war: Who is fighting and why

Watch how the Syrian civil war became the mess it is today.
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

Syrian civil war has escalated into a proxy wars between many nations that all have different goals in mind. It all started from the Arab Spring and is still on-going because there are many sides taking place and none of them wants to back down. Mainly due to the emerge of the Islamic State that cause a shift in the war of fighting a terrorism organization to fighting the different factions within Syria. 

Matthew Richmond's curator insight, 26 October 2015, 16:46

Re-scooped from Professor Dixon, this is a terrific explanation of who is fighting in Syria, and who they are fighting. The video, though I'm not sure it was the intention, should make anyone realize that the Kurd's need a state of their own. This is a people caught in the middle of some of the most violent territory in the middle east.

Gene Gagne's curator insight, 4 November 2015, 22:10

I read articles about the Syrian war and watched this film and I got to tell you it sure is confusing. The picture on one of the websites that really disturbed me is the father holding his lifeless  8 or 9 year old daughter in his arms. I have a 9 year old daughter and it was her birthday on that day I saw the picture. Sometimes it is better emotionally to be ignorant about what is going on in the world.

Nicholas A. Whitmore's curator insight, 16 December 2015, 22:19

An interesting and well written breakdown of the Syrian war and its local, regional and global factors that have caused the escalation to this point. It should however be pointed out that some of the information within the video is actually wrong. The United Nations did a investigation and report regarding the use of chemical weapons and found ti was the rebels not Assad who had used them. Furthermore it leaves out some reports from the initial protests in Syria that some of them were armed with weapons and fired on police (suggesting that instead of one side it was mutual escalation). Plus much of the fighting in Syria is also sectarian with Shiites backing Assad and the Sunnis backing Assad's opposition (prior global intervention). If these pieces of information were corrected in addition to talking about the Kurdish predicament a bit more along with the origins of ISIS the video would be perfect. So in a way I suppose the video kind of left out important local geographic details that influenced the regional and global ones.

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Drying of the Aral Sea

Explore a global timelapse of our planet, constructed from Landsat satellite imagery. With water diverted to irrigation, the inland Aral Sea has shrunk drama...
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

The massive changes to the Aral Sea can clearly be seen through the course of a decade. It's so unbelievable that from 2000 on ward it shrunk significantly and the video also showed the development of agricultural land that surrounds the rivers feeding into the Sea. The more water being irrigated and are not putting into the Sea the more it dries up because the water is evaporated with little to no rain going back to it. This is definitely one of the worst man-made disaster that have happened to this region.

Kaitlin Young's curator insight, 7 October 2014, 16:27

The Aral Sea’s receding waters could prove fatal to the surrounding agriculture. Both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan diverted the rivers that flowed into the Sea in the 1960s to feed their growing cotton and rice farms. Over the last five decades, the lack of a water source flowing into the Aral Sea combined with harsher droughts due to climate change have caused the water to evaporate at an alarming rate. As the water evaporates, large deposits of minerals remain on the bare lake bed. Winds pick up the mineral deposits and often spread them onto farms, where the increased salinity destroys rice paddies and other crops. The destruction of crops causes less food production, so less money is made by the farmers and more money has to be spent to bring in food to avoid famine. Cotton crops are also destroyed, so the region loses yet another source of income.

The increased evaporation of the Aral Sea has also caused an incredible increase to salinity levels in the lake itself. The extremely salty water cannot be used without heavy removing the salt, which is incredibly unaffordable in an already stressed region. Small subsidence farmers and local farmers cannot use the resource at hand. The fishing industry has completely collapsed, thus removing another important resource from the area.

If a wounded economy and unreliable food was not enough, the air born minerals blown away from the lake are causing numerous health problems. Respiratory issues, such as asthma, are becoming more and more common in the communities surrounding the Aral Sea due to the minerals and industrial debris in the air. The disappearance of the Sea has created the perfect conditions for the collapse of a region. The struggle that the people have to endure often escalates into increased social and political unrest, and disputes often occur. The Aral Sea exemplifies how one small environmental change can set off a chain of devastating events that lead to irreversible effects.


Amanda Morgan's curator insight, 20 October 2014, 01:19

The drying of the Aral Sea opens our eyes to how fragile our environment is and the scarcity of resources.  We need to become more aware of our resources, because as they saying goes, the "well will run dry."

Corey Rogers's curator insight, 15 December 2018, 16:44
Aral Sea is getting more and more dried up and not many people seemed to be caring about this issue. What was once a vast and huge sea is now just a drying up lake that will soon be gone forever. People need to wake up and start thinking of ways to fix this issue. 
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Most Tibetans Genetically Adapted To The High Life

Most Tibetans Genetically Adapted To The High Life | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |
Ninety percent of Tibetans share a genetic mutation that prevents their blood from becoming dangerously clogged with red blood cells at high altitudes—a response that can be deadly for non-native mountaineers. Karen Hopkin reports.
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

The Tibetans are very amazing in the ways to adapting to high altitudes. Being 15,000 ft in elevation with 40% less oxygen than at sea level is very impressive. Many people like myself would find it difficult breathing in this conditions , but the Tibetans developed a mutation that lead them to not having their red blood cells clogged at this elevation. A perfect example of human adapting to their surrounding environment.

Danielle Lip's curator insight, 8 April 2015, 02:27

The fact that the people in Tibet have become environmentally and culturally adapted to the land shows just how serious the whole mutation is. Many people who would travel to such high heights would not be able to respond in the same was as the Tibetans. This mutation prevents blood from becoming severely clogged and could injure those who are not mountaineers in the area. This mutation started about 8,000 years ago which is interesting because who was the first person to have this gene mutation and what caused the mutation? Tibetan people have a rare gene sequence that shows just how special they are to their land and I find it quite interesting because not everyone would be able to live with it? What would happen if the people of Tibet happen to move someone outside of Tibet, would their blood start to clog? 

90% of people in Tibet have this gene sequence and shows how the gene adaptation will change due to levels of height, having a play on words because the Tibetan people are always at very high levels. Thin air and clogged blood are not a good combination.

Felix Ramos Jr.'s curator insight, 15 April 2015, 14:45

This is extremely interesting.  When I think of the mutated gene that most Tibetans have I think of evolution happening right in front of our eyes.  Most lowland humans would not be able to survive at the Tibetan level of living, which goes to show you that over time the people who live in this area were naturally selected due to the special genes of their ancestors who survived while others without the gene died off.

David Stiger's curator insight, 23 October 2018, 16:28
Humans often shape their environments, but, like all other animal species, the environment can fundamentally shape human beings at the molecular level. In order to not just merely survive, but to thrive, humans adapt to challenging environmental conditions. In Tibet, inhabitants live 15,000 feet above sea level. For non-natives, this sort of altitude could cause lethal blood clots. To overcome this challenge, the genes of average Tibetans have adapted overtime. Some 90 percent of the entire population possess a unique mutated gene that allows them to breathe without trouble and avoid red blood cell blockages. This trait goes back nearly 8,000 years, making Tibetans a very distinct population - akin to red haired men and women in Ireland. Not wanting to promote pseudo-science like eugenics, it is important to note that these people are not more or less human. But, because of their environment, they have surface level (physical and secondary) traits that help them cope with nature. Understanding this should impact the Han Chinese views of Tibet. At the molecular level, the Tibetans are a distinct and independent people who deserve the right to self-determination. Of course, China will never yield the resource-rich territory. 
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Chinese forces 'used flamethrowers' in Xinjiang operation

Chinese forces 'used flamethrowers' in Xinjiang operation | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |

"A Chinese military newspaper gives graphic details of a raid in Xinjiang province against suspected militants." ;

Kevin Nguyen's insight:

This is really disturbing to know that China is attacking their ethnic minority who is just protesting for what they believing in. To make things worst, the Chinese government controls the media and they basically can say whatever they want. For example, referring to these ethnic minority as foreign terrorist. That changes the perspective on how people view and perceive the situation happening in Xinjiang.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, 30 November 2015, 19:18

This is a disturbing development, as the use of flamethrowers has been frowned upon by the international community since WWII. The use of them by the Chinese in a suppression operation by the Chinese government is especially disturbing, as it shows a willingness to use outlawed weapons against domestic enemies. What does this mean that they're willing to use against foreign enemies.

Matthew Richmond's curator insight, 2 December 2015, 17:11

As a student who someday wants to teach social studies at the high school level, this article brought to light one of the hardest concepts to teach. There are always two sides to every story. While the victors get to write history, the victims are often silenced over time. One man's violent rebellion is another man's treasonous operations. Honestly, the Chinese have done an excellent job of keeping this out of the western media. The only real struggle we ever hear about in China that of Tibet and Taiwan.

tyrone perry's curator insight, 24 April 2018, 22:13
The Chinese government is on an all out mission to eradicate terrorizism from the Uighur and anyone else for that matter.  Thou news reports are controlled by China its tough to get accurate reports.  But their use of force shows they are not playing.  Uighurs are suspected Turkish militant Muslims that have been forced out over the years.  China has said they have been terrorizing and attacking the people of Xinjiang. 
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Geography of Europe Games

Geography of Europe Games | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

This Toporopa is a great interaction games for people who are interested in geography. Europe has a rich history dates back to colonial times and there are many interesting facts that a lot of people does not know about it. It is fun and entertaining way to train your brain and a great review to see what you know about the world.

Alyssa Dorr's curator insight, 17 December 2014, 06:59

I thought that this game was really useful for getting to know all different aspects of Europe. I really like how it was separated into a variety of different categories that focused on different things in Europe. Of course I was familiar with the countries category. Some things that I was not familiar with before finding this game was all the bodies of water in Europe. I am now aware of the different lakes, seas, and rivers in Europe. I thought it was really cool how it went into some real detail and included aspects like the ports, volcanoes, monarchies, and the battles. I definitely was not aware with any of these before seeing this game. I think this is a very useful game if you wish to know more about Europe or maybe even if you're traveling there and want to get some background knowledge.

Jared Medeiros's curator insight, 18 February 2015, 22:49

An absolutely great and fun way to learn and explore different geographic locations.  Anytime learning can be made fun or turned into a game is always a win-win.  I found myself screwing around with these mini games and before I knew it, 45 minutes had passed, and I was not as good at Geography as I thought I was.  I will be back to play/learn more!

Lena Minassian's curator insight, 18 February 2015, 23:59

This is an interesting way to learn geography in a more interactive way. This link provides many different games that allow you to not only play a game but learn while you do it! These games can test capitals, rivers, monarchies, countries, regions, peninsulas, battles, etc. All of these relate to Europe and can provide different learning techniques for anyone who is interested in them.

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Is it time to scrap "Eastern Europe"?

"Europe’s divisions are indeed grave. But counting the ex-communist countries as a single category is outdated and damaging "

Kevin Nguyen's insight:

It's true the term Eastern Europe is very outdated because borders are constantly changing. Also different ethnic groups and geographic differences that make up the region divide the west and east. However, some countries such as Greece wants to be more Europe and the countries surrounding it are not really "western". So by labeling countries by fixed region is not very accurate in terms of where they are located on the map.

Vermont Social Studies's curator insight, 6 October 2015, 13:47

Danube Europe? Roma Europe? Scared of Russia Europe? Solvent Europe? Could be a great learning exercise to have your students decide and justify the best new term.

Matthew Richmond's curator insight, 5 November 2015, 00:15

I don't know what else you'd want to call the region. Western Asia? Western Russia? I understand that the culture isn't particularly what one would think of when they think "Europe". Regions are like nicknames, you don't get to pick your own (unless you're Howard Stern).

Taylor Doonan's curator insight, 16 February 2018, 00:07
This video wants to do away with the term "Eastern Europe" because the creator of the video believes the term is outdated in reference to the political "Eastern Europe" because the cold war is over and Russia and the "Eastern European" countries aren't as intertwined anymore. Getting rid of the term or even the region is difficult. In the video they give at least a dozen other ways to divide up Europe. Eastern Europe is still a region of Europe, and the countries still have things in common, though those things may be different from when the term was coined it does not make a good reason for the term to just go away. 
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The Origin of Krampus, Europe's Evil Twist on Santa

The Origin of Krampus, Europe's Evil Twist on Santa | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |
The mythical holiday beast is once again on the prowl, but beware, he's making his way across the Atlantic
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

Very interesting opposite of Saint Nick that came from a lore displaying Satan figure. I've never heard of this Krampus character but from the origins of it, the character makes it feel very mysterious and give a little spookiness to the holidays. In addition, it gives refugees the chance to explore European culture as a way to adapt to different culture. 

Sarah Cannon's curator insight, 16 December 2015, 21:29

With new movies always coming out, its nice to hear films that are based on true stories or myths come to the theaters. Krampus is a movie that came out recently and is based on a myth that originated in Austria. This is scary tail of a beastly creature coming out Christmas and deals with the bad kids. Krampus is known to beat bad kids with birch branches or to be taken to his lair to be eaten or tortured. An interesting myth, people always look at Christmas as a good time with family.

Matt Danielson's curator insight, 11 October 2018, 00:51
I enjoyed the idea that Krampus was St. Nicolas Ying to his Yang. This tradition goes back to pre Christian Germany and though Christian Europe attempted to eradicate it, like many other European pagan traditions (Easter bunny, Halloween, etc) it survived and even fused with the Christian tradition of Christmas. To outsiders this must be terrifying, but still something id wish to see someday, plus it must make for better behaved children...
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The Ganges River Is Dying Under the Weight of Modern India

The Ganges River Is Dying Under the Weight of Modern India | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |
The country’s future depends on keeping the holy river alive.
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

The way the people of India see this river as a gift from the god is truly magnificent. The fact that they use this river for all source of things from cleaning themselves up to washing clothes and drinking from it. One can say that they use as much of the resource as possible but they never care for it in a way. For example excessive use of the river and not cleaning it up, use it for corpse and waste disposal. I wonder how long this can last til the river eventually die.

Zavier Lineberger's curator insight, 24 April 2018, 18:20
(South Asia) Varanasi, the oldest city in India and the religious center of Hinduism, has an enormous business focusing around cremating bodies to scatter in the Ganges River. Hindus believe the Ganges can break the cycle of reincarnation, so many who do not have money to pay for cremation drop their deceased directly into the river to help them break this cycle. However, the river supports approximately 10% of the entire worlds' population and belief in Ganga, "the self-cleaning river god" allows for Indians to poison the same water they drink out of. It is estimated that 70% of people that use the water become diseased by the sewage and industrial waste poured into it.
India cannot stop dependence on the river. Hindus bath in the holy water of the Ganges, and an increasing population means increased water consumption. It will take concentrated efforts from government and spiritual leaders to change the dominate opinion.
brielle blais's curator insight, 1 May 2018, 23:39
This article showcases how different aspects of geography can both help and harm a country. The Ganges River is incredibly important to India. It is a sacred place where the people believe in Ganges, the idea of allowing the dead to reach eternal liberation. Here, hundreds of bodies are burned a day. If they aren't burned, family members of the deceased let the dead float down the river. This phenomenon attracts many tourist and allows for the economy of India to thrive. However, the bodies are beginning to seriously pollute the river. Areas have become stagnant, full of disease. The problem doesn't end however, as India's population is increasing steadily as well. Water needs to be cleaned to meet the demand or India will face a true crisis.
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, 14 December 2018, 19:52
10. Approximately 10% of the world's population lives on the Ganges river basin. Soak that in for a second. 10 % of the world's population rely on one way or another this religiously significant river. The god of the river, Ganga, is worshipped, but the river is also highly polluted. With waste both artificial and human, being thrown into the river and the number of dead bodies that float down to Varanasi, the oldest city in India, to be cremated. As dead bodies flow down the river the people still need to use it to wash. There are ceremonies that the people on the river hold where they dump waste into the river as they know that Ganga will clean the river. The pollution of the river is an issue that will, unfortunately, continue as India's population continues to grow. 
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Why this Ebola outbreak became the worst we've ever seen

"The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more people than sum total of all the previous outbreaks since the virus was first identified in 1976. This video explains how it got so bad."  

Kevin Nguyen's insight:

Geography played an important role in spreading this disease like wild fires. In a rural place such as Liberia where there is low literacy rates and  limited knowledge of Ebola, it can be spread without people knowing what is happening. On top of that there are workers crossing the border everyday for work and exposing it to everyone around them. This even took place in west Africa where Ebola breakout are unheard of. All these contributing factor led to the worst epidemic of the century. 

Brittany Ortiz's curator insight, 6 October 2014, 20:08

It is very sad watching knowing how it took to so long to get Ebola out to the public and make it known of the very spreadable virus. It’s obvious how since the US can be at risk of getting the virus in our country they now want to make it very known and for people to be cautious of the idea that Ebola can eventually be in the US and spread. We should have been cautious of the virus many years ago, but the rate of the virus spreading, sky rocketed just this year. It’s obvious why it took so many years for the Ebola virus to be known, since it was just known for it to have been in a particular Sierra Leon and Liberia. Since it has spread from there to the border of Guinea and now potentially going to different parts of the world there is no question why there is a health scare in many countries.

John Nieuwendyk's curator insight, 29 October 2014, 02:20

In just a few months the Ebola virus has cumulated out of control. More people became affected and died in the last five months than all of the combined deaths that have occurred since Ebola was first discovered in 1976. Ebola began to spread from rural areas to a border region in West Africa when ill people traveled to the city to work or go to the market, making international spread likely. Mounting a campaign to increase awareness of the risks and to contain the virus was nearly impossible due to the low illiteracy rates. Consequently, health workers were taking ill people away from family and their homes to contaminate centers. This caused much fear and mistrust and was not successful. More people became infected and the snowball effect ensued. When people did show up at ill-equipped hospitals, there were not enough beds or free space and most were turned away. Some health workers walked off the job fearing being infected because of the poor conditions. No gloves, masks or gowns were provided and workers feared for their own health. The ill patients went back into the community and Ebola continued to spread. The response of the global community was not fast enough, and help did not arrive in time before the spread of Ebola became an epidemic. It is clear that in a world that is so closely connected, we must have a global heath system that works.  

Giselle Figueroa's curator insight, 4 November 2014, 22:32

Ebola is getting worst every day. one of the things that has caused the spread of this virus is the fact that many working people cross the border to other regions to work or to go to market. Back in days, you used to see this Ebola issue in very rural areas, but now is getting worst. In these areas were the Ebola is getting worst, they do not count with a good health system. Sometimes there are day when they do not have gloves, gowns and mask, and because of that, there have been health care workers who have just walked away from their jobs because they do not want to put in risk their life. This  is a very sad situation, which I hope it get better.

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The Danger of a Single Story

Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

The broad paint brush that we paint over Africa as a place of poverty, underdevelopment and lack of education  is just mind blowing. The story that Ms. Adichie told about her life was very interesting and fascinating at the same time. It seems like she grew up from well off household, reading English books and having a normal life. However, when she went over aboard to U.S she experienced a culture shock of how people generalized Africa as a whole continent without any diversity. 

Hailan Yu's curator insight, 4 December 2015, 14:23

To gain a global perspective inherently requires understanding multiple perspectives.  Africa is frequently portrayed as 'the other' but also homogenized within a single narrative that 'flattens' truth.  How can we teach and learn about other places in a way that develops geographic empathy and shows the many stories of that can belong to any one place? 


Tags: Africa, perspective, TED.

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The chaos in the Middle East, explained in one (long) sentence

The chaos in the Middle East, explained in one (long) sentence | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |
The rise of the Islamic State, in one tweet.

Via InfoBlaze
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

Looking at the tweet closely there is so many complication that makes up the Islamic State. So when someone is asked to explained it in one sentence it's gonna be very difficult to absorb all that information at once. As the Author state, there is no way to do it in one sentence because it's something you have to learn with time. 

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How Climate Change is Behind the Surge of Migrants to Europe

How Climate Change is Behind the Surge of Migrants to Europe | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |

"Even as Europe wrestles over how to absorb the migrant tide, experts warn that the flood is likely to get worse as climate change becomes a driving factor." ;

Kevin Nguyen's insight:

The surge of migrants to Europe has another major contribution other than the Syrian War. Climate change cause food and water shortage to the region of middle-east. The intense droughts and flood are killing their agriculture ultimately lead them to find a food source somewhere else. It's like adding stress to more stress and now you have a massive problem that is showing no sign of stopping.

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This Is My Land

How do the Palestinian and Israeli (Arab and Jewish) education systems teach the history of their nations? The film follows several Israeli and Palestinian teachers over one academic year. Observing their exchanges and confrontations with students, debates with the ministries curriculum and its restrictions, the viewers obtain an intimate glimpse into the profound and long lasting effect that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict transmits onto the next generation.


Tags: Israel, Palestine, conflict, borders, territoriality, political, Middle East.

Kevin Nguyen's insight:

It's very interesting to see what the Palestinian perceive as peace/freedom as and what the Israelis vice versa. The education systems in both nation influence their beliefs on this idea of freedom. The Israelis see freedom as not having the constant fear of being harmed by their neighboring country. On the other hand, the Palestinian see freedom as claiming back their land and driving the Jews away from it. It is truly sad to know that there is a very little chance that peace will exist in this region.

vegetali's curator insight, 12 October 2015, 16:13

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, 22 October 2015, 13:01

The teaching of history is often very political. You can not separate history from politics. The majority of history class end up focusing on some form of political history. History is all about interpretation. There is no one exact way to interpret an event. This opens up the discipline to being used to foster certain political ideals. Every leader of a nation will try to justify his or hers actions by finding an historical precedent. The history taught in Israeli schools, is going to be pro Israeli. The same is true for the Palestinians. Each side is looking to justify their current polices by telling an historical narrative from their own point of view. Each successive generation will learn the history the government wants them to know.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, 13 December 2015, 23:41

this is an interesting example of how the teachings of a certain group can influence the perception of the world around you, especially when you are young.

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Kerry in Central Asia to Boost Cooperation With 5 Nations

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with leaders of some of the most authoritarian countries of Central Asia. On Sunday, he met with officials from ...

Via Kenneth Carnesi,JD
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

The effort to bring democracy and improve living conditions in these ex-soviet countries is a great way to prevent jihadist movement. Terrorist organization aim to seek out those that are looking for a way to escape and solitude to join them. If human rights, living and economic conditions improve there might be a chance for these countries to become 'modernize' and will not have to limit themselves to violence with terrorism.

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Where Has All the Water Gone?

Where Has All the Water Gone? | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |

"Once the fourth-largest lake in the world, Central Asia's shrinking Aral Sea has reached a new low, thanks to decades-old water diversions and a more recent drought." 

Kevin Nguyen's insight:

The magnificent Aral Sea has dissipated over the last century due to man himself. Rivers sources that flow into this sea is cut off or used to irrigate crops to grow cottons in the regions of Uzbekistan. Plus this is a environmental disaster with salt let filled the lake and the wind picking it up and carrying it killing fertiled soiled for the natives. The fishing ground also died off and now its just a flat of salts that was once the Aral Sea.

Kelsey McIntosh's curator insight, 31 March 2018, 19:28
This article briefly discusses the disappearing Aral Sea. Once being the fourth largest lake, evaporation and water diversions have caused it to shrink significantly. Because the sea has always been salty, the disappearing water has caused the salt content to rise and has made the water practically unusable.
brielle blais's curator insight, 1 April 2018, 20:28
This post showcases physical geography. The Aral Sea is dissipating, and it is leaving behind tons and tons of salt. This salt is affecting the local agriculture, such as in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, where the crops that are irrigated are suffering from the high salt levels. 
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, 2 November 2018, 00:02
Once one of the largest lakes in the world, the Aral Sea in Central Asia has been progressively shrinking due to recent droughts and water diversions happening over decades. With the whole eastern section of the lake gone, all that's left is the salt and heavy minerals that will eventually make its way into the air causing different problems for people in the surrounding area. 
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One Place, Two Names

One Place, Two Names | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |
The government of the People’s Republic of China calls the country’s westernmost region Xinjiang, but the people who have lived there for centuries refer to their home as Eastern Turkistan. Many times when two groups do not refer to a place by the same name, it points to a cultural or political conflict, as is the case here.
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

The region in North-west China where the indigenous people refer to home as Eastern Turkistan is being stripped by the Chinese government. They are banned from practicing their religion of Islam and cannot wear certain clothing that they are accustomed to. This is an example of History repeating itself, similarly to the United States government treating Native Americans and their way of life. Ultimately, it is important that the people of Eastern Turkistan has the right to practice in what they believed in, so that they do not lose their identity, culture and heritage.

Martin Kemp's curator insight, 17 December 2015, 20:45

it seems that this a a recurring theme with china. disputed lands surround this country inside and out, they claim to own all of it as well. but when the people that live their claim to be independent and choose not to associate themselves with you than it creates and interesting dynamic.

James Piccolino's curator insight, 24 March 2018, 13:52
Very interesting. I am curious to know where this will lead to. There is something also unnerving about how most of us are never taught this in public schools even though it is a very big and very important topic. I can not image there being a split eventually over time, though there is no way that this area will stay as they are with the treatment of their government. This is surely a region to keep an eye on.
othni lindor's curator insight, 20 October 2018, 09:06
This article talks about how the "government of the People’s Republic of China calls the country’s westernmost region Xinjiang, but the people who have lived there for centuries refer to their home as Eastern Turkistan." Usually when two groups or more have different names for the same place there is a political or cultural conflict happening in that country. 
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France might ban public Wi-Fi so that it can spy on people

France might ban public Wi-Fi so that it can spy on people | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |

France is proposing that it will ban free public Wi-Fi and anonymised browsing because of the Paris attacks, according to leaked documents. The French government is considering extending internet powers in a way that has only previously been done in Iran and China, according to the document seen by French newspaper Le Monde.

Via ReactNow
Kevin Nguyen's insight:

The plans for this surveillance project most likely will not go through for a lot of reasons. Many people would not be happy with the government tracking down what they browse on the internet. It will create a sense of anxiety that you're being watched and freedom/rights to the internet is basic rights in the western world. In addition, the terrorist action of a few extremist does not portray the actions of everyone in France. Not everyone will use public Wi-fi as a tool for terrorism.

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Italy is a 'dying country' says minister as birth rate plummets

Italy is a 'dying country' says minister as birth rate plummets | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |
New figures show the lowest total number of births since the formation of the modern Italian state


Fewer babies were born in Italy in 2014 than in any other year since the modern Italian state was formed in 1861, new data show, highlighting the demographic challenge faced by the country’s chronically sluggish economy.  National statistics office ISTAT said on Thursday the number of live births last year was 509,000, or 5,000 fewer than in 2013, rounding off half a century of decline.  The number of babies born to both natives and foreigners living in Italy dropped as immigration, which used to support the overall birth rate, tumbled to its lowest level for five years.


Tag: Italy, Europe, declining populations, population, demographic transition model.

Kevin Nguyen's insight:

The low birth rate in Italy is causing the country to think that its dying because there aren't enough new-born to replace the ones that passed away. As the article state, it mainly in the south where the economy is very poor and the average family is not making as much money as they should to support more children. This might lead people to migrate to other places  to find opportunities for their future generations. If Italy could find a way distribute wealth evenly across the countries they might be able to find a better result in birth rate. This is easier said than done however. 

Emily Coats's curator insight, 24 March 2015, 15:53


This article is very informative on the current situation in Italy. Fewer babies were born in 2014 than in any other year since 1861, and this is said to be connected to the country's "sluggish economy". Immigration, a factor that previously contributed to the birth rate in Italy, has been at its lowest in five years. People in Italy are dying, and there are not enough births to balance out the country. As a result, the country is so called "dying". The government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is trying very hard boost the economy by reforming the labour market and trying to convince young adults to stay in Italy rather than working abroad. This whole conflict in Italy involves the promotion of population growth in a country, because the country is dying and needs a more stable population.

Emma Conde's curator insight, 27 May 2015, 03:00

Unit II: Population and Migration


As Italy becomes a highly developed country, it begins to experience a large population decline. Fertility rates are negative and continue to decline, and mortality rates are dropping as well. People are not having large families, and all of these factors contribute to the rapidly declining population of Italy. The prime minister of Italy hopes to simulate an economic and cultural recharge in hopes that this will help encourage people to make more babies so that the population does not continue to decline at this rate.


This relates to the demographic transition model, as Italy is in the last stage of it. Once countries are developed, fertility rates begin to slow as mortality rates continue to decline, causing a decline in the total overall population. This is clearly exemplified through this story about Italy. 

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, 13 December 2015, 20:44

its fascinating that there may no longer be such a term as Italian outside of history books in fifty years. the low birth rate in European countries is a major concern, especially as the economies in those same countries start to suffer.

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Catalonia independence: Parliament votes to start secession from Spain

Catalonia independence: Parliament votes to start secession from Spain | Thien's Geography 200 Portfolio |
The Spanish region of Catalonia adopts a resolution supporting independence from Spain, but Spain's PM says his government will challenge it.

Tags: Catalonia, Spain, political, devolution, autonomy, Europe, culture.

Kevin Nguyen's insight:

I've never heard of this country until recently when I came across a video on youtube about it. In my opinion, Catalonia has the right to secede from Spain because there are many ethnic group wanting their own dependence around the world and it doesn't feel like it's a part of another country. However, it all comes down to politics and Spain wants as much territory as it can get. Plus Catalonia is doing pretty for itself and the Spanish definitely want a part of that.

Matthew Richmond's curator insight, 23 November 2015, 19:20

Follow up to a piece on Catalonia that I scooped earlier this semester. Apparently their Parliament has voted to go ahead with the plans to move toward independence from Spain. The Spanish government says that they will not allow it. Could make for interesting news in the coming months.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, 13 December 2015, 18:25

the Catalonia independence movement is just a small part of a large number of regions which were once autonomous and wish to be again. with so many of these areas in Europe the independence movements are finding hard to get support from other nations.

Raymond Dolloff's curator insight, 15 December 2015, 06:29

Challenging succession is a difficult task. First of all, there has to be a vote by the people and there has to be a strong driving force to get a positive outcome on the vote. The Prime Minister of Spain claims he will try to block it by filing a suit with the Constitutional Court. Succession of a country faces many hurdles especially if it does not have a strong vote to succeed and the opposition vote is strong.