Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Nearly Two Years of Winning and Still Overlooked?

By Hobson Lopes

In recent months, all Connecticut Huskies fans have had a lot to talk about. They had the football team being competitive in every game and even included defeating the great Notre Dame. All of this fighting through the adversity of losing one of their own after this seasons homecoming game. The men’s basketball team gave Coach Jim Calhoun a five year extension, which has yet to be signed. Calhoun has had health issues in the past and this season is no exception. He missed a couple weeks due to his latest health scare and the team has struggled for most of the season. Recently, the team has worked together to pull off multiple upsets setting them up for a trip to the NCAA tournament later this month. Through all of this, one thing that seems to be forgotten is the women’s basketball team coached by Geno Auriemma. What makes that more amazing is the fact that the team has won 69 straight games. With all those wins, do they lead off Sportscenter? WIth all those wins, do they recieve front page coverage? Maybe if they were playing LeBron James or the New York Yankees.
You have to go back to the 2008 Final Four in Tampa Bay, Florida, to find the last loss by this team. Since that 82-73 loss to Stanford, the Huskies have dominated all opponents. They have won each game by at least ten points. They have easily gone through the competition in the Big East Conference winning 32 straight games. They avenged their loss to Stanford by defeating them in the 2009 Final Four in St. Louis, Missouri, 83-64.
These numbers all look great, but it pales in comparison to how well the Huskies play against the top ranked teams in the country. Seventeen of the victories have come against team ranked in the top 25 polls with a margin of victory of over 28 points. In their seven playoff games since their last loss, the Huskies margin of victory has been almost 27 points.
Many people feel that Auriemma’s team will not get beaten this season and would finish with their second consecutive undefeated season and third overall in their great history. If the Huskies win all the remaining regular season games, they can tie their own Division I women’s basketball winning streak with a win in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament on March 7. Thus, a second consecutive perfect season will give them 78 straight wins, only ten shy of tying the all time collegiate streak record held by UCLA.
Coach Auriemma just knows how to coach, and more importantly, knows how to recruit. He will lead the women’s Olympic basketball team in 2010, and has already booked his ticket to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA.
This year, led by Maya Moore and Tina Charles and their over 35 points per game, this duo is near the top of the list in UConn’s great legacy, which include the duos of Jen Rizzoti & Rebecca Lobo and Diana Taurasi & Sue Bird. With Charles ready to graduate this spring, she’s completing her WNBA resume as she recently broke the All-time UConn records for points and rebounds. Moore & Charles feed off each other and make sure to incorporate Kalana Greene and Tiffany Hayes into the action.
While the diehard fans know all of this information already, what I am concerned about is this team is expected to win, so a streak of this caliber is overlooked. Although attendance is high at each game, whether home or away, it still seems that in this area, they are looked past. This reminds me of the situation that the Atlanta Braves faced in the 90’s. Starting in 1991, the Braves were the best team in the National League, and got to the World Series multiple times, but only won once. With each winning season, the attendance figures dropped at Turner Field as the fans just expected the team to win. I know once March Madness sweeps the area, fans will be all over the men’s and women’s teams, but I would still hope to see more enthusiasm from the locals all season long, especially as records come and go.


By Jessenia Cintron

There was a time when people could fly
But for generations we've been born with no wings
Just like you I wished to touch the sky
To reach the unattainable wishes that sleep within my belly
On a day just like any other my wings began to grow
The envy of those around me began to show
New joy gave hope to impossible dreams
And so I began to rise on lonely wings
I wanted to take you high with me
For love they said we'll rip these wings
Now here I am all alone
My beautiful wings are now tattered
The desire for us to fly burning deep within my heart
I hope that with time they will mend
But in the meantime I will build new wings
A pair for you & me
On these imperfect wings we'll build our future
And birth a new generation who we will teach to fly

Part I: The Face of a Storm

By Loriann Cordero

Society shows little mercy. It dictates success as having a great job, nice house, and a hefty bank account. However, beneath what our society mandates as the foundation for everyday life, exist a population which is the opposite; a way of life that “normal society” refuses to acknowledge. An Underground City: this population, also known as “the homeless, bums, vagrants, losers”, has become invisible because according to “the norm” it represents failure. There is a stigma that follows the homeless. It is believed that they have brought this failure upon themselves and now they do not deserve a second chance.

The first time he rolled up to the street ministry, it had all the resemblance of the darkest thunderhead ever imagined. He did not want any one to talk to him, or even look at him. His clothes resembled the aftermath of a storm as well. They were ratted, torn, and dirty. By his matted and greasy hair, and the smudges of dirt on his face, it was apparent that he had not bathed for days. His eyes were red and bloodshot; and even at several feet away the smell of alcohol was strong and overpowering. The name of the gentleman being described is John, and he was bringing the storms of change to the lives of many that day.

John was new to the ministry site. This was not unusual because the weather was turning colder. Along with this change in temperature, many more homeless came out from the woods for hot food and beverages. John stumbled his way into line and immediately began to argue with the others around him who were patiently awaiting their turn for hot dogs and soup. John began to push and accuse people of cutting in front of him. He snapped at a woman who entered the line, “What the heck are you doing?” The woman’s expression revealed shock at first, and when she quickly recovered, she replied in an agitated tone, “What are you talking about you old drunk, I was already in line!” She then continued, “You cut in front of me!” John’s face held all the fury of a volcano as he erupted with, “Shut-up or I will beat the tar out of you!” A heated argument ensued and then others in line started to join in. In order to keep things calm, ministry volunteers brought John food and gently, but cautiously, directed him to a seat under a tree. As John sat and ate his food, he continued to snap and snarl at the other homeless guests that were being served. “Get away from me, I don’t want you over here,” he yelled at Don who tried to share the ledge near the tree. Don just grumbled something about “you old fool,” as he walked off.
One of my duties in the ministry is to assist in providing employment opportunities. In doing so, I have the opportunity to walk around and chat with the homeless about their daily lives and the people they encounter while living in the camps. This day, as I was speaking with a gentleman named Stan and his topic of conversation was about none other than John. Stan spoke to me out of concern for John’s safety. He looked at me with furrowed brows and concerned eyes as he said, “John keeps telling everyone he wants to commit suicide.” Stan glanced over at John, making sure he was not being overheard and then quietly continued, “He told me that he lives in a house with no running water, no electricity, no heat, and it was condemned by the City of New Britain a few years ago.” He sighed, helpless, “If the city finds out John is still living there, they will throw him out on the street.” Stan went on “Lori, John tried to kill himself three weeks ago, but ended up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning.” Then he explained further “He has been drinking heavily again today and that is why he has been threatening everyone with harm who even attempt to come near him.” After Stan chatted with me a few more minutes I found myself facing a decision. In my heart I knew I had to try and speak to John. However, my mind was telling me that this was a dangerous option. My heart, as usual, won.

As I looked over at John, it was almost as if I could see the thunderclouds over his head. Actually, it was more like a typhoon, hurricane, and tornado rumbling simultaneously above his head. I cautiously walked up to him and asked him if he would like any more to eat. He spun around, looked at me, and grumbled, “No, I am fine.” I then introduced myself “My name is Lori, by the way.” “My name is John,” he grumbled.

I carefully sat down next to him and asked him how he is managing. He began to tell me about his life and his living circumstances. “I live in a house that was condemned by the City,” he stated flatly. He did not look at me as he was talking. He just stared down at the hot dog resting in his hand. I did not say anything. I decided to let him talk as much or as little as he wished. “I do not have any heat,” and added “It is just as cold in my house as it is outside.” We sat silent for a few moments. Then I ventured, “John, what about your family? Can you stay with them?” He shook his head sadly and said, “My wife divorced me and my children abandoned me.” Then John looked at me with deep red eyes. I was not sure if they were red from the alcohol or from the sting of tears. “I was a Marine and I served in Vietnam,” he said as a matter of fact. He went on to say “The military taught me how to kill, but they never taught me how to love again.” He looked back down at the ground, “I did not show my family any love, so I cannot blame my family for abandoning me.” He then stated bluntly “I have nothing to live for anymore.” When he was done speaking, he stood up and reached for the bags at his feet that held his belongings. I looked at him, and asked him softly, “John, can I give you a hug?” John looked at me with both a puzzled and startled expression on his face and asked, “What did you say?” I repeated, “Can I give you a hug, John?” He asked “Why would you want to give me a hug?” Even as he asked the question he was already tentatively opening his arms and his bags were still in his hands. John’s voice was filled with emotion as he said to me, “No one has given me a hug in about thirty years.”

As I stepped into his arms, I wrapped mine around his neck. I felt his arms gently close around me. I was close to his ear and said, “Because I care, John.” When I said that, I felt the bags fall to the ground and I felt his hug tighten. It was my every intention to comfort him. However, suddenly a wellspring of tears just bubbled up from inside me and I just started to sob. Through my tears, I repeated to him, “Please do not kill yourself, John, please don’t. I would miss you so much if you did.” John began to give me comfort instead. When I pulled back and looked at him, he took his dirty hand and patted my check. I looked into eyes that were no longer red, but bright blue and smiling. His face had actually softened. He had the expression of some one who was just handed hope.

Working in shelters and outreach programs these last twelve years has taught me one important thing: hope is what the homeless look for in the faces of those who pass them by on the street. Sit and talk with anyone who has spent even one night on the street or in a shelter, and the first thing you will hear is that they no longer feel like a person. They feel invisible and forgotten. No one ever wants to feel that way. According to the CT Count 2009 report released by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, “an estimated 4,154 people were experiencing homelessness in Connecticut on the night of January 28, 2009. Among those counted in sheltered settings, there were 2,482 single adults and 423 families with minor children. Counted in places unintended for human habitation such as streets, cars, parks, abandoned buildings, were 488 single adults and 7 families with minor children.” While packed with statistics, what the report failed to show was the hopelessness those individuals felt that night. However, that is the intent and purpose of this two part series; to not only give voices to those who are silenced by that hopelessness, but to also bring those out of the shadows that society would prefer invisible.

Not Myself

By Stasia Mihaly

I am crying on the inside
Can’t stop it on the outside
I want relief from this black hole

I feel like my insides are screaming
I know they are bleeding
My eyes are swollen
Welled up with tears

I can’t even finish a sentence
I don’t feel like going out anymore
I want to stop crying
I want everything in the world to just stop
I want to stop crying
I want to stop crying

I want to be myself
I need to feel myself
Nothing feels real
Everything is a washed out dream

Twisted, turned upside down, spastic
My world is spinning into disaster
My world is stuck in the black hole

Finding Good Through it All

By Paul Singley

The gawky teenager runs awkwardly down the court, sheepishly waits under the basket and hesitates before calling for the basketball.

All season long, players have tried in vain to feed him with passes, but time and again Jimmy has dropped the ball. As a special needs student, he is embraced by his peers for his uncanny work ethic. But to score a basket just doesn't appear in the cards.

This time would be different, though. Jimmy posts up, catches the pass and turns toward the hoop. A quicker, stronger and taller defender immediately swarms him and can easily block the shot. But the opponent realizes this may be Jimmy's only chance to score a basket. Without being obvious, the defender backs away and lets Jimmy shoot. The ball bounces off the backboard, off the front rim and drops in the bucket. Two points go on the board.

The crowd roars, realizing they have just witnessed Jimmy's first points of the season and possibly the shining moment in his recreational athletic career.

Though this vignette involves a player, a ball and a score, it has little to do with sport. It is about the graciousness of teenagers - a group that seldom gets recognized for its good deeds - and how a small moment in time can leave a lasting impression on the soul.

As Jimmy's coach, these are the moments for which I devote my time. It's not about wins and losses, it's about seeing kids succeed and rise above their expectations.

Over the past two weeks, I have pondered the power of the moment when Jimmy scored. I've wondered why it is that people don't choose to be as gracious as his defender on a regular basis. Why does it seem all we ever hear about is conflict or negativity?

We can blame the media for not covering enough positive stories. As a journalist, I too, am guilty of covering a fair amount of negative news, though I try, every day, to seek out the positive.

Or we can blame society for allowing our world to turn into one where conflicts are resolved through war and strife.

But I think the responsible person would also choose to blame himself or herself.

As human beings, too often we do not seek out those little moments in time when we can say we're proud to be part of this society.

We watch the eleven o'clock news and stay focused on the latest home invasion, murder or other story of misery. While it's important to know what is happening in society, even if it's negative, it's equally important to stay tuned to the positive: Millions of people helping to rebuild Haiti; the community of Cheshire rallying around Dr. William Petit after his wife and daughters were murdered during a home invasion; people who rescue abused animals and place them in happy and healthy homes.

These are just a few of the positive stories that can be found in the aftermath of bad news. People always seem to step up most during times of struggle, and it's important to notice those stories too. I'm trying hard to find them now, and I'm uncovering gems in everyday life.

I noticed two students from entirely different backgrounds helping each other with math homework after my communications class.

I noticed the man holding a door for an elderly woman; the student who never grasped the concept finally starting to learn; and the couple holding hands as they strutted down the hallway.

We call these the little moments, but once you see them, they make all a huge difference in your appreciation of the world and its people.

I figure we can all use some good in our lives considering that, according to researchers, we live in the second most unhappy state in America ahead of only New York. A recent study conducted by the University of Warwick in England discovered those results.

Think about that: New Orleans is still trying to overcome the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and yet the collective state spirit is happy as a clam (Louisiana ranked first in happy states per the study, which, interestingly enough, was conducted before the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras). We haven't seen a natural disaster of Katrina's magnitude in our state's history and yet we can't crack a smile?

It is my untested and unscientific theory that people would be a heck of a lot happier if they found joy in life's little things. Look for the simple joys in life and you might find that the evening news won't make you as upset, and you won't be irritated as much by your pet peeves, such as when a student in your class is texting away right in front of you (btw students: tell ur friends ttyl cuz that really makes your profs :-(, lol.)

Like Jimmy, I think we should take a shot. We should try, even just a little, to look beyond the obvious and focus on the good details in life.

Too often, we'll watch the game, look at the score, but won't notice that kid standing stiff under the basket. We won't celebrate his hoop because it's just two more points in a lopsided game. And inevitably, we'll miss that magical moment.

Paul Singley is an adjunct professor of communications at NVCC. He is also a full-time journalist for the Waterbury Republican-American newspaper. E-mail him at psingley@nvcc.commnet.edu.

Let There Be Education for All Who Strive to Learn

By: Nancy Xu
Community Colleges all over the country are making a crucial step towards making education more accessible to everyone by offering four year degrees.
I had the fortune of experiencing my first year of college worry free because all my finances were covered by my parents while I was studying at the State University of New York in Albany. Unfortunately, near the end of my first year, as our economy started to crack under pressure and businesses began to collapse, my father lost his job. I could no longer attend the school I had grown used to. I was bitter and helpless, so I reluctantly packed up and moved back home to Connecticut.
I am determined in my quest for a higher education and will stop at nothing to reach my goal of becoming a physician one day. I was sure of one thing though, I had no money and I did not want to put any strain on my already struggling family, so I decided I would pay for college on my own. I got two jobs and felt like I was on my way, until I ran into a major obstacle. As I scrolled through the local college websites and did some calculations, I realized that my two minimum wage jobs could not even make a dent in any of these four year colleges’ tuition. I was distraught.
By the end of my first year at NVCC, I had fallen in love with my school. I never expected so much from a school that I paid so little to attend. My teachers were all so knowledgeable and enthusiastic, not only that but my class sizes were so small compared to my first college that I could actually interact with my teacher and colleagues. These schools also offer students a flexible schedule so that they can work and pay for school. Community colleges, as the name states, are also very involved in the community and offer endless opportunities to become an active community member.
Since I have come to realize what a great gift community college is to motivated academics everywhere, I wondered why I could not just stay at my current school to get my four year degree. It would be so important to me if my college would offer a four year degree. Not only have I come to love the diverse people, enjoy all the opportunities and learned as much as I can from my intelligent professors, but it would mean I would not need to incur heavy debt before I even finish undergraduate school. This is the next major step in education and a gift to eager students striving to learn.

Hospitality Management Spring Lunch Series

Dumpling Day
Thursday, April 1st

Every ethnic kitchen has its own dumpling. Taste authentic Shanghai Dumplings, Italian Ravioli, Polish Pierogi, or Spanish Empana¬das. There will even be a des¬sert dumpling to finish off this unique meal.
Beverage included $12.
Reservations accepted between 12:00 – 1:00

Comfort Foods,
with a twist
Thursday, April 15th
Some of the old time favorites updated with some new ingredients.
Dessert and beverage included $18.
Reservations accepted between 12:00 – 1:00

Please join us for these two fun lunches! Naugatuck Valley Community College’s Hospitality Management students will cook for you and serve in style!

A portion of the proceeds from these lunches support the scholarship program.
Lunches are served in the new Technol¬ogy Hall Dining Room, T531.

To reserve, please call Karen Rotella at 203-596-8739, or email at krotella@nvcc.commnet.edu.