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Here is a link to one of my articles in the Pendulum about the purposed Multi-Faith Center.


          When we think about immigration, we tend to think in numbers.  We think about how many jobs illegal immigrants “take from” Us citizens every year.    We think in dollars sent to Mexico, South and Central America every fiscal period.  We think about the number of seats filled in public schools by non English speaking students.  We think in boxes checked on the Census.

                What we often fail to think about is stories.  Personal strife endured by individuals.  We think about our own hardship and not the reasons why thousands risk life and limb every year to gain what we take for granted every day. 

                I would urge every person who calls for a fence to be erected on our boarder to imagine what that fence looks like on the other side. 

                Perhaps there is validity to protecting our boarders from free travel.  America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, but not a land of infinite resources.  This is something that Americans have come to keenly understand in recent times.

                But then there is validity to imagining that the economic strain that we have endured as of late does not hold a candle to the economic desperation that the masses in the lands south of our home have lived in for decades. 

                Consider the next time you extol the virtues of tighter border control, that thousands of children cross our border every year in search of nothing more than their own mothers.  These are mothers that have not come to sabotage the land that we love, but have come with the mere hope of effectively feeding their own children.

                If you are a mother, ask yourself what length you would go to if your children were screaming every night from hunger pains?  If you are a sibling, imagine watching your own brother or sister waste away in front of your eyes because there wasn’t enough food to serve you both.

                It is certainly the prerogative of every American to demand respect for what we have worked so hard as a nation to achieve, but it is also our duty to be humane. 

                The question of immigration is certainly one rooted in politics.  But then it is also one rooted in human life.  It should be a question of both mind and morals.

                We have stood up to help defend those in the Middle East in their time of crisis, and it is certainly not the first or last time that the United States will step up for those less fortunate.

                Why is it then, that we have such a difficult time understanding the pains of those who live and struggle every day just south of our boarder?

                 Professors exist to their students in an isolated world.  They only ever meet inside the walls of the classroom.  On rare occasion the real world of students and professors collide at the grocery store or local Blockbuster, making for a thoroughly awkward experience. 

                But professors at Elon, like Samuele Pardini, have full lives off campus.  Pardini has spent a lifetime travelling the globe, enlisting in the Italian military, seeing some of the greatest rock shows of all time, and finally, coming to teach in the small town of Elon.

                “You learned more than how to just say ‘hi, my name is…’ in his class,” said Geoff Hall, a junior at Elon who took a class with Pardini his freshman year.  “You learned about the culture, about the people, about what it means to be Italian.”

                Pardini grew up Italy and attended school in the city of Lecce, spent time studying abroad in Ireland, and did his masters work at the University of Buffalo.  He has attended and taught at a variety of institutions, including Vanderbilt and UCLA. 

                Pardini joined the roster of Elon professors in 2007.

                So with a life that could be a best-selling novel, what drew Pardini to a place like Elon?

                “I like the students and the school,” Pardini said.  “It’s a good place to raise a child; quiet and safe.”

                This is a big concern for a man who became a father only months after starting his new position at Elon.

                And for a man that is always changing his own surroundings and situations, it is the change that is occurring in the region that keeps him interested.

                “The economy is changing, everything is in motion, it’s always a different ballgame.”

                Sometimes the slow pace of southern life makes Pardini anxious though.  “There isn’t much of a social scene in Elon.”

                The social scene that Pardini is used to runs a little bit faster.  His favorite concert that he has been to was Bruce Springsteen in Madison Square Garden.  “My friend had tickets,” he said “so we just got on a plane and went.”

                With so many real-life experiences having made his life such an exciting place to be, Pardini seems to bring a real-life learning environment to his classroom.

                Junior Tony Rizzuto said that his favorite aspect of the class was how hands-on it was.

                “The cooking and the food were the best.  It was delicious and fun,” Rizzuto said.

                It is Pardini’s love of the language, culture and teaching that makes students in turn, fall in love with the class.

                “We used to leave little ‘I heart Italia’ signs around the classroom after class,” Hall said.  “I actually enjoyed going to his class every day.  Dr. Pardini managed to make learning fun again.”

                Much of the time, Pardini’s own life lessons came outside of the classroom. He spoke lightly of his time in the Italian military, but said that it taught him a great deal.

                Since his days in the military and attending rock concerts, Pardini has settled down a bit.  He now lives with his wife and two-year-old son in Elon.  Although it seems to be an ideal location for raising a child, it has posed some problems for Pardini and his family. 

                “My wife’s family is in Florida and all of my friends are in Buffalo.  It’s a long way to anywhere.” Pardini said.

                Getting a two-year-old anywhere can be a challenge, but it is one that Pardini seems to approach with the same calm attitude that he does the classroom.

                According to students, Pardini keeps a laid-back feel in his classroom where students often talk about more than just grammar. 

                “He just always seems comfy in his position and he brings his humor to class with him,” Hall said. “He shows interest in the language, but also in teaching and in the students.”

                So where does a globe-trotting, rock-concert-loving, husband, father and teacher go from here?  It seems that nobody knows, not even Pardini.

“What the future holds, you never know.”

 Upon entering Rare Breed Tattoos and Body Piercing, you can hear the buzz of needles coming from the next room.  Vivid pictures line the walls, retired skateboards are propped up on display, and bright, simple jewelry sits in a glass case.

                This may not seem like an environment and an industry that breeds and uses technological advancements, but then, appearances can be deceiving.

In the display case are about a dozen bracelets, crafted from nothing more than old pop tabs and a bright lanyard lashing them together.  The old and new materials have been combined to make something greater than the sum of their parts.

This seems to be the case with the tattoo industry in Alamance County.  Ever changing technology is used in conjunction with the tools that artists know and rely on to get the perfect tools for the perfect tattoo.

According to Jake Edwards, a tattoo artist at Rare Breed, nine out of 10 tattoo guns that come into the shop are rebuilt once they get there to match the tastes and style of the artists who use them.

                Of different kinds of tattoo guns and advancements in technology, Edwards said “It just all depends on what you want to do with your art.”

                At Inferno Ink, the story is not so different.  In recent years, there have been clear advancements in technology in the industry, such as the pneumatic tattoo gun. 

                Unlike a traditional tattoo gun which runs off of electricity, a pneumatic gun is connected to an air compressor and the needle is moved by the air.   This causes the machine to be lighter weight and not prone to small surges of electricity.

                Kenneth Shane Wilson of Inferno Ink, who has been tattooing for almost 15 years, says he prefers to stick with traditional electric guns.

                “They’re my favorite,” he said.  It is not only the guns that change and advance in the world of tattoos and piercings.  The products that sterilize the store and its equipment also change rapidly.

                According to Doug York, an artist at Inferno Ink, advances in cleaning products occur every three or four years. Inferno Ink keeps up to date on all of its cleaning products.  Having a clean and healthy environment is a very important element of Inferno Ink’s business.

Heather McDaniel works at the front desk of Inferno Ink and is currently training with the head piercer. She says keeping up to date with sanitary advancements is a major focus of the shop.

                “We try to be as close as possible to a hospital.”

                New technology not only effects the artists at a shop like this, but the customers as well. 

                York says that up to 90 percent of their customers come into their shop with the tattoo idea or design that they have gotten off of the internet.  It is far rarer to see customers coming in with unique, hand-drawn ideas these days.

                Once a tattoo artist has a basic idea or is asked to design something, he will frequently draw it not on paper, but on a computer screen. 

                Tattoo shops in the Alamance region have plenty of advancements to choose from these days.  Some use more than others and some stick to what they know.  Most frequently, shops are creating their own blend of the old and new to change the face of this industry.


On Tuesday night facebook managed to uncover something that the Secret Service could not; uninvited guests at the White House standing mere inches from the president.

Sure, this was an alarming breakdown in defense, and something that cannot be looked over, but we must also recognize that an event such as this does not happen often.  Every day and every night the Secret Service does their job and gets little thanks for it.  In the long run, President Obama came out of the situation unharmed and the world has in fact, continued to turn.

On Thursday night, I was busy leaning something that the Salahis clearly had not.

Sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table I was practicing a lifetime of learned habits.  I kept my elbows off of the table, I chewed with my mouth closed, but there was one habit that carried more weight than these.

When I addressed my mother, father or grandmother, I did so with respect.  In my grandmother’s kitchen, I did as I was told when we were preparing dinner.

Perhaps I am a little old fashioned, but in my world, you respect your elders.  You respect your teachers and your bosses and all the other authority figures in our lives.  It is even customary to show respect for those who have not earned it, because a little courtesy can go a very long way.

Perhaps nobody ever taught the Salahis the meaning of the word respect.

The pictures of Michaele and Tareq Salahi that were posted to the social networking site, facebook, were nothing short of a blatant slap in the face of President Obama and his security team.  They have made a mockery of our country’s leadership and security.

The aftermath of those photographs is a far greater threat than the couple themselves ever posed.  As our country stands mired in economic turmoil and war, a united front is crucial.  By no means am I proposing that Americans need to consent to a single opinion or don a mask of blind acquiescence, but rather that we must have enough pride and trust in our own system to respect it.

Abigail Adams once wrote in a letter to Mercy Otis Warren, “A house divided against itself – and upon that foundation do our enemies build their hopes of subduing us.”

While it is the diversity of our nation’s people that makes this country great, there must be some common ground.  In this particular case, it is a sense of decency that should link us as fellow citizens.

I suppose that the Constitution never plainly states the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of a secure and private party, but it is my belief that common sense and courtesy already imply just that.

In the coming days and weeks, secret service employees will likely lose their jobs, the Obama family will lose their sense of security and the Salahil’s will likely lose should they face charges for their actions, but we as a nation have already lost the ability to save face on the national stage.

All of these could have been saved if somebody along the line had taught the Salahis how to be respectful.

It seems that in this day and age, many people are willing to do literally anything for their moment in the spotlight.  This is a poor reflection on our country to say the very least.

You may be a Democrat, you may be a Republican.  You may support the war, and then again, you may not.  You may practice any one of a thousand religions and your skin may be that of a thousand different tones, but we are all a part of something larger, something that encompasses all of these things.

We are all Americans.  We pledge allegiance to one flag.  We believe in one constitution and one inalienable set of rights.

If we cannot appreciate the sanctity of our own president, who do we believe will?


                Cloudy skies and damp weather have come over Elon’s campus and are sparking very diverse reactions from students.  From cozy to lonely, students are responding in their own way to the dreary weather.

                Some students, like Senior Emily Sanner, can’t even make up their own mind about how rainy days make them feel.

                “Sometimes I like the rain and other times it just makes you feel lonely.”

                This is an understandable feeling, considering on an overcast day such as this, areas usually filled with students, like the patio outside of McEwen Dining Hall, stand vacant.

                Junior Ashley McGraw had a sunnier outlook on the situation, saying that on rainy days when she is not too busy, she enjoys curling up on her couch with a good movie and a cup of hot cocoa.

                Kelsey Renner, who is also a junior, was just looking out for the sun. 

                “Rainy days make me feel sad,” she said “I really like the sun and I wish it was sunny right now.”

                Renner may have a while to wait as the forecast for next week calls for rain on Sunday, Monday and Friday with lots of clouds in between.

This is a link to my most recent article in the Pendulum.  It is concerning a recent panel that took place here at Elon to discuss issues of poverty in India.  To find our more read the article!

Erin Mahn may have only graduated from Elon University two years ago, but her press pass has taken her to places that others may never get to see.

She cited it as one of the biggest perks of her job.

“Press passes allow you to do things that other people just don’t get to do,” she said.

In fact, her press pass has taken her on airplanes and yachts, and from death penalty hearings to the National Outdoor Show.

After two years of working at the Daily Banner in Maryland, Mahn has already experienced a fair dose of what it means to be a journalist, and the responsibilities that come with holding a press pass.  She has covered stories that took her to new and unfamiliar territory, and has also faced the moral dilemmas that come with the job.

“The advertising,” she said simply when asked what her biggest ethical dilemma has been.  After having turned down an advertiser’s suggestion to cover a story, “Remember, I pay your salary,” was the stern reminder that she received.

Mahn has also faced some of the less pleasant aspects of the job, such as 14-hour days and holidays spent in the office.

“Have fun.” Was the last of six bits of advice she gave, and she seems to be walking the walk as well as talking the talk.  As Mahn described her short time thus far in the world of journalism, she was perpetually smiling.

I thought that it was interesting that he stated that he did not see newspapers or broadcast news fading out any time soon.  These days, everyone is panicking over what seems to be an inevitable loss of those two aspects of the industry.  For me, this means that although I need to prepare for a changing world, some of the basics are still very important to keep in mind.  There are still functioning newspapers that I could very potentially be working for someday and I need the skills necessary to work in that environment.

I also like the optimism of this train of thought.  If the people in the news industry do not have faith in what we do, then absolutely nobody will.  It is important for us to promote what we do and to continue to remind audiences that we provide an incredibly valuable service, even if we sometimes seem a bit dated.

The second thing that I found to be very interesting was his statement that the very definition of news is changing.  This is something that I tend to be very skeptical of.  I think that the idea of citizen participation in news could have the potential to be beneficial, but I think that it also carries huge amounts of risk for this very reason.

Reporters have long worked to create a communal set of ideals and standards.  There have certainly been times and occasions in which journalists or entire organizations have fallen short of what was expected, but I think that these standards tend to keep journalists on a relatively straight path.  Those who are not dedicated to these standards and are not true and trained journalists could more than change the definition of news and how it is delivered, but warp it beyond recognition.

College is a time that prepares us for the future.  Students leave their alma maters expecting to be able to handle their careers and their lives.  But the question raised on Thursday night’s panel on diversity was just that.  As members of the Elon bubble, are we really walking into the world as prepared citizens?

                Diversity Emerging Education Program (D.E.E.P.) and the Black Cultural Society (BCS) co-hosted this panel with representatives from Guilford, North Carolina A&T as well as Elon.  The primary purpose was to discuss the differences between Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) and Predominantly White Universities (PWI’s).


                Elon’s number one goal at this time is to increase diversity on campus.  You would never have known it if you had attended Thursday evening’s panel discussion in LaRose Digital Theater though.

                The theater only ever filled about half way and there was no mistaking the predominant group.  Black students turned out in fair numbers for the events but students of other races were few and far between in the crowd.

                Elon’s own Melissa Jordan, assistant director of the Multicultural Center, said, “To me, multiculturalism is a part of everyone’s experience.  It’s not just a Black thing or a Latino thing.  It is an everyone thing.”