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Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011


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Today the Muslim group introduced the Ramadan fast to the tribe. The students rose at 4 am to partake in suhoor, the traditional Ramadan breakfast, which takes place before dawn and is an opportunity for those fasting to hydrate themselves and fill their stomachs before the long day of fasting ahead. After our suhoor, the students returned to bed and awoke around 9 to begin the tour of the Muslim sites and Mt. Olive. The day closed with one of my favorite Dragons' student led activities to date: a student run Iron Chef Iftar! The iftar is the breaking of the fast, which occurs at sunset. Today, from about four to eight pm, our dear students, slightly loopy and with quite a few giggles due to the hunger of a day of fasting, tracked down ingredients in the markets of the Old City, cooked up a storm in the kitchens of the Citadel Hostel and served to their I-team judges a sumptuous iftar meal. Spiced chicken, dates, yogurt, couscous, rice, salad and some mysterious M&M filled Ramadan cookies were all put to the test as our team of judges evaluated the dishes prepared by the three teams based on the Iron Chef's criteria of taste, preparation and sassiness! The winners were the Jews, whose spiced chicken was loved by all. In second place were the Muslims followed at a close third by the Christian contingent. The group is now on it's way to bed, stomachs full with pleasant memories of our first iftar!

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Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

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Jerusalem: Our First Iftar

Alena Bartoli,Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

Description

Today the Muslim group introduced the Ramadan fast to the tribe. The students rose at 4 am to partake in suhoor, the traditional Ramadan breakfast, which takes place before dawn and is an opportunity for those fasting to hydrate themselves and fill their stomachs before the long day of fasting ahead. After our suhoor, the […]

Posted On

08/1/11

Author

Alena Bartoli

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Not surprisingly, Dragons' summers stimulate nearly as much reflection in instructors as they do in students. As our tribe has travelled around Jordan, I've been struck by the number of meaningful relationships that I have developed in Jordan through my five year tenure in the country. As a result, once our program comes to a close, I've decided to spend the remainder of Ramadan (which starts tonight), a slow season in Jordan, travelling from top to bottom of the country spending time with friends and contacts as they celebrate their Holy Month.

However, the record of this journey will start now on your Yak board, dear Dragons students and families, as my time with you has prompted this adventure and reflection! Therefore, please look forward to daily postings here and later on my personal blog as our adventure together comes to a close and a new one unfolds!

And now, onto Jerusalem!

In order for our students to fully experience the complexity of religion, politics and society in Jerusalem, we've divided them into three groups: Jews, Muslims and Christians. Each group has been asked to research, map and act as tour guides for their set of sites within the Old City, explaining religious doctrine and political history as we proceed. Today, our little group of Dragons' explored Jerusalem's Christian Quarter. We attended morning mass at the Armenian Patriarchate, proceeded along the stations of the Via Dolorosa, where we were guided through the passion of Christ, and ended our journey by lighting candles at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

A visit to Jerusalem offers nearly immediate prompting toward spiritual reflection. Fur hatted Orthodox Jews share the streets with solemn Greek Orthodox priests. As I rested at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, I shared a bench with a local Muslim tour guide, an elderly Hindu tourist and a former Russian atheist. As I reflected upon spirituality and religious practice, the conflicts between the religions so present in today's media seemingly melted away with the realization that each of the Abrahamic faiths simply offers a different take on the human community: man, woman and their relationships with themselves, their God and the universe.

More tomorrow!

With love from Jerusalem,

Alena

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Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

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Jerusalem: In the Footsteps of Christ

Alena Bartoli,Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

Description

Not surprisingly, Dragons’ summers stimulate nearly as much reflection in instructors as they do in students. As our tribe has travelled around Jordan, I’ve been struck by the number of meaningful relationships that I have developed in Jordan through my five year tenure in the country. As a result, once our program comes to a […]

Posted On

07/31/11

Author

Alena Bartoli

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Greetings,

Two days ago our group arrived in Jordan's largest city and capital, Amman. As we are staying in the downtown area, my first impressions of Amman are rooted in the traditional souks, or shopping areas, and the extraordinary theater built by the Romans. Although many locals have migrated from downtown to the affluent suburbs of Amman, I have still been able to experience the tastes, smells, and sights distinct to Jordanian culture. There have been a few contrasts, however, to the Jordan I have grown to know and love over the past month.

For example, I had the privilege of smelling raw sewage for the first time in Jordan yesterday. Our group was navigating through fruit stands and crossing bustling streets, when all of sudden I started coughing uncontrollably. This, I thought, is what it must feel like when you are poisoned. The flavor and feelings of pollution were so different from the fresh desert air of Wadi Rum, and my Bedouin family's assertion that the desert was where they belonged began to seem less foreign to me.

The honking of horns and screaming of shopkeepers was the anything-but-smooth reintroduction to city life that I thought I had been longing for. Looking back, however, I can't help but feel a pang of nostalgia as I pass by embellished photos of Jordan's deserts.

I have successfully returned to urban life--but not unchanged. It will take a while for me to stop missing sleeping outside and numbering the myriad desert starts.

Kennedy

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Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

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Arriving in Amman

Kennedy Edmonds,Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

Description

Greetings, Two days ago our group arrived in Jordan’s largest city and capital, Amman. As we are staying in the downtown area, my first impressions of Amman are rooted in the traditional souks, or shopping areas, and the extraordinary theater built by the Romans. Although many locals have migrated from downtown to the affluent suburbs […]

Posted On

07/28/11

Author

Kennedy Edmonds

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"Jordan seeks to play only one role, that of a model state. It is our aim to set an example for our Arab brethren, not one that they need follow but one that will inspire them to seek a higher, happier destiny within their own borders."

–King Hussein I

After spending a little over a month traveling within Jordan, I cannot begin to conceptualize how tolerant this country truly is. As King Hussein I said, Jordan impeccably embodies a stable and functioning society that should be used to inspire nations around them to adapt similarly. What appears to many as a 'text book' country in the Middle East has become a second home to me over the past four weeks. Jordan has welcomed me and my fellow 'Dragon tribe members' with such grace and hospitality that I feel almost remorse. Remorse in the sense that I could never give back nearly as much love and warmth that the people of Jordan have given to me. Regardless of where we are in the country and the specific cultural aspects of that area, whether it be A qaba, Disi, Rajef, Madaba or Amman, the Jordanian people as a whole are a nationality of pride and giving.

Never once will you feel hungry or thirsty because people are constantly inviting you to have tea with their family or walk you to the best falafel place in town. Never once will you be lost for Jordanians are willing to go out of their way just to help you accomplish small tasks like giving directions to anywhere in the country. For example, yesterday we had a simulated "Amazing Race" around Madaba, a city 30 Km outside of Amman. At one point my group, me, Madison, Kennedy and Nick, were in a taxi trying to get to the Church of the Apostles. Unfortunately, that name does not translate into Arabic as nicely as we would have liked it to. All of a sudden, the taxi driver started driving and Kennedy rolled down the window and began to yell 'Church of the Apostles??!?!!!" to see if anyone understood us. Within 1 minute a group of seemingly 15 people were surrounding our taxi asking tons of questions as to our destination, if they could see our guide book, etc. Although no one knew of this church, the fact that so many people took interest and truly deliberated our predicament was heart warming. A few of the people came to the conclusion that this church was actually not in Madaba while others just found the situation comical. After a good 10 minutes of talking we made our way to the church which was actually 2 streets away. Instances like this are common in Jordan. Selflessness does not even begin to describe the Jordanian people.

Although I have only been here a few weeks, I believe, like King Hussien I, that Jordan can be a role model for not only the Middle East, but for the world itself. For a society that seems exclusive to the western eye, nothing could be more incorrect. The Jordanian people fight for their country everyday and strive to make Jordan the best that it can be. Through apparent nationalism, hospitality and independence, Jordan has the power to influence countries around it and establish lasting relationships with the people that it encounters. Jordan has definitely set the bar high throughout my experiences traveling and I can confidently say that this trip will be hard to rival.

-Gabriela Flax

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Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

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A Role Model for the World

Gabriela R. Flax,Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

Description

"Jordan seeks to play only one role, that of a model state. It is our aim to set an example for our Arab brethren, not one that they need follow but one that will inspire them to seek a higher, happier destiny within their own borders." –King Hussein I After spending a little over a […]

Posted On

07/28/11

Author

Gabriela R. Flax

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In our short stay in Amman it feels as though we have finaly found the crossroads of tradition and modernity. In the south of Jordan it was apparent that western ideas of modernity were seeping into the culture but here the two have come crashing togeather with a suprising ferocity. You walk down the streets and see women covered from head to toe without even their eyes showing next to women wearing clothing that would not be out of place in a New York nightclub. The other day we step, by accident, into the culture clash at a dead sea beach resort.

Amman has been a great learning experience in many other ways such as the countless chances to haggle and generaly converse in Arabic. As well as multiple meetings with NGO's and local buissness men proved a great chance to learn about political and social questions in Jordan. Another big change was the openness of some people on the politics of the region. I feel we have learned more about political opions in the last few days than in the whole trip. Also being able to explore such a large cosmopolitan city has been a joy.

David O'Donnell-Hanadel

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Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

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Amman

David O'Donnell-Hanadel,Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

Description

In our short stay in Amman it feels as though we have finaly found the crossroads of tradition and modernity. In the south of Jordan it was apparent that western ideas of modernity were seeping into the culture but here the two have come crashing togeather with a suprising ferocity. You walk down the streets […]

Posted On

07/28/11

Author

David O'Donnell-Hanadel

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Greeting from Amman! Although we still have a little less than two weeks on our trip, being in this city has already made me feel as if I am transitioning back home. After spending a month in the quiet corners of the south, the hustling, bustling, juice bar-filled streets of Amman come as a bit of a culture shock. Here, clothing and furniture stores abound, music blares from every alleyway, and women wear the full spectrum of head coverings (from Burqa to bare-hair). To me, the capital captures the essence of our course theme: crossroads of tradition and modernity. It has the same falafel stands we discovered earlier on in our trip. The same call to prayer blares out of the mosque's speakers, and the same kinds of colorful abaya stores that we saw in Aqabaline the sidewalks. But there are differences. While few Jordanian women roam the streetssolo, you can now catch a glimpse of a few passing by in cars or picking up fruit in the market. Inmost ofthe villages we stayed in before, only men did the shopping. Previously, in the south, public transportation consisted of calling up a minibus and having it come to our location.Here, however,a bus terminal houses a full fleet of greyhounds with scheduled departure times. With this, of course, come smog and more honking horns, butit also means paved roads, and, believe it or not, pedestrian safety. Cars here actually stop for people to cross the street, unlike the taxis in Wadi Mousa (Petra) or Aqaba.

All in all, I feel that I can now say that I have seen both "sides" of Jordan. The first afternoon that we drove into Amman, I stared out the window as we passed curtain stores and linens shops, thinking about what it would be like to see all of this for the first time after living in Wadi Rum my whole life. Our nomadic, bedoin homestay families would have no need for bejeweled drapes or glass coffee tables, yet they form as much of the Jordanian identity as the wealthiest elite of West Amman. I wonder if our bedoin homestay families feel as if they're misingout,or if the people in this city feel disconnected from their cultural history. I am curious to see if this gap is bridged in the next few years.

Tomorrow we are off to Jerusalem, before we begin our final "deorientation" (tranference) phase in Pela, Jordan. Masalama for now!

Madeline Hung

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Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

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Culture shock so soon?

Madeline Hung,Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

Description

Greeting from Amman! Although we still have a little less than two weeks on our trip, being in this city has already made me feel as if I am transitioning back home. After spending a month in the quiet corners of the south, the hustling, bustling, juice bar-filled streets of Amman come as a bit […]

Posted On

07/28/11

Author

Madeline Hung

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the cars honk incessantly as heat steams off the concrete sidewalks, as in every direction masses of people swarm around me. fruit vendors chant loudly the advertisements of their goods, and choruses of "welcome!" fill my ears. the smell of sewage, for the very first time in four weeks, drifts pungently into my nostrils, and my eyes can hardly take in the countless colors, textures, and shapes that they see.

welcome to amman.

to me, it seems entirely a world away from our previous month in aqaba, wadi rum, rajef, wadi mussa, petra, and the dead sea. amman is pure city - people, lots and LOTS of things, and the most glaring difference, the smell of human creation. no more fresh desert air; no more silence. the air is instead filled to the brim with the sound of music and the smells of food, cars, and the occasional scents of perfume. amman is a different world.

tomorrow we will be embarking on our journey through jerusalem, a portion of the trip that i have been looking forward to since the very first day. i am so very excited to explore the religious diversity this ancient city offers, and to deepen my understanding of the conflict that still rages in the hearts & minds of the people of this region.

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Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

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cityshock

alba sorge berenguer,Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

Description

the cars honk incessantly as heat steams off the concrete sidewalks, as in every direction masses of people swarm around me. fruit vendors chant loudly the advertisements of their goods, and choruses of "welcome!" fill my ears. the smell of sewage, for the very first time in four weeks, drifts pungently into my nostrils, and […]

Posted On

07/28/11

Author

alba sorge berenguer

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July 27, I find myself sitting on a single bed in the Cliff Hotel, our hostel in downtown Amman. The neon light glares at me from across the room, a rickety fan above provides a slight respite from the intense heat and Arabic dance music wafts through the window from the busy street below.
Just two days ago, our tribe of hearty travellers, the al Tannaineh (so named for the illustrious Dragon that inspires our journey) emerged from the deserts of southern Jordan and into the urban sprawl of Amman, an ever changing, ever growing mass of humanity, cars, buildings, mosques, felafel stands and, of course, tasty tamarind juice! Spending the past month travelling around Jordan with a group of rambunctious, curious, growing students has been an amazing adventure. We've had a range of experiences from climbing Jebel Um Adaami, Jordan's highest mountain to floating in the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. We've slept alongside nomadic Bedouins and discussed Jordan's political system with a former member of the Israel-Jordan peace negotiating team. Tomorrow, we leave for a five day exploration of Jerusalem's Old City.
Reflecting on our adventures as the noise of Amman surrounds me, our time in the desert has faded into beautiful memory - Disi, Wadi Rum, Dana and Petra seems eons ago, though it has only been a few days. Such is the nature of life and travel in Jordan. The lessons of one 24 hour day seem like those learned in a week elsewhere. Dragons' summers last forever - and I feel blessed to be sharing this one with such a noble tribe:

Alba has cherished every minute of our journey. From spontaneous and successful bartering sessions in Arabic to the establishment of strong bonds with her homestay family in Disi, Alba has taken advantage of opportunities to engage authentically with herself and with others and from these engagements to learn and to grow.
Caitlin's native curiousity and strong observational skills lead her to the pointed questions and perceptive commentary that bring joy to any instructor team. She is growing so much as she learns more about herself and her personal relationships and how to manage both with love and care.
David is a caring young man who is taking great advantage of the opportunity to connect with the local culture, discussing his complicated, slightly controversial ISP topic in a graceful way with those who cross his path - whether it's the hotel reception manager or a local Peace Corps volunteer, David is building connections with everyone around him!
Gaby is being challenged by the chaos of the world - learning to operate within the context of a system with different rules and different definitions of order, efficiency and time. She has excelled as our transportation and food guide, learning to operate in and around unanticipated obstacles with a great deal of courage.
John is growing so much! He has taken ownership of his learning on all frontiers. He is working with new styles and approaches to leadership, communication and feedback and when placed in the role of our tribal sheikh rose to the position and all of the opportunities that it provided to him to learn, lead and grow.
Karma is diving into an exploration of the issues surrounding the Arab - Israeli conflict which is allowing her to connect with the greater aspect of conflict and the human experience. She is a strong and sensitive voice in our group - guiding others through an intense and dynamic group learning process.
Kennedy is a bright light. His creative positivity and his strong sense of gratitude engages our group's intellectual abilities and he challenges those around him to raise their bar for learning about themselves and our environment. We are all looking forward to experiencing his upcoming lesson this afternoon on the modern side and lifestyles found throughout Amman.
Lucas is stalwart. He is organized and driven in his explorations of self and this new place. His mind is opening up to new, compassionate ways of viewing the region and his own set of personal values as he learns, through his ISP, about the values of those around him.
Nick can often be found with his nose in a book or magazine or an intellectual, exploratory conversation. His ability to take responsibility for his learning process and his constant engagement with knowledge allows him to dive deeply into the experiences put before him - providing cutting and knowledgeable commentary on any task, lesson or activity at hand.
Madeleine loves to cook! Madeleine comes up with amazingly tasty concoctions of local fare! Madeleine is also driven by her desire to engage and learn from our host culture - whether through time spent with her host families or individual conversations with our guest speakers. Through these engagements, Madeleine is learning to take ownership over her learning process to open herself up to the complexities of the changing world and to the complexities of herself.
Madison has been our group leader for the past few days and has governed our tribe with a quiet, driving grace and a strong sense of humility. Her awareness of the group and its needs allows her to lead others to success in the tasks put before them. Her interest in the region has expanded during her time in Jordan and allowed her to build further upon the knowledge that she gained last summer in Morocco.
With love from Amman,
Alena. Darren & Yoli
Team Jordan 2011
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Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

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Our Tribe on the Road to Jerusalem

Alena Bartoli,Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

Description

July 27, I find myself sitting on a single bed in the Cliff Hotel, our hostel in downtown Amman. The neon light glares at me from across the room, a rickety fan above provides a slight respite from the intense heat and Arabic dance music wafts through the window from the busy street below. Just […]

Posted On

07/28/11

Author

Alena Bartoli

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Dear Jordan Student Families,
We just received an update from the Jordan group that all is going well on their course. They are currently in the midst of planning their student led expedition toJerusalem and all students are ready for their next program phase.
More updates to come soon.
Boulder Administration
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Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

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Group Update

Dragons Administration,Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

Description

Dear Jordan Student Families, We just received an update from the Jordan group that all is going well on their course. They are currently in the midst of planning their student led expedition toJerusalem and all students are ready for their next program phase. More updates to come soon. Boulder Administration

Posted On

07/27/11

Author

Dragons Administration

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    [post_date] => 2011-07-20 00:00:00
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Just over one week ago, our tribe moved out of the desert and into homestays with families in Alena's own village, Disi. Settled smack in the middle of Wadi Rum, Disi is quite literally a blip amidst the sand dunes; yet the people we met there and the experiences we had stand out quite noticeably in the course of our journey thus far.As anticipated in my last yak, these homestays showed a far different side of Bedoin living. On a superficial level, the people in Disi were much wealthier, some with 8 room houses and small orchards in the back yard. They wore nicer clothes, and had "real" jobs in tourism and construction. But this was not the most impressionable difference. The Bedoin people in Disi were different than the nomadic ones we had met in the desert on a deeper level as well. Unlike the isolated tents we had lived in in the desert, Disi exhibited an overwhelming sense of community. Everyone in our neighborhood was related (all the brothers, sisters, nieces, or nephews of Salah, one of Alena's friends and also a neighbor). In Disi, the households rotated as centers for an ongoing family reunion. What we first perceived as hitchhikers waving their hands down the main drag we soon realized were the uncles and brothers of our families, welcoming us to town. We learned what it was like to have all of your best friends be your relatives, a concept that is personally very foreign considering that a 6 hour plane ride separates me from both sets of my grandparents.

My homestay family did seem to be a small exception to this, at least at the beginning. Not all of my family members were present at the beginning of my visit (some traveling, some away at university), and my "parents" were of an older generation, with children the same age as some of the parents of my peers. Nevertheless, I felt very much integrated into a real-life family. My family members were obviously kind and hospitable, but did not hesitate to hand me a broom to sweep the floor, or ask me to lay out mats for our dinner and fetch things from the kitchen. While my homestay family was different from my world back home, I still witnessed the cuddling, rough-housing, and quarreling that occur in any family. For better or for worse, I felt plunged into the inner sanctum.

Tomorrow we will leave Petra and move on to Da'na to begin some trekking and environmental education. More to come from on the road!

-Madeline

*Speaking of the kitchen, and considering that my Independent Study Project surrounds food, nutrition and heath, I made sure to learn a few traditional Jordanian dishes with my host sisters and mother in Disi. Be prepared to try some "Mansef" and "Maluba" when I get back, Mom and Dad!

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Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

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A Different Disi: Disi Homestay Reflection

Madeline Hung,Jordan: Crossroads of Tradition and Modernity, Summer 2011

Description

Just over one week ago, our tribe moved out of the desert and into homestays with families in Alena’s own village, Disi. Settled smack in the middle of Wadi Rum, Disi is quite literally a blip amidst the sand dunes; yet the people we met there and the experiences we had stand out quite noticeably […]

Posted On

07/20/11

Author

Madeline Hung

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