Category Archives: History and Current Issues

China’s One-child Policy – Jason


(Chinese family).

Studying China’s one-child policy has long been my aspiration because of its unparalleled uniqueness to other population control policies. As a country with the world’s second-biggest economy and the largest population than any other nations existed in human history, China’s domestic affairs have tremendous effects also on international affairs (“GDP, current”). Therefore, understanding China’s demographic trend, as well as the reason behind the country’s recent decision to end the policy in 2015, not only enriches my learning of global demography but also educates me as a citizen of the international community.

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Medicine in the Late Middle Ages– Yuchen

Continuing from my last blog post on medicine during the High Middle Ages, this blog post still follows the similar format, covering medicine during the Late Middle Ages in Europe, the Middle East and China. While doing my research, I was surprised by the extent of which Islamic Medicine influenced Western medicine. Therefore, a significant portion of this blog post is about medicine in the Middle East.

Late Middle Ages


As a lasting influence of the Crusades, trade and communication between the European world and the Middle East increased drastically. The wisdom of Islamic medicine (the science as well as the philosophies) from translated medical texts was incorporated into mainstream Western medicine.

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Flagellants in the Netherlands scourging themselves in atonement, believing that the Black Death is a punishment from God for their sins, 1349.

Despite various advances achieved earlier in the High Middle Ages, in the year 1347, Europe was heavily struck by the deadly disease: the Black Death (or the bubonic plague). Spread by infected flea, this deadly contagious disease wiped out more than half of the European population. One contributing factor to the spread of the disease was the unsanitary condition of medieval cities– a cause that was not well-understood by doctors at that time, resulting in ineffective treatments such as diet modification, usage of essential oils and prescription of elixirs attempting to cure the contagious disease. Because of the lack of medical understanding of the disease, people panicked and turned to religion. (Medical)


Middle East–

Medicine in the Islamic world continued to develop and expand, making significant contributions to the field of medicine during the Islamic Golden Age.

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Imaginary Portrait of Ibn Al-Nafis

Ibn Al-Nafis, an Arab physician, is considered “the Father of Circulation/ Circulatory Physiology for his important writings and anatomical discoveries. In his most famous book– Sharah al Tahreeh al Qanoon (Commentary on anatomy of the Canon of Avicenna), he made detailed description of the pulmonary circulation of blood which  contradicted Galen’s widely accepted description that the blood is passed from the left to the right ventricle through invisible pores in the septum.

Ibn Al-Nafis believed that the blood flows from the right ventricle through the pulmonary artery to the lungs, then flows through the pulmonary vein to reach the left ventricle. His pioneering discovery contributed to later development in the understanding of the circulatory system and was 300 years before the observation of William Harvey in Europe, who had previously been credited with the discovery of pulmonary circulation. (Akmal)(“Ibn”)

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Galen’s Cardiopulmonary System

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Explanatory Drawing of Ibn Al-Naifs of Pulmonary Circulation of Blood













A large number of Bimaristans, or hospitals, were built in Islamic cities. Surgeries such as those to remove cataracts and treat trachoma, cauterization as well as various sutures were frequently performed. The structure and concepts of these hospitals closely resemble those of modern hospitals, having separate wards for males and females, an organized system of medical records as well as standard protocols for institutional and personal hygiene (Majeed). Medieval Islamic doctors also went above and beyond merely treating the physical. General wellness and dermatology were given considerable attention. Bathing culture continued to be an essential component of people’s social life and an important contributing factor to the improvement of general hygiene. (Williams)



Under the umbrella of the Song Dynasty, Chinese medicine continued to thrive, making new progress, especially in the fields of pediatrics and gynecology. At the same time, exchange of medical knowledge between the East and West reached its peak. Medical texts and materials from Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia and the Middle East were frequently exchanged via trade routes, resulting in the incorporation of foreign knowledge and practices into Traditional Chinese Medicine and the other medical traditions’ adoption of Traditional Chinese Medicine practices. (“神农氏”)

In Islamic Medicine, herbal drugs imported from China via the Silk Road were frequently prescribed to patients.

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This article explores in-depth the interactions between several traditions of medicine such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine, Ayurveda and Kampo–tradition of medicine with basis in Traditional Chinese Medicine but adapted to Japanese culture (Azaizeh).

This temporarily concludes my research on medieval medicine in three representative regions. Overall, medieval medicine in Europe experienced a stagnant state during the Dark Ages and revitalized during the High Middle Ages before being heavily struck by the Plague, while Islamic and Chinese medicine were able to develop under relative stability and prosperity.

In the next blog post, I will look at medicine during the Renaissance era, specifically the influence of the arrival of the printing press on publication of medical texts in Europe and the decline of the Islamic Golden Age.

This video is about Ibn Al-Nafis, the forgotten physician mentioned previously in my blog post. The rediscovery of his manuscript describing pulmonary circulation strengthened my belief that history is never a static field of study. It is constantly updated by new and surprising discoveries.


Works Cited

Akmal, M., et al. “IBN NAFIS – A FORGOTTEN GENIUS IN THE DISCOVERY OF PULMONARY BLOOD CIRCULATION.” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health,

Azaizeh, Hassan, et al. “Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine, a Re-emerging Health Aid.” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health,

Beeden, Alexandra, et al., editors. The Definitive Illustrated History. New York, DK, 2016.

Bivins, Roberta E. Alternative Medicine?: A History. E-book, Oxford, Oxford UP, 2010.

D., Mitchell P., et al. “Anatomy and Surgery in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages.” Apollo- University of Cambridge Repository,

Goldiner, Sigrid, editor. “Medicine in the Middle Ages.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jan. 2000,

Keys, Thomas E. “The Earliest Medical Books Printed with Movable Type: A Review.” The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, vol. 10, no. 2, 1940, pp. 220–230. JSTOR,

“Late Medieval and Early Modern Medicine.” U.S. National Library of Medicine,

M, Loukas, et al. “Ibn al-Nafis (1210-1288): the first description of the pulmonary circulation.” US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health,

Majeed, Azeem. “How Islam changed medicine Arab physicians and scholars laid the basis for medical practice in Europe.” S National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 24 Dec. 2015,

Medical News Today Editorial Team, and Daniel Murrell, editors. “What is European Medieval & Renaissance Medicine?” Medical News Today, Healthline Media UK, Accessed 5 Jan. 2016.

Palleja De Bustinza, Victor. “How Early Islamic Science Advanced Medicine.” National Geographic, National Geographic Society,

Ranhel, André Silva, and Evandro Tinoco Mesquita. “The Middle Ages Contributions to Cardiovascular Medicine.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Apr. 2016,

“Silk Road.” Encyclopedia Britannica,

Siraisi, Nancy G. History, Medicine and the Traditions of Renaissance Learning. E-book, U of Michigan P, 2010.

Williams, Elizabeth. “Baths and Bathing Culture in the Middle East: The Hammam.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2012)

Wood, Clair G. “A History of Healing Therapies: Western, Eastern and Alternative Approaches.” Bibliographic Essay, PDF ed.

“神农氏” [“Shen Nong”]. 神农, June 2003,


“Explanatory Drawing of Ibn Nafis.” Muslim Heritage,

“Flagellants in the Netherlands Scourging Themselves in Atonement.” Britannica,

“Galen’s Cardiopulmonary System.” Muslim Heritage,

“Imaginary Portait of Ibn Al-Nafis.” Muslim Heritage,

“Section of the Arab Text from the Commentary on Anatomy in Avicenna’s Canon by Ibn Al-Nafis.” Muslim Heritage,

“Trade Caravans on the Silk Road.”


“Ibn al-Nafis ابن النفيس – the Medical Genius who the world forgot.” Youtube, uploaded by ILM FILM,


Fleeing the Cuban Revolution|Part II–Nina Wei


Cubamerican Poster

Over the past week, I successfully incorporated an interview and a documentary, Cubamerican, into my analysis of the Cuban Revolution’s impact on Cuban Americans. Inspired by my last post examining the history of Cuban immigrants to the U.S. and the diverse social and political affiliations within Cuban American communities, I decided to interview T. Maria, who came to the U.S. from Cuba with her family at the age of two, and gain second-hand understanding of Cuban refugees’ experience during the Revolution. Cubamerican also offered me insights into specific Cuban Americans’ interpretations of their identity as an emigrant in the U.S. This post will be less informational than previous ones, centering on my reflections while serving as a conclusion to the unit on Cuba.

I designed the interview questions to gear towards learning about T. Maria’s struggles with her identity and experiences that altered her perception of Cuba. T. Maria first highlighted an integral part to her: being a Cuban “refugee” who holds onto Cuban traditions rather than an “immigrant” who is more willing to integrate into American society. Identifying as a refugee who fled under oppression during the Revolution, T. Maria depicts her embrace of her Cuban roots and constant curiosity towards her mother country. While T. Maria was growing up in a Delaware community where her family was the only Cuban-American household, the foreign culture and political views that were vastly different from her family’s challenged T. Maria’s perception of herself. She figured from her family’s preservation of Cuban traditions, music, and food, as well as her family’s hatred towards President Kennedy, that she was indeed raised in a “Cuban bubble,” isolating her from the wider American community. However, she later realized that despite these efforts to retain her Cuban identity, she was different from the Cubans who grew up in Cuba. By corresponding with her cousin in Cuba and learning the differences between the culture in her family and in her cousin’s, T. Maria found herself in an identity crisis, unable to determine whether she identified as Cuban or American. It was not until when she became a mother that she recognized herself as a Cuban raised in America(Alonso).


Iglesias, Screencap of ‘¿Qué pasa, U.S.A.?’

The documentary also narrates similar struggles of Cuban refugees to the U.S. by including an interview with Steven Bauer, the lead actor in America’s first bilingual sitcom—¿Qué pasa, U.S.A.?—which examines the lives of Cuban immigrants as they navigate their identities while being immersed in the American community. Bauer in Cubamerican shares that he was very similar to the character he starred as in his teenage years, who was convinced that he was different from Cubans who stayed in Cuba and was determined to be “American” by assimilating into American culture. However, the experience of performing in that sitcom and coming to understand those identity struggles through acting brought him the epiphany that it was possible to be Cuban without actually living in Cuba (00:39:11-00:41:16).

Besides grappling with cultural identities, I also furthered my exploration of generation gaps in Cuban-American communities last week. T. Maria explained that the most intense level of conflict existed between older generations and the understanding beginning to emerge among younger generations. For example, her view departed from her parents’ and older sisters’ on opening up Cuba as a way to foster peace between Cuba and the outside world. After traveling to Cuba this spring, T. Maria corroborated her perception of de-escalating tension among younger generations with her conversation with a bus driver in Cuba, Junior. Junior contrasted his parents excessive concern that American tourists would bring harm to Cuba with his firm belief that exposure to foreign cultures would benefit Cuba to a great extent. The importance of promoting forgiveness is also an essential theme in the documentary, as Orlando Diaz-Azcuy claims that promoting the understanding that conforming to Castro’s leadership was the only mechanism to survive for many Cubans is important to pacify conflicts arising within older generations between the Cuban emigrants and the Cubans who stayed (1:34:45-1:35:01). T. Maria also advocates respect and recognition of those who did not have the privilege to flee Castro’s oppressive regime as she recounts her sympathy towards Victor, a teacher she met on the Cuba trip who lived under the Revolution, when he shared the journey of his survival through the famine in the ‘60s with pride(Alonso).

Although I began the research focusing on mediating generational divide in Cuban-American families, it occurred to me that generation gaps also exist in Cuban families that stayed on the island. And that reconciling diverging views from different generations in native Cuban communities is of equal significance. Mutual understanding from both parties of the conflict would be the key to resolve misunderstandings that arose as a result of the Cuban Revolution. In addition, weaving their own identities living in environments filled with different cultural traditions is indeed a challenge for Cuban Americans, but also an art that inspires diversity and celebrates difference. Each person will decide which parts of the cultures they would like to blend into their own. Similarly, T. Maria expressed at the end of the interview, speaking from her role as a mother, that it is always her children’s freedom to decide on their identities and how much of their Cuban roots they desire to integrate into their characters(Alonso).

My research on the development of communism in Cuba and on the history of Cuban immigration to the U.S. served as context and a specific lens through which I could further develop my understanding of Castro’s interpretation of Marxist ideologies, his applications of communist ideals in  Cuban society, and the enduring effects of the Cuban Revolution. Castro’s nationalist identity combined with his turn towards the Soviet Union oriented Cuba in a communist direction, spurring radical changes that transformed Cuba and pressured around a million to take refuge in the U.S. Now, I have gained a deeper comprehension of communism in Cuba and its relevance to modern society through examining informational sources, an interview, and a documentary. I plan to complete the Cuba unit this week after reading a few excerpts from Waiting for Snow in Havana, and promptly start the next unit on communism in Cambodia.

Works Cited


Alonso, Maria. Interview. 21 Oct. 2018.

Cubamerican. Directed by José Enrique Pardo, 2013.


Cubamerican Poster. 13 Jan. 2013. Projector & Orchestra, Tim Greiving, Accessed 5 Nov. 2018.

Iglesias, José A. Screencap of ‘¿Qué pasa, U.S.A.?’. Miami Herald, Accessed 5 Nov. 2018.

Germany and France – Jason

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Graph 1.1 Change in total fertility rate of the global average, France, and Germany, from 1960 to 2016, data obtained from World Bank Open Data (“Fertility rate”).

In this blog post, I have carried out a comparative analysis of the fertility rates of Germany and France, which have traditionally been compared to each other in the field of birth rate research. I was initially going to conduct research on Germany alone, however, I decided to make a change in my plan for two reasons: to learn what makes France an appropriate target of comparison to Germany, and to see whether comparing different countries allows me to identify the unique characteristics of each country in a more effective manner.

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An Update / Lyndon B. Johnson Part I – Nawal

Since my last blog post, I have decided to take my independent in a different direction. Two weeks ago, I sat down and watched a documentary on Robert F Kennedy’s life, which is what my last post was summarizing. I watched it for myself to understand who he was so I could later dive into his assassination and the effects of it. While watching it, I found the politics around him intriguing. He grew up in what I would call a comfortable upper middle class family, and throughout his political career, he became increasingly involved in the War on Poverty, and in America’s racial relations, something I would not have expected. While watching the documentary, I realized I wanted to know more, so with some help, I have decided to take my research in a different direction. Continue reading

We’re in a serious relationship…actually a few…–Sabrina

Establishing another organization as your partner is not just a title or something you get to mention on your website. Having relationships with other nonprofit organizations or other business professionals who are in the same field as you and/or specialize in something you need to be done is crucial to the survival of your company. So…how do you get a partner and maintain your relationship? Continue reading

Medicine in the High Middle Ages– Yuchen

In this blog post, I would explore medicine during the High Middle Ages by using a similar format as that of my previous blog post, which focused on three general regions–Europe, the Middle East and China.

Medicine during the High Middle Ages


The expansion and consolidation of power of the kings of France, Spain and England gradually stabilized Europe, restoring vitality to medicine and other fields of study.   Continue reading

Adoption of Communism in the Revolutionary Cuba–Nina

As mentioned in my last blog post, this week I will be sharing my research on the development of Communism in the context of Cuba. Over the last two weeks, I learned the overall historical background of the introduction, proliferation, and application of Communist ideals in Cuba under the leadership of Fidel Castro. Similar to my last post, I will first discuss in-depth my findings and then offer my reflection and a snapshot of my upcoming plan. Continue reading

Population Study 101 – Jason


Before I get into analyzing the case studies of birth rates, I decided to get myself familiarized with the set of basic knowledge for population studies by making use of the e-library of University of Minnesota. Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World is a textbook used for courses offered by the Department of Sociology of the university, and the Chapter 19 of the book, titled “Population and Urbanization,” provides explanations for basic principles and vocabulary which will be the basis of the future case studies I will be conducting.

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The Life of Robert F. Kennedy – Nawal

I decided to start researching Robert F. Kennedy and his assassination. Although his death was in 1968, I decided it would be important to understand who he was before then, and his life before running for office and his assassination. I broke up a two-hour long documentary between Tuesday and Thursday for a general idea of who he was, because I didn’t know much about him before. I plan on taking parts of this and focusing on specific aspects of Kennedy. This is a synopsis of his life: Continue reading