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The New School Celebrates 2018 Graduating Class

President David E. Van Zandt advices students to work towards positive social change

By Deepak Arora

The rhythm of lines
So beautifully in tandum
Sharing their story.

NEW YORK, May 18: Four years ago, Noyanika Arora from India had come to The New School, the number one design school in the US, with dreams to pursue her Bachelors in Interior Design. Like her, there were many students who had come to their dream school in New York City – popularly referred as the City of Dreams or the Big Apple. Today 1,600 students from over 100 countries received their degrees after rigorous, transformative education in Architecture, Communications Design, Fashion, Interior Design, Product Design et al.

The eighty-second grandiose annual commencement ceremony was held at the Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center here on Friday.

Throughout the commencement ceremony, the stadium was brimming with excitement, not only of the students, teachers, faculty members and staff but of proud families, some of whom had come from faraway lands like India, Taiwan, China, the UK, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Israel, Greece, Spain, Italy and Germany.

The ceremony was held for Schools of Public Engagement, The New School for Social Research, College of Performing Arts, Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts and Parsons School of Design.

The New School honored a quintet of renowned, socially engaged artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists: preeminent multimedia artist Glenn Ligon, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Hilton Als, photographer and documentarian Camilo José Vergara, social entrepreneur and Crisis Text Line CEO Nancy Lublin; and philanthropist, Windcrest Partners co-founder, and longtime New School Trustee Michael Gellert.

New School President David E. Van Zandt presided over the ceremony — the second consecutive year the university held its commencement exercises at the legendary tennis venue.

Speaking before a large gathering of 1,600 graduates and equal number of their friends and family, faculty members and staff, and university leadership, Van Zandt praised The New School’s graduating class for living The New School mission: using their “creativity and scholarship to address complex issues and work toward positive social change.”

“You’ve confronted climate change, addressed social and economic equality, and advocated for more open and inclusive immigration policies,” he said. “On our own campus in recent months, you’ve demonstrated resilience in the face of a building fire, spoken out on behalf of workers, and worked to promote a more inclusive campus environment. Please take that energy and drive with you wherever you go.”

The honorary degree recipients took turns delivering brief, impactful talks that got to the heart of their advice to The New School’s graduating class.

Speaking on behalf of Michael Gellert, Kate Gellert recalled the year, May 21, 1938, when her father’s family made the decision to leave their home in Prague for the United States.

“The Germans had marched into Austria and the consequences of what that meant started to become clear. Three years later, in 1941, my father and his family all arrived safely here in the United States and set about creating their new lives,” she said. “The first step on that path was education. ‘Education is the foundation of everything.’ That simple statement was said by my father on the 80th anniversary of the University in Exile, the origin of today’s New School.”

Ligon urged The New School’s 2018 graduating class to consider “how you will you use your gifts and who will you leave them for,” Vergara encouraged them to “pursue failure with all your heart and soul,” and Lublin requested that they “stay weird and be amazing.”

Als, who took classes at The New School in French art and literature of the 19th century and a survey course in Chinese art as a young man (“now that I’m old,” he said, “Madonna and P. Diddy old”), credited the university for setting him down the path to becoming one of the most respected critics of his generation.

“When I found The New School is when I began to find myself,” he said.

Als’ also praised his New School education for expanding his capacity for critical thinking — a hallmark of the university’s educational approach.

“What I come away with from my time at The New School and all my studies is a deeper understanding of nuance,” he said. “Just now, we live in a world of absolutes, of sharp divisions between the good and the bad, and some of that is warranted, God knows … But we can’t make up for that rageous literalness and cowardice of one party by discounting what we thinkers and makers are especially good at: finding and unearthing the complications of human experience.”

Student Commencement speaker, Yin Ling Wu, BAFA, Theater and Integrated Design 2018, showed that The New School’s 2018 graduating class had preemptively followed Als’ advice.

“Our strength is that we confront the contradictions of the world today, we invite the problematic,” she said, praising her classmates for working on behalf of labor rights and, with the help of the university, creating a space for people of color on campus.

“I’ve never met a group of people who are more resilient, capable, and passionate,” she said. “Our world is shifting, the tides are turning, and we are at the forefront. We are the ones manifesting, creating, and forcing possibility. We do what we do because we have a deep love for humanity.”

Wu said it was an extended family that was constantly making, shaping, and transforming the world around us. “At The New School, I found people who were patient enough to give me space for my messiness, a large margin for error, a room for becoming,” she said.

“But also those who demanded I be more aware, awake, ask more questions, to think again, to make and remake, and after all that … to self-destruct and reconstruct. Here, I learned what community looks like.”

Following the ceremony, The New School hosted a celebratory festival featuring a DJ, Haiku writers, a pop-up shop of New School-themed swag from The New Store, T-shirt silkscreening, and local food trucks.

On the previous day (May 17), a Recognition Ceremony 2018 of Parsons School of Constructed Environments was held at Tishman auditorium of the New School. Executive Dean Joel Towers gave the opening remarks and Dean Robert Kirkbride welcomed the students.

The guest speaker was Chelsea Briganti, SCE Alumna 2010 and the student speakers were Reem Abi Samra and Andres Domit Del Valle. Conferral of Degrees was by Associated Dean Timo Rissanen.

The students who received BFA Interior Design degrees were Noyanika Arora, Ashlie Baptiste, Alisha Anne Capobianco, Jesse Cole Cermak, Michelle Astrid Fierro, Laura Hiroko Funai, Alia El Gammal, Anne-Sophie Granger, Elizabeth Geraghty Greene, Ayoluwa A. Hill, Seunghee Jeon, Enirjeta Laperi, Christine Sejung Lee, Dan Bi Lee, Zehao Liu, Melissa Joan McCarthy, Olivia M. Novak, Margot Roybier, Peijun Shi and Yuan Xue.

Sahaara -- Taking Bollywood Dance To The Next Level In USA

By Shivali Aurora Tandon

SAN JOSE, May 6:

Now that I’m nearing graduation, I wanted to shed some light on the single most life-changing experience of college - SJSU Sahaara. Bear with me as this is going to be a long one.

Five years ago I came to San Jose State University a hopeful freshman excited for a clean slate. If you knew me in high school you knew that I didn’t make much of my time there for various reasons (distance from home, general demographic, extracurricular activities, etc.) With 4 years of regret behind me, I had to do everything in my power to make this next chapter worthwhile.

I first tried to get used to my surroundings while my friends from other schools were joining their respective Bollywood dance teams. I didn’t think I could ever be a part of it since SJSU had no team - and to be honest I was okay with this.

February approached and I was about to attend my 1st Bollywood Berkeley as a college freshman and 3rd one overall. As I watched my friends perform their hearts out on stage with me cheering proudly in front of them, I felt my heart sink with the realization that I would never get to experience this. Not only was I not okay with it anymore, but I knew I had to facilitate a change if I ever wanted to be on that stage.

After that weekend, I searched our school’s website for the process of starting an organization. Every article I read and school authority I met with said the same thing: “You can’t (shouldn’t) start a club as a Freshman, try joining the other 500 ones we have!”

Clearly not the answer I was looking for, but it pushed me to unofficially start “SJSU Bollywood Dance”.

Next thing I knew I was posting flyers in every school related social media and taping them around campus in hopes that I’d get even one person to attend my parking garage workshop.

To my surprise, I had 17 entire strangers show up on a 90 degree day and it was in that moment I knew I had some grasp on making this team a reality.

Entering my Sophomore year, I turned “SJSU Bollywood Dance” into an officially recognized organization on campus and thus, after scrolling through every existing Hindi/Urdu word beginning with the letter S, “Sahaara” was born.

By the following spring, we performed our debut set at SJSU’s Multicultural Showcase and then began preparing for our first competition season.

I wanted it all - the audition videos, the costumes, the custom mix, the props and production for our first official 8 minute set.

As December approached, I got a phone call from a Bollywood Berkeley representative who started the conversation with “Congratulations!” to which I nearly screamed asking if this was a joke because there was no way that this three month old team actually made it into our goal competition in our first year - but we did.

The next three years were filled with everything and more that I imagined Sahaara could be. Traveling for competitions to states and cities I’d otherwise never get to see, meeting people who have now become my lifelong best friends, and bringing my creative vision to life all while exploring multiple facets of the only thing I’ve ever been wholeheartedly passionate about.

Leading this team has taught me more lessons than I can reiterate into actual words, but if it’s one thing that has stuck with me is that it’s to never compare your successes and failures to others.

Though every team may ultimately want to achieve the same goal, every team also goes through their own struggles in the fight along the way and when the time is right, you will receive the credit that you deserve. In other words, perspective is key.

A flower may start off as a single seed but its bud blooms into the petals that give it its beauty - aka my extra way of saying I couldn’t have done this alone.

To everyone who has supported me in the progression of this team, you are the stem that holds up this lotus and the motivation that kept me wanting to do better.

To the members of S0, S1, S2, and S3, thank you for taking a chance on this new team and making it a part of your college experience; without your willingness to simply dance, there would be nothing for Sahaara to thrive off of.

To my co-captains who stuck through the overflowing administrative responsibilities year after year, thank you for being the fuel to the engine that made this team not only run, but soar.

To the artists that dealt with every mix concept and edit I threw at you at odd hours of the day, thank you for your time and patience in using your craft to create musical arrangements that exceeded my expectations of having audibly appealing sets.

To my parents, thank you for being the brightest lights in my life in allowing me to pursue this team to the degree that I did; not only did you shower me with unconditional love, but each year you aided in the development of our set and proudly attended the final showcasing of it. I will always be grateful to everyone who thought this endeavor was worth something !

….and that’s a wrap! @ Sahaara 4.0, I can’t wait to see what you come up with !

Editor of added: Soon after Shivali posted her success story on Facebook, beautiful and encouraging comments started pouring from all quarters.

Rohit Chhavi N Myra said: So proud of you for being a pioneer and an inspiration to so many others that want to follow in your footsteps but are possibly scared to do so. You followed your heart and it almost always pays off when you do that. Wishing Sahara all the best. Stay blessed ...u my dear are a rising star. A force to be reckoned with...always remember that. Love n blessings from all of us.

Neha Rijhwani wrote: So proud of you Shivi .. dreams do come true .... never stop dreaming.

Neelema Tandon wrote: I know it has been a tough journey for you, its very easy for ppl who walk on the road already made and a path laid out, but to pave the way for others to follow is never easy. I am so so proud of what you have done and created, It was your passion and total commitment that led you do this. Never ever give up this determination and the willpower to achieve what you want in life. This journey itself is your achievement and success. Recognition follows, it is just a stamp. Congratulations to your team for all the hardwork and support they have extended!!!!!

Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain. Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...It's about learning to dance in the rain.
Luvs and hugs always��

Trump administration targets foreign students overstaying visa period

WASHINGTON, May 12: The Trump administration on Friday announced new measures to strictly enforce rules governing foreign college students and exchange visitors who overstay their visa duration.

In a separate announcement, the administration also unveiled increased efforts to prevent foreign workers programmes, such as H-1B visas, from being used to discriminate against Americans.

Indians are the second largest group of foreigners enrolled in US colleges and universities and 4,575 of the 98,970 of them scheduled to leave or change their status — possibly to H-1B — had overstayed in 2016.

Indians are also the major beneficiaries of the foreign workers programme, cornering more than 75% of the H-1Bs granted in 2017.

The new rules for visa over-stayers changes the way authorities calculate “unlawful presence” and they pertain to foreign students and exchange visitors on F, J and M visas and their dependents, said the US Immigration and Citizenship Service (USCIS) said in a separate announcement.

Holders of these visas will be declared that they are unlawfully present in the US, the agency said, from “the day after” they finish their course or study programme or their optional practical training (OPT), which is a work permit for foreign students after their course, which can last from one to three years.

The new rules come into effect from August 9.

Earlier, holders of these visas became illegal from the day they were discovered to be in violation.

The change is important because of what follows: 180 days of overstay during one stay could lead to the violator being barred from entering the US for three to 10 years, depending on how long they overstayed.

Individuals who overstayed for a year or more, whether during one or multiple stays, and who then tried or re-entered the US without being paroled, ran the risk of being barred permanently.

All over-stayers will not be eligible to apply for a visa, under the new rules.

“The message is clear,” said USCIS director Frank Cissna in a statement announcing the change. “These non-immigrants cannot overstay their periods of admission or violate the terms of admission and stay illegally in the US anymore.”

An estimated 1.5 million foreign students and exchange visitors are expected to either leave the US or change their status — to H-1B possibly, if hired by an American company — in 2016, according to the latest report on it by the Department of Homeland Security. But 5.48% of them overstayed, and 4,575 were from India.

In the other announcement, additional efforts to stop fraud in foreign workers visa programme H-1B for high-speciality jobs and H-2B for unskilled positions such as farmhands will come through increased cooperation between the US Citizenship and Immigration Service and the Department of Justice.

A new memorandum of understanding “will increase the ability of the agencies to share information and help identify, investigate, and prosecute employers who may be discriminating against US workers and/or violating immigration laws”, said the USCIS in a statement.

This new effort is in line with President Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order that has driven the administration’s efforts to enhance scrutiny and enforcement of rules pertaining to these programmes, specially H-1B, to prevent them from being used to displace American work.

The US administration has been turning the screws on the foreign workers programme — the H-1B, most pertinently —from within days President Trump took office.

It has ordered stepped-up vigil against fraud and abuse through tip-lines and increased site visits to companies using foreign workers, redefined high-speciality professions, and changed rules for staffing companies that do outsourcing work.

The administration has also announced, in its more controversial decision on immigration yet, its intention to end a programme giving work authorization to spouses of H-1B visa holders waiting for their Green card, who are mostly from India. The aim, as it has been argued, is to prevent them from taking away jobs that would have gone to Americans.

Indian students largest group authorised to work in US under OPT: Pew report

NEW YORK, May 11: Indians were the largest group among the nearly 1.5 million foreign graduate students of the US colleges and universities who got authorisation to remain and work in America between 2004 and 2016, according to a study of government figures by the Pew Research Centre.

Chinese students were the second largest group followed by the South Koreans.

“Graduates from India made up the largest share of those authorised to work under the OPT (optional training program) programme during this period, with 4,41,400 (30% of the total),” Pew Research Center said in a report based on the analysis of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which it obtained through a Freedom and Information Act request.

More than half (around 56%) of foreign graduates who participated in the OPT between 2004 and 2016 obtained their degree from a public college or university. Students from China came second at 3,13,500 (21%), followed by South Koreans at 90,800 (6%).

Four-in-ten (41%) came from private universities and colleges, of which 38% were not-for-profit schools and 3% were for-profit institutions. Less than 3% of the OPT enrollees graduated from institutions not classified by the Carnegie Classification System, the report said.

The OPT programme is a type of work authorisation provided by the US government under the F-1 visa programme that allows foreign students to be temporarily employed for up to 12 or 36 months in a field that is directly related to their area of study.

More than half (53%) of the foreign graduates approved for employment through the OPT specialised in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The number of foreign STEM graduates participating in the OPT grew by 400% since the first employment extension for workers in STEM fields was introduced in 2008, the report said.

“The OPT programme has grown to become the primary way the US has retained foreign students graduating with STEM degrees from its colleges and universities,” Pew associate director Neil Ruiz said.

“Foreign students obtaining authorisation to remain and work in the US after graduation come from all corners of the globe, and major metro areas in the US tend to attract them in large numbers,” he added.



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