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Annual International Education Week Goes (Mostly) Virtual This Year

BU is highlighting programs, cultural centers, global research, and international education that contribute to its diverse fabric during the annual International Education Week. Courtesy of Global Programs

Student Life

Annual International Education Week Goes (Mostly) Virtual This Year A look at some of the many events on tap

International travel may be largely curtailed at the moment, a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped BU’s celebration of annual International Education Week (IEW), which runs this year from Monday, October 26, through Monday, November 2, featuring dozens of (mostly) virtual events. The week will highlight University programs, cultural centers, global research, and international education that contribute to the diverse fabric of BU.

IEW is a joint initiative of the US Departments of State and of Education that celebrates the benefits of international education and the exchange of ideas and cultures. It began in 2000, and today is observed across the United States and in over 100 other countries. 

Willis G. Wang, vice president and associate provost for global programs, says he is happy to see so many schools and colleges, student groups, and University offices plan events for IEW this year despite the current semester’s challenges. “We are especially heartened to bring together the BU community to celebrate our enriching diversity and global mindset,” Wang says. “Perhaps now more than ever, we can all take something from these events and discussions. We hope participation in IEW leaves our community feeling more informed, inspired, and connected with our varied global engagements.”

Amanda Miller, Global Programs managing director of strategy and communications, says a lot of thought was put into selecting events that were worth asking students to log on to yet another Zoom or virtual event, since Zoom fatigue has become a real thing as the pandemic continues. “They really needed to speak to an interest or a need of the student,” Miller says. 

Here are five events we thought sounded especially interesting:

Cohosted and copresented by BU Diversity & Inclusion, this topic was suggested by international students who come from less diverse cultures than they encounter here, says Miller. The talk will open with Alana Anderson, Diversity & Inclusion director of programs, delivering a brief history of race in the United States.

2. Italian Women Who Made a Change: the Veneto Case in a Global Perspective

Hosted by Elisabetta Convento, director of the BU Study Abroad program in Italy, this event will explore some exceptional yet little-known women from the Veneto region of Italy who helped drive major changes in Italian society.

The Marsh Chapel virtual Global Dinner Club is a chance to come together, learn how to cook on a budget, and watch some great cooking demonstrations from other diners. This group, which meets weekly, thrives on diversity and is open to people of all nationalities and religions.

Hosted by ISSO, this event will share information on the various options for applying for US permanent residence (aka green card). Elizabeth Goss, the founding partner of the immigration law firm Goss Associates, will give an overview of the process as well as the most typical potential ways nonimmigrants can stay in the country.

BU’s celebration of International Education Week continues through Monday, November 2. Find a full list of events here.

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Celop Celebrates 30 Years Of International Education

CELOP celebrates 30 years of international education Reaccreditation in 2005 and rejuvenation in 2006

Margot Valdivia, center, CELOP director, discusses the program with Sun Young of Korea (left) and Cheng-Ya Chang of Taiwan.

In its 30 years, BU’s Center for English Language and Orientation Programs has faced some challenges standard for any higher education institution, such as increased competition from overseas and a changing student profile. Other trials, however, have been specific to a program designed to help foreign students transition into American university life.

“Our business is very vulnerable to what happens in the world, politically and economically,” says Margot Valdivia, CELOP’s director. “We’re impacted by everything that happens outside the United States.”

Over the past decade, CELOP has experienced both its best and worst years — before and after 9/11, respectively — and the program is still rebounding from a 40 percent enrollment drop in late 2001 and early 2002. But at the end of last year, CELOP’s status as one of the longest-running and highest-rated English-language study programs in the country was confirmed by two events: the 30th anniversary of its founding and reaccreditation by the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation.

“It epitomizes the fact that we are a successful program,” says Valdivia. “It is really a fact that we are one of the top schools in the country.”

CELOP is one of 51 accredited programs nationwide and the only one of the three in Massachusetts affiliated with a college or university. More than 1,200 students, representing 50 countries, have enrolled this year, and next year’s enrollment is expected to top 1,400. Depending on their interests and goals, students might study television news broadcasts to improve general language skills, tour the Boston Stock Exchange to observe the idiosyncrasies of business English, or participate in mock doctor-patient conversations to gain comfort and fluency.

The student population has varied significantly over the past 30 years, says Valdivia, who has been with CELOP since 1975. In the 1970s, the program had many Iranian students and many Venezuelan students, who received scholarships from the government institution Fundación Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho. In 1985, the Hariri Foundation, led by the late prime minister of Lebanon and former Boston University trustee Rafik B. Hariri (Hon.’86), sponsored hundreds of Lebanese students who came to CELOP to study English. In the 1990s, the booming economy brought students from all over Asia.

Now, as CELOP climbs out of a decline, the program is faced with increasing competition from other English-speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. To remain competitive, CELOP now offers nine full-time programs catering to different types of students, from health-care professionals to those pursuing MBA degrees.

The reaccreditation, which stands until 2024, is particularly meaningful now, says Valdivia. For the first time since 2001, foreign families are beginning to feel comfortable sending their children to the United States again, and she hopes that CELOP can continue to play a role in fostering international communication.

“We feel that we really prepare students for success in professional and academic life,” she says, “but also that we really help students open their minds globally.”

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Bu Hosts Second Annual Hackathon For Women, Nonbinary People This Weekend

BU Hosts Second Annual Hackathon for Women, Nonbinary People This Weekend TechTogether Boston (2024) expected to draw more than 1,000 to Agganis Arena

During last year’s first all-female and nonbinary hackathon at BU, Northeastern senior Sugandha Kher (left) and University of Florida senior Tanya Kakkar worked together on a Google Cloud Platform. BU hosts this year’s hackathon, titled TechTogether Boston, this weekend. Photo by Cydney Scott

Last year, women made up a mere 20 percent of those attending hackathons. But a student-run hackathon hosted by BU this weekend aims to change that.

Starting this afternoon, Friday, March 22, more than 1,200 high school and college students from across the country will hole up in Agganis Arena for 36 hours at TechTogether Boston (2024). The requirement to get in? Attendees must identify as female or nonbinary.

During the three-day event, hackers will solve problems like combating fake news, disaster recovery, and reducing environmental waste, among others. In addition to hacking, there will be a series of tech workshops, keynote talks, and networking opportunities with some of the more than two dozen sponsors (RedHat, Facebook, Microsoft, and Wayfair, to name a few) who donated more than $320,000 to underwrite the hackathon. Attendance is free, and in many cases, travel is reimbursed.

Now in its second year, the hackathon began last year and was initially called SheHacks. This year’s event has been rebranded as TechTogether Boston to shy away from pronouns and better reflect a community that includes nonbinary individuals, Whittington says. The organizers are from several universities, among them BU, Northeastern, the University of California, Irvine, and UMass Boston.

Whittington’s impetus for starting her own hackathon last year was a bad experience when she attended a hackathon—her first—in New York as a sophomore. A guy came up to chat with her when she walked in alone and condescendingly asked if she had ever even coded before. “I told him to look at the coding stickers on my laptop,” she says. “I didn’t see a lot of women there, I didn’t go with anyone, and that, to me, was a reflection of the lack of community. There wasn’t a culture I could join, and I thought, more women need to be attending these events.” The result: SheHacks, in January 2023 at BU.

TechTogether Boston aims to create an inclusive environment that both introduces underrepresented people to the world of technology and mobilizes them to create projects. “Marginalized groups continue to be underrepresented as a whole,” in technology, says senior Isabelle Verhulst (Questrom), TechTogether’s chief marketing officer. “In this era of #MeToo, Time’s Up, and a general shift in the influence of women’s, trans, and nonbinary voices, we are proud to be doing our part in offering resources to the next generation of individuals who want to make a difference.”

“The general reaction from the community to our event has been incredible—the feedback, the amount of money we were able to raise,” Whittington adds.

And TechTogether Boston has expanded beyond this weekend’s event. The students’ new nonprofit, called TechTogether, provides members of its New York and Boston chapters with annual stipends, mentorship, and event planning resources.

TechTogether receives support from several University entities, among them the College of Arts & Sciences computer science department, BU Research, Information Services & Technology, the College of Engineering electrical and computer engineering department, BU Spark! at the Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering, and Innovate@BU. BU is the hackathon’s host partner for the next three years and in addition to offering financial support and research, BU Spark! created PreHacks, an event that introduces high schoolers to the field of computer science and provides a how-to hackathon guide. Like many young women, BU Spark! marketing and program manager Elyse Bush didn’t have an introductory computer science program available to her in high school, she says, but if she had, she probably would have studied computer science as an undergrad. Bush works under Ziba Cranmer, BU Spark! director and event supporter.

Diversifying the the technology industry is in society’s best interest “given the myriad ways that technology impacts our lives,” says Tracy Schroeder, BU’s vice president of information services and technology. “Without diversity, technology services are built with implicit biases and gaps that can marginalize people and have unintended social and economic consequences.” And, she continues, change is hard: “It requires support structures like TechTogether to encourage trailblazers and change agents.”

TechTogether Boston (2024) will be held at Agganis Arena, 925 Commonwealth Ave., from 5 pm Friday, March 22, until 2 pm Sunday, March 24. Registration for the event is closed.

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5 Android Apps You Shouldn’T Miss This Week

Disney+ prices went up this week. The prices are now $7.99 per month and $79.99 per year. It’s not a big price jump, but it’s more or less expected. The service is still a pretty good deal and there are a lot of good TV shows and movies on it. There isn’t much else to report here. Current members still pay $6.99 per month but any new customers pay $7.99 now.

Two big messaging apps had outages this week. The first was WhatsApp. There isn’t much to report. It was out for a few hours before returning to service and that was that. The second outage was to Instagram. Like WhatsApp, Instagram was only down for a little while before coming back up later in the day. It wasn’t the biggest deal, but we are talking about over a billion people on both services. They were noteworthy down times.

WWE content is now officially available on Peacock. This comes ahead of the April 4th shut down of the WWE Network. NBCUniversal allegedly paid over $1 billion for the rights and now it has the streaming rights. Hit the link to learn more, but it’s a fairly straightforward endeavor. WWE fans need Peacock to watch wrestling now.

Rocket League has a mobile game in the works. Developer Psyonix announced the mobile game earlier this week. Rocket League Sidewipe is a mobile variant of the popular soccer game. It’s built around fast multiplayer matches, simplified controls and mechanics, and side-scrolling game play. We know it’s a free to play title as well. The game should launch later in 2023, but select countries can try the beta now. Hit the link for more details.

Google released an Android System Webview update this week and it broke a lot of things. People reported various app crashes on a number of devices all around the world. It was such a big deal that some app developers even released updates to tell users of the crash. Google launched an update to fix the issue a few hours later. Hit the link to see the whole story from beginning to end.

New apps and games this week:

MoodBites

Price: Free / $2.99 per month / $19.99 per year

MoodBites is a food diary specifically for people with digestion issues and special diets. It lets you log your food, track any symptoms you have, and get a better understanding of what makes your body angry. The app includes a diary, a calendar, and even a trend section to see the effects of your food over time. It’s not perfect with some features still in the works. Plus, editing a day can be difficult. Otherwise, it’s a neat idea, especially if your gastrointestinal problems are new and you’re still figuring them out.

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Jetpack Joyride 2

Price: Free to play

Jetpack Joyride 2 is the successor to one of the most popular runners on mobile. It’s a side-scrolling endless runner just like its predecessor. Most of the same mechanics remain intact in this version as well. The new game adds a shooting mechanic along with some guns to make the experience different. It also includes better visuals, more polished mechanics, a new story to play through, and other new game elements. Of course, all this new stuff takes away from the game simplicity so obviously not all fans of the first game will enjoy the second one.

News in Bullets

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Crash Bandicoot: On the Run

Price: Free to play

King, developers of the Candy Crush franchise, released Crash Bandicoot: On the Run this week. It’s a runner as you would expect given the character. The game is a fairly standard runner in terms of pure mechanics. You move left and right as you run and jump to avoid obstacles and collect items. There is also a small base building mechanic where you can store the collectibles you unlock as you play. The game also includes Coco, Crash’s female counterpart, a co-op survival mode, and boss fights. It’s a perfectly serviceable runner that fans of the genre and the Crash series should enjoy. The only downside are some release bugs that King is still working on fixing. It’s nothing too major, though.

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Cannaverse Technologies To Debut Web3 Weed Community Later This Year

from the Cannaverse Technologies website

LA might spearhead marijuana in the Metaverse, but the Bahamas bring their own take on toking to virtual reality by the end of this year. Nassau-based Cannaverse Technologies is at work on Cannaland, a new Metaverse that joins plant medicine mania with the groundbreaking success of NFT marketplaces to create a Web3 weed community.

Whereas wine and spirits retailers have a more straightforward route to leveraging blockchain technology, marijuana’s position is complicated. Legalization is on the rise, but each state has its own standards that can cause complications for upstart companies connecting with consumers on a large scale. Cannaverse Tech’s site says their forthcoming platform will support “the globalization of current and future cannabis brands while providing major consumer products… a metaverse platform to establish and build their brands.” 

Competitors like LA-based Higher Life CBD and Kandy Girl have centered their Web3 models around virtual boutiques on existing platforms like Decentraland where they sell and distribute IRL goods. “Cannaland will not provide a platform that allows users to purchase cannabis,” Cannaverse Tech Founder & CEO Mark Bonner told Metaverse Post. “We are focused on creating consumer brand awareness and building up global cannabis brands, which is unique to our sector.” 

Their platform will operate on a Play-to-Earn model powered by Cannaland Token (CNLT), Cannaverse Tech’s own Ethereum-based cryptocurrency. “These tokens provide consumer rewards and indisputable proof of ownership of goods, services and properties that is more secure than any land deed,” their website says. Key user benefits come from connections, but burgeoning brands stand to gain the most–introducing their products to the expansive user base Cannaverse Tech hopes to create. 

Cannaland ecosystem, from the company site

“We began the project in 2023 after exploring a local land-based cannabis 360 project,” Bonner said. “Our inspiration was centered around the growth of medicinal and recreational cannabis. We realized the incredible global opportunity it would be, for both consumers and companies, if there were no city, region, or country legal boundaries to constrain corporate messaging that hinder them from building national and global brands.”

Though Bonner kept specific details about the company’s funding under wraps, he did tell Metaverse Post, “We are very fortunate to have a highly supportive institutional investor who has funded the company to date and has committed capital throughout our early stages of development.”

“We are finalizing several interactive gaming options that will provide enhanced user experiences in our community,” Bonner said. “The overarching message of Cannaland for the consumers will focus on the responsible use of medicinal and recreational cannabis. There will be opportunities that include gamified cultivation, virtual new product experiences, and learning responsible use in our Cannalearn area.” 

Cannaland stands to make a real mark on IRL reality through The Cannalearn Foundation, which will teach safe and socially responsible practices from cannabis production to consumption. Their site also says the Foundation will “also support causes for individuals unjustly affected by inequities related to local cannabis laws prior to legalization.”

The platform’s slated to launch by Q4 2023. In the meantime, Bonner said that Cannaverse Tech is “working diligently with a leading cannabis legal firm to craft the necessary policies that will ensure we do not violate any existing laws in the USA or globally.” They’re also gearing up to launch CLNT on a tier one crypto exchange, and will announce “major brand and resource partnerships both in and out of the traditional cannabis space” in the near future. Stay tuned.

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This Week Will Be Important For Bitcoin And Other Cryptos. Why?

Crypto markets brace for a pivotal week ahead, as bitcoin faces key resistance levels

Bitcoin and the wider cryptocurrency market are gearing up for a potentially momentous week ahead, with a number of key events and milestones on the horizon that could significantly impact prices and market sentiment. From important technical levels to regulatory developments, there is a range of factors that traders and investors will be watching closely in the coming days.

Bitcoin has been on a rollercoaster ride over the past few weeks, as the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization soared to new all-time highs above $64,000 in early November, only to experience a sharp correction that saw its price plummet by more than 40% to around $36,000. Since then, Bitcoin has been trading in a narrow range between $40,000 and $50,000, as traders and investors look for the next catalyst that could push prices higher or lower.

Key events for Bitcoin and other cryptos:

According to the sources, this trading week, the most important event is coming up on Tuesday, February 14 at 8:30 a.m. EST, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the U.S. inflation data for the past month of January.

On Wednesday, February 15, U.S. retail sales for the month of January will be unveiled at 8:30 a.m. EST. They are considered an important measure for calculating household spending sentiment.

On Thursday, February 16, the U.S. Producer Price Index (PPI) for January will be released at 8:30 a.m. EST. Market experts expect a 0.4% month-over-month increase. As recently as December, producer prices had declined by -0.5%, a more significant decline than analysts had suspected.

Other technical milestones:

One of the key technical factors that traders will be watching in the coming days is Bitcoin’s ability to break above its 200-day moving average, which currently sits at around $48,000. The 200-day moving average is a widely followed technical indicator that is used to identify long-term trends in the market, and a sustained move above this level could be a bullish signal for Bitcoin.

However, Bitcoin’s latest rally has seen it jump to the north of key resistance in the low $18,000s and come within a few percent of testing its 200-Day Moving Average near $19,500. The last time Bitcoin tested its 200DMA was also in March 2023. Back then, the 200DMA proved an important local top. Bulls will be hoping that is not the case again and, with prices recovering from a much lower base this time, near-term price predictions remain bullish.

Another important technical level that traders will be watching is the $50,000 mark, which has been a key psychological level for Bitcoin in recent months. Bitcoin has traded above and below this level multiple times in recent weeks, and a sustained move above $50,000 could be a sign that the market is once again becoming bullish on Bitcoin.

Regulatory developments are also likely to be in focus in the coming days, as a number of countries around the world continue to grapple with how to regulate the cryptocurrency market. China, in particular, has been cracking down on cryptocurrency mining and trading in recent months, which has had a significant impact on the market.

However, there are also signs that other countries may be moving towards more supportive regulatory frameworks for cryptocurrencies. El Salvador recently became the first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, while countries like Ukraine and India are also considering more friendly regulatory environments for cryptocurrencies.

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