The love of children for literacy

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Last Thursday, January 31st, I had the privilege to present the awards for the Second Eagle Quills Creative Writing Contest at Timberlin Creek Elementary School in St Johns, Florida.

The contest was promoted by yours truly last year, and it has received the participation of third, fourth, and fifth graders. The topics of the fiction and non-fiction stories included secret agent missions, cast-away adventures, and the value of friendship and kindness. Continue reading “The love of children for literacy”

Playing with Fire

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Two things that still puzzle me about life in America are: first, that bikers are not required to wear helmets by law, and second, that fireworks are sold without any restrictions during New Years and the 4th of July celebrations.

I have to admit that it still surprises me when I visit the supermarket and I am welcomed with shelves full of sparklers and other pyrotechnics at arm’s reach.

Although I grew up in Colombia in the 80’s, watching fireworks light up the sky every New Year’s Eve in the streets of my neighborhood, these displays have been forbidden since 1995 unless performed by professionals. Continue reading “Playing with Fire”

Top Mission: Coming Home

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On Monday December 3rd, my husband Jeff, one of our employees, Karalee, and yours truly, had the privilege to meet 1st Sgt. Michael Lippencott, active member of the Marine Corps, and Ramonia Diallo, Navy Veteran and Combat Casualty Visiting Nurse of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) in Jacksonville.

Before Thanksgiving, Karalee–also a Navy veteran–met Ramonia at a charity event and learned about this non-profit organization. Touched by the stories of veterans in hardship, Karalee shared the information with our company staff. Shortly after, we created a small fund to which all the employees contributed. 1Sgt. Michael Lippencott was the service man we chose as the recipient of our donation. Continue reading “Top Mission: Coming Home”

Beauty Pageants Biggest Miss

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Last Sunday, December 16th, I missed the Miss Universe broadcast for the first time in a long while. Born and raised in Colombia, beauty pageants were part of my culture and I always watched it with my family.

But since I moved to the U.S., almost fourteen years ago, I had to watch it alone. My husband dreaded this each year because of my non-stop yelling during the two hour phone conversation with my mother or girlfriends. Continue reading “Beauty Pageants Biggest Miss”

The genes of a very lucrative business

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On Monday, November 26th, the international scientific community was shaken to its core by Hen Jiankui, the biomedical researcher who posted a video on YouTube telling about the existence of the first twin babies whose DNA was modified as embryos before birth.

Their names are Lulu and Nana, and they were allegedly born in China a few weeks ago. According to He Jiankui, the objective of the research was to achieve that two twin baby girls, whose father is HIV positive, could be born resistant to the disease. Continue reading “The genes of a very lucrative business”

Rejecting vaccines increases health risks

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During the last two centuries, the eradication of infectious diseases such as smallpox and rinderpest became a reality, thanks to breakthroughs in immunization science.

Other illnesses like polio and the highly contagious measles are on the same path. And, if the eradication of these and other diseases has been delayed, it has been due to the difficulties of distribution in the world population, not the lack of effectiveness of the vaccines.

However, vaccines have been the target of negative controversies since the 90’s. The best-known case, and probably the modern genesis of the movement against children vaccination, was the study of the British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield. Continue reading “Rejecting vaccines increases health risks”

Giving birth, giving light

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Years ago, my mother-in-law told me that her four children were delivered by c-section. I remembered her saying, “It was the 50s and 60s. You entered the hospital with a belly, they put you to sleep, and when you woke up, you had a baby in your arms!

Compared to my grandmother, who gave birth to her seven children naturally, having a c-section was never an option. The lack of medical services in rural Colombia back in the day mandated women to endure labor and God’s will.

Nonetheless, more than half a century later, Latin America has changed drastically, becoming the region in the entire world with the highest rate of c-section, according to the latest data published by the medical journal, The Lancet last week. Continue reading “Giving birth, giving light”