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Vietnamese kids are using plastic bags as school transport Vietnamese kids are using plastic bags as school transport

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Vietnamese kids are using plastic bags as school transport

These Vietnamese kids are being dragged to school in plastic bags.

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Education is important, that’s no secret. For people from developing and impoverished countries, it’s even more so. Parents from many territories dream of their children becoming educated enough to move to a more financially solvent country.

Take Vietnam, for example. Despite torrential rainfall making bridges inhospitable in the mountain village of Huoi Hua, truancy is still not an option. Parents are taking children to school in a unique way. They’re being placed in plastic bags and transported across flooded rivers to school.

Photo by vov.vn

You can watch this unfold in real-time by viewing this video. Don’t panic, it’s not a horror film – though obviously, it’s not recommending for anybody faint of heart.

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What? That looks so dangerous!

Oh, it is. Placing a child in a sealed plastic bag is undoubtedly life-threatening. They may stay dry, but there’s always the risk of suffocation. This is a risk that Vietnamese parents are willing to take, though.

If it makes you feel any better, it’s a risk shared by these parents. They are making the journey themselves – without the comparative safety of a plastic bag.

The flooding of this territory means that bridges between dry land can no longer be negotiated. Wondering why the people of Huoi Hua do not merely create makeshift rafts and canoes? That’s a no-go, too.

Photo by vov.vn

The waters are choppy and stormy and filled with rapids. There is a considerable risk that any water-based transport would quickly be carried away with the current. An adult may be strong enough to withstand these waters, but very few children will.

This makes the plastic bag technique the lesser of all possible evils – at least according to these parents. Staying home and skipping school is simply not an option.

The children are placed in bags to keep them dry, and the parents do everything in their power to transport them to school. They’ll wade, paddle, swim and generally placed their own lives in danger. Kinda puts the frustrations of the morning school run in suburban America into perspective, doesn’t it?

Photo by vov.vn

And they seriously do this twice a day?

Actually, no. Battling through the river and into dry land is only half the battle. The kids then need to hike for around five hours to reach the school. Although these parents are dedicated, there are limits to what they are willing to go through.

Photo by vov.vn

The children of Huoi Hua arrive at school on a Monday morning and stay there for a week. Strictly speaking, this is not a boarding school arrangement. There are no formal arrangements for beds and mealtimes. It’s just a case of necessity being the mother of invention.

The kids remain at the school for five days and return home at the weekends. We’d hate to be the kid that comes home with a C on their math test after all that effort.

I hope all of this is worth it

Well, the parents that put their children through this arduous commute clearly think so. Perhaps their thinking is that their children will be able to use their education to move to another, less-flooded territory.

The good news is that, in general, the Vietnamese education sector has a fine reputation. It’s deemed to be a highly competitive environment for students, who are often encouraged to pit themselves against each other. Somehow, they still have the energy to do so after what they’ve already been through.

Problems for children from these territories do no end with arriving in school, though. As a communist country, Vietnamese law dictates that primary education is free for all students. Great – you don’t travel to school in a plastic bag if you’re wealthy.

Sadly, this does not tell the whole story. Uniforms, textbooks, and other expenses will start to mount. This is far from ideal for poor parents that are already struggling to make ends meet.

If a bright side is to be found, however, it’s the value that is clearly placed upon education. Children that go through these experiences are unlikely to skip classes and smoke cigarettes in the boy’s room.

We can only hope that they will rise up to become intelligent and well-rounded leaders of industry in the future. If that’s the case, the people of Vietnam will consider all of this hardship to be worthwhile.

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A cyclist rode around London for nine hours to create a heat map image of a reindeer

Cycling enthusiast Anthony Hoyte blends exercise with creativity.

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Exercise is undoubtedly important, but sometimes we need a little extra motivation to work up a sweat. For others, exercise is its own reward – but they also have a creative itch that must be scratched.

Take British cyclist Anthony Hoyte as an example. Based in Cheltenham, some 100 miles outside London, Hoyte used the fitness app Strava to spread a little festive cheer at the end of 2019. Hoyte planned a very particular route around London on his bike, ensuring that the resulting heat map created the image of a reindeer.

Photo by twitter/@anthoyte

That looks exhausting

No doubt it was. Thankfully, Hoyte has a history of engaging in such seasonal shenanigans. In 2018, he underwent a similar task to create an image of Santa. This one took just four-and-a-half hours. Clearly, Hoyte felt he was slacking off and wanted to up his game.

Photo by twitter/@cyclist

Meanwhile, in 2017, Hoyte constructed a snowman to mark the season.

Photo by twitter/@anthoyte

As you’ll see, Hoyte has gradually been increasing his ambition with every year. There is no way of knowing what he’ll get up to in 2020.

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So is it just a Christmas hobby then?

If you’re feeling lazy and uninspired by comparison, we’d love to say so. Alas, Anthony Hoyte doesn’t spend the other eleven months of the year on the sofa eating bon-bons, burning off those calories in December.

Here is a masterpiece from last summer, devised by cycling around the city of Nottingham.

Photo by twitter/@anthoyte

And another example of Hoyte’s creative approach to cardio is this image of a cat in the northern city of Leeds.

Photo by twitter/@anthoyte

Even if you’re unfamiliar with UK geography, you’ll see a theme emerging here. Cheltenham, Hoyte’s hometown, is not receiving much attention. That’s purely a logistical issue. As Cheltenham is comparatively small, our pedaling Picasso has to travel the length and breadth of the country to engage in his twin passions.

How does he go about this?

Have you ever laid on your back and watched the clouds in the sky, observing the patterns and visualizing pictures? Well, Anthony Hoyte has. This is the exercise he compares his ‘Strava Art’ to. He reviews the lay of the land on a map and plots a cycling route accordingly. Hoyte’s training in his former day job as a product designer also seemingly encourages his artistic eye.

His passion began in 2016 when he won a Strava Art competition (yes, there is such a thing) for this ride throughout Bristol.

Photo by twitter/@anthoyte

As is the way of the internet, many people have been quick to sniff at Hoyte’s hobby and achievements. A common refrain is, “he clearly has too much time on his hands. I wish I had enough time to plan stuff like this.”

Well, maybe, we all do. There is no doubt that a great deal of personal sacrifice goes into Hoyte’s creativity. Let’s be blunt here – people with the stamina to cycle around London for nine hours straight in the spirit of creating artwork probably don’t get much downtime. The fitness level and dedication to spend nine hours in the saddle doesn’t come easily.

When we consider that Anthony Hoyte is also 51 years old, his achievements are even more impressive. Let’s all make it our new year’s resolution to celebrate artistic and physically robust endeavor, rather than attempting to criticize those that perform such feats.

Why isn’t Anthony Hoyte a professional cyclist?

That’s a fair question. He clearly has the fitness level to at least have a crack at such a status. What’s more, memorizing these routes will require a great deal of mental focus and concentration. Even following a GPS route can be tricky with all the distracts thrown up by busy cities.

Hoyte, however, seems content to keep his cycling as a hobby. Hoyte describes himself as, “That bloke who drew the giant Strava Snowman … and Santa … and Rudolph … and a whole bunch of other things” on Twitter, suggesting that he is happy with his current level of minor celebrity.

There is no way of knowing exactly what the future holds for Anthony Hoyte, but we’re quite sure it will be interesting. As his artwork becomes increasingly elaborate year-on-year, we’re awaiting 2020’s design with bated breath. Elf on a Shelf, perhaps?

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This teacher taught her class biology in a full body anatomy suit

This Spanish educator enraptured her students with a unique biology lesson.

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This teacher taught her class biology in a full body anatomy suit

Teaching can be a challenging profession at times. Young minds are like sponges, able to absorb information at a rate of knots. Unfortunately, they’re also easily distracted. Simply reeling off facts and figures can be crushingly dull, especially when we consider that we all learn in different ways.

Verónica Duque is a third-grade teacher in the Spanish city of Valladolid. Charged with teaching 8- and 9-year-olds human anatomy, Señorita Duque eschewed the traditional approach of reciting from a textbook. Instead, she donned a full-body wetsuit that provided students with a visual insight into the human body.

An advert for a swimsuit sparked the idea – the original swimsuit is actually marketed as a Halloween costume. Like all great teachers, Señorita Duque took that idea and expanded upon it.

That looks terrifying!

Señorita Duque admits that her experiment initially drew mixed results. She describes the reaction as “confusion, shouts, applause and some covered their eyes” when she removed her white lab coat after entering the room. The first rule is teaching is always to grab the attention of a class, though. There is no denying that this bold sartorial choice managed to do just that.

The lesson did not simply involve the bodysuit. Once the initial shock and awe died down, Señorita Duque switched to move traditional learning techniques – including a 3D bust of the human body. The initial impact was pivotal, though. It encouraged the schoolchildren to think about the human body and everything that is unfolding beneath the skin at any given moment.

You can watch Señorita Duque at work in this video clip.

This approach to education is not limited to science and anatomy in Señorita Duque’s classroom. She is also charged with teaching art, English, and Spanish language. Children use crowns in the language classes, which helps them differentiate between verbs and nouns.

Many of us remember having one teacher that made a real difference to our lives and inspired a love of a particular subject. Señorita Duque will seemingly provide this service for a great many young minds.

It all sounds a bit gimmicky to me. What happened to good, old-fashioned teaching?

There will always be cynics surrounding a new approach to education. For a traditionalist, this methodology is potentially inappropriate. This does not factor in the fact that different people learn in different ways, though – something that we are becoming more and more aware of.

The education sector has now identified what is known as the VARK method to identify different types of learners. VARK is an acronym that encompassed the four primary forms of learning.

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Reading and Writing
  • Kinesthetic

Of course, it’s possible that many of us will fall into multiple categories. Most people have a clear preferential learning method, though. Attempting to shoehorn education into one particular box can often lead to potential going untapped, and students feeling as though they do not belong in school.

Photo by Prezi

As you’ll see from this image, the four core types of learning provoke different responses.

Visual learners would benefit most from lessons like that of Señorita Duque. Taking in the sight of the bodysuit will have sparked their imagination, and they will absorb any information much more keenly having such a strong image to anchor their education.

Auditory learners may not gain quite so much from the visual approach. These learners like to be told facts – if they can then repeat them out loud, they’re much more likely to stick in the memory. A visual prompt never hurts as a reminder, though.

Reading and writing learners enjoy a more traditional approach to education. These are the people that pore over textbooks and clap their hands with glee when a pop quiz is announced. This approach is becoming less and less common in 21st-century mainstream education.

Finally, kinesthetic learners absorb information by doing. These are the kids that prefer a four-dimensional learning experience. They want to see, hear, touch, and recreate everything they encounter.

If you’re curious about what kind of learner you are, take this test from Education Planner. You may have passed an age where it’s appropriate to attend one of Señorita Duque’s anatomy classes, but it’s never too late to expand your mind in a way that appeals to you.

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The sound of your name impacts the way people think about you

What’s in a name? A lot, as it transpires.

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The sound of your name impacts the way people think about you

Names have power. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we all carry potential subconscious bias toward particular monikers.

If your kindly grandmother’s name was Amy, you’d consider it a warm and loving name. If you were fired from your first job by a man named Keith, you might expect cruel and unfeeling behavior from anybody else with a similar title.

Sometimes, we make judgments on names based on nothing more than how they sound. This has been discovered by a team of researchers at the University of Calgary.

The study found that soft-sounding, vowel-centric names carry the expectation of emotional, trustworthy, and pleasant personas. Names with harder sounds, such as Katherine or Kirk, are associated with outgoing, extroverted personalities.

How can this be the case? To understand this, we need to understand the relationship between language and expectations.

Words create connotations in our mind

Christian Morgenstern was a German writer, active between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Morgenstern was celebrated for his nonsense poetry, and one of his most famous quotations was that “all seagulls look as though their name were Emma.”

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On paper, that’s just a funny line. The kind of thing you’d claim after a few beers with friends while aiming to be profound. The quote had a significant impact on Morgenstern’s compatriot Wolfgang Köhler, however. Köhler was a leading psychologist of the era, and he wondered if the sound of words could genuinely form connections in the human mind.

Testing his theory, Köhler invented two new words – maluma and takete. He then designed two entirely new shapes and drew them on a sheet of paper. Surveying a range of volunteers, Köhler asked his respondents which of the shapes should be matched to which name. Before you read on, take a look at the shapes below. Which word do you think applies to which shape?

If you follow the thinking of 90% of the population, you will think of the round shape as the maluma and the jagged shape as the takete. Somehow, this thinking comes naturally, most human beings. The only exceptions appear to be individuals on the autistic spectrum.

How does this relate to names?

There are two types of consonants find in names. The first is sonorant consonants, which are sounds akin to M or L. These are the letters that roll off the tongue without any need to stop. Say the name, “Molly,” and you’ll know what we mean. The second type are called voiceless stop consonants. These are harder sounds, like K and T. These letters, primarily when used at the end of a name, sound akin to a full stop. The name “Mark” is an example of this.

Next, we need to look at the HEXACO Personality Inventory. HEXACO is a measurement of personality based on six core characteristics.

  • Honesty/Humility
  • Emotionality
  • eXtroversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Openness to experience

The study from the University of Calgary found some interesting results. Names high in sonorant consonants provoked expectations of conscientious behavior, agreeableness over anger, and highly tuned emotional intelligence. Those with names rich in voiceless stop consonants were expected to be confident and extroverted.

Now, as already discussed, pre-existing bias exists surrounding names. Even if you have never met somebody with a particular name, you’ll think of a celebrity or pop culture icon. You may not have a friend named Scarlett, but you’ll immediately have a vision in your mind based on Ms. Johansson or Ms. O’Hara.

To this end, the team at the University took a similar approach to Wolfgang Köhler. They created a range of false names, with which the subjects would have no previous connotations or connection. They then asked the subjects how they expected these fictional people to behave.

True to form, names with more sonorant consonants were assigned E, A, and C characteristics from the HEXACO inventory. Voiceless stop consonants forged created images of fearless and extroverted characters.

Does this match up with real-world findings?

In a word … no. There is no evidence that names reflect character. However, it is believed that names can influence how we view people – regardless of how they actually behave. It’s a form of confirmation bias. Some studies claim that people even begin to look like their names.

This is where our pre-existing beliefs come into play. We could have exactly the same conversation with Amy and Keith but interpret them entirely differently. It seems that perception is reality in our minds. We just need to be mindful that we do not judge people on factors entirely beyond their control.

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120 coffins have been discovered under an apartment complex in Tampa Bay

Radar has uncovered the coffins of over 100 individuals buried under a Tampa apartment complex.

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120 coffins have been discovered under an apartment complex in Tampa Bay

Anybody that has watched a horror movie will tell you to be mindful of property built over graveyards. Native American burial grounds are often used to explain why impossibly attractive young couples can afford a dream home before a series of unfortunate events befall them.

For the citizens of Robles Park Village in Tampa, a recent revelation resembles the events of a horror flick. Sadly, it’s all too real. Some 120 coffins have been discovered beneath the grounds of apartments of this complex, which was built in the 1950s.

It has been revealed that these coffins were formerly buried in the Zion Cemetery. This was the first cemetery built for the remains of African Americans in Tampa. For the longest time, these remains were thought lost.

Questions over what happened to the bodies buried in the Zion Cemetery have long raged in Tampa. These souls can finally rest in peace. Sadly, the circumstances of how they ended up beneath Robles Park Village is a sordid tale.

Why were these bodies buried under apartments?

Richard Doby founded the Zion Cemetery in 1901 and sold it in 1920. The slow and steady process of erasing the grounds began in 1925. For reasons that were never made clear, the cemetery was no longer marked on maps.

During its period of operation, around 800 people were believed to be buried in the cemetery. It’s likely there were more. Record keeping of the deaths of African Americans was frequently patchy during this period.

There are records of a handful of bodies being moved to other local Tampa cemeteries. The rest of the bodies were seemingly forgotten about, however. As the cemetery ceased to be acknowledged and recognized, plans were formed for property to be built on the land.

 

By 1951, work began to build Robles Park Village, a complex housing 67 apartment blocks. Local authorities checked the area and found three caskets that were once buried in the Zion Cemetery. These were relocated to another burial ground. Rather than search for more coffins or remains, however, work proceeded on the site. There were deadlines to meet and money to be made.

Robles Park Village was built over the land that once hosted the cemetery. Perhaps most shockingly, due to segregation, the apartment blocks were only available to whites.

How were the coffins located?

Paul Guzzo, a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, had long investigated the strange case of the Zion Cemetery and what happened to the bodies buried within it.

Believing the apartments of Robles Park Village to be built on the land, he notified the Florida Public Archeology Network. Employees of this establishment looked at old blueprints of the cemetery and compared them to maps of the property.

Finally, radar was used to inspect the territory. This radar was potent enough to penetrate the ground, providing a clear sight of what was found underneath. This was when the shocking revelation was made. The unmistakable shape of coffins presented itself.

What happens now?

Naturally, the discovery of these coffins has caused quite a stir. For many, it’s been confirmation of what has long been suspected. Residents of Robles Park Village have long shared ghost stories among themselves, feeling dubious about their surroundings.

Further investigation is obviously warranted. Local senator Janet Cruz has requested funding to continue searching the premises, finding answers for the ancestors of those buried on the site.

The Tampa Housing Authority had long planned to tear down and redevelop Robles Park Village. Now that human remains have been found on the site, this process will be fast-tracked. The families living in apartments directly above the remains have already been rehomed.

It’s not just the Tampa Housing Authority that has a stake in the land, however. Private business Sunstate Wrecker Service also owns part of the land. The owner of this company has granted the local authority carte blanche to do whatever they see fit, keen to ensure that the remains are handled respectfully.

The remainder of the land belongs to Richard Gonzmart, a local restauranteur. Gonzmart purchased the land with the intention of opening a culinary school, and his property currently hosts a number of warehouses. Until research into the rest of the land is concluded, it’s unclear whether Gonzmart’s ambitions will come to fruition.

Once the last residents of Robles Park Village have been rehomed, the properties will be torn down. A memorial for those buried in the cemetery will be erected in their place. Finally, those forgotten for far too long will be able to rest in peace.

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Here’s why it’s so difficult to maintain consistent eye contact during conversation

Looking somebody in the eye distracts our brains, preventing us from finding appropriate words.

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Here's why it’s so difficult to maintain consistent eye contact during conversation

Social cues can be tricky to manage. Etiquette dictates that we are supposed to look people in the eye when we speak to them. Supposedly, this makes our words appear more trustworthy and confident.

The eyes are also referred to as the windows to the soul, ensuring that we tell a great deal about how somebody is feeling by peering into them. Past studies have claimed that we look into each other’s eyes to gain information.

There is an elephant in the room when it comes to eye contact, though. Making eye contact is simple, but maintaining it is hard. Looking somebody in the eye can be a real balancing act.

Avoiding eye contact at all makes us look shifty. Staring somebody in the eye without ever looking away can be a little intimidating, though. It’s commonly believed that looking somebody in the eye for ten straight minutes sparks a hallucinogenic response.

Why is it so hard to maintain eye contact throughout a conversation?

It turns out that there is a scientific explanation for difficulty maintaining eye contact in conversation. New research has discovered that our brains become distracted and confused while we look into somebody’s eyes.

Essentially, we cannot focus on what somebody is saying and find the appropriate words to respond with. This is especially prominent when we’re trying to think up new or unique words to use. This goes some way to explaining why we tend to get flustered and trip over our words when maintaining eye contact in a high-pressure situation, such as a job interview.

The study in question unfolded at Japan’s Kyoto University. 26 volunteers were invited to stare into the eyes of CGI faces while playing word association games. They then played the same games without eye contact – the computer images looked away from the human players. All of the participants found this much easier.

Perhaps there was an element of the uncanny valley about this. Anybody can become a little disconcerted by the lifelike-but-unreal nature of computer-generated imagery. The sample size was also just 26, so naturally, this does not apply to everybody. The study certainly goes some way to explaining why it’s so tricky to maintain eye contact, though.

Are there other explanations for trouble with eye contact?

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There are many reasons why maintaining eye contact is so tricky. Every individual that you meet may have their own reasons. For example, old-fashioned shyness and lack of confidence could always be at the root of the behavior.

A medical explanation is also a possibility. Somebody that lives with social anxiety disorder will struggle to maintain eye contact. For somebody with SAD, eye contact is a triggering behavior. It overloads the amygdala and sparks a panic attack.

Struggling to maintain eye contact has also been linked to autism. It’s essentially painful for somebody with autism to look you in the eye. Their brains become overloaded with stimulation.

Of course, it’s also possible that somebody is just being rude. Not everybody follows the rules and regulations of unwritten social contracts. Before writing somebody off as obnoxious or rude, however, try to consider their perspective.

How to overcome difficulty in maintaining eye contact

As a rule, you should look somebody in the eye for roughly half the time that you are speaking to them. If you are listening to somebody, aim to look into their eyes, 70% of the time. If you’re keen to improve your eye contact, follow these steps.

  • Prepare your opening conversational gambit before you approach somebody. Even if it’s just a greeting, have an idea of what you’ll say to break the ice.
  • Lock eyes with somebody before speaking. It becomes much harder to find the appropriate words if you start speaking, then looking into their eyes.
  • Periodically break the eye contact. Once every five seconds or so is ideal.
  • Don’t look away completely. Just re-avert your gaze to another part of the person’s face. Do this slowly, too. Flickering your eyes at speed makes you look jittery.
  • Every once in a while, completely break the eye contact to make a gesture. A nod or shake of the head is fine. After this, you can start the process again.

Obviously, you shouldn’t be robotic in your approach to eye contact. The whole idea behind the concept of eye contact is to improve and forge a human connection. By taking these small steps, however, you can gradually build your confidence.

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