All posts by madhuritagoswami2020

Older adults are fighting climate change, seeking carbon tax legislation

By Madhurita Goswami
Medill Reports

Jeff Haverly gave two presentations this winter before members of his Indiana community, urging them to take action against climate change.

“I start with a map of Florida and ask how many people holiday there. Then I show how Florida will look like in 2050,” the 67-year-old said.

Florida’s coastal floodplain is expected to expand by 47% in the next 30 years due to sea level rise, according to Climate Central, a science organization based in New Jersey. As vast stretches of land go under water, homeowners might have to move to higher ground. Continue reading

Many Indian students on US campuses are silent on new Indian citizenship bill

By Madhurita Goswami
Medill Reports

Some Indian students are hitting Chicago’s streets to protest against an increasingly authoritarian government back home. But many students don’t want to get involved.

In December 2019, India’s parliament passed a bill that grants citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. However, Muslim minorities such as the Ahmadis from Pakistan and Rohingyas from Myanmar were excluded from the bill. Continue reading

Obama-era work rule may end, Indian immigrant women to be most affected

By Madhurita Goswami
Medill Reports

Moumita Chatterjee moved from India to Chicago with her husband nine years ago right after she graduated from college. Even though she had a degree in sociology, she wasn’t permitted to work here because she didn’t have the right visa.

In 2014, her husband, a software engineer, was sponsored for permanent residence in the U.S., allowing her to take advantage of an Obama-era rule that facilitated work permits for immigrant spouses of to-be green card holders.

She finally received her work permit a year ago, but the 31-year old is already in danger of losing it as the Department of Homeland Security considers whether to revoke the rule in March.

“I haven’t even started looking for jobs,” said Chatterjee, who gave birth to her second daughter last year.

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Tailor-made models for preventing suicide may soon be a reality

By Madhurita Goswami
Medill Reports

A recent study based on social media data shows that chat features of conversations between help-seekers and therapists can be used to predict suicide risk and develop models to reduce the risk.

“There is an interesting link between language and health that hasn’t been explored in real-time fashion,” said Carlos Gallo, a research assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. For instance, expression of positive or negative emotions compared to “yes” or “no” answers is linked to reduced suicide risk. Help-seekers who are less engaged tend to fare the worst, Gallo said.

On the other hand, he said a counselor can improve suicide prevention by using sentences such as – “it’s understandable that you are feeling sorry for your loss” or “thank you for sharing that awful experience” or “what would it feel like if you were to take a walk around the park?”

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A festival that binds Bengali students and professionals in Chicago

By Madhurita Goswami
Medill Reports

Students and professionals belonging to the Bengali community in Chicago came together for a recent religious and cultural celebration.

Started at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) campus by a group of students in 2007, the celebration is centered around Durga, a Hindu Goddess.

It, however, has turned into “a huge picnic” and “a version of Christmas for Bengalis in Chicago”, according to 26-year-old Indrani Banerjee who is completing her Ph.D. in chemistry at UIC.

Durga Pujo/festival is celebrated in India and Bangladesh in honor of a warrior goddess, who defeated the dark forces. The festival has become an integral part of the social and cultural fabric of West Bengal, an eastern state in India, and is also observed in other locations where Bengalis move in.

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“Why we should care” – Calling on Asian Americans to demand environmental justice

By Madhurita Goswami
Medill Reports

Asian Americans are increasingly pushing for environmental reforms to address the issues impacting their communities across the country. A new Chicago advocacy group recently held a workshop on Asian Americans and Environmental Justice to drive home the importance of the community’s political involvement for climate action.

Andrea Chu has been organizing these workshops for the past year. Chu, whose parents immigrated from Taiwan, has studied environmental planning and management. She is involved with  Chicago Asian Americans for Environmental Justice (CAAEJ), an environmental group urging residents of Chinatown and Bridgeport to test their garden soil for lead.

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The ancient art of henna: Immigrant women create couture designs for a new generation of customers

By Madhurita Goswami
Medill Reports

Twenty-four-year-old Juna Syakya can draw intricate flowers or butterflies on your hands with her henna cone in less than 20 minutes. Mehndi, or henna, is a form of body art that uses a plant-based dye and Syakya brings the ancient art form to the Deeba Beauty Salon on Devon Avenue where she works.

The plant, Lawsonia inermis, grows in hot climates. Its leaves, flowers and twigs contain tannins, which are natural dyes used across the ages to create the intricate lace-like designs of henna.
“Henna is best for people who don’t want permanent tattoos. Also, it doesn’t cause infections and is way cheaper,” said Syakya’s colleague, Farzana Mirza, who is from Pakistan.

Heeba Khan draws a floral pattern for a customer. (Madhurita Goswami)

Traditionally, henna artists have been women and only women would get henna on their hands and feet. Costs range from $10-$40 depending on the area covered. Usually, henna gets washed away in less than 10 days. The dye doesn’t penetrate the skin and is safe.

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Glaciers as “global thermometers” show the fast pace of melting in a warming world

By Madhurita Goswami
Medill Reports

Glaciers across the globe behave in a synchronized manner, said geologist Thomas Lowell at the recent Comer Climate Conference, an annual national conference held in southwestern Wisconsin. Not only does he study glaciers around the world to reach this conclusion but also compared data obtained by separate dating techniques.

Sounding the alarm, as we warm temperatures the glaciers retreat faster, he said. This, in turn, would change the sea levels in coming years by a greater extent than people imagine now, Lowell added.

The results show that incoming solar radiation, which varies seasonally in the two hemispheres, is not the major factor affecting climate change and has implications for identifying other factors.
“I have looked at glaciers from central-northern Greenland to Antarctica,” said Lowell, a professor of geology at the University of Cincinnati. “They were universally behaving in the same way during the last glacial maximum. They were out, bounced around a little bit and receded at the same time.”

 

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