Politics divides people

Ukrainian-tanks-near-east-014In the fall of 2013, I became a friend with a guy from Ukraine. The first things that connected us were cultural and traditional similarities because I am from Russia. We would always support each other at taking different tasks in school and even cheer for both national teams during a sports events. I remember how my friend and I were cheering for Russian national hockey team when they played against the United States during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Unfortunately, it was the last time when we watched Russian team playing together.

In the winter of 2014 Russian Federation occupied Crimea, which used to be a part of Ukraine, and then created a war conflict in the south-east of Ukraine starting in the spring of 2014. Occupation of Crimea peninsula was enough to change my friend’s opinion about my country. He, indeed, was against Russian intervention and angry at Russian government and people, who supported it. However, the most important thing in this story is how these events changed my views about politics and especially my government.

I used to support the Russian government before the conflict in Ukraine. I believed that my government works for the sake of own people. However, their actions just proved me wrong. They only cared about their own interests, and in order to make people more supportive of the government decisions, they started using highly effective propaganda. I was lucky that I was living in the United States, and my Ukrainian friend was able to show me the other side of the conflict. Therefore, I did not become a brainwashed by media, and I could analyze the whole conflict as an open-minded person.

Propaganda in a mass media is a tool used by the government to make people believe in what the government wants. This Ukrainian conflict showed me that friends, relatives, coworkers can become enemies. I mentioned how hate and anger were rising between people due to propaganda produced by media. Fortunately, I and my friend from Ukraine remained as best friends although we still have some different opinions about the Ukrainian conflict.

fakenewsIt is important to be able to stay away from the fake news and double check an information that you receive from any media. Before the conflict in Ukraine, I used to watch the Russia Today media channel, but as soon as the war started I could see that there are many things that are considered biased and even fake. Nowadays, I understand that a state media such as Russia Today is sponsored by the Russian government, and therefore it keeps introducing information, which is relevant to their order.

I believe that people should always be aware of their government’s actions. One of the things that helped me to understand the Ukrainian conflict, was the ability to be open-minded. My Ukrainian friend and location (I was in the United States when Crimea was occupied) influenced me, so I would not fall on the “dark” side, but it could become just a temporary effect if I would not start looking for other people’s opinions and facts. In the end, I made my own decision, who to trust, and the Russian government was not the one, which I could trust.

I am glad that politics did not take me apart from my best friend. I was able to make a right choice for me and stop following the fake news. Media, journalism, and politics changed for me forever. I keep reading the news every day, but I am aware that I can become a target for political propaganda. I try to teach others too, so they understand a danger of certain news media. In addition, I want people to know the truth about their government and the world.



From Fundamentalist to Feminist

Mormon Sacrament
Blessing the Sacrament Credit: LDS Media Center

Too young to know better: I was very small when I realized that my family was different. Every Sunday we would put on our finest clothes, the kind that most would save for Easter Sunday, just to pile into a beige mini-van for the 1.2 mile journey to a nondescript beige brick building. My first memories as a Mormon are singing “He Is My Sunshine” and other simple devotions while being bribed with candy. Not long after that, I remember eating Wonder bread as the symbolic bones of Christ. Eventually I would be baptized in the name of those who had died in the dark ages and spend my summers reenacting the Oregon Trail; an attempt to understand the strife of Mormon pioneers.

None of it seemed weird. It was all I knew and I was a happy child. I couldn’t understand by people would call us strange.

You don’t have to be an outsider: I wasn’t particularly popular in high school, but I had good friends. The kind of friends that I still ring up to this day. We were nerdy, but I loved that my friends at school weren’t Mormon. When I was with them, I felt normal. They showed me things I had never seen before, but more importantly, their questions about my beliefs planted a curiosity seed inside me. Why did I believe that wives should serve their husbands? Did I have the right to form my own opinions?

img0000106AI had been given a strict outline of what was right and wrong and women were to serve others. Questioning it was as forbidden as marrying outside the church. Pursuing a career was out of the question. It would just get in the way of having babies.

Under the banner of heaven: The most important book in any good Mormon’s life is supposed to be the Book of Mormon itself. For me, it’s a non-fiction novel called Under the Banner of Heaven. Written by a mountaineer who survived a tragic Mt. Everest climb name Jon Krakauer, it called into question everything I had ever been taught. A professor I respected gave it to me in college and I was hungry to learn. It should have shocked me, but I couldn’t understand why the author, a writer for Outside magazine, would lie about a religious history. What motive did he have to deceive? He was detailed, shared his sources and made a persuasive argument I couldn’t ignore.

I didn’t leave the church the next day or even in the next year, but I never felt the same. A snowball effect took over. I was armed with new information that forced me to think for myself and I didn’t want to go back. I liked a world in which I was equal with men better.

Don’t call me Mormon. Or Jack. Members of the church love to complain about being called Mormon. They prefer Latter Day Saints, LDS for short. The prophet Mormon was just a man and a man’s name felt too small to represent their beliefs, their movement. Latter day saints that leave the church are all called ‘Jack Mormons.’ Even though I haven’t been to church in years, that name feels like a double insult. Jack isn’t exactly feminine. But no matter how many years go by, I’ll always understand how they see the world and relate with their struggle.

Nothing felt easier and harder at the same time than leaving the church. On one hand, everything I value is shaped by it, but my beliefs couldn’t be more at odds with theirs. In the end, leaving freed me. I now live a pretty normal life, but I still feel like an outsider sometimes. Maybe that’s a good thing. It reminds me that being true to myself is all that really matters.

One Snowy Day

526646_526360674054129_916477884_nHardwood Dreaming

Headphones in, boots tightened, rest of the world out of mind. I am talking about snowboarding and how it is my escape from reality. First, let us step back a few years before the sport

crossed my mind. I grew up in a basketball family. My father played Division II basketball in college and mother Division I. My older sister also played and there was a lot of pressure on me to pursue basketball as well. I could shoot a basketball before I could walk, and my father was always my coach. I loved the sport, playing year-round in many leagues and signing up for camps engulfed my childhood. Every winter was busy with basketball and I never thought I would stop playing, especially for snowboarding.  

One Snowy Day

I began hanging out with two guys from my lacrosse team, Owen, and Nate, who eventually became my best friends, but that is a whole different story. Owen and Nate’s families were different than mine in that they all enjoyed outdoor winter sports. I remember vividly one day in December during seventh grade we had a snow day which closed all schools, essentially canceling my basketball practice that evening. Nate had Owen and me over his house in the woods and we built snowboard jumps and rails all day in his yard. It was my first time on a snowboard and I did not realize at the time how much of an impact it would have on my future. I fell in love almost instantly. The adrenaline of bombing down a hill and flying through the air was something I never experienced before, and I could not get enough of it. I became an addict and my parents did not understand. How can he give something up we have spent so much money and time on? Our family does not go on skiing vacations, when does he think he can do this? Those two questions are two of many they discussed behind closed doors when I decided to give up basketball for snowboarding.  

The Impact

Fortunately, I have supportive parents and they realized how much snowboarding meant to me. It took them a couple years, but I eventually convinced them it is what I wanted to do. Snowboarding became my escape from reality. There is no better feeling than going as fast as you want in the middle of nowhere. I am at peace straight lining down the face of a mountain and I cannot thank my parents enough for supporting me. For the past six years, my mother buys me a season pass to a mountain for my birthday so I could take my new passion to the next level. My best memories from high school are from the weekends my friends and I drove two and a half hours to New Hampshire on a Friday night to snowboard for the whole weekend at our home mountain, Attitash. 

Colorado Dreaming

Attitash was a fairly small, icy, East Coast mountain. I remember one snowboard film, Bangers at Breck with Eric Willet, had me dreaming of making out to Colorado to ride some of the best mountains in the country. My senior year rolled around, and I began applying to colleges. The only school I wanted to go to was CU solely because of the easy access to the Rocky Mountains. I was given the opportunity by my parents to go wherever I wished for school and I wanted to be different than all my friends and move across the country. Colorado was so foreign to me, but the intrigue drew me in and I did not know what I was in for. 

Lasting Effects 16142183_1560492443961730_26981718943953987_n

Ultimately, deciding to drop basketball and pick up snowboarding on that one snow day in middle school changed my life. From here on out, I cannot picture myself living anywhere where snowboarding on the weekends is not an option. Snowboarding has opened my mind in ways I never thought was possible. It is my happiness and will influence the rest of my life. Also, it opened a door to the whole new side of the country nobody in my family has really explored. I do not plan on leaving the western side of the country, and I have snowboarding to thank for that.

The Right Way To Set Goals

By Jonathon Roser

July 18, 2018

In high school, I went to a boarding school up in steamboat springs called Lowell Whiteman for the last two years of school. I loved it there, but deciding to go there was a very difficult decision for me. I remember in the winter of my 2nd year in high school, I went up to visit the school and the experience that I had that day changed my life forever.

I was greeted by the headmaster named Dob, and he showed me how the school could change my life. He showed me the environment of the school and how everyone there has the same drive to compete in skiing while learning at a high level of education. The realization that day of whom I could become, and the group of people that can help me get there was clear and changed my life forever.


I knew from the day that I visit that it would change my life. I always had drive to complete goals that I have set, and these goals are what push me to succeed at everything I do. That day, I realized that goals could build on each other and influence one another heavily. I understood this before, but after seeing how to accomplish it, it gave me a completely new outlook on setting goals.

I started to build goals a bit more subtly, and more in steps rather than the end goal. In this article, they describe how you can view things in there “ tiny version”s. They describe it as if you’re goal is to run a marathon and to complete it you need to set smaller goals in order to be ready to run it. Such as running X amount a day, or burning X amount of calories a day. I new this was the case, but really started to apply it to my life at this point in my life with confidence and clarity.

To give you a quick background on my life back then, I was very athletic and competed in skiing and soccer every day. I realized that being athletic and setting goals for my sports career was great and was even necessary for me at the time, but having my professional goals is also important.

Before I always thought that having sports goals and professional goals interferes too much to accomplish efficiently. This school opened up my perspective on how they can affect one another positively. The headmaster, Dob, explained it perfectly to me that day. He showed me that it’s not a problem to just change your schedule throughout the year in order to accomplish your goals. You just have to manage your time efficiently and have a sense of control in your life. The school gave me the tools to be able to accomplish this, and I do not think any other school I know of could have shown me the importance of planning ahead in order to accomplish more than possible.

In the end, the connection I made between the strategies of building goals and managing your life well has made a great realization. I realized that goals can be long term, but the goals can have many different steps to them. The steps all can affect the end goal, and the goal of having a properly managed life affects all other goals. In this article, there is a sentence that explains exactly what I realized. It says, “All you need to do now is identify which direction you want to take your career and what you need to do to get there”. I felt like a saw the direction I needed to go and started my path to truly understanding which direction is perfect for me.

The long-term affects are present as well. I realize how goals affect my personality and my standard of living very well. I understand what a healthy goal is and how it affects you as a person. How it can help you develop your skills while improving your desires for completing the goal. It tends to cause a domino effect on your life, and having a goal that does this is very healthy and is something that I strive for.



Avoid Snake Bites: A Traveler’s Best Advice

The portNatasha Nordgren Joshua Treerait of a travel addict:
The sun will soon disappear behind me and I’m alone in the desert surrounded only by cholla cactus (a/k/a millions of sharp needles), honeybee swarms, lonely coyotes and snakes. I didn’t actually see a snake that day; I just always assume there are snakes. Fear is effective bite prevention. It’s moments like these in the Joshua Tree cholla garden that I live for. I am terrible at sitting still. If I’m in the same place for too long, an ever present voice in the back of head takes over. It tells me to road trip to that national park, soak in that mountain hot spring or climb 422 Gothic cathedral steps for the best view of Paris; just GO.

When I was younger, I naively thought world travel was only for the wealthy. I also stupidly assumed that anything worth seeing required crossing an ocean. After a series of fortunate career failures, I fell into an opportunity to live and work in New Zealand. Equally ecstatic and terrified, I left behind all my comforts with Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks on repeat. There were very hard days and nights, but I learned that I have what it takes to survive in a distant place. That has been a boundless gift in my life.
Natasha Nordgren Cat.png

Home is where our cats live: I proudly call Austin, Texas home. If you have never been to our fine city of breakfast tacos, free-tailed bats and Willie Nelson, what are you waiting for? Londoners are coming in droves. Even though I love to roam, I love being home. It’s the yin to my yang. Taking orders from four bossy cats and watching documentaries with my husband is the best.

If you want to become a traveler, cats are your best friend. They don’t miss you when you are gone, but they love to snuggle when you get back. Get yourself a cat cam HERE so you can watch them tear up your couch while you are gone. It’s also the best.

Someday I will become the next Rick Steves, but for now I have a marketing career that pays my Southwest Airlines points card. (Other people collect stuff. Travelers collect points.) I attended the University of Colorado in Boulder a while back, but fell into a good paying job before I crossed the finish line. I recently concluded a long-term career with Whole Foods Market, did some soul searching in the desert and decided to finally finish my degree. The plan is to resume my marketing career at the end of August.

Third time is the charm: It’s confession time. This is my third attempt at WRTG 3040. I’ve actually thrived in marketing in part because I am an effective communicator in the business environment. However, it feels like business communication methods change faster than Beyonce’s stage costumes. I want this class to break me of bad habits, teach me new writing strategies and force me to practice. At the end of these 5 weeks, I’ll be better prepared for the next phase of my career.

HandH CarWash El Paso
H&H Car Wash: El Paso, TX

I could be anywhere, but finding me is easy. I use Instagram as a travel diary, but it mostly reveals that I am very motivated by good food. I recently drove 1,800 miles in search of the best spicy melted cheese thanks to THIS Southwest desert food tour guide from Bon Appetit.

If you love Mexican food and miss Anthony Bourdain, we’ll be instant friends. My name is Natasha and it’s nice to meet you.

I am the Russian that studies in the United States of America


Recognizable me: Hello everyone! My name is Anton, and I am a student at the University of Colorado Boulder. I am studying Economics and also taking a minor in the Technology of Arts and Media. I am originally from the Russian Federation, and I came to the United States to receive the education. My high school time was spent in Orlando, Florida. However, I decided to move to another state for getting my college degree. Thus, after applying to 18 universities, I was accepted to Colorado University at Boulder and a few others.

Initially, I was focusing on studying engineering, so CU Boulder was the best choice for me, and I had a feeling that Colorado would fit me better than a humid climate of Florida. After two years of taking Civil Engineering major in college, I decided to change my major to Economics, and I also wanted to take one of the most unique majors in university, which is the technology of arts and media. I think that a combination of my major and minor will help me to become very diverse in knowledge and have an opportunity to find a dream job.

Besides my school life, I also participate in sport. In college, I play hockey with my friends, and I take Thai Boxing classes. When I was in high school, I played in soccer varsity team and was part of the swimming varsity team. It is a great experience to feel team spirit in sports, and I’ve had these emotions very time when I play soccer or hockey, or even participating in swimming competition makes me excited because of a team support.

IMG_7873In addition, to all of the things that I have said above, I also like to participate in different school clubs that focus on organizing social events or helping communities from rural areas. For example, in the University of Colorado Boulder, I was a member of the International Festival Committee. We spend a semester and a half to prepare for the biggest event in university that gathers all people together from different nationalities to show their cultures, traditions, and food. Thousands of people come, for one day, to visit this event in order to learn about nations from other parts of the world. It is a long process of preparation, and it requires an energy, effort, and a teamwork to organize the whole event.

However, the International Festival was not the only club, where I have participated. I am also part of the CU Bridges to Prosperity club. I became part of this club when I used to be an engineer, but you do not have to be an engineer to get involved with a business that we do. For instance, we organize events for crowdfunding and expand our network through social media. By the way, last summer I traveled to Swaziland (South Africa) and built a footbridge with a team from CU Boulder. You can see me on the picture above, where I am standing on a deck of our first finished footbridge in Swaziland.

IMG_7262Where you’re at: I am in Boulder, Colorado right now. I usually travel to Russia to see my family during a summer and winter break, but a majority of my time I spend in the United States. In Boulder, I study at CU Boulder, and I am taking economics major and technology of arts and science minor.

I currently work on CU campus as a Residential Service Assistant (RSA) taking care of conference guests when they have any questions. In addition, I work as a Residential Assistant on campus during a school time. My job is to take care of residents in dorms if they need help.

What you want: I want to learn how to be a professional writer in terms of business communication. I believe that business writing strategies will help me to bring my writing skills to a new level, and messages that I write would not look mediocre, but influential and clear to understand. In addition, I would like to know how to write a professional portfolio and resume, so it would represent me as a multi-skilled person.

Where to find you: You can find me on my Facebook account. I like to spend time with my friends when I am free. However, I have to work a lot in my classes because I am taking a lot of credits every semester. Besides having fun with my friends, I also like to watch movies, play video games, and listen to a music.