Your language is dying out, fast. Only a few people speak it fluently, and once they’re gone, the language goes too.

With time running out, would you choose between learning the language perfectly, or learning to communicate despite minor flaws in how you use it – mistakes in pronunciations and accents?

This situation is playing out in Seattle. The Puyallup Tribe’s Lushootseed language is dying out. UNESCO recognizes it as a critically endangered language with only five speakers of it left, and all of them elderly.

With their language dwindling rapidly, several members of the Puyallup Tribe decided that traditional language teaching methods were not effective in instilling love and interest. A modern twist was needed to rekindle people to uphold their history and culture.

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Colors fly at a gay pride parade. (Photo by Tim Brown for the U.S. Department of State via Flickr.)
Colors fly at a gay pride parade. (Photo by Tim Brown for the U.S. Department of State via Flickr.)

On the Monday after PRIDE weekend, with the glitter finally removed from my hair and clothing, I let the reality of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage sink in. Coming down off a spell that was equal parts rainbow crosswalks and sunstroke, I began to wonder—what now?

Seattle Ferguson Protest Photos
Rally at the University of Washington on Nov. 25. (Photo by Jama Abdirahman)

Make no mistake. The terrorist massacre in Charleston at the Emanuel AME Church on Wednesday night is a backlash against #BlackLivesMatter. When a 21-year-old man guns down nine people while telling the victims that he believes that Blacks are “taking over the country,” he is reacting to a perceived ripple in the vast, undisturbed ocean of privilege, entitlement and supremacy that has been his norm and that he believes to now be under threat.

What should frighten us is how little it took. A few months of sporadic protesting and rallying and hashtagging under the umbrella of #BlackLivesMatter. That is all it took to fuel a young white male’s phobia.

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An Ethiopian woman at her community center holds a candle in remembrance for the Christians killed by ISIS Center. (Photo by Agazit Afeworki for the South Seattle Emerald.)
An Ethiopian woman at her community center holds a candle in remembrance for the Christians killed by ISIS. (Photo by Agazit Afeworki for the South Seattle Emerald.)

This story originally appeared on the South Seattle Emerald.

Seattle’s Eritrean and Ethiopian communities held separate vigils on April 25 and May 1 at the Ethiopian Community Center and Rainier Valley Cultural Center to honor the Eritrean and Ethiopian men brutally executed in a video by the terrorist organization ISIS last month.

During both events, community members moved from prayers and mourning to speak extensively about what may have caused their countrymen to be in Libya. Some at the open forums faulted their country’s economy and for not providing opportunities for youth to stay at home.

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Bruce Lee is buried in Lake View Cemetery next to his son Brandon, who died in 1993. (Photo by Chetanya Robinson)
Bruce Lee is buried in Lake View Cemetery next to his son Brandon, who died in 1993. (Photo by Chetanya Robinson)

Next to Volunteer Park in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood lies a spot that’s visited by 10,000 people every year. Through the gates of Lake View Cemetery and halfway up a hill with clear views of Lake Washington, the space is shielded by evergreen shrubs.

This is where Bruce Lee, legendary Chinese American martial artist and film star, was laid to rest in 1973. His grave is not only a Seattle tourist attraction but a national and global pilgrimage site.

Lee was 32 years old when he died from a brain swelling caused by an allergic reaction to painkillers. But in many ways he lives on still.

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Mary September and her son in front of the federal building in downtown Seattle during a Nov. 20 immigration reform rally. (Photo by Mohamud Yussuf / OneAmerica).

It’s Christmas Day, and my eight-year-old son and I are in Denver on a layover to Austin to be with my sister’s family.

The airport TV screens are filled with year-end stats and reviews. I am pondering a few stats of my own: 4,272 is the number of days I’ve been married and 1,170 is the number of days my husband and I have been living on separate continents. Our son has been alive 2,598 days, and he has spent 45 percent of his life away from his dad. And on this day especially, it became abundantly clear to me we have spent far too many Christmases apart.

Three years ago, I left my life in rural Malawi — and 15 bouts of malaria — to return to the states with my son. I thought I was coming home. I assumed my family would be welcome, but instead, have found that on the issue of keeping my family together, my country is more my adversary than my advocate.

“Many things that shouldn’t have happened, happened because of money,” says Wang Youliang.

“The situation [in Wenzhou] is a secret everybody knows, but you can’t talk about it in public.”

He is a young entrepreneur and shoe manufacturer working in Wenzhou, China. Among his friends, five failed factory owners fled and one killed himself.

The country that is predicted to be the next big super power on the world economic stage has its own hidden crisis.

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Tuareg people spread across five nations in the central Sahara have long sought independence. But last January rebels in Northen Mali began a movement for succession. (Photo via <a href="http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/homepage/"> magharebia.com</a>)
Tuareg people spread across five nations in the central Sahara have long sought independence. But last January rebels in Northen Mali began a movement for succession. (Photo via magharebia.com)

Until a couple weeks ago, you probably didn’t think much about Mali, the large, former French colony that spans North and West Africa.

I know I didn’t.

But then we started hearing about French troops invading northern Mali, and militants kidnapping foreign workers in Algeria and that this all somehow connected to the fall of Gaddafi in Libya.

So, what’s going on in North Africa, and why does it matter to us way over here in Seattle?

Public transportation in South Waziristan, in the lawless Tribal Areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Photo by Gohar Masud)
Public transportation in South Waziristan, in the lawless Tribal Areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Photo by Gohar Masud)

My friend and I squeeze in the front seat of the pickup.

We’re lucky–others are stuck in the back without seats in the freezing winter, getting tossed in the air when the driver crests the hills.

It was another one of those days when I would travel between my home in Dera Ismail Khan and South Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s lawless Tribal Areas, to sell medical supplies for Abbott Labs, an American healthcare company.

Vitamins, antibiotics, Ensure, Similac, Sensimil, Formance, Isomil; basic products you’d find in any hospital or pharmacy in Seattle were a godsend to families in Waziristan. Nobody seemed to care that they were produced by an American company.

By the time I finished my sales at 4pm it was pretty late to start the six-hour trip back home through the so-called no-man’s-land along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

But I had a bad feeling. I just wanted to get out of there, despite the urging of locals who told us it wasn’t wise to travel during the night.

A late night game of street ball in Hong Kong (Photo by Marcus Hansson)
A late night game of street ball in Hong Kong (Photo by Marcus Hansson)

Once people discover that I speak some basic Chinese, the typical conversation I have here in Juijiang goes something like this:

A few standard queries regarding my nationality, occupation, marital status, salary, and maybe my opinions on Chinese food.

And then it happens.

“Which city are you from?”

“I am from Seattle.” I say, bracing myself for the nearly inevitable response.

“Ah, Seattle. The Chaoyinsu” (literally “Exceed Sound Speed” – the Supersonics).

Our hapless Seattleite protagonist now must explain how the Sonics have moved to another city, they are no longer called the Supersonics, and how Seattle sports fans constantly suffer from the trauma of having defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

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Vancouver band Bad Fate (Photo by Steve Louie)
Bad Fate (Photo by Steve Louie)

The first few times my Seattle-based band went to Vancouver, Canada to play D.I.Y. gigs, the city felt perfect.

Apparently, our B.C. buds enjoyed non-stop kick-ass shows with cross-genre bills and supportive crowds free of haters and assholes.

That’s all true, but it’s a bit more complicated.

While Vancouver is beautiful, its rents are high, its daily provisions overpriced. When not enabling puritanical liquor policies and corporate nightlife, local government re-writes bylaws to keep underground music out of sight.

The labor board’s latest ad campaign patronizes: “Hipster is not a real job.” An older one lectures: “Chance your music will get you signed: 0.00563%.” Many of those I’ve met live in creaky communal houses.

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(Photo from Flickr by NYC Marines)
(Photo from Flickr by NYC Marines)

Imagine a thirteen year old boy trying to stay awake after walking more than three days in the desert. He’s so desperate for water that he drinks from a puddle where a dead body has fallen. 

Now imagine that seven years later that boy can’t get a legal job, go to college or visit his family, all because he’s an undocumented immigrant. 

That’s the story of Andres Rocete, and hundreds of thousands of children that are brought to the United States in hopes of a better future.

But finally, these youth see a light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offers them a chance to come out of the shadows to study and work legally in the US.

I talked to three friends who have applied for the program to find out how it’s working for undocumented youth and get tips for other young immigrants thinking of applying:

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Oliver Kotelnikov outside the Pike Place Market bakery that made piroshkies famous in Seattle. (Photo by Yvonne Rogell)
Oliver Kotelnikov outside the Pike Place Market bakery that made piroshkies famous in Seattle. (Photo by Yvonne Rogell)

Cheese.

Did your mouth just water? Yeah, mine too.

If anyone knows what cheese can do to people, it is Oliver Kotelnikov, owner of the Russian bakery Piroshky Piroshky in the Pike Place Market.

Apparently, cheese can make pastries fly off the shelves.

Cheese didn’t start it all, though.

Kotelnikov’s parents did, 20 years ago, on October 24th 1992.

”It was hectic. Everybody had their own idea of what was going to happen. It was immediately busy,” Kotelnikov recalls of the first day the bakery opened. “We didn’t know what to expect, but it’s a good sign when there’s just people.”

Frustrated with the outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs, Ryan Clark and Tim Andis founded Liberty Bottleworks. The company makes recycled aluminum bottles locally using mostly US machinery, materials and labor. (Photo by Alex Stonehill)
Frustrated with the outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs, Ryan Clark and Tim Andis founded Liberty Bottleworks. The company makes recycled aluminum bottles locally using mostly US machinery, materials and labor. (Photo by Alex Stonehill)

It was the middle of that dark week before the New Year. Christmas cookies were growing stale in tins on the counter and emails had begun to pile up again.

But the news of a plea for help from a forced labor camp in China cut through my holiday hangover.

The Oregonian reported that a Portland woman had found a note shoved into a Halloween decoration she bought at Kmart. The note, written partially in English, claims to describe conditions in a Chinese government labor camp where the Styrofoam “Totally Ghoul Graveyard Kit” was made.

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An ariel view of the new Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) in South Lake Union. (Photo courtesy MOHAI)
An ariel view of the new Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) in South Lake Union. (Photo courtesy MOHAI)

When I woke up New Years Day, I immediately regretted my plans to spend the day in a museum.

It was one of those uncharacteristically sunny winter days in Seattle. The kind where Seattleites crawl out of hibernation and the population of the city suddenly seems to double.

The sun glittered across Lake Union as I walked across the beautiful park that the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) now calls home. The museum moved from its original location in Montlake and, after a $60 million renovation, it’s more conveniently located and has space for its over 4 million historical artifacts.

But most importantly, with the move MOHAI has taken the opportunity to completely re-imagine the way Seattle’s story is told.

One by One, a local NGO founded by Heidi Breeze-Harris (right) to fight fistula, is one of a dozen small local organizations being honored today. (Photo courtesy SIF)

“There is something unique about Seattle,” says Michele Frix, Program Officer with the Seattle International Foundation (SIF).

“There’s a special quality here: that giving nature and that great interest in global causes.”

Want proof? Look no further than the 250 women and men filling the Four Seasons Hotel ballroom in downtown Seattle this morning.

They are here for SIF’s third annual Women in the World breakfast, honoring the work being done by local organizations for women around the world.

The breakfast has become SIF’s signature event. This year’s speakers include President of Oxfam America Raymond Offenheiser, Zimbabwean activist Glanis Changachirere, and Guatemala’s first female Attorney General, Dr. Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey, (and the Globalist’s own Sarah Stuteville).

And the highlight is the announcement of seventeen grants worth a combined total of more than $200,000.

Today’s grantee organizations address issues like women’s health, literacy, finance, and leadership training. All are based in Washington; all operate on annual budgets of less than $2 million; and all work in developing countries.

So how do we do it? How does our region continue to lead the way in global aid and development? What’s the secret to these organizations’ success?

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My first attempt at chapli kabobs gets the Instagram treatment. (Photo by Brett Konen)

Until recently I knew next to nothing about Afghanistan, except that we’ve been at war there for more than half my lifetime.

From what I saw in the news I envisioned dry, desolate terrain throughout, with militants popping out from rocky outcroppings just long enough to shoot at a nameless target.

I knew this wasn’t accurate, but I didn’t have an alternate vision to replace it with.

So, with a little time on my hands after graduation, I decided to build one.

I could have tackled Afghan history, or economy. But there’s something much more tangible about food.  Rather than trusting text to be true, we can see, smell, touch, taste the food in front of us. It’s a primary source in the study of a culture we can’t absorb firsthand.

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Madhukar Chebrolum, of Redmond, swings at a pitch with his cricket bat during practice for the NW-iFusionIT team Thursday at Woodinville’s Northshore Sports Complex. (Photo by Colin Diltz/Seattle Times)

Behind a complex of warehouses in Woodinville, in a fluorescent-lit sports complex laid with AstroTurf and strung with netting, there’s a batsman stepping up to the pitch.

I’m at late-night cricket practice for The Moose, the traveling team of The Microsoft Cricket Club. It’s 9:00 on a work night but nobody’s going home anytime soon — they’ve got a national tournament in Florida to prepare for.

“Make sure you’re behind the net,” warns Vishwa Gaddamanugu, the gum-chewing coach. I’m standing alongside the automated pitching machine listening to the rhythm of pop, crack, thump as Gaddamanugu feeds ball after yellow dimpled ball into the machine to meet Vik Kothari’s long paddle-shaped bat.

I’m glad I heeded the warning a few moments later when a ball rings off the metal edge of the cage an inch right of my ear.

It is football season and I’ve made a promise to my Seahawks-loving husband to “really try and get into football” this year.