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There is something called too much gaming…

If you ask any kid these days about his favourite game or sports, the chances are, he will talk about his favorite “electronic” game, i.e. is PC or Console game. The lack of playing grounds and outdoor facilities for young people and teenagers mean that the only way to experience a getaway in their life is to get hooked to their TV or computer monitor and spend hours playing game. Now, there is nothing wrong about playing video games at all, but too much gaming? Well it can be quite a health hazard if you are not being careful.

First of all, if you are PC gamer and spend a lot of time (hours at a stretch) playing games in front of a monitor on a keyboard, it can create physical as well as mental effects on your body. Last week, one of my young cousins was complaining that he was unable to write with his right hand as he felt pain in his wrist. He had spent about 6 hours on a trot playing NFS in his keyboard and due to the position of the directional cursor keys, he had to keep his wrist bend at all time. The thing to note is that, he uses an anti RSI keyboard, however anti RSI keyboards are supposed to minimize the effect of wrist pain WHILE TYPING ONLY. So if one keeps his fingers stay put on the directional buttons, and exert undue force in the heat of the game, he is still susceptible to chronic pain in his fingers and wrist.

One other hazard of playing PC game on a long stretch is the effect it has one the eyes. Most of us sit very close to the PC monitor while playing. Doctors suggest that we should give a rest of 10 minutes for every hour we work looking at the monitor. But where is the time for kids to look elsewhere when we are playing some great games? But a little break of 10 minutes every hour only can do wonders to keep you off from wearing a spectacle. Also the sudden flashes of light and other visual effect such as gore and violence may also affect kids mentally. Most games in USA and Europe come with an age rating for players. Games are sold strictly on the basis of age and parents are legally bound to check if their children are playing a game not suitable for their age. But no such restrictions are enforced here. Many realistic FPS and horror games come with a 17+ rating. But I saw even 10 year old kids playing these games as if it was made for them. On top of that, many games, such as the Tomb Raider series, have been identified for sexist contents. So if it is possible, try playing the games that apply to your age limit, and trust me those games can be real fun too.

If you think that consoles give us no pain or have any effect on the eyes, think again. Although consoles are played with a game pad, I found that most of my friends' console game pads are unclean, as they frequently change hand while playing co-op or with friends. Also, game pads may give less chronic pain, but clutching onto a game pad for hours can make the hands stiff and cause pain on the thumb. While paying your PS2 or XBOX, make sure that you have a comfortable sitting stance and keep a minimum 10 feet distance from the TV set. Most people with consoles I know tend to sit on the ground very close to their TV sets, giving them eye problems and neck pain. And of course one should be careful about playing games with the right ratings. If you are the older brother or sister, make sure that your younger siblings do not have access to games that are not meant for him or her.

Finally, a lot of parents complain that your children are not concentrating enough on their studies due to excessive gaming. Well this is quite true and I would urge all the gamers to give their education the first priority. Gaming is about entertaining our free times and should remain that way. Or else you may have to regret on result days. So happy gaming all you gamers out there.

By Monty Python

The first children centric news agency in Bangladesh

Shishu Prokash is a news agency specifically targeted toward children. In 2007 it received the Meena Media Award in the print category. Shishu Prokash came about in 2005 with help from Unicef under the slogan 'Shishuder Bolte Dao (Let the children speak)'.

The organisation comprises of teams of 10 children in districts across Bangladesh. Each team is equally divided into 5 boys and 5 girls with an age range of 12-18 years. Led by a senior journalist who also acts as a mentor, these children are trained ion the field of journalism with a report on child rights prepared every two months.

From inception till present, this organisation takes credit for bringing out the talents of 933 young journalists with 632 reports printed in various publications.

Shishu Prokash not only brings out the latent journalistic talents in these children but also provides them a platform to speak and fight for their rights. It helps to brings forth issues concerning their well-being and also showing them an alternate career choice.

United world Colleges and Atlantic College:
A life-changing experience

When I had applied to the United World Colleges (UWC), little was I aware of this phenomenal movement that would eventually change me into a different person. The United World Colleges are a group of twelve colleges all over the world, situated in countries like Wales, India, Singapore, Swaziland, Norway, Venezuela, Canada and so on. They all follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, which is a highly reputed, internationally accepted and all-rounded curriculum with focus on education inside and outside the classroom.

However, UWC s are different to other IB schools around the world. By bringing people from all over the world together in one school, the UWC movement seeks to use education as a tool to eliminate differences between cultures, people and countries, uniting the world, and making it a better place. This movement seeks to create leaders that will carry this movement on wherever they go, thus becoming agents of positive change across the world. These are the ideals that are typical of any UWC, which makes us different from other schools. As students of this movement, we are committed to these ideals, and are nurtured to become conscientious citizens of the world and become globally aware.

Such an international experience is only possible in a UWC. An only child, my parents were apprehensive about sending me abroad to live on my own at the tender age of sixteen. However, after studying at the United World College of the Atlantic, in Wales, UK, for more than a year, my parents and I have both realized what a good decision we had made. Seeing me so happy and so enriched with countless experiences, my parents have no regrets. At Atlantic College (AC), I am surrounded by people from more than 85 different countries. Learning and living with these people has taught me so much about the world. My experience with people of other cultures has helped me eradicate the false notions and prejudices I had and has broadened my mind and perception. AC has taught me to think outside the box, and has inculcated in me the value of service to others. I have had the opportunity to experience so much at AC, from kayaking and rock climbing to working with the disabled, autistic children and children suffering from Down's syndrome. I have had the opportunity to work for Amnesty International, protesting the apartheid wall in Isreal/Palestine and Guantanamo Bay. My life in AC is surrounded by activities and focus weeks, where we are constantly discussing current affairs, organising fund raisers and awareness- building campaigns, constantly working together as a united force to create some positive difference somewhere in the world. In the midst of our busy life with classes and service and activities, we learn the art of taking initiatives and practising leadership skills. Every student who graduates from a UWC becomes an all-rounded individual with the potential to become a leader and affect the world in a positive way.

Atlantic College is very dear to me. I have met amazing people here from all over, people who will remain in my heart and mind forever. This place has taught me to look beyond religion, race, and culture and to appreciate the individual within. Only then does one discover that we are all people belonging to one world and therefore we all are, essentially, the same.

Bangladesh needs more of its talented young students to join and represent us in the UWC movement. If the opportunity arises, do not miss it. What we need now are young minds who can take up this opportunity to develop their leadership skills and knowledge, so that they can positively affect the world. We need talented minds to lead our country and become great leaders of the world. Remember: This is a once in a lifetime experience!

By Sana Kainath Moyeen

Of lemon grass and Thai soup

It was a queer situation really! There I sat in a chair on the terrace looking at my teacher's theatrical expression as he explained chemical terms in a very dramatic way. I must say that I was getting to enjoy this class what with the teacher's enthusiasm and the terrace. It is not often that you get to do classes on a terrace in Dhaka! But thanks to the unpredictable electrical condition, anything and everything is possible. There are times when there would not be any incident of a power failure for long stretches while in other times there would not be any electricity for hours, days even!

Nevertheless, coming back to the point where I was sitting in a chair and listening when all of a sudden a waiter from the downstairs café came up with a lean knife in his hand. The concentration of everyone swayed from the class and everyone fixed their attention on the waiter. My teacher who preferred to ignore the disturbance was stammering as he spoke, clearly overcome with a strange fear. To my relief, the waiter walked away towards the far side where some frail looking grassy plants stood. From there, he cut off some leaves and took those downstairs.

It took me quite a while to digest what the waiter had just done. As I regained some sense, I asked someone when a classmate answered that the waiter took lemon grass leaves for Thai soup. When I heard this, it seemed that the whole world had crashed down upon me.

It was for the same leaves that I enjoyed Thai soup so much. All along, I had the thought that the leaves which were used came from some exotic plantation in Thailand because they were commonly known as Thai leaves. My class's discussion on the leaves suddenly broke me from my reverie. My teacher was challenging that the leaves simply could not be lemon grass when a student offered him a leaf and told him to smell it.

Without further delay, I took the leaf from sir to smell it. And there it was exactly the same aroma that is found in most Thai soups but fainter. Could it be …? Thousands of possibilities came to my head. First of all the uniqueness of Thai soup drained right before my eyes after I encountered the waiter cutting away some grassy leaves from a potted plant in a run-down terrace. So was it that all Thai leaves were simply this, cut from a potted plant? A feasible possibility, it seemed. I threw the leaf from my hand with disgust.

Again I got lost in my thoughts. My perspective towards the world and its inhabitants suddenly changed significantly. Outward appearances did not seem to matter too much. Things were not what they appeared to be. There were secrets behind everything, even Thai soups!

Once more I came back to reality as the class adjourned. After everyone left, I was the only person standing on the terrace. The leaf which my teacher had torn lay on the ground forgotten. I picked it up and brought close to my nose to smell it once again. Ah, the fragrance it gave off! I did not know how but this time the smell seemed a lot different. It had a more crisp and a refreshing scent “Does it really matter from where lemon grass grew?” I wondered. “Not at all,” I answered myself. “It's the specialty in the thing itself that matters the most”. Satisfied with my own answer, I took the torn leaf in my hand and skipped down the stairs.

By Faria Sanjana




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