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The University of Iowa’s Food for Thought Theme Semester is a program that will launch Tuesday and run throughout the spring semester. It will connect academics, local communities and individual Iowans through something we can all relate to: food.

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We all have to begin shifting our expectations and biases. We have to lose the binaries that never existed in the first place (sexes at birth). We have to understand that gender identity needs to be celebrated and accepted as each individual feels most natural and not impose it and require it to match an assigned sex at birth. I invite you to attend a WorldCanvass discussion of gender and identity at 5 p.m. Tuesday at FilmScene, 118 East College St.

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The University of Iowa celebrates International Education Week as an annual opportunity to promote global awareness and engagement and to feature the international opportunities offered on our campus and in our community. Today, as never before, education must be globally oriented to prepare Iowans and students from around the country and around the world to move confidently across borders, to interact effectively with people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and to take pleasure in a life filled with inquiry and discovery.

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In rural India, water scarcity is the most obvious shared link between poverty, hunger and disease. According to the World Health Organization, 780,000 of the 10 million annual deaths in India are due to lack of basic health care amenities, such as effective sewage systems, elementary sanitation facilities and safe drinking water. Almost 90 percent of diarrhea cases are a result of contaminated water. When people have no ready access to water, their choices and freedom are constrained, and the results are far reaching.

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Pius, a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) from Tanzania, reflects on his experience at the University of Iowa in this video produced by the Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Pius teaches courses in Swahili, which he says is made easier by the advanced technology available at the UI.

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Brazil lives in the popular imagination as an exotic, tropical landscape whose glorious beaches offer stunning vacation destinations. For some, the mention of Brazil stirs thoughts of unrestrained logging, all-but-unknown indigenous populations along the Amazon and over-crowded cities where the disparities between rich and poor couldn’t be sharper. And yet for others, Brazil is a 21st-century powerhouse, bursting with plentiful natural resources and rich with development opportunities.

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Since I have been living and working in the city it has been easy to overlook the fact that I’m living in a nation that is still very much developing. I can see implications of poverty by the amount of homeless around the city but still not enough to make me really understand the destitution many face living here today. It wasn't until this past weekend when I visited a township called Langa that I really got it.

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I have never felt as though I belonged in Iowa — there was always a part of me that felt I needed to be elsewhere, be someone else. Last month, my dream of studying abroad came true in Madrid, Spain. Sangria, siestas, and sunshine were on the horizon.

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Five years after he studied abroad, UI graduate Mark Norris re-visits Reykjavík, Iceland and offers these reflections.

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Topics covered in this episode:
- Favorite movie?
- Do you play sports?
- What are your hobbies?
- What American habits have you noticed?

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