Category Archives: Interviews

De-stressing Doggies take on Degrees

Universities are starting to use dogs to de-stress their students around exam time. Therapy dogs are now popping up in university nursing areas around the UK to try to battle the ongoing mental health issues which are slowly rising. 

With the rates of student suicides growing, many universities are looking for ways to help students stay calm, especially during the dreaded exam period. Some people disagree with the idea, but Middlesex University has brought in two captivating canines to tackle the issue. 

Ice was happy, an ex guide dog, was happy to meet us. He now spends his time giving love back to the students who need him.

“We do drop in sessions and on Mondays we do walk arounds through lectures” Josh, dog carer and nurse, introduces us to Maisie and Ice. The two Labradors are dressed in red sashes and name tags depicting their status within the university. 

“We care about not just the students but the dogs as well, we’re always sure to not put them in an unsafe environment.” 

Labradors tend to be the chosen dog for therapy, however they also welcomed a boxer, but after an unfortunate incident where Josh’s bag was used as a toilet, he was sent home for bad behaviour. 

“The dogs have to be assessed before they can be seen by students.” When they’re not comforting a student, Maisie and Ice can be found with their owners who work at the university. Ice living out the winter of his life after successful years as a guide dog. 

Josh, Maisie and Ice all pose for a photo before starting their rounds of Middlesex University.

It’s not only for comfort, many come to overcome a fear. Through regular visits with the two dogs, both 8 years old, Josh confirmed many students had overcome their fear of dogs. 

“Sometimes they’re not stressed out, we get a lot of students who are just homesick and miss their pets”. The canine duo give them the love that many crave when they’re away from home. Homesickness is one of the leading reasons of depression within students, a study by Huffpost. 

Nevertheless, Josh thinks it has benefited the students very well. “I think everyone should do it. It’s such an easy thing to achieve, you’ve just got to find the right dog.” 

There is only one problem with dogs in university. Hair Everywhere. 

Julian Assange: The events leading to his arrest

Founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange has been sentenced in the UK to 50 weeks in prison for breaching bail back in 2012. The sentencing comes days before World Press Day 2019 on May 3rd. But who is Julian Assange?

Julian Assange is an Australian journalist, computer programmer and software developer. His infamy started at the young age of 16, when he hacked into a telecommunication company’s master terminal. He was then charged on 30 accounts of hacking in Australia, however, Assange was exempted with only a fine for damages to Nortel.

Assange further improved his technological skills and enrolled at the University of Melbourne. But this did not last long. For ethical reasons, such as not wanting to use his intelligence to aid the military, Assange left university and did not continue his degree in Mathematics.

Only 13 years ago, Assange began working on WikiLeaks: a website that “specialises in the analysis and publication of large datasets of censored and otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption. This website officially launched in 2007 and became one of the biggest whistleblowers of the century.

In June, 2012, Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and was granted political asylum in August of that same year. Ecuador decided to protect him under the fear that his right as a human would be violated if he were to be extradited to Sweden.

Two years prior, in December 2010, Swedish authorities issued a European Arrest Warrant under the allegations of two counts of sexual molestation, one count of rape and one count of illegal coercion. On December 6th of the same year, Assange turned himself into British police.

In May 2012, the U.K’s Supreme Court ruled that Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden to face his allegations. This forced Assange to seek political asylum at the

Ecuadorian embassy but only on their territory and if he left the embassy, he was free to be arrested by British police.

In 2015, the sexual assault and coercion charges were dropped, while the rape charges statute of limitations will expire in 2020. In February 2016, a United Nations panel was held which ruled that Assange was unreasonably detained and that he should be released and compensated for his deprivation of liberty.

However, both Sweden and UK rejected saying that Assange would be arrested if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy. On May 19th 2017, Sweden said that the rape charges against Assange would be dropped. Later that year in December, Assange was granted Ecuadorian citizenship, but his relationship with the country was starting to deteriorate.

This may have been as a result of Assange’s interference in the 2016 Presidential elections in America. Where 1200 emails from Hillary Clinton’s, one of the candidates in the presidential race, private server.

Earlier this year, in February, Australia granted Julian Assange a new passport as they feared that Ecuador would soon withdraw Assange’s asylum. Two months later, Australia’s fears came through Ecuador withdrew Assange’s asylum and as a result he was arrested at the embassy.

Following his arrest, it was announced that the WikiLeaks founder has been charged in the US for conspiring with Army Intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning to break into a classified government computer at the Pentagon.

The following explainer shows the timeline of events before his arrest.

Julian assange

Infographic by: Kenya Best

Sources: 

https://www.biography.com/activist/julian-assange

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11949341

https://wikileaks.org/What-is-WikiLeaks.html

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dgcomsoc/

 

London Spotter: Raj Stevenson

Blogger London Spotter, also known as Raj Stevenson, is a full-time student who in his spare time blogs about the latest aviation events and describes himself as: “an airlines for nightmare”.

“My dream and what I’m working towards, is making London Spotter my full-time job.” Raj’s humble days of plane spotting from the perimeter fence of London Gatwick Airport has led to him attending aircraft deliveries with Qatar Airways, events held by Airbus and the opportunity to meet industry wide names such as Sam Chui and Brian Kelly.

This teen critic of the aircraft industry accidentally stumbled across the path of writing about aviation claiming that he only started plane spotting when his best friend was on holiday, and was interested to see his flight’s progress. First by tracking his friend’s flight on a website called FlightRadar24, and then by visiting Gatwick Airport which was near his home.

“When I was 15 years old, I actually didn’t know much about aviation”. Stevenson used a website called Flight Radar 24, a free website which shows the responders of all commercial flights, to track the progress of his friend’s flight. From there on, Stevenson’s career in aviation “took off”.

Stevenson’s Instagram following has grown exponentially in the last year, and he now has a following of over 40,000 followers. His YouTube following too is substantial, with a following of almost 3,000 subscribers (Videos from Raj Stevenson’s channel is his sole property, all credits belong to Raj Stevenson and his channel London Spotter).

Stevenson provides advice concerning top tips when flying, how to find the best flight and hotel deals, and loopholes behind avoiding nuisance costs in the industry.

In light of infamous and recent incidents in aviation I asked Raj what he thought of aircraft safety in 2019. “It always will be a very safe way to travel, I’ve never been scared to fly, and if you look at the statistics it is safe.”

Raj seemed unfettered by the crash of identical aircraft, the Boeing 737 Max 8, one which crashed of the coast of Sumatra and the second shortly after take from Addis Ababa.

“You could say flying became safe when those to aircraft crashed.”

Raj’s Instagram page is a prime example of the work and all the achievements he has experienced. Though as a full-time student, he found providing the time and expenses of managing invitations to further aviation events and releases difficult to accept.

During of 2018, Raj extensively travelled much of Asia and the Middle East, and hopes to enjoy further travels this year. A perfect place to keep on track with Raj’s ventures is on Instagram: londonspotter.

“It’s not like the movies”- Andrew: An ex undercover officer

Andrew Gregory, 54, never imagined that when he went to the Job Centre at 18 straight after he finished his A-levels, that he would end up in a career as an undercover officer culminating in him becoming a Covert Operation Manager. His journey began at Dover docks, where for a few years he worked as a customs officer dealing with passengers at the port. This was until one day, one of his fellow colleges mentioned that there was currently work available in the investigation unit. Andrew was raised in a council estate in Kent, and as government grants did not exist at this time, university was never an option for him. As he excelled at school, he was determined to ensure that his background and financial situation would not hold him back from a satisfactory and lucrative career.

Andrew worked within an investigation team that focused on criminal organisations that were smuggling cocaine into the UK. This was an interesting and high profile field of work, because at this time cocaine and particularly crack cocaine were fairly new forms of drugs that were attracting press attention.

After 10 years of working within the investigation team, he then stumbled into undercover work where he spent the next 18 years of his career. His job entailed him travelling abroad and becoming the character of a lorry driver. His job was to meet with informers and sometimes collect drugs off individuals. He would then proceed to bring the drugs back to the UK, in order for him and his team to arrest the organisations arranging the importations and supplying the drugs to the public.

“My most interesting job was probably the one that lasted for five years. I started the job and saw it through to the end. We infiltrated an organisation who we thought were trying to smuggle four tons of cocaine into England, but it ended up being into Spain. They handed us four tons of cocaine thinking we were working for them.”

 

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Andrew whilst undercover, had to always be on his toes. One little slip up could have blown his cover and ruined a whole investigation. He built up a character that he believed in, and was similar to his actual life to ensure that every operation ran smoothly and that no mistakes were made. His character was that of a single lorry driver. Once his home life changed and his daughter was born, his character and real-life circumstances diverged. This wasn’t an issue but it just meant that Andrew had to be extra careful whilst undercover. Within his field of work, Andrew was always being watched as criminals live on the edge. They are sharp and look at the little things such as what he wore, what he ate, and particularly how he talked.

Andrew faced many struggles and hurdles throughout his 18 years within undercover work.  He has often stated that one of the surprising aspects of his job, was that when he was working alongside criminals for long periods of time he found himself growing fond of them and their company. Whilst being involved in this certain job, Andrew had to ensure that his emotions and personal opinion did not get in the way of the operations and its main objectives.

“When it comes to crimes such as smuggling and robbery the people that do them can be anybody. I believe that it all just depends on who you hang around with and what path you chose to take.”

 “I did a job in Liverpool and I was undercover as a lorry driver. I had to live up there for a month. Whilst I was there I had to go to the pub for drinks with the bad guys and watch them take drugs in front of me.”

 The job wasn’t all fast cars, expensive dinners and travelling, even though these were just some of the amazing perks. Due to Andrew spending 18 years working as an undercover officer, it caused a strain on him personally. He would spend long durations of time away from home, and once he started a family this caused his work to become more and more stressful. He could spend weeks within his character and then have to go home and change back into himself. This caused his personality to considerably change due to the sharp transition he would have to face on a regular basis.

“Spending sometimes weeks with criminals would change my character. I became less of a nice person and unfortunately, you don’t get much help or support in this line of work. I definitely did it for too long.”

 Andrew was lucky when it came to his career. He fell on his feet, believed in what he did, and never had to worry about there being a dull day in the office. However, it’s not like the movies, it’s an intense, overwhelming and 24/7 job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Put your heart first”-Interview with Giovanni Rossi

Giovanni Rossi has been a long time family friend.

I remember when I was a child, the long talks after dinner that my dad used to entertain with this man; that used to appear out of nowhere with his wife, to then disappear for months or years. And whenever Giovanni was around, I remember him always with an enormous smile; discussing and recounting what to me sounded like weird stories about realities far from earth. It was strange to a young me, but never boring.

Giovanni is a tall and elegant man in his 60s that comes from Città di Castello, a small and pitoresque town in Umbria, Italy; where he spent his life working as a specialist breast-cancer surgeon. Happily married to his beloved Emanuela, long time partner; Giovanni is a man of great down-to-earth sensitivity and genuinity, with an enormous passion for travel that took him around the world.

Last time I saw him it was very long ago (at least eight years, if I’m not wrong), so it’s been a pleasant experience seeing him again.

As I ask him my first questions, he politely answers speaking with a very pronounced accent typical of that area of Italy; and with a comforting, firm, and loud (but pleasant) tone.

As he moves his basalt curly hair; he start to recounts the story of how his life Changed.

Back in 2009/2010 Giovanni was coming back form Ngorongoro after a holiday, when he found himself wating 5 hours in Addis Abeba airport. As he waited, he noticed <a tall and slim man with a huge cross necklace on his chest>, and randomly started a conversation with him. It turns out that the man was a victim of the Rwandan War of 1994, in which he lost his family. Found life in faith, and became the bishop of a small town called Kobgai.

The man was adopted by an Italian couple in his childhood, and therefore he was able to speak Italian fluently. Giovanni <[…]ended up speaking with him all night long>; curious of the stories about the difference that humanitarian help makes in small and remote realities in Africa.

After the conversation with the man, Giovanni decided to keep in touch with the bishop that later on invited him to visit one of his “missions”.

“I think care was a family thing[…]”

said Giovanni laying gently his hands on the table as he explains how he started to realise his vocation.

As he speaks, his stiff surgeon hands swing “italianically” through words and memories; looking nimble and mechanical (nearly robotic) in the old-flow of their movement: consumed, but not exhausted.

“My aunt was a very important figure in my life, and I always respected her devotion to God and the others” he said tenderly speaking about the role that as nun, his aunt had in hospitals; meanwhile a tobacco-brown tuft of his black moustaches bounces fiery up and down with his words, just were once smoke used to ascend.

After a year in planning, in 2011 (supported money of his own pocket, and by two members of “Figlie Della Misericordia” convent) Giovanni finally started his first “test” humanitarian mission to Kizibere, a small town lost in Tanzania, accompanied by Emanuela and the bishop which he met, that invited them a year before.

As he speaks of his arrival and Kizibere, I notice a sligh loss of momentum in the so far tone of his voice; like a sudden change of light of when clouds pass in front of the sun.

“You only feel lost, Luca. Not because there is nothing around you; or because night arrives in the span of ten minutes, no. Not even because of the precarious conditions of life around you, no. You feel lost because you see the extreme good in people; living a “normal” routine in conditions that you know, deep down into you; that you wouldn’t be able to accept. […] It feels unreal, and the only questions that bounced violently in my head : How? What can I do? What the f’’’ is life, if I’m only a teardrop in an ocean? […] It’s been 9 very stressful days, and thanks to what I’ve seen, and to the immense support and joy of Emanuela that something here, and here (pointing his head and then his heart) clicked. I learnt to put my heart first, Luca.”

In 2012 Giovanni finally bought a construction terrain dedicated to the building of small infrastructures to bring minimal life support to the inhabitants Kizibere, bringing work and small progressions.

Since then, Giovanni has spent over 3,5 years in total in African territory, dedicating himself to medicine, faith and labour; and I’ll just say that he spent the majority of his earnings in this.

Today thanks to Giovanni’s initiative, in Kizibere there are now infrastructures hosting intructional, religious, and working-related activities to guarantee a better future and better probabilities to the future generations.

As he leaves, he confesses with petrol where blood should run; that he still takes <good care>of his loved bright-yellow Jaguar E Cabrio; and that next time I’m in Italy, <I should visit him for a ride>.

Katy Bellotte: “organized chaos” turned influencer

“I was a mess, I wasn’t ready…”

Picking at her freshly painted maroon colored nail beds and staring that the white oak floors, YouTuber and Instagram influencer, Katy Bellotte, looked back on her journey from a life full of “organized chaos” to promotional boxes of Free People and Glossier at her New York City flat’s doorstep.

Accrediting her success to not being afraid to produce hard and clear content that hurts, Bellotte has grown a fanbase of 469, 387 Youtube subscribers, 159,000 Instagram followers, and the second leading podcast on Spotify for Lifestyle and Health. As a result, she has become a frequently sought after fashion, skincare, and beauty ambassador and is friendly with several celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Jenna Mourey.

Nevertheless, the road to becoming an influencer is a rocky one, and Katy’s journey is no exception. With millions of individuals fighting their way into the social media fashion and beauty scene, just how difficult is it to actually make it.

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Perhaps Bellotte’s strongest motivation came from her desire to fulfill an unsatisfied market. “…I decided that I wanted to become for others what I wanted for myself.”

Born and raised in the small, bayside town of Annapolis, Maryland, Bellotte always felt slightly out of space. “Back in my early teens, I was brutally bullied. The way that I looked, acted and talked caused me to be ridiculed. It was a tough time for me and I really wish that there would have been I’d an older girl who I could have sought advice from.”

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With her Youtube algorithm showing that most of Bellotte’s viewers being slightly younger than her age, 23, she sees herself as one of the “big sisters” of Youtube. “It has always been my goal to act as a beacon of hope for girls who have gone through similar situations and are just looking for guidance and a helping hand.”

Despite her tripod of textbooks from her previous degree at Elon University, Bellotte has still managed to make a name for herself because of the passion that she has for her hobby. “When you’re 14, you’re constantly searching for ways to label yourself and the only clear label that I could find that suited me and I enjoyed was a videographer.”

With a folder entitled, “Katy’s Creations” on her old Envy HP laptop, Katy decided to start her journey to becoming a Youtuber. Within this folder sat her first video ever uploaded: a eye makeup tutorial with one eyeshadow brush and one eyeshadow. “I remember thinking, ‘gosh, I really just want to put these somewhere, I want for other people to see them.’ I really found my worth in making videos. I loved it. I would wake up in the morning and be like, “where’s my camera?” and I am still kinda like that honestly. From there it has blossomed into something I don’t even have the words to describe”

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A post shared by Katy Bellotte (@katybellotte) on

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In spite of her popularity on social media, Katy undeterred by the numbers and fully intents on keeping her hobby and career as separate entities. “I think that as soon as you make something that you love your complete job, you start to love it less.”

Despite her strong belief, Bellotte she’s no end to her content creating anytime soon. With a New York City apartment, a social media editing job at L’Oreal, and her evergrowing life experiences, she can only see herself continue to grow. “In the words of Leonardo Da Vinci, ‘people of accomplishment rarely sit back and let things happen to them. They go out and happen to things.’ Being open and public about the things that others don’t dare to speak up about is how I’ve gotten where I am and how I’ll keep climbing.”

As a chip of her maroon nail polish fell to the ground, she looked up, “I wasn’t ready, but then again, when will you ever be? Dare to be different. Create for yourself. Work with what you have and go with the flow. You might be more ready than you think.”

“Everyday is an Adventure of Surrender”

Jo Nava moved to London from Denmark with her family 3 years ago. Since then, she has made her space on the corner of Tottenham court road, where she wows passers-by with her new style of busking. Using a loop machine and her laptop she is able to create new unique songs you usually only hear on the radio right in front of you. With this she plays her own music only, introducing us to a mixture of song and rap with lyrics that tug at your heartstrings and lift your soul as she inspires you to live a positive lifestyle.

 

 

 

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