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CNM bids farewell to Assistant Professors Ingrid Hoofd and Giorgos Cheliotis

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Assistant Professors Ingrid Hoofd and Giorgos Cheliotis will leave CNM before the end of 2014. They share on this blog their thoughts and feelings as they look back on their stints at CNM.

Dr Ingrid Hoofd
I have been in CNM close to nine years! My first semester was as an adjunct, and after that as an assistant prof for 8½ years.

What will definitely stay with me is the collegiality and warm atmosphere within CNM. It really felt like a community despite all our differences in research approaches. I also learnt  a lot from being in a predominantly social science department; although I had to get my deep intellectual dialogues mostly from outside the department, being in CNM gave me a lot of insight and appreciation of that field as well. And as the lone humanist, I also had a lot of freedom to shape my own research and the humanities bit of the curriculum.

I am heading for Utrecht University in the Netherlands, where I will be at the Department of Media and Cultural Studies in the Humanities Faculty, specifically their subdivision New Media & Digital Culture. To all NM students: Come do an exchange semester there, or check out their postgraduate degrees!

Dr Giorgos Cheliotis

I am returning to Greece to look after my ailing mother, and to recover from health issues I myself have been facing because of the climate here.  That said, I for one know I will miss the tropical storms, rich flora, and abundance of tropical fruit!

I am grateful I am for the opportunity to spend all these years at CNM. Coming from a computer science background, I must admit I knew little of the communications field when I first joined.  I have learnt a lot since. In fact, much of my recent work is attempting a synthesis across disciplines, taking things I have learnt about reliability and validity assessment in the social sciences and applying them to the methods that primarily, computer scientists use to observe online populations.

My time with CNM has been an important milestone in my career and I’m sure it will continue to influence me for a long time to come. I wish you all the best in your careers and hope that our paths will cross again in the future!

Written by Gulizar Haciyakupoglu

November 19, 2014 at 2:56 pm

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Prof Mohan Dutta presents the keynote at Indiana University’s Health Connections Common Conference

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Wednesday 29 October, 9am-2:30pm

Whittenberger Auditorium, Indiana University

Keynote Address

Communication and spaces of structural transformation: Collaborating for alternative imaginations

Prof. Mohan J. Dutta

In this talk, I will outline the communicative processes of organizing in offline and online spaces that create avenues for alternative imaginations. Based on our ongoing culture-centered fieldwork in disenfranchised communities across the globe, the talk will highlight the key elements of interpretation and meaning that serve as nodes of organizing. I will attend specifically to the flows of meaning in networks of communication and the interpretive frames that serve as organizing entry points. I will also draw upon the intersections of culture, community and technology to discuss the interplay between online and offline spaces.

Mohan J. Dutta is a Professor and Head of the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore and Courtesy Professor of Communication at Purdue University. He is the founding director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) at the National University of Singapore and served as the founding director of Center on Poverty and Health Inequities at Purdue University.

Dutta teaches and conducts research in international health communication, critical cultural theory, poverty in healthcare, health activism in globalization politics, indigenous cosmologies of health, subaltern studies and dialogue, and public policy and social change. Based on his work on healthcare among indigenous communities, sex workers, migrant workers, rural communities and communities living in extreme poverty, he has developed an approach called the culture-centered approach that outlines culturally-based participatory strategies for addressing unequal healthcare policies and global disparities.

Dutta has published numerous articles and book chapters, and co-edited several volumes on health communication and communication theory. He has authored several books including, most relevant to this conference, Communicating health: A culture-centered approach (Polity Press, 2008), Communicating social change: Structure, culture, agency (Routledge Press, 2011), and Neoliberal Health Organizing: Communication, Meaning, and Politics (Left Coast Press, 2014).  Currently the editor of the book series, “Critical Cultural Studies in Global Health Communication,” with Left Coast Press, Dutta also sits on the editorial board of seven journals.

Adopted from http://www.indiana.edu/~hcommons/index.shtml

 

Written by Gulizar Haciyakupoglu

October 27, 2014 at 3:27 pm

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Bruised and abused: The perils of everyday domestic work

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By Professor Mohan J. Dutta and Satveer Kaur, Centre for Culture-centred Approach to Research & Evaluation

CARE will be launching our first campaign created by foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in Singapore, “Respect Our Rights”, to raise awareness among Singaporeans about the rights of FDWs in Singapore.

This campaign is part of a larger effort aimed at curbing human trafficking and addressing specific issues pertaining to the exploitation of FDWs in Singapore.

Member of Parliament, Christopher de Souza, has drafted a bill for Parliament this October to tighten human trafficking laws in Singapore. CARE research, driven by the voices of the domestic workers, along with other groups such as the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME), seeks to create a discursive space for the discussion of a victim-centered approach in the execution of this bill, where victims are entitled to receive far more protection than they currently do. Protection includes having access to shelter and food, legal aid, medical aid, and other basic resources in order to alleviate their trafficked conditions. More information on the victim-centered approach to human trafficking can be found at HOME’s website.

Our ethnographic research with FDWs in Singapore who have been sheltered at HOME suggests the need for addressing health rights as integral to the lived experiences of FDWs.

In our culture-centered project emphasizing listening to the voices of FDWs, we hear voices of FDWs suggesting the importance of having access to fresh food and water every day, seeing a doctor promptly when they are ill, receiving their salary from their employer on time every month, having adequate sleep, not being overworked and abused physically, sexually or verbally as integral to addressing their physical and mental health. These key provisions are stipulated in their employment contract but are frequently flouted by errant employers

The concept of the cultured-centered approach inverts the research process by centering FDWs at the center of decision-making. Our roles as researchers for the FDWs are guided by the problem configurations and solution frameworks developed by the FDWs.  As an exemplar of the CCA process, the “Respect our Rights” campaign is aimed at communicating specific messages about respecting the basic rights of FDWs to all employers of FDWs in Singapore.

The campaign will be launched in the form of television advertisements on Starhub’s cable platforms, bus stop advertisements, newspaper advertisements on The Straits Times, and online platforms where our documentary film will be aired.

All media materials for the campaign were conceptualized and designed collaboratively by the FDWs and CARE, and are aimed at raising awareness on the common issues faced by FDWs. Embedded is a teaser trailer on the upcoming campaign launch on 21 October 2014.

Addressing the issue of migrant worker rights is crucial, especially in a burgeoning first-world economy like Singapore where numerous transient workers make up a critical mass of economic support for the country. In just the first quarter of 2014 alone, HOME received 405 distressed calls from domestic workers on a myriad of issues, with 159 of them reporting verbal abuse.

CARE has been working closely with HOME on fostering spaces for FDWs to share their stories, and collaborate on problem identification and solution development on the basis of these stories. HOME houses domestic workers that have fled their employer’s place of residence for reasons such as abuse and exploitation. CARE has conducted almost 50 interviews, three focus groups and 11 advisory board meetings with FDWs to garner a deeper and meaningful assessment of the structural and agentic constraints they face when engaging in domestic work in Singaporean homes.

To gain a greater insight on these issues, visit our campaign website and/or our Facebook page.

Reproduced from http://www.care-cca.com/bruised-and-abused-the-perils-of-everyday-domestic-work/

Written by Gulizar Haciyakupoglu

October 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm

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GameCraft! 2014 24-hour Game Design Competition, 20-21 September

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By Dr Alex Mitchell, CNM

The NUS Game Development Group (NUSGDG, http://nusgdg.org/) organised GameCraft!, a 24-hour game design competition intended to serve as a platform for budding game developers and aspiring designers to showcase their talents. GameCraft! 2014 took place from 20-21 September at the National University of Singapore. The GameCraft! competition provides an opportunity for students from a variety of backgrounds and levels of experience to work together in multidisciplinary teams to create a complete, playable game within 24 hours. This competition provides valuable experience and exposure to students, and provides a stepping-stone for students to move out into the games industry. NUSGDG is a Student Interest Group at the National University of Singapore dedicated to the development of student talent in the field of game design and development. NUSGDG was founded in 2004 by Julius Ang, and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

For more information: http://nusgdg.org/?p=1207

 

Written by Gulizar Haciyakupoglu

October 2, 2014 at 7:33 am

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Points of View: A/ P Benjamin Bates, Scripps College of Communication, Ohio University

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Bates-PictureThis September, CNM welcomes Associate Professor Benjamin Bates, Barbara Geralds Schoonover Professor of Health Communication in the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication.

Dr Bates’ research and teaching is in the public understanding of health and healing.  Although first trained as a rhetorical scholar, Dr. Bates appreciates and uses critical, qualitative, and quantitative methods to address questions at the intersection of health, medicine, and questions of public need. Specifically, he investigates communication campaigns in the context of public and environmental health and public understanding of health and healing. In addition to extensive teaching in Athens, Ohio, Dr. Bates has also taught and researched in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Here are some of his perspectives on scholarship, and about life:

My approach to research is to allow the problem or situation to determine how we address it. It is the need found in the field that should determine if we adopt a quantitative, qualitative, critical, or interpretive approach.

The important emerging research/researchers are those that you might least expect. When I edited Communication Quarterly, I found that some of the most interesting and innovative work was being done by people that are not well-known in the field.  “Big names” are often afraid of losing respect, but new scholars are willing to take risks in their research and writing.

An aspect of research that policy-makers do not know is that not all valuable research can be immediately monetized or applied.

An urgent issue / area which researchers in public health should address today is mundane disease. When I have worked in Southeast Asia and Africa, HIV/AIDS seems to have dominated the conversation; we don’t pay enough attention to diseases that aren’t “sexy,” things like cholera, malaria, and typhoid that infect and affect far more people.

A personal pursuit I have not tried but would be keen to do is to train as a chef. I enjoy cooking, and perhaps as a second career might try to feed bodies instead of focusing so much on feeding minds.

An object I would never part with is very difficult to name. I think that experiences are more valuable than objects; I would rather lose my possessions than my memory.

A word I frequently use is “choice.” Choice is joyous, and choice is tragic; it lets us say yes to the good, but also closes other choices. Every time we act, or do not act, think, or do not think, speak, or do not speak, we are making a choice.

To me, health is a complete state of physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being, if you’ll allow me to borrow heavily from the World Health Organization.

And to be healed is to enact practices that get us as close to that complete state of well-being as possible.

An important piece of writing or research that young researchers should read is Kate Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.  A close second would be William Strunk and E.B. White’s Elements of Style. You will find many important things to inform research and teaching, but these two books help us to learn how to express ourselves effectively.

If I landed a million dollar research / teaching grant, I would still need a lot more money to accomplish the research I want to do! To bring together an interdisciplinary research team, including undergraduate and graduate students and community members, requires that we compensate a lot of people for time, energy, and effort. Our research project network, Integrating Professionals for Appalachian Children (http://www.ipacohio.org/), used nearly that much in a single year! And there was still much more work that we wanted to do.

A young rhetorician should never be afraid of learning statistical analysis. The art of rhetoric, if we believe Aristotle, is observing the best available means of persuasion in a given situation, and in the increasingly evidence-based best-practices teaching and research world in which we live, an ability to create and critique via quantitative research is going to be ever more important to humanities and qualitative scholars.

The essential qualities of a ‘model’ rhetorician are to be, as Quintilian might argue, a good person speaking well. The development of character, in addition to the development of persuasive powers, is essential.

It was in Athens that I met the woman who agreed to marry me.

The people in Africa see health as economically constrained (though I would say that it is true everywhere). With so many development needs throughout the various nations of the continent, leaders and citizens often are asked to choose among agricultural, health, industrialization, environmental, and many other investments.

In Southeast Asia, health is somewhat of a post-industrial development issue. Campaigns for more exercise, healthier food choices, pollution reduction and the like seem to have emerged only after gaining a relatively stable economic footing. If we compare the most pressing issues in Singapore to those in Vientiane, we can see that health becomes a significant focus only after relative economic stability is attained.

Singapore is a land of embodied tensions. Like so many of the great world cities, Singapore is cosmopolitan and traditional. It is open to external ideas, but also wants to express a unique identity.

And I have come here to learn more about enacting culture-centered research and service from the CARE Center and CNM.  It is one thing to read about new and innovative approaches to doing research, but, to get a fuller feeling of a new method, it can be very helpful to see it being enacted in the field.

Written by Gulizar Haciyakupoglu

September 17, 2014 at 9:35 am

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CNM amongst world’s top 10 communication schools ~ QS rankings 2014

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National University of Singapore is placed 9th in the 2014 QS World University Ranking for Communication and Media Studies, ahead of University of Amsterdam and Michigan State University.

CNM was in the fourth spot last year.

 

Written by Gulizar Haciyakupoglu

September 16, 2014 at 12:29 pm

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Good food, good company, great trip: Our tech sojurn to Japan (JENESYS 2.0)

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By Cheong Kakit, Satveer Kaur, Derrick Ng and Naomi Tan, CNM Graduate Students

Student exchange between JENESYS 2.0 participants and Nagoya Institute of Technology

Student exchange between JENESYS 2.0 participants and Nagoya Institute of Technology

Japan is arguably one of the most popular tourist destinations among Singaporeans, and you would be hard pressed to find someone who has something negative to say about their experience there. This July, the four of us were given the opportunity to visit Japan as part of the JENESYS 2.0 Programme organized by Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE). Established in 1977, JICE is mainly involved in developing and coordinating international cooperation activities, and has been running the JENESYS 2.0 programme for about seven years now. The programme was kindly sponsored by the Japanese Government. Our group of 25 made up the 21st Batch of students from local universities in Singapore, including NUS, NTU, and SUTD, who would be visiting Japan from 30 June to 8 July 2014. Our journey began and ended in Tokyo, but much of our time was spent in Aichi Prefecture, known not only for their rich history, but also as a technological hub.

This immersion programme was aimed at exposing Southeast Asian youths to the Japanese way of life and business, specifically in the science and technology and digital media sectors. Our Japanese hosts not only facilitated the trip meticulously and in a very well organized manner, they also did it with warmth, always ensuring all our needs were well taken care of. Their kind hospitality towards us was mirrored in our everyday interactions with the Japanese as well. Aptly summed up by Satveer:

“Japan is a place with soul. The soul of the people. The Japanese’s respect for society and for themselves must be valued and reinterpreted in our own spaces. We have so much to learn from a culture of people that pride on harmony with a focus on their society before themselves.”

The JENESYS 2.0 Programme

The JENESYS 2.0 programme included highly informative and educational components which were designed to give us insight into the Japanese industries, their history and philosophy, and also some of the exciting new ventures in the field of science and technology. For instance, we visited the Sony ExploraScience Museum in Tokyo to see and feel first-hand some of the new technologies in light, sound, and entertainment. We were also invited to the Brother Communication Space, an impressive and modern exhibition space which included a museum documenting Brother’s manufacturing history and also the future of Brother’s product offerings.

Sony ExploraScience Museum and Brother Communication Space (Nagoya)

Sony ExploraScience Museum and Brother Communication Space (Nagoya)

Visualising technology: "The better to see you, my dear"

Visualising technology: “The better to see you, my dear”

Besides learning more about the industries in Japan, we were also exposed to the history and culture of Japan. The programme was successful in keeping a balance between displaying Japanese modernity without neglecting the cultural roots. We spent a wonderful afternoon at the Inuyama Castle in Nagoya, learning about the history of this distinctive landmark (often claimed to be the oldest castle in Japan), making our way through the beautiful gardens and past Shinto shrines, climbing up a treacherous four steep flights of steps, to be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Kiso River.

Even so, most of us agreed that one of the most memorable segments of the programme was the homestay. Thanks to the JENESYS 2.0 programme, all of us spent two days living with a Japanese family. The homes we stayed in were beautifully crafted with a perfect balance of contemporary architecture on the outside and yet, keeping to the premise of the traditional Japanese home on the inside. Most homes had a living room constructed with bamboo and/or the earthen straw with quaint touches of Japanese motifs and features such as the suikinkitsu (water harp) placed in the gardens of Japanese homes. If you were lucky, you might have the opportunity of spotting the age old koto (stringed musical instrument) in the living room of these homes.

Although we were no doubt well fed at every single meal, there was really nothing better than a delicious home-cooked meal prepared with love by our homestay mothers, eaten at the dinner table with the rest of the family. From crispy tempura to hand rolled sushi, everything was made to perfection in the Japanese home. Sometimes, dinner would be washed down with warm sake, as in the experience of Naomi, who lived with a family of sake brewers!

Interestingly, while we often assume that technology results in the weakening of local traditions, we found that most Japanese people were able to embrace new technologies while preserving their cultural identity. For example, during Kakit’s homestay, his host father utilized his smartphone to plan and organize a visit to a sumo training session. Upon arrival, the family was quick to capture beautiful images with their mobile phones and digital cameras.

As much as were in awe of the beautiful homes amidst the green hilly terrains in Nagoya, we were charmed by hospitable and warm families we had adopted. It was a teary consensus that this was the best part of the trip for many of us, particularly evident when we had to say goodbye after our short but treasured two days with them.

The JENESYS 2.0 programme allowed us to gain a holistic perspective on the Japanese way of life, both at work, at play, and in the very homes of the Japanese people. The well-planned programme exposed us to the business culture of Japan, the university life of Japanese students, and finally back to the roots of how the Japanese live. By immersing into the culture of the people, one can truly understand and reflect on the way of the Japanese as oppose to naval gazing from the outside or just as a tourist.

Japanese Technology and Infrastructure

It is well known that Japan is a producer of innovative technologies and products. One needs only to look around their home to notice that we are surrounded with Japanese appliances. From smart-televisions to washing machines, Japanese products are often known to be cutting-edge and of superior quality.

From the moment we touched down at Haneda Airport, the convergence of technology and everyday life was apparent. For example, some vending machines allowed for people to simply tap their mobile phones against a sensor to pay for their drink. In another case, a group of us were able to customize our ramen orders entirely through a vending machine. Virtually in all places we travelled to, washroom seats were equipped with electronic controls for specifics tasks, and some even had heated toilet seats.

Another highlight of our trip was taking the public trains. We had the opportunity to not only take the Shinkansen, the famed Japanese high-speed bullet train, but also the chance to navigate the complex web of the local train network. We were told that the Japanese trains were never late and on one of our stops on the bullet train, the 20 odd contingent of us, along with other passengers, had only three minutes to get off the train! The local train network might look like an indecipherable maze of lines at the beginning, but once you understand how it works, travelling to any part of the city will be a breeze. Luckily for us, we had Derrick, a seasoned train traveler who also had a good grasp of Japanese!

JICE was also kind enough to include a student information exchange session with the Nagoya Institute of Technology (NIT) where we able to interact with not only the technologies, but also with the bright minds that were responsible for building such applications. Here, we met Dr. Takahiro Uchiya, the professor in charge of the research lab. Dr. Uchiya’s research interests are in artificial intelligence, knowledge engineering, and spoken dialogue systems. He and his team of students acquainted us with his latest project, a user-generated smart dialogue system named Mei-chan. Mei-chan is a digital signage system that is not only physically available on the grounds of NIT, as a digital signage board, but also available as an application download on any smartphone. As Professor Uchiya puts it, the objective of the project is to develop a new spoken dialogue system framework based on user-generated content, and to advance speech recognition and synthesis technologies.

Mei-chan is not merely an interactive system that gives you directions. She is actually a virtual reality character that one can talk to, flirt with, ask around for directions, weather, horoscope, and so on. Unlike previous systems, Mei-chan was able to express a range of emotions, including shyness, anger, happiness and disappointment. She even exhibits physical attributes such as blushing, smiling, and unhappiness. Hence, Mei-chan is not only able to recognize your questions based on specific keywords, but also respond like she understands you. Needless to say, most of us had fun trying to elicit these responses from the system.

 

A participant experiencing the technology at Nagoya Institute of Technology (Photo Credit: Eugene Chiong)

A participant experiencing the technology at Nagoya Institute of Technology (Photo Credit: Eugene Chiong)

To sum up, the JENESYS 2.0 programme presents an excellent opportunity for anyone planning to work or study in Japan. The programme allows you access to industries and communities that you would not get as a tourist, giving you deeper insights into the Japanese way of life and their culture. We would definitely encourage undergraduate and graduate students to participate, as it is a more authentic and localized way of experiencing Japan. As reflected by Derrick:

“Having previously travelled as a tourist to Japan, the JENESYS 2.0 programme gave me an entirely new lens to experience this amazing country. Through this, I was able to live and fully participate in the rich diversity of Japanese culture. This made my experience all the more unforgettable.

Written by Gulizar Haciyakupoglu

September 3, 2014 at 5:18 am

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Dr Jude Yew is a winner of the First Picture Singapore Award

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Dr Yew's winning entry captured the poignant desolation of a remaining tree

Dr Yew’s winning entry captured the poignant desolation of a remaining tree

CNM assistant professor, Dr Jude Yew is among the 24 winners of the Singapore Research Nexus’ inaugural Picture Singapore photography competition.

Dr Yew’s entry, Last Tree Standing, was taken on the Pulau Semakau Intertidal Walk.  Participants were packing up to return to shore when Dr Yew took the photo at the intertidal flats beyond the mangrove line.  A mangrove tree – the only one – stood out on the flats.

The competition drew more than 100 entries, each of which will be incorporated into the SRN PhotoBank.

The award ceremony will be held on Thursday 4 September 2014, 11am – 12pm at NUS Central Library, Theatrette 2.  Please RSVP with subject header, “Awards” to nexus@nus.edu.sg if you plan to attend.  Thereafter, the winning entries will be displayed at the Artsbuzz gallery in Central Library until 22 September.

 

Written by Gulizar Haciyakupoglu

September 3, 2014 at 4:52 am

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Prof Mohan on air with Channel NewsAsia – The need for communicative context when engaging citizens

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“One of the things that we see at least in our field of work is that there are many sub-cultures who do not interact with the text. So you might for instance, take that information in English and translate it into Mandarin and Malay, but that is not cultural adaptation. It is cultural tweaking in that sense, but it does not take into account the communicative context, the ways in which people live their lives so sometimes, I think we have this elite bias about how we think about communication.” said Professor Mohan Dutta in an interview with Channel NewsAsia, on how the government can better engage Singaporeans.

The advice from the Head of CNM comes at the back of a survey carried out by government feedback arm, REACH.  The  findings in the REACH survey showed that although citizens are aware of government policies such as the social security savings  plan, the CPF scheme, many are still ignorant of the details such as the Minimum Sum or CPF Life.

Prof Mohan’s interview can be found at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/new-approach-needed-to/1258630.html

mohancna

Written by Gulizar Haciyakupoglu

August 31, 2014 at 6:23 am

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CNM Grad Students’ gathering at Holland Village, 22 August 2014

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CNM Graduate Students welcomed the new term with drinks and friendship

CNM Graduate Students welcomed the new term with drinks and friendship

Written by Gulizar Haciyakupoglu

August 26, 2014 at 2:33 am

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