Vado Diomande: Dancer, Choreographer, and Drummer from the Ivory Coast

Vado Diomande, 50, has established a reputation as a distinguished performer and teacher of traditional dances from West Africa.  Five years ago, however, Diomande’s career was interrupted when he suddenly became ill with a life threatening disease.

In February 2006, Diomande, founder of the Kotchenga Dance Company, collapsed in a restaurant he went to after a performance in Pennsylvania.  An ambulance was called and he was rushed to a hospital.

“They check everything and they said that my heart no good, and everything no good,” Diomande said.

Diomande’s condition later became critical.  What followed was worry and confusion as doctors tried to find a diagnosis.

They knew it was something very, very serious,” said Lisa Diomande, Vado’s wife.  “But they didn’t know what to do.”

Eventually, the Center for Disease Control concluded that what Diomande had was naturally occurring anthrax.  He was the first to fall ill with the disease in 30 years.

Diomande survived the rare, but deadly disease.  He doesn’t attribute his survival to any medical cure, but to his career as a dancer. “My dancing helped me a lot, that’s why I’m living today” Diomande said.

Diomande turned his near death experience into a source of motivation for his dancing. “I was strong before,” Diomande said “This is what happens in life.  I will keep going.”

by Oulimata Ba

Survey post: How satisfied are you with your job?

I presented a survey asking people how satisfied they are with the current job or career they have.  I wanted to find out if most people are working some place they are unhappy, and what their motivation is for not leaving.  A total of 25 random people answered the six question survey, most of whom are in their early twenties.

There is one overall contradiction I noticed from the results.  The first question asked people to rate how satisfied they are with their job on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 indicating the most satisfaction.  Most respondents, (88 percent) gave their answer in the middle ground, meaning they answered with a 3 or 4 on the satisfaction scale.  Not one respondent answered they were completely unhappy with their job.

The next question asked people to choose words that describe their job from a set of adjectives.  Here is where I noticed a contradiction between the answers given for this question, and those given to the first.

Most respondents (62 percent) used the word “stressful” to describe their job.

The same respondents also used the adjectives “aggravating,” “exciting,” and “aggravating.”  Although “exciting” was used often, there appears to be a lack of enthusiasm respondents showed for their occupation.  Because of this, more people should have responded that they were unsatisfied with their job, instead of replying they were satisfied or more.

The image below indicates the adjectives respondents used the most to describe their job.
The larger the word, the more often it was used.

What was not surprising from the results, however, was the reasons respondents gave for not liking their job.  The next question asked respondents to pick from a number of reasons for not liking their job, such as not liking their boss, having unpleasant co-workers, or doing too much work for not enough pay.  Thirteen (52 percent) answered that the pay isn’t good enough and the work is too much.

The image below shows the most common pairing of words respondents used to answer this question.

The survey also asked respondents if they would take a job they absolutely hated just because the pay was high. The choices were “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.”  The point of this question was to find out if money could be a strong enough motivation for people to pursue a job.  I expected most of the answers to this question to be “yes.” The results showed that most people answered “maybe” (62 percent) instead of a complete “yes.”

Considering the amount of people who said their salary wasn’t high enough, I was surprised that more people did not respond with a complete “yes.”  To find out why, I would follow-up and ask the respondents why they chose “maybe” instead of “yes.” I would also ask why they did not choose “yes” for a higher paying job if their current “aggravating” and “stressful” job does not pay enough.

In the survey I included a qualitative question for respondents to give their personal reasons for disliking their job.  The image below shows the most common words people used in their responses, with the largest ones being used the most.

Again, most people expressed dissatisfaction with the jobs they have.  But it seems that though they are unhappy, people choose to stay with their jobs because they believe there is nothing better out there.

Diary Post: Job Satisfaction Survey

When I sat down to find another community for my survey, facebook was the first social media tool I tried. I figured it would be a good place to start since I was used to it already. I typed “job groups” and “career organizations” into the search bar.

Perhaps these searches weren’t specific enough. Neither of them turned up anything substantial. I kept finding groups for networking support, as well as career planners and life coaches. Although these topics are jobs related, they would not offer me an audience specific enough for my survey. My survey is geared towards those who already have a job or career, not those who are planning and deciding on one.

I was more successful with After setting up an account I choose “New Career,” “Career Network,” and “Jobs” as my interests. Like facebook, I found similar networking and job search groups. The difference was that I was also able to find groups with people who already had a job, and were sponsoring upcoming job fairs. Bottom line, meetup was more suitable because I could find a specific group I knew would take interest in my survey. One such group was named “Creating Change: Get the Job, Results, Life You Want!”

The next step was for me to join the groups I found and contact their members. This also turned out to be fairly easy; I could read the profiles of the members to see if they listed a job or not.

Meetup members can send emails to anyone in their group. Even though I can do the same on Facebook, I like the fact that Meetup seems to be a more mature, professional setting. I proceeded to email my survey to as many members as possible.

Oulimata Ba

Joe Vaupotic, Occupy Wall Street Guitarist

Joe Vaupotic, 22, sits on the ground with his legs crossed and a guitar in his lap in Zuccotti Park.  Next to him is his guitar case with a sign inside that states: “Been here since day one, need $ $ $ to go home.  Much love!”

This is how Vaupotic spends most of his time, playing melodies from his guitar that’s missing a few strings. Passersby sympathetically drop money into his guitar case.  Yet this image has made Vaupotic want to leave the Occupy Wall Street movement.  “I don’t want to reinforce any hippie stereotypes,” Vaupotic said.

Vaupotic, who is originally from New Jersey, has been at the park since the Occupy Wall Street movement began on September 13.  The 99 percent continues to gain strength, sparking other Occupy Wall Street movements in cities like Orlando, Los Angeles, and Oakland.

At first, Vaupotic was enamored by the cause against corporate greed that brought thousands of protestors to the park.  After a month of camping out and playing his guitar, he now realizes that perhaps its time to get back to his own reality.  His ambition is to one day create melodies with his guitar so that other people can write lyrics to them.  Right now his next sept is to get a job and move to Rochester. NY.


An Occupier Leaves Wall Street

Joe Vaupotic, 22, sits on the ground with his legs crossed and a guitar in his lap in Zuccotti Park.  Next to him is his guitar case with a sign inside that states: “Been here since day one, need $ $ $ to go home.  Much love!”

Vaupotic, who is originally from New Jersey, has been at the park since the Occupy Wall Street movement began on September 13.  The 99 percent continues to gain strength, sparking other Occupy Wall Street movements in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston.  Yet for protestors like Vaupotic, the occupation has gone on for too long.

At first, Vaupotic was enamored by the cause against corporate greed that brought thousands of protestors to the park.  After a month spent camping out and playing his guitar, Vaupotic now realizes that it might be time to get back to his own reality.  He plans to get a job and move to Rochester. NY.

Why Vaupotic joined Occupy Wall Street by Jeanie Ba
Vaupotic says that it was his uncertainty about life and his frustration with the American system that lead him to Occupy Wall Street.

Vaupotic explains how he got into music by Jeanie Ba
Vaupotic sits on the ground with his legs crossed and his guitar resting on his knee. He says he taught himself how to play when he was in college.

Why Vaupotic is leaving Occupy Wall Street by Jeanie Ba
Vaupotic has been at Zuccotti Park since the movement began on September 17. Now, however, he believes it’s time for him to move on.

Vaupotic plays the guitar by Jeanie Ba
Ambi: Vaupotic plays his guitar in Zuccotti Park.

by Oulimata Ba







Sharice White, Retro Bar and Grill Bartender

Local businessman Neal Curtis is the owner of the Retro Bar and Grill in Freeport, NY.  Though his business has been affected by the faltering economy, he still tries to give back by being an employer of young adults in need of a job.  Sharice White, one of his recent employees, is a bar tender.

On Thursday nights she can be found behind the bar leaning against the cash register with her arms folded across her chest.  She has adopted this relaxed pose because the place isn’t usually teeming with customers.

“I’m not sure if it even will be crowded later.  Last Thursday there were more people here,” White said.

White is a 25-year-old graduate student at Adelphi University.  Though Curtis provides her with a source of income, her work hours at Retro are never certain.

“The schedule here is so weird, I’m not even gonna say anything about it!” White said.

Still White is aware of her need for some type of employment, no matter how unpredictable it is for the time being.

“I intern during the day so I can’t work then,” White said, who is studying to become a social worker.  “I’m in school, which is why I’m here.”

A couple of hours had to be spent with Sharice to capture her drink making process due to a lack of customers buying drinks.


Un-utilized Resources- America’s Underemployed Immigrant Population

Picture this: 

A New York City cab driver originally from Mali returns home after a day of driving customers around the city.  When he enters his Harlem apartment, he sigh’s as he passes by two dusty plaques hanging on his wall. The two dusty plaques are his college degrees- a B.A. in Political Science, and a M.S. in International Affairs.

The cab driver represents a nationwide phenomena of underemployed immigrants.  In a feature presented by The New School titled ‘Brain Waste’- Underutilizing Immigrant Talent, “more than 1.3 million college-educated immigrants in the U.S. are unemployed or underemployed” (provided by the Migration Policy Institute) The majority of them coming “from Latin America and Africa.”  Underemployed meaning that immigrants are holding jobs that do not do justice to the level of education and skills acquired back home.

Why are they not getting jobs?

There are a number of factors.  The major one being that foreign degrees tend to be incompatible with degrees from U.S. institutions.  The Malian cab driver mentioned earlier finds that his M.S. in International affairs does not match the requirements of an American M.S. in the same subject.

Other obstacles include language barriers, lack of access to network and professional resources, and a tendency of employers being unwilling to support foreign nationals (also from The New School ‘Brain Waste’ feature).

So why is this important?

There is already a current 9.1% unemployment rate.  If college educated immigrants are underemployed too, then there is a vast source of economic capital not being tapped into.  Even the amount of unemployed immigrants in New York State alone can surely alleviate some part of the nation’s recession prone economy.

Here is where the opportunity for debate is offered 

Is this a valid point to make?  American college graduates need to be accounted for.  “Immigrant or not, a college degree from a U.S. institution does not guarantee work that suits a person’s preference and credentials.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that close to eight percent of Americans with a partial college or associate’s degree are unemployed.” (‘Brain Waste’)

There are more than enough anti-immigration policies floating around to make this post seem even more insignificant.  Not to mention the concern that a good portion of underemployed immigrants could very well be here illegally.

Yet the necessity of more resources to make ‘brain wasted’ immigrants more attractive to employers is too often pushed to the side.

Potential consequences

The video was presented by RT America, a Russian based news channel thats in English.  One statement in particular is enough to cause alarm: “In the process, the skilled are going back home.”  Meaning that because immigrants cannot find jobs here, all of their skills, all of that capital, leaves the country. The American Dream cut short.

Oulimata Ba

How to shop for Organic food

Americans may not realize that most foods sold in supermarkets are not natural. For example, if you are buying ground beef, it most likely will have some form of pesticide or hormone in it.  The same goes for vegetables, fruit, canned goods, and starches.

For the person who wants to switch to only eating organic food, the task is almost impossible.  Bottom line, most mainstream supermarkets don’t offer a wide variety of organic food.  No one should have go through the journey of changing what they buy alone, which is why provided here is a list of 5 resources for the beginning organic food consumer.

At the top is a site that gives a breakdown of the meaning of the word “organic”.  Also included in the list are other sites that can help you locate an organic food store nearby, as well as a site that delivers organic food and household products strait to your door.

1. Everything you ever wanted to know about organic food. Organic made easy. Life made better.

2.  A way to find organic food stores closest to you.

3.  An ‘all things organic’ online store. Natural Products. Healthy Advice

4.  Another ‘all things organic’ online store Organic Groceries

5.  This one is pretty much self explanatory, stay away from these 7 foods! 7 Foods That Should Never Cross Your Lips

Oulimata Ba