Culture

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Philadelphia Braces For Super Bowl Levels Of Mobile Usage When Pope Francis Comes To Town

Preparations are underway as civic and religious leaders in New York, Washington DC, and Philadelphia all prepare for the arrival of Pope Francis next week.

This visit will be Pope Francis’ first ever trip to the United States. The New York Times quoted Cardinal Timothy Dolan talking about Francis’ feelings about the trip.

“He’s a little nervous about coming,” Dolan told the Times. “Not that he lacks any confidence in the reception of friendship that he knows he’ll get, but he readily admits he has never been to the United States.”

Social media platforms and wireless carriers anticipate that web activity related to the Pope’s three day visit will generate roughly the same web traffic as the super bowl.

A single closing mass in Philadelphia is expected to draw more than one million attendants, according to the Associated Press.

Wireless carriers have brought in portable cell towers in an attempt to increase capacity for the social media frenzy surrounding the Pope’s visit. Bishops in all three cities have been receiving a crash course in social media and live streaming events. Comcast, the cable giant headquartered out of Philadelphia, has even offered free Wi-Fi to try and ease the data strain expected to surround Pope Francis’ visit.

Pope Francis will spend roughly five days in the United States. In this time the Pope will meet with President Obama and address members of the Congress, following which he will meet with many of the poor and homeless clients of the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.

The Pope will also make an address before the United Nations General Assembly. During the trip Francis is expected to focus on the rights and the needs of the poor, as well as the responsibilities of the United States as a global super power.

The United States will be the fifteenth country that Pope Francis has visited since being named the Supreme Pontiff.

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Photo Credit: nitin raj srivastava/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Student at University of Miami Wore a Tiara Every Day For 8 Years

You may know her as “Tiara Girl” on campus. Annie Rudd, a senior at the University of Miami, has worn a tiara on her head every day for the past 8 years.

August 25, 2007, was the first day she ever wore a tiara at her 13th birthday, and the last day she left the house without it.

“The tiara was just too good of a look to let go,” Rudd said. “I don’t even realize its been 8 years of my life. It sort of just became my thing, and it worked.”

Before even realizing it, wearing a tiara became a daily routine.

Now 21-years-old, Rudd will graduate soon from UM with a major in psychology and a minor in art. She hopes to purse a master’s degree in family and marriage counseling.

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Annie Rudd

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Annie Rudd

In 2012 , Rudd was featured on lifetime’s reality show “Prom Queen,” crowned prom queen at Miami Beach Senior High School. At University of Miami, Rudd has become a sort of local celebrity to students at the campus.

“At UM, I’m known as Tiara Girl,” Rudd said. “We have this Facebook page called UMiami Secrets and they would post about me a lot. There was one that said, ‘OMG I just saw tiara girl for the first time. Now I know how Hogwarts felt when they first saw Harry Potter.’”

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Annie Rudd

She never leaves the house without her tiara, she may forget but it never takes more than a few steps out of the door to remember.

“It’s basically second nature.” Rudd said. “I don’t even realize its on when I go out, but people will give me ugly looks sometimes. Some people don’t get the tiara and assume the worst, but once they meet me they understand I’m not stuck up.”

For Rudd, the tiara exemplifies that she enjoys everything life has to offer and lives with no regrets. Her story is a reminder that it’s okay to be who you are without living in fear of what others think of you.

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Annie Rudd

“The tiara is a great conversation starter,” Rudd said. “Meeting and making friends is super important at our age. It’s all about the connections we have later on in life.”

Rudd said that although she enjoys the tiara as a fundamental part of her life, some people don’t take her seriously as a result.

“People definitely think it’s a little immature, but I don’t care. I only have one life,” Rudd said.

The tiara isn’t coming off anytime soon.

“I definitely can’t see myself not wearing it, it’s just a part of my identity now,” Rudd said. “It’s all a learning experience. I like it and that’s all that matters. There’s nothing to regret about it.”

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New York Police Chief Apologizes To James Blake

By Allyn Farach

Retired tennis star James Blake claimed that he was tackled outside of a Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York this week by a plainclothes officer.

Blake told other media outlets that he was acting nonviolently but was met with violence from officers after a sting operation mistakenly took Blake as a suspect.

“You’d think they could say, ‘Hey, we want to talk to you. We are looking into something. I was just standing there. I wasn’t running. It’s not even close (to be okay). It’s blatantly unnecessary. You would think at some point they would get the memo that this isn’t okay, but it seems that there’s no stopping it,” Blake told the New York Daily News.

Blake further claims that he was released when a former officer recognized him and told the police who Blake was.

The situation has been embarrassing to the NYPD and its leadership.

“I spoke to Mr. Blake a short time ago and personally apologized for yesterday’s incident. Mr. Blake indicated he would be willing to meet with the Internal Affairs Bureau as our investigation continues,” NYPD Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said in a press release. “Additionally, he said he would be returning the Mayor’s earlier phone call to speak to him. Mr. Blake said he would like to meet with the Mayor and me at a future date, which we would be agreeable to.”

New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio has signaled his intention to talk to Blake about the matter.

It is unclear what role Blake’s arrest will have in the continued evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Photo Credit: Josué Goge/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

#VestGate: UK University Challenge Program Ignites Controversy Over What It Means To Be “Intelligent”

University Challenge, hosted by Jeremy Paxman and witness to the UK’s most intelligent of students going head to head to represent their universities, is a show which can clearly be seen to favour substance over style.

Focused on providing only the most gruelling of questions, its reputation is one of baffled English home-audiences rejoicing when answering correctly between themselves, university pride, and the classic jumper-collared-shirt combo. However, one episode, which aired last week, hosted one contestant whose choice of attire raised more than a few eyebrows.

Kamel Shah of King’s College, Cambridge, injected a certain amount of controversy into the show courtesy of his leather vest and gold chain.

Raising questions on the idea of propriety, some argued that the values of BBC 2, typically home of the straight-edged middle-class crowd, had been compromised. For many, the clothing choice was regarded as a sign of disrespect, aligned on ideas of good manners and appropriate attire which being on a show as esteemed as University Challenge supposedly demands:

However, the issue of the vest could be seen to prompt a much deeper discussion. When it comes to representations of intelligence, is there something inherently problematic in disputing the decency of someone who refused to toe the line of what many see as an out-dated ideal?

 It is no secret that questions on the University Challenge appeal to an educational standard more at home with the privately-educated than anything else; which isn’t to say that its audience must simply be privately-educated. It simply suggests that when questions are focused on, for example, literature of the 17th century, Latin translation, or minimalism in music, one wonders at the concept of common knowledge, and knowledge in itself.

An example of previous University Challenge questions:

Your starter for 10: A schoolboy play-on-words between Latin and English, what jocular translation is usually given to the phrase semper ubi sub ubi?

Three bonus questions on the opening lines of novels:

(a) Which novel, first published in serial form from 1914 to 1915, begins “Once upon a time and a very good time it was…”?

(b) “It was a dark and stormy night”’ are the first words of the 1830 novelPaul Clifford by which writer, whose other works include Eugene Aramand The Last Days of Pompeii?

(c) The novels Midnight’s Children, The Thirty-Nine Steps, Robinson Crusoe and Tristram Shandy all open with which word?”

What does intelligence mean and what is it measured by? When contestants famously previously failed to recognise a musical question sampling the modern R&B sounds of Frank Ocean, one must wonder as to what extent the non-typical, but very valid, contributions of the rest of the world are unnoticed by the majority’s standards.  

It is very likely that Shah’s vest is improper, a fashion faux-paux which does not do well to read too much into. We cannot be sure that he donned the chain and the vest to question the legitimacy of educational standards. However, it is also clear that the impropriety can be interpreted as a sign of defiance. Within the elitist environment with which we both patrol the playground of the deemed intelligent and set the standard, there are remnants of inequality which would favour the symbolism of, for lack of better words, of the jumper-wearer over the vest-wearer.

#GeekAndGangsta. The hash-tag speaks for itself. It’s clear our clothes feature their own identities, can speak without saying of our cultural awareness. But as culture is so easily manipulated, the inference of what this can mean cannot be easily decided upon.

The conclusion is that Shah chose to don non-typical attire on a game show set to test intelligence and provided the ripples of an aftermath which suggest that clothing is not just clothing: the underlying current of values being tied up with appearance, and in this case intelligence, is definite.

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Cover Photo: /Twitter

EXCLUSIVE: Maroon 5 Model Claims Wilhelmina Owes Her Thousands

Part one in a series highlighting allegations of mistreatment of foreign models in the American fashion industry.

Tereza Kačerová, best known for starring in a Maroon 5 music video for their song “Maps”, spoke out against Wilhelmina Models Inc., saying the company owes her thousands of dollars. Kačerová and other models said they believe the industry giant’s failure to reimburse Kačerová is indicative of the modeling industry’s culture to mistreat foreign-born models.

Wilhelmina is one of the largest modeling and talent management agencies in the world, with bases in Miami, Los Angeles, New York and London. Kačerová took to her Instagram to speak out against the Miami location in a two-part series that went viral in modeling circles. The company’s attorney said that Kačerová is falsely accusing them of improper activity.


A Czech-born actress and model, Kačerová said that she worked with Wilhelmina on a series of jobs, many of which were located outside of the United States.

“I’ve been modeling for over seven years now, been with dozens of agencies all around the world yet none of them has been as reluctant (to put it mildly) to pay me for my work as @wilhelminamodelsmia,” Kačerová wrote on Instagram. “These people have been withholding money from me for jobs I have completed as long as over a YEAR ago ago.”

Kačerová provided Rise News with a series of emails and documents that highlight the models’ growing frustration with Wilhelmina. Kačerová said she is still owed $4,279. Of this sum, Kačerová said that $3,600 worth of plane tickets were never reimbursed to her.

Typically, the client will pay for models’ travel expenses, but Kačerová said she chose to book her own flights and get reimbursed because she gained points on her card for flying miles.

“The foreign girls get treated as second-hand citizens. It’s disgusting.”- Roxanne Czajkowski on Instagram

Kačerová said that after a series of emails with Wilhelmina, she received three checks meant to reimburse her for these flights. Kačerová said that with every check, a seemingly random figure was deducted from the final amount, less than what Kačerová said she is rightfully owed.

A lawyer working for Wilhelmina was quick to contact Kačerová with a cease and desist email regarding the posts.

“I am in receipt of copies of Ms. Kacerova’s recent defamatory posts on social media, vilifying Wilhelmina and falsely accusing it of criminal activity. This is a very serious accusation, one that Wilhelmina does not take lightly,” Wilhelmina’s attorney Ali Grace Marquart said in an email. “Please immediately instruct your client to remove the defamatory posts and cease and desist from writing and/or speaking any such false accusations about Wilhelmina, including but not limited to any of its employees, officers, or directors.”

Despite this letter, Kačerová did not take down the posts. Marquart and Wilhelmina have not responded to requests for comment as of publication time.

Kačerová’s 29,100 followers were quick to support her, and in some cases, share their own experiences as well.

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Model Tereza Kačerová.

”Exactly, this is disgusting. Aside from all the bullshit that is dealt with in being with an agency, from looks to flights, to bookings, to fees. Running around, and not being payed should not be something anyone should put up with. It’s completely unprofessional,” model Roxanne Czajkowski said in the comments. “Especially for foreign girls. There [sic] so much priority over the American girls, and their pay, expenses, promotion. The foreign girls get treated as second hand citizens. It’s disgusting…No agency should treat any human being as a slave of labor. Glad someone spoke out about this.”

Kačerová is currently represented by Nous Model Management, a Los Angeles based company.

Kačerova said that Nous is no longer working with Wilhelmina.

Nous declined a request for comment.

Rise News just launched last week and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news.

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Photo Credits: Tereza Kačerová/Instagram.

In Miami’s Wynwood Art District, A 25 Year Old Artist Is Ready To Take The City By Storm

MIAMI- Nestled along Wynwood’s 5th Avenue there’s a mural of a figure painted entirely in black and white. Pictured on its monochromatic surface is a woman, naked except for the long ringlets of hair wrapped constrictively around her body. She sits contemplatively before the viewer, back bowed while pedestrians pass her by.

Surreal-looking spectacles like these can be found scattered throughout the city, all of them authored by Rolando Adrian Avila. At only 25 years old and with less than six of months of residence in Wynwood he’s poised to become one of the more prolific and better-known painters within Miami’s art district.

The Cuban-born muralist and former Angeleno (native of Los Angeles) has roots to South Florida dating all the way back to his days at New World Schools of Arts, a small and selective magnet school known both locally and nationally for its excellent arts and theatre programs.

“Unfortunately not everybody has a chance to do it. I come from a pretty poor family, and the only way I was able to travel and to go outside the city was because of art,” Avila said during a sit-down interview, “I got money to go to California from school, that was the only way. I feel like that’s important for an artist, to be educated. Education is everything.”

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To date Avila has created at least 12 murals in Miami, most of them concentrated within Wynwood and the surrounding art district. As a self-described “wall vampire” he often seeks out unadorned spaces within the area to renovate and embellish with his work, masking concrete in a monotint display of long-limbed bodies and lotus flowers.

Avila first emigrated from Cuba to the U.S. at the age of 13, eventually gaining a scholarship to attend Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. The most notable thing about his work at first glance is just how stripped-down his pieces tend to be, both literally and figuratively.

“Women in general are a lot more powerful than men to me, especially around [Miami].” -Avila said

The subjects he portrays are predominantly female and nude, implied to be the objects of a male gaze. But there’s also simplicity to the color composition of Avila’s work. He often picks a single shade to dominate the canvas, focusing attention and detail on the subjects of his murals by keeping the palette relatively monochromatic.

As for the nakedness, Avila doesn’t believe his primary subjects are likely to scandalize here as easily as they might somewhere else. Miami’s extensive beach culture brings with it an inordinate preoccupation with body image and physical beauty, making the city a quintessential place for nudity in art to be accepted and, in some cases, even lauded.

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“I feel like people [here] really respond to figurative work. I do these girls, and in Miami the body is something that is celebrated.” Avila said.

It’s true that there’s a definite sense of eroticism to Avila’s work, but more often than not it’s purposely coupled with mythological imagery and significance. The women depicted in his paintings and murals often show up in triplicate, a reference to the religious archetype of “triple deity” so often seen in classical literature and art.

They’re goddesses the way you imagine goddesses would look like in the 21st century; slender and statuesque, hair coifed and lips pouted perfectly as if posing for an editorial.

“Women in general are a lot more powerful than men to me, especially around [Miami].” Avila said, “It’s kind of like the whole idea of goddesses, this whole idea of the Greeks and the Romans. To them women were everything.”

These women often appear to be reveling too, frozen mid-pose on the canvas while onlookers are free to gawk at the display of their bodies. Avila’s work is, if anything, voyeuristic in nature. He plays with perception as often as some other artists play with the colors on their mixing palettes and it’s never made clear exactly how we should feel looking in on these private scenes.

The women within his murals almost always have their eyes covered or bound by their own hair, blinded to the audience’s gaze and unable to take in their own surroundings. They appear naked and vulnerable before the viewer, and yet the artist himself describes their sightlessness as transcendent, a reference to a harrowing experience his sister once underwent in Guantánamo after one attempt to emigrate to the U.S.

“At the time my sister was trying to get out of Cuba. She tried to get out through the water because her boyfriend was trying to bring her over here and she got sent back to Guantánamo two times,” Avila said. “She almost died, and they cut off her hair just to be assholes with her. I was doing an illustration at the time just about depression and so I did this woman with her hair wrapped around her face.”

Avila explains most of the story from inside of his studio, a modestly sized, brightly painted room located in the heart of Wynwood. Walking in you can see the artist’s half-finished paintings dotting the main wall that runs along the interior. A pile of surreal-looking prints rest in the corner. The apartment building it’s housed in is also home to the studios of his colleagues, many of whom he spoke about as having an influence over his body of work.

“I think [it’s] one of the most important things as an artist. Especially when I was at Art Center what I learned was [being influenced by] other artists.” Avila said.

Like him, some of these individuals feel conflicted over the commodification of Wynwood’s art scene and the ensuing gentrification of the area. The popularity that events like Art Basel bring to the neighborhood creates more substantial opportunities for urban artists to work and promote themselves, especially when corporate sponsorship becomes a viable reality.

But all that promotion comes at a cost, mainly that the rise in property values now mean that a significant portion of Wynwood’s local artists can no longer afford to live in the same neighborhoods that their murals have helped to commercialize in the first place.

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“I think artists should be paid a good amount of money to do what they do because it takes time and it’s hard, you know? If people appreciate it then [they] should appreciate it by helping.” Avila said. “That’s why I feel like I have a responsibility to make sure that happens, especially now that I’m getting lucky enough to get some projects and [have] some people like my work.”

A recent exhibition of Avila’s entitled Paradox Lost ran almost a month ago as part of an Art Walk experience originally hosted by Minimax Events. The display was held at the Mana Production Village, a raw space popular in the area for accommodating everything from art openings to film crews.

Aside from the show, one of Avila’s upcoming public projects includes plans to beautify a local apartment complex sometime in October. His intent is to turn the space into a hybridized showcase for both fine art and street art, one style juxtaposing the other in a strange marriage of aesthetic to functionality.

Collaborating with him on the project will be Reinier Gamboa, another Wynwood artist well known for his figurative painting style and use of religious and tropical iconography.

A contemporary of Avila’s, the Cuban-born Gamboa also spent his youth at New World. His body of work has been exhibited everywhere from the non-profit Locusts Project in Miami to the Nucleus Gallery in California.

“I want to be a fine artist that does walls,” Avila said at one point, explaining the changing nature of his field’s accessibility to the general public, “If you think about it that’s what artists do in their careers. They start by canvas and then later on in their life they do a mural somewhere. I want it to be the other way around.”

Photos: Bea Sampaio/ Rise News

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ICYMI: Apple Unveils 3D Touch

 

By Kris Mitchell

These days Apple press events happen so regularly you can set your Apple Watches to them. Sept. 9, The Cupertino company announced new gadgets that will surely bring a little joy to any enthusiastic Apple fan. The event introduced new additions for the company’s smartwatch, a 12.9 inch iPad Pro, a new Apple TV model with Siri voice control; a touchpad remote and upgraded models of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

If the timing of Apple annual events are becoming easier to predict then the same can be said for the Apple rumor mills. For months, tech websites reported, with increasing certainty as the Sept. 9 event drew closer. The iPad Pro has been a persistent rumor with some predicting that the larger device would also launch with a stylus to take advantage of its new features. The substantial rumors turned out to be true, which comes as a surprise from one of the world’s most secretive companies. Apple has been having some difficulty keeping details of its production line a secret from scrupulous bloggers and journalists.

The headline new feature of the iPhone 6S is 3D Touch, which allows the touchscreen of the new iPhones to register the pressure of a touch and gives users new dimensions to interact with apps. For example, an iPhone 6S user could hold down on a message in Apple’s Message app and see it at a glance without leaving their current location. But, holding down on the message for longer could bring up the message in full. Apple demonstrated similar technology named Force Touch earlier this year with its new MacBook computer that featured a remodeled touch pad with haptic feedback and pressure sensitivity.

The iPhone 6S includes a 12 MP camera capable of shooting 4K video; a new FaceTime camera with a focus on taking high-quality selfies. The new iPhone is also made of a custom aluminum alloy designed by Apple that the company says is “the strongest [Apple] has ever used in a smartphone.” Given the stories of bendable iPhones that Apple battled since the original iPhone 6’s debut last year there will likely be considerable scrutiny behind the company’s claims.

The Apple TV had its chance to shine today with Apple’s little box getting faster hardware, an all new interface and access to the App Store. There have been stories about Apple failing to gain the licensing permissions that it needed to premiere an all new subscription service rivaling that of current cable providers such as Comcast. Apple has yet to comment on the details of any talks, but the absence of such a subscription service comes as bit of sour news for fans.

63 Years, 217 Days: Queen Elizabeth Becomes UK’s Longest Reigning Monarch


By Kyle Jones

As of 5:30 p.m. yesterday BST, Queen Elizabeth II officially entered history as the UK’s longest reigning monarch, surpassing the reign of her great grandmother Queen Victoria.

Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne in February 1952 following the death of her father, King George VI.

The queen has avoided any formal ceremony and instead spent the day by marking the opening of the new Borders to Edinburgh railway with her husband, Prince Philip. In a short speech the queen stated, “Inevitably a long life can pass by many milestones – my own is no exception – but I thank you all and the many others at home and overseas for your touching messages of great kindness.”

In a special address to Parliament, Prime Minister David Cameron paid tribute to the queen’s many years of service stating-

“I do think it is right that today we should stop and take a moment as a nation to mark this historic milestone – and to thank Her Majesty for the extraordinary service she has given to our country over more than six decades.

Her Majesty the Queen inspires us all with her incredible service, her dignified leadership and the extraordinary grace with which she carries out her duties.”

Queen Elizabeth II has been on the British throne for 63 years and 217 days.

Cover Photo Credit: Michael Gwyther-Jones/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This Period Underwear Is Disrupting The Feminine Hygiene Industry

Talking about menstruation makes people squeamish. It’s a reality that stems from the patriarchal mentality that women should be ashamed of their body’s natural occurrences. Menstruation remains a stigmatized taboo, and women are made to feel embarrassed for who they are.

Every woman has experienced that fear: a visible leak resulting from an unchecked period. From grade school into adulthood, sometimes women forget when to be prepared, their menstrual cycle comes at unexpected moments or they do not have enough support to hold the bloodflow.

Even worse: Lack of access to feminine hygiene products remains an epidemic in many parts of the developing world. Women miss school during their period, and some even have to drop out from getting too far behind. The stigma these women face in other parts of the world limits their potential to get normal paying jobs.

One company is out to change that. Miki Agrawal is the CEO and founder of THINX—a women’s underwear line designed to contain menstrual flow. For every pair of underwear purchased, seven AFRIpads, a Ugandan feminine hygiene brand that produces washable, reusable feminine hygiene products, are donated to one women. Instead of only donating the pads, AFRIpads creates jobs for local women to create the reusable products in developing countries.

Their technology has four layers—a moisture-removing layer, a stain-resistant antimicrobial layer, a layer that is supposed to be the equivalent of a pad, and lastly, a leak-resistant layer.

The underwear comes in three styles—thong, cheeky and hip-hugger. Different styles are designed to hold different levels of bloodflow. The hip-hugger is made to hold at least two tampons worth of blood.

Since the invention of the tampon, there have been no real strides in feminine hygiene, Agrawal told Forbes. She hopes to disrupt the feminine hygiene industry and reduce waste from tampons and pads, getting rid of landfill that results from the traditional means of hygiene.

“I want to change the culture around women’s most normal time of month — and not while wearing grandma panties or pads that feel like a diaper,” Agrawal told Forbes. With underwear that is cute, cost-effective and environmentally friendly, Agrawal is revolutionizing how women experience periods on a global scale.

College-Bound Girl Sails 3,000 Miles Alone For One Year

By Allyn Farach

With not a soul but her dog Elli, Sally Gardiner-Smith spent the last nine months at sea. The 19-year-old pledged to sail 3,000 miles by herself to college as a gap year, making it just before freshman orientation.

Gardiner-Smith decided that in October, she would set sail from Woolwich, Maine to Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg, Florida where she would attend college in the fall.

Traveling has been a part of Gardiner-Smith’s life ever since she was a little girl – she was born during a two-year sailing trip that her family was taking.

“Some of the earliest years of my life were spent traveling on a sailboat with my parents and sister. On two trips, which each lasted about two years, we traveled to Central America, the Caribbean and across the Atlantic to Europe,” Gardiner-Smith said on her Portland Press Herald blog.

Like any grand voyage, there were obstacles along the way. A dinghy line got caught in the propellor and caused the engine to stop. This proved to be an easy fix for Gardiner-Smith, who jumped into the water and cut the line.

Another issue arose when Gardiner-Smith’s dog, Elli, was hit by a car in Maryland and had to have a leg amputated. Gardiner-Smith was at first upset by the damage that her dog had suffered. She wrote: “… I hope that I can be like her when faced with catastrophe. There’s a lot that I cannot control and misfortune strikes everyone. It can hurt us, make us sad, and set us back. But there is never, ever, a reason to give up. Life is too full of wonders – for Elli there are places to be sniffed and belly rubs.”

Gardiner-Smith docked in Saint Petersburg in late July and is currently attending college, but is showing no signs of slowing down. She plans on taking a trip to Cuba over winter break.

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