Posts Tagged ‘culture’

(Cultural) Spaces

Friday, July 22nd, 2022

One of the greatest takeaways from my time in college has been my understanding of cultural literacy. Knowledge and curiosity about other cultures has fundamentally altered the attitude and actions I take when interacting with the people around me. 

When I first moved to Abu Dhabi for my freshman year of college, I held a lot of preconceived notions about what living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) might be like. Prior to my departure, many of my friends and family worried about whether the country would be safe or accepting of foreigners like me. At that point, I had done a bit of research on the country, so I was relatively confident that I would adjust well, but it was only after my arrival that I understood the importance of cultural acceptance and open-mindedness. As someone who had never been in the region before, I found cultural expectations and religious considerations to be confusing at times, especially because unlike my home country, religion plays a major role in the UAE. During my orientation we learned about some general customs and norms within the country, including local religious holidays and practices, differences in the work week (Sundays to Thursdays!), and even ways to show respect for the culture in our public presence. In one of our first orientation seminars, we engaged in discussions about ideas of religion, secularity, and government. The orientation committee told us about religious and cultural taboos, and asked us, very politely, to refrain from wearing anything overtly revealing in public spaces. While most of these considerations were not strictly enforced or punishable, they reminded me to be mindful of the different customs of a foreign place, and this reminder became very important as I began to adjust to my new environment. 

On my first visit to a mosque, I wore skinny jeans and a t-shirt, but was told at the entrance that such clothing would not be appropriate. The staff directed me to a changing room where I put on an abaya, a full length robe often worn by Muslim women in the UAE, that came with an attached hood as a replacement for a sheila, which is a headscarf worn to cover a woman’s hair. Quite frankly, I thought I looked ridiculous, but my appearance was much less important than actually visiting the mosque in the grand scheme of things, so I put on the garment and went inside to admire the grand architecture and detail put into every space. I came to understand that abiding by dress codes or other policies wasn’t so much an issue of obeying rules, but a way to pay proper respect to a sacred space. 

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque located in Abu Dhabi

Over time, experiences like this have revealed the importance of being open and considerate about the needs of others, and highlighted that the major comfort and due respect of others far outweigh actions that may cause minimal inconvenience to myself. Our student body is composed of people from various cultures and backgrounds, and it rapidly became apparent that I couldn’t simply apply my previous experiences or “common sense” to others because they might interpret situations very differently. At one point, I asked a friend of mine what wearing a hijab meant to her, and I learned that she believed the practice to be a show of faith and religious empowerment rather than the restriction some forms of media often make it out to be. I learned to respect their identities beyond basic courtesy, and paying attention to these cultural differences became a priority from then on.  

When I began to travel more often, these experiences with cultural literacy helped me stay mindful and open to the traditions and practices in various countries, and ensured that I learned as much as I could during my temporary stays. It became essential that I visit at least one museum or gallery in each place that I explored, whether that be an art exhibition, or historical center. I’ve found that these institutions are a great avenue for learning about the local history, as well as the intersections between the locale and other sites, and I’ve often delighted in seeing signs and symbols of my own background represented abroad. Once I grew the confidence to navigate new environments with relative ease, I tried visiting these places and even exploring the cities on my own, and I’ve found these excursions to be periods of great reflection. 

Visiting these institutes or seeing popular historical sites and landmarks often makes me think about aspects of humanity that seem to remain unchanged despite temporal and geographic differences. There is an appreciation and respect for the same subjects in art through every country and period regardless of the style or medium used, just as there are shared documentations of conflict and warfare locked in the glass display cases of every historical museum. There are mementos of the greatest achievements, just as there are relics of the periods of deepest suffering. 

Being alone in a foreign place feels like zooming out of my own head and realizing how big the world is around me. It gives me time to take everything in quietly, without feeling the need to force conversation or constantly engage with others, and it has pushed me to renegotiate my comfort zone and my relationship with myself. Learning to be alone in a foreign place has taught me to take the time to appreciate differences in background and ways of living, while taking comfort in the moments or gestures that echo the familiarity of home. Being alone in a foreign place means immersing myself in a cultural space and allowing myself to take in the atmosphere, to learn about the backgrounds of others, and to grow into an individual more considerate and aware of the people around me. 


Use this student discount for a taste of another culture with some Egyptian Street food!


By: Fiona Lin

Fiona Lin is a rising senior at New York University’s Abu Dhabi Campus pursuing a double major in Literature and Creative Writing and Art and Art History. She enjoys traveling, drinking tea, and learning new languages. In her free time, you can find her reading web novels or playing video games.


For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Seeing Sights

Friday, July 15th, 2022

As I began my journey towards letting go of perfectionism and taking things one step at a time, I started wondering how I could find ways to really enjoy the process and take advantage of the resources or opportunities that I had. I looked towards the community around me, and found that my university’s diverse student body was a great place to start. My peers came from a variety of cultures and backgrounds and were all more than willing to share their insight and experiences about the places that they’ve been, and I found myself invigorated by their passion. Surrounded by people who were so enthusiastic about exploring the world, I grew curious about other places and cultures as well, and soon took up traveling.

The view outside a plane window has become quite common to me now, but I can’t help but take a photo as a memento every time!

When I first left the comfort of home for an education in Abu Dhabi, I had no idea what I should expect, and I admit I had my biases and misconceptions about the region as well. But living within the city and learning, both through classes and through daily interactions, about the country and culture opened my eyes to a different understanding of a place that I had no familiarity with, and I gradually began to view Abu Dhabi as another, albeit temporary, “home.” It became comforting for me to look out my window and see endless stretches of sand, walk through the city with a cup of karak in hand, and chat with local vendors about their time in the country. Stepping out of my comfort zone meant that I had the chance to witness a culture unlike my own, and within it, I found a beautiful sense of growth. 

I was very lucky that my university takes a very global perspective on education, and opportunities like studying abroad are greatly encouraged within the community. Not only that, my fellow students are all more than passionate about globetrotting, and every break from studies is seen by many as another chance to plan a trip on a budget. Naturally, if I was able, I followed along, eager to witness the many wonders that foreign destinations held in store. I took the chances I had to see monuments of history, such as the Parthenon in Athens or the Panama Canal, and I felt that through these travels, my view of the world expanded little by little. I understood that I had the privilege to see more of the world, and as such I wanted to take advantage of it to learn as much as possible. I wanted to become a more educated and open-minded individual, willing to learn and hear from other perspectives not just because I should, but also because they originate from a background drastically different from my own, and consequently are a source for me to learn from as well. 

Beyond just education and enrichment, I believe that traveling has also taught me a lot of valuable lessons about life and about myself. I’ve learned to be cautious about my surroundings, and I’ve also felt deeply, that despite my perfectionist disposition, things can rapidly spiral out of control, and as such it’s much more important for me to be able to adapt than it is that I have everything planned out to the smallest detail. I have no shortage of travel mishaps that have taught me this, whether it’s sprinting through the airport to catch my flight right as the gate was closing, encountering issues with passports and visas, or being stranded without internet connection in an unfamiliar place. These incidents have tested my patience, my stress management, and my critical thinking time and time again, and I believe I’ve grown all the more resilient for it. Most importantly, I think I’ve gotten problem solving down to a systematic approach: stay calm (and sit down if necessary), take stock of the situation, understand and inquire about any solutions, contact someone for help if the situation allows, and negotiate. I’ve found that more often than not, keeping calm about the situation is the key to resolving it efficiently, because the answers are more often than not simpler than I tend to think, but when panic overrides my system, I miss that understanding completely. 

One other major thing I’ve learned through these mishaps is that people are also kinder than I tend to expect. I have a tendency to be wary about others when I’m in a foreign place, and while that definitely is necessary and important to remember, I’ve also safely resolved a lot of issues with the kindness of others, especially because it’s almost impossible to anticipate everything that might go awry. There have been lovely old ladies who pointed out who to talk to when I was having issues in the airport and helped make sure I made it to my flight, and there have been kind locals who, despite language barriers, drove me to my hotel when I couldn’t find any other way to make it back. 

A handicrafts stall in Panama City – the vendors were really welcoming and helpful despite the language barrier

Traveling can be stressful and nerve-inducing, especially when you tend to overthink and seek control of things like I do, but my trips are amongst the most challenging and rewarding experiences that I’ve had. As I discussed in my previous blog, I found that wanting everything to be “perfect” stopped me from taking a lot of chances, and traveling was perhaps the biggest step I took towards breaking past that fear. I immersed myself in a “risk” and found, despite the dangers that seemed to be lurking, that the world was a much larger and more interesting place than I ever would have imagined. 


Use this student discount for a place to store your belongings when you pack up for your next big trip!


By: Fiona Lin

Fiona Lin is a rising senior at New York University’s Abu Dhabi Campus pursuing a double major in Literature and Creative Writing and Art and Art History. She enjoys traveling, drinking tea, and learning new languages. In her free time, you can find her reading web novels or playing video games.


For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Milk, Milk, and More Milk: Chapter 5 — Connecting Food with Culture

Monday, August 9th, 2021

On hot, sticky days in Chicago’s humid summers, where my family would crowd under the kitchen fan, one dessert would manage to cool us all down: tres leches. 

Tres leches is the king of all cakes all desserts in the Mexican culture. The rich, ultra decadent, and insanely moist cake wets the front of your shirt and makes your lips stick together, leaving your mouth to taste sweet for the rest of the evening. No matter how many glasses of milk you may drink afterward the sugary taste still lingers. It was the dessert least consumed in my family, but the one most desired by all. 

As you can see, I have always loved cake.

If you have never had the pleasure of digging into a thick slice of tres leches, try and picture this: a vanilla cake drowned in three types of milk, hence the name “tres leches,” and topped with whipped cream. It may sound a little too rich, but I promise you it is worth all the hype I am giving it. 

About a month ago, while sitting on the couch with my roommates, I suddenly decided I was going to make a tres leches. I don’t know what compelled me to do this, or what even prompted the idea, but the simple thought of slicing into the sinful, whipped cream-topped morsel made my mouth water. With this seed of inspiration, I took to an unsuspecting source for recipes: TikTok. 

Finding good Mexican food, let alone baked goods, in Manhattan is difficult. If you want the authentic taste that brings you back to eating meals with your family around your grandmother’s kitchen table, you have to go to Queens, and unfortunately, I simply don’t have the time to do that right now. So, I have resorted to recreating the dishes I crave from my past in my tiny apartment’s kitchen. Surprisingly, TikTok has been my main source of recipes when it comes to making Mexican dishes that my family never taught me. Not only is it a great way to visually learn, but many of the users are conscious of a careful-spending budget. When my sudden and very urgent craving for tres leches began, TikTok was the first place I searched for a recipe. 

I love to bake it runs in my blood. My maternal grandmother never leaves the house without a tray of freshly baked potato chip cookies: the most strange, but insanely delicious, shortbread cookies with crushed potatoes chips in them to offset the sweetness. Her love for baking was passed down to me as a child. For a few years as a teenager, my brothers could expect to finish dinner off with carrot cake cupcakes or some variation of cookies. I knew I would be able to make a good tres leches, but I wanted it to be more than its traditional form; I wanted it to remind me of the cake my dad would bring home in a neat white box, covered in whipped cream with a certain twist that no one could put their finger on. I wanted it to remind me of laughing with my cousins when we would get whipped cream on our noses, threatening to touch each other with sticky fingers left from the cake. I knew that those specific memories would be hard to grasp, but not impossible. 

After a quick search on TikTok, I came across a surprisingly easy and affordable recipe from the user @cici.soriano. With a quick trip to the grocery store, I felt prepared to make this cake. Although it didn’t exactly remind me of the scrumptious memories of my childhood, it provided me with something more important: the pleasure of knowing that I can bring aspects of my culture with me wherever I am. Watching the smile on my roommates’ faces as they tasted the fondest recollections of my past, their lips sticky from the condensed milk, reminded me of the joy I felt as a child when having my favorite cake for dessert. 

My first attempt at making tres leches. I made sure to make caramel from leftover cans of condensed milk and drizzled that on top.

Sometimes, finding delight in your cultural food means making it yourself, no matter how difficult it may be. My tres leches is not exactly traditional or completely “homemade,” but it allows me to briefly remember the joys of my childhood, and has provided my friends with a new favorite dessert. The next time you recreate your favorite cultural meals, desserts, or simple snacks, consider sharing them with your friends it may become their favorite, too. 

Tres Leches Cake

Ingredients

– 1 can of evaporated milk

– 1 can of sweetened condensed milk

– 1 can of whole milk (use leftover can of condensed/evaporated milk to measure)

– 1 box of vanilla cake mix 

– 1.5 cups of heavy cream

– 2 tbsp of powdered sugar

– 2 tbsp of vanilla extract 

– 2 tbsp of cinnamon

Steps 

  1. Preheat the oven according to cake mix instructions.
  2. Assemble cake.
  3. Blend evaporated, condensed, and whole milk along with cinnamon and vanilla extract in a blender until combined and smooth. 
  4. Whip heavy cream and powdered sugar together until soft peaks form. 
  5. When done baking according to box instructions, let the cake cool for 20 minutes.
  6. Trim the brown top off of the cake, along with the sides. Poke small holes all around the cake. The more holes you have, the better the milk mixture will seep in. 
  7. Pour milk mixture over the cake. 
  8. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

If you don’t have the time or resources to bake your own cake, head to Amorino for 20% off your gelato order!


By: Allegra Ruiz

Allegra Ruiz is a junior at New York University and she is from Chicago. She studies English and is minoring in Creative Writing. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, reading books and essay collections, and cooking for her roommates. Currently, she lives quietly in New York. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC, from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Cultural Cuisine: Eating Your Way Around the World

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Writer and traveler Deborah Cater once said, “You have to taste culture to understand it”—and she wasn’t wrong. When you go to a foreign country and choose to eat only foods you are familiar with then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Traveling is all about trying new things—and food is one of the most important ones. In China, there are so many unique local dishes to try so you shouldn’t let fear of the unknown get in the way of experiencing the country like the locals do.

Sure we’ve all gone to our local Chinese takeout place and have ordered the pork Lo Mein or General Tso Chicken, but if you take the time to explore the country you’ll find non-Americanized Chinese food that’s definitely worth a try.

One of the most popular dishes to try if you find yourself in Beijing is the Peking Duck. This famous dish has been prepared since the imperial era and is served with steamed pancakes and eaten with scallion, cucumber and sweet bean sauce. Traditionally the meat is sliced thin by the cook right in front of you, which is definitely fun to watch. Two of the most notable restaurants are Quanjude and Bianyifang in Beijing, China.

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A chef prepares to carve a Peking Duck.

Peking Duck is traditionally served on a duck shaped plate.

Peking Duck is traditionally served on a duck shaped plate.

 

We all know that Italy is famous for their pasta; but did you know that the world’s oldest known noodles were actually discovered along the Yellow River in China? Dating back to roughly 4000 years BP, noodles have been a staple food in China—and watching hand pulled noodles being made is definitely something to go see if you visit. Hand pulled noodles, or Lamian, is made by stretching and folding the dough into strands. This unique method of making noodles originated in China and dates back to 1504. Lamian literally means pull or stretch, lā, (拉), noodle, miàn (麵) and watching a professional noodle chef pull noodles is a tourist attraction in itself!

The process of preparing hand pulled noodles is so quick that it happens in a blur!

The process of preparing hand pulled noodles is so quick that it happens in a blur!

Whether you’re traveling to China, or any other country, make sure that if you have food allergies you are well prepared. The chefs know what ingredients they use to prepare their food with and a language barrier shouldn’t stop you from being safe. Having a restaurant card is a great way to stay safe, and still be able to enjoy many of the delicious unique foods available. The card clearly states in another language the types of food you are not allowed to eat and your servers and chefs can take it from there.

Gluten-Free restaurant card picture taken from www.chinahighlights.com/

Gluten-Free restaurant card picture taken from www.chinahighlights.com/

Also, take the time to find out if the water is safe to drink in your country of origin. Often times it’s just easier to choose to drink only bottled water for the duration of your stay. You know it’s clean and safe, and you definitely don’t want to get sick while studying abroad!

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Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

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Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions  and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!

 

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College Savings Experience by Studying Abroad

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

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Photo op with some monks my friends and I met on the Great Wall of China.

I like chicken soup. Wǒ xǐhuān jītāng.

It’s probably one of the only phrases I learned to say correctly in Mandarin while studying abroad in China and it still makes me laugh one year later.

No matter what college you go to, even if it’s only a few psychology courses online, everyone should go on a study abroad program at least once in their lifetime. Study abroad is a rite of passage and the college discounts you get is worth the experience. It’s the ability to say that during your young adult life you did something different and learned about a new place. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you go. What’s important is that you get out, see the world, and learn about a country that isn’t America.

One of the best benefits of studying abroad is that your early 20s is the best time to travel. Besides school, and maybe a part-time job, you don’t have that many obligations. Once you’re working the 9-5 grind you’ll find it’s extremely difficult to snag any vacation days right away. Studying abroad provides you with a way to get college credits without sitting in a classroom for an entire semester. Study abroad programs usually offer a variety of courses that range from common core classes to specific credits that can be used towards your major.

Studying abroad through your school is a great way to make friends that will be there after the trip. Most of the people that go on study abroad trips go to the same school. It’s very easy to form close friendships in a short amount of time on these trips. Walking across campus and seeing a familiar face is always a nice surprise in the middle of a hectic day.

 

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New friendships only grow stronger after hours of hiking the Yellow Mountain (Mt. Huangshan) in the southern Anhui province in eastern China.

People don’t just travel because of the boredom from living in the same place. People travel because they thirst to see something new. It’s one thing to see a picture of a famous landmark; it’s quite another to actually see that landmark with your own eyes. Ask anyone that’s ever traveled anywhere, or ask anyone with a smartphone camera; no photo or Instagram filter can truly ever beat the real thing. When you go home and change your profile picture on Facebook to a picture of yourself standing on the Great Wall of China—that’s something to brag about.

To learn about a culture that is foreign from your own is a truly important experience. There are so many different cultures in the world that it is impossible to count. To go through life ignorant of the world around you is a foolish mistake. Hear a different language slide past your lips. Eat a food that you can’t identify. Engross yourself in a way of living that you’ve never experienced.

A study abroad trip is more than just a trip. It’s a chance to take an adventure, fill a scrapbook with memories, and tell stories to your loved ones that will last a lifetime.

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Group picture of the 2013 Summer CUNY China trip in front of the Monk Xuanzang statue in Xi’an, China.

Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram: slevitz

Follow the Campus Clipper on Twitter and Like us on Facebook!

Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions  and follow our Tumblr and Pinterest. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!

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The Melody Of Unexpected Rhythm

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

written by Angela M

Illustration By Tao Zao

I grew up on Disney and nightly walks with my Russian grandparents, sunflower seeds sticking to my fingers, old lady tales dripping from my ears like borscht. I was never told not to smile at a cute Asian boy, or to repress a casual wink at a dashing Spaniard.

Maybe I was never told to not do these things because: 1) I don’t smile often, and 2) I can barely wink. Regardless, there was never any objection to multicultural friendships. Romantically speaking, though, it was never really spoken about, perhaps because it was never really expected.
My first legitimate ounce of interest in the opposite sex could have something to do with my current situation.
I was in the first grade, and his name was Timothy. He was everything I wanted in a boy. He never spoke to me; he rarely, if ever, held the staircase door open for me; and he cheated on me. I don’t know whether it counts as cheating if we were never in a relationship, but my heart was temporarily in shambles. Did I mention that Timothy was Asian? Did I also mention that I’m white and Jewish and from Brooklyn?
At 22, and not a bit less romantic than my first grade self, I find my heart taken once again (this time, in a less make-believe type of way). I am in love with a writer who just so happens to be outside of my race. Raised Muslim but not practicing, my Indian love connects himself with the folk of Jackson Heights, Queens before anything else. To sum things up, not only am I dating a fellow who’s a hundred beautiful shades darker than my pastey self, but I am also dating someone outside of my borough.
We met at a house party. His band was playing, and I later on learned that he had asked our mutual friend to invite me, since he was too shy to do it himself. The night felt like something taken out of one of those typical teenage movies where the girl seems to be playing coy, not realizing what’s going on, and the guy is fumbling over every other word, crossing his fingers that he doesn’t look as dumb as he feels. It took me half the party to realize that I was falling heavy over someone who I had never expected to come across.
Surprisingly, my mother was more accepting of my new found love than some of my friends. When I say some, I really just mean one. My Jewish friend Rebecca* was stunned to realize that I was romantically involved with someone so far from my religion. I kept it secret from her for as long as I could, afraid of the very reaction that I got. She started telling me that being a Jew meant that I was part of the chosen ones, and how keeping religion alive in my family was imperative. Basically, she made me feel like the black sheep of the herd. A day after her attack, she apologized wholeheartedly and told me that I have her full support in any decision that I make in life. (I can only imagine how Rebecca’s reaction would have been if I had confessed that I was getting married!) Just to be clear, I consider myself Jewish more in terms of culture than practice. Echoing Keats, “Love is my religion.”
In a city where love has an astigmatism and hearts beat to their own bongo, interracial coupling is more common than ever. Every way my head turns, I see it: hands of different colors holding on to each other. It’s beautiful, really. And now, I am part of it. We grew up hearing different languages being spoken at home, eating foods synonymous to our cultures, but we were also scolded by our parents for leaving cookie crumbs in our beds, and watching too many T.V. shows instead of doing our homework. Plenty of people in college date people who they didn’t expect to be with. We aren’t really all that different, though. We both love literature and writing, we listen to the same type of music, and, obviously, we both enjoy a good house party.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

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