UALR Students Help Preserve Veterans Oral History

A group of students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock are participating in a project that will help bring veteran stories to a new generation.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., (L) and Dr. Sherry Robertson.
Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., (L) and Dr. Sherry Robertson.
The Veterans History Project is a program of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center where the first hand, oral histories of veterans, along with pictures or artifacts, are collected and preserved. The project relies on veteran volunteers to contribute their stories.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., visited UALR on March 23 to talk with students, faculty, and veterans about the importance of the project.

“These gentleman, this group, really didn’t talk a whole lot about the war. So, that’s another reason that it’s so important. They just came back, and not only rebuilt our country, but they provided the security for Europe as they rebuilt,” Boozman said—referring to World War II veterans.

“There’s so many great reasons for doing this,” he continued. “It’s good for our veterans. It’s good for history, to make it such that we keep this stuff for generations to follow.”

Boozman’s office is responsible for promoting and delivering the stories collected on behalf of Arkansas to the Library of Congress.

Twenty-five UALR Donaghey Scholars are participating in the project through an honors composition class. The students will be interviewing veterans across the state and submitting their accounts. Anyone who has had the Veterans History Project training is permitted to collect veteran accounts.

The Library of Congress does not verify the accuracy of these accounts, but according to the VHP website, these stories are not meant to replace official record of the federal government or of military service.

So far, UALR has plans to interview 15 World War II veterans; however, there are 250,000 veterans in the state of Arkansas—which gives students plenty of stories to collect.

ICYMI – Watch the video of Sen. Boozman’s visit to UALR:

Mindfulness Group Aims to Abate Student Stress

“In the past, as a child, we used to breathe better. We didn’t worry about the future. We stayed in the present—playing and enjoying life. So, maybe it’s time to go back.” – Cai Carvalhaes

We’re halfway through the semester, and this time of the year can often be stressful for students. Luckily, there’s a way to defuse some of that tension and anxiety through UALR’s “Mindfulness Group.”

Cai Carvalhaes with UALR Counseling Services demonstrates a mindfulness exercise.
Cai Carvalhaes with UALR Counseling Services demonstrates a mindfulness exercise.
What is “mindfulness,” you might ask. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”

Cai Carvalhaes, a clinical social worker intern with UALR Counseling Services, leads the Mindfulness Group once a week. She says mindfulness is the ability to live in the present moment, and practicing mindfulness is useful for those who frequently experience stress and anxiety. In her group, she teaches exercises that focus on breathing and body movements. You are guided to concentrate on certain parts of your body—from head to feet— and become aware of what you’re feeling. When this awareness is achieved, she says, you’re able to release your emotions and feel more in control of the challenges that life presents you.

Carvalhaes, who is also a yoga instructor, began to feel anxious and experience panic attacks about eight years ago. Knowing she needed to do something about it, but not wanting to take medicine, she began to study mindfulness.

The idea of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979 at the University of Massachusetts Medical School as a means to complement traditional treatments for a number of ailments ranging from anxiety to cancer.

Carvalhaes combines her experience with yoga and mindfulness in her teachings for the group.

Carvalhaes began the Mindfulness Group at UALR in January 2016, and says the student feedback has been positive so far. She uses psychometric scales to measure a student’s level of stress before and after the exercises. The results show that after the group meets, most students show a reduced level of stress and anxiety. Carvalhaes recognizes that students may develop symptoms of stress even after going through the mindfulness exercises, but regular practice can help reduce these symptoms over time.

“It’s necessary to practice,” she said. “If you don’t practice you won’t feel the effects. It takes a while sometimes, but anyone can do it.”

Carvalhaes said she tells her students to breathe in and out while they relax their minds, and the participants often feel better while in this state, even though they may not understand why.

“In the past, as a child, we used to breathe better. We didn’t worry about the future. We stayed in the present—playing and enjoying life. So, maybe it’s time to go back,” Carvalhaes said.

The UALR Mindfulness Group meets at noon every Wednesday in the Donaghey Student Center room 201T. It’s open to all UALR students, faculty, and staff.

Can’t make it to campus? Cai demonstrates one mindfulness exercise you can practice at home:

Watch the video below for more from our interview with Cai:

5 Myths About Online Classes

You don’t need to have any experience with computers to take an online course.

While you don’t have to be a computer expert to take an online course, you will need to have a basic knowledge of computers. If you are considering taking a course online, first ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you comfortable using a computer on a daily basis?
  • Do you have regular, reliable access to a computer? How about to an alternate computer should something happen to your primary?
  • Do you have good written communication skills?
  • Do you know how to open your UALR email? Can you compose an email message and upload/download attachments?
  • How are your word processing skills? Do you know how to format a document including font sizing, line spacing, and adding footnotes, headers and footers? Do you know how to cut, copy and paste text within a single file and from one document to another?
  • How much do you know about file formats and saving files in different formats?
  • Do you know how to install and uninstall software on your computer?
  • Do you know how to find out which operating system you are using? Which Internet browser?
  • Do you know how to use the Internet? Do you know how to find online resources appropriate for research purposes?
  • Are you comfortable troubleshooting your computer when errors arise?

The good news is most of these skills can easily be learned online or on campus through the IT Services Student Computer Lab located on the first floor of the Ottenheimer Library in room LIB 104. Also see the additional resources section at the end of this article for a list of helpful websites.

Online courses are easier (or harder) than traditional courses.

The truth is online courses are really no different than courses held on campus. The only difference is the environment in which the course material is delivered. Once you understand how to navigate the Blackboard environment, the rest is just a matter of time management. If you are considering taking an online course for the first time, it might be helpful to talk with someone that has already taken an online class.

For more information about navigating UALR’s Blackboard system, please visit the tutorials section.

It’s less time intensive than a traditional course.

A lot of students have the misconception that because a course is online, they can complete their online assignments whenever they have some free time. Unfortunately, this approach leaves a lot of students struggling at the last minute to get assignments completed. Online courses are the same as traditional courses in that they require time spent “outside of class” to get everything done.

The best way to approach on online course is to schedule time like you would a face-to-face course. If you schedule several hours throughout the week dedicated to completing assignments for your online courses, you’ll find that the work is done in a timely manner without becoming overwhelming.

Online courses are just online textbooks.

Online courses are more than just text. There are a variety of tools in Blackboard that encourage peer-to-peer and student/teacher interactions including discussion boards, journals, blogs and wikis. Also, a lot of instructors use audio, video and web conferencing tools to engage and communicate with students.

It’s okay to be casual or informal in an online course.

Whether you are attending a class on campus or online, you must remember that you are communicating in an academic setting and should conduct yourself in a professional manner. This applies to all online correspondences related to your course from papers to emails and discussion postings.

It is inappropriate to communicate in your online course the same way you may communicate other places online. Avoid the use of text speak, poor grammar and/or spelling, and foul language.

Helpful Resources