Local Research History Project: ALBION STATE NORMAL SCHOOL: 1893-1951

History 4423: History of Idaho
Idaho State University



     Prior to the Normal Schools established in Idaho, school teachers came from out of state or were untrained and unlicensed to work with children. According to the Albion Historical Society, “In 1890, when Idaho became a state the Federal Government had seen the need for better trained teachers. Part of the Federal Land Grant money to newly formed states was to establish Normal schools.”[1] At the time, Albion was Cassia County’s Seat; as well as, Idaho’s South-Central center of population. Local residents actively lobbied legislature to have a public institution of higher learning built in their town. Albion State Normal School in its prime trained most of the school teachers in Southern Idaho; playing a vital role in Idaho’s education from its beginning, the end, and beyond.
     The beginning of Albion State Normal School was first brought on by a bill, according to an article published in The Salt Lake Herald January 10, 1893 “In the senate today Mr. Miller, of Cassia, introduced a bill to establish a state normal school at Albion.”[2] The same newspaper reported March 2, 1893, “The Albion normal school bill passed the house today and now goes on to the governor.”[3] No report within the newspapers that the governor approved the bill; however, many resources shared Albion State Normal School bill passed on March 7, 1893.
     Although the citizens of Albion received the approval to build a school, Evin Filby wrote on South Fork Companion, “The Act required that land be donated as a site for the school and did not appropriate any funds for construction.”[4] No requirement seemed to be too large for the residents of Cassia County, determined to have a normal school in Albion. Wood River Times reported on April 4, 1893, “The citizens of Albion have subscribed $3000, and promised $2000 more, toward building the Albion Normal School.”[5] In addition, Twin Falls Times-News shared one of Albion’s pioneers, “State Senator J.E. Miller donated 5 acres for the campus”[6] in an article entitled Hidden History: The Albion Normal School. Albion Historical Society stated, “volunteers drew up the plans for a rock structure and signed up many volunteer laborers.”[7] Nine months later, The Salt Lake Herald reported,
the rafters up and begins to look like a nice, neat, and imposing structure. There are several men at work and only a short time will elapse till it is completed. We are proud of the structure, and we anticipate the future greatness with grim satisfaction.[8]

A short time it was, working through the blistery cold winter months, the much-anticipated day arrived. According to January 13, 1894 Caldwell Tribune, “The dedication and opening of the Albion State Normal School, which took place on the 8th marks an educational epoch in Idaho.”[9] In news items from ISU Marketing and Communications it is stated that, “Reverend Charles Lyles voluntarily taught twenty-three students”[10] in the building constructed by volunteers on donated land. Therefore, it is the beginning of teacher education in Idaho with the opening of the doors on September 11, 1894[11].    Albion State Normal School centered training exclusively toward teachers. Offering “one to three years of training to teach or four years to earn a lifetime certificate.”[12] The Caldwell Tribune provided the following,
Tuition is free for teachers and nominal for all… Teachers wishing to qualify themselves to raise the grade of their certificates in county or state can do so at Albion and at the same time establish themselves in a pedagogical course leading to a life diploma and state certificate.[13]

A majority of the students were “drawn from the farms and small towns of the surrounding counties,”[14] this caused trouble for this newly built institution. The students were not prepared for this level of training upon admission to the program. According to Filby, “the institution had to provide a considerable array of high school classes.”[15]
     The funds, construction, and land were all gathered by the local citizens of Cassia County; this spoke extremely well for this devoted community. It is expected, according to The Caldwell Tribune, “the legislature will, no doubt, supplement their effort by liberal appropriation.”[16] Indeed it was, January 19, 1896 Coeur d’ Alene Press accounted, “a bill was introduced providing for a bond issue of $114,000, the proceeds to be equally divided between the Lewiston and the Albion Normal Schools.”[17] These funds were to be used to “erect additional buildings and the state to be reimbursed from the sale of lands set aside for the schools.”[18] The Salt Lake Herald stated on February 17, 1895, “ Mr. Miller’s bill passed the House of Representatives authorizing the school with a $75,000 bond with a unanimous vote.[19] When the funds were acquired they were used for “an administration building and a men’s dormitory .”[20] Over the years, “the campus expanded adding a women’s dormitory and several other facilities”[21] according to South Fork Companion writer Evin Filby.
     Student population increased little by little from 1895 to 1930, The Coeur d’ Alene Press reported on January 26, 1895, “the second term of the normal school at Albion will open January 30, with the addition of a fourth teacher and new classes and several new pupils.”[22] The Caldwell Tribune says, “No school in the state can offer better advantages in instruction.”[23] In addition to the fine school that has opportunities of instruction, the institution provides “the best pedagogical library in the West and an excellent general library.”[24], according to The Caldwell Tribune. The administration and teachers were seeking to create the best normal schools in the United States. Within the first year, student population increased to 78 and the institution began to see the attention that it deserved.  South Fork Companion stated, “that the need for teachers was so great that the school thrived.”[25]  The school thrived within the classroom with teachers; as well as within the community with the townsfolk. May 1899, The Caldwell Tribune reported, “the normal school appears to be the social center of Albion, there seems to be no end of the functions in connection with it.”[26]
       Student population and government funds dwindled during the Great Depression. Albion stayed fully functional, as ISU Headlines reported, “by putting the students to work at school jobs, such as maintenance, construction, general services and food preparation.”[27] However, student census resumed to consistent growth in the late 1930s.
     In the mid-1940’s, after World War II, men and women who served in the war returned and found themselves in need of a different type of school, one providing more than just a teaching career.  At this time, most states were leading in four-year university programs, including education; there were only five normal schools left in the United States.  In 1947, Idaho half-heartedly allowed accreditation to Albion Normal School to a four-year program and renamed the institution Southern Idaho College of Education (SICE).  Lewiston Normal School became Northern Idaho College of Education (NICE). The institution now had the opportunity to provide a baccalaureate degree.[28]
     The newspapers reported there to be as much passion in the ending as there was in the beginning of Albion State Normal School. According to Twin Falls Times News, in 1951, newly appointed, Republican Governor Len B Jordan suggested closing both Albion and Lewiston Normal Schools [29], now SICE and NICE. This was not taken lightly by those in and out of government the article explained, many were left confused as "Jordan never mentioned it in his campaigns at all so his rationale, at the time as well as now, is not all that clear. Cost-cutting?”[30] There was a lot of substantial disapproval of this decision; however, according to the South Fork Companion, “SICE – once Albion State Normal School – held its final commencement exercise. The school had made an indispensable contribution to Idaho education, but it was doomed by its relatively isolated location.”[31] When the doors officially closed in both SICE and NICE institutions, their “responsibilities were transferred to Idaho State College (now Idaho State University) in Pocatello.”[32] stated ISU Headlines.
     Over the years, Albion State Normal School presented “approximately 6,460 degrees.”[33] ISU Special Collections shared, “One of these degrees, created a teacher named Terrell H. Bell. Bell was appointed United States Secretary of Education in 1981 under the Reagan Administration.”[34]
     Today, Idaho State University College of Education, “continues the tradition of the preparation of teacher educators and has strengthened its delivery of services by growing graduate programs, which prepare professional educators and leaders,”[35] published on ISU Headlines. The website shared,
Most recently in September 2006, the College of Education’s north wing was named Albion Hall in recognition of the achievements and legacy of Albion State Normal School (1893-1951). The dedication was a memorable event for those who attended and an opportunity to revisit the location … where the tradition of preparing professional educators began.[36]

     In conclusion, Albion State Normal School played a vital role in Idaho’s education from its beginning, to the end, and evidence of its training is even found beyond the closed doors.

Bibliography


"Albion State Normal School. Idaho State University." ISU Library. Special Collections.
http://www.isu.edu/library/miscellaneous/specialcollections/albion-state-normal
school/.

"Albion Historical Society 1871, 1890." Albion Historical Society.
http://www.albionidahohistory.org.

Crump, Steve. "When a Popular Governor Killed Albion's Teachers College. Editorial
Magicvalley.com." Twin Falls Times-News.
http://magicvalley.com/news/opinion/editorial/article_bdd8a36a-c3f4-5ce5
af32a8cb927e6c0e.html.

Filby, Evin. "Legislature Authorizes Albion State Normal School." South Fork
Companion. http://sfcompanion.blogspot.com/2017/03/legislature
authorizes-albion-state.html

"ISU College of Education to Celebrate Its 50th Year Sept. 10-11." ISU Headlines
News Items from ISU Marketing and Communications. http://headlines.isu.edu/?p=1406#more-1406.

Matthews, Mychel. "Hidden History: The Albion Normal School." Twin Falls
Times-News. July 3, 2014. http://magicvalley.com/news/local/hidden        history-the-albion-normal-school/article_f3acd545-ac95-50a3-a3fe
ca987ce64477.html.

"The Caldwell Tribune. (Caldwell, Idaho Territory [Idaho]) 1883-1928, January
13, 1894." Chronicling America. Library of Congress.
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86091092/1894-01-13/ed-1/seq-5/.

"The Caldwell Tribune. (Caldwell, Idaho Territory [Idaho]) 1883-1928, January 25, 1896."
Chronicling America. Library of Congress.
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86091092/1896-01-25/ed-1/seq-4/.

"The Caldwell Tribune. (Caldwell, Idaho Territory [Idaho]) 1883-1928, February 05,
1898." Chronicling America. Library of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86091092/1898-02-05/ed-1/seq-1/.

Chronicling America. Library of Congress.
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86091092/1899-05-27/ed-1/seq-1/.

"The Coeur D'Alene Press. (Coeur D'Alene, Idaho) 1892-1907, January 19, 1895."
Chronicling America. Library of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88056095/1895-01-19/ed-1/seq-3/.

"The Coeur D'Alene Press. (Coeur D'Alene, Idaho) 1892-1907, January 26, 1895."
Chronicling America. Library of Congress.
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88056095/1895-01-26/ed-1/seq-3/.

Chronicling America Library of Congress.
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85058130/1893-01
10/ed-1/seq-1/.

"The Salt Lake Herald. (Salt Lake City [Utah) 1870-1909.” March 02, 1893.
Chronicling America. Library of Congress.
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85058130/1893-03-02/ed-1/seq-1/.

"The Salt Lake Herald. (Salt Lake City [Utah) 1870-1909. November 18, 1893, Page
5." Chronicling America. Library of Congress.
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85058130/1893-11-18/ed-1/seq-5/.

"The Salt Lake Herald. (Salt Lake City [Utah) 1870-1909, February 17, 1895." Chronicling
America. Library of Congress.
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85058130/1895-02-17/ed-1/seq-1/.

"Wood River Times. (Hailey, Idaho) 1882-1915, April 04, 1893." Chronicling
America. Library of Congress.
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86091172/1893-04-04/ed-1/seq-3/.




[1] “Albion Historical Society 1871." Albion Historical Society. http://www.albionidahohistory.org/1871/.

[2] "The Salt Lake Herald. (Salt Lake City [Utah) 1870-1909.” January 10, 1893. Chronicling America Library of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85058130/1893-0110/ed-1/seq-1/.

[3] "The Salt Lake Herald. (Salt Lake City [Utah) 1870-1909.” March 02, 1893. Chronicling America. Library of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85058130/1893-03-02/ed-1/seq-1/.

[4] Filby, Evin. "Legislature Authorizes Albion State Normal School." South Fork Companion. http://sfcompanion.blogspot.com/2017/03/legislature-authorizes-albion-state.html.

[5] "Wood River Times. (Hailey, Idaho) 1882-1915, April 04, 1893." Chronicling America. Library of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86091172/1893-04-04/ed-1/seq-3/.

[6] Matthews, Mychel. "Hidden History: The Albion Normal School." Twin Falls Times-News. July 3, 2014. http://magicvalley.com/news/local/hidden-history-the-albion-normal-school/article_f3acd545-ac95-50a3-a3fe-ca987ce64477.html.

[7] Ibid, “1890.”

[8] "The Salt Lake Herald. (Salt Lake City [Utah) 1870-1909. November 18, 1893, Page 5." Chronicling America. Library of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85058130/1893-11-18/ed-1/seq-5/.

[9] "The Caldwell Tribune. (Caldwell, Idaho Territory [Idaho]) 1883-1928, January 13, 1894." Chronicling America. Library of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86091092/1894-01-13/ed-1/seq-5/.

[10] "ISU College of Education to Celebrate Its 50th Year Sept. 10-11." ISU Headlines – News Items from ISU Marketing and Communications. http://headlines.isu.edu/?p=1406#more-1406.

[11] Ibid

[12] Ibid, Matthews. Twin Falls Times – News

[13] "The Caldwell Tribune. (Caldwell, Idaho Territory [Idaho]) 1883-1928, January 25, 1896." Chronicling America. Library of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86091092/1896-01-25/ed-1/seq-4/.

[14] "Albion State Normal School. Idaho State University." ISU Library. Special Collections. http://www.isu.edu/library/miscellaneous/specialcollections/albion-state-normal-school/.

[15] Ibid. Filby. South Fork Companion

[16] Ibid

[17] "The Coeur D'Alene Press. (Coeur D'Alene, Idaho) 1892-1907, January 19, 1895." Chronicling America. Library of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88056095/1895-01-19/ed-1/seq-3/.

[18] Ibid

[19] "The Salt Lake Herald. (Salt Lake City [Utah) 1870-1909, February 17, 1895." Chronicling America. Library of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85058130/1895-02-17/ed-1/seq-1/.

[20] Ibid. Filby. South Fork Companion.

[21] Ibid.

[22] "The Coeur D'Alene Press. (Coeur D'Alene, Idaho) 1892-1907, January 26, 1895." Chronicling America. Library of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88056095/1895-01-26/ed-1/seq-3/.

[23] Ibid. Caldwell Tribune. January 25, 1896

[24] "The Caldwell Tribune. (Caldwell, Idaho Territory [Idaho]) 1883-1928, February 05, 1898." Chronicling America. Library of Congress. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86091092/1898-02-05/ed-1/seq-1/.

[25] Ibid. Filby. South Fork Companion

[26] "The Caldwell Tribune. (Caldwell, Idaho Territory [Idaho]) 1883-1928, May 27. 1899."

[27] Ibid ISU Headlines.
[28] Ibid. Twin Falls Times- News

[29] Crump, Steve. "When a Popular Governor Killed Albion's Teachers College. Editorial Magicvalley.com." Twin Falls Times-News. http://magicvalley.com/news/opinion/editorial/article_bdd8a36a-c3f4-5ce5-af32-a8cb927e6c0e.html.

[30] Ibid

[31] Ibid. Filby. South Fork Companion

[32] Ibid. ISU Headlines.
[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid. ISU Special Collections.

[35] Ibid. ISU Headlines

[36] Ibid 

Online Tools Group Project Rationale and Reflection

     EDUC 3311: Instructional Technology
Idaho State University

In the past, I was extremely anti-group project in the classroom. Those two words, GROUP -PROJECT had the ability to: send shivers down my spine, cause my palms to sweat, and increase my stress level. Now, with the inclusion of technology, I am more open to the idea of working with a set of classmates toward a common goal. The two words, Group Project, means with proper planning, preparation, scheduling, and online set-up; there is potential to strengthen bonds, acquire knowledge, and gain team-building skills. In the following essay, I will share with you how my perception of group projects during our Online Tools Group Research went from intimidating to inviting; through a research based rationale and reflection in the art of virtual communication and collaboration.
Rationale
     In completing the Online Tools Research Project, I learned the value of working within a group as a student. As a future teacher, I am to be aware of the importance of virtual communication and collaboration as an educator. The actual tool that is used to complete communication and collaboration online does not hold the utmost of importance; as long as it has the necessary capabilities in which the group of teachers are in need of. Online tools accessibility, as well as their functions will always change; however, what takes place through them will remain the same.
     Similarly, to being a student, a teacher’s role is not one that should be taken on alone. A teacher should surround him or herself with a group of educators known as their Professional Learning Network (PLN). I have learned of this type of group through my time spent on the social media site, Twitter. Tom Whitby, a blogger for the site Edutopia, defines PLN as, “a tool that uses social media and technology to collect, communicate, collaborate and create with connected colleagues anywhere, at any time. Participating educators make requests and share resources; each one becomes a potential source of information” (para. 1).
     Prior to the internet, teachers were succumbed to their co-workers and administrators within their school building and a few others inside their district in which they could collaborate with face to face or via telephone. Opportunities were rare in having a variety of educators to discuss issues such as: lesson plans, classroom management, and professional development. Technology, has removed these limitations in connecting with other educators. Giving one the option to exchange methods, share strategies, and participate in online discussions (Whitby, para. 10).
     In addition to being a personal/professional benefit, having the skill to communicate and collaborate online gives us the ability to make students who can communicate and collaborate online. Today’s world, is controlled by technology. Teachers who are virtually connected are using online tools to remain applicable in the classroom, so that they can prepare their students for their lives outside of the classroom. To use technology or not to use technology is no longer a relevant question. Teachers are to be life-long learners of such things that we are to model for those students that we teach. In the article, No Longer a Luxury: Digital Literacy Can't Wait published in The English Journal, authors Troy Hicks and Kristen Hawley Turner state,
It is difficult to let go of traditional ways of being and doing when we do not understand the technology that makes new literacies new. Students need – and deserve – for us to catch up quickly, to let go of the past, and to critically examine whether what we do is indeed supporting the development of their digital literacies. Digital literacy is no longer a luxury, and we simply cannot wait to build the capacity in our students and colleagues, as well as ourselves (p. 64).

Reflection
     My experience, working in an online collaborative environment for this research project was an educational one. A large factor that assisted in this project was the easily understood layout of expectations that was provided by our instructor. This created the planning and preparation of the project to be quite simple as all members of the group were knowledgeable of what our goal was and how we were to reach it. In the future, I would like to create a similar line up of steps if they are not provided for the group.
     Through the usage of the online tool Google Hangouts, we were able to discuss availability through the process of elimination, until we came to a time that we were all able to meet. Being able to have a virtual face to face conversation eliminated the long pauses between e-mails or messages sent; as well as, the question of emotion. There was no guessing in how each other felt about the items we discussed. This was the first time I have experienced Google Hangouts, I enjoyed the online tool very much. I was able to pick up the basic features of the program very quickly and was impressed with the functions of: sharing screens, group chats, sending files, and accessing Google Drive. The Google Hangout meeting automatically placed itself in my Google Calendar when I accepted the invitation to connect with the group at the designated time; allowing me to stay on top of the group project quite efficiently.  
     In our first meeting, each team member brought to the group four different tools. We shared them by category, each one sharing the information they found from their initial research. During this process, we began to clearly see which members were going to complete which section. Two of us, were quite passionate about the online tool that they found; whereas, the other two were passionate about the specific subject matter overall. The words used to describe such passion was,” geeking out”.  We made the decision at that time, what subject matter each member was to complete, gather research, and create this portion of the presentation. At the remaining meetings: we shared what we liked and disliked about our tools and asked for advice on how we were putting the presentation together. When we were not in a meeting, we completed our research, began creating a group presentation through Google Slides, and pieced together our section of the website. Since all of our research documents were in our Google Drive, everyone had what they needed when they needed it, no matter where they were. A few discussions were had through the comments of the individual documents, for assistance.
     In completing my area of the project, planning. I began my research by visiting the experts, through middle school educator blogs. I knew that if I was going to find something purposeful, it would be from those teachers who daily use the products that we are searching for. Once I set my mind on PlanBook Edu, I furthered my research on the products website, teacher blogs, and YouTube.com. These three provided me with more than enough information I needed to complete my section of our presentation. I also decided to create an account and sign up for the free trial period, which allowed me to get some hands-on experience with this tool. I found all of its features to have several benefits to a middle school teacher.
     In the future, I plan on integrating the usage of online communication and collaboration as a college student, as a teacher, and in my classroom. As a college student, I will present the option to use the combination of Google Hangouts and Google Drive to complete a group project. As a teacher, I will further develop my PLN through Twitter, Blogs, and other forms of social media. In my classroom, I will use a combination of Google Hangouts, Google Drive, Twitter, Blogs, and other social media to provide them with the necessary tools to be digitally literate; as well as, making miserable group projects ancient history.
     As I stated in the beginning, group projects in the past caused some anxiety. I believe, this is caused by the multitude of negative experiences that I have had with group projects: having to complete all of the work, making up for a member’s lack of abilities, finishing the project at the last minute, and more. Completing a group project with integration of technology, eliminates barriers that cause these negative encounters: tracking of individual members completed work, provide each other with assistance, allowing more connection time online, and flexibility of doing individual portions on your own time. With these common issues removed, it gives team members a chance to plan, discuss, learn, and complete; creating an extremely positive experience.
Conclusion
     In conclusion, my idea of group projects drastically transformed through our Online Tools Group Research, due to the inclusion of technology. Through my research based rationale and reflection toward the art of virtual communication and collaboration, you can understand how this dreadful task became pleasant. When working in conjunction with a team there is a greater ability to be more productive, creative, and motivated than those who work by themselves. I now can grasp the truth in those sayings: two heads are better than one, the more the merrier, and more hands make for lighter work.


References

Hicks, T., & Turner, K. (2013). No longer a luxury: Digital literacy can't wait. The English Journal, 102(6), 58-65. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/24484127
Whitby, T. (2013). How do I get a PLN? Edutopia. Retrieved from
             https://www.edutopia.org/blog/how-do-i-get-a-pln-tom-whitby

   
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Making Better Choices for a Healthier You

English 293 Magazine Writing

How to Essay: Family Fun Magazine

     It is two o’clock, you are unable to concentrate, and you feel run down. You want to crawl back into bed for a much-needed nap; however, you are faced with a growing to-do list and bed-time is hours away. You are too busy to play with the children, leaving them bored and grumpy. You are easily irritated, since you lack the energy to get things done. This is not a one-time occurrence; it seems to be happening every single day.
     Your breakfast, solely consisting of an entire pot of coffee, caffeinated benefits have worn off. You decide to grab a Coca-Cola from the fridge. When you open the refrigerator door, you take notice to the fresh produce that you purchased on your last shopping trip. You purchased them with good intentions to eat better, hoping you can fit in your swimsuit by summer vacation. Unfortunately, you do not have time to chop up all the fruits and vegetables to make a smoothie; so you choose the cola, knowing that it will give you the quick pick me up that you need. You think to yourself, the diet will have to begin another day.
     Hours later, the overwhelming feeling of exhaustion returns. It is dinner time and you have absolutely no idea what to serve. Once again, the choice is yours of what you will consume. This choice will not only determine if you will look great in that swimsuit down by the pool; but it will determine how you will feel and how your body will function. The following three steps, will guide you in making better choices for a healthier you: mind, body and soul.
Step One: Making Better Choices for the Mind.
     What we eat can affect us mentally; food choices we make can have a positive or a negative effect on our mind. Instead of skipping breakfast and drinking an entire pot of coffee in the morning to “wake” us up we can choose to eat a good source of protein, it makes you more alert.  Eggs are a good source of protein; as well as, Vitamin B. Vitamin B can protect your memory and your ability to focus. You will soon find all those sluggish, never-ending afternoons disappear when you are feeding your body the nutrients it needs.
     Step Two: Making Better Choices for the Body.
     What we eat can affect us physically; food choices we make can have a positive or negative effect on our body. Yes, good food provides our bodies with radiant looking skin, voluminous hair, healthy nails, and the ability to look fabulous in a swimsuit; but it is not just our physical appearance that improves when we choose to eat a well-balanced diet. Choose to eat foods high in Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Omega- 3’s such as nuts, fish, berries, cheese and milk. These provide our bodies with what it needs to function properly and protect us against sickness and disease.
Step Three: Making Better Choices for the Soul.
     How we eat can affect us socially; choices we make can have a positive or negative effect on our soul. Eating well can be a social activity; sitting down at the table for a healthy, home-cooked meal can strengthen the ties between you, your friends, and your family. While eating, ask those at the table questions about their day, what was their favorite thing that happened and what was the worst thing that happened. This will break the ice and open up conversations within each member. It is so nice to know that there is a group of people who honestly care about how you are doing.     
     It is two o’clock, you are focused, full of energy, and ready for anything that comes your way. You decided that you could no longer afford to continue to go on the way you were. You realized that choosing to eat right was not only to lose weight, but to improve you and your family’s bodies inside and out. You began making the right food choices, started taking the extra time in the morning to eat a high protein breakfast, and reduced the amount of your caffeine intake. In the afternoon, you are choosing the smoothie over the Coca-Cola, allowing you to receive a full night’s sleep since you are avoiding caffeine later in the day.

     Overall, your days seem to go much smoother and everyone is in a better mood. The family has started to work together as a team since you began eating with one another. Your to-do list is complete; so instead of wanting to take a nap, you put on your bathing suit, that looks fabulous on you, and take the family for a swim. When we make better choices, our bodies will react in kind: mind, body, and soul.

Liyah Babayan, Ooh La La!

English 293 Magazine Writing 
Profile of a Person - Southern Idaho Living Magazine 

     Liyah, her mother, father, and grandmother left Soviet Baku, Azerbajian escaping religious persecution to live in Armenia, as violence engulfed the area. Four years of homelessness, they lived secretly in an Armenian school utility closet, as they had nowhere else to go; until they were given asylum in America. In 1992, through the refugee program at College of Southern Idaho (CSI), the family took residence in Twin Falls.
     Once in the United States, the Babayan family was all on their own; they were each other’s support. At the time, there was no refugee mentor group, no refugee advocates, and no refugee assistance toward successful integration into a new community; Liyah portrays, “It was like we were just dropped out of the sky into a whole new world.” They were without knowledge of the laws, language, or institutions which shaped their new society; nor was there any knowledge of their own civil rights under the constitution. Liyah clarifies, “It was like a clear, undefined separation, there was our world and their world; we did not mix and we knew we were not welcome to participate in theirs.” Liyah remembers walking everywhere with her mom and dad, as they did not yet own a vehicle. She describes, “We were like zombies roaming the streets. No one walks in Twin Falls, the people would just stare at us, like we were creatures from another planet.” Another barrier which stood between them was poverty; the Babayan’s were the poorest of the poor, only owning their memories and past experiences. Liyah says, “Even the poorest American’s seemed rich compared to us. At least they had family pictures, knew the language, understood the culture, and felt as they belonged, we did not even have that.” This isolation and division made Liyah feel unwelcome; however, she whispered, “at least no one was trying to kill us anymore.”
    After settling in Twin Falls, the Babayan family found themselves accepting any employment position fit for non-English speaking workers. At times, Liyah’s mother and father were working two full-time jobs each, in order to rebuild their lives. Liyah explains, “When you are a refugee you have to basically live and work for three lives: rebuilding your past basic assets, paying present bills, and saving for a future all at the same time.” This threefold achievement is not an impossible task, but it is slave labor for cheap. Liyah exclaims, “Many refugees proudly build their own American Dream, with the crumbs thrown at them.” Liyah was only 11 years old at the time, she first spent her days at Harrison Elementary School, learning English and gaining knowledge of her new world. A year later, she began assisting her family by working a variety of jobs at an orchard, a retail shop, as well as a florist. Later, she graduated from Twin Falls High School and headed to Ashland, Oregon where she studied at Southern Oregon University. After completing her degree, Liyah returned to Twin Falls with an American dream of her own. Empowered with the passion for fashion, courage to do whatever it takes, and the encouragement of her family, she set out to actualize the vision of a shopping experience that inspires, celebrates, and encourages all women to feel confident, take control of their destinies, and follow their own dreams.
      Coming from a fashion background and following the footsteps of her grandmother and mother, who both operated a tailor factory in Baku, Azerbajian designing and sewing garments for male and female clients; dressing and custom creating pieces for others was second nature for Liyah. She shares, “I grew up around my grandmothers sewing machine and passively learned everything from her.” In 2006, Liyah opened the Ooh La La! Boutique, specializing in art, jewelry, fashion, and vintage items. Her vision to open up a consignment shop was motivated by her strong belief in honoring nature, sustainability, and minimizing waste. Coming from the other side of the world, seeing oppression and its harm toward human beings, she says, “I have always found cruel hypocrisy within Western consumerism.” She refuses to be a part of the toxins, sweat shops, and labor trafficking; all to feed this greater demand of fashion, trends, malls, clothes, and accessories. “I saw no honor in traditional retail, in fact it was an immoral industry all together. I wanted to create a space that was an ethical alternative to this, a place where we could encourage conscious consumerism,” she added. Ooh La La! Boutique is a place where women can sell, buy, and exchange fashion while caring for the earth and humanity at the same time. She exclaims, “I couldn't compromise my own values in creating a business, the model had to fit into the boundaries of my ethics.”
      A boutique characteristic that is formed within the business model of earth, humanity, and community is Liyah’s willingness to give back to the community that literally saved her and her family’s life. Early March, the boutique’s Facebook page posted the following announcement, Every girl deserves to go to Prom! I remember my parents struggling to rebuild our life in America and could not afford my prom or graduation gown. If anyone knows a family struggling, or a girl not going to prom because she simply cannot afford a dress, send her to Ooh La La! Boutique. We get plenty prom business, we would love to pay it forward. Her business model is more than just a mission statement, it is her core belief to bless forward. Liyah shares, “God has blessed me and my family, the best way to show gratitude is to share the blessing with other people, my adopted community.” The blessing is multiplied, by empowering, educating, or even sharing donations, school supplies, and clothes. “It is all stuff; but, stuff creates momentum in people’s lives,” Liyah adds. The idea is that if we can influence a betterment on any micro level, then the community benefits as a whole; she exclaims, “Making little ripples, turn into giant waves.” The boutique’s undertaking comes deep from within Liyah’s heart, giving as much as possible, because the universe has always taken care her family even when they had nothing to offer. Her motivation to reach higher success goals is driven by the idea, “the better I do, the more I can do for others,” she says.
      Ooh La La! Boutique is celebrating its tenth birthday this year; for ten years it has been helping humanity within the Magic Valley. Liyah is opening her second company in early April, MAKEPEACE; which will also be a brand and platform for helping humanity, but it’s outreach is worldwide. MAKEPEACE will focus on empowering people living in refugee camps, as well as, veterans of war. Both suffer during times of war, and are both deserving of our care and empathy. Liyah adds, “Refugees are veterans of war, as civilians, even though they do not wear a uniform - they are the main victims, innocent and unarmed.” Liyah and her family experienced this suffering and continues to battle with its effects; she says, “After surviving the violence in Azerbajian and witnessing the murders our loved ones, we suffer by living with nightmares, triggers, and flashbacks.” MAKEPEACE are products developed: bath line, lotions, blankets, and clothes which are created with improving the human condition in mind. For every product purchased, the business will donate the same product overseas to a cause of choice. Liyah laughs, “The best part is that the entire bath line is made of potatoes, right here in Idaho!” She is very adamant about keeping things as local as possible and definitely will not outsource.
      After all the stories were shared, I became full of many more questions of things I wanted to know about this incredible woman. I concluded, with one last question, “When thinking about Twin Falls, your boutique, and your position as a business woman in the community, is there anything that you would like to share with me?” Her reply almost took my breath away, “I am excited to have this second chance at life, I should be dead. I cannot take anything for granted; every day is extra, every opportunity a gift - to create, share and grow. If it benefits others in the process than it is a blessing.”