Category Archives: Multicultural

Home away from Home — Dinner at Cito’s

It is tough to start college, and being in a new country does not make it any better. However, Cito Cruz knows the best way to cure homesickness is through the stomach. Every Friday, Cruz and his wife, Sue, will make enough home-cooked food to feed fifty , and drives international students and their friends to his home for a big meal. Some students will be deep in conversation and enjoying chicken teriyaki and miso soup, while others are playing games and laughing out loud. “There’s something about the house gives it a very homely atmosphere” explained Cruz.

Students know their ways around Cruz’s house; they would pull out the foldable table and chairs one they arrived, Cruz’s three-legged dog would be greeted and stroked; she had a content expressions that say, “Welcome back, old friends.” “Ladies first!” Cruz would shout when the food is ready, and students would hurry and grab the plates and folk and eagerly wait in line.

Cruz, who have been hosting these dinners around the world for more than thirty years, knows how tough it being an international student can be. “I was a foreign student myself long ago; nothing compares to [the crave of] food, hot sauce and rice.” Cruz was also in a host family, like many of Colby’s international students. His host family once drove 150 miles to take care of Cruz, who literally got sick from missing home; back then, a letter took at least two weeks to reach his family, and making a phone call was expensive. Cruz’s host family gave him the master bedroom and slept in the basement for a week. He loved his host family, and decided to share the same kindness with Colby’s international students. He became a host family when his family moved to Maine because of his wife’s career, and also because of his intentions to write and publishes books. He brought a house by a lake; one of his main considerations when he brought the house was that it needed to be big enough to accommodate the students he would invite.

Being a faithful Christian, Cruz see his actions as his devotion to God, which prompt him to love his neighbors as his own; also, with his children all off to college, cooking for the student is just like cooking for his children  once again.

“There’s something about food that bonds people together,” said Cruz. In Cruz’s house, you can see international students and American students working together to win a game of Pictionary. “For the international students, it [international dinner] makes them easier to simulate into the American culture; for the American students, it raises their awareness of other cultures,” said Cruz.

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I didn’t choose the co-op life, the co-op life chose me

I live in the Marylow co-op, a happy little island in the ocean of, well,  other happy islands (?). This analogy is really falling apart.

Marylow is a Colby dorm that is a little removed from the buzz of the academic buildings, but still close to important places such as Dana (f00d), Foss (food), the Marylow coffee house(food and chill and performances), Runnals (performances), and Cotter Union (food and chill; occasional entertainment). In the big happy family of Marylow, there is a small wing where students like me live the to-op lifestyle.

Co-op is the option that we do not want to meal plans offered by Colby (3 meals a day in the dinning halls), and instead opt to take the 2000 cash and cook for ourselves. Of course, if you are paying tuition that is more than 2000 dollars, then the school just deduct the total tuition that you need to pay. I am in co-op mostly because I never go for the three meals in the dining halls, and it is just a lot cheaper to cook for myself. Some people do it due to dietary restrictions. As a foodie who grew up in Hong Kong, I will eat anything delicious. Once I had turtle soup, and I eat snakes every winter back at home. So, the dietary thing  is clearly not applicable to me.

I really enjoy the co-op, mostly because of the community. The kitchen can be a social hub, and you definitely know everyone who lives around you; you will be bumping into each other constantly. There are many international students living there, so it is pretty cool to know what people in different cultures eat. Food is the glue to relationships, and there is nothing more beautiful than sharing a meal with friends, or making friends by sharing meals. There is just something about making food together that bonds people; it has the same effect of going to a battle together and less death and blood and gore. I mean, the last part probably depends on what you are cooking.

Of course there are also downsides. The kitchen is not the cleanest place you will find on Earth, and much of the appliances are fairly dated (wink wink, Colby, wink wink). The students in the co-op do a very good job in cleaning up the place, but there are instances where a pot with congealed mystery goo is left sitting in the counter for weeks before someone has the courage to clean it. There is also this beautiful tradition of passing utensils and appliances from generation of Colby students to the next. Whenever you visit co-op and pick up a fork, remember that it embodies many good times of ghosts of Colby past; it puts a smile to my face.

Here are some pictures of my friends Jasmine and me cooking. We had a jolly good time.

Skillfully cutting up kale.

Jasmine taking a picture with kale.

Attempting to take a selfie with Jasmine and kale. If you haven’t noticed, we really like kale.

Steamed egg with shrimp and chousum (it’s a vegetable that Chinese eat more often than Americans), and rice.

 

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My Walking Diaries

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Wow! I am in Denmark! Can you believe it? No? Me neither! I am so excited I could scream! You know what I am already shouting in my head! AHHHHH!

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So, I hope this gives you an idea about how ecstatic I am.

I love walking. I have always loved walking. Everywhere I went, I walk. Sometimes I go with a map; sometimes I just let my feet wander. There’s a certain charm about taking a stroll that no bus tour or ferry ride can replace; except maybe a trademark Copenhagen bike ride around the city. I chose walking since I aspire not to harm any innocent pedestrian with my truly “superior” cruising skills.

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The first day in Copenhagen, I got hopelessly, wonderfully lost. I didn’t just string the words together because they sound cool. I really was hopelessly lost, I was trying to find the train station, and after walking for 45 minutes, I realized that I was walking in a circle, and back to my original spot; it really was wonderful, because the only way to know a city’s beauty is to stroll her secret alleys, her cobblestone roads, her little coffee shops. It’s almost like an awkward first date. I fell in love after hearing about Copenhagen from my advisor. In a pathetic attempt to understand her better, I turned to the Internet and friends, but nothing prepared me for the real thing. I was charmed and mesmerized, my eyes filled with her lights and stars. I made a fool out of myself by turning into all the wrong streets and corners, making shy eye contacts and timid conversations with strangers, but the fear and worries were soft and clouded by a warm, fuzzy feeling. It was magical.

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famous postcard view.

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Rundetårn, the famous Round Tower, which is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. It is special that it is attached to a church, showing the combination of science and faith in the Renaissance period.

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Apparently danishes are not called danishes in Denmark; it is called wienerbrød. By the way, this is not a danish but a cinnamon roll. Danishes here were amazing though.

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The Thai food here is AMAZING. Good ol’ comfort food for me.

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The Thai royal family with the Denmark royal family.

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beautiful fountains.

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Scientology; I wonder how it is received in Europe?

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Okay, I still can’t get over how pretty these colorful houses are; they are like those doll houses in storybooks! I wish I am a giant so that I can play with them!

The second time I roamed around, the city was even more beautiful, and this time we knew each other a little better. Just like any beautiful person, Copenhagen captivated you with even the smallest things; there were surprises everywhere. In the middle of the street, amidst busy Danes striding by, a musician played the violin. A man, carrying his guitar, hesitated and stopped, drunk in the swirling melody; he shook the musician’s hands after the performance and they shared a lovely conversation. I may not speak Danish, but that excited look on both men’s faces, as if they had found a long lost friend, spoke louder than any text that told me Danes are stereotypically cold.

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With music as their matchmaker, they turn from strangers to friends.

Another walk along the street during the day, a young guy approached and started a conversation …  in Chinese. I was so shocked that for a moment, I forgot that I spoke Chinese too; I just kind of stare back at him as he asked me questions with a keen smile. We talked and talked and we part ways. He somehow made me felt so very at home.

One time, I timidly asked a stern old lady for directions, prepared to be ignored; she immediately broke into a smile, lightening up her face like a ray of sunshine on a gray day. I couldn’t stop smiling myself.

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My heart is blooming. (Okay I am a hopeless romantic.)

It is very easy to feel like the outsider when studying abroad. You look different, you act different, and you talk different. A lot of times we just feel like sticking to the people we know and stay in our cozy little bubble. My advice is to think of the new place as someone you always wanted to get to know (I mean, if you are studying there you obviously are at least a little interested in her). For me that’s Amy Poehler. Get to know her work, read books about her, and talk to other people who have met her. Yes, it would be scary to approach her, but just imagine how great it would be to finally interact with her and bask in her endless awesomeness. I am screaming internally as I think about that; get psyched!

Don’t despair if you are not as outgoing as others, or as social as others; everyone has their own way to adjust to new surroundings, so just be yourself, and find people who like you as you are. Take your time to adjust, and then just walk out the doors and get lost!  (well, bring your GPS smart phone thingy. Or a map. Or a local phrase book with the sentences, “Where am I?” “How do I get back home.” Write down the address of where you are staying. Just… don’t turn off your brain.) Immerse yourself, take some risks, be safe but not too safe; life is short.

Yesterday when I was walking around, it suddenly dawned on me that I recognize that hot dog stand near my dorm. I can see, in my mind, Copenhagen and all her secret alleys, her cobblestone streets, her little coffee shops.

And that was the moment I felt my connection to the city. That was the moment Copenhagen starts becoming home.

P.S.: If you want a postcard, send me an email with your name and address and I will send my love and kisses from Copenhagen. If you are up to it, I can do a postcard chain, where I will send someone else’s name and address and you send them a postcard too. What do you think?

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Pretty, pretty please? My email is liang.is.my.lastname@gmail.com

P.P.S.: Next time on Josephine’s blog: what the hell am I doing in Denmark except getting lost? Stay tuned.

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So my posters are up


You’d join my club, right?

Not exactly a graphic designer, but I’m trying to get into the ad copy world and this is all I have to work with right now. They’re funny, right? Tried to hit some heartstrings too but really I just needed to move this club business along.

The first meeting is on Wednesday night, so my co-president and I need to think up a script of things we want to go over. We’re also planning our first observation night to be next Tuesday. THIS IS HAPPENING GUYS aren’t you so excited?

I’m going to New York later this week to see a The Weeknd who’s playing one of 3 sold out shows. It’s so hard to get down there though, I’m going to have to take a bus to Portland and then fly to New York. Then on Saturday, when I have to come back up, it’s going to be roughly 10 hours on a bus. Yikes.

Halloween is coming up, so I hope ya’ll have your costumes ready. I think I’m going to be part of the Human Centipede – pics forthcoming. Also, if you check Her Campus Colby, I was totally campus celebrity last week. Famous ya’ll

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Campus Forum

You may have heard, but there has recently been an announcement that Colby would be working toward a tobacco-free campus within the coming year. In protest, I decided to attend the Campus Forum last night – something I had not done at Colby before.

As to be expected there was a pretty big turn out – the likely candidate was the abrupt announcement of the tobacco ban. While those numbers were strong, there were a lot of other issues that students expressed concerned about towards faculty, namely race relations on campus and resources for those with learning differences.

I wouldn’t go as far to say we have race issues on campus, but there are issues regarding race – if that makes sense. Speaking strictly in terms of numbers, students of color aren’t well represented in the student body. My guess is party because of Colby’s location and partly because it is somewhat of a self-perpetuate circumstance: not a lot of SOC attend here, so not a lot apply, so not a lot attend, and so on. There is the Posse program that brings minority students from NYC to Colby on full scholarship, but that is limited to just a handful of students per class. The consensus: the college needs to and is willing to do more. Not only to recruit more students of color, but to make those that are attending feel comfortable.

The issue regarding students with learning differences is simple: we currently do not have comparable resources with many of our peer institutions in terms of facilities to accommodate these students. The students are aware of it and now the faculty is aware of it, so I trust improvements will be made.

Finally, the smoking ban. I don’t want to get to deep into this as I’ve already posted messages on Colby’s Civil Discourse, which is an email thread that the school shares, but Bro Adams (our President) cited Mayor Bloomberg and the City of New York as inspiration for this ban (as a law was recently passed that smoking was no longer allowed in public parks.) I assume President Adams didn’t speak to Bloomberg directly, as Bloomberg probably would have mentioned how difficult and impractical it is to enforce such a law.

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Typical, or not

Even though campus is currently drowning as a result of what feels like 2 straight days of rain, I’d like to show ya’ll something:

Ain't she a beaut

So that’s a picture of from my room. Through a screen. Pretty cool, huh? That’s why I wanted to live in a room on the pond side of East Quad. I can spare the 6 square feet that I would have gotten on the other side of the building, because it gets me that sunset or something like it, let’s say, 4 days a week (that’s a conservative estimate – this place is lousy with rave nail polish sunsets.)

What does 6 sq ft even translate to. It’s not like its enough space to bring in another bed and a series of bridge-like beddings to create one monarch-bed that’s big enough to break dance on, or that I’ve even considered it. I don’t need the space so why waste time dreaming.

This Saturday was pretty ridiculous. Now, to be fair, I didn’t get to see a lot of it because I wasn’t feeling well: early in the day I had – against sound council – been a part of a dumpling eating contest/relay, where the dumplings were deep fried and you had to eat 15 of them before the next member of your team could start eating and I may have throw up in my mouth on #5. So really I had a pretty nice lunch that I just had to eat really fast.

But before that, there was a petting zoo just out on the lawn. Which no doubt is bizarre, but the kids here go bananas for it, with all the bunnies and mini horses and a tortoise! And after that humiliating performance I soothed my quickly deteriorating stomach lining with free gelato. Salted caramel, people. You won’t regret it.

This weekend, capping off Pride Week, was the drag ball. The best parts of the drag ball are the performances that the different groups and clubs do. I have a friend in PCB who, leading up to his group dance which was to be performed in drag, felt like he had something to defend, saying he wasn’t crazy about it and tried to get our little posse not to go. Of course that was enough of an endorsement to make it imperative that we see this kid dance to Beyonce in drag, so we get there at around 10 pm, just when PCB is coming on. We’re standing there trying to figure out where he is, when we see, just left of center, a 5 o’clock shadowed kid in a violently purple wig doing a Machine Gun Kelly wild-boy dance. Kid was having a blast, and even after the show he took back all the regrets he had from before.

He didn’t really look like a drag queen, though. He kind of looked like Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men, except his hair was the color of an acid trip. Actually, I guess that is pretty drag-ish.

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S.H.O.U.T

Last night, Spike Lee came to Colby as a keynote speaker for S.H.O.U.T weekend. He spoke to about 400+ students, faculty, and townspeople in Lorimer chapel. The terrible image above was taken by me, right before he started speaking.

First off, this event was not easy to get access to. SPB (The Student Programming Board) PCB (Pugh Community Board) had 450 tickets for students and distributed them out on two days, from 8AM to 6PM. Each day’s batch of tickets was sold out before 9AM. Nevertheless, live feeds were shown throughout the campus so anyone who wanted to could watch. When he spoke, it felt like the entire Colby student population was watching.

Mr. Spike Lee was a very inspiring speaker. He talked about his life story, how he got into filmmaking today, the whitewashing of Hollywood, and much more. He encouraged all budding young artists to stick with their craft, and to go “just do it”. He inspired people to go make a change and bring people together, through the power of art.

After his lecture, many young artists at Colby talked about how they felt motivated to continue on with their crafts. A Colby student asked Spike Lee about the influence of sports and sports’ culture on his films. While I am speaking for myself, I hope that everyone in Colby can agree when I say this: thank you Mr. Spike Lee for visiting and inspiring our school to get out there and bring about change.

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caught up in it all.

Olah, it's been awhile. And I'm sorry, it's absolutely my fault. All of it.

I wish I had an excuse for not posting anything for over a month. Well the truth is I just got caught up in it all. Midterms, quizzes, exams, one very long research paper, presentations, friends, movies, personal life, friends from home, and etc. Before I knew it, my second semester of Colby is almost over. It may sound cliche but it feels like i just got here.

I still remember what I felt like when I first arrived on campus, on that sweltering humid day. I remember the anxiety I felt, didn't this place have any air conditioning (only in Diamond Building as it turns out). I remember watching my family walking away, leaving me in alone the then-foreign land. Would I make it? Would I make it out alive? 

I think it's safe to say I did. There has been happy moments and heartaches abound, trials and tribulations. While I haven't transformed into a completely new prototype of myself; I'd like to think I'm a little more independent, stronger, wiser, mature, and happier. If I had stayed in California, things would have been a lot different. A lot safer, a lot easier, and a lot more boring. I mean where else can you meet the author of Gossip Girl and a adult film actress within the span of a week? 

There is only week of classes before finals. By the 15th of May, finals will be over. Soon after that, I will be returning back home to California. I can only hope that I will currently absorb everything that's happened over this school year and return a slightly better daughter, sister, friend, and human being.

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A Primer on Colby’s Jan Plan

Jan Plan is one of the experiences unique to Colby. Admittedly, there are thousands of other schools with Jan Plans elsewhere but at Colby, Jan Plan has come to mean more than just a month long departure from "traditional" classroom learning. There are opportunities for exploring different vocational interests ranging from film-making and digital design to blacksmithing and acting. I attempt to answer some of the common questions about Colby's Jan Plan below. If you have questions on anything in particular that I might be able to answer, shoot me an email and I'll do my best.

 

Q. Is it true Colby's Jan Plan is really unique from other schools?

 

A. Yeah! Ours comes with free 3D gaming and stuff at our student center in Cotter Union. There's a great sense of community with students starting different activities and opportunities to get involved.

 

Q. What's the Cipher, and when does it happen?

 

A. Ah, the Cipher! The Cipher is a music fest put up by the Colby Hip Hop Alliance and other groups with an interest in freestyle and spoken word art. I think it's on January 28th, 7-9p.m, Marylow Coffeehouse. 

 

Q. Are there any other musical events going on around this time?

 

A. I bet there's something. 

 

Q. What about broomball and intramural sport? I play tennis well, is there a way to get involved?

 

A. There's a broomball league over Jan Plan and students can form teams and compete against others. That's fun isn't it? You can also play tennis and other indoor sports, basketball etc. down at the fieldhouse with plenty of other students.

 

Q. What's the best dining hall over Jan Plan?

 

A. I'm not sure, but Dana has been pretty good so far. I had one of the best burritos there the other afternoon.

 

Q. How long does Jan Plan last and what happens after that?

 

A. Jan Plan lasts a month or so and the spring semester starts early in February.

 

Q. I want to take an astronomy course. Is there a chance for doing that over Jan Plan?

 

A. Yeah, I think so. Last I checked there was an astronomy course offered somewhere on the physics department.

 

Q. How about acting classes? I'd be interested in taking an acting class.

 

A. Yeah, the sky's the limit. You can take all sorts of classes over Jan Plan. I'm taking an intensive writing class with a professional writer to improve my writing. Check back on the blog next month!

 

Q. Wow, it sounds like a fun time to be on campus! What about the cold though. Is that a big problem?

 

A. The bustle of activity over Jan Plan makes the cold recede into the far off recesses of consiousness. It's not too bad.

 

Q. Really?

 

A. Alright, it's pretty cold outside, but nothing that'll freeze you. Polar bears would find this rather warm. 

 

Q. Polar bears? I thought you guys were Mules!

 

A. Indeed, and mules can be stubborn creatures. Not even the cold shakes their can-do attitude.

 

Q. I want to visit campus in January! What does it look like?

 

A. It's beautiful outside, with a nice big white blanket over everything that does not move. Everyone seems to walk a little extra fast outside. By all means visit campus in this unique time if you can!

 

And you've successfully made your way through this primer on Jan Plan. As always, I'm happy to answer any sorts of queries you might have. Hope your new year's gotten off to a great start!

 

 

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A Halloween Tale Pt. 3: The Finale

I was in the interior of a warm, very cozy room with purple and green lights hanging from the ceiling. I turned back to Ikey Primus, whom I had now come to recognize as the leader of the Three Creatures from Planet Midterm-Alpha.

‘What is this?’

‘Shh.’ He peered outside for a second and then closed the door. ‘This is our study.’

He motioned at the desk, on which papers lay staggered around with a bright yellow sheet on top on which some hand had scrawled. A flurry of figures ended abruptly with a double ??.

Beside the desk stood a giant telescope, mounted prominently on a tripod. A plume of blue light encircled the technical looking device and I noticed the roof above had been peeled back to reveal a fine blue patch of sky through which could be seen hundreds of bright little stars far away above. I spied a flight of small stairs winding up towards the roof and was about to ask Ikey whether we could step out there when he gestured impatiently and thrust a big black globe in my hands.

‘The globe of Thirteen Galaxies. It shows you the Thirteen Galaxies,’ he explained, looking redundant.

The globe came alive and glowed brilliantly. Lights ran in waves around it, red, blue, white, yellow and orange.

'It will help you map us a way from here. See,’ he pointed,‘here’s your sun, Solaris Sunnius.’

He spun the little ball with his hand and pointed to a bright sapphire blue star on the other side.

‘This is Midterm Alpha. That’s where we need to get.’

I nodded, worried because Ikey was getting impatient. ‘How long would it take you to fly across?’

‘No, we don’t fly across, that'd take millions of light years. This whole thing is spinning around. It does so every once in a period corresponding to the Solaris revolution. It falls around here on the 300th day in the cycle and lasts for five days or so. We need to get in the Solaris Triactum Transitional Subatomic Wave before those days are up and we’ll be safely back in our own world within, ah, 2.75 nanoseconds.’

I gasped in shock.

‘Wait, but that must be Halloween Day!’ I glanced up in alarm. ‘What if you can’t get back in the Transitional Something before the five days are up?’

A far away look came into Ikey’s eyes. ‘Why then we are forfeit. I can’t bear the thought of staying another day on your planet, let alone a full Solaris cycle until the next, what do you call it, Helloween?

‘Halloween! It’s October 31st, that must be when you arrived.’

‘Your time moves so slowly here, and your technology is the least advanced we’ve encountered in our voyage across here, that’s why. As your technological progress advances your world will move faster and it will propel you across the galaxy at incredible speeds.’

‘Halloween was four days ago, how long have you been here?’

His eyes went blank and he started counting in some very mechanical sounding language. ‘Ungt, Ducht, Trought, Quibt. What is that in your time? Four Solaris days?’

I shrank back. I glanced down at my wrist, but my watch had gotten lost somewhere on the way.

‘What time is it? This is your last day! We need to get you in the Tunnel before midnight.’

A loud ding-dong sounded and we both looked up at the old mahogany Grandfather Clock above the fireplace. It had struck the half hour and read 11.30p.m.

‘Well, what are we waiting for?’ Ikey roared, marching over to the giant armchair and bidding me sit.

‘Grog was trying to work out the exact trajectory that will land us in the Solaris Triactum, or, as you put it, the Tunnel but he got stuck in the last steps.’

He pointed disappointedly at the double question marks on the yellow sheet.

I took up the paper gingerly and peered at it. My head spun at the figures racing and weaving across the page.

‘Well, it says this Triactum occurs with a frequency of something alpha, and it’s 60 miles above the stratosphere.’

‘Yes, yes,’ Ikey gulped. ‘We know that. Our Sauceor is up on the roof. Just give us directions, please.’

I picked up the pen and tried to make something of it. There was a bunch of deltas, a couple thetas and a few sigmas.

I performed a row reduction and finally did an inverse transformation using Einstein's formula and the stuff Grog had worked out above to find the nearest way back. Ikey was pacing up and down by the fireplace all the time, his breathing loud and worried.

I did a final check and nodded to myself. What I had come up with was not the most direct way into the Tunnel but it was the best I could do if we were to get them into space in time but they would need to hurry in case we were off on the trajectory more than we thought.

I handed Ikey the paper. He snatched it eagerly from my hand. He took one worried look at it, then roared in glee, jumping up and down.

‘Grog! Cyclopus! We’re home!’

I heard the sound of their heavy feet coming running down from the roof and the simultaneous start of a very powerful sounding rocket launcher.

Ikey pumped my hand and his two friends took one look at the paper and followed suit.

‘Well kid, you helped us greatly,’ Ikey said. He turned back to his fellow Alpharians. ‘We ought to give him the last of the Magnanimous circlets.’

Cyclopus, the tallest of the three, took out a little bright red circlet and handed it to me.

‘What does this do?’

Cyclopus looked up at Ikey, then muttered, ‘Nothing much, kid. It looks good to hang on the wall though. Every kid on our planet has one.’

‘Well we’re off,’ Ikey said. ‘Grog, is the ship ready?’

Grog nodded, already dashing up the stairs, and the others turned and all waved a hand and disappeared up the stairs fast like a Jumping Jack.

I took the little circlet and climbed up slowly after them.

A loud roar erupted as I stepped up on the rooftop. The saucer, for that is what it was, shot off the roof and zig-zagged dizzily in midair before zooming into the distance.

I waved in glee and watched the bright red ball soar into the sky and merge with the stars. I stood silent for a still moment there on the rooftop and said a prayer or two for their safety then I noticed the bitter cold. I ran down the stairs to snatch my coat and find my way home.

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