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Hobbies 101: Feel transformed, transported with language learning

Laura Dachenbach



So, you made it through your high school (and maybe college) foreign language requirement. So, perhaps you never visited France or Germany or Mexico or took a job in China. You were probably thinking of a language as a job skill back then.

But, believe me when I say that economic reasons should be very low on your list when you consider studying a foreign language. The cognitive benefits of language study include an increased attention span, better memory, better decision-making skills, and staving off dementia. That’s all good and well.

But mostly, you should study a language for your own, totally self-indulgent reasons. For awareness. For human contact. For more beauty in your life. If you don’t believe me, read Eat, Pray, Love


Words are beautiful. They’re like clothes. You should try on a few different kinds and feel transformed. Or maybe transported.

The world of language learning is changing. With the increase in online learning services, your Japanese tutor doesn’t have to be from Central Ohio. or are cyberhubs to connect you with tutors of (almost) any language you’d like to study.

For a more traditional classroom approach, visit Ohio German Language School, Italia in Ohio, or Columbus State’s Language Institute

If you are searching for language maintenance or camaraderie, the Language and Culture section of Columbus Meetup can match you with German, French, Russian, Arabic, Japanese, or Italian-speaking groups. 

C’est tout maintenant. Enjoy your linguistic adventures.

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Now and Then: 6 historical Columbus sites and what they look like today




Progress in Columbus is happening everywhere you look. From campus to the Columbus Metropolitan Library Main Branch, the scenery has drastically changed.

While we can all appreciate the changes that have helped improve our city, it’s also important to take a look back and value the landscapes that made Columbus into what it is today.

Below are six scenes from yesteryear juxtaposed to how that sites looks today. Just scroll over the photos to see the full “Before” and “After” shots!

Open Air School circa 1931

The Open Air School was a facility for students afflicted with tuberculosis. Construction began August 16, 1927, during a time when specialized tuberculosis sanitariums, homes, and other facilities were increasing across the country.

Station 6—Franklinton circa 1969

Engine House #6 operated from 1880 to 1966. It was the home of Fire Department’s first emergency squad in 1934.

Columbus Metropolitan Library Main Branch circa 1907

An early view of the Columbus Public Library, also known as the Carnegie Library, and later known as the Main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library. The library was dedicated on April 4, 1907, and was built using funds donated by Andrew Carnegie.


Mirror Lake circa 1945

A view of Mirror Lake on the campus of The Ohio State University. The first use of the name, “Mirror Lake” occurred in the spring of 1896 when both the yearbook, Makio, and newspaper, The Lantern, used the term.

Leveque Tower and the Statehouse circa 1927

Leveque Tower was formerly known as the American Insurance Union Citadel. A competition was used to determine the design of the Statehouse building. Five principle architects were involved in the project with contributions from several others. The cornerstone was laid on July 4th, 1839.

High Street in the Short North circa 1912

To the left, the Railroad YMCA at 563 N. High St., with the Columbus Savings Bank at 561 N. High St. To the right, Troy Laundering at 548 N. High St. and the Unique Theatre at 558 N. High.

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Take a virtual tour of the Kroger of tomorrow in UA

Mike Thomas



The public finally got a chance to check out the newly-renovated Kroger store at 1955 West Henderson Road in Upper Arlington late last month, following a sweeping $3.1 million renovation.

While much remains the same, Kroger hopes the updates will help to better serve their customers, while bringing a more modern look to store’s overall appearance.

Here are just a few of the changes on display at this spiffy new Kroger location:


  • The Chicken Co., a new quick-and-easy meal option offering fresh chicken meals and a-la-carte sides, has been added to the store’s deli section.
  • So long chrome—all cases throughout the store were replaced with sleeker, black-trimmed freezers.
  • The store’s looks in general were improved with a new décor package.
  • The perishable side, including produce, the cheese counter, the bakery, and the deli, is now more of an open concept. Maneuvering that bulky cart should be a breeze!
  • The pharmacy and surrounding space is one of the more noticeably-changed areas in the update, featuring a new layout and some interesting design elements (dig those hexagonal ceiling decorations!)

Kroger’s U.A. store is just the latest to receive the remodel treatment. Next up is the location at 199 Graceland Blvd., which will host an open house on Wednesday, August 14 from 4-6 PM following its own $4 million update.

Can’t make it to either of these locations but curious what changes might be in store for a Kroger near you? Take a look at our virtual tour of the Henderson Road store, showcasing some of the many recent upgrades:

Note: use the left/right arrows in the upper-left corner to navigate between images.

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Columbus Does Good: Community for New Direction




At 9 a.m. on a Tuesday in July, dozens of children from around Franklin County pile out of vans and into a west side elementary school. Some grab breakfast; others head outside to play before morning exercise. Greetings ring out across the school’s common area.

“We’re the best-kept secret in Columbus,” Susie Shipley-Norwood jokes. Shipley-Norwood, Community for New Directions’ Director of Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Prevention Services, also directs the organization’s six-week summer day camp. More than 200 students from high-risk areas enrolled in camp this summer, and all spots were filled on the first day of registration. Long-term impact is a theme here; many of the staff members bene ted from CND’s programs as youth and have returned to pay it forward.

Photos: Rebecca Tien

Thirty Years of Growth

CND started 30 years ago in a two-bedroom apartment in Sullivant Gardens, staffed solely by volunteers who saw a need for the children in their community to make positive choices and find opportunities for growth.
Today, CND has over 40 full-time positions, serving children, youth, and adults in high-crime and high-need areas around Columbus. With primary funding from the ADAMH Board of Franklin County, CND has been able to step up when other agencies have closed. Their area of focus is ATOD-V (Alcohol, Tobacco, Other Drugs, and Violence), with programs in prevention, intervention, and treatment, all tailored to be sensitive to age, culture, and gender.

During the school year, CND offers an after-school substance and violence prevention program, as well as in-school leadership training for elementary through high-school students. Their Future Opportunities Created for Urban Students (FOCUS) program offers high-schoolers professional development activities, community speakers, and a week- long bus tour of historically black colleges and universities. Students choosing college receive a small scholarship and everything they need for transitioning to dormitory life.

The students CND serves are primarily from Black, Hispanic, and white Appalachian communities. Many live with a single, female head of household and see few positive adult-male interactions in their home lives. Many live in non-English-speaking homes. Financial instability, substance use, and violence often are part of their world. CND provides the safe, stable environment these students need to build a positive future, while also assisting the adults they depend on.

“The family aspect is, I think, what makes us unique,” says Kari Roll, CND’s Director of Development and Community Relations. Families are invited and included, with the hope that participation will spark conversation and connections at home.

Paying it Forward

Not only are adults returning to the programs in new capacities; they are bringing their own children along. In Whitney Garrett’s summer camp classroom, 11-to-14-year-old students read library books quietly at their desks during morning reading time. Garrett, a social worker, joined CND’s programs at age 11, participated in FOCUS, and has transitioned into a camp instructor, marking 19 contiguous years with the organization. “I believe, truly, that CND is very impactful,” she says. “Compared to my siblings—I graduated; they didn’t. I went to college. I was offered opportunities I never would have experienced otherwise.”

Garrett’s 12-year-old daughter, JaNiya, is in her class. When asked if she feels empowered because of CND’s programs, JaNiya breaks into a huge smile. “Yes!” she exclaims. “I had a friend in school; he was bullied a lot, and he wrote a bad note. I talked to him, and I told him that’s not OK. It’s a short life; you wanna live it. And he’s changed. Now, he wants to live.”


Creating Rich Connections

In the school’s common area, the 8-to-10-year-old group is having an ATOD lesson. Their curriculum is the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s “Brain Power,” a science-based program focusing on brain and body health. “Hippocampus!” “Learning!” “Amygdala!” “Emotions!” the group shouts together in response to fast-paced questions. After about five minutes, the children settle in to draw the brain hemispheres and limbic system on colored paper.

Summer day camp includes physical and wellness activities, social and emotional learning, daily reading time, meals, and, of course, field trips. The students go fishing; they go to the zoo, Zoombezi Bay, COSI and movies. They meet first responders and community leaders and even have a special basketball camp led by Scoonie Penn—all things they may not get to do otherwise, and all rich learning opportunities.

The registration fee is nominal—“sort of a commitment fee,” according to Roll. CND’s funding supports all of the other costs, keeping all students on a level playing field. And that level playing field builds connections that keep campers coming back year after year, even after they have aged out of the programs.

Aracely Reyna, an occupational therapy student at Capital University, joined CND’s programs at age 12, participated in summer camp, and now is part of the camp’s adult staff, striving to build meaningful connections with all age groups before she takes on graduate school. “Behind every kid is their life story,” she explains. “I had the chance to have the rewards for myself. Now, if I can make an impact, it makes them want to come back.”

Beyond the Classroom

Outside of school, CND’s Application for Purpose Pride and Success (APPS) program builds positive relationships with young adults involved in gang activity and helps them access support services when they’re ready to change direction. Intervention specialists are on call nights and weekends, to help defuse potentially violent situations.

Then, to fill another growing need, CND began adult substance use and mental health treatment in 2014. The program has grown 300% in the past two years and now serves more than 350 adults, nearly a third of whom are homeless, with outpatient programs as well as a new recovery house.

The gifts of empowerment and reducing barriers fuel not only the programs, but much of the constancy among summer camp students and staff. Gregory Carson, a public a airs major at Ohio State, started with the camp as a youth worker, moved into the FOCUS program, and now is an adult worker with the camp. “FOCUS helped build communication skills; I can talk to anybody and not be nervous,” he says. Asked about mentoring campers who have little positive experience with adult males, Carson says, “I take time just to hang with them, talk about their day… eventually, they open up.”

It’s a simple concept. “Just a listening ear can change their lives.”

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