Because I live in the United States, the history of my country doesn’t really go back beyond 1492, and even then, the buildings, institutions, cities, and such would seem pretty primitive compared to their “Old World” counterparts. As old as some of our buildings are, they are new compared to some of the “Old World” structures. The American education system had primitive beginnings to, and so it’s hard to think of the beginning of universities here, and yet, the oldest university in the continental United States is Harvard, which was established in 1636. That seem very old to me, but when compared to the oldest universities in the world, that is a baby university.

The universities in the United States, were modeled after some of the universities in Europe, like the University of Oxford. The University of Oxford is older than the Aztec Empire, which is said to have originated in 1325. The University of Oxford first opened its doors to students all the way back in 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest university in continuous operation. That seems an impossible date, but while 1096 is a very, very long time ago, the University of Oxford is not even the oldest university in the world. In fact, it is actually the fourth oldest university in the world. Still, it is quite prestigious. “Oxford has educated a wide range of notable alumni, including 30 prime ministers of the United Kingdom and many heads of state and government around the world. As of October 2022, 73 Nobel Prize laureates, 4 Fields Medalists, and 6 Turing Award winners have matriculated, worked, or held visiting fellowships at the University of Oxford, while its alumni have won 160 Olympic medals. Oxford is the home of numerous scholarships, including the Rhodes Scholarship, one of the oldest international graduate scholarship programs.” All that is to be expected for a university with such long standing.

The other three oldest universities are the University of Bologna, a public research university in Bologna, Italy, founded in 1088 at number three; the Al-Azhar University, a public university in Cairo, Egypt, founded in 970 at number two; and the oldest university in the world, the University of al-Qarawiyyin, located in Fes, Morocco, founded in 859. It amazes me that there could be universities that have been around for that many years. I think that mostly, it’s not the institutions of higher learning that amaze me, but more the structures that held them and the institutions of people who ran them. I think that there has always been a desire to learn more, so the universities themselves make perfect sense, but the buildings built so long ago that have somehow managed to remain standing, while so many other structures are in total disrepair, is astounding.

Lindsay and MichelleKids are always doing goofy little things, and my niece Michelle is no exception. When I asked my niece, Lindsay, who is Michelle’s cousin/best friend/partner in crime, to give me a little dirt on Michelle for her birthday story, little did I know what I would hear. When I think of Michelle, I automatically think of Lindsay too, because they were practically inseparable as kids, and while they live a good distance away from each other now, that distance has not changed their friendship at all. As little kids, they decided to make up a special language for themselves. In the end they made up several…and they both knew exactly what the other one was saying. I suppose that it might be because their languages were logical to a degree. Lindsay explained one language this way. My name is spelled Caryn, so in their language it would be Caong Arong Yon Nong. Now that’s a pretty long version of a name that isn’t really that long, but that would be the name anyway. The girls understood each other completely, and their favorite thing to do was to go to Walmart and walk around talking to each other in their secret language…just to see the people around them looking at them like they were crazy. They enjoyed that so much that they spoke that language for two years.

No matter how inventive these girls were, the one thing they couldn’t imagine was enjoying a Bologna sandwich. Their grandma, my mom fed her kids and grandkids a lot of Bologna sandwiches through the years, and whenever she fed them to Michelle and Lindsay, they would take the Bologna off and throw it in the bushes in the back yard, and eat the sandwich with mayonnaise, mustard, and pickles, and they decided that they kind of liked it…and they thought Mom’s taste in sandwiches was bad. I’m sorry, but I beg to differ. Mayonnaise, mustard, and pickles…I don’t think so, girls. Still, it’s a wonder the bushes didn’t die, because…let’s face it, Bologna isn’t plant food. Michelle, is however, a very good cook, and in their senior year, Michelle had a free period right before lunch. She would go home and make lunch for Lindsay who would come over at lunch. It was a fond memory of Lindsay’s from that year. Another fond memory is the day that Michelle and Lindsay kidnapped, Lindsay’s little sister, Kellie and made her ditch her class. Kellie was a little freaked out about it, but their mom, my sister, Allyn was a good sport, and didn’t kill them for it.

Michelle is seldom called Michelle, because she has a number of nicknames. I don’t know if these date back to the secret languages or not, but Lindsay has long called her Mash Stav…don’t ask me why or what that means, because it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just one of the goofy names they used. Lindsay also called her Meechelle, my Belle. Lacey, Michelle’s little sister often called her Mish Mash. They couldn’t go with any of the normal nicknames, like Shelly or anything, because that would be too…normal. And not to be outdone, Michelle had nicknames for Allyn’s family too. Lindsay became Lance, Kellie became Killay, and Allyn became Lynnie…and there are probably many more that we haven’t thought of.Michelle-Stevens-drawing

Michelle is a very intelligent person. She has moved to Spearfish, South Dakota to finish her education, before beginning her career choice of being an art teacher. She is an incredible artist and will be an amazing art teacher. She is also a very fun person, who is a friend to all. While she does feel lonely and homesick sometimes, she likes the Spearfish area, and especially the lack of wind. We miss her too. Today is Michelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Michelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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