Meet Worcester’s clinical trial pioneers

“If we can relieve pain differently, and get people away from opioids by understanding how other pain pathways can be impeded, that would make a huge difference in people’s lives.”

Dark tourism: Why tourists go to sites associated with death and suffering

“I am an educator of the Holocaust, and my travel course takes students through Central Europe to a number of Holocaust sites. The aim is to provide students with a hands-on learning experience. However, some could well argue that this course is just another form of ‘dark tourism’ – an interest in locations that are associated with human suffering and death. What is so problematic about dark tourism? And are there redeeming features that make it worthwhile?” Daniel B. Bitran is a Professor of Psychology at the College of the Holy Cross. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Solar farm

Inbox [Aug. 20-26] News and notes from Assumption, city of Worcester, Greater Worcester Our Revolution, Quinsigamond CC, and You Inc.

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

Worcester’s economy grows in 2nd quarter

Following a slow start to the year, the Worcester Economic Index, a quarterly economic analysis compiled by Assumption College Professor of Economics Thomas White, Ph.D., has shown that the greater Worcester economy grew at a modest clip during the second quarter of 2017. Since March, the WEI is up 1.1 percent on an annualized basis.

The WEI is estimated using Bureau of Labor Statistics data on employment and unemployment in the Worcester metropolitan area. The unemployment rate slightly increased to 4.6 percent in June while household employment has gone up by 6,400. The BLS payroll survey also showed an increase of 4,200 jobs since June 2016.

“The data shows a labor market that is steady but without much growth, which is the reason the WEI grew at a modest 1.1 percent rate during the second quarter,” White said.

Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field

Inbox [Aug. 16] News and notes from Primetals, Bravehearts, Youth Council, WCLOC, Mass. Academy of Math & Science, and You Inc.

Primetals receives $228K state training grant

Recipient of one of the largest training grants from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, Primetals Technologies will implement training for both new and existing employees at its Worcester facilities.

Training will include problem-solving skills, continuous improvement, lean certification, tooling and time and task management and will continue through the end of 2019. The grant, worth nearly $228,000, was one of 111 awarded, totaling $7.9 million. Grants are matched by award recipients.

Production employees will attend interactive online classes for specific competencies, engaging with video, audio and relevant images that include CNC simulators mirroring existing equipment at its manufacturing facilities at 40 Crescent St., Worcester.

Teaching art: An artist’s ritual

“Collage Variations,” an ArtsWorcester exhibit currently on display at the Hadley features the work of artist and art educator Lizzie Fortin, who spoke with us about her exhibit and overall artistic practice.

Lizzie Fortin’s dynamic and bold 8-by-8-inch mixed-media collages are all unique and eye-catching. A variety of bold shades, textures and images play against carefully selected and layered text that may come from various ephemera glued to the surface.

Her pieces evoke an intense sense of curiosity, with the desire to keep investigating closer to see if one can draw conclusions from the energetic and fractured contexts.

Fortin’s artwork is featured in the three-person exhibit “Collage Variations.” Ten of her incredible mixed-media collages are on display in the Hadley Building at 657 Main St., in a show with two other artists, Susan Black and Leonard Gerwick, exhibited by ArtsWorcester.

Augustine Kanjia’s incredible journey continues … A Good Result That Left Me in Tears

Our test results were around the corner. Life was still difficult at home.

It felt like there was no way out.

Augustine Kanjia

My grandmother still did not have a regular job, but she continued selling her food stuff. Many had called her by her nickname, “Soba Peppeh,” meaning the real pepper in the Creole parlance of Sierra Leone.

My garden work with Soba Peppeh had increased as her sales at the market doubled. I would cook for the house when the market occupied her. Mondays were very busy days for me. Fridays were for the market, too. My grandmother prepared more food and brought raw cassava, potatoes and their leaves. Boiled cassava and beans were on the side for sale.

Of course, we did not relent on the “Omolé” trade. Its money was coming in fast.

Soba Peppeh was versatile.

We did all these things, but always had time for prayer. I rejoiced when it was Sunday. Her church, the UMC church, depended on me for its bell. I would ring it before leaving for my own Roman Catholic church at my primary school, R.C. Motema. There was enough prayer for me in my grandmother’s church to help me pass my exam — but not to pay my upcoming high school fees.

Augustine’s last chapter: Another Lesson in Perseverance  Or scroll down to catch up on earlier posts in the remarkable tale

Inbox [Aug. 13-19] | News and notes from Quinsigamond CC, UMass Medical School, Worcester Economic Club, Center for Living & Working, Elder Services, Kasy Auto Sales and accounting camp

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

Quinsigamond CC adds CSET lab in Southbridge

Quinsigamond Community College’s Southbridge campus recently added a Computer Systems Engineering Technology (CSET) lab. This lab will exclusively be dedicated to the college’s growing CSET program, which is being launched in Southbridge this fall.

“We are continuing to offer more opportunities for QCC students to attain their CSET career objectives. Bringing more CSET course offerings to the Southbridge campus is something that we have been working hard to make a reality,” said QCC Dean of Business, Engineering and Technology Kathy Rentsch.

QCC has met the need for developing more skilled technical workers by developing a comprehensive CSET program that offers four CSET associate degrees and nine certificate programs.

A Mother’s Journey: The sincerest form of thievery

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one. During her journey to establish and grow her nonprofit tutoring collaborative she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

“There is no such thing as a new idea,” Mark Twain famously wrote in his 1907 autobiography. “It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

He couldn’t have said it better.

Originality is an ambiguous concept, it seems, leading many of us to believe the thoughts and ideas we create are somehow impartial, uninfluenced by the world around us. It leads us to believe creativity is somehow only sparked from within and not an element molded by the experiences and lessons from life.

The world around us is a bottomless pit of discovery, with every new encounter leaving us a new impression and a fresh outlook. Yet, entrepreneurs and business owners tend to forget that their “creative spark” was ignited by their environment — by the people and conversations around them — and not from some untouched segment of their brain.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The inner-city detour, or scroll down to explore more of her story.

Worcester Weekly: ‘Evita,’ Redcoats and Creative Hub Kick-Off, Aug. 6-12

The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too.

Road trip!

Sunday, Aug. 6 — Redcoats & Rebels, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Old Sturbridge Village, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge  Am I the only one who thinks President Trump would be super-confused by OSV? It all seems so real. Does the Mass Pike get us back to 2017?! Get me a flux capacitor for The Beast, stat! Being so close to the drug-infested dens of New Hampshire, though, maybe he’ll just think he’s hallucinating off a contact high.

Inbox [Aug. 6-12]: News and notes from American Cancer Society, Assumption, Auburn and Solomon Pond malls, Hanover Theatre, UMass Medical School, state

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

American Cancer Society honors Worcester business leader

The American Cancer Society recently honored Kham Inthirath of Northbridge with a Sandra C. Labaree Volunteer Values Award.

The award recognizes Inthirath’s accomplishments in support of its mission to celebrate and save lives and to lead the fight for a world without cancer.

Kham Inthirath

Courtesy of American Cancer Society

Kham Inthirath, right, receives the Sandra C. Labaree Volunteer Values Award from Holly Grant, executive director, American Cancer Society.

As founder and president of Worcester-based Envision Digital Group, Inthirath donated the services of his digital marketing agency to produce compelling videos to illustrate the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events in Worcester and Boston in 2016 as well as the Real Men Wear Pink of Worcester Reveal Party.