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Inch’allah Dimanche

12 Feb

This movie was so moving for me. The story of a young Algerian immigrant family, set in the 1970s, just when French law began to allow the families of male immigrant  workers to join them in France. Maybe it’s because the filmmaler, Yamina Benguigui is in fact a member of an Algerian French immigrant family, but this movie really poignantly captures the immigrant experience.

I am currently in the midst of research for a paper on Franco-Algerian relations in regards to migration- which is why I took note of this film on the syllabus of my French class- and took a study break to watch it- (am I a diligent student or am I a diligent student!). The main character, Zouina is so well captured, so well played. It really drove home for me how desperately heartbreaking the immigrant experience can be- especially knowing what I do about French prejudice toward North Africans. Really a great film and a fascinating subject!

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Kibera Paper

16 May

At a recent seminar I attended on international work and study opportunities, I had the lucky opportunity of happening across a marvelous organization called Kibera Paper.

Kibera Paper is based out of Nairobi and named after the city’s notorious slum- the largest urban slum in Africa. The area houses over 1 million people (according to http://www.kibera.org.uk/Facts.html) on a proportionately tiny piece of land. Kibera is an area of extreme poverty- with families living in shacks made of cardboard and corrugated metal. In Kibera, as in most places, poverty breeds a myriad range of social problems, from sewage disposal to drug abuse.

However, a good idea can bring a glimmer of hope to even the most dire of places.

The women of Kibera Paper may have found a ticket out of the slums in the form of gorgeous handmade greeting cards. With pricing equivalent to a Hallmark greeting card ($2-$3 each), these cards are more than reasonably priced. Not to mention, they are wonderfully crafted- veritable pieces of art. I am thinking about buying one not to write in, but to frame.

The speaker I heard talk about Kibera paper told an anecdote about a woman who is going to be able to move out of the slums within the next year thanks to her income from Kibera Paper.

If you are interested in buying cards, check out the website at http://www.kiberapaper.org/

The way I see it, it’s a do-good shopping experience on all levels. Buy a card -> help women in Kenya get a leg up -> Enjoy the delicately crafted greeting card -> Write a heartfelt note to a friend -> Who will recieve the card and have a brighter day as a result.

It’s the definition of Win-Win.

Democracy Now

22 Feb

Remember in the story of Goldilocks and the three bears how nothing was quite right- porridge too hot or cold, chairs and beds to hard or soft. Lately, I’ve felt that way about television news (this does not apply to radio- NPR is perfection). CNN is too much. Network news is bad timing. Jon Stewart is too sexy (and also not technically news, but I thought I’d include him). MSNBC is too much. Fox News is…ugh (and mostly also not news).

Without access to a radio (if only the train broadcast NPR as regularly as my ’95 Camry, Jeffry did on the way to school- NPR for the masses!!) I have had a severe shortage of news lately. My solution appeared in the form of a reccommendation from a friend to try Amy Goodman’s independent newscast Democracy Now, The War and Peace Report.

The program is broadcast daily at 9/8c and is published on the internet at http://www.democracynow.org or via podcast. It is also available on some public TV and radio stations. It is available in video or audio only formats.

Co-Anchors Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman

The main host, Amy Goodman is intelligent, down to earth and easy to listen to. Co-host Juan Gonzalez also does a good job- but it is clear Amy is team captain of the Democracy Now! news room.

The hour long show is set up in two main segments. The first ten minutes or so consist of  a rundown and brief overview of the days heasdlines. After that a few stories are covered in more depth.

Democracy Now! has the newsroom atmosphere of the traditional television newscast minus one key factor- corporate sponsorship. The content ofthe show does not lag due to the lack of funding, in fact this very detail is what sets Demcracy Now! apart. The show is independently produced and distrubuted and is done just as well if not better than corporate news organizations. Not beholden to any coroporate interests, the show is unbiased (if perhaps left-leaning, at least socially) and covers a wide range of topics- often including stories you won’t  see in conventional news sources.

Renegade. Revolutionary. Intelligent. In short, just right.

Wanted

3 Feb

This is a section of a pamphlet I received from my local chapter of Oxfam International (http://www.oxfam.org/), an organization that fights for human rights and eradication of poverty. They deal with issues from agriculture to aid effectiveness to education. As an International Studies major, I have the somewhat vague ‘dream’ — career aspiration — of bringing about positive change in the lives of the disenfranchised and all in all making the world a better place on an international level. This seems like a fitting job description. Maybe I will work for Oxfam…

Project Focus

30 Jan

In our world , the internet has become an essential part of information sharing, communication and other important pieces of life. Essentially all of the developed world is connected in some way or another to an internet source. However, in third world countries access to the internet is by no means an available resource. Lyantonde, a community in rural Uganda which is an epicenter of the African AIDS crisis, is miles away from the nearest internet source. This leaves the inhabitants of Lyantonde isolated from the rest of the world. Project Focus is working to change that.

http://projectfocus.org/current

The goal is to build a solar-powered internet cafe in Lyantonde that would allow the community to communicate with the outside world. The project is currently is a heavy fundraising stage, as well as spreading awareness on college campuses. To get involved or make a donation please click the link above. To spread awareness, post the link to your blog, Facebook, Twitter or other social media outlet.

Haiti Relief Efforts

23 Jan

 
Please donate to relief efforts in Haiti

The History of Religion (Maps of War)

22 Jan

Why not let people differ in their answers to the great mysteries of the Universe? Let each seek one’s own way to the highest, to one’s own sense of supreme loyalty in life, one’s ideal of life. Let each philosophy, each worldview bring forth its truth and beauty to a larger perspective, that people may grow in vision, stature and dedication. -Algernon Black

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