Thursday, October 25, 2007


I decided recently that I should be more aware of what is happening in the world. Online newspapers make my job especially easy, and I'll freely admit to enjoying the BBC. Part of my job being to interact with people from all circumstances all over the globe, I've found it quite important to be aware when there is civil war in one country, elections in another, riots in another, the list goes on. Reading the news, simply to read the news, can be extremely boring since there are always wars, murders, new discoveries, opinions don't often change, it can all seem the same on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis.

Since travelling and meeting people from so many different countries the news now takes on meaning to me. When I read of a car bomb in Lebanon, I realise that is the same neighbourhood I stayed in the week previously and perhaps people I met or drove past were injured or killed. When I read of electoral difficulties in Thailand I can email a former intern and find out if this is something that could cause a split in the country. Electoral issues are a common thread: corruption in the Philippines - WYA members are putting their lives in jeopardy to monitor the elections; corrupt elections in Nigeria - hopes of WYA members for a better leader are dashed. When I read of genocide in the Sudan, I remember what WYA members in Rwanda told me about surviving and rebuilding from their genocide. So the news is no longer something I read about that is happening somewhere else, but it is almost like an international blog of issues directly affecting people I know, or work with, or work for, or will hopefully meet someday.

Then there are the special interest stories, just this morning I discovered a blog about moustaches. I realise a blog on moustaches has nothing directly to do with promotion of human dignity, but it's so funny I highly suggest everyone to follow this link!

The next article I happened to read was about evolution of the human species into a super race and a subhuman race - didn't we already get over this post-Hitler? Based on sex selection the super race should have smooth, clear skin (sounds like a Neutrogena ad), symmetrical facial features, athletic build, men will have large penises and women will have perky breasts. The subhuman race will appear like hobgoblins. Did I forget to mention that of course the better looking race is also more intelligent since studies have clearly proven the genetic link between good looks and intelligence? Now I don't wish to disparage Dr. Curry, I'm sure he doesn't realise he's following in the footsteps of eugenicists, but does it concern anyone that this could be considered a serious enough topic that he was able to get a PhD based on this theory, and published in the BBC? Do we really want to encourage these people through providing them with academic credentials and press? enough said...

On a much cuter note, there was also an article about the most recent winners of the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards. There are some incredible pictures for any wildlife fans out there.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Thoughts, at last :)

The difficulty with beginning a blog just as I embark on a tour of 4 countries in Africa, Lebanon, and the Philippines, is that once I've returned home there just doesn't seem to be the same excitement to write about. Of course, random exciting things always happen, but how to compare a weekend in Paris to my first taste of Nigerian food. Or how can I possibly compare taking pictures with Hezbollah in Lebanon to my daily life in the office in NY? This is my life, the travels are exciting, the people are incredible, and every day I wake up and come to work... same as everyone else.

Beirut, Lebanon

New Brunswick, Canada

Road Trip! NY

Soapsuds in a fountain in Paris!

So, brief update, we started with a new batch of interns 3 weeks ago. The interns are from the USA, Canada, Philippines, and Mexico. They're a lot of fun! Normally there is a period of relative calm after interns arrive, they're all kind of nervous, thrown into a new city with new people and new experiences, and they all want to make a good impression. This batch was somewhat unique... First day, they were all
volunteering to work, were going out shopping with each other and in fact quite loud. I don't think it helped that the night before their first day of work Phil (the International Director of Operations) and I took them out to a nearby pub :) Culture of dignity requires an EXPERIENCE of dignity, right?

The week after they arrived I flew to Mexico for the weekend, at this point you all roll your eyes and say "yeah, right, I thought her life became boring after all her travels?" ok, so I still travel, I've just already been to most of these countries so they're no longer exotic :) Back to Mexico, our members in Queretaro organised a huge youth conference by the title De Mente Joven. In spanish this means "take action youth," in English I know what your thinking, demented youth is not what we advocate is it? This conference was incredible, most of our members in Queretaro are in highschool and the conference had 4,000 participants. Pretty impressive for a group of highschool students to organise a conference with local celebrities, a band - the backstreet boys of Mexico, and of course, WYA!

Since then, we've all been settling in. I've given the interns all multiple projects so all the work that's needed to get done for months is getting done, I love interns! Two are monitoring the UN, one is working on an International Film Festival for '08, one is working on international conferences to commemorate our 10 year anniversary in '09, one is working on HIV/AIDS conferences and prep, bioethics research, university campus groups, monitoring online members' training, developing a brochure, press articles, CityAdventure in NY this Nov., etc. Haha, and the best part is that usually some of the interns really struggle with doing their projects well, these interns have so much initiative that I sometimes struggle just to keep up with all they are doing. Plus, of course this is all taking place in one office, did I mention we have 4 more?

So my life is busy, lots is getting done, progress is being made, and I even find time to play ultimate frisbee :) I spoke at a conference on Social Justice and Poverty two weeks ago at St. John's University. The professor who introduced me read my bio, all the usual bio "accomplishments" blah blah blah, then he cracked himself up and said "I think the most remarkable aspect of the young lady about to speak, is that on top of everything else she has accomplished she is so talented she plays a sport with a name as fierce as, Ultimate Frisbee!" Of course the entire room cracked up, and my incredibly intellectual opening lines were useless, so I told a story instead...

Ok, enough news for one go, this has got to be information overload after months of silence...

A picture of my family, extended version :)