UN Sustainable Developement Goals

While many of us are living in the comforts of a first world country, over 836 million people from various nations around the globe still live in what the UN labels as “extreme poverty.”  While there are multiple ways to approach the issue, I believe that the 17 goals outlined by the United Nations in their sustainable development plan are the best way to improve the living conditions of the citizens of this planet.

The 17 goals range from broad tasks such as simply ending poverty to ensuring the developing nations have a growing economy and decent infrastructure.  Out of the 17 goals, the one goal I believe is the most important and necessary for the other goals to be accomplished is the 9th goal which aims to ensure that every country has a capable industry, infrastructure, and innovative workforce.

Though every goal outlined by the UN is important for the world to become a better place, none of them can truly be reached without these developing nations first being able to care for themselves.  Hunger, poverty, inequality, and pollution can not be stopped as long as these countries don’t have some method of income, which cannot be attained without a capable industry, infrastructure, and workforce of its own; no country can thrive solely on foreign aid.  Once a nation has a means of making money, whether it be through trade, tourism or taxes, it can actually afford to reach these costly goals that only the most wealthy countries can fully reach.  This is apparent in countries such as South Korea, China, and India, all of which were subject to extreme poverty in decades past but saw a drastic increase in standard of living after ramping up their industries, infrastructure, and workforce.  While China and India are still developing nations and far from reaching all the goals, the change in these countries and regions is easily visible as they rely more and more on their industry and infrastructure.


Write a blog post where you EITHER compare these two stories in terms of father-son relationships and the question of identity and belonging, OR discuss what these two stories say about being an immigrant, and raising a family in a different culture. What are these two stories saying about multiculturalism?

In both stories, the father-son relationship is the main focus of the plot.  It is clear that  both fathers care greatly for their sons, moving to a new country and working long hours in hard jobs so that their families including their son are able to live better more fruitful lives.


Multiculturalism: Gran Torino Reflection

Questions 3 & 4:

In Gran Torino, Thao and Sue face prejudice and bigotry not only from whites, but other minority groups like the Hispanic gang at the start of the movie or the African-American teens who tried to take Sue.  As young immigrants new to the country, many feel unprotected or unsafe against all the usual challenges that immigrants face when coming to a new country, leading to many turning to crime and gangs as a form of protecting themselves.  These gangs impede Thao and Sue’s ability to take advantage of the opportunities around them and be fully assimilated into American culture.

Walt has for most of his life lived in a neighborhood with mostly other whites, but over time they gradually moved out to be replaced immigrants of mostly Hmong decent.  Before this experience, all that we are told of Walt’s experiences with other cultures is his service in the Korean War.  Initially, Walt is clearly biased against the Hmong people or minorities in general, looking down on them and referring to them in various demeaning ways.  After the incident with Thao, it further reinforces his dislike of his new neighbors.  But when he soon after rescues Sue, he actually gets to interact with another culture and learn about them in a positive manner.  Through this initial talk with Sue, he interacts more and more with his Hmong neighbors, realizing that he has more in common with them than his own family.  You can clearly see his biases go away as his friendship with his neighbors, especially Thao and Sue develop until at the end of the movie he gives his life up for these people.

Syria Brainstorm

Syria: Terrorism, Middle East, ISIS, FSA, War, Refugees, Death.  Long lasting conflict, Arab Spring, Dictatorship, Bombings, Russian intervention, proxy war, US Special Forces, clusterfuck in general, ruins, destroyed nation, Bashar Al-Assad, Presidents dental profession?  Relative stability until the war, Al Qaida, multiple factions, confusing, devolved, fractured nation/ no longer a real country.  Borders set after WW1 by British and French, problems coming to light from these actions, different tribes and cultures put into one country, no true loyalty to country.  Muslim, Shia, Sunni, Kurds, Turkish intervention against Kurds, unhelpful, FAC, test bed for new weapons.  Chemical weapons use.

International Day: In Review


Looking back on the International Day and Operation Day’s Work that took place this Wednesday and Thursday, I feel that I can adequately answer the questions listed on the International English homepage.  The goal of both these events was too not only educate students on issues and events around the world, but to directly aid people in need in developing nations by donating all money earned at work on OD Day.  As a study abroad student in Norway, the tasks I was given were significantly less difficult than those around me, being more of a spectator than an actual student on these days.  I was prohibited from getting a job by my travel organization, so could not take part in OD Day, but was still able to contribute to helping run International Day.  On International Day, I was given the responsibility along with my group of helping host two Human Library classes, doing various activities in both rooms to make sure that the experience was as informative as possible.

In preparation for International Day, I researched both my topics, the Norwegian involvement in the Nigerian oil business, and the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean sea.  One of the main factors for picking these two rooms was that I found them the most interesting out of all the available rooms for me.   In addition to researching these topics, my group and I created posters to illustrate and advertise the topics that I would be helping take part in.  Creating these posters was rather easy, being finished in one class period, though the quality of these posters was questionable.  Though not very professional, my group had a rather short period of time to complete the assignment.  The process was rather simple, simply gathering data and pictures related to the subject and putting it onto the poster.

What I believed was good about International Day was that it gave the students a chance to explore subjects of interest that broaden the student’s view and understanding of the world outside of  Norway and their own life.  I believe that maybe more work could have been put the students more interested for International Day, though I’m not sure in which that could be done.

Though I was prepared for International Day, it turned out that it was all for naught, one class having no students show up while the speaker of the other class had to leave early.  On a more positive note, I had more free time to explore the other classes and thoroughly enjoyed the Zimbabwe class, mostly because it was one of the few classes not in Norwegian.  From this experience, I learned that I need to put more work into getting my peers interested in subjects they may not be fully educated about or aware of so that I can avoid what happened last Wednesday.  Evaluating myself, I believe while I did adequate research on the topics, I could put more effort into making posters and spreading awareness in these subjects.

All in all, I believe that while I may have not had the chance to actually help teach a class, that International Day was successful in teaching me and my peers about issues around the globe and possible solutions to making the world a better place.

Girl Rising Review & Answers

Girl Rising tells the stories of nine girls from around the developing world, sharing their triumph and failures, and explain why gender equality and education is the future of this planet.  Through modern film techniques, these girl’s stories can be shown to us in a way that though different from the original story, outlines the key points that show why education for both sexes is necessary.  Each tale takes place in a developing nation and follows one girl and her problems and how they were or are being solved through education and determination, ranging from Afghanistan and Egypt, to Peru and the Dominican Republic.

After watching the film, every story had an impact on me and further shaped my opinion on gender equality, but Amina’s story in Afghanistan I found to be the most powerful for the most reasons.  In a land where no man, not even her family supports her and may possibly kill her, it seems she’s putting the most at stake out of all the girls.  While the other girls may lose their education, job, or happiness, Amina faces the risk of losing her life if she even attempts to receive an education, a fate none of the other girls faced.  In addition, Amina seems to be facing her problem alone, without outside support, one thing it seemed every other girl received in some form or the other.

When I read the phrase “One girl with courage is a revolution,” many of the stories in “Girl Rising” come to mind.  Throughout all the stories, as one girl defies the cultural norms and pursues what’s right, whether it be education, freedom from slavery, or the option to not be forced into marriage, many girls follow the path of the girl and fight for equality and the choice to pursue their own path in life.  While as a group, these girls may not be strong enough to stand up to the oppression they live in, they can be empowered and given confidence as group to fight back for their rights.

In each of these girl’s stories or “chapters,” each individual director took artistic liberties to convey the message that the girls intended to share when they told their stories.  While each story was truthful and real, it can’t wholly be considered either journalism or fiction, as certain aspects and perspectives of the story are changed to better fit the narrative.  I found these film techniques to be effective, better engaging me in the film and keeping me interested in comparison to a slow paced or dull documentary.

Having lived in the first world for my entire life-a large portion of it in relative comfort and wealth- I find it difficult to find similarities in my life and those of characters in the film.  But imagining the what I would consider sad and difficult lives these people live, I believe they would better appreciate the things they do have and learn to be happy with what circumstance has given them or will give them in the future.  While there were many powerful messages in the film, I believe the one that would be the most persuasive to the audience would be the trend visible throughout all these stories.  Educating not just males, but females too leads to endless possibilities and opportunities for citizens of the developing world.

Girl Rising effectively tells the fictional stories of girls from across the developing world and the sacrifices they made so not only could they, but those behind them live a better life.  After watching the film, it is evident that education for both sexes is necessary for the potential of these nations to be truly reached.  I believe this film is a great tool to enlighten those not familiar with the subject and garner support for a more equal world.

Charlottesville: A Two Sided Story?

Recently, only a couple of hours away from my home town and the home of my uncle and grandparents, there were a series of riots and protests over the taking down of a statue of Civil War Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  What was simply a town’s decision to remove a statue quickly led to a clash between protesters of the Alt-Right White Nationalists and Neo-Nazis and counter-protesters from the citizens of Charlottesville and various organizations of the left.  In the aftermath of the riots, one woman lay dead and many more injured in what can only be called an act of domestic terrorism from an Alt-Right member who drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Yes, what the man did was terrible, an act of terrorism, and not staged; and the white supremacists at the rally ware bad people like many are saying.  But because one side isn’t good doesn’t suddenly make the other side heroes.  You’ll see many news journalists claim it was a purely black and white case of good versus bad and that implying that the left can be bad too is racist and supporting the alt-right.  In many of these articles, they’ll emphasize the large threatening stature of the neo-nazis and how they used homemade weapons to bat away the peaceful, “purely defensive” as some call it, counter-protesters who did everything they could to avoid conflict.  What many of these people believe is that because you’re counter-racist or an anti-facist, you’re a good person, but the USSR was anti-fascist,…