Travel Log 11: “Half the Sky” by Colin Burke. Barcelona, Spain

The overall message I got from the book Half the Sky is that cultural differences, norms and traditions, and occasionally pure evil are the cause of many violations of human rights worldwide. How to deal with these violations is unique to every case. A stat at the beginning of the book was staggering. “1% of US foreign aid is specifically targeted to women and girls.” As I read on past this initial stat, I ended up being less and less perplexed. Foreign aid has to focus on the outcomes of their “assistance”. Raising standards for working conditions in manufacturing nations like Bangladesh would hypothetically be a victory. Yet if raising these standards causes layoffs in the thousands and women to fall into poverty and potentially prostitution, either willingly or unwillingly, then this is a failure of foreign aid. There are many ways to address and combat each unique situation affecting women from China, to India, to Africa. Everyone was brought into this world by a woman, and it is inconsolable to read about the crimes committed primarily by men to the creatures that bore them.

The story of Mukhtar Mai was incredibly optimistic and can be learned from. She caused a complete paradigm shift of rape culture in her home nation of Pakistan. The fact that this paradigm shift was not just in cities, but in the villages across the mountainous country of Pakistan is staggering. Mukhtar is undoubtedly a special person who was able to accomplish so much good that will transcend generations. She did this by being rebellious, going against the grain, and attracting all-important media attention.

The first step that Mukhtar took after her gang-rape, as ordered by tribe officials, was both revolutionary and rebellious. She went to the police to report that she had been raped, whereas the traditional action in her country was that of suicide out of shame. Mukhtar recognized that following this action would be to follow a sickening trend that has surely existed in her country for centuries. Her shame turned into rage, which caused action. “Rapes used to be widespread in rural Pakistan, because there was no disincentive. But Mukhtar changed the paradigm, and women and girls began to fight back and go to the police.” (Kristoff 75) It was noted that Mukhtar did have help from her parents to prevent the typical tragedy after rape in Pakistan. However, showing her strength and going to the police was extremely bold, along with Mukhtar’s use of a compensation payment she received from the government. She used the payment to fund a school and turn herself from a victim to an activist. Half the Sky showcased many cases of severe negligence of human rights and how there is no universal solution.

I believe that it takes individual leaders like Mukhtar to truly put a stop to cultural issues like sex trafficking and slavery. Money cannot just be thrown at these issues to make them go away. Society has to change and view happenings such as virgin trafficking and gang-rape as violations of the rights of any human, regardless of their class or education level in society. This change will typically and hopefully happen at least slowly, but we have seen from history that individuals can spur this change rapidly. Leaders like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. Mukhtar Mai, and even Hitler have changed the course of history due to their leadership ability, effective methods of rebelliousness, and media participation. Individuals such as these do not come around every day. When bent on the greater good these leaders must be supported where and how necessary by the UN and any nations that supposedly support the greater good of our planet. When keen on destruction, these influential leaders must be swiftly dealt with.

My major, Computer Information Systems, has to do with utilizing technology and specifically information to its maximum benefit in order to improve business practices. We live in the age of information where gathering, storing, and moving data is faster than ever before. An example of information gathering came early in the novel. In 2000, the US Congress passed legislation that required the State department to put out a Trafficking in Persons report which put the issue on the map. Countries were forced to add human trafficking onto their list of national concerns next to terrorism, etc. This was a good usage of the increased availability of technology at the time that allowed for this gathering of data. Social media is the current platform where, once information is properly gathered and presentable, the most individuals can be reached in a call for action. Micro lending is key for economic growth in underdeveloped and developing countries and a strong social media campaign should promote this.

It was often stomach-turning to learn about the countless problems facing women in present day society. As properly noted in the “What Can you Do” section of the book, these are not “women’s issues”, but instead humanitarian concerns. For citizens of the US, these problems are not close to home. Therefore, there is little interest from individuals and media. I think it’s vital that people realize there is something they can do. The authors explain how $20 a month could drastically improve the life of someone in a nation where $2 a day is an average salary. The authors also strongly believe that foreign support can be vital when Individuals have to be aware of how they are getting the news they are. I have been suggesting VICE news to friends recently, a site that hits the people on the ground in the area of interest that matter, with the pure facts of the matter and no bias. They are the type of news source that informs the public on issues that the TV seemingly never will would run a story about. A major issue will actually be sex trafficking rather than the Title IX debate in women’s college sports in the US, a very marginal issue in comparison. While the US focuses on unequal pay, there are many greater problems facing our women in 2015 and beyond, individuals must become aware of these issues and take action as they can. The authors give quite a few ideas at the end of the novel and I especially want to look deeper into the grassroots approach to aid in the form of micro lending.

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Travelogue 7: Wise For The World Part 1. Brian Costello. Dunedin, New Zealand.

20 Year Anniversary of Rwandan GenocideThe political cartoon I chose is titled “Rwanda 20 Years After.” This cartoon shows a UN member talking about the 20 year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide and what the UN did during the genocide, which was nothing. The artist has sent a clear message with this cartoon, which was that the UN just watched the genocide happen and did not send any type of significant relief or help until months after the genocide was over. There is no specific humans right violation depicted in this cartoon, but the Rwandan genocide had plenty of human rights violations. One of them being “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”(Article 5. Decl. of Human Rights) and another being “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”(Article 3. Decl. of Human Rights). Well a third party or collection of third parties should be protecting these rights and taking the necessary means to punish those that violate them. In this case it should have been various nations from the UN that should have taken appropriate actions to prevent the genocide from happening or at least try to prevent as much death as possible. I believe that one of the reasons Rwanda did not receive as much aid as they should have is because they were not a big impact on any of the greater, more powerful nations. Rwanda is a very small country that did not have a strong economy or resources that would attract the attention of foreign investors so when Rwanda started having turmoil no one decided to notice because they did not have investments or ties with Rwanda. Another reason that aid wasn’t as swift is because the UN is flawed in their enforcement policies. The UN is supposed to serve as an international peacekeeper and dissolve volatile situations through means of peaceful actions. Quite honestly I do not feel there is any peaceful way to stop a genocide. You can’t just nicely say to the Hutu extremists “Excuse me could you please stop killing people…We would really appreciate it.” They are called extremists for a reason and at that point they are too blind to listen to any type of reasoning unless you are planning on selling out and giving them whatever they want. In this case it would include an extremely skewed distribution of power in government most likely leading to a dictatorship and terrible long term effects. Even though I don’t support the UN doing absolutely nothing until after the genocide occurred I can understand their decision to not send troops. There is no point in sending UN troops over to get shot at and die, especially when they are not supposed to shoot back.

A more recent example of these same violations of human rights is the genocide currently happening in Darfur, which has been happening since 2003. It is surprising how many people do not know about this genocide, especially since it was the first genocide to happen in the 21st century. Unlike Rwanda, troops have been sent to Darfur to prevent any more death and hopefully end the mass killings. However, there is heavy resistance from the Chinese and Russian governments on sending aid to Sudan mostly because they have investments in the Sudanese economy and government. The Chinese government wants to protect their investment in Sudanese oil, which is very valuable these days.

Travelogue 8: Wise for the World Part 2. Brian Costello. Dunedin, New Zealand.

Slimbach describes what it is like to have a consumerist/entitlement and outlines why this attitude has developed in the following quote “Pampered twenty-somethings who leave home with little preparation, arrive at the program site largely clueless, and rarely break away from the exclusive company of other foreigners…who then carry back to campus assorted symbolic reminders of having ‘been there.’ ” I feel that this definition of this mentality is present in a lot of Americans but I feel that it is selectively applied to certain regions. I believe that Slimbach is referring to American study abroad students that are studying abroad in Europe specifically. The reason for this is because Europe is an extremely diverse place that is easily traveled either by train or plane with ease. For those students, I believe Slimbach is correct in his interpretation of the consumerist mentality. Take for example the vast majority of QU students that either went to Spain or Italy. I am not saying that these are not great and unique places to study abroad, but there is definitely some dilution in the students abroad experience. One factor being that the students most likely do not speak the native language of the country they are studying abroad in and will make a petty attempt at trying to learn the language. They may come back knowing a few common phrases and words, but being there for four months you should at least have more knowledge about the language than that. Another factor would be that a lot of universities in Europe, where English is not their main language, have separate schools for study abroad students and sometimes just Americans. This can greatly affect how Americans experience their host country, because it could just end up being an American college experience in a different time zone as Slimbach describes it. The last factor is that Europe is made of many different countries, each with their own unique culture and language. Visiting one country for a weekend event with your mates isn’t going to give you the full cultural experience that you should have while abroad. That being said I do understand the limitations imposed on some students whether they be financial or time constricting, so getting the full experience is difficult and costly.

Personally, I am guilty of hanging out with Americans more than I should be. The way I engage with Americans however, I think is different than most. I use my American friends as sort of a safety net in case an attempt at becoming culturally aware back fires. For example, when heading to bars I typically go with a group of Americans because it provides a sense of safety for me. Once I enter the bar I stick with the Americans until I feel that it is time to venture and take a chance at getting to know other people. Most of the time these other people are from different parts of the world and I end up hanging out with them the rest of the night. Having that metaphorical safety net gives me the confidence to go take risks knowing that there is someone to always fall back on.

While Slimbach makes a good point about Americans having this mentality, I believe that it is not just Americans that have this stereotype. Here in Dunedin I found that there is always a tendency for people to congregate towards people from their same country or region. Take for example the Europeans in my complex. They have made note that many Americans are afraid to venture out and talk to other people, but when it comes down to it, all the UK people stick together in the bars and rarely talk to anyone else. Same goes for the Brazilians, Germans, Czechs, and Italians. When it comes down to it, there is no way that you cannot travel this way, even if you try. Eventually you will meet someone from back home and most likely end up spending most of your time with them (Unless you’re a German backpacker who always seem to try and avoid other Germans at all costs!). I feel that as long as you stick to the main goal of trying to be a mindful traveler instead of the stereotypical American tourist, you should be able to enjoy the culture(s) you are exposed to.

This is a picture of me and my homies getting ready to go to Hyde Street for the annual Hyde Street party. I was debating on whether to go to this event or not, but my Kiwi host convinced me to go when she said “If you don’t go your experience in Dunedin will never be fulfilled.” If it weren’t for the travelogue in the previous week this quote would not have resonated with me as much as it did. To fulfill my goal as a mindful traveler I feel as if I had to experience this event.

Hoods on Hyde

Hoods on Hyde

Travel Log 13: “Rites of Passage and the Art of Storytelling” by Nisa Villareal. Florence, Italy.

When my semester abroad comes to an end and I reluctantly return to America, my twentieth birthday is only a few days after. I joke with my friends that my birthday is the only thing I’m looking forward to when I come back and they always answer, “Why 20 is such an irrelevant birthday?”. Of course in their mind state they’re thinking that its just another year in the way of me being 21, Most American’s view 21 as being a “rite of passage” but after learning so much from this course I know differently. The privilege to drink at 21 is “community-created” and “community directed” as the article states, therefore; when you finally turn 21 you now have an opportunity to excessively consume alcohol and celebrate becoming an “adult”. Realistically you’ve been binge drinking illegally for years prior to being 21 so obviously this is an inaccurate rite of passage. Also, you legally become an adult at 18 in American so where is the clear rite of passage, if any? In Italy, kids drink wine with dinner and can legally drink at the age of 16. It is not in their culture to consume alcohol in excess like we do because their community directs this value. They carry themselves in a responsible and more mature manner at the age of 21 than Americans would. The statement that “ages youth receive certain adult privileges are rather arbitrary and not related to any actual competencies of maturity on the part of the individual,” (43) is completely accurate in my view. I think that there should be clearer community-based rituals to allow maturation of youth in American society.

From reading the twenty elements of rites of passage, several stood out to me and can be applied to my digital story. The first concerns community values and ethics. By embracing my new Italian culture and conforming to the standards during my stay, it will be a useful asset to my digital story. I think that by identifying the differences between American and Italian culture I can come to appreciate both my home and foreign culture. This will allow me to grow as a person and transition into this new stage of life. The second element is time alone for reflection. One essential component to this class is the reflective process. Honest thinking about my thoughts, feelings and actions is important in shaping my future experiences here and back home. I like to run by the river and tan at the Piazza Michelangelo by myself and during these periods I have ample time to reflect on my own. The final element I would incorporate is adversity. The article states, “our new paradigm challenges us to provide “teachable moments” capable of searing into emerging adult’s mind essential information related to values and ethics that inform and guide expectations for behavior,”(44). I have experienced several challenges during my time abroad that have taught me life lessons. Challenges are a critical component to the liminal passage. Not only do they provide for funny stories, but also they contribute to the value that my digital story will contain.

Christine Obierka’s digital story resonated with me the most – so much that I actually started crying. Like Christine, I am studying abroad in Florence, Italy so the pictures alone emotionalized her story. As she told her story, I couldn’t help but relate it to my own. I think that the metaphor she used about bridges helping her transition was very affective. I also enjoyed her choice of background music. As sad as I am to make this digital story as it signifies the end of an incredible journey, it’s going to be a rewarding project and I’m excited to create it to reflect my own rite of passage.

Travel Log #12: “Service” by Kilian Smith. Berlin, Germany.

Being an Eagle Scout, I have always been fond of volunteering. Not only does it better the community around you but at the end of the day you can feel as if you have made a difference in the lives of the people around you, and this is a euphoric feeling. Because of my love for dogs, I decided to volunteer for a few hours at the Tierheim Animal shelter in Berlin. This shelter is a haven for abandoned dogs, cats, birds and other animals as well as a re-homing service amongst other things. It has a constant requirement for volunteers and donations to continue its work helping the multitudes of animals that it collects and helps to rehabilitate. It was a no brainer that I should volunteer there when I heard of it. Tierheim Animal Shelter is located in Charlottenburg, which is in the upper right hand corner of Berlin. It is a huge building that can house over 250 animals at one time. Not only is it a shelter but also a veterinary clinic where the animals are treated. There are about 3 veterinarians that are employed by the shelter and I was lucky enough to meet one who was named Phillip. I could tell right away that Phillip loves animals and prides himself on giving them the best care he possibly can. Phillip told me that Tierheim’s mission was to treat, house, and rehabilitate all the abandoned, abused, and neglected animals that are left by ungrateful owners to the care of the shelter. Although many animals are rehabilitated and given to loving new homes, it is an unfortunate fact that some of the animals brought to the shelter are so abused that they do not survive for very long. This angers and saddens me that such docile and innocent creatures are shown such cruelty by us humans. It is ironic that we are supposed to be the protectors of our fragile world and yet we are the greatest enemy to it. In reality, we are only protecting the world from ourselves. But for every evil human there is a good one to counteract them and luckily the workers and volunteers at Tierheim animal shelter are good people. These people save animals not only for the animal’s sake but also for the sake of Berlin itself. A city cannot have stray dogs and cats roaming its street as they can harm citizens and spread disease. These animals will also breed with each other and the problem will become increasingly worse. The shelter performs an invaluable service to the community.

The services the Tierheim shelter provides Berlin is just one example of how valuable volunteer service is to the global community. The unfortunate part of volunteer service is that although it may make you feel good there is no other benefit for the volunteer. It takes time to volunteer and this time could be used on other endeavors such as working, learning, leisure, or traveling. Because of this there are never enough volunteers to perform all the services that a healthy community needs to operate. A healthy community needs animal shelters, orphanages, elderly homes, disability homes, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and a trove of other establishments and all these require volunteers to operate. We as a species must place more emphasis on the importance of selflessness to encourage people to volunteer. Today’s generation has such an insatiable desire for personal consumption and greed that it prevents them from realizing the personal benefits of volunteering. We must remember that someone is always worse off than we are and we have a responsibility to our global community to help these people.

My service at the Terheim Animal Shelter consisted of playing with the dogs and cats as well as feeding them and cleaning their cages/play pens. I was there for a total of five hours and during this time learned much about my abroad experience and myself. The experience gave me a new found love of volunteering. I have volunteered many hours towards many different ventures during my high school and college years but it was always to suffice the Boy Scouts requirement for community service. I enjoyed the hours I put in but I always felt like I was doing it because I had to and not because I wanted to. Playing with the animals, I finally felt that I wanted to be there and I wanted to help them in every way I could. I realize that life is not just about me. I am just one piece of a large puzzle, and for it to fit together properly I must give back in ways that I enjoy and feel gratified from. Otherwise, I will not give back and the puzzle will fall apart.

Albert Schweitzer once said, “Reverence for Life affords me my fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, assisting, and enhancing life and that to destroy, harm, or to hinder life is evil.” I believe this speaks to the responsibility of all humans in maintaining a healthy global community. We all must practice the morality that Schweitzer speaks of so as to not harm the delicate fabric that holds all living things together. Harming and abandoning such innocent creatures as I have seen at the Tierheim Animal Shelter is a heinous evil that hinders life and the global community. The picture below is of a painting done by the artist Stephen Huneck that depicts a dog and its owner playing fetch and a phrase below that says “Pals Stick Together”. Huneck is a famous artist from my hometown in Vermont that understands that dogs will be the most loving and loyal creatures if they are treated with the love and respect they deserve. I love my chocolate Labrador “Otter” more than life itself and in return he is the most loyal, loving, and gentle being that I could have ever asked for. We have a symbiotic relationship that benefits my dog and I, my family, my friends, and the community around us. I live my life with the principle of morality that Schweitzer speaks of and this causes me to love and be loved. Only when one is loved can they give love and this is why I firmly believe that there are no bad dogs, only bad people, and maybe no bad people, only unloved ones. The sooner we realize that morality breeds happiness, love, and goodness, the sooner we will be able to live in a healthy global community.

huneck-illo

TL 11 – Half the Sky – by Daniel Raza

“Few minutes of their pleasure has killed me” – Samana (Rape Victim)

Half the Sky is a powerful documentary and book illustrating the real problems women face globally. I was shocked how naïve everyone is in the world about such a problem. The documentary was very interesting as they asked Hollywood celebrities to go out into different communities to speak to first hand victims of rape and other abuse. It was very sad for me to know that it was not only women in their 20s or 30s but also young girls of every age being used for different kinds of abuse, some of those including gender based violence and prostitution. I was both intrigued and sad about how people can even put others in such situations where they ruin their lives. It was not only men who affected the women but other women were in the game as well. When Cambodia was being discussed, there was a clip where they showed a brothel ran by a general of the army. The shocking part was when we find that the General’s wife was helping him with his brothel as well. It shocks me to know that other women, like the General’s wife, who play a role in prostitution where women are degraded by men.

One quote that really stuck out at me from the documentary was, “it’s not okay to shoot but its okay to rape.” Rape is taken so easy worldwide. It is not even third world countries that are suffering from this abuse but also the United States. After these girls are forcefully brought into brothels, they face a lot of mental and emotional problems. To make it worse, both society and family does not accept them. Culturally, it is a sin to get raped but it is forgiven for the person who actually forces the act. There was a story where a father kicked out both his wife and daughter because he was ashamed of his daughter who was raped. Families refuse to tolerate such acts even if the victim is not at fault.

The documentary was most relevant to me when Cambodia was brought into the picture. In Cambodia, trafficking started because of the wars that happened here, especially the Khmer Rouge. Khmer Rouge was the period where a single corrupt party aimed to isolate the country from all its foreign relations including schools, hospitals and businesses. In Cambodia, generals would force and threat using weapons. It was quite interesting to learn about a woman called Samali. She was trafficked at age 12 and mistreated by a brothel and even saw her best friend being murdered by a brothel man. She, herself, managed to escape. She formed an organization called AFESIP, which helps girls escape from brothels and even provides a comfortable environment for them as most of their families reject them. It was interesting to know such issues affecting a country in which I recently moved into for the next 2 months. I am very interested in knowing more about Cambodia as I do not know much. It was good to hear this particular side of Cambodia as it gave me knowledge about a controversial issue affecting this country.

I was warned before on how Cambodia is a lot more impoverished than Thailand. The busy traffic and lack of regulations set by the laws. Right when you walk into the country, you see the huge gaps between the rich and the poor. I saw a mansion and right next to it, few broken village type houses.

Furthermore, I also became interested in knowing the story of a girl named Samana. Samana actually changed her name to this current one after what had happened to her. Her name means forgiveness. This little girl was only 13 years of age when she was forced into prostitution. She was forced to have clients’ everyday—nearly 10-30 people per day. At first when she refused to do such act, her eyes were gorged out and then she was thrown into a brothel. Her parents refused to accept her after what had happened because she was thought to be a bad person. She changed her name to Samana because everyone would call her a whore. Now Samana educates others, especially men, on how to use protection. She explained how she got pregnant and the brothel killed her baby. She was forced to continue having clients even when she was hurting after her abortion. Bleeding, right after the abortion, was not an excuse to stop accepting clients. The clients would most likely be too drunk to even know. Corruption plays a huge part in this business but there is also lack of education. People are not educated about these matters.

As a science major, I think if I were to take a step, I would educate people about different diseases they can catch by taking part in such acts. Many health problems can arise from rape and prostitution. I would also make sure people know more about using protection to prevent such diseases. HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases are a huge problem in these industries. The documentary said that 90% of the girls that are raped are found to have sexually transmitted diseases.

Busy street in Cambodia

Busy street in Cambodia

Travel Log 10: “Encountering Globalization” by Kayla Vitas. Sevilla, Spain.

Before living in Spain and traveling throughout Europe, I expected almost everything to be foreign to me. I did not expect to see things that were a part of my everyday life in America, which made me a little nervous. However, traveling through five countries, over ten cities and two continents during the past two months, I have seen many restaurants, articles of clothing, cars, stores etc. that I see in everyday in America. Although this gives me a sense of home everywhere I go, it also takes away from America’s identity.

To be honest, I never really thought there were negative aspects of globalization. What could be wrong with more fortunate countries donating their used clothes and belongings to countries that are less fortunate? Watching the documentary, A T-Shirt Travels, educated me on the negative aspects that globalization can have on not only countries but also people. The second hand clothes trade is a much bigger business than I thought and I did not expect clothing to be the largest export product from America to Africa. The process of giving our old clothes to charity, charity selling them to the dealers, who then sell them to an individual worker in Africa who finally sell them all over Africa makes Africa a dumping ground for second hand clothing. In the documentary it was very interesting to see that people in Zambia were wearing clothing that they did not know the brand, who or what company was being displayed on the shirt.

Due to the fact that I walk everywhere in Sevilla, I have walked up and down many of the streets and have yet to have a day where I have not passed by a McDonalds, Burger King, Dominos or Starbucks. Even when traveling to different countries such as London and Paris, I was overwhelmed with many American fast food restaurants that I am used to go to on a daily basis at home. Being in a different country, I am focused on branching out and straying away from the things that I am used to back at home. Yes, I love to get my Starbucks coffee before my early classes, but I stay away from most places that are also easily accessible to me in America. Before leaving America, I told my parents that they were going to have to send me clothes when the weather changed because I was certain I was not going to find stores that had clothing that I would be used to. However, my friends and I took a trip to the Sevilla mall and I was able to find a handful of stores that I shop at in America. More importantly, once I went into stores that were familiar to me, I ventured into Spanish stores and found many clothes that I liked. This was important to me because I showed myself that I don’t need to always have things that I am used to at home.

As a class during one of our QU301 ROP workshops we all came up with a working definition of what the ‘global community’ is. We said that the global community is comprised of all living things, in all parts of the world, accepting and supporting one another to respect, enforce and embrace diversity and the betterment of society. Overall, I think this definition of the global community comprises all the positive aspects. However, as a class we failed to include the negative of globalization.

            When looking at many pictures that depict globalization, this one stood out to me the most. It shows that although the world is divided into seven continents, we all have something in common due to globalization. Wherever we travel throughout our lives, we are able to see a piece of home wherever we go, whether it is a clothing store or fast food restaurant. This is depicted in the picture by showing different brand names all over the world.

Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Sarah Soucy. Gold Coast, Australia.

When we are younger we all say that we can’t wait until we grow up, but everyone has a different interpretation of what “growing up” really means. Does it mean entering high school or graduating college and getting a full-time job? Part of having rites of passages is the ability to define each growing moment in our lives and celebrate them. Rites of passage can provide us with an outline or a path of how our lives should go according to the norm and traditions. Today we see many generations growing up faster than my generation, especially because of technology. Kids in today’s society are always on their phones texting or tweeting and not paying attention to what is happening around them or too them. If something does happen to them you can be sure they will tweet or post about it.

I think many kids today are missing out on important parts of their lives because they are preoccupied doing too many other things. When I was a kid all I had to worry about was what game I was going to play outside when I got home from school, now you see children worrying about what their 12-year-old boyfriend will think of their outfit. I think it can be hard for a society to have rites of passages with individuals who are growing up so quickly and are not interested in learning much else, aside from what they are required to learn in school. I think losing all of these traditions could be hurtful for the community as we will have nothing to celebrate or acknowledge. One of the most important aspects of rites of passage is it allows individuals to learn more and to grow. It is important to always continue our learning and if we lose these steps in our lives to learn new material, society could be hurt.

Although society celebrates individuals’ birthdays I feel that there should be more rites of passages in life to allow kids to grow up at a proper pace. Due to the fast pace environment that children live in now they are not able to be educated about important topics that we were as kids. Binge drinking and teenage pregnancy have increased throughout the past several years and this could be related back to the fact that kids are growing up too fast for society to keep up. I think having rites of passages that involve an entire community can be helpful for individuals as they will feel included and that people care about them and are looking out for them. As Blumenkrantz & Goldstein said, “it takes a whole child to raise a village.” I like that they reversed the typically saying of this quote because the way a child acts should influence the village to support them and understand what needs to be done to help this child successfully grow up and once this happens the child will be able to return and give back to the village.

Creating a digital story is going to be instrumental towards my completion of my journey abroad. It will be a time of reflection for me to see how far I have come and to see if I have been able to accomplish all of my goals I set before I leave. My digital story will able be a neat and creative way for me to share my journey with my friends and family that could not be here with me. One element of the rites of passage that will enhance my story is the change in “community values and ethics” I went through while being abroad. Studying in another country provided me with the unique opportunity to see how other individuals live and it allowed me to immerse myself in their culture to learn as much as possible. I have also experienced adversity and personal challenges while being abroad.

I have never lived on my own before, never had to grocery shop and I really haven’t had a true experience using public transportation. This all changed when I got to Australia as I was forced in a situation where I had to learn to be self-sufficient and not always rely on those around me. This involved setting a weekly budget for myself and sticking to it as well as traveling around a brand new country all by myself. I have never left America before I studied abroad so this was truly a learning experience for me. I would also say, for the first time in my life I have had the opportunity for time alone for reflection. At home I am always running around trying to catch up but in Australia everything I go outside I immediately feel calm and every time I hike I am presented with the opportunity to stop and take it all in. I never truly appreciated the beauty around me until I stopped for a little while to look at it all. I would even say I have had time to experience the “play” rite of passage as I have been able to participate in many activities that I love even though I am in a different country, still giving me a sense of joy.

Christine Obierika’s digital story connected with me the most. Through her story you could see her transition throughout her time abroad. I really enjoyed her use of “a bridge” and how she was able to incorporate that into her story and how it helped in her journey. Using such personal examples of growth and emotions really help the reader understand the journey she wanted to take them on and she made her points very clear from the beginning. I really connected with the fact that instead of just speaking about all of the places she went and the people she saw, she spoke about how they impacted her and changed her. Since I have never left the country before I felt that I could relate to many of the points she brought up about not knowing what to expect but having this journey turn out to be more than I expected and to be able to learn so much about myself through it.

Travel Log 11: “Half the Sky” by Gabby Butcher. Sevilla, Spain/

Half the Sky is a documentary portraying the ongoing oppression faced by women in developing countries. This documentary focuses on several courageous women who have been subject to sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality. The stories of these women present an opportunity for change: the main focus of the documentary. Half the Sky spreads awareness amongst our society by shining light on these circumstances. Around the world, oppression is finally being confronted, as solutions are given through health care, education, and the economic empowerment for women and girls. In order for the oppression of women to change, we must be informed, as this documentary accurately does.

One particular story that impacted me was that of Fulamatu’s, a girl from Sierra Leone who had been raped by a family relative. When we are first introduced to Fulamatu, the situation does not seem so tense, as both her parents were aware of what happened and wanted to press charges. However, as time goes on, Fulamatu’s father becomes embarrassed of the circumstances and kicks Fulamatu and her mother out of the house, saying he will never pay for school for Fulamatu or support her again. This story really got to me because it shows how backwards rape is seen in these societies. “It’s really hard to find legal remedies to rape when you have cultural attitudes like this where rape is unfortunate, but forgivable, but your being raped in just a unpardonable sin.” This is a quote by Nicholas Kristof and is one that stuck out to me. It’s incredible that in the situation of Fulamatu, the rapist is getting off completely fine, but the one who was abused is left dealing with the consequences. It breaks my heart to think that this is not the only situation like this, and that all around the world there are girls like Fulamatu who are left feeling embarrassed, destroyed, and unwanted because they have been physically abused like this. I was so glad to see Kristof emphasizing to Fulamatu how she did absolutely nothing wrong, because the way her society saw the situation, we was in fact the one who was in the wrong.

Although my major (Spanish) was never identified as a topic in the documentary, I believe I am at an advantage. Part of what I want to do upon graduating is be able to interpret and translate for people from foreign countries. In several of the stories there were people there who had to interpret for Kristof. These interpreters played a huge role in these girls’ lives, as they helped convey their personal stories to people like Kristof who then made their stories heard. I believe that with my knowledge of the Spanish language, I would be able to help make women’s voices heard in Latino communities. “You need to lift the level of awareness about what women can do, so that they’re not the victims, that they are actually part of the solution.” I would be very lucky to use my knowledge of English and Spanish to be able to help women of Latino cultures to become aware that they are not the victim, they are the solution. I hope one day I am able to use my knowledge to do this.

“But rape and domesticate abuse happen everywhere. You see violence against women in rich places, in highly educated families, in very low-income families, in all regions of the world. This is not a third world firAS-RefID: C1142314300 E34000916st world issue.” I found this quote to really hit home, as it shows that not only these third world countries shown in the film are the ones who are abused. Women and girls are raped every day in America, however most are too afraid to come forward and tell. We need to change this by showing women that they are equally as important as men. Women hold up half the sky.

Travel Log 10: “Encountering Globalization” by Kilian Smith. Berlin, Germany.

The world today is a vast network of interwoven connections between countries, communities, organizations, and individuals. Since the dawn of the computer age, the world has entered a period of intense globalization. Globalization is a process of interaction and integration between the people, companies, and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology. Living in Berlin for the semester, I have had the opportunity to observe first hand the process of globalization and its effects on the community. First of all, Berlin is one of the most diverse cities in the world. It is not uncommon to hear Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Portuguese, English, and German being spoken on the subway all at the same time. Berlin is also one of the most independent, free, and technologically advanced cities in the world. These conditions make Berlin a perfect place for the process of globalization to take root. One of the most vivid instances that I witnessed the effects of globalization was when I ate my first Donner Kebab. The Donner Kebab is a Turkish invention that consists of a crispy bread pita filled with mounds of lamb, lettuce, cabbage, and delicious sauces. Beyond the fact that it is a phenomenal meal for only 3 Euros, it shows globalization in the sense that a Turkish dish has become a staple in Berlin. It is sac religious to visit Berlin and not enjoy one. Another effect of globalization that I have seen in Berlin is the dichotomy between East and West Berlin. Beginning in 1945 and ending in 1989, Berlin was divided by a massive wall that kept the East under Soviet control and the West under Allied control. Due to Soviet values, the East was left isolated and technologically stagnant, but today you cannot see any differences in the quality of life between East and West Berlin. Globalization has allowed the East to catch up to the West and created a city that is unified, independent, free, and able to compete economically on a global scale.

The benefits of globalization are undeniable: business transactions have skyrocketed, people have become more accepting of diversity, and third world countries are now given the opportunity to compete in the global economy. However, globalization has also contributed to some of the many problems communities face today. In his essay “Encountering Globalization”, Kevin Robins states, “Old certainties and hierarchies of identity are called into question in a world of dissolving boundaries and disrupted continuities.” (Robins) This is one of the issues that globalization causes: as more cultures come in contact with one another, cultural identities are being dissolved or morphed into things that are unlikely to resemble what they had been 30 years ago. In Berlin, there is a huge problem of gentrification. As the EU opens up borders to developing European countries and Berlin continues to become a world-renowned city, more and more immigrants come here to live and work. This causes native Berliners much angst as their jobs are eaten up and the cost of living increases and in turn causes them to discriminate against the immigrants. Berliners for example, do not look upon the Turks fondly. Not only is their loud and imposing demeanor against everything Germans stand for, but they are coming to Berlin in herds due to family ties and work opportunities. The Berlin identity is changing and native Berliners need to realize that this will continue to happen for years to come. In order to prevent their identities from being totally destroyed, Berliners must keep the historical aspects of their community alive through practice but in a way that embraces globalization and respects the diverse cultures that Berlin attracts.

Just as there is diversity in Berlin, there is extensive diversity between the Germans themselves. A German from Hamburg has completely different views and values than a German from Munich. I have been fortunate enough to speak with Germans from all over the country and although they may be from different areas in Germany itself, they share the commonality of being German citizens. Just as Germans share this commonality, all citizens of the world share the commonality of contributing to a global community. We need to realize that in a globalized world, every action has an effect not only on your immediate community but the global community as a whole. The simple act of throwing your trash on the ground will effect your community and the animals in Africa, babies in India, and farmers in Indonesia. Globalization has been a blessing for the world but has also brought the world closer to destruction than it has ever been. Litter is everywhere, the ozone layer is being depleted, and the polar ice caps are melting. This is not a situation that the world can sustain much longer. In order to prevent the destruction of our world, the countries, communities, organizations, and individuals that have become so interconnected by globalization must make choices that not only benefit themselves but also the community around them. When every human being on earth makes these choices, the powerful benefits of globalization and the beauty of cultural identity can be embraced in a form that is mutually beneficial.

The picture below is one that I took of a structure on the Spree river in Berlin that is three men locked in each others grasp. I chose this picture because I feel it symbolizes the conflicting ideas of globalization and the specific cultures that each area of the world holds. As the world becomes more interconnected, identities begin to change, combine, and disappear. This is concerning to people who identify them selves as a specific nationality, being from a specific region, or being a certain ethnicity. Our identities are who we are and when something threatens who we are, we naturally are frightened by it. But globalization is not going away anytime soon and will only become more aggressive as time goes on. Therefore, we must embrace who we are and where we come from but not forget that a little change is never a bad thing.

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