“Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

Community based rituals are simply absent from the American culture, and this creates large problems in the development of our young adults. In my experience growth can be stunted or go unrecognized because of the lack of a ritual signifying a life transition. While this ritual can manifest in multiple ways it there is no real equivalent besides graduating either high school or college. That ceremony is supposed to be a cookie cutter ritual representative of your journey and growth through your education. The issue with it is it is to universal and does not necessarily teach a lesson. To contrast the American way the thing that comes to mind for me is the Australian culture for young adults. It is extremely common for university student aged kids to have lived on their own for a few years during school. Usually they will pay for themselves, buy an apartment, pay for their own food, have a job. Doing this teaches them responsibility, and allows them to learn to fend for themselves. Yet furthermore after they have reached the peak, graduation, they will continue their learning by doing what is called a walk-about; which is basically a culturally accepted and encouraged exploration of the world. This is meant to further your worldly understanding and is a community ritual that signifies a life transition.

From my perspective the American equivalent of this should be a study abroad semester. I believe that everyone should be required to take a semester abroad; it should be a part of the American education system. I think it is an incredible experience, while it can be extremely difficult that is what makes it amazing. You learn so much about the outside world and begin to understand other peoples. In this way you can begin to better understand yourself and gain an inner confidence knowing that you know the things that you like and can feel empowered to accomplish your goals.

This being said creating a digital story is a good ritual to allow for the full reflection upon your personal journey during your abroad experience. It can be representative of a life change, and allows you to realize where you were to where you are now which can be an extremely powerful tool for understanding. I will use my digital story to sit and reflect on my personal journey and growth, as well as looking to the future. When I get back to the USA I will be beginning my internship and starting my career. The following school year will be entirely dedicated to planning out the next few years of my life, as I have no real plans up until this point. I want to use my experience abroad in Budapest, Hungary as a stepping stone to launch my next area of growth and experience. I realize that I would really enjoy living and working in a different portion of the world and would love to spend and extended amount of time in another place. My goal will be to land a job in a different country on a different continent that I have never been to before. I believe this will give me an opportunity to learn and grow more so than any other job that I could obtain back in the United States.

I do not think there are really any digital stories that would speak to me more than another simply because the only thing that I will connect to is the fact that each person that comes abroad feels as though they have grown and enjoyed their experience here. Yet each person has an entirely unique form of growth that was beneficial for them, for this reason I will not feel personally connected to anyone in particular’s story. I do believe that the best way to represent the experience is through discussing how you have changed and what was important to you. A monologue of your experience is good but it is more important to talk about the personal growth and understanding you had. For this reason I am going to write as honestly as I can and describe all of the highs and the lows and what it means to travel abroad.

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“Service” By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

The impact of volunteering can be unimaginable. I have been engaged in volunteering my whole life. My first experience with volunteering was coaching a recreational basketball team in my home town of Bolton, Connecticut. This was one of my favorite experiences to date; I began this journey in my sophomore year of high school. I continued my coaching career for the next three years and absolutely loved every minute of it. It was amazing because I was able to have such a great impact on the kids that I was coaching, not only was I able to teach them a sport that I loved to play myself, but I was also able to teach them about life, respecting one another, and having fun. Being able to teach them and watch them grow over the three years that I had some of the kids was an amazing experience and to this day if I see the parents of the kids or the kids themselves we always stop and have a chat because of the impact that we had on each other. These kids not only were a lot of fun but they also taught me a lot about myself and what I was capable of. Volunteering has a funny way of giving back to the one doing the service; I felt enlightened and in improved by experience. Not only did I become a better leader from learning about the players and understanding their motivations, but furthermore I became a better individual. I learned the importance of listening to one another and the concept of seeking to understand and then to be understood.

I brought my service experiences with me abroad, especially in my first journey to Guatemala. This service trip was centered on helping the students at a school by developing their marketing through computers. But furthermore we interacted with the students and learned about their daily life so that we may have a better understanding of the impact that we would have upon the school. It was an incredible experience that was humbling as well as enlightening. This experience taught me about the opportunity that is truly available to us in the United States. The education system in Guatemala includes educating the students on how to be successful in a tourist market, which was astounding to me. While they would learn math, science, and how to read and write, these basic subjects were supplemented by classes where they would learn to make products to sell to tourists. This was eye-opening that the best opportunity lied within tourism and that education would not be useful to the students without this.

My service in Budapest has been to help students in middle to high school learn English. I have discussed before in previous journals that English has become a lucrative tool for students and is why it is taught in most schools. Yet it is another example of how opportunity is limited in other nations. It is more economical to learn English at a young age in the same way that the kids in Guatemala learn how to make bracelets. By adapting to their circumstances and understanding what will likely be the most beneficial to their well-being, education systems have adapted. Yet it essentially requires that the world caters to the larger cultures as not only are they one of the more influential, but it is the economically intelligent decision to adapt and adopt. Yet in my volunteering experience the children had an amazing impact on me as they have become extremely friendly to me. They wish to constantly learn and understand because they find English and American culture fascinating; this has allowed me to learn about their culture as well. I think it is extremely important to learn about foreign cultures as it creates a much greater context. It is clear that the American culture is in a way taught in other school systems, yet we do not necessarily have that experience in America, which makes it easy to turn a blind eye and go your entire life without understanding another culture. This is why I believe it is extremely important to travel otherwise you will never be able to fully understand people, and interpret why people do the things they do. The more culture you can understand the more universally you can see humanity shine through surface interactions.

 

“Holding up Half the Sky” By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

The overall message of the book Half the Sky can be described as understanding how women are oppressed around the world. Every corner of the Earth has some form of oppression and a large portion of that is directed at women. While every nation has a varying degree to which this oppression comes to fruition, it is important to note that any oppression or disparity is not acceptable. Even in America there is clearly still a disparity in the way we approach women’s issues as well as their role in the work place. It is still common that women are unable to advance past certain points in their career and are often paid less for the same work. Furthermore even the way we approach women’s products the sheer fact that they are not included under the protection of some insurance plans is incredulous.

I think one of the stories of that really impacts me is Hillary Clinton’s. Personally I have a connection to Hillary as she was my Aunt’s employer for an extended period of time, but furthermore she was one of the first women to ever have a chance to take the presidency. She was the first women to be the democrat’s presidential candidate, and once that was the case immediately the misogyny began. Here we have an extremely qualified, intelligent, and successful woman who had dedicated her entire life to this country through the means of being a public servant and doing things in the name of woman and other poorly represented communities. Yet when brought to the eye of the public in what has been called on e of the dirtiest campaigns of all time often Hillary was subjected to stereotyping and treatment based on her gender. I believe that one of the harshest examples of this was the fact that often the ridicule that she was given was not for mistakes that she had made throughout her career but rather that of her husband. I remember distinctly a moment when at the time presidential candidate Trump, now acting president, came after her relationship with her husband and his actions. This is something that would never be brought to the attention of a man and his wife’s actions and in fact is amazing that this statement even had any traction. A debate is supposed to be about discussing the important topics that the people of this nation want to know. Yet we were forced to witness the petty misogynistic comments simply because of the gender of one of the candidates.

While currently I study Computer Information Systems and Finance, it is my goal to eventually study economic policy and decision making so that I can make an impact in the political sphere locally as well as globally. One of my main focuses is the economic disparity between men and women. One of the largest arguments in favor of the disparity between men and women has historically been that women are more likely to get pregnant and leave work either for maternity leave or permanently. This added risk is often the reason or excuse for the gap in pay even if the work is the same. Objectively this makes sense from a business perspective, yet morally this is an injustice and can be solved by simple economic policy that is active in other developed nations. The concept of mandatory paternity and maternity leave is enforced on companies, which eliminates this risk by leveling the playing field. If both the mother and father are required to take this leave then the only disparity between a man and a woman should be their education and work performance. This is an economic tool that should allow for the gap to be closed further. Furthermore paternity leave shows that it is extremely helpful in a child’s development as well as aides in decreasing stress on a relationship and allows for happier individuals. This is good for the nation as well as improves productivity at work, because it allows for a greater work-life balance reducing stress and improving effectiveness.

“Encountering Globalization” By: Joseph Sansevero. Budapest, Hungary

Globalization has become one of the largest focuses across many intellectual spheres. Whether it be politics, business, or academia, all spheres agree that it is happening and the effects are so grand that it is hard to determine whether or not it is having a positive or negative impact on the world. From my perspective it is happening no matter what we do, so it is imperative that we minimize the negative effects and work towards positive global change. In my last journal I discussed a very interesting conversation that I had with another student who was abroad from Japan. This was one of the many examples where people from all around the world have come to study in Budapest and at my university, Corvinus. The university is largely a global community; I have met individuals from over twenty different countries. This fact alone shows globalization occurring constantly. While there are classes taught in Hungarian, a majority of the classes here are taught in English. This is because English has become the language of business and is one of the most necessary ways to communicate with people around the world. This is an example of globalization because it directly notes how business is a force for cultural change. It is economically advantageous to learn English if it is not your first language because not only does large nations like England and America speak English, but it has become the language of Europe. If you wish to travel between nations here it is expected that you know some English, as this will likely be the mutually learned language between the two countries.

The global community at Corvinus also drives other discussion and brings in completely varied concepts and ideas. I believe that any intellectual discussion had whether in an academic setting or a more casual interaction, adds to the progression of globalization. In my Organizational Behavior class we are constantly having discussions on how there are different frames of though in varying places. One of the first classes we had the professor had us do an exercise where we had to write down three separate problems, one that applied to our home community, one that applied to our home nation, and one that applied to the global community. What was extremely interesting to me is that a lot of the problems were similar especially when it came to people’s view of their home nation and the global community. For example, the man next to me a fellow master’s level student from Germany had the exact same problem with the global community as I. We both wrote the singular word, “populism”. While we both had separate reasons for this we both recognized the growing trend of how nationalism and populism were leading to some of the world’s largest issues. In America currently we are dealing with a populist movement spearheaded by President Donald Trump. Yet in other nations there are similar leaders and events that are based in nationalist pride and populism. England had Brexit was entirely backed by a populist movement who believed that their nation was the best and was being held back by the European Union, but largely were uneducated about what the real consequences were for leaving. Furthermore in the French elections there was Le Pen who was entirely a populist and blamed France’s issues entirely on immigrants from other nations endangering the prosperity of their nation. This being said the political landscape seems to be shifting as people recognize the impact of blindly following a nationlist. One of the large reason that Le Pen has recently suffered a large defeat was due to how poorly some of these populist movements have done after they had been put into place.

This all being said it is extremely interesting to watch the landscape constantly change around us, and being in a large community made up of extremely varying cultures and peoples allows for productive and interesting conversation. This sharing of ideas really has led to a better understanding of the globe and the positions that average educated students have about their respective nations

Travel Log 14: “Global Connections & Rites of Separation” by Samantha Prevot. Notting Hill, London, England.

In Becoming World Wise, Richard Slimbach says, “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within.” The “world within” relates to our inner selves; our ideas, impulses, and so on. Slimbach says our “world within” is invisible to others and has a great impact on our social relationships and our relationship to the natural world. Slimbach also says, “The sudden vulnerability we experience as we arrive in an unknown place…renders us acutely aware of who we are, or at least of who we’re not.” Studying abroad is a learning experience, and throughout the past three months, I’ve found this out for myself. When I flew to England in January, I could only imagine where the semester would take me, and I came out of the experience a wiser, more well traveled person.

Before coming to London, I had never flown by myself before and suddenly, here I was flying by myself across the Atlantic Ocean to spend an entire semester in a city that I had only spent one week in before four years ago. Since then, I have traveled to two other countries, Sweden and Ireland, as well as to other parts of England like Stonehenge, Oxford and Brighton. Traveling on my own, or with one or two friends who are my age, gave me a new sense of confidence. In general, I think I’ve found a new sense of independence. I have lived “on my own” at Quinnipiac for the past couple of years, but being here in London took that feeling of being “on my own” to another level. My parents were no longer two hours away and able to answer my calls whenever I needed them. Now, we had a seven-hour plane ride and a five-hour time difference separating us. This was the longest period of time I have spent without coming home, and because of that I think I built up more confidence in myself and became more independent and less reliant on others. It’s hard to explain, but I just think in general I became more in touch with myself, with my “world within” as Slimbach says. Traveling to new places, studying in a brand new university system, and living in a strange city gave me time to reflect and I think I’ve grown and learned more about who I really am and what I want from life. I have also learned valuable life lessons from experiences such as having my phone stolen. Through experiences like these I have become a stronger and wiser person.

In addition, I think studying in London has helped my growth as a member of the global community. I’ve always been open to learning about different people and cultures, and being in a diverse city like London has helped me meet so many new people not only from England but other places around the world. Getting to know them has helped expand my knowledge of the world and has developed my open, positive attitude towards others. I also think, as I have mentioned, volunteering helped reopen my eyes to the joys of helping others and “fighting for similar social values and basic human rights” as we described in our definition of global community. I am definitely bringing this restored outlook with me when I return home and I am also bringing with me a newfound feeling of global awareness and a stronger feeling of global citizenship, as well as a stronger desire to travel and see the world than ever before.

Tomorrow, I am getting on a train to Paris with my mom and leaving London behind. The girls that I live with, and have become very good friends with, are all leaving too either for home or for other countries that they have planned trips to. We have talked many times about how time seemed to go by so quickly and how sad we are not only about leaving London, but also about leaving each other. We have formed such a close bond in these past few months as a communitas, going through the same Rite of Passage journey. We have made so many amazing memories together and now we are all going our separate ways and returning to our respective parts of the United States. As a group, we have tried to spend as much time as possible in the last couple of weeks, going on our last few outings to dinner, shopping, etc. before our semester is officially over. Today, I went to see major landmarks like Big Ben and Buckingham Palace for the last time. Thinking about how these are my last few hours in London for who knows how long puts a knot in my stomach. But at the same time, I keep thinking about my family and friends that are at home who have been missing me while I’ve been gone and I can’t help but get excited about returning to them. I also think about my home, New York City, specifically my town of Rockaway Beach and I get so excited about being able to go back there and see all of the places I’ve missed going to while in London. I can’t wait to get back and roam the streets of Manhattan, or just walk on the beach near my house. I also can’t wait to see my friends and family and tell them all of my stories from my adventures abroad. I know there will be an adjustment period where I will feel weird not taking the tube every day, seeing famous London landmarks on my way to class, seeing my friends that I’ve made here, eating in London-only restaurants, or simply just walking down the street to Tesco. But once I am settled in again at home, I will be so happy and I will be able to look back at my time in London fondly without being sad.

There is a quote from Kate Douglas Wiggin that says, “There is a kind of magicness about going far away and then coming back all changed.” This is so meaningful to me at this point in time because I can tell I’ve changed since leaving for England in January, and it excites me that I get to return to New York as this new and improved version of myself. I also think about all of my friends and family back home and if they have changed at all either, in addition to whether they will be able to notice the changes in me. My mom is visiting me right now, and she hasn’t brought up anything about me seeming different to her. I wonder if she’s thinking it, but isn’t saying it out loud. I am excited to continue traveling with her and try to show her parts of my new, changed, “world within” that right now seems invisible to her. As sad as I am about ending this chapter of my life, I am just as filled with anticipation and excitement about what lies ahead for me now that I’ve had this life-changing experience.

Travel Log 12 “Service” by Samantha Prevot. Notting Hill, London, England.

When I found out that one of the requirements for this class was to do community service in my new city, I immediately thought back to my days in Hebrew school when we often took trips to do community service work. In the Jewish faith there is a phrase “tikkun olam” which can be translated as “repairing the world”. So in Hebrew school, part of our learning and religious experience was to try to follow the values of tikkun olam by doing acts of kindness and community service such as planting trees and volunteering at a homeless shelter. Since having my Bat Mitzvah and becoming less heavily involved in my temple community, I haven’t done much volunteering and I have always regretted this. Especially following Hurricane Sandy and the destruction that hit my town, so many kind volunteers helped us get back on our feet and I longed for that satisfying feeling of helping those in need.

So as I began searching for places in London where I could volunteer, I tried to find a homeless shelter, as that was one of my favorite volunteering experiences from Hebrew school and unfortunately I have seen a fair amount of homeless people as I have walked the streets these past few months. However, I came to find that many organizations want volunteers to make a commitment of weeks or even months, and so finding a place where I could volunteer for one shift only was somewhat difficult. But then I came across Shelter From The Storm and everything fell into place. imgres.pngShelter From The Storm is a free homeless shelter in London’s borough of Islington, and is funded purely by donations. Their mission statement says, “Our mission is to house and support the homeless in London whoever they are, wherever they come from. Our vision is of a society where charities like Shelter from the Storm are no longer necessary.” They work to achieve this goal through providing housing solutions for guests that become involved with the program as well as helping provide meals, employment, healthcare, and counseling. Each guest at the shelter is required to come back every night in time for dinner and check in with the volunteer staff to make sure they are marked present. Once they arrive for the night they must stay until the following morning and are provided with beds in gender separated dorms, toiletries, showers, laundry services, as well as dinner, breakfast, and even sandwiches and small salads from a local chain called Pret a Manger to take away for lunch. The guests and volunteers have a very respectful, friendly relationship and that’s what I think helps the model work so well.

I would have preferred most to do a dinnertime shift at the shelter, but they only had spots open for overnight shifts and so I stepped out of my comfort zone and accepted it. I arrived at 8:30pm and stayed awake until midnight helping give out the last few meals, cleaning up the kitchen, and watching the doors to make sure there weren’t too many guests going outside to smoke cigarettes. After we turned the lights out at midnight and the guests were in their dorms, it was decided that myself and the other two volunteers would take shifts being awake and I was given the last one (4:00am – 6:00am) and so I got a few hours to sleep inside the office. The rest of the night was relatively uneventful and in the morning the three of us helped set up breakfast and put out the lunches from Pret, and we also washed dishes from the night before. It may seem like I didn’t do much or that what I did was “easy” but for me it was a truly insightful experience that lit a fire in me that I had left burnt out for some time. Seeing the more experienced volunteers interacting with the guests and seeing the relationships they had formed was inspiring. Homelessness does not make a person less important than those who are privileged enough to have a roof over their heads and proper meals, healthcare, etc. Everyone deserves a chance to get back on their feet and find a new job and a new place to live. Everyone deserves a chance at a good life, and this is the message Shelter From The Storm tries to convey through their work.

The photo I chose to convey the message of volunteering is two hands reaching out to grab one another. When people are in need and are calling out for help, even if it’s not always directly, we have to take their hand and give them the help they need. Richard Slimbach says, “The first step in this journey is to venture outside our comfort zones and get involved directly and personally in the lives of others, especially those occupying the margins of society…to create respectful7f25b399efa112b0fcdbadb8ed61d1b5_pics-about-space-clipart-hand-reaching-out_800-533.jpeg and mutually beneficial relationships.” Just like taking an overnight shift was me stepping out of my comfort zone, just volunteering in general is a step out of most people’s comfort zones. Unfortunately, there are some negative stereotypes associated with people who “occupy the margins of society” and people become afraid to help. But if we become involved and see that those people do not follow those stereotypes, we can begin to form bonds of respect and maybe even friendship, just like the volunteers and guests at SFTS have done. It’s through these bonds that we can help them make better lives for themselves by helping them get jobs and have a place to sleep at night, and they can help us by showing us the benefits of volunteering, and maybe teaching us a bit about ourselves and the word. All we have to do is reach out and grab the hands that are reaching out to us.

This connects to our definition of Global Community, because through volunteering we are “fighting for similar social values and basic rights” such as the right to shelter and the right to eat a decent meal. I think volunteering in London was very beneficial to me because it made me feel like I was more than just a passive global citizen just traveling in Europe, having fun and going to school. By volunteering, I became an active member of the community, trying to make a difference in my temporary home instead of just taking in the sights and taking photos that I can post on social media for my family and friends. It’s almost as though I’m leaving more of a mark on London than I would have if I didn’t do any volunteering. It’s a memory that I will keep with me and try to pass the importance and impact of volunteering onto other people who will study abroad in the future. This experience has also reignited those values of tikkun olam that I had left behind somewhere along the way when I was younger. I had forgotten how good a person could feel after helping others, and how even doing one small thing like a single shift a week can truly make a difference. I hope that I will stay inspired as I return home to the United States and I will try to find volunteer work that I can do in my hometown, or in New York City in general, this summer and when I return home from Quinnipiac for breaks. As a more active member of the Global Community, I can do my part in repairing the world.

 

(If you would like more information about Shelter From The Storm, you can visit their website http://www.sfts.org.uk)

Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” by Samantha Prevot. Notting Hill, London, England.

David G. Blumenkrantz and Marc B. Goldstein’s study of modern day Rites of Passage affirmed my belief that the term is used too often to describe life moments and milestones that do not really fit the definition of a Rite of Passage. This is especially true about American society, where it is common to refer to events such as a child’s first kiss or an adolescent getting their driver’s license. These are exciting milestones in life, but Blumenkrantz and Goldstein define a Rite of Passage as “community-created and community directed experiences that transmit cultural values and knowledge to an individual (or individuals).” (Blumenkrantz, Goldstein 42). They mention this in their study, but I immediately began thinking about my Bat Mitzvah, which took place in October of 2009. I was only 13, which seems too young to be considered a woman, but for me I was just considered an adult in my Jewish temple community and I felt a sense of belonging especially amongst the rest of my Hebrew school classmates who had already gone through the Bar/Bat Mitzvah process. I do agree with Blumenkrantz and Goldstein that although some Americans still participate in these religious ceremonies, overall there is a general lack of clear Rites of Passage in our society. I agree that the ages in which it becomes legal for people to vote, drive, drink, etc. are a bit arbitrary and generally it is a bit ambiguous in regards to when an adolescent is truly considered an adult. If that is truly an underlying cause for increased rates of binge drinking, drug use and teenage pregnancy, then maybe we as a society should find ways to reestablish clearer Rites of Passage for young people as they transition into adulthood because those behaviors are dangerous and potentially life threatening.

Blumenkrantz and Goldstein also compiled a list of 20 elements of Rites of Passage, and the three that I think can connect most to my future digital story are adversity and personal challenge, silence, and time alone for reflection. Adversity we may face while going through a Rite of Passage, “challenges us to provide “teachable moments” capable of searing into the emerging adult’s mind essential information related to values and ethics that inform and guide expectations for behavior.” (Blumenkrantz, Goldstein 46). I have learned a lot during my time in England, but it was through the toughest times that I learned the most. For example, just a week ago, I was walking to the Underground from my school when a motorcycle drove up onto the sidewalk behind me and one of the men on the bike grabbed my phone out of my hand. I have never experienced anything like that before, and although it was such a negative experience I learned so much from it and it is tough times like these that I may choose to use as a foundation for my digital story. In addition, silence and time alone for reflection somewhat overlap. Blumenkrantz and Goldstein write that silence “makes the ‘call to adventure,’ the internal alarm clock awakening them to the coming of age process, almost inaudible. Creating opportunities for silence and to spend time alone—the ninth and tenth elements—help a young person develop an internal dialogue for narrating and making sense of what is going on around them.” (Blumenkrantz, Goldstein 46). I have always been a person who enjoys the company of others, but I also crave alone time where I can just reflect and get lost in my thoughts for a bit. That is when I have my best ideas and when I can decompress from the hustle and bustle of life. I have been trying to keep up with a journal while studying abroad and it is during my alone time at night or just while I’m on the Underground or traveling that I like to write my thoughts in it. I’m hoping these can help provide ideas for my digital story.

The keys to a digital story are “showing” people your experience instead of “telling” them about it, as well as “encapsulating and emotionalizing” your story and your experience in a way that resonates with people and sticks with them long after they’ve finished watching your digital story. I think Rachel Cox did this extremely well in her digital story about her study abroad experience in Paris. She not only used a wonderful metaphor comparing her growth as a person to the growth of the trees as the seasons changed from winter to spring, but she also included a personal story about the growth of her relationship with her elderly neighbor who only spoke French. This, along with the emotion with which she narrated her story and the pictures she included, gave her story depth and emotion that resonated with me and I’m sure with many others. This is the kind of writing I hope my digital story has. As a journalism major and a person that just loves to write in general, I have spent most of my life learning about stories and falling in love with them. I hope I can create the same effect with my own personal story.

Travel Log 11: “Holding up Half the Sky” Reaction Paper by Samantha Prevot. Notting Hill, London, England.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide, a book written by Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn, is an incredibly powerful, incredibly insightful work that not only sheds light on many different women’s rights issues around the world, but also makes things personal by telling individual stories from women around the world who are facing these issues. I was captivated by each story and learning about these issues, some of which I already had some knowledge of, made me feel compelled to share this knowledge with the people around me.

To me, the overall message of this book is that women are the key to making true change in the world and if the oppression of women continues, then the world, especially the poorest countries, will not be able to thrive. Through the information given and the stories that are told in the book, we see the impact that providing women with better health care and education has, as well as putting in the effort to increase their social status and eliminate harmful cultural practices such as genital cutting. The book also tells us that getting involved isn’t difficult, time-consuming or costly, unless you would like to invest the money and time, and even provides various resources for ways to get involved. As a woman, I felt even more connected to the stories presented in this book and the issues that these women are facing. One issue in particular that I connected to was the issue of women’s education and the story of Dai Manju, a young girl in China.

Dai Manju’s parents were barely literate, as they had dropped out of elementary school. To them, Dai Manju’s school fees seemed to be a waste of money and so they told her to drop out of school. Dai Manju was the top student in her grade, and desperately wanted to keep going to school. She would hang around her school, hoping to learn something even though she could not go inside. Her teachers tried to help support her, but it wasn’t enough. Then after Kristoff and WuDunn wrote an article about Dai Manju, a reader wired them $10,000 to pay her tuition. The man’s bank made a mistake, as the donation was actually only $100, but they were kind enough to donate the difference. Because of these generous offers, Dai Manju was provided with tution-free schooling as long as she passed her exams, and the school was given much-needed renovations in addition to a scholarship program being set up for local girls. Dai Manju passed through all levels of school, including the equivalent of accounting school. She ended up becoming an executive at a Taiwanese electronic company, but wanted to start a company of her own and her boss supported her. Dai Manju has been able to send money home to her family, and they have upgraded from living in a small shack to a six-room concrete house and they added electricity, a stove, a television, and a fan.

Dai Manju’s story is one of the many in this book that demonstrates the power of educating girls. Reading this story, and the countless others about girls struggling to get an education, made me extremely upset. I have been privileged to receive a wonderful education throughout my life; I attended New York City public schools from elementary school until high school, and got the opportunity to receive education in programs for the academically gifted at my public middle school, The Scholar’s Academy and my public high school, Townsend Harris High School. Today, I am attending a wonderful private university, and am paving my way for a bright future. I am very grateful for all of the educational opportunities I have received throughout my life, and I am grateful that my parents, who are both teachers, encourage me to grow and learn every day. It deeply saddens me that many young girls around the world do not get the same educational opportunities or support from their families. To me, education is a right, but in some of the countries mentioned in this book people see education, especially the education of girls, as a luxury or something that should not be allowed. I believe that knowledge is power, and all girls should have the opportunity to become empowered. It has also been shown that educating women has a positive impact on society. Kristoff and WuDunn write, “One study after another has shown that educating girls is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty. Schooling is also often a precondition for girls and women to stand up against injustice, and for women to be integrated into the economy.” They also mention that education causes women to marry later in life and have fewer children. In addition, it is shown that countries such as Rwanda, that have a parliament that is made up of a majority of (educated) women, are some of the least corrupt, best governed, and fastest growing in Africa. In short, educating women is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal. Learning about this and reading stories like Dai Manju’s made me want to put in effort to help educate women around the world.

As a journalism major, I always consider the media and what they choose to cover, and it always astonishes me when certain issues, that seem very important, are not covered. After reading this book, I wonder where the features are about issues such as genital cutting, women’s education, maternal mortality, and obstetric fistulas. I am also always thinking about the inequality women still face in America because I aspire to become a sports journalist, and sports journalism is still very much seen as a man’s world. Many women who are hired to cover sports are young and good looking, and in my opinion usually offer nothing significant in the way of analysis. Even when I tell people that I want to be a sports reporter and that my favorite sport is hockey, they are often skeptical and doubt my knowledge of the sport. Some men have even told me “You only like hockey because the players are good looking.” It’s times like these that remind me that I have an uphill battle in my chosen field of work and that I will spend a lot of time trying to prove myself when I should not have to do so.

This leads into the other connections I made to this book having to do with the women’s rights issues that we still face in America today. I am not normally a very outspoken person when it comes to politics, although I am very opinionated, because I know many people have many different values, but when it comes to women’s rights I will always say something. In high school, I did a project about the United States’ family leave policies, particularly maternity leave. The U.S. is the lowest ranking amongst developed nations when it comes to maternity leave. We are also still in heated debates within our government about funding planned parenthood and what rights women should have to their bodies. In addition, according to Half the Sky, 17% of our House of Representatives were women in 2008. I’m not sure how much that number has grown in 9 years, but I’m sure it hasn’t grown much. To me, these things are all outrageous and wrong. How can we, a developed, democratic, civilized nation, still be so far behind when it comes to women’s rights? If we are going to try to help other countries take steps forward to help women, then we need to set an example and take some steps forward as well. I also think that journalists need to shed more light on these issues to make them better known to the public, and people like Kristoff and WuDunn are helping pave the way for that to happen. Many of the women in this book are women they have written features of in the past and to me personal stories are the best way to inspire people to act because they evoke emotion in people and create feelings of sympathy and empathy. If people can put a face to an issue, they will feel more connected to it and have more of a desire to do something to help. I think that it’s important for people my age in my field to become more educated on these issues because then as they enter the field they may be more inspired to put a spotlight on them to spread knowledge to the public. This is because while older people in the field may be set in their ways, younger people can come in and try to make a change for the future. I hope that there will be more people like me, especially my fellow women, out there who learn about these issues and feel as passionately as I do and want to get the word out there so we can begin to help more and more girls all around the world and begin to bridge the gap between men and women. Women are vital to making a better world and without proper health care, education, and general respect, then that better world will not be possible.

 

Works Cited

Kristof, Nicholas D., and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. Print.

Travel Log 10: “Encountering Globalization” by Samantha Prevot. Notting Hill, London, England.

When I was getting ready to travel abroad, I knew that there would be some aspects of my home culture that made their way to London and the rest of Europe, particularly in the spread of chain companies, especially fast food. On my street alone you can find McDonald’s, Starbucks, and KFC. Just the other day, my friends went to a Chipotle in London, and when I went to Stockholm a couple of weeks ago there were 7/11’s on almost every street and I even found a Dunkin Donuts. Not to mention that the U.K. plays American bands and singers on the radio and show many American movies and television shows. This goes along with what Kevin Robbins discusses in The Global Transformations Reader when it comes to cultural homogenization as opposed to cultural hybridization. Robbins writes, “…as the Disney Channel arrived in Britain. There is the clear sense in some quarters that ‘Americanization’ – from Hollywood to Coke and McDonald’s – is a threat to the integrity of European cultural life.” And while I do believe American companies are spreading much more than other countries’ on a global scale, and that America has great cultural influences on other countries nowadays, I also believe that every country and city still has its own unique identity and is still uniquely “British” or “Swedish”.

One of the amazing benefits of spending a semester in London is that it is one of the most diverse cities in the world. It can be seen not only through the people that walk the streets, but also through the languages you hear being spoken on public transportation, and in the extremely diverse amount of shops and restaurants that have opened throughout the city. Their national dish is even an Indian dish, chicken tikka masala, even though most people assume it is the classic British fish and chips. I think Camden Market is one of the places that best exemplifies the globalization and diversity of London. The picture I chose to post is the entrance to the market. IMG_0434.jpgI took this photo when I visited the market not too long ago, and was blown away by the shops and food stands. So many countries are represented there in one way or another; the countries of the U.K., China, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, India, France, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Korea, the United States, and many more. The whole experience was somewhat overwhelming, especially since I had travelled there alone, but I fell in love with the market and find myself with the strongest urge to go back again and again. But at the end of the day London, to me, still feels so unique and truly British. All of the history that is preserved here and just the feeling of the city does not compare to any other and I think will always stay that way.

My trip to Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden also led me to encounter forms of globalization. I myself do not speak Swedish, and neither do any of my friends that I had travelled with, so when reading street signs or finding places we needed to go resulted in us having to try to translate. It turns out that many words in Swedish sound similar to their English counterparts, so we found our way pretty easily. However, I found it interesting how whenever we would check out at a store, or speak to someone at a train station ticket booth, they would initially speak to us in Swedish. Then after we would say “I’m sorry, what?” the person would immediately smile, nod, and begin speaking to us in perfect English. It is common for people in Scandinavian countries to learn English starting when they’re young, so although they maintain their own national spirit and know their own language, they also learn English to keep with this growing connective spirit of globalization.

Robbins also talks about mobility and the global connections we make through the Internet, saying, “Mobility has become ordinary in the emerging global order. But it is also possible to see the world without having to move. For now ‘the world’ is able to come where we are.” I can personally agree and relate to this statement, as an avid social media user who often connects with people from countries different, and far away, from my own. I have had the great opportunity to meet with a friend of mine who I met on Twitter a couple of years ago. She is from Poland, but is studying at Middlesex University in London. I have also made connections at some concerts I’ve been to with girls not only from London, but also from Spain and Scotland. I also have plans to meet with a friend of mine that lives in France when I travel to Paris next month. To me, these are perfect examples of how globalization and the Internet have brought the world together and made it seem like a much smaller place, where you can meet anyone from around the world and share your ideas and opinions whenever you want. It has also given me the opportunity to learn about what life is like in countries like Spain and Scotland. It turns out their cultures are very different from the United States, and I was fascinated when we sat and compared our life experiences.

In addition to all of these benefits of globalization, Robbins also talks about how globalization is complex and does not always benefit everyone. He calls globalization “an uneven and an unequal process”, and refers to a piece by geographer Doreen Massey where she says that, “Some initiate flows and movement, others don’t; some are more on the receiving end of it than others; some are effectively imprisoned by it.” When reading this, many things came into mind. Massey mentions people coming halfway around the world “only to get held up in an interrogation room at Heathrow.” And I immediately thought about Donald Trump and the travel bans and immigration policies he is putting into place. I also thought about the video we watched this week about the secondhand t-shirt sales and the current economic situation in countries such as Zambia. They are becoming victims of this new global market that has formed, because the most powerful countries, like the United States, have placed sanctions on them that are effectively keeping them in debt and in poverty. The people of those countries do not get to actually experience globalization like other countries do in the form of the Internet, television, movies, chain restaurants, etc. Instead, they are continuing to live in poverty, and in a way our way of life is dangled in front of their faces with things like our secondhand clothing. The people hold onto hope that they will one day have a life like ours, while our government, and the government of other countries, continue to put measures in place to keep them down.

In my opinion, this does not follow through with the Bill of Human Rights or our class definition of global community. We defined global community as “All people around the world living by and fighting for similar social values and basic rights”. To me, this means that instead of effectively imprisoning people through globalization and keeping certain countries down and impoverished while other countries thrive, does not constitute fighting for basic human rights. Every person has the right to the things that people in wealthier countries receive on a daily basis, and people traveling internationally have the right to be treated fairly and equally no matter what their ethnicity is. While I do believe that globalization is overall a wonderful thing at the end of the day, I also think that certain aspects of international policy should be examined and we should begin to think about what is fair and what is right and realize that although we are making great progress and the world is more connected than ever, there are people and countries that are falling through the cracks and something should be done about it.

“Global Responsibility” Part 2 By: Joseph Sansevero Budapest, Hungary

The well-travelled mind is an arbitrary yet omniscient concept that is sought after by the intellectually intrigued individual. It is inversely related to ignorance and entitlement. This is because it is seen as an eye-opener, travelling places you in a situation entirely new and forces you to adapt, which allows you grow, gain confidence, and build your understanding of humanity. Words often can only capture how we have interpreted what we experience while we are here. While some are better than others at writing their emotions down, I would like to believe that anyone that travels and really takes a look at the culture begins to gain the feeling of worldliness. I write to you today having just arrived home from Vienna, which was absolutely stunning to see. You could clearly see the Austrian-Hungarian Empire’s influence seeing as it was the central power in Europe and had acquired massive amounts of wealth. The buildings were staggering, ornate, and classic.  Having the ability to contrast the two nations, Hungary and Austria based on their capital cities.  Vienna clearly had a more western and diverse feel. Being the larger and wealthier of the two, it has attracted a far wider array of individuals, and has a much more accepting feel. This where you can see the economic influence on diversity, people are drawn to where there is opportunity for success and wealth. Budapest, while much better than it was underneath the socialist regime, it still has a lot of growth to do. The immigration to Budapest is largely from its own citizens seeking work; they say that nearly 80% of the business people in Hungary live in the city. In contrast, Vienna clearly had a greater pull that went beyond its own borders to other nations around the world, which led to an air of acceptance that comes from increased diversity. Visibly there were differences in the social norms; there were women in hijabs, gay couples holding hands on the street, Indian shop owners, Asian tourists as well as residents. In large these are things that you will not as commonly see in Budapest. I believe that proximity to other cultures and races drive up acceptance, it is only in isolation that we have created a disdain for one another. Yet it is this exact reason why I believe it is important to travel, and develop the well-travelled mind. You will begin to realize what true tolerance is and get to learn about cultures that you would never see had you stayed home. This could never have been more important in a moment in history than it is right now. One of the largest issues in the world right now is the recent uptick in nationalism and how it contrasts with globalism. We are becoming more and more connected and now it is no longer simply economic drivers that bring us together but technology as well which is rapidly accelerating the diffusion of cultures. At this breakdown is where we see the largest amount of conflict as people try to hold dearly onto what it is that makes them themselves, their culture. As people hold tightly onto their own culture they begin to see others as a threat. Ergo the animosity towards immigrants, believing that somehow there is a difference between one another. What people don’t realize is that the culture that they are a part of is volatile and constantly changing and growing. Often they are influenced by outsiders, but this does not mean that the new conglomeration of cultures has taken away from who you are. While I believe it is important to document and maintain a record of these changes so that we can preserve them in history, it is impossible to completely stop this diffusion. As the global population, communication and travel tech, all continue to grow we are going to move towards less and less individual cultures and rather a melting pot of them. If you want proof of my claim you can go to almost any city in western civilization; New York City, Amsterdam, London. All of which have become a melting pot of cultures, while they still maintain their own unique culture each have influences from around the world. Travelling has personally opened my eyes, and given me a new perspective on cultural diffusion, it is my hope and belief that the world would be a more understanding place if everyone had this opportunity.

Now in my previous entry I mentioned the comparison between the American experience and the experience of someone in a country that is void of human rights violations. Above is how I have come to see the world, which I believe to be a healthy discovery and beneficial to myself. Yet I notice that not everyone has gained this world view, which is understandable we are all unique individuals. Not everyone is going to come to the same conclusions or purpose for studying abroad. This is one of the largest misconceptions about students who study abroad. The assumption that each of us are looking for a worldly growth. This is often the expectation of which ever university you are studying at, your peers, or even your parents. This more likely than not in my experience the reason why most of those that are around me study abroad. Everyone has their own type of growth that they are seeking and because of this they can be misconstrued as selfish. Each individual has his or her own struggle and this is their source of development. To say that someone isn’t well travelled because they do not have this idea of global responsibility imbued upon is simply unfair and undermines what it may have taken to get each individual there and back. Global responsibility is extremely important and the goal of most academically focused students, yet it is not necessarily the goal of most. What defines the American experience I have come to realize is this idea of impressing our values on someone else. We are expected to simply fit this mold, and then be happy. This has been proven throughout history to be a terrible method for achieving happiness, mimicking someone else’s and claiming it as your own. Developing, defining, and achieving your own success and happiness is the only real way to achieve this.