"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Jeff Bezos: After the gold rush, there's innovation ahead

Insightful historical analogies from Jeff Bezos; bridging Internet and gold rush. Worth watching!

World Link: Educating Nigeria into Development

Today, governments are too distracted fighting wars, gaining power, and earning profit to invest sufficient time and energy towards improving today’s world problems; it is the responsibility of the people to see that changes are made. Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of deeply committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. The profit-driven agreement between multinational oil companies and the Nigerian government poses serious danger to the livelihood of the people of the Niger Delta and continues to threaten the stability of the region. However there is hope. With awareness beginning to spread to the international community, there is increasing pressure on multinational oil companies to adhere to environmental and social standards paralleling those of their mother countries. Individuals and small groups of citizens are sharing their innovative ideas and are working collectively for societal wellbeing. Some examples are starting non-profit organizations and developing action plans concentrating on little steps to eventually make it to the finish line.

The Niger Delta is one of the world’s largest wetlands. It is the site of most of Nigeria’s biodiversity, and is also the area where the main oil reserves are found. Since Nigeria’s independence in 1974, oil production for export has been the main economic activity, totaling 80 percent of the government’s budgetary revenue. However, the gross level of environmental degradation caused by oil production has been ignored for the past 30 years and has robbed Nigeria, one of the richest countries in terms of natural resources, of both life and livelihood. Oil companies claim that their operations adhere fully to the highest environmental and health standards, but evidence shows that oil production in the Niger Delta is a direct contributor to pipeline leaks, acid rain, and gas flaring. Polluted water has made farming and fishing impossible and has caused a scarcity of clean drinking water, making malnourishment and disease common among the local community. Respiratory problems, coughing up blood, skin rashes, tumors, gastrointestinal problems, and different forms of cancer, were commonly reported ailments in many communities.

Another problem that the Nigerian people face is the illicit use of land by the oil companies. The construction of oil facilities destroys natural habitats of species causing a drastic loss of biodiversity. Oil production has resulted in many hardships for the local community including the loss of property with the Land Use Act enabling he government to transfer the ownership of land for “public interest”, a high inflation, and an increase in prostitution leaving many children fatherless. Women can no longer survive economically by performing their traditional roles so they turn to prostitution, raising health problems and lowering education and power among women.

The oil industry has expanded in Nigeria at the expense of other previously important production sectors, such as agriculture and manufacturing. This has created regional imbalances and an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth between different sectors of society, deepening the potential for conflict in this complex multi-ethnic nation. Ethnic minorities are often excluded from political participation and feel hostile towards those reaping the benefits and robbing them of their culture, identity, and basic human rights. Organized protest and activism by affected communities regularly meet with military repression, sometimes ending in the loss of life. In some cases military forces have been summoned and assisted by oil companies.
The problems that exist in Nigeria fuel off of one another: the corrupt government strips the people of any economic opportunity, which causes ethnic and hierarchal tension, fueling the health and education problems because women are forced to leave school for a life of prostitution. This causes an unorganized and angry society, in turn feeding the ineffectiveness of the government. Although closed cycles are generally impossible to resolve because there is no clear point of departure, I will concentrate my development project on education and its critical role for successful development in Nigeria.
Obtaining sustainable and relevant education is arguably the most important issue that needs to be addressed in Nigeria. Education spans all areas of development, as well as increases minority representation because civil society is able to actively participate in politics and influence government policies. When education goes up, many other developmental impediments lower drastically.

Alongside Amnesty International, a presently active NGO in Nigeria, I would like to develop an organization using the 4-D cycle of discovery, cream, design, and destiny that will enable the people of Nigeria to interact more with the international community, in the hopes of developing a network of global collective intelligence. World Link connects people from Nigeria with individuals in the developed world through letters, e-mail, and Web 2.0 with an aim for personal exchanges to learn and teach each other about the world community. This exchange provides double benefit; not only do the people in Nigeria become more aware of life possibilities and the world dynamics that influence their own lives, the people in the developed world are able to better understand the lives of those living in the developing world and will be more willing to put in the effort and time to talk to the exploitative multinational oil companies to change their policies. World Link’s vision contains short, medium, and long term goals that will ultimately result in the emergence of Nigeria as an affluent African country, characterized by active citizenship, economic prosperity, and social acceptance. These goals include:

Short Term:
· To link Nigerians with individuals in developed countries through letters and email
· To provide a cross-cultural base where Nigerian people of different ethnic groups are able to come together in a peaceful environment
· To begin to educate Nigerians about the importance of active citizenship and public health (i.e. AIDS, prostitution, family size, nutrition)
· To raise awareness in the international community about the exploitative practices of multinational oil companies, and increasing public pressure for them to change their policies
· Press for legislation to require all oil companies to fully disclose their operations and intentions to all stakeholders, as well as to independent observers

Medium Term:
· Having civil society and minority groups in Nigeria represented in politics
· Stop the practices of AGOA (The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act) that directly exploits African countries, and increase support for the HOPE for Africa Act, which will require U.S.-based corporations to operate by U.S. standards, and contains enforcement mechanisms
· To enable Human rights monitors and agents of the press to be granted free passage throughout Nigeria, as well as access to those records needed to document reported killings and other human rights abuses.

Long Term:
· To see a transparent, democratic government containing representation from all ethnic groups
· Acceptance of cultural diversity by the Nigerian people
· To optimize human capital to be able to start their own businesses, create employment, and alleviate national debt and poverty.
· Create a strong network to the international community to begin working together to develop other countries in Africa.
· Expanding World Link to connect the developed world with other developing countries.

World Link approaches the project with an optimistic outlook; however there are a number of critical success factors that need to be addressed before any of our goals can be met. First, the Nigerian government must commit themselves to the integrity of the Niger Delta and a higher living standard for the Nigerian people. The Nigerian government should guarantee that oil operations in the Niger Delta are carried out in a way that does not threaten the lives of local residents, nor does it harm the rights of local communities. They must invest more in human capital in order for the people to develop the economy, create employment, and lower debt. In addition, multinational oil companies must operate with transparency and enable independent monitoring of their activities. The oil companies must open their records to their stakeholders, as well as to local, national and international NGOs, and independent monitors. Records that must be made available include those related to their investments in Nigeria, environmental performance, and agreements with local communities. Quantum acting and planetary citizenship is becoming increasingly important for corporate survival, so acting in a responsible way that will benefit society as a whole and increase the effectiveness of the company. Finally, civil conflict must be resolved in order for society to move forward at a peaceful and steady rate. Ethnic conflicts are likely to improve with a higher level of education and a better understanding of different cultures.

World Link is a project primarily focused on connecting the developed world with the developing world to allow for a better understanding of different cultures. With a partnership with Amnesty International, World Link wants to educate the international community to raise awareness about the problematic issues present in Nigeria today—providing a personal link to the lives of the Nigerian people. Human rights is a strong focus of World Link. Raising the level of education will enable civil society to participate in the political process, ensuring that the Nigerian government is fair, accountable and monitoring the rights of the people and communities. In the future, World Link hopes to spread its contribution throughout the developing world and uniting the global community into one network of collective intelligence.

Becky - What will be your legacy?

We all have a heart, a brain, and more, but not all of us has a dream.

I have a dream. It incorporates diversity, identity, and equality. My dream is cross-cultural competence.

I also have a vision. I can see one table full of people from different cultures with diverse backgrounds. I see them eating in the cafeteria. I see them working in an office. I see them having a board meeting. There are cooperation, competition, and collaboration of talents and intelligence. There may be frown sometimes, but the second they discharge, they all have a huge smile on their face. That’s my dream community.

Moreover, I have always had a strong sense about the “differences” in Eastern and Western cultures. Having had the opportunities to experience both cultures, I clearly feel and emphasize that there’s no good or bad. They are simply different. How can we compare two things that are different? First of all, it’s called contrast rather than compare by simple definitions we all have learned. Second of all, why are we comparing or contrasting two cultures?

In a very broad categorization, there are Eastern and Western cultures. However, within each of them, every region, every country, every town, from the large to the very small, from a population down to an individual, they all present their own culture. I can say that I have my own culture consisting of my values, my beliefs, my language, and simply my own frequency. Indeed, we have been living in a multi-cultural environment since the minute we were born.

How many of us have seen the sight of children holding hands together? It looks like this: an Indian little girl is holding hands with a Canadian little boy whom is holding hands with a Chinese little girl whom is holding hands with an African little boy… It does not matter where they came from, where they are, what’s their gender, or what’s their cultural backgrounds. It’s merely about friendship and happiness. Children are not blocked by the barrier of physical differences seen through their eyes. Perhaps some would say that it is because of their “naivety.” However, I perceive this “naivety” as the true pure human feelings of equality. It is unprotected, unaltered, and untainted. My dream is having a child’s naivety.

Sadly, a lot of us are losing the ability to appreciate and to embrace the differences. Why in the grown-ups’ world, cross-cultural competence will become an issue, a global issue? In fact, having made this comment demonstrates how significant “differences” are when we look at anything. Yet most of the times we did not even think of trying to pick-out or analyze the differences. They just occur in our minds. Why?

What is an easy way to tackle the global issue cross-cultural competence? My answer is making friends. Thinking about my best friends and imagine them having different skin colours or religious beliefs, would our relationships change just because some physical factors changed? My answer is NO. By making friends, by sharing our common grounds and differences, and by communicating, I learned to accept and appreciate the uniqueness of all cultures. It takes only understanding to break the walls of unfamiliarity and differences. Just by having a smile when walking down the street, it bridges different cultures.

I see diversity. I feel diversity. I am a part of diversity. This is the concept I have in mind. A simple thought can be the driver for action. A good place to start any change is from inside the people. Indeed, that’s how the history is created.

I have been a member of China Care, a non-profit organization established to provide cultural education to young adopted Chinese children in Western world. All parents value the importance of understanding ones own origin. I feel honoured to have the opportunity to introduce and to play some of the games that I played in my childhood with these adopted Chinese children. What I get out of the three-hour activity time with these children is pure satisfaction, simple happiness, and genuine laughs and smiles. I am not only helping the children, but also helping myself at maintaining the ties with my culture after living in Canada for over five years. To these children, cultures might be a fusion, but at least they appreciate the best of both worlds. This experience is about sharing, bridging, learning, teaching, appreciating, embracing, and loving.

I am more than willing to continue my position with this organization even after I graduate. The satisfaction is beyond what words can express. I sincerely believe that this type of education is more rewarding, both externally and internally, than perhaps teaching MBA students about theoretical approach to cross-cultural competence. To me, what’s more significant is the self-value that I gain when I am giving. It is not about fame, money, nor other material rewards. I treasure self-development. As cross-cultural competence is a state of achievement for individuals, businesses, societies, and the globe to aim for.

Knowledge does not only come from academic institutions; in fact, we learn more when it is first-hand experience. In many cases such as engaging in team project, travelling, volunteering abroad, making friends are all a start toward understanding cultural diversity. The key to learning is an open mind; the key to acceptance is an open heart; the key to competence is an open soul.

Creative Analogy

I see the rubik as a simplified picture of cross-cultural competence. The cube is like our globe, for the only unreal fact that our globe is not square. Each colour represents a diverse culture. The “game” even reflects the history of culture migration for that the cube starts out as a colour-coordinated cube that illustrates how in the ancient time, there was almost no cultural integration. People of the same culture lived together from birth to death. The globe reflects simplicity at the time. As time goes on, whether due to natural or man-made factors, people started to move to different places with a dream of a better life. As the colour-coordinated pattern is disturbed more and more, we come to a conclusion such that it is almost impossible to “return” to the original state! For in the real world, cultural diversity is a state of no return. The tipping point has already been passed. Now the globe reflects complexity. There are countless combinations concerning the concentration and the geographic position of each culture. In the end we have a colour-mingled rubik, a cross-cultural world that is long-lasting.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Juraj S. - What Will Be your Legacy?

Organizational behavior has stressed the importance of preparation for us future leaders of the 21st Century. However, the course has also emphasized the changes in human behavior from micro to macro and has used complex, conceptual models to explain human nature in its evolutionary form. The focus on change in human nature and the examination of core values are the basis for theories such as Spiral Dynamics and panarchy.
The quality of life in many third-world countries is well below par and because society places such tremendous importance on economic growth, it forgets that economic and technological developments are not measurements of quality of life. The basic indicators
to evaluate the aforementioned correctly are mortality rates, life expectancy and adult literacy. These statistics are concrete and verifiable, but when discussing human rights or the degree of satisfaction of the population, there are no sound methods of measurement. This is the focal point behind new paradigms emerging and replacing old ones in response to global complex problems such as hunger, poverty and violence. Dealing with these challenges requires 21st Century leaders who can deal with the chaos and change through the application of 21st Century concepts or through the development of personal creative roles explained by Prof. Karakas as being a social artist, a spiritual visionary and a cultural innovator. The following project will highlight global issues with respect to the importance of a great leader.

Over a billion people are missing essential needs like water. Furthermore, the richest six per cent of the world’s population consume a third of the world’s energy. To put this into perspective, one American consumes as much as fifty Haitians. It is not farfetched to argue that if third world countries could consume as much as the rest of the world, the planet would be on the brink of survival. It is for this reason one must consume responsibly and do his or her share to make the world more equitable. Equitable trade is an alternative form of commerce benefiting human resources in third-world countries as well as the environment, plunged by over consumption. Better working conditions and greater monetary compensation are some couple of the main benefits of equitable trade. It is a means of “hitting the brakes” on human and environmental exploitation for the countries South of the equator. This type of trade allows families to setup and organize their own community projects in the field of health, education and environmental protection. Equitable trade is a solution to the neoliberalist push for globalization whose primary goal is the increase of profits at the expense of the most basic human rights.

The new emerging paradigms developed in response to shared values of global consciousness such as cooperation, compassion, arts, honesty and universal ethics have taken shape in many micro and macro global awareness projects. Equitable trade is a large scale project in effect that has proven results that look even more promising for the future. This wide scale project is an example of the projection one individual or a group of individuals can accomplish through with the right mentality and dedication.

The theory of Spiral Dynamics is renowned worldwide for its progressive forces of core value systems referred to as “Memes”. Each Meme represents a different theme of existence including cultures and mental attitudes. Don Beck believes that different cultures and societies in the world can achieve completely different levels of Meme, but he asserts that it is preferable to be at the higher 2nd Tier Memes.

The focus of my project is urbanization defined as an increasing concentration of a population in a city, which induces the progressive discretion of the rural character of a region. This local project is based on the idea and success behind Sao Paulo from which many other overpopulated cities today such as Jakarta and Mexico could tremendously benefit from. During its economic boom, Sao Paulo attracted millions of people seeking prosperity. Contrary to their aspirations and ambitions, many residents found themselves living in one of the 12 000 shantytowns located in Sao Paulo. The government tried to expel the families, but they built more houses and even though this population had no service, the city had to eventually accept its provision. Through the resale of land, the population double, and even tripled in a few short years. Transport became an even greater problem with over four million cars circulating in a city of 18 million.

Sao Paulo’s situation is similar and can be recognized in many different major cities across the globe today: bad management and inflation on debt make it impossible to finance any public projects.
To reinstate culture and humanize the city, a little project took place in one of the poorest areas of Brazil. The idea was to gradually reinvent the local community and transform it by bringing together artists and intellectuals who have the ability to do so. Gilberto Dimenstein used the creative spirit of street gangs to inspire an organization called Aprendiz. It consisted of getting the younger people involved in the promotion of their district through spray painting. Today, Aprendiz engages several hundred young people who paint the city walls. The project was so successful, it earned UNESCO’s educational project by excellence.

Having visited the overpopulated city of Jakarta many times, I do believe there is a distinct resemblance to the case of Sao Paulo. However, Jakarta is overpopulated because of the mentality that more children earn more income, but when your average citizen earns four dollars a day, it is impossible to provide five children with education.

My legacy lies in building a community center where the youth of an Indonesian community

could enjoy gym and sports programs, general recreation and after school programs as well as

social events. These education and social facilities could increase the quality of life in the

community and if successful in its conception, could spawn more community centers moving the

project from micro to macro in a city in dire need of guidance. I believe that getting the young

people engaged in their community would be their method of repayment. I do not believe this to

be too much to ask in return and would be rewarding enough for me. In one sentence, my legacy

will be to take a local Indonesian community and have them achieve a higher level Meme.

A Dream

Today, out of the 194 [recognized] countries in the world, only 31 are considered to be “advanced economies” according to the International Monetary Fund. Out of the almost 7 billion people in the world, 60% live in poverty. In the 50 “least developed” countries, more than 50% of the population lives on less than 1$ US a day. And the number of people in misery is growing.

As one part of the world is developing at a faster pace than every before, the “other half of the world” is facing continuous degradation, gnawing poverty and is falling further and further behind. Some say that this is simply the natural selection in action – survival of the fittest, – but what it actually shows is the incessant exploitation of the weaker countries by the developed world, further facilitated by globalization. The desperation of the poor is being translated into lower wages and dependency on the global companies who have little regard for the well-being, and least of all development of the hosting country. It seems like the North is content with letting the rest of the world remain where they are, growing and building up on the misery of millions, using them as disposable resources and throwing them out once their profitability goes down. Globalization is constantly being blamed for the deprivation of the poor, and not without a reason – it made it easier for companies to use the resources available in other countries, including the cheap labour in the Southern Hemisphere. However, it can also provide the solution for the eradication of poverty – much in the way it caused it.

I think that the most difficult thing to see in the world is the unnecessary waste of human life and potential that could instead be used to better the world as we know it. Every person can make a difference, and although I strongly believe that in today’s world anyone can do anything they want, if they want it enough, it is without a doubt extremely difficult to do with limited resources that so many possess. Those who do have the opportunities and the capabilities to realise their dreams often forget about those who do not, but what if they did remember? What if those who can would help those who cannot? What if…?

How beautiful would the world be? How much easier would life in general be for everyone? Perhaps, we could completely eradicate poverty, prevent diseases, cease pollution, solve world conflicts, increase the standard of living for everyone, work less, spend more time with family, laugh, enjoy life… Maybe we could even change the mentality of the humankind –instead of the fragmented and egotistical social groups make a more holistic society that works together for the common good. The truth is, just as the problems seem to be endless right now, the possibilities to end them are truly limitless.

One of the ways to improve the living conditions of the millions that suffer is to stimulate the local economy in order to strengthen the social system – entrepreneurship is a powerful tool that can help a developing nation achieve its potential. The people of a struggling country can take back the power and dignity through labour that not simply provides for the one day’s nourishment, but also helps develop a sustainable and productive community. In order to do that, the people need capital and knowledge – both hard to come by in their situations. In fact, most are so busy trying (and rarely succeeding) to provide for basic needs like shelter and food, that they cannot even fathom exerting any more effort in order to start a business or even invest in the betterment of their surroundings. And so, the main goal of any plan to help those who, at the present time, cannot help themselves, is to provide them with sufficient resources to be able to start up something that would allow them to live better and, in turn, to help others. I believe that getting different groups to work together for the common good can provide unlimited beneficial results that would exponentially grow over time. Somehow, in the wildly chaotic world that we have today, people who have opportunities have forgotten about the rest of the world – or, perhaps, they do not want to remember. The underdeveloped world becomes the dirty street no one wants to drive down, and when they do, they lock the door, roll up the windows and blast the music so the misery outside of the car does not find a way into the carefully organized and meticulously clean interior. Most would rather ignore than do something about the despair of the adults and children who seem to have completely lost control over their own lives, perpetuating the cycle of sorrow and agony. But I have faith in the humankind and the endless possibilities of the human mind. I believe everything can be mended, secured, and patched up. I believe we, together, can eradicate poverty and breed sustainability.

I strongly believe that incorporating the right resources could potentially solve all of the major problems we have today in the world. In the end, all of them are so interconnected – underdevelopment and poverty, hunger and disease, lack of education and standard of living – that solving one problem would provide at least a part of a solution for another.

Muhammad Yunnus and his organization Grameen Bank have been providing microcredits to poor and low-income people since1970’s. A microcredit is a small loan that can be repaid over a very long period of time to make the payment amounts very small and regular – easier to repay. These microcredits are not given simply as welfare – the basis for them is to encourage enterprise or simply improve the standard of living. Since its establishment, Grameen Bank has had an impressive record with almost 99% repayment rate and significant contribution to its founder’s country, Bangladesh. Grameen Bank is not the only one. The Dutch Microcredits for Mothers is an example of a NGO with specific vision: it focuses on providing microcredits to women in Asia, helping them start their own businesses and survive on their own. The Kenya Red Cross Society has been actively participating in training farmers in areas of severe droughts to be more productive in their use of the land in order to not only survive natural disasters, but also to sustain a level of acceptable living.

Even though the Grameen Bank and other NGOs that focus on microcredits are providing a remedy for the present problems, they receive criticism for the way they undertake their actions. Sudhirendar Sharma, a development analyst from Bangladesh, has been critical of the Grameen Bank’s program because it “perpetuates poverty” by luring its borrowers into a debt-trap. The former Prime Minister of Bangladesh also accused Grameen Bank of being corrupt. In truth, although the basic principles of the Grameen Bank model have the potential to be sustainable in the future, they are missing several crucial ideas that could ensure the program’s success.

It is not enough to merely provide funds to those in need – especially when the beneficiaries may lack the knowledge of how to efficiently use the money they are given. An alternative of angel investors – those who invest capital and knowledge in developing enterprises, but at the same time become active partners – is not always the best option because it takes away from personal responsibility of the people. One of the most important aspects of developing an economy has to be giving its people the confidence and the proud ownership of their own lives – instead of confining them to someone else’s knowledge and experience, we must set them free.

First off, the model of Grameen Bank can be a viable one – it is the other conditions around it that would make a difference between success and failure. The microcredits are to be granted on case-by-case basis, without unnecessary paperwork to fill out. After all, some of the people that need the investment cannot necessarily express in a particular form the objective of their “enterprise”. Most critics of the model insist that because the money for the investment is initially granted by charities, the entire program resembles welfare. This is where the first change comes in.

It is crucial to remember that the entire purpose of the advancement of developing countries is for the amelioration of the entire world, and not only local economies. While the first step is to focus on the countries and territories of particular desolation, it is but the first step in the greater mosaic of the world. And so, it is very important, from the very beginning, to involve all possible levels of community, economy, business and government.

A portion of the revenue for a corporation is simply interest incurred on idle money in banks and investment. To multi-million dollar companies, the interest revenue is not of the utmost importance, and is rather a convenience. But to those who borrow microcredits of 30$-300$, it is a virtually infinite amount of money. What if but a portion of that went to people who actually need the money?

The money that would come for the program would be only a portion of the interest incurred by the global corporations such as Exxon Mobil or General Motors for capital holding in any given bank. (It is very ironic that the banks who are often blamed for the corruption of the society’s moral fabric can also be the first ones to start providing solutions.) It is crucial to get the entire world community involved because the purpose is not merely to eradicate poverty, but to make sure it would not happen again to anyone. Cooperation is the key. It is true that the more money someone has, the more unwilling he or she is to part with it – and so it is important to get the governments and banks themselves to stand behind the decision to make the world a better place.

And so, first action would be to set up a revolving fund that would accumulate the small percentage of the interest incurred by the global corporations doing business in so many countries of the world – consider it a kind of “tax” for reaping the benefits of globalization. It must not have any political, economical or religious affiliations because it has to be open for any person in the world without discrimination or pressure.

One the fund is set up, probably the most ambitious step has to be undertaken. The world has to be united.

Do not misunderstand, dear reader, for the unification of the world as we know it is probably light years ahead – there are too many conflicts and unresolved misunderstandings, and after all – no one wants the nations to lose their unique appeal and attraction. However, it is very important for humanitarian organizations and all NGOs to start sharing all of their resources and knowledge. The truth of the matter is, as helpful as they are, the government and non-government organizations are often as fragmented as the countries they are trying to help, though not as aggressive. The information flow is never complete, and as such the efficiency is not at its potential. The second stage in the fight against disparity in the world is to unite the resources used by different organizations in order to be able to better distribute appropriate help. This “unification” or a sort would provide necessary training for the people who want to make a difference because limitless resources would be available at their fingertips. At the moment, it is painfully difficult to find organized resources about the developing countries – most sources are more focused at the economies that are actually succeeding, and there is little information about the plight of those who, at the moment, seem to be unable to make a difference in their own lives. The unity of organizations aimed at creating the world balance would make them more outreaching, more embracing and make the world interconnected with the people who see their purpose as creating a better world for future generations.

Thirdly, it will be up to the people to take social responsibility and share the knowledge of the world. Professionals in all areas – economics, medicine, education, technology – should be encouraged to take some time and share what they know with the developing world. That is not merely volunteer action, but instead a sharing learning opportunity that would prove to be fulfilling to everyone involved. For, as mentioned before, the capital itself is not always enough to stimulate the enterprise properly. The people should also be given an opportunity to learn how to do their business more efficiently. For example, if agriculture experts would take some time to help a village in drought-stricken region of Kenya, it would be possible to transform the lives of the people and give them tools to develop their own economy. If the way they have been doing farming is not sufficient for feeding their families and mere survival, perhaps adjusting what they do will reap better results. All of this is possible through cooperation – which is key in solving today’s problems.

Finally, it is important for the people who receive help to become socially conscious themselves. One must never forget the hardships and always be willing to continue the cycle of renewal. The microcredits, once repaid, should be re-invested in the community. The initial receivers of microcredits should be encouraged to empower other business in their local economy. After all, who else is better to show the better use of microcredits and other resources than those who were the original beneficiaries? And thus, the circle of help would be completed only to start over and over again.

As you see, the contribution of the North is minimal in the standards of our developed society, while it is the almost magical to the developing South. The money is not given to organizations to distribute the supplies they may deem necessary to the people they may or may not know much about, but instead given to the people themselves with the option of learning how to better use it. This program would give the personal power to the people, not to the governments or ruling classes, which is the central idea in developing local economies. Since the receivers of microcredits would be re-investing them in their localized economies, it would promote sustainability while developing areas of the globe that are currently considered to be draining. In the future, education would extend from the necessary training to the full-scope programs. It is true that a program such as this would be difficult to implement at the beginning, but once the system is set up, it would work on its own to better the world situation – much like ignoring the problems at the moment is perpetuating the tragedy.

The most difficult step is the first one, and so it is making the large corporations that are too busy trying to grow bigger and bigger stop for a moment and take a look around the world – look at the shocking poverty and continuous suffering of more than 3 billion people that are being exploited to make more profit. There are CEOs that are becoming more conscious about the world around them, but most of the other ones are too busy. Well, it is time to make them realize. It is time to teach them and everyone else who is content with switching the channel when upsetting news about the Third World come on. After all, “Third World” is such an artificial concept. There is only one, and we live in it.

And so, everything is possible – with the help of dedicated visionaries, the number of which is growing in the world. It is taking a while, for so many people are too busy with their own individual lives to look up and see the big picture. But, as sure as the sun comes up, change is on the horizon. It will come. For now, it is merely a question of how long it will take until we wake up and see the problems for what they really are – simply obstacles beyond which lies a brighter tomorrow, when no one suffers unnecessarily, and no one is left out of the society as an “externality”. The memory of the difficult times will remain, though, and for a good reason – to remind those who succeeded about those who did not, and to show that sometimes it is only a matter of an idea about changing the world that can transform a fragmented civilization into a paradise.


Since the beginning of mankind, humans have formed societies, built cities and developed skills in every possible field to increase our living comfort. We have machines doing our work and computers thinking for us. Yet, we live in a world where children die of hunger while others are pinned to their beds by obesity; where the spread between rich and poor spreads with increasing speed; where ecology is being destroyed by our overconsumption. To all this I say: We can do better. We can find a solution to all these problems which, in fact, we have created by our ever-increasingly demanding lifestyle. We are all the reason for this and since it is our collective energy which has brought us into this mess, this is how we will get out of it: together.
I have traveled extensively throughout my life and I believe that traveling is the greatest possible source of knowledge. Why? Because of cultural diversity. Every culture has its own perspective, its tradition, its priorities and its values. Adding all these elements together represents a culture’s knowledge. By bringing together every culture, we will possess a greater quantity of knowledge, the result of collectivism. I believe that with this tool we will be able to resolve global problems and truly make the world a better place.
We have already come a far way from slavery, to today’s position which we can describe as a step away from tolerance. What I suggest for us now is to take that step and even go beyond tolerance, towards agreement. I am not talking about eliminating cultural differences or losing our cultural identity. Quite the opposite, since I believe it is our differences which, brought together, will make us stronger. I am simply suggesting working together, regardless of cultural differences, on making our world a better place. Through discussion, we can share our respective knowledge and learn from one another. United, I believe we can achieve more.

Table of content
Chapter 1: Global Problems of the 21st Century
- Social: health and poverty
- Environment: depletion of natural resources and global warming
- Psychological: anxiety and depression
- Global terror
Chapter 2: Tribes
- Division into countries, into cultures
- Different values, life style and behaviours
- Our position: a step away from tolerance[1]
Chapter 3: Humanity
- Are we so different?
- We are all humans. Our bodies work the same, we are formed of cells.
- We have the same basic needs: food, water and shelter.
- We share emotions: happiness, sadness, anxiety, fear, etc.
- We share humanistic values[2]: peace, love and respect

Chapter 4: Agreement
- Beyond tolerance, towards acceptance[3]
- Each culture has its own knowledge
- Sharing all knowledge
- Realizing the potential of all working together

Chapter 5: Collective Solutions[4]
- Build culturally diverse groups and share knowledge
- Resolve issues we all care about

In the 21st century, global problems make the headlines on a daily basis. However, we are separated into countries, each individually, trying to make a difference. What makes us so different? Do we not share the same origins, aim for the same goals?
Humane answers those questions and proposes a strategy to solve global problems and make Earth a better place.
Let us be Humane.

· The cover page illustration represents how we are all similar. Emoticons represent emotions and every human being has them. Emoticons are also non culturally-biased because they are yellow; they do not represent a culture in particular, everyone uses them. Regardless of one’s cultural background one will use J to say one is happy, this is universal. Finally, emoticons are used when communicating through the internet. In such situation, one is not influenced by the appearance of the other and therefore cannot be culturally prejudiced about the other, except from what is being said. On the internet, two ethnic children could become friends when in real-life they never would have spoken to one another. This is the goal of Humane; increment a feeling of belonging to the human race stronger than to ones’ culture in order to achieve unbiased intercultural communication.

· The illustration on the last page is simply to remind us the basic teaching we were all given as children: accepting differences in others.

· The title, Humane, refers to what we have in common: our humanity. This calls us to work together towards our goal. Let us be humane and treat each other fairly and with respect. Being humane reminds us we are all equal, that we all belong to the human kind.

· On December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[5] is institutionalized. The document bases itself on the fact that all human beings are equal regardless of culture, class, sex and physical appearance. We all have equal rights. However, this is still just in theory. Even today, people are discriminated upon based on their sex or race. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights still remains a strong statement since it signifies our consciousness of the fact that all should be treated fairly. This is why today’s position can be described as a step away from tolerance. We are conscious of what should be done, and we are now in the process of modifying our behaviours, reviewing our way of thinking to transform our thoughts into actions. Tolerance refers to acknowledging the others’ presence and being undisturbed by it. One does not benefit in any way from the others’ presence, but one is not aggravated by it either.

· Although values are given to us by culture, some values are common to all human beings; they can be called humanistic values. These include love, peace and respect. It is as if they came with our life form. These values form another common trait which unites us as specie, which differentiates us from other living forms. Since we all aspire to make the world a better and safer environment, to be loved and respected, humans cannot be so different after all.

· In order for us to be able to exchange with one another we must go beyond tolerance and achieve acceptance. This second concept consists of integrating the other in ones’ life. One benefits from the others’ presence by exchanging regularly with one another. Accepting the other is realizing the potential knowledge one can get from interaction with the other. This is a mental process which everyone has to undergo on ones’ own. It is only once acceptance has been reached that dialogue and exchange can be initiated.

· Collective solutions are the result of group thinking. The knowledge from different cultures can be combined in large groups composed of one delegate from each country. The group will exchange and discuss all global problems, one at a time. By learning from one another and combining the various forms of knowledge, the members of the group will look at each problem from different perspectives which should enable them to elaborate possible action plans in order to make human lives more fulfilling.

[1] see page 7 for explanation of this topic
[2] see page 7 for explanation of this topic
[3] See page 7 for explanation of this topic
[4] See page 8 for explanation of this topic
[5] http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html

Reality TV - an original way to help global warming

Global warming is among one of the top global problems. The effects of global warming are affecting man and ecosystems around the world. There are more heat waves, droughts, extreme weather conditions such as thunderstorms, tornados and hurricanes. Lives are being taken away and cities are destroyed. It also has an impact on economy since one percent of global GDP is required to be invested for the mitigation of climate change. The rising atmospheric temperatures will be reducing crop yields in the near future. It also facilitates the spread of tropical diseases, such as dengue fever and malaria. Because of glacier retreat organisms that live in the cold water habitat surrounding the glacier would be affected as well. The list of damages climate change goes on and on.

The greenhouse effect is a natural process where gases in the earth’s atmosphere trap the heat from the sun and keep the earth at an inhabitable temperature. These greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. The problem is that over the last 250 years, carbon dioxide has risen by 31%. Data from the World Resources Institute shows that humans have added 2.3 trillion tones of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in the last 200 years. And where does this mass amount of excess gas come from? It comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal, fuel oil and natural gas and biomass burning. The world’s 7 leading countries: United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom plus Russia are responsible for release of 48.7% of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere.

Governments and scientists agree that we need to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degree Celsius. Report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts global temperature rises by the end of the century between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees Celsius, if we do not change the current situation that is going to extends into the future or maybe making it even worst. My mission for my project is to help mitigate global warming and get people involved in it. My vision for my project is to bring a unique approach to help global warming.

Governments have come together and created the Kyoto Protocol to help reduce climate change. The Kyoto Protocol is an amendment to the international treaty on global warming, limiting greenhouse gas emissions to the countries who signed. The objective of the protocol, using the exact words written on the treaty, is “Stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The protocol was opened for signature in March 1998. It was entered into force on February 16, 2005. 169 countries and other governmental entities have ratified the agreement. Countries that have not ratified and deserve to be mentioned are United States and Australia.

Non-governmental organizations such as Greenpeace participate in the act to reduce global warming as well. The organization has projects around the world happening right at this moment. These projects include: Yellow River Source Expedition, revealing the consequences of global warming on one of China’s most important rivers; Project thin ice 2005, documenting climate change in the Arctic; Greenpeace Energy Revolution- European Tour, driving the switch to renewable and energy efficiency, the only sustainable energy system that will enable us to stop climate change; and many more. Guided by principles of non-violence, activists of Greenpeace advocate about global warming throughout different places in the world.

Politicians and actors like Al Gore and Leonardo Dicaprio also take part in saving the environment. Gore’s “The Inconvenient Truth” and Dicaprio’s “The 11th Hour” both aim to educate the public about the situation of climate change.

After learning about this problem in great depth, as I was trying to come up with an idea for my project, a concept came to my mind: make a reality show! There is a reality show about building houses for people. There is a reality show about helping kids lose weights. There could be a reality show about helping saving the environment. The contestants would compete against each other and whoever wins gets hired at one of the most prestigious company. We limit contestants to those who are of business manager/owner profession. Each of the contestants are given 5000$, and they are required to use it to do a fundraiser of a designated type to raise money. However, promoting and organizing their own event would be done in their own ways. While doing the fundraiser, the contestants have to keep in mind that they are required to increase the public’s awareness on global warming and promote environmental friendly ways of living. The money they raise would be donated to the organizations such as Greenpeace that help environmental protection. Donald Trump is renown in the business world. But after his reality show “The Apprentice”, he is renown even among the ordinary folks. The power of media is immense and TV ratings for reality show are very high. Using this method, we can effectively spread the message of environmental protection.

I will first write a proposal and pitch my idea to the major networks. Once one of the networks has accepted it, I will contact the prestigious company and I will pitch my idea for the reality television show to the people in charge and persuade them that offering a job position will allow them to take part in helping reduce global warming. Together with the network, we will then schedule interviews with people who are interested in participating in reality television shows. Among those being interviewed, we will choose 3 of the most dynamic and diverse people. The network will provide the money that the contestant will use for the competition. When the show airs on television, the profit will go to the network. Once the contestants are chosen we will start filming. The contestants will be explained the rules by a host. The show will be 3 episodes long. There will be one event per episode and each event per contestant. There will be a concert, an auction, and also a golf tournament. The entire process will be filmed including how the contestant organizes his event. And a sufficient number of volunteers will be there to help our competitors with all these.

Organizing a concert is a challenging for any organizer; it will be a good chance to evaluate the contestant’s ability to see if he is fit for the job position. Once the contestant is assigned his task, he or she will have one month to organize the concert. He or she will need to convince a popular singer to agree to sing at the concert in order to attract a large audience to buy the tickets. The popular singer will also attract a big group of TV viewers. He or she will also need to book a place for the concert to take place and promote the concert to the public using various methods. One of which could be setting up booths on the street to sell tickets and distribute flyers that promote environmental friendly way of living. Tips to help mitigate global warming include switching to renewable energy, buying energy efficient appliances, replacing the lights with compact fluorescent lamps, avoiding stand-by for electronic appliances and turning off lights, using washers and dryers economically, trying to use bicycle more often and using public transportation and reducing air travel. At the same time, the competitor will spread the message that the money made selling the concert ticket will be sponsoring non-profit organizations that help reduce global warming.

Auction is another event I have chosen for one of the contestants to do. The contestant assigned to this task also has one month to prepare for his event. He will promote the idea of reducing global warming and encourage collectors to donate their collections as a gesture to save the earth. Explaining the grave conditions the earth is in currently will help a great deal. He will then send invitations to celebrities, politicians, and corporate owners. This will undoubtedly increase TV ratings. And they will definitely increase the price for the auctioning items for which they are sold.

Charity golf tournament is the last event I have selected. The contestant will also invite celebrities to participate in the golf tournaments. He or she will book the golf course in advance. Caterers will be hired to prepare lunch. The entrance fee that participants pay will be the money that he raises.

Once the show is done filming, we will air it on television one episode per week. We will announce the winner of the contest in the last episode. We will also create a website based on the TV show which contains information about climate change, suggestions for how to improve the situation and summary of each week’s episode. It will have a forum for the TV audience to interact with each other. It will even allow people to make a donation. And I believe executing this plan would contribute to society by helping reduce global warming and make a difference in this world.

David Kelley: The future of design is human-centered

Everything is becoming more human-centered; including design. The design guru and founder of IDEO David Kelley shares his cool design projects embedded in different parts of our life. Enjoy!

Mini-Project 4: What Will Be Your Legacy?

Mini-Project 4: What Will Be Your Legacy?

Legacy is a word that is sometimes taken to mean something more grandiose than the dictionary meaning which is “something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past”. Many young people go through life wanting to create a long lasting legacy that is up there with the captains of industry, trailblazers of science and courageous freedom fighters. I am in the belief that these people will ultimately fail. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Mahatma Ghandi, Helen Keller, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and so one and so forth were all people who created great paths of legacy but they did not predict that they would ahead of time nor did they plan on it. No, they were simply people who had goals to achieve and the will, creativity and most importantly the passion to carry it through. Without passion, there is is no legacy to create in the first place thus, I believe this question is premature. The question should be, what am I passionate about and what will I do with it in the future?

I believe that the only inevitability in the future is uncertain and that trying to predict my own legacy is as accurate a game as picking next week's lotto numbers but that doesn't mean it is futile to see what it may be, speculation after all is the driving force of the market system. The first step to trying to figure out what one's legacy in the future will be is to answer what is their passion in the present. I am passionate about many things, I am passionate about investing in markets and real estate, Canada, city life, the outdoors and interacting with other people. Among those things, I could create any number of legacies whether they be small or grand. As an investor for instance I may be doing something as small as providing my children with enough money to attend post-secondary educational institutes or I could become an investment guru like Warren Buffet, Carl Icahn. As a passionate Canadian, I could end up teaching Canadian history (a little passion of mine) or be the Prime Minister (unlikely). I may even create a legacy that I am not even conscious of. When I was younger for example, I helped put together a TV show on community cable around the subject of violence and racism among the youth in Toronto (that's my little passion about city life). That TV show could have reached any number of people who will be inspired go on and create their own great legacies and I in turn would have indirectly contributed to that process. But in order to create one grand legacy, I would have to be interested n one grand passion project. And truth be told, I still see myself as a young person who is not overly interested in one issue more that much greater than any other.

When it comes to creating my own legacy, I cannot be sure what is it because I have a wide range of things I am passionate about which change and evolve as I get older. When I was younger for instance, I was very interested in computers, I even worked in the industry for two years before I simply lost interest. These things happen, life happens and people mature and change. What ultimately determines my legacy will be up to the future and I have no desire to try and predict the future. That being said, if it was up to me my legacy will not be big and grandiose. I don't want a a large funeral with 20,000 people in attendance and broadcasted on live TV with my lifetime achievements. Instead, I only wish to be remembered for the person that I am among the people that I am close to. Instead of being remembered for my actions or what I was interested in, I'm perfectly content with being remembered just for being an honest person with a wicked sense of humour. Some might read this and think that I may be apathetic and cynical, but nothing could be further from the truth. I have been proactive in helping out my community, reducing my environmental footprint and securing my financial footprint, buying ethical products and using open source software. What really doesn't dwell on my mind is what my legacy will be. It is said that you cannot change the past or know the future but only focus in the present and that is the philosophy that I subscribe to. What happens after I am gone is ultimately up to other people to decide which to me really just makes it a post-mortem popularity contest. What I care about isn't my legacy at all but what I can do in the present to contribute to society at large.

So far, this article has been pretty vague about what I ultimately want to see society achieve, that is because I am pretty unsure of it myself. I simply don't see myself as someone who is fit to judge all of Canadian society, much the entire world and fix it as I see fit. My parents are both refugees of the Vietnam War, they probably know better than anyone what happens when ignorant but well meaning people attempt to impose their solutions onto the greater society. This is something I am careful to keep in mind of thus, rather than type out instructions for everyone to follow, I have specific actions that I do that I believe help out the society at large.

My general beliefs:

  • I don't believe that recycling is a legitimate replacement for garbage, I believe that minimizing consumption is a replacement for wasting resources. First, because much of our recycling ends up in landfills anyway because it is not cleaned or separated properly or even worse, companies don't care and second, recycling itself causes consumption of energy and resources to do so.

  • I volunteer at various non-profit organizations when I have the time. I grew up in a fairly poor neighbourhoods throughout my life and have seen what happens when kids don't have hope. That's why I often visit my high school and middle school and give talks to kids about their post-secondary education options. Heck, I even helped put on a TV show about it once.

  • I'm a believer in public transit and take it whenever I can.

  • I believe that patents are a tax on ideas. Once an idea is patented, it costs someone else money to use that idea to improve on something else, this is why I am a huge proponent of Open Source Software. Instead of Windows or Macs, I use Linux, instead of MS Office, I use Open Office, I use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer or Safari etc..

Those are some of my strongest beliefs but I understand that they are not feasible for everyone to follow and that doesn't bother me as long as we all have a vested interest in improving society we live in, we'll all benefit from the outcomes, no matter what issue it is.


MoonJin Kim

As globalization seeks to envelope the world in single global culture, concern over the loss of national and personal identity is mounting. Artists who choose to represent their rational identity, whether by choice or by economic necessity, often struggle against the prevailing prejudice that work dealing with identity politics delivers issues and content often to the detriment of form and aesthetics. Objects or words arise from our own learned culture, associations and personal objections. The real power is not contained within the object, but within our perception of it.

e language and forms of the ‘Fine Arts,’ from the ancient to the post^2 modernists, have attempted to express their own particular concerns, ideas, philosophies and culture. Each form of type of art may be distinctly different and yet still contain this common ground. The individuality of artwork may come from the combination of many elements of techniques. It is through artist perceptions and exploration of inner selves that the cultures while viewed through the lenses of an ever-changing surrounding, which is at the root of fine art.

The entire information gather is utilized as we continually exercise our most primary needs. We subconsciously and sometimes consciously, set about to determine how things function and most importantly for us, where and how we fit within our environment. The environmental elements are to be appreciated and incorporated into the work and should not be framed out or simply denied. Life is a collage of senses, mind and ‘soul’; any attempts to try to constrain or limit a way of seeing or feeling through a formal approach will be limited from the outset.

The language, media and approaches used in the production of art, have and must remain open. As the language of culture, art moves not independently but with the times. Through it, artists attempt to synthesize and preserve (movement and memories). It has the potential to take the seemingly insufficient to the level of the profound and beautiful. It can push our tolerance and understanding, as it probes at and within the culture.

Art taps potential to create more from our individual environments than simply functional and utilitarian space. While still addressing a space‘s particular nature and function, there is an opportunity to express and examine what spaces do, shouldn’t or how they affect us. Environments have natures and characters, which are not neutral and do not go unnoticed. However we may attempt to deny it, art is never perceived separate from its surroundings.

Everything from garbage to money, my goal is to amplify our awareness of ourselves in our environments, and our human behaviour. My question of value, appreciation and beauty are often explored through contrast and context. Within each artistic language or style, lies a complex coding of association and references. Languages have and are confirmed by both strengths and limitations. This show is reflective on study of visual reactions to an environment.

Artist statement:

Artwork incorporates elements of both oil-painting and some sculpture aspects. I have explored how forms contribute to the aesthetic impact of my work and how this transforms and relates to painted imagery upon the surfaces. In order to make fluid and non-linear geometric shapes, I needed to physically create a basic frame. The wooden materials were used to make a basic frame, which were then covered with pre-gassed and painted canvas. I considered making frames of desire shape as sculptural aspects.While I build the form; I consider the location of imagery that going to be painted. Therefore, I am considering the initial relationship between figures and form, and how they relate with one another. It is the interest of time, space, and environment and how the individual moves within this, which led me to document people in everyday situations and their surroundings. The process becomes a documentation of the human condition and behaviour in the western post^2 society. In some of the series of the work, I bring human figures out of the ordinary content and contrast them with other elements, others just observations of particular neighbourhoods and time. The contrasts of content are important for this exhibition. Original intentions are to dynamically and intimately engage the viewer within each piece so that it is
viewed from various vantage points, with a constantly changing experience from one angle to another. The viewer could experience and able to understand the artist narrative concerns that shown in visual elements.


A virus is a microscopic organism. Once a virus enters a living cell, it is able to reproduce itself hundreds or even thousands of times. It is able to infect, damage and cause the disease. Normally, when a virus enters your body, your immune system responds to it, fighting off the infection and helping you get better. The AIDS virus however attacks the system, making it incapable of fighting the disease.
AIDS stands for “Acquired immune deficiency Syndrome” here’s what those terms mean:
• Acquired: picked up from someone or something else
• Immune: involving the body’s infection fighting virus
• Deficiency: lack
• Syndrome: A set of conditions that occur together.
When the first few patients developed AIDS in the early 1980’s, doctors didn’t know what the disease was. By analyzing reports of old cases and new infections, researchers began to piece together a picture of the AIDS epidemic. They have found that while no part of the world has been untouched, the epidemic has followed different patterns in different regions and those patterns are changing. The spread of AIDS in Africa, Asia and the Untied States has been different in each region. In 1984, after much research in the United States and throughout the world was studied, two teams of scientists finally recognized the new disease causing virus. The virus was identified as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. The difference between HIV and AIDS is that HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, and AIDS is a disease of the immune system. To stop the spread of AIDS, public health officials had to know who was being infected and how. As one AIDS expert explained it, “You’re never going to have good public policy on misinformation or wrong information. You have to know where the disease is occurring and how to go after it.”

AIDS is found nearly everywhere around the world but I have decided to focus on one certain country for which I feel it is my duty to make a difference. India has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world, according to the UNAIDS. There is an estimated 5.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS, and being an Indian myself, I am motivated to come up with a strategic plan to contribute my time and effort to make a difference and help those people who are suffering from this epidemic.
Having visited India this summer, I have learned a lot about the people, the living conditions as well as the working conditions. A description of the living conditions in Bombay is an average of 10-12 girls staying in one small room, and eating in filthy cafeterias. Most of the young girls abuse drugs or alcohol and smoke. I was surprised to learn that not more than 300 women sex workers would get treatment, and the number of males was about 100 per day. In a country where poverty, illiteracy and poor health are common, the spread of HIV presents an overwhelming challenge.
My objective is to review the trends of the spread of HIV infection in India. The methods I will use is to analyze the areas that are most affected by this epidemic and set up and focus on these main States and union Territories of India, by area and in time. There are various strategies in the effort to create change. I am planning on organizing an appropriate healthcare system for the women and children in Bombay. I would try to run camps, and open up one major clinic in a central area of the epidemic. In the camps, I would offer specialist care and diagnostic facilities to the women. Also, provide social relief and counselling programs to child prostitutes, senior sex workers and their children. The government’s role would play a big part in my project for funding of AIDS research and treatment programs that I hope to offer. Although no one seriously argues against having the government support for these programs, there have been plenty of arguments over how much support is enough. Meanwhile, government programs often seem to get bogged down in controversy or bureaucracy.
There are already hundred’s of organizations that are taking part in preventing this future epidemic. I would try to organize fundraisers, marathons, and make brochures to create awareness in schools, companies, and to the general public. This would help me raise money and have funding to develop the facilities that are needed in Bombay. I have no doubt that an incorporated progress with the help of the government, society, healthcare companies, hospitals, teachers, students and sex workers themselves is the only way towards total positive change. I have included a list of all the major organizations that take part in preventing AIDS at the end of my report.

The latest key trends that are seen in this epidemic are the following:
• According to NACO, the number of adults (15-49) living with HIV/AIDS in India has increased by 35% since 2000, although it has been relatively stable for the past two years, increasing by 2% between 2003 and 2005, UNAIDS estimates that overall HIV/AIDS prevalence among those 15 and older increased by 8% between 2003 and 2005. Both UNAIDS and NACO estimate that the prevalence rate remained stable, at 0.9%, over this same period.
• NACO also collects AIDS case surveillance data from SACS but these data only provide a snapshot of the epidemic, given the delay in progression from HIV infection to an AIDS diagnosis and the large number of people living with HIV who do not know their status. This is the case in every country, including the United States.
• Data on new HIV infections in India are not currently available. One way to approximate this figure is to apply India’s share of the global total of people estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS (15%) to the global total of estimated new HIV infections (4 million), yielding an estimate that approximately 600,000 Indians may have been newly infected with HIV last year. [i] Some alarming trends that have been seen in the Global AIDS Policy coalition projects in the year 2000, is that 38-110 million adults were affected with HIV. The undeveloped and poor nations were hit the hardest. Poor countries were unable to afford to test their blood supplies for HIV. Hospitals and clinics are not always able to use hypodermic needles when they are doing medical procedures; they usually re-use the dirty ones.
One of the latest innovative programs that have come out to treat the people with HIV is a new affordable medication called “antiretrovirals”. Antiretrovirals are used to kill the virus in pregnant women and infants. The Indian government has implemented a campaign that provides these drugs to the people that need it most. The government is also giving 6,500 children pediatric antiretrovirals and says that it has begun to identify all the others who will need treatment.

AIDS has been seen as an immediate death sentence, and a horrific one, to the infected person. There was fear that this epidemic could wipe out mankind. Now, although there is still no cure for AIDS, education and other aggressive actions are preventing the spread of the disease. On an individual basis, the length and quality of life of people living with the AIDS virus is dramatically increasing. So basically, in this report, you have found out that AIDS is a killer virus and that anyone is vulnerable to the disease. There is no 100% percent sure ways to prevent the AIDS virus, so you better be very careful what you do. And finally, you learned that there are no 100% test-proven cures, so once you get it, it’s with you for life. However we all must be optimistic forthe future of everyone. As well as being optimistic one must understand for all those who have AIDS, we are only human.



Thursday, August 9, 2007

International Education Giveaway Program Proposal

1. Table of Content

a. Project Overview
b. NGO Proposal
c. NGO Mission
d. NGO Vision
e. Background Information
f. Project Details
g. Benefits of the program
h. Financial Needs

2.Project Overview

An image is worth more than a thousand words. We have all heard this proverb somewhere, at some point in our life. But what if there was more than an image? What if there was a moment, a circumstance, an instant or a place that we visited that was worth more than a thousand images?

During my exchange at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in Singapore, I had the opportunity to learn and visit South East Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. At the end of the exchange program, I decided to join an organism called “Thai Experience” to volunteer in some of the poorest region of Thailand. At the time, I had only a few weeks left before returning home, and I thought I should spend it doing something different than just travelling as an ordinary tourist.

When I started the volunteer work, I was amazed at how simple things I could do to make children happy. I was teaching English to classes from 8 to 14 years old kids.
I never thought I would really do this kind of work one day, but after I did it I realized how simple it is to help people. By living there, I understood their culture more, I built relationship with professors and students, and I understood the issues they were facing in their education system. One of issues was the access to information. They had a library with outdated books, and a computer room with very slow computer and Internet access.

I did not stay long enough to make any real impacts on their education life, but I believe my mindset has changed towards what I used to see on television about third world countries.

Television commercials show us pictures of children from poor countries. These pictures definitely affect us, and perhaps to the point where we decide to contribute by giving money or by doing some volunteering work like I did. If we cannot give back by giving money or doing volunteer work, the images we see have at least made us aware of the inequalities between rich and poor countries.

But what if these television commercials could do more than that? What if they would bring us there and make us feel the reality. How differently would we react?

3.NGO Proposal

I am proposing the International Education Giveaway Program, which is part of a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) newly named International Education Giveaway. Its primary focus is to bring the gap between workers and students of developed countries and children from third world and developing countries in terms of education needs.

Its objectives are to educate, create links, facilitate exchange, and make onsite contacts between children of developing and third world countries and workers from developed countries. These workers shall come from different professional fields such as accounting, business administration, engineering, law, architecture, etc... and shall not require any teaching experience.

Individually or in group, the workers/students must build a simple creative project to support the education of children from the countries chosen. The projects shall depend on the workers’ professional field and the specific needs in education of the chosen country.

There should be no limit as which countries can participate in the program, but the focus is on enhancing education by using cross-cultural experiences where workers and students from developed countries use their knowledge and creativity to teach useful material or setup education infrastructure in third world countries.

4.NGO Mission Statement

To allow children from third countries to receive free education services from people of developed countries. To force people of developed countries realize and understand the real problems and issues of education in poor countries by immersing them into this world.

5.NGO Vision

Enhance the quality of education for children from third world countries by providing the necessary material and knowledge to help them become the future leaders of the 21st century.

6.Background Information

Today, there is still an estimation of 700 poor people living in the Asia-Pacific region, and they are those that live on a $1 or less a day. Almost two third of the world population lives in Asia, and despite the rapid economic growth, many rural areas are still missing important basic needs such as good education services. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), this speed of growth is widening the gap between rich and poor. The poor have limited education, land, credit, and infrastructures while the rich are getting richer and richer [1].

Our children’s future is in our hands, and it is our responsibility to share our knowledge and experience so that they can develop the world in which they will grow. Further, we should not only favour our biological children or children from our country, but we should look beyond our borders, and share our knowledge with the children of the world. It is our tasks to educate all of them, and to show that the possibilities ahead are infinite.

The age of awareness is over, and the challenges for the 21st century are to help children at the global level.

7.Project Detail

This project can be implemented in two ways, first as a pilot project part of an university level project, which could be coordinated with student associations, and second, as a non-profit corporate program where employees actively participate by sharing their knowledge.

The University Pilot Project

i.The International Education Giveaway Program is not specifically focused on any region of the world, but since Asia contains two third of the world’s poverty, our pilot project could target one of the Asian countries.

ii.During the pilot project, students would travel to a third world country, and teach children in primary or secondary schools. The project would involve students spending from 2 weeks to 1 month abroad, and would involve intense research and preparation prior to departure.

iii.Students would teach children basic subjects such as English, Mathematics, Arts, and would promote cross-cultural awareness and communication exchange.
iv.During their stay, they should write a report on their experience, and on the current issues they experience. They should come up with solutions or views on how future problems can be solved.

The Non-Profit Corporate Program

i.The International Education Giveaway Program would allow employees from organizations to travel to developing or third world countries.

ii.The employees of the company would be appointed a school where they will decide which project they will create with the children.

iii.Prior to departure, employees should research on the current education system. Employees should understand the current issues and problems related to education, and they should come up with an interesting project to teach the children.

iv.They should create links with children, and develop a creative project where they can address basic needs of students.

v.Depending on the company’s involvement, the projects could use technological advancement such as the Internet to offer continuing service during and after the program to children. It could be a form of open source school, or open teaching environment where children can continue their learning experience.

8.Benefits of the program

a.Benefits to the hosting country.

i.Promote cultural exchanges between developed and third world countries
The communication exchange between students/workers and children should open up barriers and promote cultural exchange. Children would be aware of different cultures, and experience new ways of learning.

ii.Promote awareness of possibilities, future opportunities, and future challenge
Children would get a good insight into the current global issues and problems that developed countries are trying to solve towards their country. Children would get an idea on current global solutions that leaders of developed countries are trying to address within their country. They should therefore suggest future improvements, and ideas on how people can help their country.

iii.Receive basic education needs from people from developed countries.
Children would benefit from the quality and quantity of information that workers/student can provide.

b.Benefits to the student/employees

i.Allow employees to get new ideas for their work
By living in a different environment, new ideas and new mindset can be developed. This can also enhance employees/student creativity and work experience.

ii.Allow students to gain international experience
Students would not only learn by the books, but with real life experience.

iii.Allow employees understand the basic needs of poor countries.
By living in a third world country, they would experience and understand the needs of people living there.

9.Financial Needs

a.We understand that building this NGO would require massive financial aid. For the University Pilot Project, the financing should come entirely from the students, and the schools participating in the project. Although the costs of transportation can be quite high, the costs of living in a third world country are significantly low. Therefore, any university student from a develop country can afford to live easily in a third world country. For the non-profit organization program, the costs shall be entirely on the corporate hands, as it is also very beneficial to the company.

b.Other financial needs to run the NGO can come from charitable events or donation from individuals or organization interested.

A Step Towards the Eradication of Religious Intolerance

Today, one of the most troubling global concerns that continues to affect millions of people around the world is that of religious intolerance. Throughout history, religious intolerance has resulted in wars, genocides, and violent uprisings that have resulted in the loss of millions of innocent lives. In the 16th and 17th century, religious intolerance could be seen across Europe with both the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter Reformation. In the early 20th century, the devastating impact of religious intolerance was further exemplified by Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust in World War II. More recently, we have seen a greater emergence of religious intolerance intertwined with political conflict, as in the case of Northern Ireland and its Catholic and Protestant communities, as well as in the Middle East between Israel and its Muslim neighbours (in particular, Palestine). Throughout time, the world has seen first-hand the disastrous effects that religious intolerance can have upon a nation and its people. We have witnessed millions of innocent lives suffer at the hands of ignorance, and it is my belief that we must end this type of intolerance in order to create a more positive environment for global change.

For my contribution to the world, I would like to create a more tolerant atmosphere in which all faiths, peoples, and ideas, whether Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, or Christian; monotheistic or polytheistic; can all be respected for their individual beliefs, as well as interact and coexist with one another without conflict. In order to achieve this goal, my intention is to create an environment that fosters increased dialogue and interaction amongst peoples of various faiths and belief systems. My project involves bringing local religious leaders and communities together so as to educate and provide greater exposure to the religious views of others. I truly believe that by promoting positive dialogue within the community about the need for religious tolerance, one can not only help to create a more positive environment that encompasses greater mutual respect, but one can also inspire others to create change in their communities and help move the world towards a much brighter and more tolerant future.

At its core, religious intolerance can be defined as “the refusal to accept or tolerate different religious views or beliefs and also the people who follow these different religious faiths.”[1] For centuries, religious intolerance has plagued many nations around the world at varying levels and points in time. During the 16th and 17th century, at the height of the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter Reformation, religious warfare divided Europe with the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598) and the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) that resulted in the loss of millions of innocent lives across the continent. In the earlier half of the twentieth century, religious intolerance also lead Adolf Hitler to coordinate the mass murder of several million innocent Jewish citizens during the Holocaust of the Second World War. Even today, many examples of religious intolerance can continue to be seen and heard in many parts of the world. After the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, the anger and frustration that stemmed from the attacks lead to severe backlash against Muslim communities around the world, and the creation of hurtful stereotypes that labeled Islam as a violent faith, and its religious followers as “terrorists.” In Los Angeles alone during the period of September to December 2001, the LA County Commission on Human Relations recorded a 700% increase in reported anti-Middle Eastern hate crimes as a direct result of the 9/11 attacks.[2]

Religious intolerance can not only be seen through violent acts and warfare, but also through the words of public figures and representatives. In September of 2006, the Pope himself was emerged in scandal after stating: “show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”[3] A few months earlier, the President of Iran was also caught in severe religious scandal when he referred to the Jewish Holocaust as a “myth.” [4] Although these comments do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of many Catholic followers or Iranian citizens, it is these kinds of irresponsible and ignorant remarks by public figures that lead to the creation of intolerant atmospheres filled with much anger, hate, and frustration between religious groups. For this reason, it is important that we educate one another about different ideas and beliefs so as to create a more tolerant global atmosphere in which comments like these need not exist.
Through the use of various short, medium, and long-term strategies and goals, I plan to use dialogue, education, and community involvement and interaction in order to improve cross-cultural understanding and appreciation. I first plan to implement these strategies within the McGill and Montreal community, with the intent to later have these strategies implemented on a global scale so as to help other nations develop tolerance both within, as well as outside of their existing borders. In order for these strategies to work successfully and have a lasting impact, I have identified several critical success factors that must be taken into consideration. The most important of these success factors is the need for participation. In order to promote mutual religious and cross-cultural respect, people from all faiths and belief systems must be willing to participate in the process. They must be willing to exchange dialogue and share knowledge, and must also be open to learning and understanding new ideas in order to gain appreciation and tolerance for the views of others. Another critical success factor is that of finding a forum in which such dialogue can take place. In order for the project to be successful, a forum is needed in which religious leaders and community members can actively and peacefully communicate and share their knowledge with one another, as well as discuss issues of religious intolerance. In order to ensure that the project has a profound effect, these two significant success factors will need to be addressed.

In the short and medium term, my principal intent is to work within the Montreal community. To start, I plan on creating my own student run organization on McGill campus that seeks to bring people from all faiths and belief systems together in order to promote religious tolerance in the community. Through this organization, it is my hope that we can spark student interest on tolerance issues through the use of guest speakers, community activities (such as dinners, games etc.), and active participation with other student groups both within, and outside of McGill. With increased student interest at McGill on tolerance issues, it is my hope to then work with student groups in other universities throughout Montreal, such as Concordia and the University of Montreal, in order to expand these projects in scope and introduce them into the diverse Montreal community. In addition to expanding these projects locally, I would also like to use my contacts at each of the universities, as well as get in contact with such local organizations as the Dialog Foundation, in order to present the idea of holding a joint international conference on religious tolerance. This conference would differ from past conferences as it would be sponsored by all four major universities in Montreal, and would involve the participation of community leaders from both local organizations, such as the Dialog Foundation, as well as international organizations, such as the United Nations, in addition to world-renowned scholars and religious leaders. Although this will not completely eradicate religious intolerance from the world, it is my belief that such a conference, held annually, will help to raise awareness on this important global issue and will help move the world towards peaceful change. Mahatma Gandhi once said that “it is the duty of every cultured man or woman to read sympathetically the scriptures of the world. If we are to respect others' religions as we would have them respect our own, a friendly study of the world's religions is a sacred duty.”[5] It is based on these principles that I plan to help contribute to the development of a more tolerant global environment.

Brainstorming/Conference Outline - In order to make the joint conference more concrete, I have provided a sample outline of the themes that could be discussed at the first conference. My hope is that the conference will become an annual event that will continue to promote religious tolerance on a global scale. Possible conference themes include:

1) Religion, Politics, and Law – Goal: To discuss the need to protect religious freedoms through proper legislation; to find ways to avoid religion and politics resulting in warfare (with emphasis on the case of Israel and Palestine).

2) Religion, Media, and Globalization – Goal: To discuss the role that global media plays in promoting religious stereotypes, as well as its importance as an instrument for eliminating these stereotypes and promoting religious tolerance.

3) Universal Themes in Religion – Goal: To discuss the similarities that exist across religions in terms of core values and spirituality; focusing on emphasizing these similarities in order to unite religious groups/promote religious tolerance rather than focusing on the differences that separate them.

[1] http://worldnet.scout.org/scoutpax/en/8/8_religiousintolerance_en
[3] http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/europe/09/15/pope.islam/index.html
[4] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4527142.stm
[5] http://www.wisdomquotes.com/cat_tolerance.html