Leadership at Upward Bound

Philip Lu

The director, Ms. Hill Marsh’s words echoed time and again for me. “I believe in divine intervention,” she would say. According to her, we had a calling – to develop these young men and women to become college graduates and to live as productive citizens.

This summer, I worked for Upward Bound at Le Moyne College, a small Jesuit school located in Syracuse, NY. The program gives low-income high school students (potential first generation college students) better opportunities to attend college. The program strikes a personal chord for me. Thirty years ago, my mother and her siblings were enrolled in the same program; they all graduated from college. They had immigrated to the US from Taiwan only a few years prior, and their parents had not even graduated from high school. Because my grandparents did not speak English, the program gave their children an academic foundation they might not have otherwise had.

I had many responsibilities. Not only was I tasked as a teaching assistant, but I also resided with the students in the Le Moyne dormitories and served as a resident adviser (RA) and personal adviser. I worked alongside six other college students, who were also responsible for the students’ academic and personal growth. We collaborated on the students’ curriculum and harnessed our skills to make the summer a fulfilling experience.

Continue reading “Leadership at Upward Bound”

Do You Hear The People Sing?

Erica Hope

Protestors Arriving In Paris Square

For the past week, Israel has been covered in posters hypothetically asking, “Where were you on September 9th?” encouraging people to attend the “Million Man March”.  I will be able to proudly respond that I was one of 50,000 demanding social and economic justice in Jerusalem in solidarity with around 450,000 people protesting across the nation. To put this in perspective, this is roughly 8% of the population, or equal to 17 million Americans protesting at once.

Instead of recapping the origins and the goals of the social justice protests, sometimes dubbed j14th in honor of their July 14th beginning, you can read my first post on the topic. It also links to more substantial articles.
Many who support and analyze the movement viewed yesterday as crucial: Due to the escalation in the south the much-anticipated Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN this month, and heightened tension with Turkey, security concerns are once again first page news. Many predicted that the movement would quickly prove unsustainable under these conditions.

Continue reading “Do You Hear The People Sing?”

Moment Magazine Seeks Student Contributors

Moment Magazine Seeks Student Contributors for Blog of Jewish Ideas

Moment Magazine, co-founded by Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, is recruiting bright, inquisitive, and diverse university students to contribute to our blog InTheMoment for the fall. Moment is North America’s largest independent Jewish magazine, and our blog gets upwards of 10,000 hits a month. As a student blogger, you will write one post a week on topics of Jewish politics, religion and culture. This is an incredible opportunity for young writers to publish, develop their skills and benefit from the expertise of our team of experienced editors. At the end of the fall, the three bloggers who have generated the most web hits will receive a cash prize. Continue reading “Moment Magazine Seeks Student Contributors”

Leadership Opportunity: Global Health and International Development work in Latin America

If you are interested in traveling to Latin America to gain hands-on experience in global health, international development work and the fight against global poverty, consider this opportunity from non-profit organization MEDLIFE. Please find below, the announcement posted by MEDLIFE.

MEDLIFE (www.medlifeweb.org) is a non-profit organization that works to improve access to Medicine, Education, and Development in impoverished regions of Latin America. We are currently looking for student leaders interested in starting a MEDLIFE chapter at Brandeis University and helping to send a Mobile Clinic to Latin America. Continue reading “Leadership Opportunity: Global Health and International Development work in Latin America”

Another Side to the War in Libya

By Tess Raser

Every year millions of people come to Italy to see the Vatican, Renaissance art, and UNESCO sites, and to eat fine cuisine. I studied abroad, in the southern Italian island of Sicily (the largest in the Mediterranean). People come here for the beautiful beaches, Mt. Etna—Europe’s largest, most active volcano – and again, of course, the food. These people are tourists.

However, there is also another new group coming to Italy these days, especially to Sicily. Most of the people in this group are not Catholic or even Christian and have little interest in making a pilgrimage to the Vatican. Many of them did not study Botticelli and Michelangelo in school and are not flocking to the Uffizi in Florence. These people are immigrants and refugees. Before I came to Sicily, I had an interest in immigration in Italy because I took a course on modern Italian culture at Brandeis before going abroad. Immigration is a new phenomenon in Italy as Italians, specifically Sicilians, emigrated to other countries. The Italian government does not know how to deal with immigration and because of this does not have as many restrictions against immigration as other European Union countries do (e.g. France and Switzerland).

With all of this information in mind, and curious to learn more, I decided to volunteer at a center for immigrants and refugees in Catania, during my free time. At the center I taught Italian to the newest arrivals. At first, in February, most of my students were from western Africa, countries like Mali and Senegal.  But then the war started in Libya.  Due to my close proximity to an American military base I would often hear and see helicopters headed toward Libya that was relatively nearby. The second experience I had of the war was one rainy day when I had two new students. The two new students were 17 year old girls of Eritrean descent. They spoke a bit of English and were relieved to have finally found someone else at Centro Astalli that could speak a common language. They also felt comfortable around me because of my age and my familiar East African appearance. Continue reading “Another Side to the War in Libya”

Spain after the economic crisis

by Craig Elman, writing from Madrid

Spain has been experiencing very rough after-shocks since the economic crisis, even worse than that which occurred in the United States.  The unemployment rate has spiked up to 20%, double its natural rate of unemployment (which happens to be equivalent to the U.S.’s current unemployed rate under the crisis).  I live in Madrid, and everywhere I go I see the effects of the crisis: people begging on the street, and even approaching people and pleading for a helping hand.  It’s a terrible site to see. 

The government has also decided to increase the age to receive pensions (from 65 to 67.5 I believe) in order to increase working hours and reduce the public debt.  Although balancing the budget is one of the most essential macroeconomic policies that a government should tackle during a recession, there are several potential adverse effects that could follow.  Social unrest and protests in Madrid have been occurring because the government is essentially cutting benefits for the next generation of elderly people. 

Spain has also become extremely energy conscious and green as a result of the crisis (which happens to be the one positive effect coming out of the crisis).  Spanish households have recently transitioned to more energy-efficient lighting, for example, and the government is trying to reduce motor vehicle emissions by cutting the costs of public transportation and making it more accommodating to the public.  Germany has offered a helping hand during Spain’s crisis, and German chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed to help Spain’s economic advisors to the government.  She has also offered to employ Spanish engineer students in Germany who will be looking for work soon. 

While this helps to alleviate the problem of unemployment in Spain in the short run, this is, in my opinion, a poor choice for Spain in the long run.  Economic growth requires technological innovation, and without a new generation of engineers, Spain’s economy would suffer dire consequences. 

There have also been debates about whether or not Spain should forego the Euro and return to the peso, since the crisis has hit other European countries on the Euro as well.  However, abolishing the Euro would create fewer incentives for foreign investment within Spain (I’m not too clear on the Economics behind this, but I have been told that this is a possible adverse outcome).

An Inner Perspective

By Khalil Azouz

On the morning of the 14th, people started pouring into Bourguiba avenue in Tunis. Most of them were in front of the Ministry of Interior, the authority that presides over the country’s police. Here’s one of the key moments during the protest, a video that still gives me chills:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEY8CK_K9VU

They are saying “Dégage” in unison. Dégage is a French word for “get lost.” They even used this word in Egypt even though they are not French speakers. A few hours after this, it was announced that the president stepped down.

Unfortunately, in the days leading up to this event and during the week following it, a sense of insecurity was prevalent throughout the country. Indeed, The Family ordered the release of thousands of prisoners who were instructed to loot and terrorize. Add to that the 3,000 strong presidential police force, some of whom were caught with sniper rifles. Presumably, they were hoping to cause chaos and possibly return to “save” the country. We never stopped to be reminded the extent of these people’s inhumanity. The army played a huge role in reinsuring security. People also formed neighborhood protection committees against these looters. A lot of the arrests were actually made by normal people who handed the thugs over to the army or what is left of the police. After about a week of insecurity, during which very few deaths were reported – most of the casualties occurred during the weeks leading to the 14th (over 200 deaths, 72 in prison riots) – things started to feel more normal. Continue reading “An Inner Perspective”

Egypt and Global Freedom

By: Siddharth Joshi

[Edit: After a struggle much longer than Tunisia’s, the Egyptian people were finally rewarded as Hosni Mubarak stepped down, leaving the Army in charge until democratic elections can take place. The place to be on the 11th of February was definitely Tahrir Square, so fittingly named. Tahrir translates to ‘Liberation’ and I think this so beautifully captures the essence of what transpired on that day. The future is still uncertain, and by no means is the Egyptian revolution successfully complete, but it has taken a step that was unimaginable a year ago. Even though Tahrir Square is in Cairo, this feeling of liberation has spread far beyond the borders of Tunisia and Egypt. I had previously mentioned Jordan and Yemen, but the biggest protests of the day were seen in Tehran and Bahrain. Apparently, the internet has been shut down in Algeria, but we have learned from Egypt that it is no simple task to stop this call for freedom and liberty.]

Whether we are concerned with suffering born of poverty, with denial of freedom, with armed conflict, or with a reckless attitude to the natural environment everywhere, we should not view these events in isolation. Eventually their repercussions are felt by all of us. We, therefore, need effective international action to address these global issues from the perspective of the oneness of humanity, and from a profound understanding of the deeply interconnected nature of today’s world.

– His Holiness the Dalai Lama

It has been well known for some time now that world we live in is shrinking, I am sure that each and every one of us has experienced the effect of the unstoppable force of globalization. The IGS major, unique to Brandeis, is an acknowledgment of this force; we describe it as “an interdisciplinary program that provides students with an opportunity to understand the complex processes of globalization that have so profoundly affected politics, economics, culture, society, the environment, and many other facets of our lives.”

It is no longer important but simply necessary to take into account the changes that our world has undergone, and understand that we face the future together. It is important that our generation grows up as global citizens and deals with the many issues that will need to be contended with. We can act, in our own capacities, but at the same time we must take advantage of the opportunity of being at a place of learning as prestigious and full of potential knowledge as Brandeis is. It is important to fully understand this process before we leave for the real world to find our way and to the best of our ability, improve the world we enter.

This blog is an attempt to help comprehend globalization through reflection, conversation and insight from people who are closer to situations around the world, providing us with, hopefully, an array of perspectives with which to better understand events that will shape our future. Continue reading “Egypt and Global Freedom”

Keystroke Revolution Updates

by Mark Grinberg

Some updates on Egypt + Tunisia:

  1. Ha’aretz reports: One of the many kidnapped by the Mubarak regime was Google employee Wael Ghonim. He has been released and now claims responsibility for the original Facebook page that ignited all of the protests.
  2. Newsweek reports: The Open Technology Initiative is working to “dictator-proof” the internet by providing radio stations and other groups in the Arab world with technology to prevent total communication collapse in the event of a nationwide internet shutoff. Amongst the strategies: Mesh networking a-la-One Laptop Per Child – a type of networking that allows many computers to wireless daisy chain to each other, thereby restoring communication within the country. If one machine on the network has an internet connection, it is possible to share that connection via the mesh network. (though speeds would probably get incredibly slow) Other US-based groups plan to send satellite link hardware to get the internet via satellite.

Moral of the story? Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. don’t topple regimes – people do. And when the people are made stronger through improved communication, their ability to cause change is also strengthened. “Keystroke Revolution” does not mean a revolution from a computer, but with a computer.