Coming Full Circle


I wanted to take my final blog post to bring together everything that I’ve talked about in my last four posts. I thought about talking about another topic, but it didn’t make sense. I guess I thought just like with any good paper, discussion, or debate the best way to end is with reflection. This is exactly what I decided to do. So if you’ve read all of them beginning to end or maybe just now begun, (not totally sure how accessible this blog is) that maybe you can at least take away these main points that I’ve compiled into this final post.

One of the main issues that I have presented in my last few posts is the importance of development projects being used as a tool to defuse violent conflict. Conflict disproportionately affect  women and youth who constitute 80% of the civilian deaths in conflict. (Toole) This means working on programs that empower youth and women is in desperate need.  Youth and women play an important role at finding a solution to the problems their countries face. Young people have unique experiences in armed conflict and specific needs when recovering and contributing to peace-building. They play an important role because they are able to mentor other children and provide friendship and companionship for one another in times of need. Youth take on leadership roles. This is so crucial to remember because not only can they play an important role in contributing to the solution, they can also become part of the problem when neglected.

The way that I believe this can be done is through three crucial areas, while I don’t believe these are the only areas they are the only ones I had time to delve into. These three areas are, youth empowerment which I used the example of sports, education, and work. I choose to take about these three things in my previous post because they tie neatly together and without one I believe they all fall apart.

These things are crucial because it gives children the opportunity to use their voice, like in a few previous articles that I talked about. One being the instance of two university graduates who were tired of the state of their country and demanded there be a change. (Choksi) They came back with an education to make a difference for not only themselves, but their fellow brothers and sisters. This is the empowerment education provided for them. If this didn’t inspire you then maybe when just this past spring for the first time ever a joint netball team of Palestinians and Israelis women came together to compete in a tournament in Eilat with 2,000 other players from across the world for the first time ever. (Sinai) When people are given a reason to work together in a peaceful manner its amazing to see what they can accomplish. Keeping with the importance of empowerment and work, the UN has even pushed for youth volunteerism. This means engaging youth as more than just participants and/or beneficiaries of volunteerism programmes. They will be active youth citizens, empowered for peace and sustainable development through a programme that is specifically targeted to their needs and strengths. (OSGEY 2013) If given the opportunity most young people will choose to work and make a difference in their community if they are valued and empowered, so to see that its taken us so long to realize this is sad. Maybe now though we will take the steps needed to make a difference.  Lets educate these kids! Without an outlet to turn to with either education or work, youth in war-torn areas turn to violence and gangs as an outlet to their problems. We can combat violence just by giving them a productive outlet and from what we’ve seen with what I’ve talked about above, when given a voice youth will take it and try to do something productive with it.

I want to stress though that we, as Westerners need to know is that we can’t come at this from what we’re use to. It won’t solve anyones problem and could probably cause more. We don’t want to look at education and employment as a one size fits all model. Every culture and person is difference. Education doesn’t always mean the traditional book smarts and college that we’re use to. Epstein and Yuthas made some eye opening points in their research. We don’t have to always open up schools that teach children books smarts, sometimes we need to teach life skills that’ll improve their quality of life now. (Epstein and Yuthas) Not down the road when they maybe graduate high school and get into college. Teach them skills that’ll allow them to go into a apprenticeships or technical schools when they’re old enough. We can’t look at things as a one size fits all model.  We have to combine what Ivan Illich said in his famous speech “To Hell with Good Intentions and what Ernesto Sirolli. talked about in his Ted Talk. We have to forget our good intentions, we have to stop trying to fix everything in the way that we are use to fixing it. We have to take a step back and listen. We have to empower a group by hearing out what ideas they want to explore and implement in THEIR community. We have to forget everything we thought we once new. This is hard, but when we do this I believe we truly begin to learn.

So if you’re joining me for the first time or you’ve been following along I hope you can read these and take something positive away, I hope I was able to expand your knowledge on some topics and maybe if I’m lucky inspire. I know that when I take a moment to reflect upon all that I’ve learned from writing and researching  these post I realize I’ve learned a lot. When I think about all that I can now take away from this I am empowered. I am empowered and inspired to continue my education and hopefully one day make a difference or maybe even just write some pretty awesome speeches like Ivan Illich or Ernesto Sirolli. We all have to start somewhere and this is where I’ve dug my roots.

– Caitlin Marie




Work Cited:

Toole, Daniel. “Peace-Building Strategies: Transition from Relief to Development: Why Children and Early Intervention Matter.” (2006): n. pag. UNICEF, Oct. 2006. Web.

Choksi, Mansi. “Yellow Pigs Make a Political Point about Youth Unemployment in Uganda.” Yellow Pigs Highlight Youth Unemployment In Uganda. Al Jazeera, 8 Apr. 2015. Web.

Sinai, Allon. “Israelis, Palestinians Team up for Netball Tournament.” The Jerusalem Post, 17 Mar. 2016. Web.

Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. “Empowering Youth through Volunteerism – Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.” UN News Center. UN, 3 Sept. 2013. Web.

Epstein, Marc, and Kristi Yuthas. “Redefining Education in the Developing World (SSIR).” Redefining Education in the Developing World. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 9 Feb. 2012. Web.

Ivan Illich. “To Hell with Good Intentions by Ivan Illich.” To Hell with Good Intentions by Ivan Illich. Conference on InterAmerican Student Projects, 20 Apr. 1968. Web. 18 July 2016.

Sirolli, Ernesto. “Want to Help Someone? Shut up and Listen!” Ernesto Sirolli:. Ted Talk, Fall 2012. Web. 18 July 2016.

Stop Tying to Save the World and Simply Listen


This topic is either at the forefront of development or at the back.  I’ve always wondered why the positives and the negatives are never integrated together, tied together to show the highlights and the downsides because how can we ever learn and develop projects that’ll work if we never stop to actually look at the work that has been done and what we are going to do. It why I wanted to take a minute to step back from the amazing things that development projects can do to highlight a side that we often times overlook in our eagerness to change the world.


One of the first articles that I read was Ivan Illich’s speech, To Hell with Good Intentions. (Illich 1968) I think it’s a staple for most of us to read this as ID majors at some point in our schooling and it opened my eyes to a lot. In his speech he talks about the hypocrisy that we often times see with mission trips, services trips, and mission vacations. We ignore the immense amount of privilege that one has in order to take such a trip. To be able to ‘help” others in foreign countries is a privilege and one I believe doesn’t always need to be shared. We have this attitude that because of our privilege that we most in return help other, that we most impose our Western way of life on them because it’s worked so well for us. People go into these countries just as Illich describes with “good intentions”, but good intentions are deadly when not educated properly about the task at hand. We don’t look at how when we go into Africa and build homes for those in need that our generosity is hurting those in the homebuilding business, while you are helping in that moment you often times never stop to think about the long term effects of your actions. Whether you’ll put the family who once did that job for a living out of business with your “generosity”.  I don’t say this to be a pessimist, I say it to hopefully educate whoever is reading this on the importance of their actions and the long term effects they could have on a community. That even the best intentions can backfire on us.


I found it hard to find a report that would address what I originally wanted to talk about. Instead I stumbled upon something I don’t think I normally would have looked into and that is aid. In a report published by Global Issues it delves into a few topics that I am going to talk about. The first being is aid actually hurting development? Despite grand promises aid has not achieved much. It 2006 it was estimated that the West had spent around 2.3 trillion on foreign aid, yet still had not managed to provide cheap medicine to children in order to prevent malaria or provide 4-dollar bed nets for families. While this is almost a decade ago we still see this happening today, its one reason why I choose to use this report. We also see that aid is often times used as a way to establish priority in influencing domestic policy in the recipient countries. One of the root causes of poverty lies with powerful nations. They are the ones who formulated the aid polices that we see today. They allow for countries to remain dependent on their aid without ever helping and teaching them how to become independent on their own. (Shah 2014) An article in the Asia-Pacific Economics Blog, not only stressed the issue with the dependence that occurs when one nation becomes reliant on foreign aid, but also how its not all about the money, but in fact the structural and attitudinal reforms that are required for aid to properly work. (APEB 2014)


So not that we’ve gotten the problem with good intentions and a few issues facing foreign aid, lets dive right into the issues with development projects themselves. One huge issue in Africa has always been finding a way to provide fresh, clean drinking water for those in need. An NGO, PlayPump International came up with an idea so that every time a kid spun one of their devices water would fill an elevated tank a few yards away. This would provide the fresh, clean water that anyone in the village could access. They had it all planned out, it would cost $7,000 to install and help up to 2,500 people. Donations came flooding in and raised $16.4 million dollars for the project. Sadly, less then two years after the initial grant money came in already more then 1,500 of the pumps stopped functioning and needed repairs. When they went to inspect why this was happening they discovered that the pumps they had invested so much time and money into simply sat rusting and instead of children turning the pump like originally planed that found women stooping down in pairs turning the pump or adults paying children to turn the pump for them. (Hobbes 2014) This isn’t a surprising outcome. This happens more times then people will often admit, its embarrassing to say that a new promising development idea that showed so much promise came crashing down.


So how can this all be prevented? Well having tried to find a Ted talk that I had discovered a few years back which inspired me and opened my eyes to the failures in development and how it can actually cause violent conflict in areas, I instead stumbled upon a video by Ernesto Sirolli. He is a noted authority in the field of sustainable economic development and is the Founder of the Sirolli Institute, an international non-profit organization that teaches community leaders how to establish and maintain Enterprise Facilitation projects in their community. What he had to say was enlightening to me so I thought I would end with it. He talked about a few different things. First how aid has done nothing for these African countries, but instead done more damage then good in most cases. How we as Western people are often times two things imperialist or colonialist missionaries, and there are only two ways we deal with people: We either patronize them, or we are paternalistic. Finally, which I think is the most important take away is that he fell into a pattern of working with “good intentions”. What really struck me was how he got out of this mind set and started making a profound impact and this was by simply shutting up and listening. The first principle of aid should always be respect. We have to respect if a community actually wants the aid or not. My mom always had a saying growing up “You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped” and this is exactly the case. In the instance with the pumps, no one asked if these villages actually wanted the pump, they instead thought they were being saviors and helping without ever considering what the people in these villages actually wanted. Sirolli also stressed the importance of sitting down with the community on their time, not our own. There are some wonderfully brilliant people in these villages that could make a difference if we only stop and listening instead of talking the whole time. If these projects are really for them then we need to make it about them and not ourselves.

I believe by just listening to what other have to say, stopping and listening to what people are actually wanting is often times forgotten when we forge ahead with our “good intentions”. So I encourage those who want to pursue a career in this field that we stop and listen. Not just when it comes to development, but in our everyday lives. We may just be amazed what we are able to accomplish.


Work Cited:

Ivan Illich. “To Hell with Good Intentions by Ivan Illich.” To Hell with Good Intentions by Ivan Illich. Conference on InterAmerican Student Projects, 20 Apr. 1968. Web. 18 July 2016.

Shah, Anup. “Foreign Aid for Development Assistance.” – Printer Friendly Version. Global Issues, 28 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 July 2016.

Asia-Pacific Economics Blog. “” Apecsecorg. Asia-Pacific Economics Blog, 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 July 2016.

Hobbes, Michael. “Stop Trying to Save the World.” New Republic. New Republic, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 18 July 2016.

Sirolli, Ernesto. “Want to Help Someone? Shut up and Listen!” Ernesto Sirolli:. Ted Talk, Fall 2012. Web. 18 July 2016.

Education Only for the Few, the Lucky, and the Privileged



I believe that one way that we can combat the conflict we see in underdeveloped areas doesn’t involve guns or soldiers, but simply education. According to a report released by the UN, 48% of the worlds population is under the age of 24. Most of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Middle East, and North Africa’s population are made up predominantly young people. With youth being vulnerable in war-torn societies and the lack of education and employment, many see their only option for survival being to join gangs or become child soldiers. (UNOY) So the question I purpose is can education help combat conflict and reduce violent crime?


In 2010 one report states that 6 people are murdered per day in Honduras, 8 in El Salvador and 14 in Guatemala.  While these statistics are especially grime when we learn that a report realize by the WHO estimated that the homicide rates for young men in these countries were among the highest. In Rio de Janeiro, more then 6,000 youth between the ages of 10-18 have been estimated to be involved with gangs and the almost 4 million incarcerated though that region are young, uneducated men with little to none labor market skills. (Dammert)


This is the sad reality for many young adults and children in low income, underdeveloped areas. According to an article reported by BBC there’s about a 100-year gap between the developed and underdeveloped world (Winthrop). This is mostly because the only ones who are allowed to access forms of education are the few, the lucky and the privileged. Even though these kids are enrolled it doesn’t actually account for if their actually learning anything. It also doesn’t look at the lives of each of these children. Most of the programs set up are built from a western perspective. The problem with this is we don’t have to worry about retrieving water from a well, or even the miles needed to be walked just to get to and from class, and while school is suppose to be free that doesn’t account for the supplies needed that most families just don’t have the resources or income to acquire.. While education in the sense of books smarts is hugely important, it only goes so far and children often times drop out before they reach the 5th grade and a large percentage of them still can’t even read.


     So what can be done about this? I believe there has to be a different approach to education in the developing world, but don’t take my word for it. I found an interesting paper written by two professors, one at Rice University and the other at Portland State University and they had and interesting perspective on redefining education in the developing world. Their ideas focused around schooling these children with things that ae relevant in their lives, not the Western model of education that is often times taught. They believe that students in these impoverished regions don’t need academic skills so much as life skills that enable them to improve their quality of life. They do this through teaching life skills like financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills; health maintenance and management skills; and administrative capabilities, such as teamwork, problem solving, and project management. (Epstein and Yuthas) The article was really interesting and I encourage anyone reading this with interest in this topic to check it out!


One thing that researching this has taught me is to check my privilege and be thankful for the educational opportunities that I have. Coming from a middle of the pack, middle class family I’ve always had to work for everything that I wanted, especially attending a school like Clark. As I reflect on my own pathetic self-wallowing that I have been doing these last 6 weeks while working 40+ hours a week and finishing up my classes. I realize just how lucky I am even when I haven’t always felt so. I am privileged to have had an education that prepared me for university. I am privileged enough to have a career opportunity that allows me to pay for the school I am attending. I am privileged to have transportation for work and school. I am privileged to attended a school that will prepare me for the world ahead. I am privileged when so many before me are not, so if you’re reading this way after the semester has ended or maybe you stumbled upon this on accident I encourage you to check your privileged even if you don’t think you have any and use that to fuel you in fighting the inequalities that so many face.


Work Cited:

Epstein, Marc, and Kristi Yuthas. “Redefining Education in the Developing World (SSIR).” Redefining Education in the Developing World. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 16 July 2016.

Winthrop, Rebecca. “Global ‘100-year Gap’ in Education Standards.” BBC News. BBC, 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 16 July 2016.

United Network of Young Peacebuilders. Agreed Language on Youth, Peace and Security. Rep. New York: United Nations, 2012. Print.

Dammert, Lucia. “Can Education Reduce Violent Crime?” Americas Quarterly. N.p., Fall 2010. Web. 15 July 2016.

‘We teach girls to shrink themselves…’


For the last couple of decades, our attitudes on gender roles have been strictly isolated. Women and men have been assigned to do certain roles, a societal belief about how men and women are expected to behave and must be followed. Women are housewives which means they do everything inside the house, from cleaning to cooking and to taking care of the children. Meanwhile, men belong outside, working to provide for the family or getting an education. Believe it or not gender discrimination is still an ongoing issue, as you can tell by the way Beyonce points out how girls and boys are being taught to do certain things and have certain attributes. In one of her lines, she states, “You can have ambition But not too much You should aim to be successful But not too successful”.  Why are girls not allowed to receive an education and be successful as boys?

In the book, Social Psychology mentioned how women are required to show kindness and nurturance while men show strength and smarts. Beyonce speaks on how girls are taught how to be small and how they must follow the gender roles of being a mother, give support and love, and behave normally. Then, she claims how boys should be taught the same way such as give love, support, and behave normally as well. However, her way of trying to break the gender roles is by reminding her fans, specifically women, to not let society dehumanize their identity by being told how women should act. Being ourselves, as a human being and not following any gender roles is what makes us a human. Unfortunately, it is the schemas, the way we organize the world, that makes it difficult for us to break the gender discrimination since we are culturally embedded on how both genders are suppose to behave or act. Although, psychologically speaking, it is hard to break that discrimination, do you think it is possible to do that without erasing or interrupting the countries’ cultural norms?

In the Guardian article, Girl speak out: I want to be a lawyer to take action for pregnant children, couple of girls have stated that in their countries, males are the one who dominant the households and communities. Yuma, 15, who is from Nicaragua, says “It’s hard to be a girl where I live…Men have all the power…” Another girl, Awazi, 15, from Uganda, says “I would live it if Uganda worked on girl-child education introduced programmes to help to make sure girls stay in school. What that means is that we need strict laws to punish those marrying off young girls.” This is only a couple of stories from different countries who has all these wishes and dreams that are difficult to overcome in their home country. Girls in developing countries has the capabilities and skills, but they are being pushed back from furthering their education due to economic and culture constraints. In the article, Making room for girls, C.R. stated that “Some are kept away by the religious qualms of their families…. Other are needed as child labour to prop up household incomes when times are tough, due to the lack of developed insurance or saving systems in these countries.” No matter what are the obstacles within the families, girls are always the one who are pushed back from their dreams or wishes.

Education is one of the most important factor and essential tool. The last blogpost I wrote on HIV/AIDS and education, and the impact it may have if we do not educate our children on it. Mostly the people who do not have any access to education are the girls or females. The girls are at a disadvantage partially because most countries are very traditional, which means they follow the gender norms. Women are the ones who cook, clean, and provide love and care to the family, meanwhile, men are the ones who get the education and get a job to provide the family with food and a home. However, these gender norms do not discuss how significant HIV/AIDS can destroy the family and the individual health. Lesly Wood claims that “More African women than ever before are living with HIV: 59% of the adult population in sub-Saharan Africa and in some countries up to 68%,” (51). These statistics are pretty high especially in sub-Saharan Africa and if we allow this cycle to continue, eventually the spread of disease will become difficult to prevent and slowly this can affect the population will of the country. It is important to incorporate how gender inequalities can play a significant role and how that may negatively impact them. In order to structure the curriculum around gender inequalities, educators must consider that females tend to feel uncomfortable to speak in front of males, so this throughout the practice educators should divide the gender, then later into the activity bring the discussion as whole. Wood claims that “Gender Equality needs to become a reality, in order to beat HIV,” (51). And this is where educators need to make sure that men fully understand what it means to be HIV-Positive and how that can damage their life, partner, and family.  Educators need to break the gender discrimination and emphasis women on their rights to say ‘no’ towards men sexual behaviors. However, the big question is how can we break gender discrimination without interfering in their culture? And is it possible to have break the gender discrimination?



Aronson, E (et. al) “Social Psychology.” 9TH Edition

Wood, L. “Dealing with HIV and AIDS- Sociocultural Factors.” Chapter 3. 48-65.

Where Ur Resilience Lies

Seven-year-old Samer is a shy Yazidi girl, but like many of the displaced children she has a flair for the camera. After having her picture taken, she does not like it and wants another, striking a pose, staring into the camera with no smile. When asked why she is here, she says "Da'esh" (the pejorative term for Islamic State in Arabic) and when asked if she is afraid of it, she defiantly says "no". Samer says she is not afraid of the jihadist militants. By Suzanne Kianpour, BBC News, Dohuk, northern Iraq. August 2014.
Seven-year-old Samer is a shy Yazidi girl, but like many of the displaced children she has a flair for the camera. After having her picture taken, she does not like it and wants another, striking a pose, staring into the camera with no smile. When asked why she is here, she says “Da’esh” (the pejorative term for Islamic State in Arabic) and when asked if she is afraid of it, she defiantly says “no”. Samer says she is not afraid of the jihadist militants. By Suzanne Kianpour, BBC News, Dohuk, northern Iraq. August 2014.


At the pick-up location, one of the worker’s son had went with him to see his father’s place of employment. He was maybe 8 or 9 years old. “Madam! Madam!” he yells. I went over to him and his father and met the boy eye level. The translator told me that he was offering me his hand in marriage. At first I chuckled, which was rude, but quickly recovered. I asked the translator to explain how I could not accept, and he just looked at me. I looked back at the boy and I could see he was very serious. After a few awkward seconds I reached into my pack and offered him a Pepsi and a candy bar. He threw the Pepsi but kept the sweets. He seemed very upset. I asked the translator how serious this situation was and he told me that marriage brings hope. I tried my very best to leave this boy with some hope…so I asked the translator to explain that I would be a horrible wife. The boy laughed and seemed to accept the rejection. I believed then, that reliance lies within a child’s ability to hope.

Let’s Talk Resilience

I often wondered, and still do, how regions of a conflict nation can remain resilient. I saw firsthand the effects of the north had on the southern region back in 2006. With fewer hours of electricity and potable water, I was aware of the strains that effected the rural regions of Iraq but more importantly I caught a glimpse of how it effects the future generations.

Resilience, in terms of crisis and development, is gaining much attention. The concept of resilience encompasses an array of ideologies and theories; some practical and some unreasonable but with good intentions. Depending on the context it may seem resilience lies at the core of survival or is the new shiny concepts for appropriating funds. Either way it exists, and may be the only stronghold for the Iraqi people.

To date, I have been introduced to many definitions of resilience, mostly linear, and limited to an idea (abstract) rather than an innate component of the human being (credence of resilience). Resilience is both an innate and acquired trait. The focus in this blog has a binary element to resilience and it is generational. Two generations are of importance; the adults and the adolescents. Infants and toddler resilience depends heavily on the resilience of the caretaker, usually a parent or older sibling. The mothers and fathers care-taking abilities are tested, and have been for decades, due to the void of respite. As mentioned before, strong conflict exists in the north of Iraq and Mosul has many vulnerabilities to overcome. In southern Iraq, the burden of war has a different shade of grey. In southern Governates, the disparity is less dense intermittently and often seems if there is no war at all (Al-Khatteeb) which could very well be the catalytic component of a positive shift for Iraq.

Resilience Concentration

Because of the potential resilience boom in the south, government must move quickly and cease the opportunities. Southern Iraq is primed for the onset of major antecedents of development. This is a hunch based on endless readings and sifting through business journals. I happened upon this hunch when I noticed a shift in politics for the southern region, particularly Dhi (Thi) Qar. Capital power (Baghdad) shifted to local provincal authorities. (Sep 2015). This shift gave autonomy to the Governate and no sooner were the engines running. (pun intended). Nasiriya, whom I deemed the seed of resilience, will now have an oil company (Dhi Qar Oil Company (DQOC). These political/industrial shifts antecede development by creating jobs, refurbishing the market, and produce revenue to support more infrastructure rehabilitation.

This is where binary resilience is key. The mentioned shifts will make way for the younger generations to become embedded in the logistics of rehabilitating a nation. Not only will it provide a purpose for generations to come, it offers hope for the IDP generations of now who will be returning home. The college age Iraqi men and woman is where resilience will lie as well. When provincial and urban development begins it will be those generations who will be charged with strategic planning. The more headway made with these small shifts in the right direction will produce higher concentrations of resilient youth but they must be trained and educated.

Ensuing Resilience

The next antecedent is the technological endeavors of establishing communications. Global Access via the internet is by far one of the trademarks of business and development. The Kurdish Region in Iraq now has a .krd domain. (2016) A step in the right direction as well as a potential power struggle via informational propaganda. (We will have to keep our eye on that for the future). A contract was awarded to UltiSat, Inc. for an integrated and managed satellite communication network in Taji, Iraq so long as the electricity can support the project. Reestablishing a nation as a global market is a key endeavor in order to activate and enhance resilience.

Abstract Resilience

3,344,334 peoples have been displaced since January 2014. Of these 3plus million, many are lacking education, and training, which is critical to the already high unemployment rate of 61 percent. With high unemployment and rising prices of food, water, and shelter, the reach of burden expands.

These indicators are often shadowed by international development goals such as Sustainable Development Goals, and Millennial Goals. Said goals are funded by the United Nations, international NGO’s and governments. The problem with said goals is that they are ideologically based and intentions are theory based. In the case of Iraq, there must be a multidimensional paradigm shift; credence.

Credence of Resiliency

Resilience is often associated with words like strength, endurance, overcoming, breakthrough, struggle, and etc. What I have not heard often is acceptance. With the exception of few, people are resilient. Biologically is resides in our nervous system. It is our fight or flight mechanism. In the case of the Iraqi people, as well as any population alike, there is an element of unending violence and fear. I would not go as far to say that the Iraq people have accepted this void of respite, however the consistent conditioning to a volatile environment has left them despair. The real development begins with rehabilitating the person as well as the nation. The silver lining is that the children who have not been conditioned for so long, could potentially be the generation of resilient thinkers and be the hope of Iraq.

Laos Has A Lot Going On

My mom works with a wonderful little man named Chy Souryavong. He was raised and in a country called Laos, which is located right above Thailand and Cambodia (which we learned about last blog post). When Chy heard that I had been writing blog posts about education around the world he got very excited and shared a lot of valuable information. Not only was he a student there, he was also a teacher.
My interview with him went as so:

What does the standard classroom look like?
The standard size of an ordinary classroom would be 30 to 40 students in a classroom. The front would have a blackboard that chalk could be written on it. The students’ tables would be a table and a bench and each table would have 2 or 3 students per table. Students would come in with their own supplies like books, pencils, notebooks etc. The students and teachers would go to school from 7:30 to 11:30. They would leave to go home to eat lunch and come back to school from 2:00 to 4:00.

Is education valued in the community/society?
No, there is no law to put you in school. That choice would be up to your parents. If you are raised in a poor family, you don’t go to school and you would stay home to help out the family. If you go to school and do poorly, your parents can take you out of school to help them with things in the family. On the other hand, if your family does well, more than likely, you would continue to a higher education. There isn’t that much choices of colleges and the amount of students to get chosen to get in are limited every year.

As a teacher were you treated well/paid well? Valued by the community?
You are highly valued in the community. You would always be a role model as someone that people could look up to in the community. As far as the money goes, they don’t get paid well at all. (Education in Laos, 2016)

This interview highlighted many interesting things. Throughout these blog posts there have been trends we can see. In wealthier countries we find that the quality of education, smaller classes, and adequate pay for teachers are largely under discussion. While in countries which experience extreme levels of poverty we see them fighting for simple access to education, properly trained teachers, and for education to be valued amongst their communities. Laos is in a special situation because it needs a little bit from each section.

From the interview with Chy, we see that similar to other wealthier countries Laos is similar in the way they have schools set up,yet they still struggle with things like adequate pay for teachers, ensuring that what the students are learning are truly important, and making sure classes are small enough that students get some individual learning time.

Chy also discusses how similar countries who are experiencing extreme poverty really struggle with students being able to attend school, either because they do not have a school close enough to home or they simply cannot afford to attend school/education is not the value families feel the kids need to learn at the time. They face the issue of having education systems which are improper simply because their teachers are not properly trained.

Laos faces a lot of very diverse and complicated issues. Is there any hope for them? Are they showing any progress like the other countries which we have looked at? The answer is YES! Since 2010 a lot of work has been done to rework schools in Laos. Primary school has an official entry age of six and a duration of five grades. Secondary school is divided into two cycles: lower secondary consists of grades 6 – 9, and upper secondary consists of grades 10 – 12. Basic education consists of primary and lower secondary education. In principle, primary school is free and compulsory. Students sit for the primary achievement examination at the end of grade 5, the lower secondary achievement examination at the end of grade 9, and the upper secondary achievement examination at the end of grade 12. The duration of the school year is 33 weeks (Laos, 2014). All of this means that education is being taken more seriously. In addition I found a stat which clearly shows how this improvement has really taken hold. In 2000, 76.7 percent of the teachers working in Laos were adequately trained. In 2010, the percentage rose to 95.6 (Walthouse, 2014).
The United States has also offered support in the way of financial support. They provide this support through programs like the Fulbright Program, United States education assistance includes support for more than 500 student and scholarly exchanges with Mekong ( Mekong includes Laos ) countries each year. This money is focused on basic education enrollment and expanding broadband Internet connectivity, particularly in rural communities. (Lower Mekong, n.d.) It also has acknowledged that sharing teaches practices between countries can be beneficial to both countries involved. They do this through the International Visitors Program. They plan is to bring professionals working in the areas of health, environment and education to the United States to share best practices and build connections. The State Department is also sponsoring scholarships within three of our LMI partner countries to help train leaders to better communicate in English, in order to work more effectively with their regional and international partners. (Lower Mekong, n.d.)
Of course many of these changes come along with the culture and views of the society which the education is taking place in. Through my research I found an article about a girl who grew up in the culture. From reading through a policy created by people who are actively interact directly with the schools in Laos. This policy described it’s current education focus to be as follows:
“The general goals of education in the twenty-first century are to educate Lao people to be good citizens and loyal to the country and to the people’s democratic regime; to strengthen the national education system in order for increasing student’s learning outcomes; and to train skilled labour force” (World Data, 2010).
As I continued to research I found an article from a Miss Asian American who grew up in the Laos culture. She stated that “For Laotians, change doesn’t come easy – so anything new – you don’t always trust it right away.” (Naidu-Ghelani, 2015) This way of thinking is understandable, however does create a barrier for education reform and improvements.

Through this blogging experience I have come to the conclusion that no matter where you go to school, how the system is set up, and how much funding a government provides the school system there will always be problems. Of course, through the blogs we have seen how some techniques are much more effective then other, but we also have to keep in mind that none of these techniques or policies are as simple as they appear.

Do you know of any ways to combat the fear of change amongst a community? Have you seen any successful education reforms in your home towns?

Laos. (2014, April). Retrieved April 14, 2016, from

Lower Mekong Initiative. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2016, from

Naidu-Ghelani, R. (2015, May 15). Inside Laos: A US beauty queen’s quest for change – BBC News. Retrieved April 14, 2016, from

Walthouse, E. (2014, July 31). Evolution of Education in Laos – The Borgen Project. Retrieved April 14, 2016, from

5th Education in Laos [E-mail interview]. (2016, April 13).

World Data on Education. (2010). Retrieved April 14, 2016, from

The Maasai Tribe

The Maassai tribe is comprised of people with richly beautiful culture who primarily inhabit southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are famed as herders and warriors, moving from place to place within East Africa but always respecting nature when doing so. While many of their ways have had to change with changing times, diet for instance, they are still remembered for being a “disease-free tribe” by Dr. Weston A. Price in 1935 A.D. when their diet comprised almost only of raw milk, raw blood and raw meat.


Another aspect of their life that has had to change is their pastoral way of life. Since 6000 years ago when Sahara witnessed lower moisture and rainfall, pastoralism has been ingrained in Maasai lives as a means of subsistence and living in general in response to climate variability. They inhabit arid and semi-arid lands “with no reliable sources of permanent water, (so) pastoralism enabled people to adapt to an increasingly arid and unpredictable environment by moving livestock according to shifting availability of water and pasture. This opportunistic management system continues to this day, making pastoralism and effective and efficient land use and production system for the dry lands of the world”.


So it is no surprise to find out that a Maasai man’s wealth is measured in terms of the cattle, and children, he owns. Maasai people, however are not nomadic, they are semi-nomadic tribal people. The moranis, young warriors (mostly boys), herd cattle migrations whereas the rest of the family and small livestock remain at the main homestead.

Pastoralism “is the finely-honed symbiotic relationship between local ecology, domesticated livestock and people in resource-scarce, climatically marginal and highly variable conditions. It represents a complex form of natural resource management, involving a continuous ecological balance between pastures, livestock and people”. And the Maasai people, with the great expanses of the Great Rift Valley, have always been respectful of the natural resources bestowed to them. Their mindfulness of the dynamics of the grassland, and the livestock and wildlife that share it reflect the “finely-honed symbiotic relationship” that is essential in sustainable ways of living. Maasai, for instance, are also admired for their tolerance of wildlife when it comes to livestock and land management.


Moreover, there are more gains from pastoralism as per the World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism (WISP) than just its effectiveness and efficiency. Pastoralism’s “direct values” include products such as milk, fiber (wool), hides; and other values such as employment, transport, knowledge, and skills. “Indirect values include the benefits of agricultural inputs such as manure, and products that complement pastoral production, and services from good rangeland management like biodiversity conservation, and wildlife tourism.”

Instead of being respected, the pastoralists have been politically marginalized, challenged by climate change and denied traditional land rights. Further more, in a world with increasing resource competition, pastoralists like the Maasais have been forced to give up their lands. So much that “they are now confined to a fraction of their former range”.


Oxfam, however has taken the initiative to call into attention of East African governments’ regarding the importance of pastoralism in terms of adaptability. According to them “if it come down to the survival of the fittest, pastoralism could succeed where other less adaptable livelihood systems fail” given the right enabling environment. Kenya’s northeastern minister, Mohammed Elmi said, “pastoralists have been adapting to changes in climate for millennia, and these skills could help them cope with the continent’s increasingly hot weather” and all we can do is this is one of the first voices raised in favor of the Maasais.

A single post to describe a tribe like the Maasais, however, would be an insult to its complexities and beauty. So I just want to use this opportunity to set light on it that it so deserves in this ever changing world of ours.


“Survival of the Fittest: Pastoralism and Climate Change in East Africa.” Oxfam Briefing Paper. Oxfam International. Web.

Nori, Michele and Davies, Johnathan. “Change of Wind, or Wind of Change?: Climate Change, Adaptation and Pastoralism.” IUCN. 2007. Web.

Conroy, Andrew. “Maasai Agriculture and Land Use Change”. FAO. Web.

“Kenya’s Masai Traditions Threatened by Climate Change.” The Guardian. 24 Nov. 2011. Web.

“Maasai ‘Can Fight Climate Change'”. BBC. 18 Aug. 2008. Web.

Rethinking Trade Policies in Africa

The Western article that I read for this blog post proposes evidence for my argument of the negative effects of globalization, with a tweak, however. In his article I was wrong. Free market trade policies hurt the poor, Byers proposes an alternative to trade liberation. He argues against the IMF and World Trade Organization policies because they provide for quick trade liberation that can harm the poor. However, he states that “trade with the objective of achieving development goals” (Byers, 2003: 1). This is an important alternative that should explore when exploring the developing and globalization project in developing countries. I was never an advocate for globalization and free trade policies, however, I am now aware there are success globalization projects in developing countries. Trade policies must be monitored. Being aware of trade policies not only benefit the poor but it also benefits the economy. Slow trade liberation would provide the economy time to adjust to the changes. Although I am not a strong advocate for trade liberation, I think that this article convinced me that if trade policies are monitored it could be beneficial.

Humanitarianism and Dependency

Humanitarian aid relief provides poor countries with a provision of food and medical supplies. As African nations tend to be in debt, they often tend to seek foreign aid and assistance from developing countries, it makes them dependent on the aid. This in return can also slow economy growth I believe. The goal of foreign aid is to decrease poverty in developing countries, however, it can cause harmful effects for the host country. Humanitarianism as part of the development and globalization can create conflict in the recipient countries. “humanitarian assistance provided by NGOs in Africa at times contributes to conflict rather than peace” (Smock, 6). The presences of a military in conflict-stricken places can exacerbate conflict because it can undermine state legitimacy. This might spark the emergence of an insurgency. Additionally, humanitarian aid causes dependency. Imagine this, NGOS go to a country, provide supplies, food, months go by and supplies are done. Now, what?

An alternative to humanitarian in African countries would perhaps be training and education. Additionally, opening African developing countries to the global market would precipitate economic growth. This would build a society that is capable of independence. Even though they would still be dependent due to globalization. Furthermore, this could legitimize the government.

For example, as seen in the Good Fortune documentary the aid received from the Kenyan government, only benefited the elites. “ “poor people in this country did not benefit from the inflow of foreign aid” (Lohani, 2004: 6). Aid has the potential to decrease poverty, however, the elites take advantage of this. How do we increase accountability in countries receiving aid?


Trade Policy

Trade has the potential to increase economic growth if it is monitored. Trade liberation should be monitored so that not only one group benefits from it. “, an increase in Africa’s share of world exports by just 1% could generate around £43bn – five times the total amount of aid received by African countries” (Byers, 2003: 2). Opening African countries to trade would increase growth. “When countries open up to trade, they generally benefit because they can sell more than they can buy more. And trade has a two-way gain” (Fernández De Córdoba,1). Globalization and trade liberation as the potential to decrease poverty and increase human development. “ It is estimated that the global annual welfare gains from trade liberalization would be in the order of $90 billion to $200 billion, of which two-thirds would accrue to developing countries” (Fernández De Córdoba,1). If African countries are able to export goods in return for capital, the combination of good governance and trade can alleviate poverty. Economic growth is strongly linked to globalization and development.

Limitations of the IMF and WTO

The IMF and Trade policies should be inclusive for not only developed countries but Developing countries as well. These two groups are key players in the globalization project that could shift the effect that globalization has on developing and developed countries. Trade liberation policies have been arranged to create a division between developed and developing world. It provides a way for developed countries to exploit developing countries and the labor market. Remember what happened when Americans were angered by taxation without representation during the 1750s and 1760s? Well, most developing countries are currently enduring this. “Many countries do not even have enough trade personnel to participate in all the negotiations or to even have a permanent representative at the WTO” (Exchange, 2) There needs to be an increase of involvement and participation of developing countries in the policy decision-making process. This would ensure the fair policies that would benefit the poor citizens in developing countries. The rich tend to have leverage when it comes to trade policies. A voice in the WTO would be crucial   Because the United Nations is the international governing body, it has the responsibility to review trade policies to ensure it is not discriminatory to on group. How would the world look like if everyone benefitted from globalization? Is this even feasible?


Concluding remarks

The more I explore the contemporary issues of globalization and development, I have come to the conclusion that there is potential for growth and economic equality. The problem is poor leadership and corruption. As you continue to read my blog posts, what other problems do you think arises with the globalization project in Africa?


Works Cited

Byers, Stephen. “Stephen Byers: I Was Wrong. Free Market Trade Policies Hurt the Poor.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 19 May 2003. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

Exchange, Global. “Top Reasons to Oppose the WTO | Global Exchange.” Top Reasons to Oppose the WTO | Global Exchange. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

Fernández De Córdoba, Santiago. “Trade and the MDGs: How Trade Can Help Developing Countries Eradicate Poverty | UN Chronicle.” Trade and the MDGs: How Trade Can Help Developing Countries Eradicate Poverty | UN Chronicle. UN Chronicle, n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

Lohani, Satish. Illinois Wesleyan University. N.p., 2004. Web. 7 Apr. 2016.

Smock, David R. Humanitarian Assistance and Conflict in Africa. Washington, DC (1550 M St. NW, Washington 20005): U.S. Institute of Peace, 1996. UNITED STATES INSTITUTE OF PEACE. Feb. 1996. Web.

United Nations, Conference on Trade and Development. “Coping with Trade Reforms: A Developing-Country Perspective on the WTO Industrial Tariff Negotiations.” Center For Global Development. UNCTAD), 2006. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

World, Bank. “Documents & Reports.” Global Economic Prospects 2004 : Realizing the Development Promise of the Doha Agenda (Chinese). Global Economic Prospects, Sept. 2003. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.

Educating without Erasing

At 17 years old, Pedro Zamora was the first Cuban male to open up about his sexual orientation on popular media, The Real World. However, Zamora had very little knowledge on the disadvantages of his sexual orientation. Little did he know his life was close to the end after his visit from Red Cross. He donated blood and within couple of weeks, they stated that his results found a virus that they were unable to disclosed. Zamora went to physician and he was told he was HIV-Positive. His physician educated him on how he caught the disease. After months of devastating news, he was inspired to be an educator on the topics HIV/AIDS. He travelled across the country to educate others, but one of the most difficult part of his journey was cultural barriers and accessibility. People had different practices, believed in certain things, and had very limited access to healthcare. To be effective in change and making sure people are receiving the information needed with disrupting their cultural beliefs especially when we are educating in underdeveloped countries.

Culture beliefs is one barrier that prevents people from educating each other on HIV/AIDS. Culture can be defined in many ways, from race to religion to values etc., it is a very complex term. In some countries, for instance, in Africa their beliefs are negatively powerful and impactful to their health. In the article, Education, Health and HIV/AIDS, Clive Harber states, “… as teachers may also hold religious beliefs concerning sexual practices which they make it difficult for them to teach the topic, and this is particularity so in the case of homosexuality,” (239). Pedro was HIV-Positive because his parents were conservative and homophobic which meant that his parents avoided subjects or topics like gays, lesbian bisexual, transgender, etc. Zamora parents, specifically his father, who did not talk about the advantages and disadvantages was unaware that being homosexual and having unsafe sex leads to HIV/AIDS. To respect people’s opinions, thoughts, and beliefs, meanwhile sharing our views, we should first listen to the people and make sure we understand their side. Then, once we clarify their views, we share our views on the effects of HIV/AIDS and ideas we have to break the cycle through education. In order for the educators to stress the importance of HIV/AIDS, they should structure the educational curriculum where they incorporate the topic on their cultural and religion beliefs and explain the advantage or disadvantage factors that can influence their health. Religiously speaking, in the article, What is HIV/AIDS, and why does education matter?,  Nalini Biggs mentioned that people may think that condoms are a way to encourage youth to have sex (16). We need to talk about the benefits of condoms and allow them to see it is not only for encouragement it is for safety reasons as well.

The lack of education they receive or the limited access to education is another component that prevents them from knowing about HIV/AIDS. In developing countries, it is difficult for people to get an adequate information on how to practice safe sex or ways to minimize the risk of HIV/AIDS. Harber claims that, “…Children who continue to suffer from poor health are still at a major disadvantage educationally in terms of both access to schooling and their ability to take advantage of the education on offer,” (233). Pedro did not have the right access to education in terms of practicing safe sex, because his parents were conservative, did not have sex education, and it was barely discussed in his school. In Africa people are at a disadvantage because they do not have access to education for many reasons; one reason is their parents’ cannot afford the child’s schooling and two, the child need to stay home and work to take care of the family which is mostly are girls. Gathering the students to learn about this topic is challenging, but we need to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS by allowing educators to connect local communities so they can connect to the schools. Although people in the community may have very low level of education, the curriculum can be structure in the level that will allow the people and youth to understand the effects of HIV/AIDS and ways to prevent from being HIV-Positive. Also, educators need to consider the people’s level of education and structure their curriculum in a way that people will be able to understand the importance of HIV/AIDS. However, part of the problem is that educators do not consider the lack of access people have to education or think about the level of education they received. They just plan their program based on jargoned information which losses the people’s attention and motivation. We need to think about both the culture and the level of education people received in order for us educator help.

HIV/AIDS is an important subject to cover to students, especially in underdeveloped countries. To establish an adequate information to people across the country, we need to first consider their views before implementing our views. Once we accomplish that, we can help plan the curriculum that both balances our western views with the country’s views. If the people see this, they will not only begin to trust us, but develop respect and hopefully understanding why we are educating them on this subject-matter. Our goal is not to erase their culture, our goal is help reduce by sharing our thoughts as well.

***There are many factors to what prevents other countries from speaking about HIV/AIDS. Gender inequalities also play a role which I barely talk about. In my next blog post I am going to talk about the gender inequalities in education. In the meantime, I would like to leave off with a statistic I found really intriguing; In the article, Dealing with HIV and AIDS-Sociocultural Factors, Lesly Wood claims that “More African women than ever before are living with HIV: 59% of the adult population in sub-Saharan Africa and in some countries up to 68%,” (51).


Biggs, N. A. (2012). What is HIV/AIDS, and why does education matter? In Education and HIV/AIDS: Education as a humanitarian response. London: Continuum. 8 – 32.


Harber, C. (2014). “Education, Health and HIV/AIDS.” Education and International Development: Theory, practice and issues. Oxford: Symposium Books. 231-244.


Wood, L. “Dealing with HIV and AIDS- Sociocultural Factors.” Chapter 3. 48-65.

Cuba: Not Only Good Practice in Urban Farming, but also Renewable Energy

In an article “La Revolucion Energetica: Cuba’a Energy Revolution” it explains that just a few years ago Cuba’s energy situation was desolate. “The country had 11 large, and quite inefficient, thermoelectric plants generating electricity for the entire island. Most of the plants were 25 years old and only functioning 60% of the time.” There were frequent blackouts, especially during peak demand periods. There was also a high percentage of transmission losses along the electrical distribution grid. To add to the energy crisis, most Cuban households had inefficient appliances, 75% of the population was cooking with kerosene, and the residential electrical rates did not encourage conservation. In 2004 the eastern side of Cuba was hit by two hurricanes in a short period of time, affecting transmission lines and leaving one million people without electricity for ten days. All of this in the face of the overarching drivers of peak oil and climate change, made Cubans realise they had to make energy more of a priority. Thus, in 2006, began what Cubans call La Revolución Energética – the Energy Revolution. The rest of this blog explains the transition to renewable energy and what Cuba hopes for in the future.

Cuba by 2030 would like to want to increase its supply of renewable energy by 24% through an investment of 3.5 billion, says “Solar Energy Outlook in Cuba.” In order to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel imports, Cuba has instituted a wide-reaching energy efficiency program in 2006, which has overseen various energy saving initiatives for households, including the replacement of old and inefficient domestic appliances. Another aspect the government is changing is creating a network of energy generation with smaller power plants in order to reduce the potential for damages and blackouts that were previously the result of hurricanes affecting a more centralized network.

In the Article, “Cuba Wants Clean Energy, Can the U.S deliver?” says that Cuba is making the shift and plans to clean up part of its fuel supply, moving from crude oil to profolio wind, sun and sugar cane. Cuba, the same population size of Ohio, plans to invest 3.5 billion into renewable energy. The  government of Cuba envisions a chain of wind farms along the island’s north shore, numerous “bioelectric” stations using everything from sugar cane leftovers to pig poop, and solar installations of every size. One speaker said Cuba can become an international supplier of renewable energy made from wind. Cuba is also developing their own industry in renewable energy: Outside the city of Cienfuegos, the government has built a manufacturing plant that has produced 14,000 photovoltaic solar panels. It has also constructed a 4.5-megawatt solar plant near the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo, according to José R. Oro, a former official with the Cuban industries ministry. The island wants 13 wind parks along the long north shore to produce 633 MW of wind, 19 bioelectric stations to produce 755 MW of “bioelectric” power and 700 MW of solar, Barreiro said.

In an article “Using the Sun’s Energy” it seems as though the Cubans want tot bring the renewable energy to agriculture techniques. They plan to put panels around the farms and around the territory, which will set to provide the first megawatts (MW) from the solar farm which has been under construction for the past few months in Vueltabajo are already installed and in the final preparation phase before their integration into the Cuban National Electric System (SEN). Electricity generated through the 4,000 already installed solar panels will allow for savings of over 300 tons of fuel per year and avoid the emission of large quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

For solar energy to have a long-term impact on Cuba’s energy demand and production, projects must expand beyond off-grid usage. The focus should shift toward urban applications of solar systems and the further development of solar-powered domestic appliances. Particularly the latter category offers Cuba a lot of potential to develop into a global actor, as the international demand for high-quality, affordable solar appliances is strong.

Works Cited

Ferris, David. “Cuba Wants Clean Energy, Can the U.S. Deliver?” EnergyWire: June, 2015.

Kolopic, Sasha. “Solar Energy Outlook in Cuba.” Havana Times: February 2016.

“La Revolucion Energetica: Cuba’s Energy Revolution.” Renewable Energy April 2009.

Rivas, Ronaldo. “Using the Sun’s Energy.” Gramma Internacional: December 2014.