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Archive for the ‘Global Issues’ Category

I am still sick and feel terrible. I thought I would be able to go to school today, but no. The worst thing is to think about all the work I’m missing. It really is a vicious cycle; the more I think about it, the more stressed I get, and the longer it takes for me to recover :/

Oh well, I’m trying to put my mind on other things. For example, Senegal! We had a meeting yesterday afternoon at the British school where we went over all the trip details. I took a taxi from home (believing I was feeling just fine), but I felt really feverish towards the end of the meeting.

I’m glad that I went, nevertheless, because we cleared up some final things like travel insurance, what to bring, safety risks, and fundraising. The trip sounds incredible, and I’m sure I will gain an experience to last a lifetime. Can you believe it that I’ll be there in 3 weeks?!? For those of you who don’t know, I’m going to assist with the construction of a school in the village of Warang, which is located roughly a 2 hour drive south of the capital city Dakar. A Belgian woman, Sophie Camara, initiated the project a few years ago with her Senegalese husband. Together they organize funding for the schoolchildren, and help run a micro-finance concern for women as well as the hotel that we will be staying at. I just saw in the information booklet that my ‘hotel room’, which I will be sharing with Evelyn, costs 4 euros a day. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a cheap hotel room, so I’m curious to see how we will be living! Not that that’s the most important thing- just a little side note 🙂 I also need to go and buy some longer pair of shorts (wherever I will find those in January…) than what I already have  because their guidance was to ‘keep dress modest.’ Senegal is a muslim country, so I can understand their advise.

I’m going to go all hands in with the fundraising, as soon as I get better. Sophie Camara sent us a list of crucial things the school children need. This includes toothbrushes, toothpaste, classroom necessities (pencils, pens, scissors, sharpeners, erasers, rulers) and money to purchase solar powered equipment (solar panels, rechargeable batteries…) We also want to provide school lunches for as many Senegalese School children as possible. 12000 forints is enough to provide a nutritious school lunch for 1 child for 1 year. For me, that’s really thought-provoking, as that’s basically the amount of money I spend on a 3 course meal at an average restaurant every weekend. That’s ONE day vs. ONE year for a child…

Subsequently, Mr. Burns, Evelyn, and I (along with the rest of the Global Issues club) are going to be selling jello at school on friday. We know that this is really popular, at least among Americans, so our expectations are high! We’re also going to contact the French, Canadian, and Belgian embassies here in Budapest and ask if they can donate any French children’s books. We were also thinking of how much unused stuff there is in the school attic- most of which is just what we need like atlas’s, magnifying glasses, and so forth. Lastly, we would like to collect any children’s summer clothing or shoes that people are willing to donate.

If you’re wondering how on earth we’re going to get everything there, I can assure you that it’s not a problem because the Portuguese airline is giving us double the baggage allowance!

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Cabaret 2011

My dad came yesterday, which was great because we could see the annual school cabaret together. I can count the number of times he has been at school on one hand, so naturally I was happy to introduce him to my friends and a few of my teachers. As a bonus, I finished my self portrait (made of fingerprints) a couple of hours before the show. My brother’s abstract golf course was also on display outside the theater.

The actual cabaret was phenomenal. I love how there are so many hidden talents in our school. Bori’s dance “Brlesque” was really impressive. Everyone could tell she’s a pro with all those sudden flips, volts, splits and body-movements that would look both awkward and painful on anyone else, other than her! Mizuki’s piano solo “Debussy” stood on its own; Sarah, Floorke, and I were speechless. Mizuki should definitely go on to study music!

Evelyn and Nora sang “You’re the one that I want” but in a slower version. Amazing voices! Another impressive act was when Matt and Josh played Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Magda sang, and it sounded exactly like the original.

All the money, that was raised, went to help get supplies and goods to those impacted by the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan. More than 20 million people have been affected, and 1/5 of the total land area was covered in water in July/August 2010.

Therefore, we in NHS also decided to help by organizing a “Hunger Lunch” yesterday. Everyone was required to pay 1000 forints (the cost of a normal school lunch), and all the money will be donated to victims of the Pakistan flood. We organized it so that 15 randomly selected students of the entire high school were given the privilege to eat a three course meal with napkins, accompanied waiters, and choice of drink. Around 40 students could sit by a normal caffeteria table and eat a lunch consisting of rice, french fries and chicken. All the others were given rice and beans, and they had to sit on the floor. Although it was a little chaotic, I think the poverty awareness lunch made a lot of people understand how fortunate we are and how unbalanced the world’s distribution of food is. No one chooses to be poor.

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I am so excited for this amazing opportunity I have of going to Senegal in February! I’m going to help build a school two hours south of Dakar, Senegal in association with the Belgian NGO “Les Cajoutiers.” I think we’ll be 13 in total ( two from AISB including Evelyn 😀 and the rest are from the British School of Budapest). In the mornings, we will be interacting with the children (in french!) as well as working on the construction of the classroom. Then we will have excursions in the afternoons. This includes a safari, a visit to the coastal fish and vegetable market, quad biking through the savanna, a visit to small villages, and an excursion to l’isle Gorée and the L’ancienne maison des esclaves, which is an island off the coast where there used to be slave trade.

Can you tell why I’m excited?!? I’ve always dreamt of doing something like this, but never did I think it would come so soon! I always thought it would be something I would do after high school or even college; but no, I’m really going in only 3 months! I’m sure it will be a terrific service trip, that I’ll learn so much from. We (the global issues  network at AISB) did have the opportunity of going to Abu Dhabi for a conference, but I feel like this is worth so much more. I’ve gone to these conferences three years in a row, and I feel like I’m ready to do “something real” instead of only talking and listening to others who have done these type of things.

Yes, of course we could send the amount of money it costs for us to fly there and so forth, but this is exactly what I need to do. Just like all my friends, I’m so protected from hunger, disease, and natural disasters, so this will really be life-changing for me. I want to help these children, so they can go to school, become literate, and follow the path to their hopes and dreams.

I’m  ready to go, and I haven’t though twice about all the vaccinations I have to take, the mosquito net I have to sleep under, the food I’ll be eating and the intense heat. Nothing can stop me now 😀

inside one of the classrooms

All the students and some of the parents and teachers

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I can’t wait!!

Mr Burns, my english teacher and global issues leader, offered me a once-in-a-life-time opportunity yesterday. Today my parents officially said yes after finding out some more information about the safety and so forth 😀 It will take place over the February break 2011 next year.

Can anyone guess what I’m going to do?

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I’ve finally decided to post some of the pictures from the Vintage Fashion Show that I helped organize a few weeks ago. Mulan was the amazing photographer and the models looked great with their confident walks and unique clothing! I think this really shows that ec0-friendly clothing can be fun and most definitely personal. I hope we’ll continue this tradition for every earth day because I loved setting up this fashion show! All the proceeds went to support a micro-credit initiative and most of the looks have been sold, so I think we all did a great job.

Evelyn and I introducing the fashion show

Yingzi wearing a cute top that was originally a dress (look designed by Hunter)

Sarah modeling a second-hand blouse and kilt/skirt that was shortened for the show (look designed by Emma)

Hunter modeling her own design: a restyled second-hand shirt

Vidushi rocked the runway wearing a restyled men's shirt (look designed by Hunter)

Balint striking a pose in a studded second-hand GAP sweater (look designed by me and Evelyn)

Florian wearing Hunter's design

Vidushi modeled a unique unique dress that Hunter made from a cardigan

Evelyn was beautiful in the dress that we updated and flower that we added gems to.

Li wore a dress that she made 'backless' and a jacket with added studs (look designed by herself and Lisa)

Lisa wearing vintage and Li with clothes mentioned above (looks designed by themselves)

All the models at the end of the show

I thanked everyone at the end and here Mrs. Malten, who was basically the 'founder' of vintage CAS, can be seen receiving flowers that the designers bought.

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Now I’m working on a short paragraph I have to write about a human rights activist for art. We’re going to do some protest art in which we’re taking “the information we receive via the media… and re-communicating a more thoughtful and personalized content to events that threaten or change our lives.” (Petra Weber’s words) Protest Art helps build compassion to political awareness, which I am very interested in. It angers me that some human rights workers are imprisoned by their governments because of their political ideas that they represent. Freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental human rights we have.

The person who I have chosen to write about is Dawit Isaak who is a Swedish-Eritrean journalist and has been held in an Eritrean prison since 2001 without trial. Being a part-owner of the country’s first independent newspaper, Setit, he was arrested on September 23, 2001 for demanding democratic reforms that went against the government’s iron regime.

He is a father of three children in Sweden and has not been allowed to visit anyone. Can you imagine not seeing your father for nine years just because he wrote down his political views on paper? It’s absurd to me how people can lose their freedom for simply choosing to write freely and encouraging others to do the same. Our lives are dependent on media, so how will we ever know the truth if journalists are forbidden to write freely. They have the right to stand up for their opinions and not live with fear.

The Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki said on May 26, 2009 that, “We will not have any trial and we will not free him. We know how to handle his kind. To me, Sweden is irrelevant. The Swedish government has nothing to do with us.” It is unbelievable to me how some people can be so inhumane, so it’s crucial that we give a voice to those who don’t have one anymore. Go to Free Dawit or Reporters without borders to show your support.

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I’m so nervous for tomorrow’s Earth Day Assembly. I will take part in the introductory speech and will introduce the Vintage Fashion Show that we have worked on for so long! Everyone designed such creative outfits, and I’m very proud that I was part of this fun community event and helped design a few looks. I have always been interested in ethical issues surrounding the fashion industry, so it really was a great way to start  by collecting clothes that nobody wanted anymore and repurposing them. I hope that people will be impressed enough to want to buy them. We decided that we will auction off the clothes and the money will go to support a micro-credit initiative sponsored by Chris Dederick. I’ll upload pictures of the show later but until then, you must see this great video! It’s only four minutes long in which the BBC Radio One DJ, Nihal, examines the trend for eco-glam fashion.

I was amazed when I saw this video because I learnt that every person in the UK throws away an average of 30 kgs of clothing each year which then ends up in land fill sites…

I'm working on 'greening up my wardrobe' by wearing clothes from H&M's spring collection. This top is made from recycled cotton with fabric remnants from production. Their Garden collection is entirely made from organic cotton and they have a new 'Fashion Against Aids' Campaign in which 25% of their profit will be donated to you HIV/AIDS awareness projects. The looks are meant for festivals which is all about freedom of expression, so there's a 'mix of rock with bohemia and glamour with added ethnic touches.'

I want this H&M dress so bad! You can bet that I will be on Vaci Utca ready to buy it on May 20th.

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