Sunday, November 28, 2010
Jeffrey Gettleman's article in this weekend's New York Times chronicle's one Lost Boy's - Joseph Gatyoung Khan - homecoming to his village to participate in the Southern Sudan referendum. After leaving his village at the age of 8, Khan was settled in the United States, working his way from the midnight shift at a casino to a university education at the University of Iowa. He hasn't seen his parents in over 20 years. The following video from The New York Times, shows Khan returning to his village and the mixed emotions he feels upon his arrival.
What I find most interesting is when he says that the world doesn't need him, but his village does need him. I wonder what Khan will be able to do for his village if, indeed, he decides to stay. There are so many valuable human resources that leave villages like Khan's because of war and conflict and poverty. Imagine what great things they can do once they return.
Khan has not yet decided if he will stay in Southern Sudan.
Friday, November 26, 2010
In 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law the Child Soldier Prevention Act, designed to bar US military assistance to states designated by the State Department as having recruited child soldiers into their armed forces. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN's top advocate for child soldiers, expressed her disappointment at Obama's decision, saying that this is a step backward. The White House argued,
"The decision to waive prohibition of military assistance to countries that use child soldiers was in the interest of national security in allowing the US to support countries that back American anti-terror policies or face fragile political transitions. It maintains that continued military assistance would actually accelerate these countries' ability to end controversial practices, including the conscription of child soldiers" (Turtle Bay, October 28th).
There are about 300,000 child soldiers across the globe. The UN is engaged in discussions about the fate of child soldiers in Chad and South Sudan, where local governments have pledged to release as many as 900 children from conscription by the end of the year. Jo Becker, from Human Rights Watch, has acknowledged that Congo and South Sudan have made previous commitments to release child soldiers that they have never honored.
The UN itself has UN peacekeepers cooperating with governments and militaries that use child soldiers in Congo and Somalia. As one UN official said, "We can't get too high on the moral ground" (Turtle Bay, October 28th).
Friday, November 19, 2010
The subject today is my promotion of TEDxMcGill 2010 (http://tedxmcgill.com/) event on November 20 at Marché Bonsecours in the Old Port of Montreal from 1-7pm.
TEDxMcGill 2010's theme is Relentless Curiosity:
"Children have the unstoppable propensity to always be asking "Why?". The world that perceive is constantly new and they are inundated with new ideas, new objects, and new people. Child-like curiosity is at the heart of an enjoyable learning experience. Curiosity, and especially a relentless pursuit guided by curiosity, is also a quality of passionately engaged people. This year, TEDxMcGill aims to share in the energy of that pursuit. We are asking our speakers, our attendees, and our extended community to adopt a relentless curiosity and pursue the answers to the child-like "why". We aim to bring together a community diverse in knowledge, yet unique in their passion for it."
My 10-minute talk will focus on how important a “sense of place” is for children affected by war. I will speak about my work in Chechnya, northern Uganda, and then focus on my most recent work with Palestinian youth, using maps and narrative to illustrate sense of place. I will post the talk here after it is complete. But in the meantime, you can go to the TedxMcGill website to see a live stream of the event.
All of my fellow speakers are quite impressive, and I am honored to be able to present my ideas among such interesting other talks.
For more information regarding the event please see http://tedxmcgill.com/info/ and the following article in the Montreal Gazette: http://communities.canada.com/montrealgazette/blogs/universitycity/archive/2010/11/12/ted-talks-coming-to-mcgill.aspx .