Showing posts from January, 2014

Day 5 plus

Friday – Monday
On day 5, we presented to each other the grassroots organization that we visited. One group visited the New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC), which works with undocumented Latino youth in NY state to pass the DREAM act in local and statewide levels. When prompted about what we could/should do, they asked us to not let it just be a paper at the end of our program, to make sure our new found knowledge and insights become more than words on a paper. Amen, we’ll see how that goes.
From Make the Road and Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC-NY), I think they both seemed to stress the importance of voice and dignity for the people they work with who needed social justice.
Clelia, one of our traveling faculty, started her first class with us with this quote from Linda Smith:
“The word itself, ‘research’, is probably one of the dirtiest words in the indigenous world’s vocabulary.”
She reminded us that we are the subject of research too because as we study others an…

Days 3 and 4

On Day 3, we visited the UN headquarters in NYC. It was awesome that the snow storm cleared up and despite the freezing cold, our trip was not canceled. The tour guide was a cute South Korean woman who did not exactly deny the shortcomings of the UN, while giving her usual speech on the tour. When our professor answered the question of how many member states are in the UN correctly, she said, yes! I give ten points to Gryffindor!

But the best part for me was not the tour to the UN itself, but the seminar by Manu Bhagavan after we toured the UN. A history professor and the chair of the Human Rights Program at Hunter College, Professor Bhagavan told us an interesting history of how the UN came to be, the UN's commissioned human rights instruments, the great turn in UN functions and perceptions, and imperialism and human rights. Basically, Professor Bhagavan is an optimist and believes that the UN has worked before according to his expertise, and CAN work again, even though the circu…

Day 2

Day 2
We did a lot today. We spent the morning session for each of us to talk about our backgrounds and interest in human rights and how that led us to joining this trip. We started the day off with three really interesting words, courtesy of Rachel, our model Person of the Day. One of the words is German, apparently, and I think it is really fitting for this trip.
It is supposed to mean the capital e “E”xperiences that we feel most deeply and that matters most to us in our lives. I think this program will bring about many experiences like this. Moments that we can reflect on after the program is over, maybe 6 months out, maybe 6 years out.
Here are some moments and quotes that I jotted down and wanted to remember:
Elshe (? Sorry if I spelled your name wrong…) said that she had good intentions but bad outcomes when she was 17 years old and started a microfinance non profit organization in Dominican Republic, which failed miserably. I learned about microfinance last year in …

Day 1

I woke up feeling kind of crummy and anxious about starting a whole new chapter in life, even though I am very excited. After dragging my luggage through the subway to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, I met the other students in my cohort while we checked in to the YMCA for our stay. Even though I am from NYC, I’ve never lived in Brooklyn and I never really took the time out to explore the borough next to mine. I’m definitely happy to spend the first two weeks of this program in my hometown and to get to know it even better.

It is very fitting that we started our program on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Despite all the controversies surrounding his life and career, there is much to learn from Dr. King. We listened to and reflected on Dr. King’s speech in 1967 on why he opposed the Vietnam War. Basically, we don’t pay enough attention to problems here in America and to divert attention and resources to killing people and problems elsewhere is very problematic.

One of our team building activities re…

IHP Human Rights Spring 2014

Hi all. For those of you who are interested in learning more about the study abroad program I will be starting in a few days, here is the URL.

So I start in NYC, my hometown, for about ten days, before we fly out to the first country: Nepal! It seems fitting to start here since the UN headquarters is here and the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the foundation to human rights. Plus that way we start off in a nice first world city before we move out to a foreign country with a new culture and lifestyle that we're not used to. I am excited and pleased. I have never lived in Brooklyn before, so those first ten days in NYC will be interesting.

I am still packing but I am 80% done. I applied for a Brazilian tourist visa today (for my own post-program travel to bask in the World Cup excitement) and fingers crossed - I should get my visa and passport back on January 30th, two days before I fly out on February 1st! I got tra…