Archive for 2009

The Taliban: Not the only threat to Pakistan

Monday, November 30th, 2009

By Hussain Nadim

Contrary to the common perception of people, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is not the biggest threat to Pakistan; neither is it powerful enough to take over the government. The real threat to Pakistan’s stability and the future comes from the rich aristocratic class of the country. In almost all the political discourses both in Pakistan and abroad, containing TTP is seen as the end to the crisis that the country currently faces. It should be noted that the TTP has not led Pakistan into the crisis that it faces today; rather it is the crisis that the elite class of Pakistan brought about in the past sixty-two years that has unleashed a force like TTP. While this offshoot of the original Taliban is no doubt a threat that needs to be contained, the aristocracy in Pakistan escapes its responsibility for bringing the country to the brink of Read the rest of this entry ?

China’s Great Potential

Monday, November 16th, 2009

By Bobak Tavangar

“China is the country of the future!…China has most great capability. The Chinese people are most simple-hearted and truth-seeking…He must entertain no thought of his own, but ever think of their spiritual welfare…each one of whom may become a bright candle of the world of humanity. Truly, I say they are free from any deceit and hypocrisies and are prompted with ideal motives.”

~Abdu’l-Baha, China Tablet, The Baha’i Faith

I love China. I mean, I’ve fallen head over heels….over head over heels……in love with China. I’ve spent some time thinking about why this is; why a Persian kid from Philly feels something so penetrating in the Far East. It’s not the economic prowess, political intrigue, or social change that draw me to this beautiful country, although they are all fascinating to follow. It’s something much more subtle and powerful than those external trends. In fact, it is the source from which I believe those other things emanate. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Social Enterprise Frontier

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

By Grant Tudor

Social entrepreneurship in the neo-natal clinics of India. Photo: Grant Tudor

I’ve been in India two weeks now, talking social enterprise with some remarkably rare changemakers (social enterprise is an explosive field being explored here on campus by emerging groups like the GW Social Enterprise Forum). Last Monday I sat in a cramped concrete office deep in Chennai’s industrial park, drinking tea with Mr. Mukundan – a wrinkled but wildly energetic old man – as he discussed his low-cost alternative energy stove that runs off 100% plant oil… something that will not only positively impact the pocketbooks of the world’s rural poor, but help tackle one of the largest, albeit strangest, causes of global greenhouse gas emissions: kerosene stoves. Read the rest of this entry ?

Interning at the State Department

Friday, October 9th, 2009

By Thao Anh Tran

Meeting with Hillary Clinton while interning at the State Department. Photo: Thao Anh Tran

As a Thomas R. Pickering Fellow, an honor that I received with assistance from the staff of the Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research, I had the privilege of interning at the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs (more commonly referred to as the China Desk) at the State Department this past summer. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Behind the Scenes at the G-20

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

By Thao Anh Tran

Working at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh. Photo: Thao Anh Tran

My internship at the State Department’s China Desk this past summer, an incredible experience in itself, led me to an even more amazing opportunity: the chance to participate in the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh from September 24th to September 25th. After my frequent interaction with the management and protocol staff at the State Department in the process of planning for the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, I was asked if I would be interested in serving as a Spouse Liaison Officer for the G-20 Summit. Though I initially had no idea what this job would entail other than being involved in some capacity with helping a spouse of one of the leaders attending the G-20, the thought of being able to attend the Summit made it impossible for me to resist the offer. Read the rest of this entry ?

Living Under Conspiracies

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

By Hussain Nadim

I must confess that up until 2008, I was one of those people living in Pakistan who thought 9/11 was an inside job and that the War on Terror was actually a War on Islam. I have lived 18 years of my life in a country that has been overwhelmed by conspiracies. Whether it is a suicide attack on a five star hotel or economic turmoil, our government has comfortably blamed the Indians and the United States for every flaw of our society. During the time I spent in Pakistan I pondered why every other country conspired against us? The only answer I got from the people was that they (the United States and India) hate us because we are Muslims and we are a nuclear power. Reluctant and unsatisfied, I would accept these answers. However, this was soon to change. Read the rest of this entry ?

Getting to Know the Voice of America

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

By Caitlin Daw

Admiring the reach of the Voice of America. Photo: Caitlin Daw

This summer, I was awarded the extraordinary opportunity to intern at The Voice of America (VOA) in Washington, D.C. As an Intern in the Public Relations Office, some of my responsibilities included contacting various media outlets interested in creating feature stories about VOA, drafting press releases, giving studio tours, and promoting VOA’s events and broadcasts on social media and networking sites.

The Voice of America is one of five entities in the International Broadcasting Bureau, which is funded by the United States government. VOA’s programming is broadcast in 45 languages across the world via radio, television, and the internet, particularly in countries where there is a clear and apparent absence of free press and media. Read the rest of this entry ?

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For-Profit Poverty Eradication

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

By Bobak Tavangar

“Wealth is praiseworthy in the highest degree, if it is acquired by an individual’s own efforts and the grace of God, in commerce, agriculture, art and industry, and if it be expended for philanthropic purposes. Above all, if a judicious and resourceful individual should initiate measures which would universally enrich the masses of the people, there could be no undertaking greater than this, and it would rank in the sight of God as the supreme achievement, for such a benefactor would supply the needs and insure the comfort and well-being of a great multitude.”

~Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, The Baha’i Faith

Stuck in poverty in Beijing. Photo: Bobak Tavangar

In light of a variety of factors–the undeniable truth of the above quotation, a new book I’m reading called The Blue Sweater, a global financial crisis whose most dire implications seem to somehow trickle down to our impoverished brothers and sisters around the world, and my own musings and observations here in Beijing–I have decided on what I need to dedicate myself towards: rewiring the global economy for inclusion and true prosperity. The means? For-profit models of investment. The end? The complete eradication of poverty world wide. I’m sick and tired of NGO’s being run by a few underpaid visionaries to benefit only a few of the billions who yearn for real economic equity. And as for governments: human beings want dignity, not hand-outs in the form of “aid”. I think it’s time the world made a real effort to make this ‘end’ a reality. This realization I’ve had has been a long time coming but trust me folks, it’s here to stay. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Presenting Elliott School Research in South Korea

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

By Thao Anh Tran

Networking with peers at an academic conference in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Thao Anh Tran

Between meeting and discussing with students across the globe my shared interest in East Asian affairs and seeing North Korea from the Peace Observatory in the DMZ, this past week served as an incredible learning opportunity for me.

As a recent graduate of the Elliott School of International Affairs, I am particularly grateful for the financial support I received from the Elliott School Undergraduate Scholars Program. The funding enabled me to participate as a delegate in the Security workshop at the 2009 Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) Academic Conference, which was held in Seoul from August 14th to August 17th. Every year HPAIR brings together hundreds of the brightest minds, both students and experts in the field of international relations for discussion on economic, political, and social issues pertinent to the East Asia-Pacific region.

Originally I was extremely worried that I would appear out of place when engaging in discussion of complex issues with future leaders in the field of international relations. Fortunately, my mind was immediately put to ease when I realized my familiarity with the topics of discussion. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Finding Warhol in Slovakia

Friday, August 28th, 2009

By William Schreiber

“I come from nowhere.” –Andy Warhol

Standing outside the colorful Warhol museum in Medzilaborce, Slovakia. Photo: William Schreiber

MEDZILABORCE, Slovakia – Welcome to nowhere, two small Slovak border towns called Mikova and Medzilaborce, but more widely known as the obscure Eastern European genesis of America’s most famous pop artist, whose mother was born nearby.

Surrounded by monuments to the Red Army and overshadowed by an Orthodox dome, the museum built in Andy Warhol’s honor appears painfully out of place. When we arrived at 3 p.m., we were the day’s first visitors. Read the rest of this entry ?

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