Archive for July, 2009

Dispatch From Abroad: Vitamin A, Sachets, and Slums in Nairobi, Kenya

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

By Grant Tudor

Kibera, Kenya: Africa’s largest slum. Photo: Grant Tudor

I’m a rising Elliott School senior who has spent the majority of his time (and money) on international affairs-y things like war, peace, war, and some anthropology. For those of us interested in development, we study things like aid policy and political economy, ready for World Bank recruitment come May. So naturally I was surprised a few months back when I found myself in cramped Nairobi offices gathering data on vitamin A, iron and iodine intake figures, and in Africa’s largest slum mapping maize distribution channels and pricing patterns.

I didn’t come to Kenya planning to research nutrition and business strategies in slums. But after a series of events and small epiphanies, I realized that to make the biggest impact on our world maybe the World Bank, UN and USAID aren’t the only post-graduation paths out there. So here’s my quick story of going from a World Bank-bound Elliott kid to an entrepreneurship-and-public-health-strategy enthusiast. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Fostering Grassroots Sustainability in Panama

Monday, July 27th, 2009

By Emily Primack

It rains almost everyday in the early afternoon in La Palma. While walking I notice buckets collecting the water to be used for later. My first day with my host family, they explained that water was a valuable resource and was to be used sparingly. Basically, I understood from my basic level of Spanish that I should simply live by the old saying, “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.” I have gotten more and more used to taking 60 second showers and brushing my teeth with as little amount of water as necessary.

For some reason, I assumed all of this effort to conserve water was the whole “Going Green!” fad. However, a few days ago while riding a chiva (a bus without a schedule), I noticed all of the people around me throwing their trash out the window as if the ground was their own personal trash can. I kept it cool until I reached my house and could ask my host family about littering. They explained to me that there was indeed a law against it, however it was not enforced whatsoever.

I learned that my family and others living in La Palma do not conserve to save the environment, but instead to save money. While it makes complete sense, I was a bit dissapointed. Read the rest of this entry ?

Dispatch From Abroad: “Polish Alaska”

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

By William Schreiber

“Polish Alaska” – that’s how Janusz Krajnik describes the region of Bieszczady to me.  Janusz, like many others of his generation, studied Russian and not English in school, but even I am hard-pressed to think of a better description. Bieszczady is a wild paradise with mountainous terrain, packs of bison and wolves, log cabins and even natural oil. During the winter it even looks like Alaska.

Janusz is the directior of the Jan Pawel II Gymnasium in Tarnawa Dolna. For four weeks I’m teaching English classes to 60-some students in this village. Equipped with one semester of Polish classes and a crash course in international affairs courtesy of the Elliott School, I’m standing in front of a classroom on Poland’s border with Slovakia and Ukraine, an area that just a few years ago was at the center of the history I’m studying at GW today. Although I can’t attest to the amount of English my students have picked up in four short weeks, I have certainly learned a lot by teaching and living in the beautiful homes, fields, and mountains of the Polish Alaska.

William is a sophomore in the Elliott School of International Affairs, majoring in International Affairs and concentrating in Europe and Eurasian Studies. In the summer of 2009, he taught students in Poland through Learning Enterprises and has also taught in D.C. with the AnBryce Institute.

Dispatch From Abroad: Developments in Beirut

Monday, July 20th, 2009

By Bram de Roos


The Mediterranean Coast of Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: Bram de Roos

After studying Arabic for the last academic year and getting a taste of financial management through a course at the Business School, I decided in the spring that it would be good to get some experience in finance in an Arab country. With a background in political science, Japanese studies and anthropology, I figured it would be hard to start managing a Gulf-based investment fund right away. Instead, I decided to look for an opportunity in microfinance.

My interest in international development and base-of-pyramid business models made me curious about this much-praised approach to help ‘the poor’. Especially after setting up a team of Students in Free Enterprise at GW, I was curious to see how other organizations stimulate entrepreneurship. All the while, it would give me an opportunity to test my newly acquired finance and language skills in a new environment.

So I went online, looked for microfinance organizations anywhere in the Arab world (strategically omitting Afghanistan) and send them e-mails offering my services as an intern. Of the scores of messages sent, just a few resulted in a reply. But eventually, I only needed one, so when Al Majmoua in Lebanon asked me to do an Activity-Based cost analysis to look for ways to improve their profitability, my plans for the summer were sealed. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Dispatch From Abroad: Teaching English in Panama

Friday, July 17th, 2009

By Emily Primack

I am currently living in a rural village called La Palma in Panama teaching English at the secondary school. I teach 7th, 8th and 9th grade which is an awkward age no matter what country you live in. My students are more than a handful but after teaching for three weeks, they have started to grow on me. Read the rest of this entry ?

A Global Re-Wiring

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

By Bobak Tavangar

“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.”
–Baha’u’llah, Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í­ Faith


This is only my first post as a writer for the E Street Beat but I feel obligated to cut through the fluff and get right to what I think we should be talking about. We live in a new world, one inextricably connected not just along external political and economic lines but internally enmeshed along social and spiritual undercurrents as well. It’s too easy to highlight what is being destroyed all around us but it’s when we dig through the ashes and find beauty reborn that we can begin to understand the reality of the words above: “the earth is but one country…” Read the rest of this entry ?

Dispatch From Abroad: Language Study in Jordan

Monday, July 13th, 2009

By Brian Engel

The Hills of the Jordanian Desert, Near Petra. Photo: Brian Engel

My name is Brian Engel, and I’m a rising senior in the Elliott School of International Affairs pursuing a degree in International Affairs and Political Science.  I’m spending this summer living and studying abroad in Amman, Jordan, at the Qasid Institute for Classical and Modern Standard Arabic.  My concentrations in Conflict & Security and Middle Eastern Studies made the decision to study Arabic, as well as the decision to go abroad to the Middle East, relatively painless.  I can honestly say that while I’ve only been here for roughly a month, I have no regrets thus far. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Summer Courses Online

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

By Elizabeth Gerke

Hi again everyone! I am writing about my experiences with the online courses that The George Washington University offers during the summer. This is probably of interest to those of you who may have fallen behind on one or two requirements or are just interested in getting ahead!

GW offers some of the same courses that they offer during the regular school year throughout the summer online.  They are mostly six-week courses (the summer is divided into two sessions of six weeks each) and are all worth their usual credit amounts, be it 3 or 4 credits. They also fulfill the same requirements that they would during the regular school year.  These courses,  run mostly through your online Blackboard portal, can be a great way to take courses that you know will count for college credit while satisfying your GW major requirements as well – all while balancing a job and/or other summer activities! You don’t need to be on campus, in D.C., or even in the United States to take these courses – so long as you have access to the internet, you are good to go. Read the rest of this entry ?