Archive for the ‘Study Abroad’ Category

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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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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Human Potential in Beijing

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

By Bobak Tavangar

“The endowments which distinguish the human race from all other forms of life are summed up in what is known as the human spirit; the mind is its essential quality. These endowments have enabled humanity to build civilizations and to prosper materially. But such accomplishments alone have never satisfied the human spirit, whose mysterious nature inclines it towards transcendence…”

–The Promise of World Peace, Universal House of Justice, The Baha’i Faith


Walking the streets of Beijing, China. Photo: Bobak Tavangar

I’ve been thinking a lot about human potential. Who? How much? How do we know? Where does it come from? How can it be unlocked?

Here in Beijing I see so much potential inherent not just in the individual but in Chinese society as a whole. History has shown us how capable the Chinese are with significant contributions to science, governance, commerce, and social theory and it is proving no different now. This country is rediscovering what it means to harness the world around them for the sake of progress. 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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Dispatch From Abroad: Cape Town, South Africa

Friday, May 8th, 2009

By Alison Chatfield

As Americans witness the close of the first 100 days of President Obama’s term in office, I’ve been busy watching a very different system of politics morph before my very eyes.  Or at least, I’ve seen a lot of political posters.  Posters making dramatic proclamations in multiple languages, posters with posed national leaders in crisp business suits and even crisper smiles, posters with some very controversial color choices.  Basically, there were a lot of posters in Cape Town this April.

Being in South Africa for the re-election of the African National Congress (ANC) Party was not as exciting as it seems.  Read the rest of this entry ?

The Value of Studying Abroad

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

By Leah Spelman

In the fall of my junior year, I was beside myself with too many options for how to spend the rest of my time at GW. I didn’t know whether I wanted to stay on campus or go abroad, or what I really wanted to commit my time to. It seemed like every choice I made would impact my path further down the road, but I felt pulled in too many directions and didn’t know how to start streamlining my activities and stop driving myself crazy. Instead of being excited by all the possibilities before me, I was overwhelmed.

All of that changed when I decided to go to Cairo. Read the rest of this entry ?