Posts Tagged ‘Greg Mortenson’

There are no words for what we have seen in Japan in the past few days. How they will ever recover, I am not sure. We continually hear stories about waves of bodies washing up on shore, numbering in the thousands; possible meltdowns from nuclear plants disabled by the tsunami and earthquakes; no food, power, even water for nigh on four days.

It is staggering, and the rest of the world watches in horror. But I wonder- what do the Japanese watch with? Or can they even watch? They take this disaster and blame it on no one, immediately picking up the pieces before they have all been thrown onto the table and sorted. I often wonder, would America- if, knock on wood, were to be hit with such a disaster on such a scale- take it with such grace?

Here’s a helicopter video of the actual tsunami waves:

Here are satellite comparison images from NY Times- definitely worth the look.

Satellite Images NY Times

And last but not least, here is a video I found on the internet today. At first it seems like a small wave, and then it gets progressively worse, until entire houses are being swept inland.

I do urge you to donate what you are able, or do what you can (Samaritan’s Purse and Red Cross are great ways to do so.)  I don’t believe much in God, so I’m sending my love; but please, pray to whatever you do believe in, because hope is more than nothing at all.


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The staff meeting went well (: Even though there was some guy on his cell phone….but it’s whatever. It’s not quite as bad as the time I had a college interviewer on his phone during my interview. That was pretty awful. But to be honest, I enjoyed it. I love presenting, and feel as if I’m in my element when I’m teaching others. It’s definitely something I want to continue with when I go to college and wherever else beyond that.

Another thing- I’ve realized that I kind of dump my random thoughts into this blog, even if they don’t relate to P4P. I thought a thought today, so I’m going to share it. And it really, like the other thoughts I’ve shared, it has almost nothing to do with this fundraiser. But this was an intriguing thought, not an everyday-black-and-white-thought, so I figured I’d write about it.

I was sitting in a classroom on a desk, staring into the face of another kid sitting opposite me. I’m not quite sure why we were staring at each other, but we were. And I thought, “If I didn’t know I was me, then I could be her reflection and really not be me at all- but really be her. And I would never know it, because I’m her reflection.” And in that moment- that split second that I thought that- I was her. I thought like her, I moved like her, I honestly believed for a slight moment that I was her. It was unnerving, and I told them that- voiced my thoughts about being her reflection- and they laughed and told me to stop being weird, that I was just being “Kristina.” Like “being Kristina” was a verb of some sort, and not a very good one.

But it isn’t the first time that’s happened. That was more realistic because I was staring her right in the face, but it happens quite frequently on smaller scales. I’ll feel as if I’m someone else, and very rarely feel myself to be me. I’ll sit and take a graduation picture, and suddenly I’m my sister, two years before. I’ll sit in a desk in English class and I’m someone else; I walk through the halls and I’m yet again a different person. It’s almost as if I am a dress-up box and every day, my body decides who to be; and very rarely do I feel that it’s my own, singular self.

Is that weird? That I have problems identifying with my true self? Or is my true self an amalgam of other selves, and I have yet to realize it? Or is my purpose simply that, to be a reflection of everyone else in the world, and everyone else is a reflection of me? It was just an odd sensation, something I thought I might share. Probably a skew in perception, and nothing more, but. I found it to be intriguing (:

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Hello, all. If you see this, you are either visiting this blog or are a Piedmont High School teacher seeing it at a staff meeting that you happen to be sitting in right now.

At this very moment.

Yes, I planned that.  (:

Anyway. Today I was going to give a link to Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Friere so you could read it; I was thinking upon it further and really see it as something any teacher should read. And any student, but realistically, that won’t happen. It turns out that I cannot do that due to copyright infringement so instead, I thought I’d link you to a final blog post by an Egyptian revolutionary before Mubarak shut his blog down. Not quite as relevant, but definitely as interesting (:


Now, for the title- and yes, it is relevant. I consider myself to be a rather good student; one thing I apparently cannot do, however, is manage to be successful at Calculus. I have wrestled with it, argued with myself, beat myself down, even cried in school because- for a while- I took my failure at one class as a larger encompassing of my failure as a person. This was my view for such a long time- if I fail at one thing, I fail at everything. I have come to a solution, however, that debunks that personal “myth.”

I thought about it and realized that the reason I am unable to succeed in Calculus- because I really do try- is that it is so black-and-white. There is either a wrong answer, or a right answer. In English and history and languages there is no black or white; instead, there exists a gray region- so large and immense and full of freedom- that I have room to be wrong. I have the ability to argue and to defend, to make sense where there might be none.

In Calculus we have a tool called “integration.” When you integrate between two numbers you are essentially finding the area between them, adding up millions of infinitesimally small lines that make a greater whole. The difference, I realized, is this- if I integrate between two and four, there is one answer, correct to the third decimal place.

But say I wanted to integrate from 500 to 1500, on the “graph” of history. I would be finding the “area” of time; each infinitesimally small period of time- for the purpose of this exercise, let’s allot a minute- added together to make a whole. But the answer wouldn’t be just 1000 years, ten centuries. The answer could be the Dark Ages; the Fall of Rome; the emergence of Britain and France as tangible ethnic groups as they broke from Rome; the rise of the Catholic Church; the split of the Byzantine Empire and the Roman Empire and thus the emergence of Catholicism versus Eastern Orthodox; the attempts of Justinian the Great to create a new Empire; the closing off of Russia from Europe; the start of the Age of Exploration. I could argue any of these answers and they would be correct. It wouldn’t just be 1000 years, ten centuries. It would be all of that and more.

So maybe that’s why I’m not good at Calculus. It is so hard- so absolutely difficult- for me to accept that there is one answer. One formula, one letter allotted to one number to one formula to one single, jailed, iron-clad answer. Make your own connections to Pennies for Peace and education in Pakistan. I’m absolutely sure that there is more than one way to do so :)

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Hello, again!

Okay- so there’s been a rather long gap since my last posting and now, but nothing has really happened. No one ever got back to me about those presentations that I talked about earlier, and then I became part of a local musical that had me practicing until at least eight or nine at night every day. But, I have been asked to present at my school’s faculty meeting this coming Wednesday, and that is most definitely a concrete plan of action, something tangible I can plan for and look forward to.

You see, in my county we have what are called Global Initiatives. Our schools are graded on exactly how many global points we acquire- a certain number of points for the percentage of students that have traveled, for the percentage that speak a foreign language fluently, for this event or that event or this global awareness program or that. Last year, for example, our students put on an “International Fair,” where we pretty much went around and learned about the countries of the world and got cute little flags.

Obviously, doing Pennies for Peace would garner our school a great number of points. But hey- here’s to hoping that the school cares more about the points, no? Actually, I’m pretty sure they could put me in charge of globalizing the school and it would work pretty well…

just kidding.

But, now, for storytime! Today at lunch I was talking about how excited I was that Adam Lambert was performing on American Idol this coming Thursday (for those of you who don’t know, he’s kind of my guilty pleasure.) Before I had even finished saying that statement, the guy beside me looks up and says, “He’s the gay one, right?” Well, yes. But it’s because he’s a good singer, and that’s what matters, I replied. And of course- what with me living in a rural area in the South- an argument about religion and rights of gays and lesbians and whatnot ensued. What matters, however, is how the conversation ended.

He looked at me and said, as the bell rang and we stood up to throw our trays away, “I’m sorry, but I was just raised to be intolerant.” I don’t get mad easily, but that really did make me quite angry. The fact that he knew it- he KNEW he had been raised to be intolerant, was consciously aware of it- and he wasn’t doing anything about it. The fact that he didn’t care enough to think, “Oh, is being intolerant wrong, or right? Why?” The fact that he simply took what he had been taught and accepted it without question.

I remember at a scholarship interview a few weekends ago we had to read an article written by Paulo Friere entitled, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In the article, he talks about the “banking” method of education- how students are bank deposit boxes and are simply being filled with knowledge, without critically analyzing why it is so. This kid at lunch reminded me of that. (Plus it is a MAGNIFICENT read, and worth the time and effort involved, at the very least.)

I think Pennies for Peace would be a great asset to our school, if only to show the kids that are “raised to be intolerant” that tolerance is often the best option.

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So now, I’m at the point where I’m prepping for this presentation at Chapel Hill. In it I have to show how I’m using Web 2.0 and 3.0 tools to aid the globalization effort- which, again, is why the blog. I think that it would be much more effective to have a Pennies for Peace effort here at the school already started and running with tangible results when Ella and I actually present, so tonight, I’m going to have a look at ordering the Pennies for Peace Toolkit. I’ve researched it, and it’s pretty nifty- it includes posters, stickers, videos, information, mailing addresses, the whole schebang. The best part, though, is that it includes curriculum for teachers to insert into their lesson plans. So it’s a learning experience all around!

And on another front, my mom totally got tickets to see Greg Mortenson speak at Wake Forest in November. It’s an extra bonus because my sister actually attends Wake as a sophomore- which makes everything easier. It’s on the night of a playoff game (I’m in the marching band), but I think my band directors will let me off for one night. Saving the world is kind of  more important than playing Play That Funky Music, White Boy. (Even though it is fun and I sang that in my head as I typed.) It would be the coolest thing ever to actually MEET him.

Pennies for Peace media of the day:
This is not media so much as a quote I love from the book itself;

“I’m no military expert, and these figures might not be exactly right. But as best as I can tell, we’ve launched 114 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Afghanistan so far. Now take the cost of one of those missiles tipped with a Raytheon guidance system, which I think is about $840,000. For that much money, you could build dozens of schools that could provide tens of thousands of students with a balanced nonextremist education over the course of a generation. Which do you think will make us more secure?”

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Today in my AP English 4 class we somehow got into a discussion about religion. I think that it followed with Beowulf or Grendel, but that’s what we ended up talking about- how to understand literature, you must detach religion from history so that you can analyze the readings from an unbiased standpoint. It was interesting to see how most of my classmates could not do this little thing- simply detaching themselves from their religion for one moment in order to open their minds to something else.

I think that, if I were in their shoes, I might have a hard time, too. I will go ahead and admit that I’m not the most religious person- but that’s neither here nor there. It just astounded me that, for others, opening your mind meant carrying extra baggage. A lot of extra baggage- and with it, a ton of extra flight fees. My intention with Pennies for Peace is to open people’s minds. But to do that, I’m going to have to overcome so much more.

Religion might have nothing to do with what my goal is. And yet, it seems like everything we do- everything from relations between the Middle East and America to giving a child a pencil- drags behind it the lingering tail of a different belief.

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Friday I applied to a program called WorldView in Chapel Hill. This application, if accepted, would allow me to be able to address a room full of teachers- grades K-12- on the advantages of using new web technology- mostly interactive- to spur globalization and global studies. The chance to talk to them about Pennies for Peace would be the perfect opportunity to spur the process along. I hope I get it, but if I don’t, then I’ll just have to be creative in other ways.

I want- my vision, at least- is to bring it to nearly all the schools in Union County to reach maximum potential. That would be so cool. Dealing with the elementary schools and the middle schools isn’t too bad. That’s easy enough- all I have to do is tell the classroom with the most change that they get a free ice-cream party. Done deal.  The high schools, however, are where the problems start.

I live in the conservative Bible-Belt of America. And that’s not a problem- at all. I just have to overcome that obstacle. But what an obstacle it is.  Often, when I mention the Middle East or Islam, I do not see interest. I get a remark, similar to this: “Oh. Those Muslims. Why do we want to help them?” It hurts me- it really does- because all they see is face value. They don’t see beyond that. At all. This blindness is the entire reason why we need to teach globalization to our children.
Helping children help children- both ways.

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