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Its rather... different here

by Zizipho Pae
Zizipho Pae
Love GOD, Love People, Be a Servant, Lead with Heart. Transform Society
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on Thursday, 18 July 2013
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I have to admit, first and foremost that it was a shock, ‘a cultural shock’ as most people would like to call it. It’s difficult for me to even narrow it down and talk about one or two things that were ‘different’ and that I learnt in my time here in DC because there is just so much. I have chosen a few which I think are the most important ones: the cost of living and the value of the rand, that America really is the world’s biggest consumer, the priorities of the justice system in a first world country and last but not least, the culture of networking.

I’ve always know that $1 was equivalent to anything fluctuating between R8 and R10. I constantly heard the words ‘the rand is falling against the Dollar’. But until I came to DC, I did not know what those words actually meant in practice. I got my very first reality check when I bought a McDonalds meal which cost me $8:15 for the burger, medium fries and a medium soda. Because I didn’t know what was cheap and what was expensive, all I could really do was convert to Rands to the relative price. I then found out that I had paid a little over R80 on a regular McDonalds meal, and yet back home I would not have exceeded R50 for a full meal. This was the beginning of many instances where I was exposed to how expensive life is here in DC and also how little the rand is worth in America. There was a time when I finished all my money in New York and so when we got back to DC, I didn’t have any American money. I then used my South African bank card to swipe for $10 worth of metro credit and I spent R100. This just broke my heart.

The portion of almost everything in America has been shocking. People live in big houses, they drive big cars and the size of their meals is just out of this world. It was shocking for a young person who grew up in South Africa. In high school we used to learn about how America had the biggest carbon foot print in the world and that they are just the greatest consumers on the face of this planet, this summer spent in DC, I saw all of those theories in practice.

I have come to notice that the justice system is very tight here in DC and that a simple act of ‘Jay-walking’ is seen as a punishable by fine act and is utterly and completely against the law. I have also come to know that a police officer will actually stop you for the j-walking. This was rather bizarre to me, and to this moment, still is. The reason I found it rather ‘interesting’ is that back home, police officers have so much bigger problems to deal with that they barely ever have time to deal with petty crimes. It could be that the crime rate in America is much much lower than that of South Africa or it could be that America is much more resourced with police personnel that they can afford to work on people who j-walk.

The culture of networking in DC has been amazing. People say often its not what you know or how much you know, its really about ‘who you know’. And this is a culture that has been developed quite a lot in the business and political city. The first way to get your foot in the door is to know someone, and if you can, know them well.

 

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On a Trajectory Headed Towards Infinity

by Sibahle Magadla
Sibahle Magadla
I am young lady who loves God and loves people. I enjoy Economics and aim to use
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on Thursday, 18 July 2013
Experience 2 Comments

I had the honor and privilege of speaking at the Donald M. Payne Congressional forum on the 17th of July 2013. This is the script of my speech.

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Ward 7, District of Columbia - A Lesson in Social Studies

by Cara Mazetti Claassen
Cara Mazetti Claassen
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on Tuesday, 16 July 2013
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For the past few weeks, I have been doing my work exposure through the Higher Achievement Program at the Kerry Miller Middle School in Ward 7 which is a neighborhood in the District of Columbia.

 

 

According to a set of data by NeighboorhoudInfo DC, (which is an organization in DC that provides local data and analysis in an attempt to "democratize information" so that it can be used as a tool in civic engagement)  in 2010 the total population of Ward 7 was 71 748 people, a number that only started growing in 2000. Before 2000, population size was decreasing at an average of 1.1% per year. 

 

 

In 2010, 97% of this population was comprised of "black non-Hispanic" residents - the highest percentage amongst wards in the District. Following this, Hispanic residents comprised 2.7% of the population, "white non-Hispanic" residents comprised 1.5% and Asian residents comprised 0.3%.

 

 

Ward 7 is known for having the highest rates of teen pregnancy unemployment, persons living below the poverty level, and households headed by single women in the District of Columbia. According to the NeighborhoodInfo, DC data, in 2010 24% of the population were children, although it is not stated what age bracket makes up this group. From 2000 to 2010, the number of children in the ward is said to have decreased by -7.1%. Yet the percentage of births to teen mothers  has remained almost unchanged over the last 30 years. In 2007, the percentage (19%) was the highest amongst the DC wards.  In 2009 households (with children) headed by women comprised  76% of the population. Again, the highest amongst the DC wards. School dropouts and insufficient educational achievement, single parenthood, unemployment at three times the regional rate due largely  to low skills levels, and crime including violent crime such incarceration and murder is said to impact one third of all residents.

 

 

Of the new HIV infections among adults and adolescents in DC, 12.2% occurred among individuals living in Ward 7 and of the new AIDS infections, 15.4% of them occurred in Ward 7. The greatest proportion of newly reported HIV/AIDS cases in the ward were attributed to heterosexual contact at 35%, injection drug use (IDU) at 22% and men who have sex with men (MSM) at 20%.

 

 

Yet, when you are inside Kelly Miller it is easy to almost forget all of this. The school exists as a kind of oasis fully clad with a new gym, auditorium, swimming pool, elevators, Mac desktops and Smartboards in every classroom. The only suggestions of the harsh world outside are strict security routines, the metal detectors and the squad of security personnel posted at every entrance to the building. And last, but not least - the learners. Whilst they each sport a different set of shiny sneakers, break dance and shoot hoops like its in their blood (which it probably is), what they say in class reveals a deeper truth of what it means to be African American for many in DC that belies our Hollywood-fed understanding.

 

 

These are some of the things I've overheard in the Social Studies summer school class over the last two days:

 

 

" Who pays child support for you" - said by 5th grader while making a poster in group work.

 

"If I was a man, I would have a better chance of becoming the president." - said by an 8th grader. Afterwards the teacher asked what was stopping her from becoming the president one day. She answered with the following "Because I am black - thats one thing  and because I'm female  - thats another thing".

 

" I dont' think it will take that long to have a woman president. She might even be a black woman. How about that?" - said by another 8th grader girl in response to her peer.

 

" When my mom applies for a job she always gets the job,  but my dad never gets them and he has a PhD. " - said by an 8th grader boy in explaining why it is better to be an African American woman than man in DC.

 

"If I was European American I would be said because I couldn't tell any of the kids in this neighborhood, the ghetto. But I would be happy because I would get better jobs." - said by an 8th grader boy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beyond the painting...

by Timothy Taylor
Timothy Taylor
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on Monday, 15 July 2013
Experience 1 Comment

What is truth? Is truth subjective? Is it absolute? If truth is deemed dependent upon the person or culture holding the belief, anything can become "true," which is absurd.


All these questions were derived from the tour of the National Art Gallery we had on the weekend. A man by the name of Steven took us on a personal tour of American Art. Not knowing much about art myself, I had assumed that at most I would simply marvel at the brilliance of the artist and think nothing more of it. How wrong I was indeed.

 


Steven was a charismatic and exciting tour guide. Equipped with a cardboard cutout of a microphone and a laser pointer, he was able to allow us to get involved at each and every stop as together we tried to uncover the mysteries that lay beneath the paintings.Each collection of paintings, came with a slightly deeper and multi-layered meaning beyond what the human eye could see.
We came to learn of the various presidents that were all painted by Gilbert Stuart and how his perception of them influenced the final product. Each painting told a story and in order to reveal the artist's true meaning, we had to look at the more subtle parts of the painting that usually wouldn't be considered to be relevant. Everything from the way in which the brush strokes were made, to the lighting in the backdrop seemed to be an indication of something deeper beyond the painting.


After thinking deeply about these multi-layered stories, it dawned on me that this only represents the artists impression of society at that time. It is a subjective narrative and only gives the viewer one side of the coin. Many years down the line, it is a collection of subjective letters,  paintings and books that we have to rely on to learn about the history of a certain era.


Our friends from the New Story Leadership said that they face a similar problem. There is a Palestine version of what happened in their Country and there is an Israel version which tend to contradict each other. As neutral bystanders it makes our lives that much harder to decipher what is truth and what is fiction.



I have come to realize that the only truth that exists lies with the people who lived in those times and experienced it themselves. To every other human being, it is open to interpretation. I have realized that much like the paintings we saw, each and every person that we see everyday has a story beyond what we see visually.
My SAWIP team is another great example of a bunch of people who have tremendous life stories and multi-layered lives but you would never get to know the truth unless you took the time to talk to them and uncover those layers one by one.


As Steven kept on saying, life is complicated, people are complicated and behind every story, there are hundreds more that remain untold.

Tags: deeper, surface, truth
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The Rush for Change

by Matthew Chennells
Matthew Chennells
I am a Masters student in Economics at the University of Cape Town, with a poten
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on Monday, 15 July 2013
Experience 2 Comments

 

One of the wonderful things about the SAWIP program is that it drives into you a sense of urgency to do something worthwhile for whatever community it is that you represent, to make productive use of the present and to think deeply about how to make the best use in the future of acquired knowledge and available time. Small businesses, rapid growth, technological change, the impact of social media, massive poverty upliftment; these grand designs crash around continuously in our heads.


It’s like looking at a night sky filled with stars: we see a bright light, develop these fantastic ideas and then peer hard at them, fixating on them. The harder we stare at them the quicker they dull and dim until suddenly, out of the corner of our eyes flashes another point of brilliance, another sparkling thought, and we switch across. The process continues, sometimes haphazardly, sometimes frustratingly; the comfort that we take is that there are many options to choose from and that we are not narrowed down to one unless we force ourselves to. We can just as easily sit back and revel in the glory of the night sky as fascinate ourselves with the distance and brilliance of specific balls of fire.


However, we are in a rush to do both. What we forget in this process of learning is that change takes time. It can happen suddenly, but more often than not events build on years of simmering thinking; that for every revolutionary leader that rose to power there were a whole number who fell in trying to do so before them. The abolition of slavery, the destruction of royal dynasties, the fight for colonial independence, rights for same sex marriage; all of these were long processes which culminated in the events we know and remember today; wars won, power taken, laws passed.


We are driven by an individualised society where we need to be the youngest in our field, millionaires before we are thirty. Drive, ambition and ego can be good drivers of change but they are also impatient drivers. In their rush to topple governments they overlook the need to build lasting institutions, both formal and informal. In Egypt now, after the revolution, haste drove elections and the consequences are being dealt with in the deposition of a democratically-elected leader, a leader who moved into institutions that have existed for decades, defined by religion, power and identity. The problem in promoting rapid change is that we don’t change the institutions and fail to see why new leaders act in similar ways to those of old.


The same is true in South Africa: we had change, rapid change in its historical context even given that we took time to try and incorporate every concern. For a number of reasons, though, the institutions in place remained largely untouched. We moved from RDP to GEAR almost instantaneously. Twenty years down the line, our police force is archaic, the education system is as divided as it was before, the transfer of business and land ownership has been wholly inadequate, access to justice is rarely available, and displaced communities find themselves unmoved. We did not smash down institutions to rebuild them, as some suggested would be the necessary source of change for equality. For a number of reasons, we chose to embrace them and transform them from the inside.


This approach works if two things are in place: one, the running of these institutions must be open to questions and be willing to adapt; and two, that we continue to deal with issues of the past. In South Africa, neither of these holds true.


Instead, our institutions operate as before in silos of power. Ministries operate vertically, the police force is structured as it was under apartheid, as is the education system in effect. Access to justice is backed by little political will and development issues in informal settlements remain unresolved. The power of corporates is as strong and tightly controlled as before. In our rush to take over these institutions and gain power we did not adequately assess how they were structured and whether these structures were what we desired.


And above all we have no more processes for healing. For all the good that it did, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was inadequate in its reach and impact; too few were heard and too little was told. There is a layer of hurt and tension that exists in our society that we have not provided space to deal with. Leadership programs for the youth are important, but there is no outlet for those older people who actively suffered. It’s almost as if we are waiting for them to depart this earth, hoping that they will suffer in silence until they do. The irony is that dealing with issues from the past may actually accelerate our integration as a society compared to where it is now.


That is not to say that there hasn’t been progress nor that new systems in place - such as the social grant system - are not playing an important role in alleviating poverty. If we had time, decades, to let the system slowly change then this might not be as important. But we do not. Every year hundreds of thousands of children drop out of school and those that pass matric have a qualification that is rapidly decreasing in worth. Jobs are even more scarce and, even more importantly, not tailored to the type of economy that might most benefit South Africans. Urban informal settlements are growing and sanitation and access to food and water is increasingly scarce. We do not have time to let the situation slowly evolve.


There is a paradox, then: our rush to create new rules of the game after apartheid meant that we have left no space to question or ask for more change and which has resulted in a situation which now requires rapid change. We can be practical in addressing this: we can establish space to talk about conflict from the past; we can look at property ownership to make it more fair, acknowledging that some people’s comforts will be reduced in order to help many more; we can inform ourselves about who is representing us politically and improve the quality of our vote, punishing those who do not perform; we can challenge the dominance of unions or interests that disproportionately protect small groups; we can use technology to leapfrog development issues and provide access to quality education, healthcare and the legal system; we can foster and correctly regulate private business. Above all we can challenge our own thinking and realise that if we want to coexist in South Africa in the future then we must be willing to get up in front of our friends and take a stand. We must be willing to take responsibility for the institutions that we have created and in doing so discover how we can improve them. We must decide for ourselves what level of suffering we are willing to tolerate and if the answer is zero then work towards that.


Institutions are created by people and so they act like people. As with our own relationships amongst each other, trust, commitment to certain principles and the ability to act all come with time and an input of energy. There is no reason to think our institutions in South Africa operate any differently.


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Conflict and Healing in South Africa

by Cara Mazetti Claassen
Cara Mazetti Claassen
Cara Mazetti Claassen has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 11 July 2013
Reflection 1 Comment

Conflict and Healing in South Africa

 

I believe that I have come to learn the most, not from the experts around me, but from the person sitting next to me on the plane, the train, the bus, the taxi or the trolley; the person arguing with me on a sidewalk; the person debating with me in a coffee shop; the person challenging me from a across the table; the person who I argue with while we march around DC in high heels just about losing breath and balance; the person in a conversation huddle with me at a dinner party  - the numerous young people who challenge, frustrate, inspire and blow me away on a daily basis  and who I call my team. It is these small conversations and moments of banter that we have in passing, that really make me think and question. Sometimes they just make me confused altogether.

 

 

When I listen to the stories of my peers from Ireland, Palestine and Israel it forces me to reflect on South Africa and where we are in relation to conflict. How are we defined? What did we get right? What do we need to be fighting for or against back home?

 

 

Formally our era of segregation, oppression and conflict has ended. But like Jess, who prefers to refer to a post-1994 South Africa, I am weary of saying that we are post-conflict. In fact I think South Africa is a society still in conflict (or at least one that is conflicted) - be that an underlying conflict of identity and social ownership, or the very much above-ground and globally visible violent conflict of perpetrators of violence.

 

 

Yesterday, Jess and Matt spoke about the need for the 'healing' that a country like South Africa needs to go through to be an ongoing process. I think in South Africa there was a difficult balance to strike between the urgency to right the socio-economic wrongs suffered by a majority which required immediate policy action  and the emotional and social reconciliation that needed to happen for each and every single person. Today, almost 20 years down the line, it may look like as though the mechanisms such as the Truth and Reconciliation rushed the latter in the interest of addressing the former as fast as possible. This begs the question - when in 2013 we are not miraculously an undoubtedly post-conflict society, do we just hope that South Africans will forgive and forget? Do we just hope that the answer lies in a new generation that does not remember? Or does that young generation, or rather this young person take responsibility for this incredibly difficult task of healing upon herself? And if so, how?

 

 

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Under a different set of stars.

by Wiaan Visser
Wiaan Visser
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on Thursday, 11 July 2013
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This weekend I traveled with my host family to the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. I could not have asked for more of a contrast between the two consecutive weekends which I spent in the Empire State. New York City was frantic at almost every hour of the day, while time itself is almost irrelevant in upstate NY.


We stayed in the small town of Glenora on the Western side of Seneca Lake. There is some humour in the classicist getting the opportunity to go somewhere named after a great Roman philosopher and statesmen. The whole upstate New York is in fact littered with references to the ancient and European world. Seneca Lake is flanked by the towns of Ovid and Geneva while the nearby town of Ithica is on the way to the city of Syracuse. They say it’s the only place in the world where you can go from Sicily to Egypt in under half an hour.

 

While Washington gives you some insight into the inner workings of the US, it does not really give you perspective of what is happening on the ground. It’s comparable to someone seeing Cape Town and then being content with having visited Africa. This is even more so in the US; a country so vast and culturally diverse that you would not be able to experience all of it in many lifetimes. Glenora granted me the opportunity to open the door a little wider.

I was lucky enough to visit a Mennonite farm stall. They are a fascinating people worth reading up about. Historically the Amish community is an offshoot of the Mennonites and thus there are several parallels between the two denominations. Like the Amish they shun many forms of modern technology and prefer to live in their own tight knit communities. Their tractors have wheels made of steel (because rubber is somehow taboo), and they are dressed as if they came straight out of the 19th century (hipsters have a long way to go). The experience was almost surreal. It wasn't what I was expecting as part of my ‘Murica adventure, but it added to it in a way another impressive skyscraper never could.

 

A country is more than just the aggregation of its infrastructure or natural resources; I firmly believe rather that a country’s success is a function of its people. It’s the American people who made America great. It had advantages in terms of its vast tracks of land and resources, but so did many other countries.  We see how resources in these countries have become a curse rather than a blessing; we see how corrupt and illegitimate governments have spurned the same opportunities which the USA had. There was a period during the 18th century where the Cape Colony was the third richest area in the world, behind only London and Amsterdam. During the mid 20th century (shortly after decolonization) Africa had a higher average GDP per Africa than South-East Asia. We faced the same struggles and Africa arguably had far more opportunities.

Despite all our struggles South Africa is still the largest economy in Africa; it’s almost baffling when you consider our past. Even if Nigeria overtakes us, our GDP per Capita is still more than double what theirs is.South Africa is still the beacon of hope in Africa. With all this opportunity, where is our country going?

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A Self-Focussed Look at Responsibility

by Cara Mazetti Claassen
Cara Mazetti Claassen
Cara Mazetti Claassen has not set their biography yet
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on Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Reflection 1 Comment

 

 

 

 

A Self-Focussed Look at Responsibility

 

 

This morning I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend the New Story Leadership (NSL) Conference at the Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies, as well as a session at the World Bank, part of which was  attended by some of the NSL members.

 

 

I think the world has come a long way such that it allows for opportunities for young people from South Africa, Palestine, Israel  (as well as the US, China and Canada as was the case last night) to come together to speak about what it means and requires to be a competitive young person today internationally; to talk about what risk-taking means for young people, but also for international financial organizations; to talk about what networking means for trust-building or what peace treaties mean for trust-building;  to talk about what it means to live in conflict-affected society; what it means to be a young man or woman in combat or in armed resistance; to talk about what collateral damage means and what losing loved ones means and to talk about what it means to be optimistic, hopeful, determined, responsible.

 

 

I learnt that taking responsibility is not limited to being guilty.  To me, taking responsibility is about me and what I commit myself to doing. It means that I do not look for someone to blame for the suffering, corruption, failure, that has happened and that continues to happen anywhere and anywhere; that I do not wait for someone else to do their job better, or to do their job, to be accountable, 'take responsibility', to fix the problems that I see around me inside my own country, my home , but also in the country, the home of the other nineteen year old girl sitting in front of me with tears in her eyes, the other countless human beings that populate one Earth with me, who I need, just as they need me.

 

 

Ubuntu - "I am because you are", does not just mean: "you are important to me". It does not mean "I need you to be, (and to be X Y Z)  for me to be". It means "that for you and I to both be X Y Z, I need to be everything that I can be.

 

 

I believe that speaking about what countries, nations, governments, NGO's, NPO's, IGO's, INGO's, MP's, MNC's, and  'CEO's  -  whatever 'powers that be' need to do,  takes the responsibility away from the individual. It takes the responsibility away from me and the billions of other first person's in the world.  I believe that speaking about  what 'young people' need to do is also dangerous in the sense that the responsibility falls to far away from me.  Not only will I not fit into that constituency of duty forever, but it does not do enough to force me to commit to myself, forever.

 

 

I am aware that this kind of thinking potentially opens itself up to  quite a bit of questioning and/or criticism. I also realize that questions like those surrounding responsibility are ones that I will spend the rest of my trying to answer. But for now, in a time where I am establishing for myself what seems true and important to me (to an extent) rather than having a family, church or school system do it for me, these realizations matter. They feel true to me, and at the very least, they are probably useful and not entirely selfish. This is because I think this allows me to spend a lifetime committed to what is at the root of what I take responsibility for, which is every child, mother, human being that suffers.

 

There is so much more to think and write about. There many more questions to be asked about what this means for our expectations of others or the general "People ought to...." assumptions. But those, are for another time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The danger of minimum wage

by Zizipho Pae
Zizipho Pae
Love GOD, Love People, Be a Servant, Lead with Heart. Transform Society
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on Tuesday, 09 July 2013
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The protest action by farm workers in the Western Cape is a sensitive topic in the South African agricultural sector. Caused by farm workers demanding better wages for better standards of living, it has resulted in many losing their jobs, being assaulted and some even killed. During the strikes, General Secretary of the Building and Allied Union of SA stated “The strike will continue across the province until there is an agreement for better wages and worker protection”. Farm workers, through the support of unions were determined not to get back to work until their minimum wage was increased from R69 to R150. What did they did not consider however, is the impact that an increase in wages would have on both the level of employment in the agricultural sector as well as the how it would affect the progress to mechanisation in their work place.

In this blog, I will assess the mechanisation of the agricultural sector of South Africa, I will examine whether or not such a process is happening, and if so, the rate at which it is happening as well as the implications of mechanisations. I will further address some of the reasons why farm workers would prefer machines over labourers. In this blog, I will also analyse the effect that a change in real wages will have on both the aggregate supply and the aggregate demand in the labour market.  I will use supply and demand analysis as well as price floors to further elaborate on the reasons why an increase in wage rate would lead to unemployment. I will then use the economic theory of demand and supply in order to prove that an increase in wages does not serve the economic wellbeing of the majority of the farm workers nor does it make a positive contribution to the economic growth of the country.

The main objective of most businesses is to maximise profits. An increase in the cost of  labour has led to an increase in the total cost of production for farmers and this has resulted in farmer’s moving away from labour based production to mechanisation. In a recent interview, 2012 Northern Cape Young Farmer of the year, Attie Scholtz said that in order to survive and in the long run, increase profits by large margins, farmers have to lay off some of their labourers and take advantage of mechanisation (Coleman, 2013). He then went on to state that “Efficient and cost-effective cultivation practices are key for a farmer to remain competitive in a highly specialised industry”. The farming industry is a perfectly competitive industry (Parkin, Kohler, Lakay, Rhodes, Saayman, Schoer, Scholtz, Thompson, 2011:243-245); this tells us that farmers are price takers and cannot influence the market price. This then means that the only way that farmers can sustain or increase their profits is to decrease cost of production. When cost of labour increases, its price level relative to cost of mechanisation increases, meaning that mechanisation will be cheaper than labour (Radebe, 2012). It is thus evident that mechanisation is a happening at a rapid rate. Farmers prefer mechanisation in that it is cheaper and much more consistent than a labourer as it there is little to no chance of striking or any type of action that will lead to inconsistent production levels.

https://www.google.com/search?q=supply+and+demand+in+the+labor+market&biw=1920&bih=955&pdl=300&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=5C7cUZjJGbO-4AO384F4#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=9fufuA2F0gu0zM%3A%3BUSJtjK-cJU63fM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fimg.sparknotes.com%252Ffigures%252F3%252F38bf88807fd6b1e5beccc807f687acf4%252Fminwage.gif%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.sparknotes.com%252Feconomics%252Fmicro%252Flabormarkets%252Flabordemand%252Fsection1.html%3B320%3B240

In the above graph, on the independent axis (the x-axis) we have aggregate number of working hours of all labours and on the dependant axis (the y-axis), we have the real wage rate. The aggregate demand curve (the curve that represents the demand curve of labour by firms for the entire labour market and various labour rates) is denoted D and the aggregate supply curve (a curve that represents the aggregate supply of labour  in the market at different wage rates) is denoted S. The initial equilibrium is at w* and q*. The increase in the minimum wage results in an increase in the quantity supplied of labour, which is shown by a slide up the supply curve. It also causes a decrease in the quantity demanded, which is shown a slide up the demand curve. At the new wage rate (w min- which acts as a price floor), the quantity supplied is at Qs and the quantity demanded is at Qd. One can see in the graph that at the new wage rate, which is higher than the initial one, quantity supplied is greater than quantity demanded, this then results in a surplus of labour.

The surplus identified in the graph refers to those people who will then be unemployed because of the increase in wage rate. There will be labourers who will be willing and able to work, but will not find a job due to the fact that  firms are no longer willing to hire more labourers as labourers are now relatively more expensive. Farmers will then chose mechanisation over labour. This increases the already high unemployment rate of South Africa, which will in turn stagnate the economic growth of the country (Burgen, 2012). As the wage rate increase, market powers will eventually cause the price of the goods produced to also increase. This increase in prices of the goods produced would then encourage importing some of the goods that the nation would otherwise buy from local farmers as importing would be relatively cheaper. This would negatively affect the country’s GDP in that the country would be purchasing more goods than are produced in other countries, instead of South Africa, which don’t count as part of South Africa’s GDP. This is another factor that would hinder economic growth in the country.  By importing, we would be taking resources out of the country and placing them elsewhere, thus improving the GDP of another country and not that of South Africa.

An increase in the wage rate causes two things to occur: unemployment and mechanisation. Through the use of supply and demand analyses, I have proved that when the minimum wage rate is above the equilibrium wage rate, quantity supplied will exceed quantity demanded, which then reflects a surplus of labours and this amount of labour surplus adds to the unemployment rate of South Africa. I have also revealed that mechanisation is happening at a rapid rate in the South African labour market and this is due to the fact that the price of labour increased relative to the price of mechanisation.  From the above mentioned, one can then conclude that although an increase in the wage rate will benefit the few that still manage to keep their jobs, however, the wage rate increase will not only causes job losses but it also hinders the economic growth of the country’s economy.

 

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Do You Know MOX? Say thanks to PSR :-)

by Sibahle Magadla
Sibahle Magadla
I am young lady who loves God and loves people. I enjoy Economics and aim to use
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on Tuesday, 09 July 2013
Experience 1 Comment

As an intern at Physicians for Responsibility (PSR), I am learning completely different things. I had to write this blog for the PSR website. If you had quizzed me about the nuclear topic four weeks ago, I would have been completely clueless. Now I am utterly fascinated by the uses and consequences of nuclear energy. Do give this blog a read and be enlgihtened!

PULL THE PLUG ON MOX!

On Monday, June 24, Women's Action for New Directions (WAND) and Georgia WAND hosted "Pull the Plutonium Pork - End Mox," a webinar discussing the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Plutonium Fuel Program.

Mixed oxide fuel, commonly referred to as MOX fuel, is nuclear fuel that contains more than one oxide. The fuel can be re-used for energy generation. Studies actual warn that commercial use of MOX fuel may actually increase the risk of nuclear proliferation, which is the spread of nuclear weapons. MOX use went underway in 1994.

The session kicked off with Tom Clements, Southeastern Nuclear Campaign Coordinator of ‘Friends of the Earth’, discussing the disposition of plutonium through its conversion to MOX fuel.

The United States of America declares 55 surplus metric tons of plutonium which will never go back to the use of nuclear weapons. Russia declares 34 surplus metric tons of plutonium. The disposal of US surplus plutonium via mixed oxide fuel (MOX):

  • Is currently far over budget and is the most expensive disposal option
  • Is an inefficient jobs program in South Carolina 
  • Is an inefficient jobs program in South Carolina
  • Has no clients (commercial nuclear reactors) for MOX fuel
  • Results in more handling and processing of plutonium
  • Poses proliferation risks by introducing plutonium into commerce, which sends a potentially dangerous message internationally about the proper disposition  of plutonium.
  • Is linked to the reprocessing of commercially spent fuel and plutonium ‘breeder’ reactors (which make more plutonium) in Russia and the US

The US-Russia Plutonium Management & Disposition Agreement (PMDA) of 2000 (amended in 2010) outlines that both countries dispose of at least 34 metric tons of plutonium surplus each. The agreement concerns management & disposition of plutonium designated as no longer required for defense purposes and related co-operation. Clements stressed that this is just an agreement and not a treaty.

The Department of Energy (DoE) said to Congress that DoE administration is conducting an assessment of alternative plutonium disposition strategies and will identify options for 2014 and beyond. The FY2104 DOE budget request to Congress includes $478 million for plutonium disposition and $320 million for MOX plant construction. There are questions with regards to where this money should come from.

The MOX program’s current price tag exceeds $22 billion. Tom Clements said that alternatives to MOX must be vigorously pursued to prevent the waste of even more billions of dollars.

Alternatives to MOX include continued safe secure storage, disposal in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) which has legal and environmental challenges, can-in-caster to spent fuel repository, HIP waste form which is for final disposal, “off-spec” MOX pellets which are to be inserted into spent fuel assemblies for disposal

Amanda Hill Hanson from Georgia Wand Chapter gave an “Environmental Justice Issues” perspective to the MOX topic.

The Savannah River site is the 4th most polluted river in the US. The river is used for farming and residential well water. Issues that the river site faces:

  • Compound nuclear impact increases human and environmental burden
  • Legacy of institutional racism within site
  • Lack of sufficient environmental monitoring and information dissemination

MOX furthers the problems in this community: Contaminants released intoxicate the river. There are increased cancer rates and health issues in the area.

Georgia WAND is trying to improve monitoring and information dissemination and advocates protection for vulnerable populations at Savannah River site.

Katherine Fuchs, Program director for Alliance for Nuclear Accountability gave a view of MOX from Capitol Hill.

Money allocated for MOX is increasing and the Department of Energy should research how to reduce cost of MOX. Fuchs suggests stopping the funding of MOX and establishing safer and more efficient alternatives. She also encouraged people to take action by looking out for e-mail action alerts, engaging the media (local and national) on this topic, and meeting with members of Congress when possible.

The MOX program is a costly, dangerous, and unnecessary method to dispose of surplus plutonium.

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60 minutes

by Anna-Marie Müller
Anna-Marie Müller
I am Anna-Marie. I am currently doing a Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Deve
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on Monday, 08 July 2013
Experience 1 Comment
This piece is about a one-hour conversation and how it inspired me once again to work in Africa and in the broad field of sustainable development.

 

This morning, Olwethu, Cecil and I met with Dr Meba Kagone, a medical doctor and a senior programme director for the DELIVER project. This project deals with supply chain management of public health in a range of issues: malaria, HIV and AIDS, family planning, pandemic threats, etc. Dr Kagone is originally from Burkina Faso and manages projects for 13 countries. He is an inspiring individual. We had an interesting discussion about Africa and public health.

 

The challenge of getting public health products to patients on time is huge. These can be either preventative or curative. Many barriers exist. JSI and the DELIVER project works to assist governments and ministries of health across the world to streamline supply chain management and build capacity to manage these systems sustainably and self-sufficiently in future. A key area that is being developed is quantification of needs. Knowing how much product is necessary is just as important as managing the infrastructure to supply product in country.

 

Dr Kagone’s opinion is that governance is the biggest limiting factor to self-sufficiency in Africa. His mantra was “governance governance governance” throughout our discussion. When I posed a question about population growth, he acknowledged that contraceptives are a means to curb growth rates, but the complex nature of adequately curbing the projected rates means that without good governance, efforts will not be successful. Africa (and other developing regions) is faced with high infant and maternal mortality rates. This is in part due to a short period between pregnancies for mothers. My own interest in nutrition of course also speaks to infant and maternal health and longevity, and this was another perspective that adds levels of complexity.

 

Bringing change to the population growth rates in Africa cannot be successful without women’s education and economic empowerment. The prevalence of contraceptive use (and the implications of that to population growth and maternal health) is significantly higher in countries with a higher rate of female education. Projects should therefore be focusing on all women: young girls to grandmothers. Each age group can be part of the change. What is of importance is commitment from governments in terms of policies and legislation, and then, crucially, the implementation of the commitments made. Although, according to Dr. Kagone, there is a theoretical buy-in from governments, this lack of resource and implementation commitment creates real challenges.

 

To sustain Africa we need the brilliant minds to stay on the continent, good governance and the determination to make the right decisions, Dr. Kagone said. You can be poor and live within your means, and this mind set should be pervasive on the continent. This means managing resources well and equitable distribution. He said to us: “go and fight” (for what’s right). His advice was to go back home, reflect and think critically about what you can do for your country. Ask a question like what is the situation right now; how can I contribute? This can be by running for public office, creating your own business, given that there is a system of good governance and democracy. Furthermore, it is important to have a good idea and then to garner the support of a critical mass of people who share it. Then, take control of that destiny.

 

Cecil asked him why he decided to study medicine originally. His response was that in medical school in Senegal, a survey was done with the same question. His response then was that he wants to help people who are sick, to be involved in curative health. Others responded that they want to be rich. Dr. Kagone still feels the same; he said clinical practice was very rewarding. As his career progressed, he realized that treating individual cases of malaria was not making the problem go away, and therefore answering the question “is this enough” of himself no longer was affirmative. He then moved to public health, where his work helps 1000s or even millions of people. And to that he says, yes, it is enough, because to him, that is the only way. With good governance, it will be enough.

 

Dr. Kagone thinks that the best way to make a difference is to be in Africa. He said that devising solutions in situ will yield the best results. Even though he may live here in the US, his heart and mind is still very much in Africa. He is working in a field that he is very passionate about, has no regrets and is still taking care of people. For me, the challenge in his great story was to make a difference where my passion lies. Delving into that statement is a topic for another blog post.

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Keep Dreaming...

by Timothy Taylor
Timothy Taylor
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on Monday, 08 July 2013
Reflection 1 Comment

For the past 4 weeks we have been living in the land of dreams. Where great men have turned their dreams into the reality we live in today. Last week we sat and watched the most phenomenal fireworks display I have ever seen from a place that is known for the biggest dreamers of our time.


I sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, on the exact spot where Martin Luther King Jnr. delivered his, "I have a dream" speech and tried to imagine the scene. The 100's of thousands of people who had poured in to witness the fireworks helped this process as I was able to visualize just how many people were packed side by side ready to take in those famous words and be inspired for a lifetime.


Upon returning home that evening, I stayed up considering the concept of dreams and how, as we get older, our dreams become more and more childish so we voluntarily give them up and settle for more "realistic"(mediocre?) dreams.


More and more frequently I have been meeting people who had dreamed to live a certain life yet the uncertainty and fear of not actually realizing their dream took over and they chose to follow a different path. They seem to claim that the doors to their dreams closed while others doors of opportunity simultaneously opened. In my mind that is not a reason to let go of your dreams but rather a challenge that will make your dreams all the more sweeter once you actually attain them.


Despite our inevitable pessimism as we age, I believe that our dreams were born out of a very real desire we once had in our hearts. Even though that desire is not as strong as it once was, I believe that is still exists and always will.


I then started thinking about what my dreams are for myself, for my future, for my nation and for my family. It then dawned on me that dreams are alive. They are living desires that guide and shape the contours of our life and they are often influenced by the people we spend the most of our time with.


My shift in focus over the past few months can be directly traced back to the fact that I have been spending the majority of my time with the most influential and inspiring people I have ever met in my life. Without my phenomenal team I would not have an interest in food-security or in the ways in which theatre can be used to alleviate psychological barriers. I would have assumed that politics and governance was better left to the politics majors and that I should stick to my own field. I would not know the power of getting 17 minds to tackle a single problem has in terms of providing an array of diverse solutions.


I have come to realize that no degree is better or worse than the next degree. We all have a pivotal role to play in society and it is through an entire community of bright and diverse minds that a Nation is able to build and flourish. Never again will I undermine the importance any individual plays in a team context.


I have realized that we each have a role to play and at the point where our roles align with our dreams, that is when true greatness is born. I am still seeking my dreams and trying to determine what the true desires of my heart are. Once I find it, rest assured that the world will never be the same again.


I was browsing through a few pictures on Google about dreaming and the pursuit of happiness. I attached the ones that I thought were the most relevant. Something to ponder.


TT

 

 


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Time to decide and act

by Olwethu Ngwanya
Olwethu Ngwanya
Olwethu Ngwanya has not set their biography yet
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on Monday, 08 July 2013
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The South Africa-Washington International program focuses on Leadership development, Community service and Professional exposure. At the present moment we are dealing with the second and third points of focus.

 

As a chemical science student some of the fields I would love to enroll in are Forensic chemist and Pharmaceutical production. On the other hand I have a great desire of being significantly involved in South Africa’s leadership development. I want to be involved in terms of supplying leadership trainings to the NGO’s, group of students, teachers and the existing structures in all the South African Universities.

 

On the 5th of July my team mate and I visited the Washington DC Department of Forensic Science. This insightful tour was kindly organized by Glen Ackerman who has played a very significant role in welcoming and helping our 2013 team to rich relevant contacts they need for their career paths. It has been my desire to step within the Forensic laboratory and see what the environment looks like and what challenges does it face. During the tour I could feel that I was connecting with the forensic field, it is an interesting path to follow. Also I could tell that USA is more advanced in terms of solving their crimes through their well-qualified forensics scientists. This observation made me realize how much difference I can make to make my country a safe and better place to stay in. Therefore my love and passion for this kind of job increased dramatically.

 

As stated in the beginning I am also interested in the pharmaceutical production. My work exposure is at a health company called John Snow Inc who is working with different health related projects. One of the projects they are working on is the Supply Chain Management System (SCMS) project. This project is working with the pharmaceutical distribution to the African countries. They also have pharmacist within the project and I can be accommodated to practice the medicine production. I am concerned about people’s health too, and I would love to make a difference in creating a public health sector that will help develop an AIDS free generation for the future.

 

Now that I am being exposed to both the things I wanted to enroll it is difficult to choose the best one that I really want to follow. Both fields make me happy and I do not think I can be able to practice them both at the same time. At the present moment I think all the members of the 2013 class ask themselves where to go from here? Because almost all the doors are now open. One has to choose how he/she is going to serve his community through the experience he/she obtained from the USA.

 

This is however the most challenging part. I was inspired by the SCMS project director Greg Miles, when he said that “when you think of doing something good, just do it. Do not think more about it because you might end up not doing it.” This wise man believes that one has to take their inspirations and immediately turn them into conspirations. I have thought about what I want to do now it is time to act.

 

While in DC…………………………………………………..

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Living life memorably

by Camille Fredericks
Camille Fredericks
Camille Fredericks, 24, Bishop Lavis, Honours Industrial Psychology, Universit
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on Monday, 08 July 2013
Reflection 0 Comment

Have you ever felt a moment of relief so overwhelming that you can't help but scream to let it all out! To feel it better. Hearing your voice echo as the only sound in the dead of the night. There is no tension anymore! You feel lighter. You collapse to the ground and wish you could hug the earth. The night is so cold and your nose is frozen. The icy air makes you really feel every breath you take. And none of it is horrible. It could possibly be one of the best feelings you've ever felt. You wish you feel this free everyday.

 

You sometimes tend to draw a veil over all the great experiences that you've had because there is just too much hurt, awkwardness, guilt and feelings of unclarity that imprison you. But when everything around you seems to be sleeping, your head is open and the silence enveloping you is not suffocating you anymore. It's not that scary anymore to hear your thoughts and to deal with the realization of what you've become, of who you are and of what you want to be.

 

 

My dreams are big. But chasing them gives me a thrill. Wanting them makes sense. I'm sure when i live them it would be unreal. I'm living my dream every day. I only dream of being alive. I dream of feeling alive. Whether I'm on the calmest ocean or roughest sea. I journey on it with confidence that i will conquer it. As much fear as i have i won't be overpowered by it. For after all it's mine. It's mine to take and i should not allow it to frighten me.

 

I get chills just thinking about it. Not my dream and what it would be for it to become my reality, but the thought of dying and not achieving it. Death encapsulates all of us whether we admit it or not. I definitely have a fear of it.

Everyone loses out when someone dies. I just want to live so badly. Trying to make the most of everyday seems so impossible because you don't have that much time. You either spending it at some job that you have no choice but to do or there are other things that tie you down and keep you from doing what you want to do. It wears you out. It doesn't give you that craving you once had to live. I want to feel alive everyday of my life. I don't want a moment of boredom. I don't want to feel stuck. I don't want to feel like anything that I did today was a waste of time. Whether I spent it in bed or worked hard. I want to feel like it was worth it to get to today. I don't want to waste the little time I have left to live on making someone else's life a nightmare. I want people to want to be around me because I make them feel loved. I want to spend everyday with all the people I love, I want to make a new friend every day. I want to learn and see something amazing everyday and every day I want to feel like this life is worth living and I can't wait for the next. I want to learn to breath every new day. I want to feel breathless and then take a deep breath and be thankful that I could.

 

We need so much to survive. Not true. We need so little to survive but we need so much to live. You need clothing, food and drink to survive but to live you need companionship, excitement, laughter, shock, love... you need to cry to feel alive and so much more. The only thing we start off with is time. So precious and so taken for granted. That is all that life becomes to most. Just time passing them by day by day.

 

The above is one of my journal entries from January 2009 from my time in New York as an au pair, which I thought was appropriate for describing how I am feeling now. With only two weeks left our Washington DC component of our entire SAWIP experience, my thoughts are wrapped around how many days we still have here and how I plan on spending it.  I plan on spending it with my friends making this experience more memorable than it already is. I'll have no regrets at the end of this experience because no matter how I decided to spend my time here, I know that it was with loved ones. You can never go wrong with a day spent with them.

 

Camille


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A Shared Humanity & The Importance of Soft Skills

by Mario Fabian Meyer
Mario Fabian Meyer
Striving to, moment-by-moment and day-by-day, render service unto humanity: to a
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on Wednesday, 03 July 2013
Reflection 1 Comment

I have been reminded, over the past 22 days that I have been in these United States, that while people may live in different parts of the world and have different cultures, people are, in essence, the same: people are people wherever you go. Irrespective of where we live, or what we look like, or what we belief; we share a common humanity. I have been reminded that what we have in common is of greater importance than our differences, and that our present and future are inescapably bound together. The actions of individual lives impact each other in the past, present, and future. David Mitchell, in his book Cloud Atlas, expresses this truth beautifully: “Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”


Related to the above-mentioned, one of the themes that has stood out for me, in our collective and in my individual interactions with various individuals and organizations over the last 22 days, is the importance of “soft skills”: a sociological term relating to a person’s Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ). Soft skills include: the ability to be kind and gentle, listen well, communicate effectively, be positive, handle conflict, accept responsibility, take initiative, show respect, build trust, work well with others, manage time effectively, accept criticism, etc. “Hard skills” refer to a person’s skill-set and ability to perform a certain type of task or activity. Hard skills would include knowledge, machine operation, sales administration, etc. Unlike hard skills, soft skills relate to a person’s ability to interact effectively with others.


Soft skills, like hard skills, can (and ought to) be learnt and continuously improved. They are important because we become who we are (and will become who we will be), and will achieve what we achieve, both personally and professionally, in relationship/interaction with others.

 

 

 

“Not one day in anyone’s life is an uneventful day, no day without profound meaning, no matter how dull and boring it might seem, no matter whether you are a seamstress or a queen, a shoeshine boy or a movie star, a renowned philosopher or a Down’s-syndrome child. Because in everyday of your life, there are opportunities to perform little kindnesses for others, both by conscious acts of the will and unconscious example. Each smallest act of kindness – even just words of hope when they are needed, the remembrance of a birthday, a compliment that engenders a smile – reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it is passed, until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away. Likewise, each small meanness, each thoughtless expression of hatred, each envious and bitter act, regardless of how petty, can inspire others, and is therefore the seed that ultimately produces evil fruit, poisoning people whom you have never met and never will. All human lives are so profoundly and intricately entwined – those dead, those living, those generations yet to come – that the fate of all is the fate of each, and the hope of humanity rests in every heart and in every pair of hands. Therefore, after every failure, we are obliged to strive again for success, and when faced with the end of one thing, we must build something new and better in the ashes, just as from pain and grief, we must weave hope, for each of us is a thread critical to the strength – to the very survival of the human tapestry. Every hour in every life contains such often-unrecognised potential to affect the world that the great days and thrilling possibilities are combined always in this momentous day.

 

- Dean Koontz, From the Corner of His Eye


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Why My DC Experience Is Like Barnes & Noble

by Cara Mazetti Claassen
Cara Mazetti Claassen
Cara Mazetti Claassen has not set their biography yet
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on Wednesday, 03 July 2013
Experience 1 Comment

Why My DC Experience is Like Barnes & Noble


 

After our SAWIP session a few nights ago I went to a bookshop in Bethesda to work on my blogs (desperately).  Despite the tiredness I felt after only two 7-to-4 days at the school with seventy very energetic and feisty middle-schoolers, I found myself reveling in the pretentious value of my setting. What unfolded there  was this very light-hearted little piece of writing, a much needed break to stop and smell the roses, or rather, the new books as it was in my case.
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Here I am Barnes and Nobel, a bookshop in Bethesda, blogging.  I am not entirely sure when my life became so atheistically pleasing or plain hip.   But, nevertheless, looking out on the bookshelves, the first I see reads 'Just Arrived'.  This may have been a perfect fit three weeks ago when I had 'just arrived'. But tonight, when I am feeling the most saddened by the thought of time passing in DC, I read the titles '150', 'War'  and Gettysburg. I am without a doubt in the United States.  Nevertheless, in my mindless musing the Gettysburg" arrival reminds me of my favourite lines from the famous address which I discovered only two weeks ago upon my visit t to the Lincoln Memorial when I had indeed 'just arrived' .
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The lines read: "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
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Whether or not I am able to rationally explain why I feel devoted to seeing that the kind of South Africa that generations of people have fought for is realized, the responsibility I feel is beautifully encapsulated in these lines. I have felt this particularly  strongly in DC.  Perhaps this is because I am young and have only just began to think past myself. Or, perhaps it is due to  fundamental realizations that can only be made with some outsider's perspective acquired  by going beyond the borders and boundaries of South Africa. The next bookshelf reads 'Sports'.  I believe this rather aptly describes what it is like to travel with up to anything  between 14 and 22 other people, whether it is in attempt to get to get of  Bethesda for work in the mornings, a quick march around Capitol Hill, using the Metro in  New York or trying to reach Times Square in the middle of a downpour at night.
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The  'Logic/Brain Teasers and Crosswords' shelves describe almost every SAWIP session we have as well as my  repeated experience of having to quite literally lean back in my seat and ask myself "Hold up -  what do I actually know ?".  Whether we're discussing American Foreign Policy, trade or debating grammar rules, any SAWIP conversation with my team is likely to provide a good recall test and logic tease. Yet, what is even  better is when this experience is shared with our unsuspecting presenters. Putting State Department Officials on the spot or asking the 'sensitive questions' is never too daunting a task for Team 2013.
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On my table, a steamy cup of Starbucks is symbolically at arms reach, even at 11:00 at night.  In my bag, a Dr Suess traveling mug, shouts "Oh the Place's You'll Go!" and echoes the common message of what strikes me as pure hope and  belief, which I hear time again in the words of every person that supports this program and which makes me believe that just maybe I do in fact have brains in my head;  feet in my shoes; that I  can steer myself in any direction I choose; that [even when] I am  on my own, I know what I know, and that I  am the one who'll decide where to go...
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Across from me an elderly man sits in some very sporty attire reading from a fascinating pile of books containing the likes of "Proof of Heaven" and "Game On". Loungy French music plays in the background and a murual of Steinbeck, Eliot, Singer, Kafka, Neruda, Hughs, Tagore, Hurston, Woolf, Chandler, Lawrence looks down on all of this siliness.

 

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A poem for Madiba

by Jessica Breakey
Jessica Breakey
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on Wednesday, 03 July 2013
Experience 3 Comments

 

I was busy searching for an Image of Mandela to attach to my blog and I stumbled upon this video. I had never seen it before but thought it was so wonderful I had to share it.

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"Quoting" the Greats

by Jessica Breakey
Jessica Breakey
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on Wednesday, 03 July 2013
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A few weeks ago I went to the Newseum with a few of my team mates- WHAT AN AMAZING PLACE (I think I will refrain from talking too much about the Newseum because it deserves an entire blog dedicated to it).


Moving on, the walls of the Newseum are decorated with beautiful “quotes”. Profound statements, questions and phrases line the walls of the 6 floor building. I was with Mario, who is a self confessed “quote” addict and I watched as he marveled at the words on the walls.


Although admittedly caught up in the moment and jotting a few of them down, I thought afterwards that the nature of “quoting” people and having a favourite “quote” is quite strange. Are all statements timeless? And should we keep recycling the same “quotes”.


I then began to think of the stagnant nature of “quoting” and how every student who has taken public speaking quotes a political or public figure from 50 or more years ago and Facebook statuses are constant regurgitations of the same phrases.  So I wanted to change things up a bit- listed below are a few new “quotes” from a new generation of thinkers and speakers. The people we should be “quoting”:


It’s perfectly understandable that human beings process information differently.

I learnt a while back that having expectations for what we may learn is a good thing but in truth the greatest lessons are the ones we’re least expecting

Elroy Bell



The central question in our quest to secure a better future should be, ‘Why are even a few young people apathetic?’ You’d think being born into a country so hopeful and alive with possibility would be enough to create a sense of seriousness and willingness to engage with the inherited challenges.


Often times, when life gets overwhelming I try to bring it back to thebasics. At the end of the day life is about life. No matter where the emphasis is placed I think for most people the main aim of life is life itself: making life better, creating life, ensuring a favourable afterlife and so on

Lwamba Chisaka



We can get lost in beautiful rhetoric, notions of grandeur, dreams about the corners of the globe, and revelations about the future and so sometimes fail to acknowledge the powerful and simple things that are our actual drivers.


To learn from others requires humbleness, but I don't believe humbleness can be learned. It is a by-product of the experiences we have and all we can do to engage more is to put ourselves in situations where we can experience new people, places, ways of thinking.



Matt Chennels



Be strong and overcome your circumstances. Once you succeed that way, you will value your success.

Zizi Pae



I listened to the words of my peers in the same way as I listen to the wisest words of those heroes, past and present, who we often find ourselves quoting. Then for a moment, I stopped and wondered if it was possible that for some of these heroes it had perhaps also not all made sense when they were young and part of a ‘South African youth identity’ that is distinctive and revered today.

Cara Mazetti Claassen


I am tempered to say that world which I used to read about in our toilet is the world that I am experiencing now, how can I ever be the same again? These are life altering experiences

This idea of teaching us how to think, rather than what to think, will enable a generation that is creative and innovative

Cecil Lwana


Somewhere between creating monotonous electronic music and deciding it’s OK for guys to wear pants two sizes too small, Generation Y has decided to take on some of the problems facing our country. The youth of South Africa have announced that they have accepted their role in rebuilding South Africa and shown that they are not just going along for the ride but leading the way. I have hope for my generation.

Phillip van der Merwe


We are a team. We are a community. We are a family. We stick together and we've got each others backs. We are one.

We don’t grow in retreat, but through endurance. Change isn't fixed by crying, worrying, or mental tread milling. Change is won by victors not victims; and that choice is ours.Change is awkward - at first. Change is a muscle that develops to abundantly enjoy the dynamics of the life set before us. Change calls own strength beyond anyone of us. Change pushes you to do your personal best. Change draws out those poised for a new way. Change isn't for chickens. Change does have casualties of those defeated. Change will cause us to churn or to learn. Change changes the speed of time. Time is so slow for the reluctant, and yet it is a whirlwind for those who embrace it. Change is more fun to do than to be done to.

Timothy Taylor


If you can succeed in life and emulate that approach in sport you will be a champion. Conversely, if you can succeed in sport and emulate it in life you will be a success in whatever way you choose to measure it.


We need leaders who are willing to say that they are against inequality no matter and even despite their race, culture, heritage and dare I say it religion.    Hiding behind any of these while knowing the wrongfulness of the act isn't leadership, it's cowardice. Until you are prepared to make that step, you are no more free than any of the others.

Wiaan Visser



Being the helping hand brings more blessing to your life and we are the ones who choose what life we want.

Olwethu Ngwanya



"Xolani bantu baseMzansi Afrika. Iqhawe maliphumle ngoxolo. Thina masiqhube phambili kunye. (South Africans, be at peace. Madiba our hero must rest. Let us move forward together!)

Siba Magadla



The individual’s role is important, especially once a certain degree of exposure and access to information is reached


I believe that I form part of a culture that transcends the colour of our skin and tongue we speak to our grandmothers, that culture is marked by the intent to make a difference, to continue fighting for freedom, to have compassion and be open to hear one another’s stories.

Anna-Marie Muller


You need to be able to instill confidence without reaching arrogance. You need to inculcate virtue and humility without exposing weakness. And you need to strengthen democracy by creating a culture of appreciation for diversity, upholding Mandela's legacy of resolving conflict through reconciliation with the aim of making human solidarity our way of life.


Cammille Fredericks



Our individual actions and contribution may seem small, but they are interconnected and mutually reinforcing. Our individual and concerted actions and contribution send forth a tiny ripple of hope that, combined with other ripples of hope, can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression, suffering, and injustice.


Listening imparts a great deal of respect. When one listens with authenticity, presence, and unreserved attention one makes an instant impression, and builds a solid bridge for lasting connection and potential collaboration. Who can resist being around someone who suspends his/her thoughts and judgement in order to value yours?


Mario Meyer

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It Always Seems Impossible Until It's Done.

by Lwamba Chisaka
Lwamba Chisaka
Those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act.
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 03 July 2013
Experience 1 Comment

It is undeniable that Nelson Mandela has played an immeasurable role in shaping the direction of our country, continent and world. There has been an increasing criticism of the idolization of one leader at the expense of those around and behind him. I can’t and won’t speak on this. Not because I don’t think that other people were equally or more instrumental but because as I mentioned in a previous blog I find it overwhelming to articulate myself when things get large.

During the past few weeks as his health has begun to fail him I have found myself realizing just how much I admire, respect and love all he has done. Everyone has different things which stand out for them as his greatest attributes so I thought I would share just a few of mine.

Firstly, I admire his ability to forgive. Much has been said about the exceptional way he was able to ‘rise above’ his oppressors and never harbor any grudges towards those who treated him so. In my mundane, daily life it is a constant struggle to learn how to forgive others for their shortcomings and in their mistreatment of me. It is probably even incorrect to label what Mandela felt as forgiveness. It was, in my observation, the understanding that forgiveness and reconciliation was the quickest and safest path to achieving the end goals of the struggle. How big a person must one be to set aside their personal/group interests for the sake of creating an inclusion nation? The superhuman selflessness was demonstrated again when Mandela served his two terms as promised and made way for others. South Africa is often said to be an exceptional country not only within Africa but globally, most especially for the way it transitioned from one of the most oppressive and discriminatory states to being at the forefront of constitutional democracy. The praise really belongs to Mandela and leaders like Mandela who were able to prioritize the good of a nation above their personal interests.

Secondly, I admire Mr. Mandela’s dignity, poise, charm and grace. All of these words are similar but each one says something the other doesn’t quite capture. Mandela’s friendship with his guards on Roben Island is well documented. On that unlikely friendship many of them remark on how impossible they found it to be anything but courteous and respectful to a man who treated them as such and who, naturally commanded respect. When interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour ex-President De Klerk said he was struck by how tall Madiba was, how he carried himself (straight back with the best posture) and the aura that surrounded him. For someone who had been in prison for as long as he had to be steadfast in the conviction that what he was fighting for was morally correct and achievable at all costs he shamed his oppressors by never surrendering his dignity. For this I admire him. South Africans are increasingly humble about their country and at times conservative with their optimism, and yet even during the darkest of days he was able to maintain poise about the future of the country. In his first interview when asked about whether the vote should be given to all South Africans Mandela replied that education levels have nothing whatsoever to do with granting people their right to vote. I hope that it is in the same spirit I think people now should continue the fight for socio-economic rights to adequate education, health, housing etc.

Thirdly, I admire his humility. From even before he was released from prison Mandela was the icon attached to the anti-Apartheid struggle. Despite being given superhuman status of being a living legend Mandela never grew, as some would (and have), arrogant or complacent. If anything and by all accounts he became even more humble as he retreated from public life and formal politics of the country. He used his platform to start organizations that would ensure his interests would continue to be served. Whatever platform he was given to speak or attach his name to was used to benefit those in need. I admire that when all was said and done he chose to stay in the humble village he grew up in. I admire his simple outlook on life.

There is so much to be said about Mandela the man and all that he represents. I look forward to hearing what it is about him that other people admire.

 

"Moral Imagination: The humility to see the world as it is, and the audacity to imagine the world as it could be." - Acumen

 

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A Networking Fascination

by Matthew Chennells
Matthew Chennells
I am a Masters student in Economics at the University of Cape Town, with a poten
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 03 July 2013
Experience 1 Comment

 

This blog must please be read as a thought process that unfolded as I wrote – kind of like having an argument with myself.

I find myself becoming more and more rational about my reasoning during my time with SAWIP. I love to feel, and be spontaneous in doing so, but when I find myself uncomfortable I need to delve deeper and understand why. Rationalization also helps me move from judging others to understanding them better. My thinking on the concept of networking is driven by this.

 

Since when did an occasion to simply talk and interact with others need a title? The big ‘N’, networking, an official event on evening programs for us these days. We have been prepped on how to network in Washington, how to hold ourselves, how and what to speak, when to give out business cards. Everyone in our group approaches these situations in different ways and it fascinates me how we have taken what is essentially the core of human existence – interaction with others – and turned it into a game, a mechanical operation.

 

We’re very open about what it means; simply, an opportunity to develop superficial connections now in the hopes of more beneficial relationships in the future. Although I find I am able to participate in this relatively easily, I instinctively shudder at the idea; falseness is something I dislike in people and prostituting my time and energy in this way does not sit well with me. I think it is indicative of the society I live in generally; we often tend to interact with others only when there’s something that we want from them.

 

But maybe I need to climb a little off my high horse.

 

I’ve said before that I don’t think people ever act purely in the interests of others, that we are all driven by our own incentives. This could be the wannabe-economist inside me breaking through, but it’s proved over and over again in all aspects of business, family life, volunteer work, our closest relationships, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing; if you get satisfaction out of helping someone then that’s fine in my eyes.

 

By my own reasoning therefore I must therefore accept that nothing I do, including any of my interactions with others, is done without some benefit for me. What difference, then, is formalizing it through this process of networking? In fact, is it not better that it is acknowledged for being what it is, rather than everyone pretending they are together for something else? Unless I am actively pretending to be something I’m not, small talk, swopping of cards, only asking questions that I have an interest in hearing the answers to does not necessarily mean that I am not being genuine.

 

The idea of ‘selective networking’ – engaging deeply only with people who you think can further your ambitions – holds some appeal but it limits too heavily the avenues through which we are able to learn. Some of the best conversations I’ve had came from the unexpected. We often pay positive lip service to the idea that there is something that we can learn from every person, no matter how important we may regard them as, and, as Jess said in a recent post, if we truly believe this then we should apply the same interest to everyone we meet, not just those we think we can get something from.

 

The major reason, though, why I dislike networking derives from the world that I think it represents; an exclusive and highly unequal set of circumstances that I am able to access only through my being privileged, not necessarily because I deserve it, because of my ability or because of my need. That it’s “who you know not what you know” scares me when I think of what this implies for most of the world that do not have this access.

 

I can’t pretend that my aversion to the idea of networking does not also have something to do with my own image. It’s got to do with the type of person that I want people to see me as; someone with integrity and respect. These two delicious words are full of different meanings; here (informed by some previous semantic-style discussions in our group) I see it as meaning taking a genuine interest in others in your dealings with them, having their interests in mind and not just your own.


 

For over a year all I did every day was strike up conversations and form relationships with people to whom I had little connection, often in the hopes of getting something out; a bed, food, directions, friends. What I have learnt is that my most meaningful and beneficial connections, the ones that last the longest, create the best opportunities and provide me with the greatest happiness, are those that I put time and effort into and where I asked questions that sought to understand rather than simply know.


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