Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Well I’m halfway through “An Imperfect Offering” by James Orbinski. He has worked with MSF (Doctors without Borders) in Somalia, Afghanistan, Rwanda and many other countries. Books like this are always painful for me to read. I let my emotions feel the stories that are told. Also, they always bring so many questions to my mind, and they always fuel my desire to DO something. Not that I feel like I can do a lot, but I’m a doer by nature and often long to help those less fortunate that I am.

I just finished reading the section of Orbinski’s book devoted to his time in Rwanda during the genocide…my mind just goes so many places. How is humanity capable of such evil? What kind of deep seeded fear and hatred would drive people to be so rationally cruel? Why did nations comfortably sit back and debate the term “genocide” while thousands were being slaughtered?

Why is it that something like this would never happen in Canada? Many would say it’s because we are a “civilized” society brought up under the rule of law. We are, for the most part, tolerant of other peoples’ beliefs and respectful of our leaders and political system. Tribal hatreds do not exist in Canada as they do in many African countries. The intricacies of clans and sub-clans, and the divides therein, are completely foreign to us. Our people were not kidnapped and sold into slavery by colonial powers. Also we are not a country devastated by poverty. So are these the things that fuel genocide? And if so, how can the roots of it be stopped before they are even planted? Is this even possible? I guess some would say it has to begin in the education system, so children and young adults can learn that racism, hatred and killing are not an answer. But who is going to teach them? And who is going to teach those are can’t afford to attend school? Is there a generation of Africans ready and willing to take up the cause of educating their countries’ children? Because I believe it has to come from within. It is all well and good for Westerners to go to Africa to offer aid. But without those born and raised on its soil desiring change, how will it ever come about?

These are just some of my jumbled thoughts. I could go on…

But on a lighter note. I bought this great piece of art from an amazing photographer on etsy. Although it feels a bit strange sharing this after what I just wrote. And ironically the piece is titled, "The evil that men do"

Maurice: So many dichotomies in this life…

Monday, January 25, 2010

Well, I took the plunge and bought a new camera!

A Fujifilm FinePix F200 EXR. I’m still not really sure what that means, and, as usual, I am suffering from post-purchase anxiety and not quite sure if it’s exactly what I need. Aside from wicked travel pics, I bought the camera because I need better shots of the products in my Etsy shop. I’m still playing and learning all the camera settings. I think the pics will be better. But I am a perfectionist when it comes to this type of thing. So I really don’t know yet.

Maurice: And other news…

Lists! I am starting to make lists of what I need to do before I go overseas (even tho I haven’t heard definitively from anywhere yet).
- Ask my friend Shawn if I can store my stuff in his big, empty basement
-Visit the doctor and find out what the best thing to do about my prescription meds is
- Visit the dentist for a check up
- Find out what vaccinations I’ll need (if it is Micronesia I’m going to)
- Find out where I can buy insurance – something I admit to not doing when I went to Poland…which I think I’ll do this time just for my poor mother’s sake!
And the list goes on.

I am now reading “An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-First Century” by James Orbinski, who helped establish the Canadian chapter of Doctors Without Borders/MSF. Good so far, just started.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Teaching English Too

I guess the other thing I can talk about in this blog is something else I know a lot about - teaching English overseas.

Maurice: A digression already?

Yup. I have, once again, begun the process of finding a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Langauge) job. I taught English in Poland 2007-2008 and it was the best experience of my life. Financial issues forced me back to Canada, but now I’m ready to go again! Had an interview for a job in Micronesia that went very, very well. Will be setting up an interview with a school in Guatemala. Even going to contact my old school in Poland to see if there are any positions.

So…where’s the best place to start if you’re interested in doing something like this? The Internet. I spend hours searching TEFL job sites for positions. Google “TEFL jobs”, “ESL employment”, “ESL jobs” or any combination thereof and you’ll get a lot of hits. Some of my favourite sites have been:


Or, go directly to the schools. This site: eslbase.com has links to schools all over the world. If you have the time and patience, check the schools’ sites directly to see if they are hiring or accepting resumes. Many schools have large revolving doors when it comes to teachers, and will keep your info on file for when they have openings.

Use your discretion. If a job ad has too little information, it’s probably not worth your time. If it has too much, it’s probably too good to be true. You can also google a school’s name plus “blacklist” to find out if they have been discussed in a negative light on any forums.

Above all else, apply, apply, apply. Send your stuff everywhere!! I don’t have a TEFL certificate and more and more schools are requiring this…but not all of them! Get your stuff out there and you are bound to get something!

Maurice: What are you reading right now?

“Jackdaws” by Ken Follett. It’s pretty good – a Fiction spy story set during WWII.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Black Wednesday

Welcome to our very first blog post [pan across a wide, vast and empty auditorium]. I’m not sure why I decided to start a blog. Maybe the answer will eventually come to me. Maybe not.
For our inaugural posting I’m going to reference Black:
First, “Blackwater” by Jeremy Scahill.
I read a lot of books. A LOT. And no book has ever made me as angry or dumbfounded as this one. The subtitle is, “The rise of the world’s most powerful mercenary army.” An army for hire is the premise…headed by a Christian fundamentalist…hired by the U.S. government for contracts worth billions of dollars...paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Now, maybe I’m just ignorant and people already know about this, but something seems so wrong about the fact that one of the most powerful players in the War on Terror is a private army. Accountable to…who?
It also made me depressingly sad. As long as there are billions of dollars to be made from the war machine, our world will never be at peace. Peace is not economically viable for these companies. It’s a thought-provoking and well-written book. Read it.

Here’s one of my favourite Black and White photos. I took it in Sibiu, Romania in 2008. And speaking of cameras, I’m off to buy a new one this weekend. Buying new gadgets is usually a bit overwhelming for me, because there is always so much information and so many options. However, I decided to bypass the Best Buys and Future Shops and head right to the experts – McBain Cameras in Edmonton. Should be an adventure!

Maurice: Tell me something about a goat.

Well, one healthy dairy goat can yield up to 250 litres of milk annually to provide essential protein and life-changing income…just sayin.

And just cuz I said I would…here's a Black item in my etsy vintage shop. Fun, funky, black box purse.

Maurice: Baa baa black sheep have you any wool?

There's always a black sheep in the family isn't there.
I lived in Poland for a year, visited Czestochowa, home of the Black Madonna.

Maurice: Anything else?

Nope. That's it for now.