#metoo

The MeToo campaign/movement is a viral two-word hashtag used to denounce sexual harassment and assault. Despite common belief, the campaign did not start in 2017. #MeToo has been long used by social activist Tarana Burke, but got popularized by actress Alyssa Milano after well over 80 allegations towards Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s decades of abuse, rape and harassment was shed light on in 2017. This forced the conversation about sexual harassment, gender bias and sexual assault into the spotlight.

Women of all ethnicities, cultures, countries and ages go out with two words: me too. Some women share their personal stories alongside, some chose not to. 

The sad fact is that sexual assault happens more than we want to acknowledge. Sexual abuse is nothing new, but the immense amount of brave women daring to break the silence about sexual harassment and assault is a true reckoning.  

An informative thread on why so many chose to stay silent:

 

 

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Gran Torino

Gran Torino (2008) is an American movie produced and directed by Clint Eastwood. In addition to film-making and producing, Eastwood is a prominent actor who also starred in the film himself. Gran Torino, set in Detroit, became the first mainstream movie to include a cast of Hmong Americans. The film is centered around Walter Kowalski, the retired auto worker and Korean War veteran who is forced to confront his prejudices against the many minorities now living in his neighborhood. Although Walter’s exterior is strong, his heart is gradually softened as unexpected friendships are formed with his next-door Hmong neighbors.

  • How do we see oppression of the Hmong people in this film? What has the film taught you about the Hmong people in the US?
  • What are some of the challenges and pressures Thao and Sue have to deal with as second-generation immigrants?

Gran Torino has taught me quite a lot about Hmong people in the US. Firstly, I learned that Hmong people are mountain people native to Asian countries such as China, Vietnam and Thailand. Continuously I learned that the Hmong people stood by the US in the Korean war, which sounded as something misconceived by many by the tone of Sue’s voice.

Qualities I learned about was the massive gratefulness and kindness the Hmong people display. After the main character (Walter) saves Sue from a Hmong gang, he gains immense respect from her family and the Hmong community. In one scene we see the Hmong people gathering up outside Walter’s house to offer him their gratitude in form of food and presents. He angrily decline their offers, and makes it clear that he wants them off his property.

Embarrassingly enough, Walter learns through his mistakes, one being affectionately petting a small child on the head. Touching any Hmong on the head is a big mistake, as Hmong’s believe the soul of a person is located in their head. Both the audience and Walter learns about the Hmong people and culture through Sue’s educational talk as the he reason why. Sue responds with telling him that eye contact is a sign of respect and recognition, both something he clearly lacks.

  • At the end scenes we also get glimpses of the Hmong’s traditional clothing. The pictures are not from the movie, but are reminiscent to those worn in the end scenes by Thao and Sue.

As second-generation immigrants, Thao and Sue has to adapt themselves in both the Hmong culture and the American culture. Thao and Sue deal with the expected template for each of the genders; girls indulge in studies and gain good educations, while boys are expected to join the gangs. Being forcefully commanded to carry out acts, vulgar language, harassment and invasion of privacy are just some of the challenges the two siblings has to endure.

I did some reading after watching the movie, and found out that strong prejudice against the Hmong people is still significant in the US. Most Hmong people are hesitant to form relations outside their own culture. These two points made the movie even stronger for me, as we see the main character overcoming the stereotypes and prejudices he had to form friendships within the Hmong culture.

 

 

International day!

oddd.png

Operation day’s work is the biggest solidarity campaign organized by, with and for young people. The campaign consists of two interconnected parts: the information campaign called “International week(IW)” and the OD day. Normally you would have a whole week on the international week, but at our school it is compressed into one day (two if you add in the work day/OD).

At the end of international week, Norwegian students voluntarily devote a day off their education to work for a day, thereupon donating their salary to the ODW project of the year.  This year, ODW’s focus was on the world’s largest oil disaster in Nigeria.

  • Through this campaign we hope to enlighten the youth in the Niger Delta about their rights, and inform them on international obligations, laws and regulations that apply to the oil companies that are currently operating in Nigeria.

“Youth helping youth to help themselves”- ODWUSA

The Niger Delta has become one of the most oil-impacted ecosystems in the world. Though oil and gas production has engendered great wealth for some, the harsh reality is that the production has led to predominantly negative consequences for both nature and inhabitants. Predictably, the Niger delta is arguably the most severely oil-damaged environment on earth.  Producing as much oil as cheaply and quickly as possible by cutting corners on important fields such as safety, maintenance and monitoring seems to be a given for the big oil companies. When oil companies are faced with gruesome facts of their own work, they seem to turn around and walk away as if nothing is wrong. So far, none of the culpable companies have shown responsibility by conducting a proper clean-up nor giving compensation to the people living in Nigeria. The government and the oil companies make too much profit from the catastrophe to want to fix the madness.

Along with the environmental devastation, the lack of financial profit for the local people has fueled an extremely violent militancy.

Subsequently, ODW gives students the opportunity to get involved and help to create change. Operation day’s work is all about us; about youth. Our choices and actions can determine how the world will be for future generations. Operation day’s work is all about showing that we, the youth, see that the world is unfair, and we are taking the first step in the right direction. We believe that education is the right way to go in order to ensure sustainable development in the project countries.

In the preparation process, the first thing we did was to each pick two specific rooms that we found appealing. Luckily, but not coincidentally, me and a lovely friend called Elisabeth from my class picked the same two respective rooms. Before all else, we sat down and did some research on the content that would be presented in the two rooms. Secondly, we sat down and made two posters, one each, for the two rooms we chose to be a part of; the film room and the room focusing on the situation in Venezuela.

In the film room, we watched these movies:

They are all short movies touching the subjects of poverty, pollution, education, and the environmentalists in Nigeria.

In the Venezuela room, first amanuensis in comparative politics Leiv Marsteinstredet held a presentation on the critical situation in Venezuela. Unfortunately I feel as though I am unqualified to talk about his presentation, and it is too complicated for me to summarise, so I will leave a link for you to read if you are interested: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/04/venezuela-happening-170412114045595.html

International Day turned out successful due to the predominantly good planning, though there are a few things I wish were completed better. Most of those in the international class, at least the ones I spoke to, were not able to attend the rooms we wished to visit due to us having to be present in our respective rooms. I missed the two top attendees I wanted to listen to because I had so much to do in my rooms, which is very unfortunate. The second thing that could have been done better was the attendance. Unfortunately, a lot of students managed to sneak away from participating in activities. Instead of attending people were hiding in the cafeteria or even leaving the school area.  I truly hope that next year there will be a better system to check if the students are present on school ground participating the entire day.

Despite a few minor flaws, I believe international day was an informative and inspirational school day.  I believe I did the best I could, but there is always room for improvement. I could have interacted more with the students participating, though I talked quite a lot when being the host. In the film room, there was not much to say as the films spoke for themselves, but maybe explaining what was going to happen would have made the experience better for those attending. People were leaving and entering without notice, so it was very hard to organize a wished set-up.

Niger Delta Blues

The Niger Delta blues was written and produced by BANTU(crew) and Aman Junaid, and is an informative song about the history of Niger Delta. Through this song we learn that there is an ongoing environmental devastation caused by the oil industry in the Niger Delta. The Niger delta is the delta of the Niger river located in the Atlantic Ocean on the Gulf of Guinea. Furthermore, we learn about the inhumane conditions the people are forced to live under seen from a Nigerian perspective.

bantu.jpg

The commencement of the song is a speech over music, making the listeners informed and enlightened already from the first few seconds. “We have gathered here to protest the environmental devastation caused by the oil industry in the Niger delta”.

Progressively into the song we are informed of the many cruel diseases such as malaria, cholera and typhoid that are a certainty for the majority of the inhabitants.  Furthermore, we hear about the frustration the Nigerians are faced with as they see the attitude the rest of the world show as they are faced with their actions. Nigerians cry and plead for help, but no one seems to care about anything but money.

 

My sources:

 

 

 

Girls + Education = Power

“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.” – Malala Yousafzai.

Girl rising is a global campaign that sheds light on the importance of girls’ education and empowerment. Girl Rising uses the power of storytelling mainly through film and social media. In 2013, the Academy Award-nominated director Richard Robbins undertook the challenge of portraying nine girls’ challenges in the developing world, as they dream of nothing more than receiving a fundamental education.

girl rising

Each of the nine stories has been penned by nine eminent writers from each of the countries illustrated in the film. The girls primarily act as themselves, but their words are predominantly voiced by female international icons such as Anne Hathaway, Frieda Pinto and Meryl Streep to mention three of them.

All nine stories emphasize the vital role of education. The amount of opportunities and increasing courage that arises once a basic education becomes a part of their lives is heavily accentuated. Furthermore, besides the film’s ostensible focus, which is girls’ education, the film tackles several major social issues such as underage marriage, child slavery, poverty and bonded and adolescent labour. The film mainly portrays men in a negative light, but you also see an effort to show positive male figures, such as caring and protecting fathers and brothers.

Something I found deeply interesting was that between each segment, a series of brightly dressed girls of all ages and ethnicities stepped out to hit us with a series of gut-wrenching facts and statistics (though unsourced) about the disproportionate number of girls living under injustice, discrimination, preferential treatment, cultural paradigms, and inequality. The girls do not speak themselves, as the famous Hollywood actor Liam Neeson does the narrating. “Girl Rising” is all about the empowering girls, and there might have been a purpose of getting a male voice to narrate the negatives, but I believe having the girls speak would have given the facts a much more emotional and credible voice as it is all about the girls.

As the film progresses, it becomes clear that the language, imagery, details, and the chronological construction of the stories are beyond what the children included in the movie are capable of in their age. The story is more likely to be “based on” true stories rather than the raw, pure truth. Though the movie is somewhat fictional both visually and audibly, the realism is clear all the way from start to finish, which I found profoundly interesting.

The Kabul-born journalist and author Zarghuna Karga tells the common yet unsettling tale of a girl named Amina (whose name and identity was changed out of concern for her safety); born and raised in the war-conflicted area of Afghanistan. Rapidly we get the mood of her story; a girl unworthy of documents stating her birth, and with a mother crying her heart out as she learned the gender of her new-born child. Throughout her entire life, Amina is confined by her gender and expected to serve the men. Amina is only 11 when her hand is given away to her much older cousin, while her older brother gets her dowry money to buy a used car. Amina is called “lucky” as she gives birth to a healthy boy without complications in a country where the odds of surviving a delivery is inferior to not surviving.

 

CNN Films: Girl Rising Amina portrait. Film still

I chose to highlight Amina’s story in my blog entry, because amongst the nine stories her story was the one that struck me the most. I believe the biggest impression her story made on me, came from me being unable to process the unimaginable situations she is faced with, because Amina’s reality is so distant for someone as privileged as me. To have a girl only having reached puberty, going through the trauma of forced marriage and child-labour is beyond imaginable. Somehow, Amina manages to think confidently and somewhat positively, despite her continuous inhumane experiences, which is something I hugely respect and admire. Amina was able to speak up as a result of her courage and strength, proving that “One girl with courage is a revolution”. The catchphrase is short yet descriptive, making it catchier and more memorable. Currently, there are more girls attending school than ever in Afghanistan, and it is likely that the positive progress will continue to grow, proving that it only takes one girl with enough courage for improvement to take place. Uninterruptedly we see more girls like Amina; girls with courage, girls who will make a change.

  • Unfortunately, the Girl Rising campaign was unable to remain in contact with Amina, as further updates could endanger her safety and the very work of the organization.

Girl rising is set to leave an impression, one way or another. The statistics are somewhat familiar, but they still alarm you as you come face to face with the numbers. I knew from before that the number of girls in the danger zone of sexual assault were immense, but to hear that “In a single year, an estimated 150 million girls are victims of sexual violence” and “50% of all sexual assaults in the world are on girls under 15”, was shocking. For someone who is unaware of the extent of this issue, these statistics can be extremely eye-opening. We sometimes see news on television and on social media floating around concerning sexual assault, but to think of the millions of silenced girls currently being held down against their will, without anyone knowing, is devastating. Statistics such as those previously mentioned, are pinpoints in the movie I believe will stick with people. Nothing comes close to the movie on showing me the power education has and will have.

After the movie, I was left with a lot of guilt; guilt because I take having education as a right for granted, guilt because I do not appreciate the rights and values I have as an individual, and guilt because I have such a good life. Yet, I still find microscopic issues to complain about. As well as guilt, I also felt sympathy for the girls. I could acknowledge the pain, and feel sorry for their situations even though I have never been, and hopefully never will be, faced with the same gruesome experiences that they have.

  • “Girl Rising” is a very informing, eye-opening, and important movie, but it does contain graphic illustrations and details that can be triggering. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the powerful scenes you will encounter, and maybe be prepared to take some time off if the scenes affect you too heavily.

For someone who are not familiar with the importance of education, this film is a revelation. Seeing and hearing real experiences will not only give us a human face to the otherwise so distant issue, but it will also help us put ourselves in the shoes of others so we can help build a bridge of empathy in a world that desperately needs the engagement and compassion we have to offer. Without the bravery of the filmmakers, we would know very little about these challenges and problems that girls are suffering under. Docufilms like “Girl Rising” holds up a mirror to our society and holds our conscience to account. Seeing the power of education being visually recorded, holds a greater power to move minds than the spoken word and will inspire change.

It goes without saying that I would recommend this movie. Your heart will ache, but the ray of optimism and light is set to ignite a fire in you. We all owe it to the future of the world to ensure that all girls find the courage and motivation to rise above the hardships. Emphasizing the issue and informing others as well as supporting this cause in whatever way we can is vital, because with enough courage and support change is possible.

Sources used to write this blog entry:

 

The UN sustainable development goals

In the beginning of September 2015, the largest gathering of leaders in world history were assembled to commit their nations to a new set of global development goals. On the 25th the same month, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced that the 193 country representatives that had gathered, had come to an agreement on a set of 17 new development goals. Previously, a set of 8 goals were developed to eradicate extreme poverty: The 8 millennium development goals /MDGs set in 2000 failed certain people and countries, so these new goals were set to reach everyone and leave no one behind. I would say The MDGs ultimately laid a foundation for the Sustainable Development Goals to become the more detailed and improved set of goals.

Although it is extremely difficult to favour one of the goals over the others, I believe goal number 2 is among the most important ones: « End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture» or «Zero hunger» as its also called.

zero hunger

Hunger and malnutrition can, and will, affect ones physical and mental health. Therefore, eliminating hunger and malnutrition is incredibly important. Hunger involves absence of necessary vitamins, proteins and nutrients that contain the energy we all need to function productively. When individuals experience prolonged hunger, damaging chemicals are released in their brain. As well as chemical release, other symptoms of malnutrition and hunger such as fatigue and low energy, muscle weakness, bloated stomachs, and poor immune function is common. An inadequate immune system will cause the body to have troubles fighting off infections and diseases, and the chances of severe sickness or death is much greater.

  • To put things in perspective: One in nine people are currently sat hungry, whilst one third of all food is wasted as nothing but garbage.
    – Approximately nine million (+) die of world hunger every year, according to world hunger statistics. That is more than the death toll for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined in 2012.

The statistics are horrifying, but believe it or not, there has been progress. The MDGs have certainly given countries a push in the back. So far, the statistics show that 24% living in hunger in 1990 has improved to 12% in 2015. The goal of halving the percentage of people living hungry is close, and 72 countries are already is monitored to have reached the said MDG goal. Things are moving forward, and people more heavily engaging in the problem are slowly but steadily increasing.

Despite the colossal progress made over two decades, 925 million (and counting) are still suffering from hunger globally. But to fight hunger, we need to know where the main origin of the problem lies. I believe hunger and malnutrition has its origin in the immense levels of inequality within and between countries and continents. To be able to feed all sufficiently and equally is one of the most prodigious challenges we face as of today. Although it is proven that globally there is no shortage of food, and the road towards exterminating world hunger is shorter than we believe. If we make the right decisions, emphasizing the word right, I believe we can reach the goal of eliminating world hunger.

Mawango/Kapiri Lea School   malnutrition

I want to mention the 17th goal as well: «Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development” or easier said: the necessity of working together. To reach the goals set for sustainable development, the agenda needs intensive cooperation between ordinary citizens, the governments, and the private sectors.

As of now, the Sustainable development goals are «just» words on paper. If we want the goals to be transformative, we need hard work, energy, and good will to put our words into action. Ultimately, development is about intensifying the rights and freedoms of the poor. Although it is unlikely that all the goals will be met, I believe that making a progress in the first place is a major step in the right direction.

  • Will a new set of goals help shift the world from a dangerous path, to a sustainable and good world? Can the UN goals make a significant sufficient difference?

If you want to know more about this goal, and the other 16 goals you can go to https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/  and read more!

 

Sources used to write this blog entry:

Hurricane Harvey raging in Texas

Over a four-day period, Hurricane Harvey has battered the Texas Gulf coast with 130mph winds and catastrophic flooding. The hurricane has forced several thousand people to flee their homes, causing mass injury as well as claiming the lives of at least 30 people (and still counting).

Hurricane Harvey originally made landfall as a category 4 hurricane, but has been downgraded to a tropical storm since manifesting. Powerful winds are the most recurrent means of destruction associated with hurricanes, but most of Harvey’s destruction came from the immense amounts of rainfall.  Hurricane Harvey and its remnants has so far dropped a mind-boggling amount of more than 51 inches of rain, registered by a weather station in Southeast Houston, surpassing the old national record of 48 inches. In addition to breaking the record, hurricane Harvey is going down in history as one of the worst flood disasters in U.S history.

The extent of the damage done by Harvey is yet to be assessed, but a clean-up to restore, recover and rebuild the Texas we know, is sure to be extensive.

As well as bringing a record amount of rain, hurricane Harvey has also brought up questions about how much climate change can be blamed for the storm. Many claim that the hurricane was caused by global warming- and it very well could be! As the earth heats up, evaporation speeds up causing extreme shower storms, much like this one, to occur. hurricane-harvey2When reading articles like this one, watching the news and listening to the radio I realize how frequently we are being exposed to natural disasters, such as this one. And although this is terrifying to think about, it is also empowering and encouraging for us. I believe the constant reminder is just another push in the back, trying to make us interfere so we can make a change.

But before we can make a change, we need information. I believe starting with the basics, as well as gradually gaining a bigger and deeper insight, is the way to go. Informative articles like this one can be a great way to start educating yourself, and gaining a more extensive understanding. We all know our world is perpetually getting warmer, and factors playing in on our climate is sure to change for the worse, making us more vulnerable to occurring disasters. We need to start being more constructive, and ask the tough questions; Are humans to blame for the ever-increasing occurrence of natural disasters? Can we do something about it, or is it too late?

Link to the article: Hurricane Harvey raging in Texas