Monday, March 31, 2008
The New American Scholarship is a need-based scholarship for Vermont’s refugee and asylum students. Recipients must be full-time undergraduate students and eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. This scholarship is for tuition only, and the amount varies depending on the students expected family contribution and other need-based grants and scholarships the student is eligible to receive.
In its first year in 2006, the New American Student Scholarship program helped 13 students. Now, about 16 students—from Vietnam, Bosnia and Sudan, among other places—receive a range of scholarships based on need.
Why are other colleges not following suit?
His grandfather told news reporters that Diveroli is now in Turkey or Albania doing his "patriotic" duty. "He's all over the world getting what the US military needs."
See the New York Times, CNN and local news story
Friday, March 28, 2008
While vacationing in Lisbon, I was surprised to discover the city awash with graffiti. Even certain monuments were tarnished with graffiti in comparison to the pristine pictures the guidebook showed. It was particularly strong in Barrio Alto, which is known as the heart of the city's youth culture. Yet it seemed as if the graffiti has become a large part of the ambiance, what gives the area its Bohemian feel. This was in comparison to more political graffiti found on statues in the main central parts of the city (such in the picture shown here), which was clearly meant for a tourist audience. Traveling further into the suburbs, into Cova da Moura (in Buraca, a neighborhood with people tied to the Cape Verde Islands, Angola, and Mozambique, Guinea, and Eastern Europeans), the part of Lisbon the guidebooks tell you to avoid, where taxis dont go, and of which tourist information officers have very minimal knowledge, we discovered more stylistic mural-like graffiti of figures such as Tupac, ('Tupac lives in Buraca') perhaps meant to express the solace that many marginalized youth have found in the hip hop culture.
Off course, the site has been the center of criticism, which has led to the website posting a series of caveats now listed on the main page, which a user must view before entering the site.
I do realize that by publishing this post I am perpetuating the sensationalism behind the story and giving the page free publicity. However, I think that such a post is important to demonstrate that gender norms are still being reinforced, but by using a different type of medium.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
In a BBC intrview Rose Thlarera, a South African woman, said:
"What the mine is doing to us is worse than the apartheid era - during apartheid we had our water and electricity but we didn't have the mine amongst us. They are forcing us out - they don't care how they are getting their platinum."
Monday, March 24, 2008
Many young exiled Tibetans have marched through Dharamsala with placards reading, "We want to go home." But for them, "home," means a land they know only from stories. From the terrace of the Central Committee of Tibetan Youth, Dolma Choephel, 34, looks down into a valley. She's wearing a gray t-shirt with the words "Boycott 2008." Dead human heads appear inside the Olympic rings.
"Tibetan youth are frustrated," the social worker says. She talks about her 21-day hunger strike in front of the United Nations office in New York, meant to raise awareness about the Tibetans' plight. "It didn't help," she says bitterly. The first TV cameras arrived only after 12 days. "But when a bomb explodes or a house goes up in flames," she says, "the UN is right there. The world only reacts to violence. Just like in Kosovo."
Friday, March 21, 2008
This raises questions about corruption within the system- no one really knows how many cases are handled, tainted with some type of bribery or sexual coercion.
"According to Congressional testimony in 2006 by Michael Maxwell, former director of the agency’s internal investigations, more than 3,000 backlogged complaints of employee misconduct had gone uninvestigated for lack of staff, including 528 involving criminal allegations."
Thursday, March 20, 2008
The Centers for Disease Control, teenagers account for only 23 percent of current out-of-wedlock births. That means the vast majority of unwed mothers are old enough to know what they're doing: Unwed births are surging among women ages 25 to 29.
The arguments set forth in the article seem to suggest that young pregnant girls are do not understand the situation in which they put themselves:
"But perhaps in our desire not to make moral judgments about personal choices, young women wholly unprepared to be mothers are not getting the message that there are dire consequences of having (unprotected) sex with guys too lame to be fathers. There is a scene in the teen pregnancy movie Juno in which the title character, a 16-year-old who has decided not to abort her unplanned baby but to give it up for adoption, is having an ultrasound. The technician, thinking she has on the examining table another knocked-up teenager planning to raise her child, makes disparaging remarks about children born into those circumstances. We are supposed to loathe this character and cheer when Juno's stepmother puts her in her place. But I found myself sympathetic to the technician. Why is it verboten to express the truth that growing up with a lonely, overwhelmed mother and a missing father is a recipe for childhood pain?"
But is this assessment fully correct? Do girls really not consider the best option for their babies? Do girls really not have agency in the decision that they make over their children? Juno actually seems to prove otherwise. Though a fictional character and perhaps not representative of many girls, she still displayed overwhelming understanding of her situation and handled it as if she were and adult. See the inspiration behind Juno by screenplay writer Diablo Cody
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Federal law prohibits the granting of asylum to a refugee who, before coming to the United States, participated in “the persecution of any person” on account of race, religion, nationality, ethnicity or political opinion. Accepting an appeal from an Eritrean, Daniel Girmai Negusie, the court agreed to decide whether that prohibition bars relief for a refugee whose participation in the persecution was compelled by a threat of torture or death.
Mr. Negusie, caught up in the civil war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, was drafted and forced to be a guard in an Eritrean prison, where he was ordered to mistreat prisoners. He eventually escaped, hiding in a shipping container on a ship bound for the United States. Despite a finding that he was likely to be tortured if returned to Eritrea, he was denied asylum because of his activities in the prison.
Rejecting his appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, ruled that issues of coercion and intent were irrelevant in contrast to the treatment of these questions by other appeals courts.
In his Supreme Court appeal, Negusie v. Mukasey, No. 07-499, his lawyers at the Yale Law School Supreme Court Clinic told the justices that with an increase in civil strife around the world, the issue was arising frequently and required a uniform response in the courts. Congress did not mean to apply the asylum prohibition to those whose participation was coerced, the brief argued.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Voice of America reports:
Police in Ghana have arrested Liberian refugees who were leading protests at a camp outside the capital Accra. The refugees had refused to stop theit month long demonstration against a UN-funded repatriation program. The Liberians are against what is being called a voluntary repatriation program, which is set to expire at the end of June. Ghanaian officials say the Liberians will lose their refugee status and become illegal aliens if they stay in Ghana. The refugees are being offered a free trip and $100 by the U.N. refugee agency to resettle in Liberia, but they say it is not enough and they are afraid to return.
Saturday March 29, 2008 8pm at the Renoir Cinema
Dir. Nicholas Bruckman/ Co-Dir. John Mattiuzzi, USA/Bolivia/Mexico, 2008, Special Preview
October 2000, Cochabamba, Bolivia. Carmen, a young single mother, faces a life-changing catastrophe when her nine-year-old daughter is badly injured in a bus accident.
Unable to pay the hospital bills and for specialized care, Carmen makes the dangerous journey to the US to work illegally, staying for 6 years to raise what she believes will be enough money to support her daughter for life.
But when she returns home to Bolivia she discovers her savings are nowhere near enough. Should she stay with her ailing daughter, or make the perilous journey back to the US for a second time?
A portrait of the human side of the current immigration crisis in America.
Saturday April 5, 2008 11:05pm at Stevenson Theatre, British Museum
Director: Estela Ilárraz, 2007, Spain, 69min, UK Première
A group of Ecuadorean immigrants in Madrid. They came to Spain to work, to support their families, but they desperately want to go home.
But if they go to Ecuador to visit their families, they know they will never again be able to get back to Madrid to work.
Director: Amanda Walsh, 2006, Australia, 5min, European Première
In the overcrowded housing estates of North Melbourne lives a young African woman, an Oromo, forced to leave her beloved homeland and family in fear of persecution.
Now she is reunited with her daughters, after more than six years enforced separation. The family must adjust to living together again in a new country.
Director: Aymee Cruzaleguí, Spain, 2007, 16min, World Première
What is a woman willing to do to make a better life for her children? Norma, a Latin American immigrant in Barcelona, struggles with the pain of solitude, forced to live away from her family in order to support them.
Box office: 0207 323 8181
The United States was the main country of destination for asylum seekers of all nationalities in 2007, with an estimated 49,200 new asylum claims in 2007, accounting for 15 percent of all applications in industrialized countries. Sweden saw a 50 percent increase in the number of new asylum applications, from 24,300 in 2006, to 36,200 last year. After the United States and Sweden, the main countries of destination for asylum seekers in 2007 were France (29,200), Canada (28,300) and the United Kingdom (27,900). Greece, Germany, Italy, Austria and Belgium were also among the top 10 receiving countries.
See the BBC
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Nina Bernstein writes:
The teenager stepped off an airplane at Kennedy International Airport on Nov. 8 and asked for asylum. Days before, he had been wielding an automatic weapon as a child soldier in Ivory Coast. Now he had only his name, Salifou Yankene, and a phrase in halting English: “I want to make refugee.”
Salifou had good reason to be confused and distrustful of the system he had entered when he sought asylum. Like many of the 5,000 unaccompanied minors apprehended each year, he had no valid identity documents. But based on the birth date he gave, he had been placed in a juvenile shelter in Queens.
Within days, after confiding to a counselor that he sometimes heard voices and had once attempted suicide, he was transferred to a mental hospital’s pediatric ward, where he was so medicated, he said, that he could barely move.
Discharged in time for Thanksgiving dinner at the children’s residence, he was suddenly declared to be over 18, not 17 years and 7 months as he maintained, based on an immigration service dentist’s interpretation of his X-rays — a practice that many doctors contest as unreliable. An adult immigration detention center refused to take him, so he was locked up in a county jail in western New Jersey.
His experience evokes the larger international confusion over how to draw the line between juveniles and adults, and what treatment is best for former child soldiers. Should they be legally barred from asylum as persecutors or protected as victims? How can they be healed, and who will help them?"
On Aug. 6, 2001, according to the 25-page affidavit he signed, his father and older sister were shot to death within earshot of the family home in Man, a market town in northwestern Ivory Coast. He remains tormented that as a 12-year-old he was powerless to protect his family when armed men ransacked the house and assaulted his mother.
His father, a civil servant in the defense ministry, had been politically active with an opposition party, but may also have dealt in arms and diamonds. He had been able to afford to send Salifou to a French school, where he excelled.
But after the murders of his father and sister, he fled with his mother, brother and two younger sisters. For three years, they lived in a roving camp for the displaced, and it was all they could do to stay alive.
Late in 2004, troops of the Mouvement Patriotique, the rebel faction that controlled the north, raided the camp for new recruits. As rebels grabbed Salifou and his younger brother, Abdul Razack, then about 13, their mother held on to Abdul’s arm, yelling that he was too young to take. To punish her, Salifou testified, one rebel chopped off Abdul’s hand with a machete. Abdul was left behind, but Salifou was thrown in the back of a truck with other boys and began two years as an unwilling child soldier among thousands — trained, armed, drugged and growing numb to violence.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
"An entire industry has sprung up around the recruitment of celebrities to good works- the celebrity-philanthropy complex. Stars — movie stars, rock stars, sports stars — exercise a ludicrous influence over the public consciousness. Many are happy to exploit that power; others are wrecked by it. In recent years, stars have learned that their intense presentness in people’s daily lives and their access to the uppermost realms of politics, business and the media offer them a peculiar kind of moral position, should they care to use it. And many of those with the most leverage - Bono- and Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and George Clooney- have increasingly chosen to mount that pedestal. Hollywood celebrities have become central players on deeply political issues like development aid, refugees and government-sponsored violence in Darfur."
Natalie Portman: "It’s the way it works, I guess. I’m not particularly proud that in our country I can get a meeting with a representative more easily than the head of a nonprofit can.”
Picture from New York Times, March 9, 2008
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Adam Fletcher from www.YoungerWorld.org:
"Let's stop handing out just enough rope for young people to become sacrifices on the alter of youth voice." He says:
Authentic Youth Engagement is…
- Collective Activities are led by youth and adults together – not individually
- Connected Activities embody interdependence and model it among youth and adults
- Empowering Youth voice is a driving force throughout activities
- Equitable Adults recognize young people have differing backgrounds that require different approaches
- Focused Activities are appropriately outcome-driven
- Healthy Respectful disagreement, speaking up, and other avenues that equalize disparities between youth and adults are at the core of the activity
- Learning Young people gain skills, knowledge and tools to be effect agents of change
- Mutually Beneficial Young people and adults acknowledge each other’s dreams, actions, outcomes and reflections
- Relevant Activities are responsive to the lives of young people
- Responsible Adults and youth develop and sustain their capacity to be “response-able”
- Substantive Activity design and outcomes are designed to impact individuals, organizations, communities and society
- Self-Motivated Young people feel driven to participate
This is response to the fact that when we encourage young people to voice their opinions and experiences, it is often met with empty promises by adults. Instead of reaching out to them and actually supporting the youth's endeavor, we just pat them on back for speaking out.
See Cycle of Meaningful Student Involvement.
See Accessing the Condition for Student Voice.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
But these tours raise questions about ethics. What is the responsibility of the tourist to the locals it views...almost like animals in a zoo. Who profits? Certainly not the locals themselves, even though it is their homes that are being toured, but rather the tourist agencies. It seems like another way to make a spectacle out of the impoverished. After all, who would want their home being turned into a zoo?
Friday, March 7, 2008
"Gaza and Kenya have more in common than short names ending in “a” and violent squabbles apparently not ending at all. Both have too many people, or, to be more exact, too many young men without either jobs or prospects. The resulting frustration is one of the causes of their present discontents."
Its easy to blame civic unrest on youth and, in fact, this has been done throughout history. The development of the majority of age (legal codification of 18 as adulthood) occurred during the time of the Industrial Revolution as adults became preoccupied with controlling the active resistance and organization of an economically independent group of young working people.
Moreover, Jo Boyden writes: "at the present time most theories of causality in young people's conduct appear to rest on only one form of influence on human development and action, whether an aspect of the environment, personal experience, or individual traits. Most of the existing theories have failed to do justice to the full complexity of human motivation and the forces that mediate this."
Thursday, March 6, 2008
"Author Ishmael Beah's bestselling account of his time as a child soldier was proved factually flawed by a document found in a remote Sierra Leone schoolhouse. The school results for March 1993 showed the popular author attended the Centennial Secondary School throughout the January-March term, a time when he claimed in his heartrending book A Long Way Gone that he was already roaming the countryside as a child refugee. Beah, his New York publisher Sarah Crichton Books and his Australian co-publisher HarperCollins have furiously denied reports by The Weekend Australian in recent weeks that have undermined the credibility of his highly profitable book."
"Beah is estimated to have earned about $1 million from the book, which has already sold more than 650,000 copies. Beah, now 27, did spend some time as a child soldier during his country's civil war, but it appears likely to have been a few months around the age of 15 rather than two years from the age of 13 that he vividly describes in his book. The author, who now lives in New York and has been appointed by UNICEF as an advocate for child soldiers, this week dismissed The Australian's investigations as ridiculous and ill-motivated despite the steady accumulation of evidence that his account of his experiences did not add up."
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
"The main objective of the new partnership is to raise public awareness of the protection needs of refugees and other uprooted people around the world and to promote the role of education and sport in the development and well being of refugees, particularly children. As a first step, UNHCR and FC Barcelona will jointly identify and design a number of education and life skills projects through sport activities which will benefit refugees in Ecuador, Nepal and Rwanda."
UNHCR and Barcelona Football Club launch partnership to help refugee children through sport
FC Barcelona and UNHCR
"Hundreds of runners taking part in this year's Sahara Marathon have donated US$22,500 to construct a sports centre for Sahrawi refugees from Western Sahara in southern Algeria. Some 400 people, including refugees and runners from almost 20 countries, took part in the February 25 event, which included a full marathon as well as shorter races for adults and children. It was held in and around Smara, one of five camps near the border with West Sahara that hold some 200,000 Sahrawis. Aside from taking part in the races, the overseas competitors were able to experience some of the hardship that the Sahrawis have to endure every day in camps like Smara."
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Yet, despite these dangers, the numbers are increasing. In 2007, more than 26,000 people each paid between $50-150 to make the crossing. The increase in arrivals this year is said to be partly due to the use of new smuggling routes
Yemen is the only country in the Arabian peninsula to have acceded to the 1951 Convention. There are 95,000 refugees living within Yemen, and 95% are Somalis.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Stephanie Sinclair's (winner of the UNICEF Photo of the Year award in 2007) photo exhibit of child brides in Afghanistan in the foyer at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill.
Opening of the 2008 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which will include on its agenda a report on the forced marriage of child brides by the secretary-general.
In th summer of 207, Rep. Betty McCollum, Democrat of Minnesota and member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the State Department and Foreign Operations, introduced the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act. Sen. Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, soon followed with the International Child Marriage Prevention and Protection Act. The week long advocacy includes lobbying Congress to push for these bills.
Arguments have been made about the cultural sensitivity of such campaigns and legislation, but "a lot of what the legislation is about is not dictating and telling people what they have to do," argues Harper, McCollum's chief of staff. "It's taking model projects and model interventions, [such as the NGO Tostan] investing in them and allowing them to be expanded in more areas."
See: Ready to Lead: Next Generation Leaders Speak Out.
Also see: "The College of William and Mary will host a summit of national leaders in the fields of K-12 and higher education service learning and civic engagement on March 10, 2008. The National Forum on Service Learning, sponsored by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, is the first of a series of conversations designed to culminate in a fall summit on national and community service"
Sunday, March 2, 2008
"The State Department has pledged to help bring some Iraqis who have worked for the U.S. government to the United States. But these efforts are mired in a bureaucratic system so slow it cannot keep up with itself. The number of refugees that the U.S. has promised to bring in is far, far fewer than those who actually make it to our shores. It is nothing less than tragic that in the last fiscal year, Sweden has taken in almost ten times as many Iraqi refugees as the United States."
But this could all come to a tragic halt if super delegates or party bosses decide the outcome, argues Robert Putnam. Young people will find democratic politics a sham.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Her article also brings to light the impact of celebrities focusing attention on humanitarian issues. We have seen George Clooney be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize over his advocacy of the humanitarian issues in Darfur, Angelina Jolie's (and also Madonna) numerous trips (and adoptions) to bring attention to humanitarian issues as well as numerous other celebrities "adopting" a cause. On one hand, their efforts bring more attention to the issues on a mainstream level. On the other hand, many critique their involvement as another way to garner more attention. While I am reluctant to judge the motivations of peoples' "do goodings," it is important to promote accurate information and ensure that no harm is done in the process.
Question: Anyone find something wrong with Angelina's article?
Answer: She should have used the term "refugee" accurately, as "refugees inside their own country" are internally displaced people (IDPs) and there is a strong legal distinction between the two categories of people. As Goodwill Ambassador to the UNHCR, she should know this.
UNHCR credits this change to increased government cooperation, as it has allowed more UN agencies and independent aid into the area. The recent shift in policy by the government of Bangladesh is due to two factors: 1) The change in government. Bangladesh is currently governed by a temporary military regime which has sought to curb corruption and reform policy. 2) The current regime is also interested in streamlining policies and handing off tasks, such as camp management, to external organizations.