Girl Rising’s official trailer. Coming in March 2013
A Franciscan Benediction
I finally graduated with my MA in Social Entrepreneurship and Change this weekend (!). It’s been a long two years. Much more strenuous and demanding than undergrad. More reflections on the implications of higher education and our responsibilities as a global citizens to come in a forthcoming post. For now, I wanted to share a Franciscan Benediction that concluded our ceremony.
It’s probably the most convicting benediction I’ve ever received. This one is a keeper.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness
Earth Hour 2012. Turn off your lights at 8:30pm, then do more to help the planet. Educate yourself here: http://www.earthhour.org/
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours: Reflections on the centrality of relationships in India
Another post I forgot to share back when I wrote it in December 2011. These are my observations about the American tendency toward self-sufficiency vs. India’s gravitation toward their loved ones.
A photo from Holi celebrations. You’re always in good company in Mumbai.
Mumbai, India | December 18, 2011
I’m much needier in Mumbai than I’d like to be. I have no clue how to get from point A to point B unless I’ve done it before. I basically don’t speak a lick of Hindi. And I still can’t discern when the head bobble is a yes or a no. Yet I’m able to survive—and in fact, thrive at times—in this labyrinth of a city. My Indian friends and colleagues are no strangers to my random calls asking for directions. And I am known as the one with an abyss of questions about everything from how many times we have chai a day to why “Bean Bags” is scrawled across too many walls.
Yet I always find an answer. Part of this is probably because I’m not afraid of looking like I don’t know squat, but an even more important part is because I’ve been able to establish relationships. I am in no way touting my ability to create relationships. Rather, I’m highlighting the fundamental currency of India. And that, of course, is relationships.
I called my former boss and now close friend in a panic this morning as my rickshaw driver started throwing his hands up at me, demanding that I respond to his Hindi. I have no clue what he said but I’m guessing it was a little bit of “where do you actually want to go, lady?” peppered with some profanity. Thankfully my boss picked up my call and I almost threw the phone to my rickshaw driver. The driver didn’t seem to like this game, but we passed the phone back and forth several times before the three of us concluded that I was within walking distance of my destination. All said and done, point is I couldn’t have done it without a lot of help from someone with whom I have a good relationship.
Having lived here for over a year, I can’t believe I didn’t recognize this one fundamental aspect of Indian culture until my boss literally texted me after this morning’s conundrum: “Over here everything is done through relationship, which is why it’s different. This America does not get! :)” Too true. Of course, to some extent, this was apparent to me. But sometimes you need things to smack you upside the head.
At home, I pride myself on the ability to do things without help. Independence is a sign of strength and maturity. To some, asking for directions (God forbid!) is the shortest route to shame. I’m not saying that Indians are more willing to ask for help than Americans. Or that Indians do not suffer from pride. I do not know this culture well enough to make any blanket statements (not that blanket statements are ever appropriate). What I have learned from this one instance is that stubborn independence can leave you floundering from time to time. Especially in a culture where relationship is king.
If you want to get anything done—whether that’s directions, getting your internet hooked up, or recommendations for some extra help around your flat—you better know someone who knows someone who knows someone. In India, your greatest asset is your network (though that’s thoroughly an American way of putting it). Your friends and acquaintances—and maybe even enemies—are your invaluable resources.
If you try to live in India, you’ll understand very soon that little is codified on paper. That’s what makes this place so difficult for newbies. Who knew you had to flip a switch for hot water? That most rickshaw drivers are from UP? Or that UP stands for Uttar Pradesh? And did you know that you can get almost anything delivered? Yep. That includes ice cream, a toothbrush, McDonald’s, and even a cold beer.
At home, I am extremely self-sufficient as long as I have Google. But in India, I’m only as strong as my network.
What happened to my heart? Reflections on desensitization
This is a follow-up to a post I wrote back in December. Grad school has taken over my schedule and this slipped my mind till now. They’re reflections on the dangerous ease of becoming desensitized.
Here’s the visual accompaniment:
This little girl is peeing in the middle of busy busy busy intersection. Mom? No where to be found.
Some friendly boys in South Mumbai. Their parents are nomadic and live on sidewalks.
Typical shanty. You’re lucky to have this. Most people have only a blanket to sit on, a stove to cook with, and the clothes on their backs.
Children displaced after their homes were bulldozed and burned by the government. Their slum homes were on government-owned property in Navi Mumbai.
A young boy showing me his playground (i.e. trash-strewn beach) in Malabar Hill’s fishing village.
A new doc on sex trafficking.
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: Women entrepreneurs, example not exception
If you see the word “microfinance,” what comes to mind? Most people say women. And if you see the word “entrepreneur,” most people think men. Why is that? Because we aim low and we think small when it comes to women.
Microfinance is an incredibly powerful tool that leads to self-sufficiency and self-respect,but we must move beyond micro-hopes and micro-ambitions for women, because they have so much greater hopes for themselves.
Let this take your breath away.
Project Yosemite by Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty.
This will put your problems in perspective.
Amy Purdy challenges the limitations we impose on ourselves. Life is literally what you choose to make of it.
Nearly 1 million adults are HIV positive in the Democratic Republic of Congo yet only 3% of adults use condoms. What’s more interesting is that foreign aid agencies have flooded the country with free condoms. So why is it that no one wants these freebies?
Amy Lockwood of the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford’s School of Medicine discusses how our good intentions can blind us from common sense. Behavior change can only happen if we want to change. So how do we get people to want to change? By using the same marketing principles businesses have been using for decades to get consumers to buy things we want but don’t actually need.
We seem to forget that people living in poverty share the same wants and desires as their affluent counterparts. As humans we all want to be dignified, we all want freedom of choice, and we all want to feel good about our purchases. Messages of “fear, finance, and fidelity” won’t get anyone to buy condoms regardless of your income.
The man who dies rich thus dies disgraced.