Posts Tagged ‘International’

Help Haiti!

I’m going to assume that if you’re connected to the internet and reading this post, that you have probably already learned about the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that took place in Haiti yesterday. Sadly, it is suspected that nearly 100,000 perished in the quake while the prime minister mentioned that the death toll may be even higher. The country is in desperate need of hospitals, medicine and doctors to assist with the crisis at present.

Read the whole story here.

With all of this happening to our fellow human beings in Haiti, this is, indeed, a time to step up and help people in need. Courtesy of MSNBC, here is a list of charitable organizations that are active in the nation that you can help:

Action Against Hunger, 877-777-1420
American Red Cross, 800-733-2767
Beyond Borders, 866-424-8403
Direct Relief International, 805-964-4767
Doctors Without Borders, 888-392-0392
Haiti Children, 877-424-8454
Haiti Marycare, 203-675-4770
Haitian Health Foundation, 860-886-4357
Hope for Haiti, 239-434-7183
International Relief Teams, 619-284-7979
Mercy Corps, 888-256-1900
Oxfam, 800-776-9326
Rural Haiti Project, 347-405-5552
World Concern, 800-755-5022
Yele Haiti, 212-352-0552

Also, click here for some information from CNN on how you can Impact Your World.

Let’s make a difference!

Lots of love and prayers going out to the families that have been affected by this tragedy,


On Board with the Skype Subscription!

Skype I’m pretty obsessed with staying connected; I don’t think that’s much of a secret to anyone. I think that technology is an amazing thing and I am so grateful for the internet, email and facebook! I have been able to meet so many LSEers through facebook forums and make friends before even setting foot on British soil. Now that I’m only a week or so out from the big move, staying connected to my family is number one on my mind. As a going away gift, my awesome sister got me (amongst other very cool things) a web cam with built-in audio to use with my Skype account! I’ve been using Skype for about a year now and have used it primarily in an instant messaging capacity. While I was in England this past February visiting London and Manchester, I was actually able to use Skype as a phone service to talk with my sister and Chris while overseas and I was thoroughly amazed with the sound quality — it was better than a normal phone!

Since Skype is 100% free for PC-to-PC use, I figured that the basic (free) Skype would be the main form of communication between myself and my family in the US. Today, however, I signed up for a US/Canada subscription with Skype and I am obsessed! For anyone that doesn’t know about this yet, you can get a “subscription” for $2.95 per month or $30 per year that allows you to call any landline or cell phone in the US or Canada from your PC! You get unlimited calls plus you get a number of other affiliated features and a discount on a Skype “phone number”. Since my grandma is unlikely to actually use Skype or a webcam at any point, I can now call her house at any time from my PC without having to purchase a calling card or pay ridiculous international fees. Although I purchased the US/Canada subscription since my roots are in California, there are a number of subscriptions available including an Unlimited Country subscription that runs $5.95 per month and allows you unlimited calls to a country of your choice (there are loads of countries that are a part of this scheme — everyone from Argentina to Thailand!), an Unlimited Mexico subscription that runs $5.95 per month,  and an Unlimited World subscription that runs $12.95 per month and allows unlimited calls in 40 different countries! Also, for iPhone users, there’s a Skype app for iPhone that is totally free and incredibly handy!

Equipped with my handy web cam and a Skype subscription, I am definitely ready to rule the world. Or at least the internet.

If you’re a Skyper, too, leave me a comment with your Skype info and I’ll add you to my account!

Happy Skyping!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Learn a Foreign Language Before You Travel!

mocha_creamI’ve been desperately wanting to improve my Spanish skills as of late. I have always wanted to improve my Spanish skills, mind you, but with a summer of freedom before me, it definitely seems like the perfect time to get to a solid intermediate speaking level. I have taken a number of Spanish courses and have the luxury of nearby grandmother whose native language is Spanish. Due to the fact that I’m interested in gaining a position with the World Health Organization, the International Public Health Institute or a similar organization, it’s become necessary to have a good grasp on two of the primary languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese or French). I (obviously) have a pretty good grasp on English seeing as how it’s my native language, so I’ve been concocting ways of improving my foreign language skills as inexpensively as possible. Although I had seriously considered investing in the Rosetta Stone software — I hear it works! — I couldn’t bring myself to spending $500+ on the package (although I know I would spend a lot more in a classroom environment). Well, fortunately for me (and for you!) while at work I ran into a gentleman who introduced me to LiveMocha. I had never heard of it before, but let me tell you — the best free website out there for learning a foreign language. It’s powered by us — a network of English, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese (etc.) speakers. When you sign up, you can state what languages you speak and at what level (i.e. I speak English as my native tongue, and I speak Spanish at an intermediate level), then you can let it know what language(s) you want to learn.For me, it’s just Spanish for now, and I want to be able to speak at an advanced/fluent level. For some people I have worked with, an interest in gaining knowledge in four different languages is listed (which is totally cool, too!) Everyone’s on there for different reasons: some people just want to learn a foreign language on a super basic level for an upcoming trip (in which case they might be “learning” four different languages) and for some people (like me), the learning is to gain a fluent grasp on a language.

The website allows you to take courses which include reading, writing, learning and speaking, if you have the necessary technology (microphone). The writing that you submit is reviewed by native speakers of the language and they give comments and advice. The submission requirements gradually get more complex and difficult and are a good challenge for those wanting to learn. It’s also a great way to meet and interact with people from all over the world. We get to all help each other. I have reviewed a number of submissions for Spanish, German or Italian speakers wanting to learn English and have given them advice. In return, Spanish speakers help me out and give me advice on my wording, verb conjugation, etc. It really is an awesome site for anyone wanting to gain some insight into a foreign language for free!! Check it out! Even if it’s just for an upcoming trip, it’s a cool way to better yourself during your downtime!

You can add me as a friend on LiveMocha & we can help each other!


Development Dilemma

I try to follow the international development happenings as well as humanly possible. I subscribe to a number of briefing newsletters to keep posted on what’s happening in the developing world.  Due to the fact that there are so many developing countries, I typically focus on the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) area since that’s likely where I will end up focusing my efforts after graduate school. Quite frankly, there are just too many developing countries in Asia & Africa and if I try to keep up on EVERYTHING, I keep up on nothing because it all becomes a big pile of thoughts! In any case, I found an old issue of Time (April 10th, I think) tucked away in my car yesterday and started reading it when I got home. The issue was jam-packed with LAC happenings, specifically with ordeals in Mexico and Colombia.

One of the articles detailed the happenings in Juarez, Mexico due to crazy drug trafficking. In that city alone, 10 people a day were being murdered until a major cartel leader was captured, lowering the death toll to five per day in Juarez. In Colombia, there was a story about a child army. If you’ve seen Blood Diamond, you can effectively visualize what I’m referring to. It’s amazingly disturbing to think about 9 – 15 year old children brainwashed into being killing machines. In my naivete, I truly thought that that was nearly isolated to Africa. I really didn’t realize that this was happening in South America as well. Blame it on the drugs, maybe. That seems to be the primary reason for the ridiculous amount of warfare that has plagued the continent. Much of the money comes from cocaine, marijuana and arms. One of the men who made the  TIME 100 Most Influential People list is a cartel leader who reigns in billions of dollars working in this industry (if that’s an appropriate term) — he’s been on a number of lists aside from this: wealthiest billionaires and the government’s “got-to-bring-this-guy-down”/Most Wanted list (whatever the official name for that might be). Much like what was seen in Blood Diamond, some of these kids are abducted and brought into this army (kids as young as 9 have been noted), and some actually volunteer to join the “cause.” Many want revenge on the government after family members have been executed and they feel that joining this regime will allow them to fight back. A 17-year-old kid was quoted as saying that he had killed many people and ordered the killings of many people, including 13 politicians. He had since left the army and he’s being helped (along with a number of other kids, around 3000) by an Amnesty group interested in reintegrated these people back into society with a semi-normal life.

Now, I mention these things for a couple of reasons. One: I really didn’t realize how awful things were in this region. I think we often focus so much on African happenings and are so closed off to many parts of the world, people don’t get this kind of information. Maybe we don’t want it. Secondly, I felt the weirdest sense of nervousness and fear yesterday. I’ve wanted to work in the policy and development arena to make a difference with these people. My boyfriend discouraged working in Africa because, quite honestly, it was a scary thought. We hear about the warfare in Africa — killings, pirates, tribes — and my boyfriend, naturally, wanted me to be as far from there as possible. I have since been interested in Latin America because a) my grandmother hails from El Salvador and b) it has always come off as an underdeveloped, but slightly safer arena in which to work. The stories, however, seem to prove me wrong. I’m actually a little scared to work in some of these areas! I know that after schooling and taking classes on safety in development, my fears will be somewhat assuaged, but still… I’m afraid that reality will be a hard pill to swallow. The world is not as nice as we sometimes would like to believe.

Sorry for the heaviness — have a good weekend & a Happy Mother’s Day!