winter break at last!

It’s been a while since my last blog, but I am finally done with the first trimester! It got super busy towards the end, but I now have the entire month of June off for winter break. That’s right, winter. It sucks in the southern hemisphere because there’s no Christmas or New Year’s in the winter – it just gets cold. At least up north you have a holiday to look forward to. I plan on maybe visiting the South Island sometime during the break. But I’ll probably end up starting to work on my final papers.

So this is what I’ve got for each class:
Armed Conflict & Human Security – I’m gonna look at different conflict-resolution styles for ethnic/religious tension and violence. I’ll compare different strategies like offering immunity to soldiers, trials for war crimes, integration back into society, etc.

Global Civil Society – I’ll explore the how NGOs (non-profits) can partner with or merge with government and business entities to enhance their work, and whether or not they can do so without compromising their own goals. An example of this is the new for-profit charities, which are businesses that give the majority, if not all, profits towards charitable causes.

Global Governance – I’m going to look at whether regional organizations (like NATO) have the capability and legitimacy to respond to regional conflicts. Since the UN is usually slow or negligent in responding to crises around the world, could regional groups do it more efficiently, even if it’s in direct violation to the UN? (such as Rwanda, or Darfur today, when the UN has not authorized any intervention)

Main Research Thesis – I’m going to explore human rights and humanitarian intervention. Since the concept of human rights is a very Western liberal democratic view, is there a part of it that is universal enough to be adopted into all cultures and political views? And if so, would that be enough to justify military intervention in the case of extreme violation of human rights? (ex. China doesn’t have a great human rights track record and is against intervention…can we frame it in such a way that in coincides with their worldview?)

These will most likely change, but hopefully I can get something solid soon. I’ve also had this vision/dream/revelation/whatever you wanna call it for my life. I’ve been thinking about this topic for hours at a time for several days now. And I know that this has gotta be from God or something, cause usually when I think, it’s like random pointless thoughts. Like what would I do if I got bitten by a radioactive spider too, but instead of being like Spiderman, I shoot webs from my butt like normal spiders do, or as Jared believes, it would slowly ooze out. What would I do with that power? I think I would rather let evil triumph than lose my dignity trying ooze them to death. Anyways, the fact that I can think this long on a single, important topic is big.

So I have this friend in Kenya who is struggling financially and I’ve been sending him money whenever I could. (And by the way, we’re talking Africa, so financial struggles means trying to find enough money to buy food for the day). This is common for everyone else in Kibera, the slum he lives in. Though I probably can support him the rest of his life, I wouldn’t really be helping, because he would be dependent on me, and still remain in poverty. And I’ve been thinking about what I could do to help. So what I’ve decided to do when I get back to the US is start a business.

In Kenya, people make small crafts and souvenirs to sell to tourists for dirt cheap. But the same stuff you find in the US is so expensive (like at World Market). Which means there’s a market for it and big companies jack up the prices. So what I’ll do is buy direct from the people in Kenya (paying them a fair price so they won’t be exploited like big corporations) and sell them in the states. Cost would remain low since I would be eliminating the middle man. The profits I would then go back into Kenya, towards schools, churches, orphanages, etc. (eventually I would set up a partner non-profit to channel the funds). The money could also be used to make small loans to help people jump start their own local businesses. Ideally this would expand to target the poorest slums in the world, and rather than just giving money, it would be using business to stimulate local economy. By buying what locals already make, it creates employment and restores dignity. And I could use the business profits to also gain permits from the governments to hire people to pave roads, build sewage systems, fix up houses, all with the justification that it improves business. And since it’s a legit company that pays taxes, I’m sure the government wouldn’t mind. Of course, the range of products would hopefully expand to include clothing, tea/coffee, household items, etc. (This is kinda like Fair Trade). But right now it’s just a dream, and I’ll probably start real small through experimentation.

I finally did my budget/expenses for the first 4 months I’ve been here, and realize that I have currently spent $500 over my budget (about 20%), which would eventually end up being $2000 over what I have by the end of the year. Now, part of this is due to unforeseen expenses, like school books and gym memberships so I can get big and buff. Jayson, I should hire you to help me resolve my budget deficit, but that would be counter-productive to saving money. But, this is partially America’s fault. That’s right. Let me elaborate: When I originally created my budget, I planned it out according to the exchange rate of $1.00 NZ to $0.75 US (Back in December). Since then, due to the declining US economy, the US dollar has gradually decreased in value on the international market, making the NZ dollar stronger relative to it. At one point, it even reached $1.00 NZ to $0.80 US, almost a 7% increase. (This is a big deal, cause I had to pay an extra $1000 in school tuition because of the fluctuation). So America, how can you help? Spend more money! Buy those pointless products that you never wanted. Max out your credit cards. Go ahead, reward yourselves. Live like there’s no tomorrow. Together, we can boost the American economy and make the US dollar strong again, one $5 Starbucks coffee at a time!

It’s also starting to get freezing cold and raining a lot. On my school website, there’s this picture of Wellington taken on the sunniest day possible from the best possible angle of the beach. So I’m thinking I’m going to this warm, tropical island in the South Pacific. But it feels more like Seattle. I should sue New Zealand for deceiving me with deceptive deception.

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