Site moved...

This blog has moved to http://houshuang.org/blog. I make no promises as to how much/how long I will keep blogging at that site, but things are more likely to happen there than here. Oh, and I migrated most of my old postings.

Stian

posted by Stian @ 14:38  15 comments


Continue?

I've gone through a fair amount of blogs in my life, and web pages (Google), which is in a way natural. As life progresses, situations, interests and technical solutions change. I liked writing for this blog, because I felt that in my random readings, lectures attended and webpages visited (therefore the name) I came across a lot of neat stuff that I wanted to share with others. It ended mostly because I felt that I needed to update it regularly (at least twice a week), and this took too much time - especially since I did not have my own computer, and school work piled up.

Since then, I have read so many good books, talked to so many great individuals, and attended so many interesting talks which I would love to share. Especially attending the conference on Innovative Teaching and Technology, at one of my favorite libraries listening to some great talks and talking to some interesting individuals made me think about waking this blog back up. However, I will be in Mexico for three months this summer, working with (and learning from!) Healthwright's and PROJIMO, during which time I might not be able to keep a blog. So, most likely I'll think about it over the summer and report back in fall. Or maybe I'll decide to start writing this summer. Either way, I don't suppose I have any repeat visitors that are still around, so it would be building it all up from scratch (not assuming that I had a whole bunch of them earlier either). And I need to figure this whole trackback-thing out.

Stay posted.

Stian

posted by Stian @ 20:52  0 comments


Suspend to RAM

Friends, I've decided to prioritize input over output for a little while. That might change later on.

Take care,
Stian

posted by Stian @ 01:13  2 comments


The conference in Ottawa was all about the Millenium Development Goals - but what are those? According to statistics, less then 10% of Canadians have ever heard about them (and I can't say I really knew, before I began my studies), so let's do a little introduction. According to Stephen Lewis, special UN envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa (amazing guy, even has his own foundation); the MDGs are in a way a natural consequence of the big summits of the 90s (population, water issues, poverty reduction etc. Even Kyoto.) where big goals were set, but seldom followed up on. The MDGs were unanimously accepted by the UN member states in 2000, and list 8 goals that with clear and measurable targets, that are to be achieved by 2015.

The goals are as follows:
  • Goal 1 Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Goal 2 Achieve universal primary education
  • Goal 3 Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Goal 4 Reduce child mortality
  • Goal 5 Improve maternal health
  • Goal 6 Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  • Goal 7 Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Goal 8 Develop a global partnership for development

Most of the goals focus on what the developing countries are to do (hopefully with the help and guidance of the developed countries), where as goal 8 focuses entirely on how richer countries can contribute (and so was extensively discussed at the CIDA conference).

Stian

posted by Stian @ 16:24  1 comments


Live from Ottawa

I'm coming to you live from the Ottawa Congress Center, where I am participating in the International Cooperation Days 2004, organized by CIDA. Today I've heard lectures about the UN Millenium Development Goals, which is the main focus of the conference, both in general, and focused on education and international health.

In education, WUSC presented an interesting project in Ghana, where they first developed and funded a project to increase participation of girls in primary education. The project, funded by CIDA, proved very successful, and but because of a change of priorities at CIDA, the project lost funding. WUSC subsequently tried to get the government of Ghana interested in taking over the project, and had at first received a very positive response, although run into a lot of practical difficulties, from which the speaker drew some "lessons" presented to us. However, I found the concept of going to a third world country, starting a project, and then having it integrated into the state sector, with the government paying for it, was a very interesting case of first world (NGO) influence on third world policy.

It reminds me of the Rockefeller Foundation's work in Mexico, and other countries, where they would only finance 10-20% of a programme's cost, but still remain in control of the policy - thus gaining strong leverage on a developing country's agenda, with a relatively small financial outlay. (See Anne Emanuelle-Birn, The Rockefeller Foundation: Public Health or Public Menace. Abstract.) (I am not at all critizing WUSC's project, I want to read more about it, but it sounds very interesting - however, I find it an interesting and important topic to be aware of.)

(I will probably write about other interesting points from the conference later.)

Stian

posted by Stian @ 17:54  3 comments


A career at the UN?

In my endless search for internships, I spent a while last night looking at different UN sub-organizations, and read up a bit on the topic of how to get a job there. I thought others might be interested, so here are the major pathways into the UN system, as far as I can ascertain (this information is provided "as is").

  • Internships: Most of the UN organizations provide internships, although most of them are available to MA students only. Usually they are not remunerated, and you will have to find your own funding. Some organizations search for specific interns, whereas at others, you must fill out an online form for a database, from which interns matching certain criteria will be selected.

  • JPO programme: The Junior Professional Officer programme is aimed at graduates with a bachelor or master degree. It does not require extensive work experience, and is designed to familiarize the applicant with the UN system. Application is through the home government of a participating nation, and the programme is financed by the home country. The applicant is either placed in a field-mission, or less often at the central office, for a duration of two to three years. Depending on outcome, a second placement of two to three years is possible. At the end, only very exceptional participants gain final employment with the UN - the programme is also designed to train people to cooperate with the UN in international NGOs or home governments.

  • Competitive exams: UN personell at levels P-2 and P-3 are mainly recruited through competitive exams, which are held once a year in selected countries (depending on which nationalities are currently needed to achieve a balance in the system). Examinees must have a relevant bachelor or masters degree (students with a degree in International Development Studies are eligible to take the exam for Social Affairs. See a sample exam.). Select candidates are then invited for an interview. (Interestingly, this system reminds me quite a lot of the imperial exam system in dynastic China.)

  • Direct entry: Some positions at the P-3 level, and all at levels above, are filled either by external search, or internal promotion. Anyone can apply for these positions, but usually a relevant university degree plus at least six years of working experience is required.

    Good luck! :~)

    Stian

  • posted by Stian @ 21:32  1 comments


    Media and Democracy Day

    This Thursday I was at the Bloor St. Cinema (an excellent independent cinema) to see "The War and Peace Trilogy" (a very impressive documentary put together by Indymedia) and listen to a speech by Amy Goodman. Amy works at DemocracyNow, a radio show based in NYC and broadcast around the USA.

    Saturday I went to Ryerson University to attend the third annual Media and Democracy Day in Canada, also featuring Amy Goodman, and I saw a slew of documentaries. The event was well organized and interesting, but two things came to my mind:

  • Narrow focus: I, and I am sure a lot of people who care about politics, have seen an amazing range of books, films, webpages and documentaries chronicling the botched US elections in 2000, the war against Afghanistan and Iraq, and the media's role in supporting the White House. This is certainly very important - and understandably draws a lot of interest, especially in the run up to the 2004 presidential elections. However, there is a lot more going on in the world then this - we cannot simply follow CNN's lead and focus only on where the US is directly and overtly involved! What about the war in Chechnya, which Russia seems completely unable to extricate itself from, and where massive human rights abuses are legion. What about the crisis in Sudan? (Certainly, we have seen some television clips, but who understands the background, the history?) What about Haiti (once again, we get news blimps, but very little real analytical information)? And so on, and so on.

  • Lack of emphasis on positive trends: Certainly, there are huge problems in the media concentration today, but there are a lot of really positive examples to inspire us, from the big (Indymedia was mentioned frequently) to the more unknown. In Germany, they have several "open channels" including Offener Kanal Berlin (Open Channel Berlin) where anyone can air their own programmes. There is a studio and personell available for free, and they air programmes made by youth, community groups, immigrant groups and live transmissions of important conferences and meetings. In Italy, long known for their Centri Sociali and community activism, there is a wave of television activism, involving cheap TV transmitters (Italian) that can reach everyone living within a few blocks - really community TV.

    Stian

  • posted by Stian @ 19:11  1 comments