And so we come to the end…

I think it is safe to say I am not the most successful blogger. However, as I have gone through the process of writing my final essay for this module, I have realised that blogging is just one avenue that is available to all of us, and it can be an outlet, a journal, a shared interest or just a means of exploring something interesting. For me, it is not the right tool. Just like in my studies (international education and development), I need to know that what I am spending my time on will have an impact. A blog that sits in cyberspace, with maybe a handful of people reading (if I’m lucky) just doesn’t seem the right means for me to explore an interesting topic.

I tend to get a lot of use out of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram because they have an instantaneous impact, require relatively little time and allow me to connect on a number of different issues. Just like this blog has turned out to be, I tend to be interested in far too many different things (usually all at once) and have a tough time when I am being reduced to exploring only one area.

I also already spend all of my time on the internet. For my blog to have been a successful endeavour for me, I would have had to have one thing drop off to make more room for it. In addition to the social media I use, I Skype with family back home, I use 3 different email accounts and I work with an online volunteer team of 10 people. I am now starting to think of ways I can scale back the time I spend online, not how to add to it. In any case, I have explored this topic a bit more in depth in my final essay, so full details available there.

So, here I am to say: so long blog, and blogging community. It was nice while it lasted. I’ll catch you all on Twitter!

Humanitarianism in the Network Age

Humanitarianism in the Network Age

My Twitter feed just alerted me to this report published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on the growing use of social media/mobile phones/mobile networks and computers in humanitarian work.

The report is long at 120 pages but the Executive Summary in the first few pages covers the main points – it acknowledges that so much has and can be done when information can be more quickly, readily and easily shared during a humanitarian crisis. It also points out that there are always going to be issues with accessibility and data protection. It also sets out an ambitious deadline of 3 years to ensure information related to humanitarian action is shared freely and openly. Fingers crossed.

A new start?

So, I think I have basically deduced that blogging is not my forte. I was thinking this morning about why that was. Probably a result of a slew of psychological reasons, none of which I feel like going into here. See!

REGARDLESS. I know that I was to maintain a blog for the duration of my module: Internet Cultures and Education. In essence, I thought I could post interesting stories about using the internet in the developing world, and engaging youth in important issues, but my indecisive nature meant that I couldn’t focus on one of those, that I kept second-guessing my narrative. As a result, this blog has been sparsely updated and indeed all over the place.

But today is 13 April 2013, and I want a re-start. I wasn’t ready, but now I am. And what I really want to talk about is how my life in London fits into my overall career. After all, that is why I am here. I am not here to make new friends, fall in love, have fun, travel or find my ‘calling’ (although all of those things would be nice) but really I am here because I am getting an education, and because I am hoping this education will move me into the career I have always wanted: Helping young people all over the world get the education they want in order to have they life they want. This hasn’t been easy, which is why I have focused on this question of: what do I want to do with my life? But I have already figured that out. The big question I struggle with now is: How do I connect the dots to get myself where I want to be, and why do I keep allowing myself to be distracted by the everyday routine of life?

I hope this blog will re-direct itself now. I’d like to start chronicling my life in London and understand if I am getting everything out of being here that I thought I would.

Are you bored?

Are you bored?

Last year, a friend introduced me to the Boredom Proneness Scale test (pasted below from the link at www.brainpickings.org). I spent 10 minutes taking the test, added up my score, and immediately knew there was something very wrong with my day job. That’s when I started investigating graduate school, in another country and in a completely different subject.

“Boredom, it turns out, is adaptive as a transient state, but dangerous as a chronic condition. In 1986, psychologists designed a test, known as the Boredom Proneness Scale (BPS), as a way of distinguishing between those who suffer transient boredom from those who suffer chronic boredom:

The statements to follow can be answered using a 7-point scale — from ’1′ (highly disagree), to ’4′ (neutral), to ’7′ (highly agree).

  1. It is easy for me to concentrate on my activities.
  2. Frequently when I am working I find myself worrying about other things.
  3. Time always seems to be passing slowly.
  4. I often find myself at “loose ends”, not knowing what to do.
  5. I am often trapped in situations where I have to do meaningless things.
  6. Having to look at someone’s home movies or travel slides bores me tremendously.
  7. I have projects in mind all the time, things to do.
  8. I find it easy to entertain myself.
  9. Many things I have to do are repetitive and monotonous.
  10. It takes more stimulation to get me going than most people.
  11. I get a kick out of most things I do.
  12. I am seldom excited about my work.
  13. In any situation I can usually find something to do or see to keep me interested.
  14. Much of the time I just sit around doing nothing.
  15. I am good at waiting patiently.
  16. I often find myself with nothing to do, time on my hands.
  17. In situations where I have to wait, such as in line, I get very restless.
  18. I often wake up with a new idea.
  19. It would be very hard for me to find a job that is exciting enough.
  20. I would like more challenging things to do in life.
  21. I feel that I am working below my abilities most of the time.
  22. Many people would say that I am a creative or imaginative person.
  23. I have so many interests, I don’t have time to do everything.
  24. Among my friends, I am the one who keeps doing something the longest.
  25. Unless I am doing something exciting, even dangerous, I feel half-dead and dull.
  26. It takes a lot of change and variety to keep me really happy.
  27. It seems that the same things are on television or the movies all the time; it’s getting old.
  28. When I was young, I was often in monotonous and tiresome situations.

To find out your own proneness to boredom, add up the total of the scores you gave each question. The average score is 99, and the average range 81-117. If you scored above 117, you become bored easily, and if you scored below 81, your boredom threshold is very high.”

Full post available here.

Family

I have been back in Canada the past few days, mainly in Niagara Falls, due to my grandmother’s funeral, which took place yesterday. She was 93 and she lived an amazing life, and she had been failing considerably the past few months, but it was still such a sad and difficult thing to manage. I was homesick immediately (being based in London) and I knew that I owed it to Grandma, and to myself, to be back with my family to celebrate her life and her unflinchingly generous and kind personality.

I was thinking today about her life; she came to Canada with her parents as an 8 year-old in 1927. She left school at age 14 to help her mother run a boarding house, and at 18 she met and married my grandfather. They had one of those great loves that spanned both their lives. They worked in tobacco farms in rural Ontario until they could afford to buy a car, that they would eventually sell to send my grandfather to welding school. My grandfather used his certification to rise to the top of Ontario hydro. They had 4 kids, resulting in 12 grandkids. Now, my siblings and many of my cousins have started families, leading to 11 great-grandkids. Her life was not always easy, but it was always full of love, generosity, tables full of homemade food, open doors and many many family gatherings. Above all else, my grandmother believed that love and support would always go a long way, and that nothing came without hard work and some persistence.

It got me thinking about my life and what I want from it. A lot of people have families, work 9 to 5 jobs that they are satisfied with (if not passionate about) and are content to stay in the same job their whole lives, with the aim of providing for their families, watching their children grow and seeing them turn into (hopefully) successful adults. I think that the life you want – kids or no kids, travelling a lot, a nice house, a nice car, city or country, etc – is almost as important (if not more) as figuring what your career will look like. I want to work in international policy and aid.

This means that I have to resign myself to the fact that I won’t always live comfortably. I won’t always get to decide where I want to live; this will be decided for me. And I will have to find a partner who wants a similar lifestyle to me and who is willing to be flexible and up and move when I need to. None of this is going to be easy but I also don’t know if I should expect it to be. But I know that being happy with my day to day is important. Since I’ve moved to London and been surrounded by friends who all have the same yearning for work as I do, I’ve been happier than I’ve ever been. I don’t know what to make of it, except that I think I need to keep taking risks, in the hopes that I will somehow move closer to getting the life that I want.

Is it possible to do good and change the world?

For someone like me, since the age of 18 I’ve known that I want to somehow make the world a better place. I know that a lot of 18 year-olds think this, but I truly believed in it. I saw brief, shocking poverty on plantations in the Dominican Republic, and it gave me something to focus on, away from the manicured streets of Eastern Ontario. 

But I’ve always had difficulty finding a job – which is partly what this blog is about – and I’ve always wondered if it would be possible to earn a good living (an income that made the investment in a Bachelor’s and a Master’s program worthwhile) and work for a non-profit. 

It turns out I am not the only one who wondered this. Dream Now (www.dreamnow.org) is a Canadian organisation that has published a research report on figuring out alternative ways for young people to work towards changing the world, while making money. I highly recommend a read of the report, available here, and soon to be a fully launched website to explore the same issue: http://www.myoccupation.org/

Amazing and unique website: If We Ran The World

What would you do if you ran the world?

I certainly haven’t been born with much of an entrepreneurial gene, so I am constantly amazed at those entrepreneurs who manage to be innovative, find a niche in the market, and follow through with a successful business plan.

And for someone like myself who finds finance and being business-minded (read: money first) a bit of a stretch, a new movement has started to gain momentum: social entrepreneurship. It’s centred around the idea of using innovative and unique ideas (many of them to do with the web) and using them to do good. What a concept.

The below video is from a website called http://www.ifwerantheworld.com, that gives anyone an opportunity to submit their idea to change the world. The site aims to connect interesting people with interesting ideas to those who can help them get it started.

For more information on social entrepreneurship in general, this article from Forbes Magazine on a successful social startup – called She’s the First – is a great read: http://onforb.es/127DlEy