In our globalized world where 90% of world trade is transported by commercial shipping, and over $2 trillion worth of goods are imported per year to the United States, today more than ever we are heavily dependent on merchant shipping. Consumers rely on merchant shipping to safety and promptly deliver vital commodities like oil, agricultural products and material items to the United States. Piracy, especially in the Gulf of Aden, threatens the ability for the shipping process to run smoothly, delays the arrival of our products, places an unnecessary burden for shipowners, and endangers the lives of crew members laboring onboard such vessels.
Many pirate attacks are reported in the Gulf of Aden, directly off the east coast of Somalia. These attempted and often successful attacks target vessels passing through shipping lanes traveling across the Gulf of Aden, through the Red Sea, through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Ocean, out the Straits of Gibraltar, across the Atlantic to our eastern shores stateside, if the vessel’s charter prescribes. In this way, piracy that occurs thousands of miles away has a direct effect on American economic interests, as the economic penalty for delay can be serious in the event of a pirate attack.
In addition, the average reported ransom collected by pirates on a successfully hijacked ship is $2.7 million, the majority of which the individual ship-owner and insurance company is responsible for paying off. The only way to avoid traveling through the Gulf of Aden is to plot an alternate transport route around the Cape of Good Hope to the Strait of Gibraltar, which adds an extra 2,700 miles to the voyage. This alternate route can cost up to $3.5 million extra per year to pay for bunker fuel for the vessel, and this figure does not account for late delivery fees incurred by this mode of transport.
Alternately, if the ship-owner decides to travel through this dangerous area that reported 176 pirate incidents in the year 2013, the owner must pay for faster steaming and a privately hired security detail for the ship to protect it from pirates. Consequently, this dangerous crime is negatively affecting people around the globe by providing unnecessary expenditures adding up to $7 billion per year.
This paper focuses on the factors that explain the rise in piracy that took place on the Gulf of Aden. It argues that the sources of the problem lie not on the high seas, but on the political and economic challenges that Somalis have faced in recent decades. Piracy in this part of the world is closely tied to the failure of the Somali state.
This paper focuses on the long-term negative effects of Argentina’s populist economic policies have had on entrepreneurs. Micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) are an important part of Argentina’s economy employing 65% of the working population and generating 40% of the gross national product (GDP). Entrepreneurs create the start-up businesses that become MSMEs. Fostering entrepreneurs and their businesses can have a major impact on GDP growth and the standard of living of the people of Argentina.
Working out of the financial crisis in 2001-2, the new populist government focused on reducing poverty and income disparity through a series of large government social programs including employment, pensions, education and healthcare. With a strong global economy and export market, Argentina successfully transitioned reducing poverty while increasing GDP. The large government influencing many economic areas became increasingly unstable as the global economy suffered in 2008. Costly policies had to be paid for with dwindling revenues. Money was printed eroding the value of the peso overtime.
The uncertainty first with the radical change of government in 2002 and the abrupt changes in policy since have not promoted an innovation driven economy. While improving income disparity and poverty rates for the Argentinean people, the government’s continual political and economic instability, monetary policy, prohibitive regulations, and interference with free trade, has restrained the entrepreneurial class.
Women in Saudi Arabia are faced with some of the most restrictive living conditions that exist in the world today. This research paper focuses on how the legal system supports Saudi Arabia’s patriarchal society. To support this claim, the research is based upon the content of 25 articles about Saudi Arabian court cases. The articles each fell within one of four categories of policies that influence Saudi women’s daily lives: male guardianship, the driving ban, child marriage, and domestic violence. The results of this research showed that women in Saudi Arabia are denied their basic human rights due to the absence of a written legal code, which allows Saudi judges to make arbitrary sentences based on their personal interpretations and beliefs rather than the rights laid out by Islam.
The fundamental message of Islam is indisputably egalitarian, as all followers of God, both men and women alike, are promised success and forgiveness with their faith. However, women in Saudi Arabia have consistently faced some of the worst living conditions for females in the world. In the Global Gender Gap Report of 2013, conducted by the World Economic Forum, Saudi Arabia received the 127th ranking out of 136 countries for overall quality of life for women in the nation. This is an improvement compared with its position as the 131st country out of 136 that it had held for the past two years. Though many Saudis believe that the Quran clearly states equality for all in its purest text, Islam remains the justification for the restrictive social and legal policies and practices implemented by Saudi Arabia towards women. This conflict over the core principles of Islam and their application to society has sparked an ongoing debate in the Middle East, represented not by a war of the sexes, but rather, “a proxy war between modernizers and conservatives over what sort of Saudi Arabia both sexes will inhabit and over the role and relevance of the omnipresent religious establishment in Saudi society” (House, 2012, 72).
The obvious conflict over the true intentions of Islam towards women has led me to ask: Why are women denied their basic human rights in Islam, and particularly in Saudi Arabia? After conducting significant research, I have concluded that women were initially suppressed in Saudi society because of the history of the religious clash between fundamentalists and modernizers. This suppression has since been sustained by the non-codification of laws in Saudi Arabia, which allows the more traditional authorities to continue making arbitrary sentences based on their personal opinions. Saudi society is inhibited by the exclusion and suppression of women in society economically, politically, socially, and educationally; and must look to the purest texts of the Quran, free from interpretations, to reevaluate the role of women in society under the Islamic faith.
We are sitting in the airplane on our way to New York after spending the last five days in Berlin participating in the 23rd Annual Berlin Model United Nations conference. This event brought together over seven hundred students from around the world to debate global issues, ranging from the spread of cyberterrorism to the lack of access to education in the developing world. The main theme of the conference was the importance of education as the “Key to Advancement, Equality, and a Secure Future.”
As the Ambassador of Sudan, Jules Becker ’16 gave a speech in front of hundreds of delegates who gathered for the opening ceremony at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Germany’s oldest organization to promote democracy and political education.
The rest of the conference took place at the John F. Kennedy School, an American school founded in honor of the President’s legacy in the city. On the second day, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his assassination, the school showed a documentary about his life. It was a day that gave us pause to think about the influence of JFK’s life on international politics.
We all had many opportunities to play an active role in the conference. Some of us were assigned to represent Sudan in a variety of committees, including the Economic and Social Committee (Lily Canaan ’15), the Environmental Committee (Grant Anderson ’16), Human Rights Committee, (Lauren Mounts ’14), Political Committee, (Ashley Rintoul ’15), and Disarmament Committee, (Jules Becker ’16).
Juliet Fontana ’15 represented Sudan in a Special Conference on Education. She stood up in front of her committee of around 50 students to give quickly articulated speeches and debate delegates representing other countries. Later a local Berlin news station interviewed her about the anniversary of JFK’s assassination.
Olivia Taylor ’14 and Conor Eckert ’14 represented the Russian Federation in the Historical Security Council during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq Crisis. We argued about intervention using only information available in 2003, which offered a new perspective to the event. We worked with other nations to pass several clauses and used our influential status as a nation with veto power to block resolutions. It was a great way to learn about how international affairs works.
Outside of the conference, we had a chance to see many parts of Berlin, including the historic Reichstag government building, the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and the Holocaust Memorial.
The Reichstag was particularly impressive. It meshed together the tradition of German democracy with Berlin’s modernity. Artists from all four of the allied nations contributed art pieces that represented the foundation of democracy. We got a tour of the German Bundestag, which taught us about how voting procedures worked in the context of the German government. The tour ended with a view from the top of Reichstag’s dome, which was breathtaking and revealed the entire Berlin skyline.
Conor was also impressed by the Brandenburg Gate, where John F. Kennedy gave the famous speech in which he said, “Ich bin ein Berliner” in 1963 in support of West Germany, a couple of years after the Berlin Wall had been erected. Once a sign of political division, the Gate now stands in the heart of the city as an embodiment of German unity. It is also adjacent to the Allied Powers’ embassies, which highlights Berlin’s rich international history.
We also visited Checkpoint Charlie, an American military checkpoint located between East and West Berlin. It was a center of German culture and history where we got to interact with the past by taking photos with soldiers. The museum showed the dramatic impact that the Berlin Wall had on the lives of people in Berlin. We could only fully experience this history in Berlin, learning from our surroundings and seeing historical artifacts in person, such a car with a hiding spot under the engine that helped smuggle over 400 people out of East Germany.
Berlin in many ways was an ideal place for this Model UN conference. The city itself attracted students from all over Europe and from countries around the world like Bangladesh and Taiwan. It was the most international Model UN conference that we’ve ever been to. As Olivia put it, “Sitting next to fellow high schoolers from Qatar, Germany, Spain and Saudi Arabia was something students of our age could only do at this Model UN conference.”
In our free time the group stopped at the Christmas market in downtown Berlin. Along with shopping for holiday gifts, we tubed down an ice slide. We walked to many of these attractions along the way eating traditional German meals like the comically named “Hoppel Poppel” and fresh German waffles.
The group really came together by the end of the trip, despite not knowing each other very well when we signed up. We had been looking forward to this trip for the last couple of years and the club hopes that more GFA students will have the chance to experience it in the future.
Juliet Fontana, Olivia Taylor, Conor Eckert and Jules Becker
Today we were blessed by the village of Cyabatanzi in ways that may not be fully appreciated until sometime down the road, which is often true of intangible blessings. We drove early to attend the church service at the recently completed “new” church in the village, finding that the choicest seats in front next to the minister and worship leaders were reserved for our group. All of the other wooden benches were filled with parishioners who would still be worshipping until mid afternoon. Several young boys helped to add a musical accompaniment (mostly repeated I, IV, I, V7, I chord combinations) whenever the pitch seemed to fit, a toddler clapped and danced apart from everyone in her bright orange dress, men clutching New Testaments and wearing their Sunday best nodded and prayed, and women smiled with curious, welcoming eyes.
We had met many of the villagers the previous day, but this morning felt different. Caroline explained it this way: “Before I felt like they were watching and sort of judging us, but in the church service I felt welcomed and like we were really part of their community.” The choir sang a special song for us and then allowed the students to return their gift of song, all of it more lively than Easter Sunday. Winnie, a young Rwandan woman, translated as the minister read a passage from Isaiah mandating that we defend the widows and orphans, the minister prayed in superlatives that didn’t need translating, and the offering was taken. After that, people started bringing up other gifts – bags filled with corn, papaya, avocados, sugar cane, squash. These were auctioned off to help raise more money for the church. When several students began bidding, I worried that we were taking food items that someone in the church needed much more; but immediately after the service, Sean Fletcher (Stanwich lead teacher) pointed to the house the village had built for its widows and orphans two years before and said, “We’ll bring them there.”
Walking up to the classrooms to begin our painting, I had a new understanding of what it means to look out for the most vulnerable members in the community. As the students began prepping the walls using water and rags, swept the floor with a broom made from twigs, mixed paints while village leaders attempted to hold the children back, it seemed like we were engaged in something simply and profoundly human. A crowd gathered and stayed for hours – children peering in windows and reciting their numbers in English, women cooking and sharing ears of corn, village supervisors checking to make sure our work wasn’t impeded by the crowd.
What did we take away from today? The simplicity of a gift of song, crude work tools for cleaning, primary colors mixed to make a limited palette, and the joy of working together to make something so much bigger possible. In January, when the children run to peer through the windows again, they will be blessed with an open door welcoming them to their new school – a place where they can learn to count, to read, to find their voices and their dreams.
Project Blessing is a mission created by the Stanwich School about 7 years ago. This is our first year working with this mission and we will be helping to paint a kindergarten classroom. This mission creates opportunities for the kids living in Cyabatanzi, a town located at the top of a mountain in rural Rwanda. Without the classrooms built through Project Blessing, children in Cyabatanzi would not be able to attend school year-round. During the dry season, school is a possibility for the kids because they can travel from their homes down the road to the closest school (more than a mile away) without being in danger. As we learned in the Kigali City School, kids are passionate about learning. Unfortunately, during the months of wet season, the rain that washes the steep clay roads makes it unsafe for the children to walk to school. When they do return to school, the children are behind in their studies, which might make them feel hopeless about their future and lead them to drop out.
Many of the children in Cyabatanzi have to travel the same distance to fetch water every day. In order for us to better understand their experiences, we mimicked their normal walk from the only water source to the top of the mountain, where the Project Blessing site is locate. It was more than a mile-long walk with the sun beating on our backs. The winding, chalky, maroon roads kept going up the mountains. The walk would have been much tougher if we had not eaten breakfast and if the dirt road had not just been cleared. Going up the mountain, Team Blessing was warmly greeted by the village kids as they followed us up to the school. Mr. Llanque took the extra step and helped a nine-year-old village boy push his bike with 5 gallons of water on it. He was small and thin, barely taller than the bike.
This was our first true experience with rural Rwanda. As we passed other kids, they would greet, sometimes yell, “Muzungu”, which means white person. We were as rare a sight for them as they were for us. Earlier this week, we spent time at the Kigali City School, which was a private and, by comparison, more privileged school. But the kids in Cyabatanzi asked for money and water; a simple empty water bottle would make them happy. They would gladly fill it with sand and throw it around. They did not wear clean uniforms like the ones in the city; they wore whatever they could find. As I was entering the bus, I turned around to see a young boy wearing a donated Riverside School t-shirt, which just happened to be my elementary school. The world might be small, but the gaps are still wide.
The “thing” that many associate with Rwanda is genocide. It influences so many opinions about this country. This association with the Genocide leads people to make Rwanda out to be a place of sorrow, unrest, and anger. This view is anything but the nature of this welcoming country. Today we experienced the one adjective that I would use to sum up the true nature of Rwanda, joy. Starting with the morning assembly, the children sang songs of peace, love, and joy. The assembly is the very first thing the kids do on Fridays and it lasted for about an hour. Throughout the assembly we came to realize that this country is about love, happiness, and hope. When we were planning our lessons that we would teach them today, as a group we decided that we needed to give them motivation, inspiration, and hope for a better future. We were immediately proven wrong when we asked the kids what they wanted to be in the future. They all had quite unexpected answers – doctor, musician, dancer, pastor, lawyer, etc. Hearing these responses was such a pleasant surprise because we all thought that they were lacking hope for the future. So we thought quickly on our feet and tried to push them a little further by having them think about how they might go about achieving their dreams.
We also shared our dreams with them (Mom and Dad, I know you’re going to love this). I told them about how I want to be an actor and how much of a struggle it is to go about it when everyone tells you no and tells you it isn’t possible. I shared with them what I tell myself when I hear this, as I am sure that their dreams are shot down too: nothing is impossible when all you need in life is that one thing, as long as that one thing is going to bring you joy, and if you have the drive and never let anything discourage you, it will become your reality. Today more than ever, I saw such passion, joy, and hope in these kids’ eyes and it was so rewarding to someone who shares the same endless hope.
As I was sitting in the classroom at Kigali City School where a majority of the boys in the class sat, I noticed the difference of work ethic and voice between students. As Alex, the P-6 classroom teacher (where the oldest kids in the school learn), taught about conjunctions, which was even some new information to me, I noticed that what seemed like perfect attentiveness through the class on a hot and dusty day seemed to dwindle. Some of the students did not have the same drive to work to completely understand the concepts as I saw in the other kids. It seemed some of the boys and girls cared more about doing work for the basic memorization than understanding why the concept was needed. Every time I walked by a bench of three students, they all immediately looked down and started writing. It seemed as though they thought I was the big, bad teacher ready to punish them rather than help them, or as if some of the students were scared of failing in front of their peers and would rather sit back and watch the others than challenge themselves to understand what was being repeated over and over again. When we split into smaller groups of 5 or 6, I asked the kids questions and they spoke quietly and looked down, afraid of being judged by their friends. I was surprised by the giggles that arose after some of the students’ friends tried tackling an exercise. I understood most of these giggles must have been from the excitement and nervousness of new, American visitors, but I couldn’t help wondering if the giggles could also be a lack of support. When I asked the boys what girls in their class were good at, they replied “nothing” or “sleeping.” I was stunned by the answers. The girls seemed to feel this was nothing new and were reluctant to scold the boys for putting them down. It seemed to simply be second nature to them. When we came back to our homey guesthouse, we reconvened and shared our experiences and ideas for how we could apply our knowledge to the lessons we would be creating for the next day. Many of the experiences had to do with the passion students have for class or the unexplainable look in their wide eyes as we showed the pictures we took of them playing soccer or dancing to Nicki Minaj. Most of the ideas we came up with led to the theme of “voice.” At Greens Farms Academy, we are blessed with an unexplainable bond and relationship with our teachers. Time for one-on-one instruction is a given and teachers invite students to share their thoughts and ideas when covering new concepts. At the Kigali City School in classes of up to 54 students, one-on-one teaching is close to impossible as there are so many needs to juggle. Students’ voices can be suppressed in the midst of the lesson, while their aspirations for the future rarely come to surface. Many of the boys wanted to be doctors or engineers, whereas the girls seemed to resort to the social norms of their society, such as mother or storeowner. In tomorrow’s lesson, we want to highlight the importance of students hearing and supporting one another with their own voices and aspirations. We plan to have students share times in their lives where they felt like leaders or in control of a situation and then we will tell them about our own stories and about finding our voices. As we talk to each other, we hope that our passions for learning will grow.
Immaculaee’s story was told to us with a smile. Our group first met her when we arrived to the Kigali City School to observe and to visit the classrooms we will be teaching in the following days. The school was beyond the chaotic bustle of the city streets and removed from the restlessness permeating the city air, for which I was thankful. I looked around, noticing how the earth came to life around me and was struck by the sheer beauty of Africa yet filled with the knowledge that I was a world away from everything I knew. Later, the school principal greeted us and whisked us away to different classrooms to introduce us to the students we would be working with. Standing up on the platforms in the classrooms, I felt as if I were cattle at auction being watched with curious yet friendly eyes. We walked back to the main building and I fell into step with one of the teachers. Even before I lifted my gaze to meet hers, I was hauled up, embraced and told in broken English, “My, my aren’t you a pretty one.” I couldn’t stop the smile that broke out across my face as I returned the embrace and thanked her. We walked arm in arm to the rest of the group and I learned that she was named Immaculee and was a French teacher at the school. She only spoke French and Rwandan but was learning English at a university. We arrived to the group and she separated from me to hug each and every member of our group, chortling with glee whenever she found one of our names funny. Later, she took me aside to show me the pictures of her kids and spoke about them with such fondness I was immediately struck by the urge to meet them and get to know them. Immaculee lost some of her vibrancy when speaking of her husband who would be going into surgery the following day, and someone in my group (Daria) told her “Komera”, which means to be strong and have courage in Kinyarwandan. This teacher that welcomed me with such enthusiasm and warmth set the stage for the type of people that I would meet as the day came to the end. I learned that however homesick or scared I was of the unknown, I would be welcomed and embraced with open arms during my time in Rwanda.