Posts tagged India

What?! March all ready???

We are half way through our semester and I have great students, one from Mongolia, another from India and two from Asia: China and Japan.  The last student has an interesting background, his grandfather went to Japan from his home of Korea.  I asked this student if he doesn’t consider himself part Korean…like we Americans think of our Nordic background or Italian or French ancestry.  No…he feel 100% Japanese which is puzzling to me.  I suppose because the Koreans and Japanese don’t like each other, especially after WWII, then you have to be distinctively one or the other, not a mix.  I love this student’s laugh, he is also a big guy for an Asian.

The Mongolian student is very quiet and is not too strong of a writing student. Based on where she has come from, I can understand why writing would not be her strongest suit.  She had a GREAT story about her grandparents.  Her grandfather fell in love with this woman but then he had to go serve in the Sino-Mongolian war.  He left behind this woman who had been promised in an arranged marriage to someone else.  She slipped away just before the wedding and lived in Ulan Baator for several years until she could meet up with her lover, my student’s grandfather after he had served his three years.  Her grandmother, as it turns out, had not let her family know where she was so she could marry the man she loved and NOT the one who was arranged for her.

I have another student from several years back who had a grandfather who fought in the Navy during WWII in the Pacific Ocean. He took sick and was brought over to a hospital ship but meanwhile when he was gone from his original fighting ship, it was attacked. Every single person died that he knew because of an explosion, he was the only person to survive that attack.  He lived with survivor’s guilt all his life but he did end up marrying the nurse who took care of him on the hospital ship.

Yes, I have wonderful students who are trying to learn APA formatting so that they can write more academic papers. The first assignment is always the easiest because I am asking them to describe someone they love and respect. Some don’t know their grandparents but have heard a LOT about them from others.  I feel privileged to be able to see into these lives of the GREAT Generation, no matter what country they come from.

The spring weather is very tempting to go out with not as much wraps on, I’ve been getting some great photos of sunsets and sunrises.  I’ll show off some of MY grandparents instead.  I have reason to be proud of both sides of my family. They were farmers and hard workers. These are both of my grandpas and my Dad on Father’s Day.

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Students’ Reactions to “The City Bleeds Red” blog

bloodAn American girl wrote on her blog about her travels around the world for almost one year.  I had my composition students read her blog if they wanted to write their reaction to it for extra credit. Only three guys from Korea chose to do so. Otherwise, there were books to read on line, articles to look at or my own blogs to reflect on in preparation for their third paper on human trafficking. They looked at this link, I invite you to do the same and then react by adding a comment of your own at the end of this blog entry.

Reactions to “The City Bleeds Red”

Student #1 – This blog entry is by far the most convincing and heart-breaking story I have ever read. Because of this essay I have to reconsider whether the color red is really representing the word ‘passion’ , not, as the article said, “young children having to sit under a bed while their mother is doing “business”. Red is the color of innocence being taken by force, trafficked into new lands and robbed of all hope and future. Red – the color of parentless children being raised by pimps just waiting for them to get to the proper age so they can be put into business. Red – the color of corruption; police being paid every week by pimps so they don’t take action. Red is the color of deception, mistrust and injustice”. This was very touching and really moving paragraph. The whole essay tells what is going on within India. And I feel such pity for those young girls as their freedom, wills, visions, and dreams are shattered by the pimps or other disgusting people. I had no idea that India was in this much trouble with CSWs (Commercial Sex Workers) and other sex traffics. This article really awakened me and bought my attention to India. I think people in India really need help and I am eager to do something about it.

Student #2 – “This city bleeds red.” This sentence is very striking expression that depicts the sad reality of the city. Most of CSW have to have body relationship with 13-15 customers a day, and they get paid $2 per customer. As a result, their appearance looks older than their age and they get a disease. What the horrible reality! Their life and human rights is brutally being trampled underfoot by the minority wicked people. These facts always make me upset, however, there is no apparent solution. So, Katy Westrom and her co-workers always pray for improving poor people and children’s life. The victims of human trafficking need to real love and pray, not crude helps. Therefore, I really respect Katy and her people.

Student #3 – In this writing, the writer describes the Mumbai’s situation a red color that is negative part. In Mumbai, really a lot of commercial sex workers (15000~20000). And they even do their sex work about 13-15 customers a day and only got the $ 2 USD. I am really glad how I am one of the luckiest guys in the world. During the blog review, I realized really a lot of people are suffering from human trafficking especially prostitution. When they as victims suffer from the human trafficking, their life is completely ruined. For example, in this writing, there is a woman who is 35 years old but has both HIV and Tuberculosis. However, she looked like she was 75 years old…and she is not the only one woman who suffered from severe human trafficking. In Mumbai, more than 200,000 women are CSW’s. I felt how their life is so difficult as well. However, when there is a negative part, there also a positive part exists. Now the house where the writer was working used to be a brothel, but now today it is a safe place for children. Also like the writer of this blog, we don’t have a lot of work but love. Pray for them, Pray for their life is a one way to reduce their difficult life.

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Slaves Freed from Brick Factories in India

I had my composition students watch the trailer of the documentary “Dark Side of Chocolate” yesterday. I am happy that the full 45 minutes is up on YouTube.  I also had them watch a Ted.com video of Sheryl WuDuun talk about what she knows of human trafficking.  She and her husband Nicolas Kristof co-authored a book titled “Half the Sky.” Both clips certinaly got the attention of my students.  The following should stir the students’ blood after reading this latest blog from IJM (Intl. Justice Mission). I have seen similar stories or read somewhere about the brick factories in India and how people are tricked into working there…very sad!

IJM Bangalore: A Runaway Brother’s Call For Help Brings Rescue

Fri, 03/01/2013

IJM Bangalore helped rescue the children trapped in forced labor slavery
The siblings were enslaved in a brick kiln outside Bangalore, far from their home village in a neighboring state.

BANGALORE, INDIA – This week, a family of six was set free from slavery in an Indian brick kiln. Over the last couple of weeks, several of the siblings had escaped, making the brick kiln all the more dangerous for those who were left behind.

Tricked Once, Trapped For Good

On February 11 2013, IJM Bangalore got a desperate call for help. The caller was a young man named Prasham.* Prasham had escaped from a brick kiln where he and his siblings had been held captive for about six months.

Prasham relayed a terrible story. The three brothers and their sister were lured into the brick kiln with a hefty advance – a large amount of money that was more than their family had ever dreamed of. The siblings agreed to repay it through their work, but when they arrived they quickly realized they had been tricked. They were paid pennies for their work – about $5 a week. They were trapped.

The labor intensive process of baking clay bricks under the hot sun was back-breaking. Prasham told of a time when his sister was sick, and yet the owner forced her to keep working. He said one of the owner’s men, a watchman, beat his sister, and threatened Prasham when he tried to stand up for her.

Prasham said that the brick kiln owner let the brothers and sister take a short leave in January, to go home for an important Indian holiday. When the siblings didn’t return to the kiln, the owner traveled to their village to track them down. Prasham and his sister successfully hid themselves, but his little brothers, 9 and 13, were taken by the owner.

The two young boys were locked up in a small shed every night, let out only to work. They were forced to work even if they were sick, and if they spoke of illness they were kicked. But somehow, the boys managed to escape.

Two Brothers Escape, Another Held Hostage

At the end of February, IJM learned that situation in the brick kiln had worsened. The brick kiln owner allegedly went to a nearby brick kiln and kidnapped Prasham’s older brother. The brash owner locked them up and threatened to keep them hostage until Prasham and his brothers returned. Prasham said that the owner and his managers called him, telling him that they would “break my brother’s hands and legs if we don’t return back to the brick kiln.”

IJM moved quickly and took the case to the government official who has the authority and responsibility to root out forced labor slavery in his district. Within two days, on February 26, 2013, IJM staff and government officials were en route to the brick kiln.

The brick kiln owner at first denied that he was harboring Prasham’s older brother. But when the government official leading the operation demanded that the owner produce the young man at once, the owner changed his story. The owner said the young man was on his way back to the brick kiln. But the IJM and government rescue team found the young man on the road, being led away from the kiln.

Freedom At Last

The government official heard the stories from all of the brothers and sister, including the older brother who had been locked up for two days. The official determined that all six deserved release certificates, legal documents that declare them free and entitle them to certain government benefits.

A police report was also filed, to ensure the siblings remain safe while evidence is collected to build a case against the brick kiln owner.

An IJM social worker escorted the family back to their village, in the neighboring state, and they will now join IJM’s aftercare program. IJM will follow up to make sure they remain safe and are able to restart their lives in freedom by getting back to school or finding good jobs.

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Slavery Footprint and Ugly Factoids (Part III)

Facts are dangerous. Especially true once you become better informed about slavery around the world. Unfortunately, slaves may also be working in a restaurant or a health club or spa near you. (read David Batstone’s book “Not For Sale” to see where his passion to end human trafficking started) Once you are finished reading this blog post or after taking the Slavery Footprint survey, you will realize that the very clothes you wear, the food you eat and the computer that you are reading this from were probably prepared by slave hands in far off countries. Here are the ugly factoids I picked off the website “Slavery Footprint” and the survey you too can take to find out how many slaves work for you.

Fact #1 – Twenty-seven million (27,000,000) slaves worldwide – roughly combines the population of New Zealand and Australia.

Fact #2 – Pakistan uses boys in bonded labor starting at age 13, their contracts end at age 30.

Fact #3 – In 2007, “Save the Children” reported that 250,000 children live and work at Pakistan brick kilns. They are in complete social isolation.  That’s more than the population of Irving, CA, Baton Rouge, LA or Orlando, FL.

Fact #4 – More than 200 children are forced to work in India’s carpet belt of Ultar Pradesh. That makes it a pretty large operation combining Honda, Sony, Proctor and Gamble, Boeing each hire fewer employees.

Fact #5 – Bonded labor is used for much of the Southeast Asian’s shrimping industry, which supplies more shrimp to the U.S. than any other country.  Laborers work up to 20 hours a day to peel 40 pounds of shrimp.  Those who attempt to escape are under constraint and threat of violence or sexual assault.

Fact #6 – Every day tens of thousands of American women buy make-up.  Every day tens of thousands of Indian children mine mica which is the little sparkles in the make-up.

Fact #7 – Rubies are believed to be Burma’s second largest export after teak wood and are commonly mined using forced labor.  Mines are controlled by either the government or army who oversee workers in terrible conditions for little or no pay.

Fact #8 – Coltan is an effective superconductor found in electronics.  A U.S. State Dept. official was interviewed about coltan mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He pointed to the reporter’s smartphone and said “The likelihood that one of these was not touched by a slave is pretty low.”  [That’s more diplomatic than saying, “That smartphone you are using was made by a slave from Congo.”]

Fact #9 – In China, soccer ball manufacturers will work up to 20 hours in a day for a month straight.  Even the toughest American coaches wouldn’t ask that from their squads.

Fact #10 – 1.4 million children have been forced to work in Uzbek cotton fields.  There are fewer children in the entire New York City public school system.

Ten questions get to the heart of what we should all be very much aware of, the facts placed on the side of the “Slavery Footprint” survey are just to stir our imaginations as to the deprivation and sadness that must be in so many families around the globe.  The likes of which most Americans haven’t a clue about. I would say that if there are any anti-American feelings, it is because many Americans would prefer to think about their own problems and not reach out to those who are at the very bottom of the food chain.  Ugly facts are hard to ignore once you DO know the truth.

You can do something about it, read my past posts to see what websites my grab your attention.  Go to YouTube and watch Stellasvoice or listen to 19 year old Natalie’s interview.  Don’t just sit there, DO something!!!

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Memorable Quotes from “The Help” and human rights today

I knew when I read the book by Kathryn Stockett titled “The Help” two years ago that it would eventually be turned into a movie.  I didn’t know that it would happen as quickly as it did when it opened to theaters in the U.S. on August. 10th.  We watched it last night to a nearly packed audience. I’m sure it will have receive many Oscar awards when that season begins. The range of up and down emotions you go through as you watch the movie are from lighthearted fun to intense ache and pain in the relationships.

I believe the movie stayed true to the book. The following are some memorable quotes I picked off of imdb.com in no particular order. (Internet Movie Database)

Aibileen Clark  is a black maid who says to white baby girl she takes care of: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
Charlotte Phelan says to her daughter Skeeter: Your eggs are dying. Would it kill you to go on a date?
Aibileen Clark: 18 people were killed in Jackson that night. 10 white and 8 black. I don’t think God has color in mind when he sets a tornado loose.
Preacher Green says to his congregation: If you can love your enemy, you already have victory.
Aibileen Clark says to Skeeter when she goes to interview Aibileen: I ain’t never had no white person in my house before.
Stuart Whitworth, Skeeter’s boyfriend: Isn’t that what all you girls from Ole Miss major in – professional husband hunting?
Minny Jackson maid who says to her flighty employer Celia: Fried chicken just tend to make you feel better about life.

Charlotte Phelan says to her daughter Skeeter: Courage sometimes skips a generation. Thank you for bringing it back to our family.

Minny Jackson says to Celia: Minny don’t burn fried chicken.

Celia Foote: They don’t like me because of what they think I did.
Minny Jackson: They don’t like you ’cause they think you white trash.
Now, how does this movie relate to human rights today?  Of course, everything that I see or hear goes through my grid about human trafficking in Kazakhstan and elsewhere in the world. I believe there may still be pockets of “slave mentality” in the deep South of the U.S. but after the Civil War that poisonous thinking was supposed to be totally eradicated. Right? We have laws in place that protect human life (except for Roe v. Wade which is another hot topic that I won’t get into in this blog) The unfortunate thing is that there is so much going on in the world that does NOT protect human life.  Human trafficking is not just in Kazakhstan but China and India and many other places where there are powerful, rich people who victimize poor people who have no other options.
So, yes, Americans will go to the movie “The Help” now and feel good about themselves that we, as a nation, have come a LONG ways from the 1960s where the blacks were put down and there was intimidation and fear.  However, they will willfully remain ignorant of what is happening in the rest of the world where little girls as young as two years old are used as sex toys in temples in India.  Yes, I just read an article about it today and it grieves me sorely.
(to be continued)

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Blogging about WebSurvey Master…am I a Slave to Blogging?

I have met some very nice people because of this blog about Kazakhstan. I’ve written almost every day and especially after three years of being consistent in Kazakhstan, I have an audience more than just my Mom.  As my dear husband knows only too well, sometimes I feel as compulsive as the blogger in the movie “Julie and Julia.”  I’m not obsessing over a person like Julia Childs. I guess I’m trying to digest what this country of Kazakhstan is all about. Maybe I AM a slave to blogging…

In a very round about way I read some Kazakh person’s blog who was writing from London and wondering why Kazakh people don’t blog.  After I wrote to him telling him I appreciated his thoughts on this very subject because I’ve been wondering about this same problem for several years. In response, he gave me a link from a blogger from India who had, in turn, responded to HIS blog thinking aloud about why Kazakhs don’t like to write. You see how this social networking through blogs can pick up steam?  As a writing teacher, it is sometimes difficult to get anyone to write, not just Kazakhs or Ukrainians. But perhaps with Kazakhs there are even more tantalizing reasons to ferret out this information so that they WOULD blog more about their amazing country and culture.

Is it that Kazakhs want to remain mysterious to the rest of the world?  I am convinced there are many talented Kazakhs who have the ability to write but they just don’t feel compelled to do so.  This person I just recently got in contact with said that Kazakhs are too lazy.  Now, he can get away with writing that because he is Kazakh.  I, as an American, would not be able to write that so easily without offending Kazakhs.  Okay, so it is OUT there in the blogosphere and I didn’t say it. I suppose I should put the link on my blog right this very minute so you know that I’m writing truthfully.  However, I would have to get his permission first, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

I would like to do another questionnaire like I did with Survey Monkey and thankfully a new commenter yesterday brought to my attention about another swell on-line survey that I could use with my students.  Yes!!! I’m open to anything NEW and I’m seeing that this latest website that I showed to my students is a fun one for them.  First, I’ll have to try out this link http://www.websurveymaster.com/ which may even be better than SurveyMonkey.  We’ll see.  But this was just another person I will possibly meet soon, I believe he lives in Astana.  Without blogging and being OUT THERE, how would I know these people even exist with common interests to my own?

Next, I want to survey our student body about movies. What kind do they like (comedy, drama, history, horror, etc.), what values do they see in American movies and other questions. I hope to get to the core of what we do every Sunday afternoon by showing good and wholesome movies with English subtitles to these university students. We want to open this service up to the general public of Astana so that other university students can profit from our handouts and discussion in English afterwards.

Finally, my husband will hopefully meet a commenter to my blog while he is visiting Almaty this weekend.  I think this person started commenting on my blog entries about a year ago.  He shares some of the same economic interests as my husband does so that might be helpful to finally meet the person behind the pseudonym. I’ve met over the phone or in person some of my other commenters and that is always fun.

For now, my students who are blogging are excited about getting outside commenters besides just me, their teacher.  The adventure is finding out what you write and think matters to someone else.  That is why I want to survey more about blogging to get to the bottom of this problem of why Kazakh students don’t feel a need to write to the general globalized public about who they are and where they have come from. A great land of Kazakhstan which I can hardly understand, not knowing the language beyond four words, would be better served to explain it by actual Kazakhs blogging MORE!!!

I’ll keep you posted about what my students have written about the problems they see exist with blogging from Kazakhstan. It’s not like there is a law against it, or IS there an unwritten code that I, as the unsuspecting American, don’t know about??? Stay tuned!

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Photos of Kazakh Red Carpets and Women’s Issues

My American friend Julia in Almaty has a real passion to learn as much as she can about the traditional patterns of the Kazakh carpets.  For me, this might be a “women’s issue” but  I believe it is also tied in with failed communist policy from days gone by.  According to Julia, at some point the carpets were banned during the Soviet Union, maybe in the 1970s.  However, in Central Asia each soon-to-be bride was expected to make a carpet to have in her dowry before she got married.  Each carpet had her own symbols and story to tell along with the year it was done and the woman’s name woven in.  No different than our American quilts that show patterns and have stories attached to it.  These red carpets were created as pieces of art in happier, more bucolic times in Central Asia.

On a related note with women’s issues, I just got an e-mail from an American friend of mine, Elaine, who lived in Nepal for a semester.  She has an anthropology background and her riveting accounts reveal what she experienced in Nepal, no easy life.  What’s so amazing about Elaine is that she is in her late 70s but still going strong. Here’s what she wrote in her e-mail to me…

“…although at some point I do want to record what I learned about the ongoing tragedy of widows in both Nepal and India.  Although they’re no longer required to join their husband’s funeral pyre, they often opt to do so, only because the alternative of no status, no financial resources appears worse to them.  Enough!”

When I lived and taught in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in 1993-1994, I first learned about bride kidnapping from my Kyrgyz students.  Many of their aunts or even the Kyrgyz students’ mothers had been kidnapped as brides.  However, kidnapping was against the law back in the early 1990s but during the Soviet period I think it was commonplace to avoid taxation or maybe to avoid having to make the carpets that took at least a year to accomplish. I think there might be a strong connection with not making the traditional Kyrgyz or Kazakh carpets because the USSR deemed it as too culturally bound and the other issue of bridekidnapping.  The newly minted Soviet women probably didn’t have the time to make carpets because they were too busy in the collective farms or in the industrial factories. It could be a real research question for someone in anthropology to find out the correlation between the Soviet edict of NO more carpets and when the bride kidnapping started or WHY it became commonplace.  Too many questions, not enough answers!!!

I suspect that those westerners who are INTO women’s issues and may even major in Women’s Studies would find out that there are numerous failed policies in many different countries that work against women.  However, these same purported “scholars” who are mixed up with Marxist dogma in western university would never want to reveal that former communist states or current communist countries propagate very contemptible laws that work against women.  Really, American women have NOTHING to complain about when it comes to their rights.  Oh, should I also mention women’s issues in China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan’s neighbor? Why are so many girl babies killed in China with their “one child policy?”

What we need is honest inquiry into what is happening to women in other countries.  I haven’t even brought up the issue of the sex trafficking that happens all too frequently in Krygyzstan or other former Soviet Union countries.  Read a riveting account titled “Two Kyrgyz Women” if you want to know more about the plight of what is happening in Krygyzstan. If the Kyrgyz men of that small nation are angry, it is because their women folk are being brutalized and used.  They are desperate to preserve their honor and the honor of their nation.

But this blog was about Central Asian carpets right?  Please look at the photos that I took in the Independence Hall in Astana and think about the Central Asian women who created them. Many of these women are soooo far away from being independent, it breaks my heart.  Please think about Kyrgyzstan as the numbers of deaths continue to increase in southern Kyrgyzstan.

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