Posts tagged long read
Posts tagged long read
My mom’s battle with cancer sadly came to an end on the 29th of August 2013. I am doing quite well, considering how close we both were. She died at the very young age of 53, and despite very strong hope for her survival she was unable to battle this nasty disease.
It was not easy going through 6 months of physical and emotional turmoil with my mom. At times she would suffer. Many say that you have good days and bad days with cancer, but for my mom it seemed as if her good times only lasted a few hours..
My mom had a special gift to spread joy among the people she met. She was kind, giving and loving. At her funeral I emphasised the point that if it was one thing that my mom taught me was how to love. I am so eternally grateful for that lesson, because it is a lesson that I would use for my entire life.
I’d like to believe that my mom gave me incredible strength, because just after 3 weeks I have bounced back into my normal routine. I still think about her everyday, but with a sense of happiness that her suffering is over. Immediately after her funeral, I could not help but have a broad smile across my face. It was probably the most unorthodox thing to do, but in a good sense, I was very happy. My mom’s suffering had come to an end.
During her ordeal, I cried several tears. It is not an easy thing for all doctors to tell you that there is not much they can do for your mother. We experienced it all. From using natural medicinal treatments to even consider choosing a non-commercial route to cure mom’s disease. We were all desperate and willing to see my mom live.
I am happy because I told my mom that if she was to lose her life to this disease, I want her to go down fighting. This is exactly what she did. My mom, fought to the very end. Her will to live remained constant, even till her very last breath. Her death was peaceful, and I’m very grateful for that.
My advice to my fellow readers is to appreciate your parents, because today I can stand tall and say that I have no regrets!! I feel the pains of not having a mother every single day. Its hard, but it something that you have to grow to live with. Cherish your parents like gems and the rewards would be more than worth it.
Shahad the Sentinel
Today one of my friends told me that they are not worried about my future. She is not the only friend who doesn’t. I think the only person I know of who is worried about my future is me. My parents are quite old school, and they are still under the very strong belief that since I completed my undergraduate degree that I will get a job….. As much as their constant assurance that something will be played in my favour.. It annoys the hell out of me. I love to think that I am standing on uneven ground and I can drift into an unpredictable space. A place where I flip burgers and place them between two slices of bread. In the competitive field of work, I think you have to be prepared to do anything.
While my colleagues automatically thinking that my place at the Environmental Management Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is a sure one, I always tell them that nothing in life is a guarantee. For those of you who may not know, I have volunteered and actively participated with this organization for 5 years. I did two internships with them, so logically an application to their organization is more of a personal obligation than a choice. Clearly I enjoy what they do. However, I am not going to apply to one organization and sit like a duck and wait. It is not practical move.
In the mean time, I find myself burying myself with volunteer work and not sleeping before 4am every morning. Its not healthy and I think this is the worst insomnia I have ever gotten. I wish I could have had this level of alertness during my first year at university. God those grades were terrible. I do have a plan though, I have things to occupy myself at the moment. If its one thing that I do hate is having idle hands. I read an entire draft policy! Not necessarily because I wanted to, but more so I had the time. I am glad that it happened this way though, because it made me realize how important it is to be informed of such activities.
I must admit that I did find something that is challenging me. I was recently asked to sit on the Youth Advisory Committee of the Trinidad and Tobago Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (TTEITI). I am working with a lot of professionals and as much as I would like to say its intimidating, I would prefer to say its challenging. I am working with committed people who actually knows what they are doing. It was amazing to see how outstanding objectives and tasks were completed within a couple of weeks after the holiday season in December. I love the efficiency. I am extremely grateful to the fact that they have allowed me to sit on the committee and share my ideas and thoughts as we all progress forward with our plans and projects for youth involvement in the TTEITI.
I guess this is why my friends and they are quick to say that they are not worried about my future, but the truth of the matter is I am. They look at the things that I have done with different organizations, but to me it lends no credit to your future. Yes it may look pretty on your resume, but its not the reason that I do these things for. As a matter of fact my current resume does not even mention that I am sitting on this Youth Advisory Committee of the TTEITI. I do not think that I have made sufficient contributions to even put it there. I know many others may think differently, but I only placed the items where I made the most significant accomplishments.
All of this volunteer work does only one thing for me. It makes me happy and it lifts my spirits. I like being a part of organizations and networking. It helps me survive the challenges of the world. Volunteerism would be admired by employers, but at the end of the day it takes a lot of sacrifice and dedication. I remember getting so much opposition from my parents for lending skills and not getting paid for it. They never got that aspect of me, and I do think they ever will. My father in particular is obsessed with me making a living. I actually placed a cheque on my desk, and my father made sure to notice it, and question me on its origin. It was a stipend for a performance I did. I usually hide these things, cause I prefer not to be asked. It perturbs me that he asks… is that bad?
I have gotten so furious with my dad lately, because he is questioning me constantly about jobs, applications and resumes. I have to keep repeating my plan to him over and over again, until he actually stopped because I threw a tantrum like a 9 year old. You know what its like to be pressured in to getting a job, and know to yourself that there is 10% chance that you would get an interview? The only thing I ever wanted in life was to be happy and honour my parents. Not getting a job by March would devastate them. I already told them that I am settling for minimum wage if I don’t get anything substantial by March. I am dead serious! I cannot stay home and occupy my time with volunteer work. Its not practical when I know to myself I want to start my masters in September.
So when my friends tell me that they are not worried about my future. I appreciate the compliment, but there are a lot of ethical decisions that I have to make. Once I do start working, does it necessarily mean I have to lay off somethings that I am doing, cause at the moment, my planner is filled for the next 8 days. If I had a job, I would be cancelling 2 very important volunteer meetings for the remainder of this week. Am I into deep. You have no idea. One of the projects that I am working on focuses on educating kids on the environment. If you take a look at my resume, I have had extensive experience with kids. I did not even know it, till I formulated the resume properly. I have always sought in educating younger individuals. As a matter of fact I am giving lessons to a person who is pursing Environmental Science CAPE level at the moment. I am just so passionate about giving back.
I find myself so worried. Money is not everything, but you need money to do so many other things. If I do get called for an interview, part of me would be wishing that I do not get the job and the other part would be screaming to get hired. Masters or make a difference Even though getting a masters degree would help me greatly in making a bigger differences in the future. Uggghhh too many thoughts in my head.
Has anyone ever found themselves in such a crossroad. I thought I was lost while doing my undergrad degree, but now lost has a whole new meaning to its name.
Always looking at life,
Shahad the Sentinel
This was the first time I ever sat down and read a draft policy that was presented by my country Trinidad and Tobago. As such I had to know what a policy was and the results was actually a waste of time. A policy is just a set of rules or guidelines that would lead an organization in a certain project or task. Policy is not law, but must be lawful in its contents. In others words the content cannot be against existing laws.
The forest and protected areas policy is one that I know of already. However, I never found the time to read it. As I am home and have more or less nothing to do until I find a job, I took it upon myself to read this one and formulate my own comments about the draft policy. One should note that I was very discouraged to read it after seeing the video that was released by the Ministry introducing this policy. It was very poorly done, and reflected one inaccuracy that nerved the hell out of me. I have worked alongside the Nariva Swamp Restoration Project, and I know for a fact there is no picture of the species of manatee that lives in Trinidad. Yet still there is a photo of a manatee in this video that is staring me in my face. You can take a look at the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVF40Dwp-Wo&feature=youtu.be
I must admit though, that reading this policy educated me on many things that I did not know of before. For example vermin can only be killed on private lands, outside of the hunting season. On state lands they are well protected and can only be hunted within the hunting season itself. I also also learnt that licenses granted for hunting are ‘state’ licenses, which made me think is their any proper legislation for wildlife on private lands?
The problem with all these polices is the case of ambiguity. Not many organizations know exactly what they are responsible for. As indicated by the wildlife policy there are many organizations or laws that have jurisdiction over wildlife species. Such as the Fisheries Act, The Institute of Marine Affairs, The Chaguaramas Development Authority, The Environmental Management Authority and Forestry Division, among many others.
Initially when I was reading this policy, it was sad for me to declare that the policy highlighted all the short comings of the Forestry Division. If we are talking about the management of wildlife, we must know the amount of wildlife there is to manage. This process was originally left to Forestry Division, by the use of hunter return data. Once a licence was granted, each person was to bring back a form indicating what was hunted. Apparently, these forms were returned, but according to the policy the information was never accounted for, because of a lack of human resources at forestry division. I think this statement was the one that metaphorically set me on fire. There are hundreds of graduates with a degree in Environmental Natural Resources Management and there is still a lack of human resources at Forestry Division? Madness!
What perturbed me more, was the fact that Forestry Division continued to give out 10,000 hunting licenses every year, without a clue of the population of wildlife in Trinidad and Tobago. I personally do not see how a hunter return data form can accurately indicate the population of a species in Trinidad and Tobago. What is required is scientific research of all areas in Trinidad and Tobago to get the required data. Naturally the policy states that this would be happening in coming years.
My problem is though that there is an intention is to re brand Forestry Division as the Forest and Protected Areas Management Authority. The Authority that would be responsible for adhering not only to the National Forest and Protected Areas Policy but as well as the Wildlife Policy. So am I to assume that we are putting the responsibility in the hands of an organization that could not effectively account and manage wildlife in the first place? I would prefer if a new organization was established.
Like most polices they always claim an integrated approach. As a matter of fact the policy states that the cost, benefits and responsibility of wildlife management must be shared among all stakeholders. I never laughed so hard in my life. Do you remember the sea turtle affair on the north east coast, when everyone was just blatantly pointing fingers? What do you think would happen if two dozens ocelots were found, stripped of their skins in a deserted area of a forest? The same would occur naturally.
In my honest opinion, these policies cannot be effective unless there are round the clock armed security in the forests of Trinidad and Tobago. Especially those areas where hunting is most prevalent If I know of many people who hunt outside of the hunting season, something is not being done properly. As much as I could preach to my colleagues about not hunting outside of the hunting season, this a livelihood for them, and they are more concerned about the next meal that they and their family would be having. Apart from that, they are the ones with the guns, I am no kublalsingh and I am not going to put my head on block to fight a cause that requires serious education and public awareness. Of course there are guidelines in the policy for education initiatives, however under the arm of a re branded forestry division, I am doubtful that anything would be effective.
One of the issues brought up in the policy is equity of wildlife resources. Many people who live in areas where hunted wildlife do not thrive, travel to the northern range to enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Many who live in and around the Northern Range have to compete with others for wildlife resources. Is there any demographic information on the licenses granted by forestry division? Is it proportionate to the entire island? What about a limit for each county of Trinidad and Tobago? Have any of these been considered?
Travelling circuses was actually mentioned in the policy. As you know we had a few circuses visiting Trinidad and Tobago in the past with a lot of exotic animals. I would admit that I use to cringe when those whips cracked near or on the tigers themselves. I have only one suggestion to Family Attractions…. stop bringing down animal circuses and bring Cirque de Solei….A fabulous circus company that uses no animals in their act. For me personally, circuses with animals in their repertoire should be entirely banned by law. We are living in a country with too many species, to not have a conscious mind about the treatment of animals.
One of the other points mentioned, included unregulated quarrying. This policy is not law, so it has no place in it, if you ask me. There are still too many illegal quarries, that no authority wants to take full charge of. Again the many politics that surrounds these quarries are astronomical. Do your remember the Asa Wright issue? It took an international appeal to get works to cease. I am glad to know that there have been reforestation efforts in and around that specific area.
Placing my thoughts here, would not make any difference. That is why I intend to go to the public consultation meeting on the 20th of February at Macoya. I encourage you to read the policy
Gather your thoughts and attend the consultations!
So here I am again. One of those ramblings in the wee hours of the morning. You should see the condition of the bed that I am sleeping on right now. There are chargers, headphones and a set of mobile electronics wrapped up on one part of my bed. There are some clothes that needs to be packed away jammed in another corner and the mere fact that my bed was partly made this morning, should give you the impression of how uncomfortable I am at this moment. Still when I finish this post and nestle myself in to sleep, I am sure I would go way beyond the points or REM despite the condition of my bed.
The new year has kicked off with a bang. There is a lot to do and so very little time to do it. At the end of the day I am happy, and because I am happy, I am sleeping less hours. I know it sounds strange, but the fact is that I do not want to miss a beat. Whether its responding to an important email or supporting my EMA Youth Ambassadors to some serious daring project this quarter, I want to be a part of it all. I cannot seem to convince myself that people do not respond to emails at 4am in the morning. I am currently operating on a 8 hour wake and 6 hour sleep cycle. I have to keep checking that date to make sure. Yesterday I saw the sunrise :D
Despite having a lot of work to do, my odd hours have allowed me to pace myself. This is the type of life I want to be living. A life that makes a different and for the first time in a very long time. I am seeing it. I am getting to be a part of change. I could even be a catalyst to inspire others if I so choose. Its amazing how you feel when you finish your undergrad degree. You revel in your own glory. You can do what ever you want, and finally be whatever you want.
The next 8 months of my life is intended to be mine. I have limitless boundaries and opportunities. While others may doubt me, keeping a positive mind would get you further. My intention is just to keep the positive thinking and push forward to get some decent results!
So its close to 3 am. I am lying down in the darkness of my room and using the light from my laptop to see in the keys on my keyboard. For the past four years I have been making new years resolutions and its hardly any argument that I have managed to stuck to them all. What is my new year’s resolution for 2013? At this point that does not matter, because this year is meant to be unpredictable. The steering wheel that everyone uses to guide their life, is not really fully functional in my car. I am too broke to go the mechanic.
I really wish I could know what is going to happen this year. The endless possibilities that surrounds my actions for the betterment of men and this country. I guess this pondering mode that I am currently in, is not only reflective of the recent New Year, but the fact that I am turning 24 on Monday.
Tomorrow is the party at one of those popular liming locations. A lot of my friends asked me if I am excited. To be honest, I really am not that excited about adding another year to my life, to reflect the fact that I have growing responsibilities. Not showing up at that party tomorrow means that everyone else would enjoy my party and come back and tell me how good it was. I do not think anyone in their right mind is prepared for that type of trauma.
I was always fond of the idea that my birthday was so close to the New Year. When I turned 22 I realized the value of it. It was just after the holidays and after spending it with family that was either over protective or crazy, the majority of friends would crave to lime, drink alcohol and party till the sun comes up. Now at 24 and prepping to have a great time tomorrow with some awesome friends, I fail to feel the hype. I know this would change tomorrow, but for the for the first time I am worried that this party may not turn out as well as I expect it to be.
This honestly has nothing to do with the fact that over 20 guys confirmed attendance and just about 11 girls would be there. Did I foster a sausage fest for my 24th birthday? Apart from that, the girls that are attending are either involved or very close friends. Like I said though, this has nothing to do with the fact that I feel that this party is going to be lacking some serious vibes tomorrow.
I need to save money. These are the only thoughts that are flashing through my head. Green dollar signs. I am not superficial and I do not need material things. I came to realize in the last moments of 2012, that my life needs to be governed by a steady income. Is there a life that doesn’t though? Money makes the world go round, and I am intent on finding innovative ways make some.
A very close friend of mines, once told me that “Why are you working. Machines work. Humans don’t work” These were the words that came from someone who was comfortable. They had many outlets of revenue. I admire her though, because she and her family worked extremely hard for what they have. I know her son really well too. What can I say about her son. He is a star that is about to shine. The decision is made that I need to shine like that too.
Of course, I would follow in the same vain of saying yes to every opportunity. I need to push way harder. Would you believe that 4 days have just passed into the new year, and I am already working with people who has proven to have a much higher standard work ethic than me. Do you smell that…? Its the smell a challenge and I crave it like melted chocolates on fluffy marshmallows.
As much as I ponder, I know that 2013 needs to be my bitch and not the other way around. As much as I am worried about celebrating the creation of my life tomorrow with some very dear friends. I know that I would find it in me, to enjoy myself. Sixty dollars cover charge cannot go to waste.
I hope my followers, had a great start to their 2013! I hope everyone is aiming for a year of productivity and great accomplishments… I know I am…. Its my purpose and a must!!!
Always looking at life,
Shahad the Sentinel
It felt so good to get out of the house without the guilt of exams resting on your shoulders. My cousins and I decided to go take a look at the Life of Pi. A movie that centered around the life of Piscene Molitor Patel. A work of fiction by the novelist Yann Martel. There is not a doubt in my mind that this piece of work is spectacular and brings together not only fantasy but some very intense human emotions on screen. There were so many elements of this movie I loved, and it is one that I cannot wait to watch again.
In my honest opinion the movie takes a very slow pace. It seems to go on forever. Which in my honest opinion works with the whole idea of being shipwrecked and lost at sea. What was most striking for me was the life that Piscene had to endure while growing up in India. It appeared that his family was economically comfortable, running a zoo in the village that he was from. From a young age he seemed so impressionable, gathering knowledge from different religious beliefs. Piscene was a young boy who was spiritually grounded and I could not help myself but deeply admire that aspect of this character.
I like that Piscene was able to overcome bullying with such confidence and intelligence. From the beginning of the movie it was established that Piscene had courage that no other young boy of his age. His classmates called him “Pissing” and ridiculed him at every chance that they got. As he entered a new class he memorized the Pi decimal. Most of us know it as 3.14. Piscene was able to write the entire Pi equation across several blackboards, and because of his legendary effort, he was then known as ‘Pi’. The name he wanted to be known by to avoid the bullying of his peers. Courage that he would need as he got older.
Soon enough his parents were in financial troubles and had to sell the animals of the zoo. In a Japanese cargo ship Pi and his elder brother and parents traveled across the seas of the Pacific along with their animals to Canada. The ship had found itself in difficulties during a thunderstorm and Pi was the only survivor of the vessel. He spent 22 days at sea, and soon washed up on shore at Mexico. This is essentially the life of Pi. However the days spent at sea is quite a mystery and the entertainment crux of this movie is really believing in what Pi had explained.
For those of you who have seen the movie, the Bengal tiger was clearly evident, however there were other animals on the rescue boat with Pi. There was a zebra, an orangutan as well as a hyena. In the first few days aboard the ship. The hyena killed the zebra, followed by the orangutan. The tiger then killed the hyena and fed on the remaining meat that was there. Pi had to battle with the tiger for space. He built a raft that attached itself to the boat and survived there along with the supplies he could have accessed. The tiger made several attempts to attack him, and as such Pi caught fish to keep the Tiger satisfied. Pi’s combination of hope and courage surely seem to keep him alive. His boat drifted to a deserted island with a hundreds of meerkats. The island itself is very mystical and the island is apparently unknown to the rest of the world. After packing up on supplies, it did not take very long for Pi to leave the island and find the coast of Mexico.
At the hospital bed, Pi presented a metaphorical story that related to the happenings that occurred with the animals on the boat. Every time he related the story of the animals and the mystical island to the Japanese investigators they would not believe him. He explained to them “another” metaphorical story which stated that his mother (the orangutan), the sailor (the zebra), the chef (the hyena) and himself Pi (the tiger) were the only ones that survived the actual shipwreck.
He explained to the Japanese investigators that the Chef was a very heinous man, who sought to cut off the leg of the sailor because it was infected. His mother had known that his effort was to kill the man, but did not reveal this to Pi. Pi further explained that the Chef used the body of the sailor for bait, and took a step further and ate the flesh of the sailor. Pi had explained that he and the chef had gotten into an altercation, which made his mother upset. His mother told Pi to get on the raft, and it was not too long before the chef had killed his mother. Pi explained to the Japanese investigators that he was clueless as to how he did not see this coming. He rolled his mother’s body into the ocean and later that day killed the chef who gave no resistance to his effort.
The two stories that Pi presented were so closely related to each other, one must wonder which is real. Was pi seeing things out in the ocean? Was his mother really with him and did Pi see them as animals? Were there really animals on the rescue boat with him? It really is a bit of a confusion, and I believe that dependent on your personality you would prefer to believe the side that suits you most.
I am too deeply engrossed in fantasy. I prefer to believe that Pi survived it all with a Bengal tiger for 22 days. Its too good of story not to believe. Pi’s courage could be consider to be symbolized through the strength of a tiger. The relationship on screen made it seem that both the existence of the tiger and himself, could have been a scenario of self encouragement and hope. He could have been there all by himself and played within the depths of the mind that he was strong as the tiger…. I refused to believe it, even though its a work of fiction that plays on realms of reality…. I choose… within the construction of this fictitious work… that Pi lived with a Bengal tiger for 22 days at sea.
A must see you guys…. A must see!!!!
Culture varies from door to door as you go down the very street you live in. You may live in the same community, but in your home, you may tend to live your life very differently as compared to many others. On a larger perspective of the whole cultural issue, we do own up to a national culture, even if its in a cosmopolitan, the majority of us have an idea of what it means to be proud of our respective nationalities.
This blog post stems from a recent practical exam that I had in my academic pursuit of the Performing Arts The course, Asian and African Theatre examined the various forms of Theatre that are not common to the Western World, but rather distinct in the various regions of Africa and Asia. While I do understand that with all theatrical studies, it is important to have a practical feel of the theory examined, I must admit that this was the first time I literally felt ashamed of what I was doing. Not because I was bare chested, or because I felt like a fool on stage. This was the first time I felt as if I should not have interfered with what I had learnt.
Our group was given the topic "Magic in Bali: Ritual vs Tourism." Bali is a small island in the Pacific ocean that boasts of a unique form of Hinduism known as Balinese Hinduism. Like with most who come across this tiny island, I fell in love with its environment, its people and their cultural practices. Apart from its economic hold on the ornamental fish industry, and the benefits of coral reefs that exist in the surrounding seas, Bali has a uniqueness that is incomparable to its neighbours. Even though Bali has been influenced by Java and Indonesia; from what we have learnt, Bali has remained unique in what it has to offer.
There are many secular dances that take place near temples around Bali. One in particular is known as the Legong which is usually danced by women. This form of dance takes extensive years to learn, with precise movements narrowed to the shifting of the eyeballs against the backdrop of traditional Balinese music. Males are known for the Kecak dance, that illustrates the story of the Ramayana. It speaks mostly of Lord Hanuman and the battle he faced when rescuing Sita from the Demon God that kidnapped her. This dance is normally done in a circle and involves a series of chants or “caks” alongside the bodily movements of the hands and fingers. With a group of 20 or more men, the ‘performance’ can be quite a spectacle.
Our group had decided to re create the Kecak dance as much as we could. However, it was known to us that we could NOT re create Bali. The truth of the matter is… no one can. In order to see Bali, you have to go there and experience the wonder of the country for yourself. We tired making ‘saputs’ which are loin cloths that are checkered black and white. We had to suffice using white tetrex cloth, stale black paint, an old paintbrush and a piece of paper to help smudge the material. We got woven baskets, and picked brightly coloured flowers. I was at least very proud that one of my colleagues and I were able to find hibiscus and frangi pani flowers that are customarily used in the Balinese traditions. For the kecak dance, also known as the monkey dance, we had Hanuman incense. We also had a lota, a taria, and a havan kund to help us recreate the central fire.
The kecak dance itself is physically exhausting. To begin with, it was difficult to lead the group and also to even learn the moves. It amazes me that in Bali the individuals who do these dances are people who have varied professions. The people who dance are the doctors, the lawyers, the construction workers etc. This is their daily life, and its a part of who they are. These rehearsals are done after work hours. Its a part of their culture and EVERYONE is involved. The manner in which our group approached this in my honest opinion, was not done in complete reverence. Everyone seem so pre occupied with attaining the highest mark. At the end of the day, I was more than satisfied with just passing.
I guess I feel this way mainly because of the readings that I was cramming for my final written exam for African and Asian Theatre. I read that Balinese people are very particular about their culture and traditions. In Bali there are different types of dances and some of them require masks. Topeng masks for example are extremely sacred and must be taken good care of. There are even some masks that must be kept covered at all times. In my readings I saw how lengthy the process is. From the moment that the wood is taken from a tree, prays and rituals must be said and done, in order to make the mask what it is. The specific wood used, is left to dry, before it can even be carved. The alkaloids in the wood can prove very toxic for the bearer of the mask, and as such the wood is left to dry for the alkaloids to become absent. Even during its carving and development various prays are said intermittently. Its painting is usually done by grinding various natural elements. Commercial paints are often used, but few mask makers paint it the traditional way, since the length of time it takes to use natural elements is much longer.
Because these people are so particular about their culture. It was very hard to accept my meager attempt at the Kecak dance. During our presentation we talked to each other, trying to sort out last minute details and even at the very last minute, changed our concept. It indeed was a very frustrating day.
Have you guys ever had a presentation go wrong? Or never felt that comfortable with it? Have you ever had to dance in loin cloth and nothing else? Let me know what are your thoughts on the Balinese culture… It truly is amazing!!!
Always looking at life,
Shahad the Sentinel
To all my beautiful female followers, can you answer this question with complete honesty? I need you all to do this because I feel as if I am being redundant having touched on the dynamics of girls and boys in my last blog post. This time however, I present to you a real life example that occurred quite recently.
Attraction is a funny thing. Regardless of your sexuality, we all attracted to each other. Strong attractions can cause the mind to do silly things. These actions can make us embarrassed, and once in that frame of awkward feelings you wonder if you did things correctly.
I have been single for 6 months. I have moved on. Frankly I started liking someone about two months ago. Of course like with the type of girls that I am attracted to, she had intelligence beyond measure and an effervescent personality that I know I would enjoy being around. Even though I liked her, my emotions did not escape me and they were not in a state of disarray. I was no way near being a stalker, but more so barely showed interest in this beautiful girl.
Having invested over 7 years of my life in my last relationship, I must admit that I am rusty and I probably was clueless as to what I was doing. I would try my best to explain the events as accurately as I can. I hope that you all can give me some insights as to what I did wrong. Keep in mind that if we were to tally the amount of “one on one” conversations we had, they would probably amount to 2 hours.
I worked with this girl for probably a month or so. To be honest, she was weird, odd and boasted her dislike for me, in more ways than one. It was of course meant to be a joke, and being the theatrical person that I am, I played along with it. We practically lost contact for a while, until we were able to correspond on a different platform. We had originally exchanged contacts, and the customary hello’s and goodbye’s were the most we ever corresponded However, this time was different we were able to see our personalities as it relates to our professional performance.
I admit that the work that I produced was never close to her standard. What actually hit me though, is that she was never condescending about it, but rather took the time to explain the concepts and the errors that you might have made. While this may be her customary interaction with everyone, it’s a trait that I find extremely attractive, along with her other attributes.
For those of you who have any idea what my lifestyle is like. I am always busy. I never harassed her nor did I ever message her excessively. I just always looked forward to seeing her ever so often during the periods that I was able to. The friendship was enjoyable to say the least. She asked if I was interested in getting something to eat after we had completed our work. Of course, I agreed, however, most unfortunately we did not complete our work on time, and as such I told her she owed me a lime. (Social get together)
We eventually did get around to it, and despite the casual meal, it was fun. I told her that this was my treat and that I am sure we would not get to do this very often. It was very sad that she had to leave early. Her parents had come to pick her up, I honestly did not mind. With her workload and excessive responsibilities, how could she have any time to herself?
Do you guys remember Antigua when I had won the Citizen Journalist Award? Well I did tell her that I won it, and she congratulated me. She even mentioned to get her a special token if I can. Of course I did not forget her, and I brought back a red beaded band with small silver attachments in the middle. She was very happy for it, hugged me and thanked me. Strangely enough, she told me that she was joking about getting her a token. However, I really found her to be an amazing girl, an awesome friend, and a person I enjoyed being around. I gave her the band as a friend, and nothing more!
I decided to take a chance, so I messaged her and I told her that she was making it so difficult for me to know her. She even stated with her own mouth that she glad that I had liked her. I honestly felt she was flirting, but now I think I may have misunderstood her so much. I asked her if she would ever have the time for me to take her to a formal meal. Whether it be a lunch or a dinner. This proceeded with very short answers of negation. She also explained that time is really of the essence and doesn’t think that she would be able to give more of herself. I was not heartbroken, I was not even disappointed. Of all the people in the world, I understand when people do not have time. I really do understand and accept that.
I was so happy and elated that she explained her situation. It was this point; I stopped the very small likeness I had developed for this girl. I did not want it to foster into a monster that would scare her off. Little did I know there was a monster of a situation that was brooding beyond my thoughts?
Probably a week had past between our usual 15 minute conversations. It was about that time to have another. To my disbelief this girl was determined to return the band that I had given her. She told me not to feel bad. That was impossible, because I had given her the band as a friend and nothing more. I explained to her that I gave her that band without expecting anything in return. I tried my best to reason with her. According to her philosophy, she doesn’t like when people assert themselves on to her. After I heard that, I quickly apologized. I was so shocked. She was referring to the time that I had said that she was making it difficult for me to know her. In addition she established that this was common behaviour for her, and that in order to prevent any awkwardness between us, and to maintain the friendship that we had, I had to take the band. I was left with no other choice.
The band was given to me recently. I was perplexed with what to do with it, since this was the first time ever in my life someone had return a well thought out gift to me. It did not take me long to figure out what to do with it, after she and her friend watched me shortly as if they have been discussing this issue for a while; as soon as I had gotten near a bin, I disposed of the red band with ease.
THE SENTINEL: Feels weird being on the cover :S
If its one thing that I do not fuss about, is girls. Whether I have a girlfriend or not really does not bother me anymore. I would admit that it use to, but as time goes by, I realize there is only so much one girl can offer. This whole idea about giving someone the world is beyond preposterous and I rather live on earth as oppose to a fictitious cloud 9. I do not mean to dampen the spirits of many who still believe that chivalry is alive, while at the same time fighting for equal opportunities in gender. Of course I have not given up on finding a mate, I just find it too tiresome to deal with it at this point of my life.
For those of you who do not know. I broke off a two year relationship about 6 months ago. My friends, who apparently fell in love with her more than I did, continually beg me to get back together with her. Even though begging was done, and I got brace for not knowing what I want, apparently I did not try hard enough. Six months is more than sufficient to indicate that we are not getting back together. So for those close friends who keep asking over and over again, let me quote Taylor Swift for you. “We are never ever ever, getting back together!…. Like ever!”
Even though we try very hard not to think about the prospects of another partner, it seems that we are genetically built to be attracted to different people. I did have a very small crush on someone. We spoke and I expressed interest in her. I even bought her a small gift while I was in Antigua. We even entertained each other shortly over a very quick casual lunch. However, when I decided to take things a step further by asking her for a much more intimate dining experience, she respectfully declined. I must say that I appreciate that in a girl. Someone who could state that she is not interested in a relationship or even developing one, for the sole reason that her life is occupied and academically driven. That is basically one explanation. Another perfectly acceptable explanation is that I got level BRACE! To be honest, either explanation sits very well with me.
This whole idea about girls leading you on, is something that I have seen all too often. For the girls out there, if you expect that a guy likes you. Do not have him hanging around like a puppy. Establish that you guys are friends, and keep doing it, till he gets the point. I have had so many colleagues tote over nothingness. I am so amazed how they would hang their heads low because a girl that they liked did not like them in return. There are so many fishes in the sea. Move on to the next one. It may sound harsh, but ultimately this is what has to be done anyway. Its simply a logical way of picking up the pace and moving forward.
I hate when guys aim high. I am not targeting anyone’s self esteem or confidence issues. At the end of the day, anyone should be lucky to be with you. I for one would not go after a Victoria Secrets Model. Apart from that skeleton body structure not being my type; its really not someone who would fit into my social circle. I know it sounds very prejudice and I’m probably depleting my egotistical storage tank inside me, but I do not see myself measuring up to the standards of an internationally acclaimed model. I would more so aim for a model who has graced the cover of a local low budget magazine, rather than aim for the glitz and glamour of an international catwalk. You guys look for brace when you aim too high.
Hot guys and hot girls were meant to have sex. I hate myself for having this stereotype in my head. However, I cannot help myself when I see a good looking couple. The only thing that runs through my mind is the ‘fact’ that their sex life is healthy. This may be far from the truth, but in my over active mind, it stand strong in a court of law. People say that sex should not be the main relationship bond between a guy and girl, however I beg to differ. The stories I have heard, people make it seem like sex is major role. I always thought you shared sex with the people that you love. Isn’t that suppose to be the pre requisite for having sex anyway?
I saw a meme on facebook the other day. It read:
Ring Leader : Who are we?
Ring Leader : What do we want?
Gang :We don’t Know
Ring Leader: When do we want it?
Gang : Right now!
When we speak about the stereotypes of women, this one really hits the nail on the head. From the fine, beautiful and sexy ladies that I have interacted with, the majority of them simply do not know what they want, and whatever it is, they must get it now! Have you ever been around an indecisive female? Wow, you know how many hours they can decide on what to wear. To me that’s the major problem of all girls… What to wear?… Its the most complicated thing that they all have to deal with. Even getting ready to go somewhere always takes such a long time. Have you ever heard a female’s defense being that they take so long to get ready in order to make themselves look beautiful for you…-_-….. I don’t know about you guys, but when it comes to girls, I go for the natural beauty, not the one that is artificially enhanced.
The old saying seems to take precedence that you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. I still stand firm in my current decision that I am not particularly looking for anyone, I am more so like on the internet, I’m just browsing, hoping that something would just ‘pop up’.
What do you all think about girls and guys? Anyone agrees or disagrees with my points set forth… let me know… drop me a line or two!
Always looking at Life,
Shahad the Sentinel
REPORT: PROECOSERV WORKSHOP
Complied by :Shahad Ali
6th and 7th November, 2012 8:30am- 4:15pm
Tools and Methods For Incorporating Ecosystem Services Into Development Decision Making: Caura Valley.
BACKGROUND: The Project Ecosystem Services aims to better integrate ecosystem assessment, scenario development and economic valuation of services into the national sustainable development planning. By building on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), its Sub Global Assessments and the MA follow up process, the project a addresses MA short comings through a focus on national ecosystem assessments; involvement of national and local stakeholders; and tools, models and methods to mainstream ecosystem management approaches and development policies. The Project spans 2010 to 2014.
In Trinidad and Tobago the project focuses on handling key ecosystems services from forests, wetlands and coral reefs to show how these interdependent services contribute to human well being and the national economy at three pilot sites. These include:
o Eastern Northern Range (Caura Valley)- Sediment Retention, Water Yield and Purification and CarbonSequestration.
o Nariva Swamp- Crop Pollination and biodiversity, habitat quality and rarity.
o Buccoo Reef Coastal Protection
There are many objectives of the project however; Professor. John Agard was able to sum these up into three main points. These incude:
o Introduce Ecosystem Accounting into Trinidad and Tobago National Accounting systems
o Introduce GIS and E.S maps and a decision supporting system into spatial development in T&T
o Develop a pilot Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) case study
DAY 1: 6th November, 2012.
Caura Valley Community Activity Centre
OVERVIEW OF PROJECT AND TRADE OFF ANALYSIS
PROF. JOHN AGARD
An overview of the project was given by Professor Dr. John Agard where he highlighted the 3 main objectives of the project. ProEcoServ in Trinidad and Tobago and the four other participating countries (Vietnam, Chile and Lesotho, South Africa) is sponsored by United Nations Environmental Programme as well as the Global Environmental Fund. The Project incorporates communities, scientists and government organizations into the Decision Making and Planning Process. This Project was launched by the then Planning and Economy Minister Dr. Bhoe Tewarie in 2010. Many governmental heads are on the steering committee as well as many community organizations. (It is considered as a government project since the country had to bid to be a part of the project)
With respect to the overall objectives of the project, Dr. John Agard decided to discuss a few issues and understandings as it relates to Trinidad and Tobago. In this country there is no way of recording the removal of natural environmental resources, as such an accounting system must be in place. It was suggested that the country adopts the System of Economic Environmental Accounting (SEEA) which falls in line with World Bank’s Standard. The Green Fund was also targeted as the means to getting Payment for Ecosystem Services mainstream, however with the proposals needed to access such funds; legislative changes may have to be made in order to incorporate community individuals who may not have the technical knowledge to do a proposal.
With respect to Trade Offs, it was emphasized that a balance needs to be created. It was also said that the optimum point would not satisfy everyone and as such tradeoffs to certain factors in the development of the Caura Valley would have to occur. One such trade off would be the expectant changes of Climate Change where 22 models have predicted extreme varying rainfall patters around the world in 2100. Dr. John Agard described Caura Valley as an oasis of the future. One issue that was also raised is the willingness to pay for ecosystem services as well as community benefits for the community to invest in eco-agriculture.
It was discussed that there is a distinct difference between dollars saved and dollars made. It was also put forth that the government is solely interested in dollars made as oppose to the ones that they save. In Alexander’s presentation there were a lot of interesting facts put forth, all culminating to the economic potential of Caura Valley and the Northern Range. It was learnt that 25% of pharmaceuticals are derived from forest products. It was also learnt that in Trinidad and Tobago Forests generate $US2195.00 per year, per hectare. In other words forests generate 497 million US dollars every single year. This was evaluated on the basis of Climate Change Regulation, Water, Tiber Value, Prevention of flooding etc. Since economic language is the driver of policy making these facts and figures can be vital to the protection of our forested areas. It is therefore critical for SEEA to be implemented. The whole concept of Environmental Global Domestic Product was put forward (EGDP) in other substantiate the wealth of ecosystem services.
PAYMENT FOR ECOSYSTEM SERVICES
This occurs when action of individuals or communities helps to provide ecosystem services and uses of such services are compensated to them for their provisions. One such community organization is the Fire Guardianship Project that directly protects fires from spreading to other nearby communities such as Tacarigua. How is this organization being compensated for such actions, not only from protecting forested lands but also the life of others?
There are certain characteristics of Payment for Ecosystem Services that must be observed in order for it to function. There must be individuals who are willing to pay and also there must be the presence of willing seller. The ecosystem service must also be well defined in order to distribute monies to a product or service that is produced. Value for these services must also be known. Property rights are a must with respect to land areas, even if it is as simple as lease agreement. There must also be a system of evaluation to ensure that these individuals or communities are constantly providing the service that they promised.
It was explained that each ecosystem has its own equation. For example if an organization was preventing the occurrence of erosion on an area of land, there would be many factors that determine how well they are preventing such an occurrence. For example the vegetation on the land, the gradient of the slop, the length of the slop, rainfall, soil type, grass cover, amount of rainfall over a period of time etc.
A case study of Costa Rica was also examined where a fund known as the Fonafifo was set up to implement Payment for Ecosystem Services. In terms of water provision, users in the lower area of the valley were asked to pay an additional fee in order to compensate those who were regulating such services in the upper valley. In Trinidad in Tobago it is suggested that the Green Fund that currently has 2.6 billion dollars, can stand single handily as the fund for the implementation of Payment for Ecosystem Services. It was also suggested that legislative changes would have to be made in order for PES to work alongside the Green Fund.
SCENARIO PLANNING AND DECSION MAKING
PROF. JOHN AGARD
Professor Johan Agard presented the idea of Scenario planning for decision making. It examines the journeys to possible futures, critical uncertainties, and factors that may come in to play within the examined scenario. Scenario planning also brings into play many possible futures and paints these futures vividly for us to observe. It is can create an integrated view of sustainable development incorporating themes of resilience and equity.
Scenario planning incorporates a consideration of the past, present and the future. With emphasis on:
1.) Current State
2.) Driving Forces
3.) Unanticipated Events
4.) Human Choice
5.) Positive Image and End Point.
Professor John Agard made references to three scenarios that influenced global change. These included:
1.) Mont Fleur South Africa- A scenario plan that gauged the outcomes of ending Apartheid.
2.) Global Scenario Planning- A plan that examined the conventional world, the break down and the great transition. Professor Agard explained that scenario planning falls within either of these categories.
3.) Caribbean Sea Ecosystem Assessment- Present a conceptual diagram on the approach to ecosystem services.
Field visits were carried out in the Caura Forest, the Caura River and an agricultural area in the Caura Valley. This was done in order for the workshop participants to get an active feel of the conditions and possible livelihoods available in the area. Field Trips mainly focused on ecotourism and how the valley can benefit from utilizing and nurturing their valley.
One of the major outcomes of the workshop as a result of the fieldtrips were powerful ideas that were presented using creative mediums. These included craft presentations, drama and song. All of which held a common focus on sustainable livelihoods for the future of Caura Valley.
DAY 2: 7th November, 2012.
Arthur Lok Jack School of Business.
The second day of the workshop was aimed at condensing all views expressed during the workshop yesterday, in a single common vision for the Caura Valley. During this exercise we were able to come up with ideas that were generally a consensus of all workshop participants as well as possible conflicts that could occur.
1.) Sustainable Livelihoods
3.) Eco Tourism
4.) Water Resources
5.) A brand for the Caura Valley
6.) High Level of Well being for the people of Caura
7.) Equity and Inclusion
8.) A passionate Caring Society
9.) Mutual Respect
1.) Varied Interpretations of Sustainable Development
2.) Agriculture vs Forest Management
3.) River Buffer Zone and Agricultural Lands
4.) Water Use
5.) Community vs Governmental Vision
6.) Private vs Public Ownership of Land
7.) Function of Land Use
8.) Willingness to pay
These lead to discussion on many issues surrounding the Caura Valley. It was learnt that pipe borne water does not exist in the upper areas of Caura Valley. According to a resident she explained that it is far too expensive to make water available in the valley, and the government would not see the returns if they set up the infrastructure. As such they do not see this as possible within the next 10 years. This very same resident also expressed that it takes many years to get the necessary support. She expressed that it took her 3 years to see an agricultural officer; over 4 years to get a farmer’s badge as well as 4 years to get plants from the ministry. However the people of Caura are very active having stopped quarry operations in their valley some time ago.
Supporting policies were also discussed that can help see the vision for Caura Valley through, these included policies such as Climate Change, Forestry, Agricultural and the Protected Area Policy.
Risks were also discussed within the Caura Valley. They included:
1.) Invasive Species
2.) Political Instability
3.) Criminal Activity
4.) Unregulated Population Levels
5.) Inappropriate Tourism Developments
6.) Threat of Quarrying
7.) Anti Social Behaviours of Visitors
8.) Lack of Infrastructure
A debatable topic was also risen with respect to the differentiation of the community and the ecosystem services. The question was raised whether or not we can separate the threat of ecosystems from the threat of the community. The natural answer is yes, however it must be considered that the community does exist within the ecosystem itself.
An assessment of all the risks was done and placed on a grid that reflected high and low probability of occurrences vs high and low impacts. The majority of risks filled up the section that listed both high probability and high impacts and as such the community must be come resilient in order to withstand these impending factors.
Due to unforeseen circumstances I was unable to stay for the remainder of the workshop in the afternoon. Please see bulleted points of what was covered for the remainder of the day.
o Presentation of responses
o Discussion of resilience and adaptive capacity, how this can be built and role that decision support tools could play in doing so
o Evaluation of Workshop, Discussion of Next Steps, Wrap up and Thanks.
The first Youth Advisory Forum for the Trinidad and Tobago Extractive Industries featured discussions between young individuals from various academic and co curricular backgrounds. Two of the primary objectives of the forum were to determine what areas of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) would hold the interest of young people as well as figuring out methods of communicating these interests to them.
The initiative aims at fostering transparency in the sectors of oil gas and mining by disclosing to the citizens of the country the payments of companies to, and at the same time, reconcile these figures with receipts of the government. The EITI contributes to consolidating and improving the governance in resource rich countries by ensuring that those figures are certified, validated and accessible to all citizens. It has hence become a well established and highly recognized broad based global collation of resource rich countries, donors, major companies, civil society groups and investors. It is a multi stakeholder initiative that would foster informed actions by mostly civil society.
Essentially with this approach the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago will publically declare annually all revenues received from companies engaged in the extractive industries and the companies intern will publically declare monies paid to the government. Discrepancies between the two reported figures, if any, will be subjected to an independent audit to reconcile the differences and the results published and widely disseminated.
The EITI was part of a pilot project in London among 8 countries including Trinidad and Tobago. It came out of pressure from civil society groups for transparency. The EITI started taking members in 2007; however Trinidad and Tobago did not fulfil membership in 2008 for undisclosed reasons of the then government. Currently there are 36 of 53 countries that operate under the initiative. Trinidad and Tobago has now reapplied for candidacy which entails:
The TTEITI is aiming to publish its first report in 2013, and attain compliance by August 28th 2013. It is important to note that Extractive Industries that operate in Trinidad and Tobago can disclose their information only on a voluntary basis. The TTEITI may aim at getting 40 companies to participate, but all of them may not be ready to disclose such sensitive information. Drafted legislation is in the process of being reviewed so that all extractive companies in Trinidad and Tobago would be mandated to share this information with the public.
One of the concerns brought up at the Youth Advisory Forum was the issue of illegal operations of extractive companies in Trinidad and Tobago. It was then explained that the TTEITI only functions as a disseminator of transparent information and does not function as an authoritative figure. It was further explained that once the report is published it is up to civil society to react to how monies are being spent with respect to extractive industries in Trinidad and Tobago.
Another issue was how much teeth does this imitative have as well as how can we get civil society to react to this information, and not have their voices fall on deaf ears. It was then explained that the report would be presented in such a way for the common man to understand and that in fact this report would be made available on a national level with the intention of a national civil society response to the expenditure published.
In terms of what areas would young people be interested in, the following suggestions were placed forward with respect to the EITI:
· Local skilled labour force in the extractive industries (job availability)
· A Youth oriented report for better understanding for our peers.
· Clarity from companies that exercise their Corporate Social Responsibility with respect to the investment of young people
· Poverty and the Distribution of Wealth
· Education and funding from Extractive Industries.
· Sustainable Development
Also on the agenda of the Youth Advisory Forum was to come up with ways in which to communicate the EITI to the young people of Trinidad and Tobago. We were given four broad areas to explore. These included:
i) School Networks
ii) Special Interest Groups
iii) Social Media
iv) Culture and the Arts
PRIMARY: Activity Books, Cartoons, Videos, Chroale Speaking and a Mascot
SECONDARY: Essay, Art, Mascot Design Competition. Debates and exposure to the EITI reports
TERTIARY: A closer look at the EITI Reports, Interests geared towards thesis research. Live hot seat interviews for tertiary level students with individuals involved in the Extractive Industries
Special Interest Groups:
For special interest groups, the young individuals envisioned a spokesperson that would go around and inform groups about the TTEITI. It was also suggested that youth champions of the TTEITI be formulated for the same function of disseminating information.
Facebook communication was well discussed as well as dissemination of information through popular music stations such as Boom Champions, 95 the best mix and Hott 93.
Culture and Arts:
The usage of skits and drama was one of the methods discussed as a means of getting the information of the TTEITI through culture and arts. An emphasis should be place on the comedic form.
The TTEITI Youth Advisory Forum was a successful event that brought together youths from the Caribbean Youth Environmental Network, EMA Youth Ambassadors, UNESCO as well as members of the Youth Parliamentary Debate 2012 and other youth organizations.
Wow is the only word that I could use to describe by schedule for November. I think its generally understood by my peers that I have a relatively active life. For the month of November it seems very overwhelming, but I would be lying if I said I hated it. The next 7 days in particular its going to be very hectic, but honestly they are all activities that I want to be a part of. If I do not live my life, who on earth is going to live it for me. Recently I got an email from a colleague who is warped in his studies. At the end of the day I would not oppose your wishes to delve in your books, but my advice is to get out there and breathe the living air. Get the experience that you need in order to have that competitive edge over someone else.
The youth of Trinidad and Tobago need to realize that we are not competing with just ourselves. We are competing with the world. I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most outstanding youths of the Commonwealth nation, and no one that I knew in Trinidad and Tobago could even begin to measure up to their expansive successes. They have built their lives on sacrifices and dedication and worked towards what they believe in. I can’t deny that I had such a deep admiration for each of them, and I think the reason why November is about to be a beast to me, is primarily because of the impact these refined successful individuals had on me.
In just a few hours, I would be walking into the Hyatt Regency Hotel to cover an event for giemagazine. This event is hosted by Anime Caribe, a festival that is held every year in Trinidad and Tobago celebrating our local animation. This festival brings together some of the brightest mind in the international industry, from individuals who were involved in Harry Potter and animators from cartoon network as well as Nickelodeon. They would be discussing the business of animation. I would imagine that the economic side of animation needs to be developed and budding students need to have the foresight to market their future products. I would love nothing more than to be a part of this, the 11th edition of this festival. Its something that is new and fresh and I have been following it for 3 years. I have had the pleasure of meeting the CEO of the company, Ms Camille Abrahams. I always remember her name well, mainly because of how well she answered my questions the first time I interviewed her. One of those questions circulated around the craze of Japanese Anime in this country. She told me it was of her belief that it was okay to be influenced by something else. Every since she told me that, its hard to ever see something that is 100% original. There is either always a source of inspiration or an envelope of what was before. That statement really opened up my eyes.
Apart from event coverage, which by the way I have a lot of this week. I also have the usual assignments to complete for school. I have a 1500 word essay to do that I am completely ecstatic about. I am currently doing a course called African and Asian Theatre. Within this course we were able to study Balinese Theatre Forms. In Bali there is somewhat of a debate between ritual and tradition against sustainable development and tourism. I guess I’m overly enthusiastic about this essay, because it crosses over my three main interests. Journalism, Theatre and Environment. I went to the library today and sourced some books to support my essay. The material I found just gave me chills. There is no reason why I should not get total in this essay. There is actually a sustainable development plan for Bali as it relates to their cultural traditions that has become so globally popular. I cannot wait to get started, but sadly there are other assignments that are due sooner than this one.
This week I also have to do a photoshoot. I would refrain from saying why I have to do this photoshoot. Let’s just leave it as a surprise. Some may say this whole idea is a huge conflict of interest, but at the end of the day, this idea did not come from me, it came from someone who was above me. Who am I to disagree? I would go along with the idea, and we would see how it turns out.
I am also showing my support for my alma mata. They are staging the production of Ti Jean and His Brothers at Little Carib Theatre, this Friday 2nd November and Saturday 3rd November, Showtime 8pm. If you guys are interested in attending, you can get tickets at the administration desk at Trinity College in Moka, Maraval. I would admit that apart from supporting my school in this venture, there is one other reason why I am going to this show. There was this young boy by the name of Lindon, who was apart of the class that was assigned to as a prefect in Trinity College. To this day I remembered wringing his ears for being a bit unruly with me. Today he is a young man, and is taking on the role of the devil in this production. For anyone who is familiar with the devil role in Ti Jean and his Brothers, its a role that fits an actor who has the capacity to change into many forms or characters quickly. In other words, its one of the more challenging roles in the play. I give Lindon loads of advice on life, I am not sure how much of it he takes though. At the end of the day, I cannot describe how extremely proud of him I am that he took an interest in the performing arts. I have not even seen him perform on stage, but I just have a strong feeling he would be dynamic and explosive.
I was also invited to attend a Youth Advisory Forum that is going to be hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Yes I know the name is a bit to swallow, and trust me when I say a bit technical to spell when you are up at 1:30am in the morning. It more or less focuses on the transparent usage of extractive industries in Trinidad and Tobago such as Oil and Gas as well as Mining. The Youth Advisory Forum is to hear our thoughts and how we could possibly contribute. I honestly think that this is a great initiative for our voices to be heard on such a pertinent issue. Trinidad and Tobago is the fossil fuel hub of the small island Caribbean states. It is a forum that I am looking forward to, and you can bet that I would be blogging about the outcomes of this event.
In the mean time, The EMA Youth Ambassadors have been so active. It amazes me how many invitations we get to work alongside many organizations as well as attend conferences, meetings and forums. Its been so much, that its not at all possible for us to entertain everyone, even though we would love to. After wining the national award for best community group 2012, it seems that for a group of 58 individuals we have been making massive milestones. We work towards all our goals and we have the backing of a formal organization to make sure all our goals and objectives come to pass.
Yes I am very excited about all of the above, but I do not think anything can really compare to the invitation that I got from Cropper Foundation to attend an EcoServ Workshop that would be based on the Caura Valley. My heart nearly skipped a beat when I saw my favourite lectures name at the bottom of the document. Yes I am talking about non other than Dr. John Agard. A man who has a passion for teaching and making everyone understand things on such a comparable level. He is nothing short of amazing. The EcoServ workshop is meant to equip journalists to better report on Ecosystem Services etc using Caura Valley as an example. I remember reading the Northern Range Assessment 2006 that fully evaluated the ecosystem services of the Northern Range. I also remembered Dr. John Agard who gave me the conceptual background on ecosystem services. As such it was natural for me to be driven to attend this workshop. Its something that I cannot wait to be a part of. Did I mention that this is going to be done interactively and also includes a field trip in the Caura Valley… What more could I possibly ask for?
I beg of you not to worry. this is all happening in the space of 7 days. I haven’t even begin to talk about the rest of November, which is as just as ram pack as the first week. At the end of the day I am going to disappoint a few people and I am not even sure how they would take it. I love this life. I really do. I am loving what I am doing! I am tired. I am exhausted. I just want to drop. But God knows that I love it so much. I always tell people to do what they love. Do what you love and all the opportunities would follow you.
These days there is nothing that is going to stand in the way of my happiness, even if November wants to be a beast to me… I’m so ready to battle u…
Always looking at life,
Shahad the Sentienl
While the many problems that circulate around the University of the West Indies may be funding, student’s grade point averages and continued international accreditation. Student based problems have not been seriously addressed. These large overview issues affects a student learning in more ways than one. This blog post is not meant to be vague, but give my personal real life examples of how learning at the University of the West Indies has always been a challenge. These include but are not limited to, hands on learning, proper administrative processes and the lack of concise learning objectives.
The concept of learning at the University of the West Indies for an undergrad student is quite simple. Learn the material that is given to you and regurgitate as much as possible during the exam. While application is necessary in some cases, regurgitation usually suffices an impressive grade. At the end of the day, I do not take any initiative to do anything outside my scope of ‘learning’ unless I am awarded sufficient credits. While each students is awarded for assignments done, taking initiative is rarely awarded, and as such we have a bunch of students who are just not keen on learning. I honestly include myself in this bunch.
As a matter of fact, I have a friend who is scholarship winner and did the same degree program as I did. She recently graduated and I am extremely proud of her for doing so with first class honours. She openly admitted to me that she never did the assigned readings for any course that she did during her three years at the University. Essentially she took key terms from the power point slides, contrasted with the objectives of the course and was able to suffice a constant ‘A’ average during her stay at UWI. I ask then, What are the point of these additional readings?
One of the major issues that I have with my degree program is that there are very little hands on approaches to learning. The reasons for this mainly stem from a lack of funding to the University. Tertiary education is free to those who prove themselves worthy of this privilege and as such our classes can be as big as 100-400 students. In some courses labs are omitted because there is not enough material for all the students to use. Instead a tutorial usually takes it places. While I was in my first couple years of UWI battling with courses on soil and soil management, there were no practical approaches to learning the material. Instead I battled with chemistry and physics in order to attain a passing grade, despite my academic weakness in these areas.
I must admit though, that there are indeed a few environmental courses that mandates practical approaches such as Marine Ecology, Caribbean Island Ecology and Tropical Forest Ecology. I was able to try my hand at Marine and Forest Ecology and for both courses my comprehension of each was very clear. While the material was expansive to learn, I understood the crux of the information given. Everything that was learnt came to life in a realistic setting. I am now doing Tropical Aquaculture and while we are doing scenario planning, I feel as if I am doing these just for the purpose of a grade and not necessarily with the accurate intentions of setting up an actual tropical aquaculture pond. We had took a visit to Sugarcane Field Centre, a farm that produces talapia. The class is so incredibly huge that I did not get a chance to see the hand sexing process of the fishes. We were all barely able fit in areas where they were having discussions with us. Needless to say the apparent difficultly in ‘learning’
As many of my readers would know, I pursue a minor in Theatre Arts under the faculty of Humanities. I must admit that the Department of Life Sciences is efficient in administrative communications with respect to your courses and changes in timetables for the week, the Theater Arts program operates on word of mouth when it comes to administrative issues. This should not be the standard for any University. While we still do use the noticeboard, this form of communication should be eventually eradicated. When my brother attended University back in the day, the notice boards were key to valuable information on campus. I still do check it from time to time, however the information is not as important as the ones I receive via email.
The majority of the times, I am confused. Some lecturers are not very clear about what they want from us. While they are there to just simply guide us, how is it possible that you can guide an entire class into the wrong direction. Case in point with this current aquaculture course I am taking. We were given our 2nd Scenario to do. A four page document that seem to require a host of information. We produced as much as we could, because to fight for that 2.5% of our final grade is always a dirty battle. After the assignment had been corrected, we had a full two hour classes on what we should have done. I was shocked! Why was not this guidance given to us before. The answers were meant to be quite simplistic and not as complex as we originally envisioned. There was only one group that did extremely well, and as such would be treated to lunch because of their expert analysis on the scenario.
I must admit though that this lecturer is actually feeding us a lot of information and taking the time to guide us. However she confused me so much this time around. I would have really appreciated the guidance before rather than after. Our entire group was a bit disappointed. We have 2 more of these scenarios to do and we plan to kick some serious ass!
These are just some of the many limitations that the uwi student has. While these are quite obvious and are probably known, if we continue to mute our minds to the issues, they may never be heard. I would admit that I cannot remember the majority of my academic work since year 1. The style of learning is very different.
I on the other hand seek my on the job learning experience outside of the walls of UWI. I was recently invited to a workshop that explores ecosystem services as it relates to the Caura valley. When I read the invitation that was also meant for journalists, I was more than elated to attend. It even discusses scenario planning in an entirely interactive manner, including a hike to the Caura valley. In this two day workshop we would be given a skill set to work with in our journalistic approaches.
Do you think I have a case here? Do these problems really affect the life of a tertiary student? I’d love to hear your views on this issues. Drop me a line or leave me a comment!
Always looking at life,
Shahad the Sentinel
There are very little words to describe my excitement when I realized that I had won a trip to Antigua. I was doubting myself ever since I got the news. Like with any travelling experience my eagerness is only truly felt when I am on the plane. It is really amazing though that ever since I started travelling, I never had to pay one cent for any of my expenses. This time around, I was sponsored through a Caribbean based competition hosted by the Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute.
The competition was based on young reporters of the Caribbean that expressed their sentiments on the issues surrounding Climate Change and I successfully emerged the winner. There were different types of awards and as such I saw winners from Jamaica, Belize and Antigua. I was actually fooled by what I thought this award ceremony really was, but more of that later.
Upon arrival in Antigua, I was escorted to the VIP lounge of the airport. All my immigration details were quickly sorted out while I just simply relaxed in a luxurious room. There also sat two other individuals fitted in jackets and ties. The awards ceremony is actually a part of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture that was organized by a multitude of regional organizations and sponsors. I assumed that these two fellows were dignitaries from different countries.
The lady who escorted me to the VIP room was speaking in her creole English tongue and it was quite melodious to hear the French ‘twang’ in her voice. She was calling my driver to come pick me up and carry me to the Royal Antiguan Hotel, My driver was quite pleasant, but it did not take me long to realize that all drivers in Antigua are of the same kind nature. There are numerous taxis on the island. Seeking transport to anywhere is not difficult. However their rates are very expensive. I realized that anything close to a 10 minute drive can run you about US$15.00
The driver who called himself ‘Butters’ marvelled at the fact that he was able to provide a movie experience for me on my way to the hotel. He kept asking me if I was enjoying the Pursuit of Happiness which he had placed in the DVD player. The drive was nice. Antigua is very rural. The green pastures are extensive and the infrastructural development is limited. There were cows, sheep and goats roaming the area. I was told that Antiguans do not thief livestock, and the majority of the owners allow them to graze freely
Upon arrival at the hotel, I nearly had a heart attack when I heard the lady at the counter asked if I wanted to pay by cash or card. My accommodation was covered. Why were these people asking me for money? I called on my host who quickly sorted out the situation. She told me that they were informed of my arrival, but clearly their intention was to scare my poor soul. I got my room an entire hour after I arrived. It did not take me long to realize the bad reviews online were all true. I could tell you that the hotel is very classy, but the service is ridiculous. I heard from a taxi driver that this hotel used to be the best on the island, but ever since a Trinidadian bought it over things began going awry. He told me that this hotel is used for delayed LIAT flight passengers, and it was only then I realized that my stay here might not be as good as I thought it to be.
Do not get me wrong I am extremely appreciative of what the organizers have done for me. Not in a million years would I ever be able to afford a trip to Antigua. The cost of the ticket alone was TT$4000.00. I really do not have that kind of cash. This hotel had a lot of issues.
I was so hungry at 3pm in the afternoon, so I went to front desk to find out my options, I learnt that all their restaurants were closed and that room service was not operational at the moment. I was so shocked at the response. They told me that the only option I had was to go into town and get something to eat. This is advice that I should have never taken. I went into town and bought a subway sandwich as we well as some Antiguan Creole food. It cost me close to US$50.00 for everything. The subway sandwich alone was US$15.00. To live in Antigua you need to have money!
When I came back to hotel I ate, and enjoyed sleeping between the quits and fluffy pillows. This was the majority of my evening. I learnt from the organizer that I was not mandated to attend all the events of Caribbean Agriculture week and that the only thing that I needed to attend was the Awards Ceremony. I was happy. I had an entire hotel to play with. There was cable T.V, so I decided to relax and watch some television. It took me a couple hours to get a hold of myself and realize that I was in Antigua and that I have cable T.V at home. I took a shower and headed downstairs to the lobby bar. Things were active. A few of the guests were having drinks as well. This was something that I could get accustomed to. Alcoholic drinks were probably the only thing that is equivalent in cost locally. I could have actually afforded drinks. A Johnny and coke was $US6.50, which was not bad, considering Hyatt Regency charges you close to $US10.00.
The next day I decided to check out the water activities at the hotel. Would you believe that no one was on the beach nor was there anyone at the pool. I had both to myself. Many people seem to be at the hotel for business and not so much pleasure. Apart from that, there were not many youths on this trip. I saw some fellow UWI students from the Agribusiness society. One was kind enough to call me out recognising me as an EMA Youth Ambassador. After that fiasco of spending so much money to get into town for expensive food, I realized that the lunch buffet at the hotel was not badly priced. The food itself was not as flavourful as it would be locally, but it did taste really good. The dessert was fair and the service was crappy. However I was extremely glad to be here and I was trying to make the best out of the situation. It was not a surprise to hear everyone complain about this hotel. Imagine asking someone for something to drink only to be questioned about the possibility of when and how you would be paying. It was annoying and very tacky for a so called 4 star hotel. I felt as if I was begging people to spend my money.
Wednesday night was the Awards Ceremony, and I was ready to do what I had come here to do. Receive the Citizen Journalist Award as a youth in media. At this event there were top governmental officials from the Prime Minister to the Minister of Agriculture from Antigua and Barbuda. There was also a representative from each participating organization. In addition there was also a representative from the Food and Agriculture Organization who sat at the head table and was clearly the best looking. He mash up d dance! It was only then I realized that I gave his wife my computer when hers was giving trouble in the lobby. They spoke Spanish, and obviously I told her that I spoke very little. His wife was so nice; she always flashed a smile at me, whenever we crossed paths. The proceedings touched on a variety of issues with respect to agriculture in the Caribbean. The start of such featured a pastor who shared a pray in a very evangelical style. He preached very affirmatively that today was not about long speeches and boasting of intelligence. That was the only thing that stuck in my mind, because I found it to be very insulting. The Minister of Agriculture to Antigua and Barbuda did just that. His speech lasted no longer than 3 minutes. I wanted to die! I was awarded by the governor general of Antigua and Barbuda, a very sweet and gentle matured lady. The event had interludes from cultural dancers. My colleague from one of my affiliated organizations made me want to laugh so hard at one of the performances. So what if a dude performed something that could have been more fitting of a female performance. Does that really mean you must snicker at me? Forcing me to use my paper \programs to cover my face in such shame and stifle my laughter? LOL!
What followed after was really great. I was able to meet up with the representative from CTA and he gave me his contact card and told me to email him as soon as I get home. Of course I am gonna thank him profusely and send him all the links to the current projects that I am working on and see how his organization can help my organizations.
My last night in Antigua was memorable. What was supposed to be another casual night at the lobby, turned out to be a heavy drinking session with my fellow colleague. We had some serious fun. I know it was fun cause I found myself in the pool at 3am in the morning and unsure of how I was actually able to see to get to the pool and back into my room. It was fun and crazy at the same time. We would have gone on the beach, but rain started to fall pretty heavily, and somebody was bending, while all I wanted to do was just relax in that water. I
t was so funny how I got back up the next morning. My colleague told me to call him for breakfast. Breakfast was two hours away. I set my alarm and fell asleep. When I woke up, my alarm was off, so naturally I assumed that it was before 8am. When I looked at my clock I saw 12pm. Check out time! I jumped up to organize myself quickly and yes my toothbrush is still in Antigua -_-. At 10 US dollars for each additional hour, I did not want to increase my expenses. I grabbed lunch and headed straight for the airport. I bought what I could have, because things in Antigua are really expensive. Yes I did bring back a few souvenirs, and I have a lot of friends. So sadly im gonna give these on a first see, first to get basis. LOL Life is tough deal with it.
I had a blast!!!! The experience was one that I would never forget!
Always looking at life.
Shahad the Sentinel