Feb 2012 Edition:October 2011 2/13/2012 4:33 PM Page 1
February 2012 Vol. 12 No. 1 The Student Newspaper of the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
Popcorn at the Revolution
What a thesis experience should be
In a cafe just off Tahrir Square, Cairo, a young design student asked me, "What do you think of Ron Paul?" In the same cafe, after discussing the differences between the Constitution and the Articles of the Confederation, the waiter asked me, "What do Americans think of the Egyptian revolution?" On a bridge, where less than one year ago, police were battling with protesters using tear gas and firing live ammunition, one young man asked me, "What do you think of Twilight?"
Like many China-watchers, I cannot tell you when the better part of my day became dedicated to blog-reading. Background to my everyday routine is the murmur of botched lawsuits, human rights violations, incompetent local governments, nationalist rhetoric, internet memes, and ridiculous acts of indulgence committed by 富二代 (fu’erdai - second-generation rich). Sometime in the past year I’ve started to slouch a little, as if the weight of China’s unpublished atrocities is resting on me, the non-Chinese witness to China.
Eighteen months ago, most Egyptians wouldn't have dared ask most of these questions. A cab driver told me, "I will admit it, I was scared." Since the revolution, however, the political chatter is now ubiquitous. For the first time in three decades, the Egyptian people can ask controversial questions: they want to know, about politics, about Americans. They want Americans to know about them. And some of them, after keeping their political opinions bottled up for thirty years, just want to talk.
Somewhere in the malaise I found Bei Dao. The article – whichever one it was – had said that he was exiled after his poem “Proclamation” appeared on banners at Tiananmen. As an impulsive gesture of technological footnoting, I opened another tab and Googled the poem. Impressed, I printed it out and taped it above my desk. It noiselessly proclaimed over my head as I continued research on my urban development dissertation.
Bei Dao was one of the leaders of the underground literary rings in Beijing during Many Egyptians wanted me to know that the revolution is not over. The day that the Cultural Revolution (1967-76). After the death of Mao, he and his friends startI arrived in Cairo was the one-year anniversary of the January 25th protests. ed to publish an above-ground unofficial literary magazine, “Today!” They Mubarak is now gone, and with it, much of the sinreceived the criticism of being hard to understand, and gularity of purpose that comes with having a comthus deemed “the Misty Poets.” mon enemy. The military is in charge of the country now, and many protesters are calling on the military I had no intention of changing directions until my to leave. Others insist that they are not against the Fairy God-Adviser waved his magic wand of blatancy military, that the military helped make the revolution in my face. "What do you really like?" He asked. I possible. The Muslim brotherhood now has a strong hadn't even been aware that urban development was presence in Tahrir Square, and a lot of people wanted such a drag on me. I thought of "Proclamation," and a me to know what they thought about the lustful impulse seized me. My adviser gave us his Brotherhood, both good and bad. It felt like there blessing. were ten million political parties in a country of eighty million. In Tahrir, nearly every introduction of Opportunity unfolded like a yellow-brick road before "Welcome to Cairo, where are you from?" quickly me. Another Middlebury alumnus had done translamorphed into a rallying cry about the future of tion work for Bei Dao. He invited me to a conference Egypt. The New Characters of Cyber-Diplomacy in in Hong Kong the next week. I met poets, translators, the “Battle for Democracy” The mood inside Tahrir square felt more like a carnischolars, and TV personalities. I made friends. I met val than a revolution when I arrived. I walked around Bei Dao. eating popcorn and watching people celebrate the fact that dedicated protesters had taken down a dictaIn the wake of the Hong Kong honeymoon, I still had tor. Parents brought their children to see the protestnothing to write. I slapped together a 3,500-character ers wave flags and climb light posts. Young men “first chapter” and slipped by in the Master’s tutorial. strolled with their dates. Something was missing from my research: knowledge. I had met with all the important figures, but had But all is not well in Egypt. Unemployment is still no proper direction. Although Bei Dao and the Misty extremely high in an overwhelmingly young and agipoets had received extensive press and Nobel-prize tated country. The military government recently nominations abroad, most mainlanders had never banned an American from going home in what seems heard of them. Not even my adviser. to be a fight with the Obama administration over a threat to cut off millions of dollars of military aid. Were it not for Bei Dao’s utmost generosity, I would And soon after I arrived, riots broke out over a soccer have floundered the rest of the year. I e-mailed him game, shocking many throughout the country. with questions, and he invited me to spend the Chinese New Year with his family. At one point, during my time in Tahrir, I watched people's faces contort as they listened to a mother shrieking into a microphone, After the annual New Year's dinner (comparable to America’s Thanksgiving), we admonishing the crowd for celebrating as if they had won. Her son was killed in sat in his room talking while the others watched the government’s annual TV prothe uprising, she yelled, while holding a photo of a young man. She told the gram. He told me about the problems of representation; how he felt he and the crowd that many of the problems he fought against still plague Egypt. Yet the Misty poets have been rather misunderstood on all fronts for the past thirty years. people he stood with now celebrate as if they had attained victory. It made me How they were not rebels, but rather founders of a new framework for discourse. think of a line from Salman Rushdie's book Midnight's Children: "I've never How no one had written about them from that perspective before. seen so many people so cheerful in such a bad time. It must be the devil’s work." The standard response to those who question the future of the revolution is, "We He handed me a box. It contained thirty years’ worth of “Today!” and several other know it will be hard." If the military refuses to give up power, many insist that Chinese history books – all of which may have been confiscated at the Chinese the protesters will simply come back to Tahrir and fight until there is change, border, had the border patrol cared to look. once again. Whether or not that is true, however, remains to be seen.
In This Issue:
Chinese in Ethiopia, Brewing in Nanjing, Single in Nitze, Yugoslav questions, Militant Librarians, Ambassadors to Facebook, Lovely Coffee, And so much more..
I didn't have answers to their questions, but I told them that America and the world is watching, to see what they are going to do next. For now, at least, people are talking.. Bennett Gordon is a first-year M.A. Student currently studying in Bologna.
Am I up for the job? You bet. Hannah Lincoln is an M.A. student at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center where she is concentrating in Chinese Studies. She graduated from Middlebury in 2010 with a joint major in Chinese Literature and Religious Studies.
Feb 2012 Edition:October 2011 2/13/2012 4:34 PM Page 2
The SAIS Observer
February 2012 INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Top: Bobbing for apples, Chinese style Bottom and fron page: Migrant school learning initiative in action
POPCORN AT THE REVOLUTION...............................................................................PAGE 1 WHAT A THESIS EXPERIENCE SHOULD BE .............................................................PAGE 1 NANJING STUDENTS CONTINUE MIGRANT SCHOOL INITIATIVE .....................PAGE 2 LOVE OF COFFEE .........................................................................................................PAGE 3 FROM THE USMC TO SAIS...........................................................................................PAGE 3 ‘HAVE HEELS, WILL TRAVEL’ COLUMN ....................................................................PAGE 4 HONDURAS IN WINTER...............................................................................................PAGE 5 ZIONISM IN SHADES OF GRAY...................................................................................PAGE 6 BOLOGNA POLICY INSTITUTE OPENS......................................................................PAGE 7 WINTER WEATHER HITS EUORPE.............................................................................PAGE 7 CAVE ADVENTURE IN GUANGXI.........................................................................PAGE 8 & 9 S.G.A. UPDATE...............................................................................................................PAGE 8 CHINESE IN ETHIOPIA.................................................................................................PAGE 9 BREWING IN NANJING .............................................................................................PAGE 10 POLITICAL RISK ANALYSIS & LONDON CAREERS TRIP........................................PAGE 10 STILL THANKFUL TO BE A SAISer............................................................................PAGE 11 SAISers IN SARAJEVO.................................................................................................PAGE 12 LIBRARIANS LIKE WARS...........................................................................................................PAGE 13 “X & Co. SUCKS AND SHOULD BE SMASHED TO PIECES” SERIES......................................PAGE 13 THE BATTLE FOR DEMOCRACY ..................................................................................PAGES 14 & 15 NON-REQUIRED READING.......................................................................................................PAGE 16 PHOTO OF THE ISSUE...............................................................................................................PAGE 16
Nanjing Students Continue Migrant School Learning Initiative Liang Xiao One of the great things about studying at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center is being able to combine our studies inside the classroom with engaging the local Nanjing community outside the classroom. The Migrant School Learning Initiative, HNC’s most active volunteer group, gives HNC students the invaluable opportunity to learn more about the issues facing migrant workers and their families in China, while improving the quality of education in the local migrant community.
THE SAIS OBSERVER Editors-in-Chief Adrian Stover is a first-year M.A. candidate concentrating in Southeast Asian Studies; Washington, D.C. Nic Wondra is a first-year M.A. candidate concentrating in Russian & Eurasian Studies; Washington, D.C. Associate Editor for Electronic Media Michael Carbone is a second-year M.A. candidate concentrating in China Studies; Washington, D.C. Asisstant Editors Marta Casey is a first-year M.A. candidate concentrating in International Law; Nanjing, China Sophie Xiong is a first-year M.A. candidate at SAIS Nanjing Center, China David Frazer is a first-year M.A. candidate concentrating in Latin American Studies; Bologna, Italy Sarah Gardiner is a first-year M.A. candidate concentrating in Conflict Management; Bologna, Italy Contributors (This Issue) Marta Casey, Jullioan Cooper, Nicole Epps, David Frazer, Bennett Gordon, Monica Kang, SAIS Library, Hannah Lincoln, Captian McSmash, Gabrial Nelson, Clive Parkinson, Honeychile Rider, SGA, Sarah Solomon, Adrian Stover, Susie Taylor, Mary Trueblood, Jon Welch, Nic Wondra, Liang Xiao, Yao Zhao, The SAIS Observer is a newspaper written, edited, and produced by the students of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of The Johns Hopkins University. SAIS Students, Faculty and members of the Administration at the Washington, D.C., Bologna and Nanjing campuses are encouraged to submit articles, Op-Eds, photographs, and other items for consideration. Materials for publication, comments, and inquiries may be sent to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The online edition of The SAIS Observer and its full archives are avaiable at: www.saisobserver.org. The SAIS Observer is an approved SAIS Student Organization. Opinions expressed in The SAIS Observer are not necessarily the views of the Editors, SAIS, or The Johns Hopkins University.
With rapid urbanization driving economic growth, migrant issues are some of the most pressing social challenges facing China today. Rural residents often enjoy increased economic opportunity and higher incomes by migrating to cities, but the children who migrate with them do not have access to quality public education. Because of the complicated household registration system (hukou system), rural migrants who work in the city have an illegal residency status and cannot obtain access to public services, such as education, which are reserved for those with urban hukou. The Migrant School Learning Initiative works primarily to improve the quality of the English-language program at Bainian Vocational School, a school for the children of migrant workers in Nanjing. Bainian provides students with vocational training that provides marketable skills needed to develop their future careers in areas such as hospitality, food services, and electrical engineering. Every Saturday morning, twelve HNC volunteers head out across town to teach two hours of conversational English to Bainian students. Paired together as teaching partners, one Chinese and one international student teach a class of 10-14 students. They also form joint lesson plans and divide the tasks of managing the classroom. Since many Bainian students go into fields in which English-language skills and knowledge of Western culture is valued, class time is split between language study and lessons on American culture. Classroom time is supplemented with cultural events such as the Halloween and Christmas parties, which included a talent show, holiday decorating, and game stations. In overseeing the volunteers and the teaching program, MSLI provides training and support to teachers throughout the semester and helps design the school’s language curriculum. In addition to its teaching program, MSLI has also launched a sponsorship program, which gives HNC students the opportunity to interact one-on-one with Bainian students. With over 20 participants this past semester, HNC sponsors maintain regular contact with their students and participate in bonding activities together throughout the semester. In addition, MSLI also periodically organizes other center activities to build awareness on migrant issues among HNC students, including a screening and discussion of the recent documentary “The Last Train Home.” This coming semester, MSLI hopes to continue to build awareness on issues facing migrants and develop partnerships with other similar organizations throughout China. An invaluable experience for all involved, participation in MSLI has also exposed HNC students to the challenges of running a social organization in China. Co-founder and former President Angela Chang credits the insight into development work and organizational management she gained by participating in MSLI as enabling her to graduate “much better-equipped to positively impact the lives of others.” By integrating formal education with first-hand field experience, the opportunity to participate in activities such as MSLI is what makes studying at HNC such a unique experience. Liang Xiao is a Chinese certificate student at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.
Feb 2012 Edition:October 2011 2/13/2012 4:34 PM Page 3
The SAIS Observer
From the USMC to SAIS Jon Welch
Last fall, halfway through my first semester at SAIS, I thanked the director of admissions for an administrative error- the only possible reason that could explain my offer of admission. The people of the SAIS community make it an impressive place, downright intimidating at times. To use a line from a friend, I sometimes ‘feel like a fraud’ sitting in class with such accomplished and driven colleagues. Although getting into SAIS surprised me, what to expect upon arrival did not. As a prospective student I connected with a fellow former Marine, in his last semester at SAIS. He provided an unvarnished assessment of the rigorous academic program, but reassured me that I could manage. Most importantly, he warned me about the importance of social integration into a completely different culture. I never thought about the fact that as a Marine infantry officer and combat veteran, I might not seem approachable to other students. Thanks to his words of caution and Dr. Cohen’s encouragement to grow out my hair to blend in, I made a concerted effort to assimilate starting in pre-term. Upon leaving active duty, veterans often struggle to adapt to civilian life. The lack of day-to-day interaction with similarly focused comrades typically causes this challenge. Military Members of SAIS brings together students who have served or continue to serve in the military. It provides a forum for sharing tips on navigating confusing issues such as veterans benefits and reserve duty options. I appreciate the quiet fraternity provided by this organization. However, building camaraderie through shared hardship came more naturally than I expected at SAIS. I feel more a part of the community than I anticipated.
For The Love of Coffee Monica Kang & Adrian Stover “Oh, we use Casey’s Coffee. And we added a little bit of love,” says Sam Park, pictured above. Most SAISers who frequent The Galley Café would recognize Sam immediately. He is usually found behind the espresso machine wearing his hat, red apron, and has a smile that beams at you when he asks what kind of milk you would like with your latte. Given Sam’s daily schedule, that smile is more difficult to maintain than you would expect. Sam wakes up every day at 4:30 AM, drives for an hour to get to work, and has to be on his feet sometimes for thirteen hours a day. Many times he does not get home until 9:00 PM, and often misses his family. “Sometimes in life,” he says, “you have no choice.” When he first moved to the United States, Sam had great difficulty settling and finding a job as an immigrant who did not speak English. He was lucky though. Determined and optimistic, Sam started what he enjoyed and did best: coffee and sandwiches. The Galley Café at Dupont Circle opened in 2007, moving from its original location in Fairfax County, and the staff has since developed a pretty good idea what menus people prefer.
In reality I was not admitted to SAIS on an administrative error. My statement of purpose probably looked a lot like every other applicant’s, but my resume certainly did not. So how am I, or other veterans, different? What do we have to offer? The answers may seem obvious: leadership, experience and decision making under pressure, in stressful situations. However, some of the less obvious details are the most pertinent to the SAIS education. For example, how do you view civil-military relations? How can NGOs get more involved in post-conflict reconstruction? The experiences of veterans at SAIS, especially combat veterans, offer a great resource to fellow students and faculty alike, as they ponder what they will do next as leaders in the international arena. How does one tap into the background of his veteran classmates? Veterans want to share. They, more than anyone, want to avoid repeating costly policy and strategy decisions. We are not yet experts at those levels. However, our experiences can certainly contribute to SAIS students’ understanding of the military and its impact in international relations. Please, just ask. Jon is a first-year M.A. student concentrating in Strategic Studies. He served in the United States Marine Corps, for seven years, as an infantry officer, before attending SAIS. His service included tours in Iraq as a rifle platoon commander and combat adviser to the Iraqi Army; and as an instructor and general's aide in the US.
In fact, with so many returning customers, Sam and his staff constantly try to add new sandwiches and dishes on the menu. “The customers are very nice, and when we create new sandwiches, people are so happy!” Although he adds new ideas to the menu from different sources such as Whole Foods, Panera Bread, and cooking channels, a number of ideas come from customers. Yet, even with new additions, the most popular items on the menu are consistently anything that has chicken, especially the chicken wrap. Still, for Sam, the best part about his days at the Galley Café are the interactions with the customers, who are “very good, very gentle.” Sam guesses that 40% of the customers come from Johns Hopkins, in addition to a large crowd from the Australian Embassy. Many people who have graduated already make the effort to come back and visit the café. “When I see the young students’ smiling faces, I cannot help but smile,” he said with a big smile on his face, “And now that the semester has started it’s great to see everyone back.” The next time you drop into the Galley, you might want to try Sam’s favorite coffee combination: espresso with a little bit of soymilk. As always, it’ll be made with love. Monica Kang is a first-year M.A. student in Strategic Studies and is an SGA Representative for the class of 2013. Adrian Stover,Editor-in-Chief, is a firstyear MA student in Southeast asian Studies.
The Galley Cafe prepares for a rush.
Contribute to the SAIS Observer with your work, opinion pieces, and stories by emailing us at
Feb 2012 Edition:October 2011 2/13/2012 4:34 PM Page 4
The SAIS Observer
Single in Nitze “Have Heels, Will Travel” is an Advice Column by Nicole Epps If the date auction has taught us anything, we learned that
A Purely Economic Discussion About the Future Between I-0 and I-1 Indifference Curve I-1 Thinks Its So Hot, But It Is SO Not By Indifference Curve I-0 Listen, I’m just saying what everyone is thinking. And the fact is that everything thinks that Indifference Curve I-1 is just a stuck up snob. Every time I get down on the Indifference Map, I’m thinking “Alright, this is cool. I’m I-0! I set the groove for everyone else to follow.” Life is good, but then I-1 comes along with this “I’m SO much better than you” attitude. Its like, I-1 would have a heart attack if it wasn’t the center of attention all the time. For once I wish I-1 would just chill out and admit that it is not as cool as it thinks it is. Besides, you know who’s really cool? I-. No has ever even seen that guy because he’s so cool. Its like he’s in another cooler dimension of indifference curves that we can only aspire to. I bet if he came down here to visit, we’d all be like “woah.” And he’d be like, “Peace, my babies.” If indifference curves could wear cool guy sunglasses, I- would wear cool-guy sunglasses. I- makes I-1 look like a loser, which it is! Oh by the way, this is just between you and me, so don’t tell anybody I said this about I-1. At the end of the day I have to sit next to it all the time.
whether it’s a combination of student loan checks or internship work, there is money to be had for dates with SAIS students. Watching our fellow students pay money to have lunch with a professor, watch a magic trick or cut someone’s hair—there is no longer any excuse for dates that involve free pizza at Happy Hour. However, what is the single SAISer who’s a dollarless diva to do? Have no fear- there are plenty of cost maximizing date options here at SAIS. The Cafeteria Ambiance: Amid the glare that comes from the sun streaming through the windows, you, your date and ravenous SAIS students can spend a romantic day at the SAIS cafeteria. The cafeteria has undergone a radical transformation in the last year and now whether you are meeting for brunch- an egg and cheese sandwich; lunch- the chili challenge could be detrimental to the newly dating-- there are always options. Décor: You truly are sitting in a fishbowl; the wall of windows allows you an ample view of the lobby and the couches. The new recycling bins provide a beautiful backdrop and conversation piece that will show your date that not only are you smart but you believe in the power of going green. Which may be a good thing because fighting for a seat at the communal table may be the number 1 indicator that you don’t have any actual green. Rating: Come early, seats go quickly. However, if you are on a first date, the cafeteria is ideal- depending on your vantage point, you can watch CNN or signal an SOS to your friends in the lobby. Computer Lab Ambiance: On the third floor is a hidden oasis and less busy printers. Here in 3 rows of computers, you and your date can sit in the relative silence without the glaring public in the library if you speak over a whisper. Sit at the back table where the staples are and amid the busy collators, spread out a small picnic or choose an online game to play together. Décor: As you enter the lab the front desk will gladly remind you of the rules that include no food or drink; just hide your stuff in your book bag. Most importantly, you may have your photo taken of your first date right in the lobby. Evidence! The computer lab is quiet but welcoming. You may even see mutual friends who don’t want to wait on elevators to get to the library. Rating: An off the beaten path choice but under the right lighting could be romantic. Well probably not romantic at all but this is dating at SAIS, we must do what we can. The Library Ambiance: The library is a little like Cheers—it’s a place where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came—for the most part. The library 6th provides 3 floors for your romantic pursuits. Décor: Begin your date on Floor 6, where you can meet in the lobby and read a reference book together. The individual corrals on the 7th floor provide a dark and intimate space, where you will see no one. Remember to keep your voice low because it is deathly quiet up there-which means if you’re in the midst of a torrid and illicit love affair, you will get caught. Finally the 8th floor provides a comfortable media room and larger chairs for you to recline on, please be wary of the sleepers-they are very stressed.
Chill out, I-0 By Indifference Curve I-1 Seriously? Indifference Curve I-0 is jealous and is a loser. I seriously don’t know what its problem is. It’s not my fault that I, as Indifference Curve I-1, represent a higher level of satisfaction than I-0. A lot of times I-0 doesn’t even show up to the map, and then I set the standard. Sometimes he’s there and sometimes he’s not. This one time I was chillin’ with my friends Chemicals and Textiles out on the Indifference Curve Map, and I-0 just rolls up and says “Hey guys, where’s the party at?” and we’re like “Seriously, the party was over like four hours ago. Where you been?” And I-0 got all mad and said, “Huh, so it’s going to be like that?” and then it walked off. Besides, the rest of the indifference curves love me! They’re like, “Yo, whatup I-1? I love it when you do your thang and get them curves all nice and wavy.” And I’m like, “Word, son.” If I-0 just doesn’t want to show up to the party, its not my fault if it doesn’t have a good time. I-0 is a current M.A. Candidate at the SAIS Econ department. So is I-1. They still expect to have a happy life together.
Rating: For convenience the library cannot be beat. Everyone is there though, so I wouldn’t recommend the library for early dates. However, if you sign up in time get one of the private rooms , go ahead and double date for two hours. If you need additional privacy the stairwells are a nice place to Skype or call your friends to drop by and get you out of the date. Nitze Courtyard Ambiance: This meeting spot provides an urban feel with students rushing in and out, getting run over by bicyclists and loud cell phone talkers—this is an adventure date. Décor: The granite circular tables, the Berlin wall, the wafting cigarette smoke, and the bicycles provide a beautiful backdrop for love to blossom. It is February so bundle up or bundle up in love. Rating: If you actually choose to have your date here, just go to the cafeteria to get a $1.00 coffee and walk to Dupont Circle. Switch it up. As Ms. Jennifer Lopez taught us, love don’t cost a thing and neither should you have to spend money to enjoy the company of someone you may be hiding from for the rest of the semester. If your date wonders why all of your dates are on campus and not at Rome or even the Galley Café in the Airplane Pilots' building, look him/her deep in the eye and say,” Don’t worry about it—my degrees will keep me warm” Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!! Nicole Epps is a second-year M.A. candidate concentrating in International Law and Organizations.
Feb 2012 Edition:October 2011 2/13/2012 4:34 PM Page 5
The SAIS Observer
Honduras in Winter Yao Zhao My interest in the buses running around Honduras started not long after we landed in San Pedro Sula. One step out of the airport, and I was immediately surrounded by the locals. Some were looking to exchange Lempira for USD or asked to carry my bags. Cab drivers tried to offer me a ride. A rough picture of life was unfolding right in front of me at the doorway of this country. When we finally crammed into a small cab, the heat, noise, and lack of sleep from last night made me feel a little dizzy. Pulling out my camera, the sound of the shutter was able to give my mind a break. Through the lens, for the first time, I saw the name of the bus inlaid on a metal plate - Blue Bird. Such a pleasant name! A name that appears only in fairy tales! Through the bus windows, I could see only prying eyes and shy faces. I got the urge to get on the bus at least once during my stay in Honduras, but I was not sure if I would get the chance. We were going to work in Villa Soleada, a village built by Student Help Honduras (SHH) in nearby El Progresso. Our trip to Villa Soleada was like a slide show of beautiful scenery. Verdant mountains and miles of banana plantations kept moving against us. Clouds provided us with shade and coolness every so often. Herds of cows were grazing leisurely on vast grassland. My mind was still lingering on those eyes and faces on Blue Bird, however, and it seemed that their kindness, shyness and helplessness were all hidden there waiting to be freed. We arrived at SHH in the evening. With clean bunk beds, cold showers, decent chicken tortillas and wireless, I couldn’t complain but be grateful, especially in a country where SHH still needs to hire a security guard standing in front of our house with a machine gun. Over dinner the director of the village, Shin, welcomed us and shared his story of how he originally had the idea of SHH. He skimmed over his hard wrestle with various difficulties, but we could imagine the dedication and courage he had put into this cause. I could tell he was excited about having us here, but I guess years of hard work had shaped his Zenlike character. Everything about Shin looked so calm and natural. After dinner, he drove us to a local dancing club. We rode there on the back of his truck, and the bumpy ride made our laughter even louder. My heart was heavy, however, because I assumed the truck would be our major vehicle during our stay. I still missed Blue Bird. Our work started the next morning. The kids in Villa Soleada were waiting for us in the construction site. Some of them were orphans, and they had moved to Villa Soleada from their old village where they lived in poverty. Now with the help of SHH they had decent houses and a school, and we were there to build three more classrooms for them. The work was not easy. The dirt was solid and hard to shovel, the cinderblocks were heavy, the wheelbarrows were tough to control, and although we were master’s degree candidates we could not master the construction site. Bearing witness to our clumsy work, the kids took over before long. They were surely the masters. A skinny boy lifted up a cinderblock effortlessly. They shoveled up a wheelbarrow of dirt and competed as to who could push it faster to the other side. More importantly, unlike other kids I had seen in rural areas, those kids in Villa Soleada were very social. They talked with us, corrected my broken Spanish, and asked for drinking water without being shy. I was awed by their strengths, smartness, and politeness. Shin once said he had confidence that one of the kids might someday be the president of Honduras, and I had no doubt of this. My favorite part of the day was at 4:30pm, when sunset melted everything into a warm soft color. We packed up the shovels and wheelbarrows and put them back to shed. Then the game was on! It baffled me how the kids could still play soccer so passionately after an entire day of physical work. Some of us played soccer with the kids or taught them volleyball while others sat down and talked. I was mesmerized by everything unfolding in front of me, as I played with my camera trying to capture every movement that was being silhouetted in the beautiful sunset. This time, I saw happy faces through my lens. It reminded me of Blue Bird again. I still couldn’t forget those faces on the bus. The happiness on everyone’s face, the kids and us alike, came from within. For us, we could finally escape from fast-paced life in Washington and seize the moment of peace in the soft sunlight. Nothing is more fulfilling than making others happy. Blue Bird came back in my trip unexpectedly, for I didn’t know that SHH in fact owned a Blue Bird bus! One evening after work, they took all the kids and us to El Progresso for a soccer match with a semi-professional team in town. I changed my dirty working clothes and walked outside to meet others. I was wondering how they could take all of us there. Certainly the truck wouldn’t work. While I was still pondering, I looked up and there was a Blue Bird bus parked in front of the house! What was more exciting was that the kids had already occupied the bus! Their faces filled up every window, poking their head out of the frame. Each window looked like a picture frame. Their faces were limited in that little square, yet their excitement diffused way further outside of the bus. Since that evening, the Blue Bird bus became our major form of transportation. Whenever we were on the bus, it was always filled with music, dance and laugher. But I felt there must be something more that Blue Bird carries. Our last day at Villa Soleada helped me find that when we paid a one-day visit to a nearby beach with the kids and SHH staff. Knowing that the kids had never been on a boat, we decided to chip in and give them their first boat ride in their life. Within a minute of hearing the news, all the kids climbed into the boat. They were so exhilarated that I was worried it would sink. After more soccer, swimming, and volleyball, we got on Blue Bird before the sunset. The bus ride back was much quieter when the kids had fallen asleep. That moment of peace made me think what we and SHH really had brought to those kids and their families, other than some donation and helping them build houses and school. I think we also opened up a broader world to those smart, kind, and hard-working kids for which they deserve. Those intangible experiences provided them with the curiosity and confidence to explore more in the future, without which I could only see prying eyes and unhappy faces on Blue Bird. For many years, Blue Bird has been a symbol of hope and happiness. But what really makes those symbols real is the excitement on those kids’ faces of being on the bus, with dancing, screaming and laughter loaded in that small space, and the fact that we could bring a new experience into their lives at a critical time. I stopped thinking and looked around the bus and shouted it out loud to myself, “That’s the Blue Bird! That’s the Blue Bird in all the fairy tales! That’s the Blue Bird in my imagination carrying laughter, happiness and hope!” Yao Zhao is a first-year M.A. candidate concentrating in Energy, Resources, and Environment. He attended the China Foreign Affairs University.
Feb 2012 Edition:October 2011 2/13/2012 4:34 PM Page 6
The SAIS Observer
Zionism in Shades of Gray Sarah Solomon I had never considered myself pro-Israel; in truth, I never bothered to apply any definition to myself when it came to Israel. It seemed to me that the local Jewish community I occasionally mingled with believed there to be no acceptable position other than unquestioning and unwavering support of Israel and all its policies – an attitude which left little room for discussion, and never appealed to me. As such, I found myself anticipating my first visit to Israel with no small amount of trepidation. Israel was not my first choice of vacation destination, but I found myself anxious to travel and on a limited budget, so I turned to Taglit-Birthright Israel. Taglit-Birthright Israel is an organization which sponsors trips to Israel for Jewish young adults. While the organization has many programs, the most popular provides free 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish Americans between 18 and 26 years of age.
“...it is all too easy for Israel to be an abstract concept.”
And so it was that in December, mere days after my last exam of the semester, I found myself bound for New York to meet the 40 other participants on my trip. I fully anticipated that the trip would include no small amount of Zionist political lectures, but considered it the price of the experience. The members of my group came from around the country, and represented a wide spectrum of life experiences and religious practices. For the first half of the trip, we were accompanied by a small group of Israeli peers, most of whom are currently serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. On one of our first nights in Israel, we broke into small groups, each led by an Israeli, for a discussion on some of Israel’s controversial policies. I was the first to voice my disagreement with the way the Gilad Shalit issue was handled, and braced myself for a lecture, expecting to be told that I simply didn't understand. Instead, I was surprised by the honesty and bluntness of the discussion. The Israeli in our group respectfully disagreed with me, but stated freely that he doesn’t agree with many other decisions made by the government. It was then that I began to feel a shift in my own perceptions of Israel, and to imagine a community where it is permissible to both support and question Israeli policies. The most vivid experience for me was at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. Mount Herzl is analogous to our own Arlington National Cemetery, and contains the burial sites for Israeli leaders and fallen soldiers. In contrast to my relatively sheltered upbringing, I watched the soldiers traveling with us, all of them younger than me, sit by the graves of friends who died in combat. These are experiences which cannot be conveyed by reading or watching the news. From here, it is all too easy for Israel to be an abstract concept. The same soldier with whom I discussed Gilad Shalit is, as I write this, little more than a week away from being discharged. Still, he told me recently, “[These are] the most dangerous days. We have a superstition: a bullet chases you before discharge day, and a mortar shell haunts every staff sergeant before discharge day.” His fear is genuine, as is my concern for him. I begin to understand, just a little bit, what it is to fear for the safety of friends and loved ones in Israel, and how delicate their situation is.
“...it is permissible to both support and question Israeli policies.”
So do I consider myself pro-Israel, now? I believe that the existence of a Jewish state is necessary today, with anti-Semitism remaining a worldwide problem, and I believe that Israel has the right to act to defend its continued existence. However, I would also argue that there must be room for dissent in any dialog on Israel. So long as factions of the Jewish community attempt to stifle all criticism of Israel, they will continue to risk alienation. If visiting Israel can clear the way for more honest discussions of what it means to be Zionist and to have a genuine understanding of the challenges Israel faces, then I hope it is a trip many will continue to take, regardless of their religious or political beliefs. Sarah Solomon is a first-year M.A. student at SAIS concentrating in International Law and Organizations. She holds a B.A. in Russian and Linguistics from the University of Maryland, and works as a legal assistant at a law firm in Maryland. The Palestinian Territories mapped as an archipelago; courtesy of boiteaoutils.blogspot.com
Feb 2012 Edition:October 2011 2/13/2012 4:34 PM Page 7
The SAIS Observer
Introducing the Bologna Institute for Policy Research (BIPR) Every year, SAIS Bologna Center hosts dozens of world renowned speakers from across the globe to give presentations, speeches and seminars on a wide range of issues related to international relations and international economics. Students at the Bologna Center get the opportunity to speak with these guests during private office hours, and engage with them through intense question & answer sessions. Erik Jones, director of the Bologna Institute for Policy Research (BIPR pronounced “beeper”) describes it as an institution that, “takes what we do at the Bologna Center and make it a little bit better.” With the help of research assistants comprising current and former SAIS Bologna students, BIPR sets up interviews with guest speakers, summarizes presentations and posts these interviews on Facebook and Youtube. The summaries and interviews can also be found on the SAIS BC website. Furthermore, BIPR creates more synergy out of the research being done by the resident faculty and adjunct faculty that travel to Bologna from across the world to teach its students. BIPR supports the research by publicizing the ground breaking information to students, other faculty members and audiences around the world. Taking advantage of its position within an American institution in Europe, BIPR focuses on transatlantic relations specifically as it relates to the global economic and financial crises. Other areas of interest are economic integration in Europe and other regions; political transition in southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean; ethnic conflict and post-conflict resolution; and energy, technology, and the global environment. BIPR conducts independent research supported by the Johns Hopkins University and the SAIS Bologna Center through contributions from alumni, friends, foundations and academic grant-making programs. Discover what the Bologna Center has to contribute to the global debate on international public policy at www.jhubc.it/BIPR.
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Blizzard Blankets Europe, Snowless in Canada Students at the Bologna Center, having just completed the last round of exams, were taken by surprise with a historic week of snow storms that affected many parts of Europe. This closed train stations, shut off electricity to villages, and caused dozens of accidents on the streets as far south as Naples in Italy. As of Monday the 6th Feb., a total of 34 people have died since the temperatures dipped below freezing across Europe. While many SAIS BC students had travelled to other parts of Europe and some to North Africa and the Middle East for their short break, students who remained in Bologna faced over a foot of snow that essentially shut down the city for two days over the weekend. The Bologna Center was forced to shut its doors until the start of the new semester on February 6 to comply with the Mayor's office of Bologna, which ordered all public and private educational institutions closed. The Italian army was brought in over the weekend to assist with cleanup and emergencies across Italy. In Rome, more than 260 people were rescued early Saturday from a ferry when it ran aground during the snow storm. Over 150 people were stuck in a train for 10 hours overnight. Thankfully, no injuries were reported. In Venice, the city’s lagoon has frozen for the first time in more than two decades. CNN reported that this snow storm is the worst to hit Europe since 1956. The BBC has reported snowfall in the Sahara for the first time in decades. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the Toronto area has been relishing in relatively temperate weather and relatively little snow. The Toronto star reported that Toronto had 14.2 cm of snow in December, much lower than its normal snow accumulation of 29 cm. In January, the city saw 1/3 of is normal snow accumulation. Geoff Coulson of Environment Canada attributes this to El Niño. From first-year David Frazer of the Bahamas, Assistant Editor in Bologna. Stay warm, David!
Bottom right: Bologna Under Snow Over the Weekend Oustide of a SAIS BC student’s apartment. Bottom left: Venice Lagoon Frozen Over on February 6 when temperature fell to -10 centigrade.
Feb 2012 Edition:October 2011 2/13/2012 4:34 PM Page 8
The SAIS Observer
Cave Adventure in Guangxi
From the SGA
On behalf of SGA, welcome back, everyone, for the Spring Semester! We hope you all had wonderful and relaxing breaks. We thought this would be a good opportunity to fill you in on some of our accomplishments last year and our goals for the The four hyperactive little boys buzzed around me like mosquitoes, distracting me as I tried to take a pretentious shot of some old photos lying on the cave floor. semester ahead.
"Hey! Hey! Shine your light over here! Look! Look! Shine it here!"
"Yeah, okay, okay." I turned my flashlight in their direction, and saw…nothing. On the social front, our driving motivation has been to get as many SAISers as posIt was a dead end. Rather than disappoint them, this seemed to fire them up even sible participating in school events. We have tried to make sure our calendar has something for everyone - younger, older, families, early crowd, late crowd - and we more. were delighted to see so many of you in attendance at our events last semester. "Here! Here! Shine here!" they screamed, and I quickly obliged. "Ah! It's dark!" From the exhibitionism of the Halloween Monster Mash to the culinary delights of they yelled, and the oldest one grabbed the youngest by the shoulders for dramat- the International Dinner, the weekly happy hours and Hump Day activities, this ic effect. The little one responded exactly the way you would expect a four-year- year’s SAIS class has really showed we know how to enjoy ourselves. Special old to respond when grabbed from behind in a dark cave. His anxiety spread to thanks to our Cruise Director and her Social Committee for all their hard work! the other three, including the one who grabbed him in the first place. All of them ran away down the corridor screeching giddily, and I continued to eye the pas- We have also been busy in other areas behind the scenes. Our Careers and Alumni sage. It was dark, and I thought there might be a way through. I squeezed myself Committee held its first DC Young Alumni Happy Hour at One Lounge attended by into the narrow opening just as a couple of the boys gathered up the nerve to around 100 alumni and current students in what we hope will become a regular bireturn. The sight of me disappearing into the dark sent them into another bout of monthly event. They have also been working with the Baltimore campus on making much needed improvements to the recently launched alumni database JHU noisy excitement. Connect. Our Academic Affairs Committee has been working closely with faculty on several initiatives. Most notably we have petitioned successfully for core exam "Is there a way through? Can you go through?" materials to be posted on Blackboard, making it much easier for us to prepare for I looked around, but there wasn’t. This was the last tunnel in the complex, and the core exams. Our Internal Affairs Committee has made some important changes there was nothing to this cave apart from the main chamber. "No. You can't go in respect to student clubs, making club budgets available in real time to club leaders and making it easier for clubs to use the SAIS website. through. Come on, I'm coming out." Our International Student Affairs Committee has been focusing on increasing integration between the DC, Bologna and Nanjing campuses; keeping open lines of communication between the student governments in each campus. They have also been concentrating on making improvements to the DC Orientation Guide and housing services to make it easier for future incoming international students to settle in DC. Our Admissions Committee was successful in recruiting 30 participants to our Student Ambassadors program who made over 200 calls to prospective students during the application process. As a result, we are delighted to say that appliThe children hollered with delight, and began to clamber up after me. "No, no," cations to SAIS this year have fared considerably better than our peer schools. I told them, but it was obvious that my leadership role could only go so far. When Thanks to all of you who participated in the Student Ambassadors program, you I realized that the upper handholds were not reliable, I hopped down to the have done the school proud! ground and looked up at them. I was fully prepared to start catching plummeting This semester we are seeking to build on our accomplishments from last year. From four-year-olds. next week on, we will be conducting weekly open office hours in the Nitze lobby "Hey, come down, little guys. Come down. It's not safe there!" They managed to to provide you with a more direct means through which to communicate with us. make it onto an upper ledge, which looked to be simply a narrow ridge of hard- We are making plans to produce a student yearbook this year so everyone has a ened clay, and scurried about like over-caffeinated lemmings readying for their visual reminder of their time at SAIS. We are also working on the Class of 2012 inevitable death plunge onto the rocky floor below. All the while I was standing class gift, which we want to make sure is meaningful and relevant to the interests beneath them and imagining newspaper headlines: "Crazed foreigner leads chil- of this year’s class--stay tuned for details. dren to their deaths!" "Cavern of Doom: Could your kid be the American caveWe are looking to make your SAIS experience even better, because, as with all killer's next victim?" things in life, there is always room for improvement. The Internal Affairs The children’s need for Olympic-scale sprinting facilities finally outweighed Committee is establishing a more transparent and effective recycling program on their delight at being suddenly tall, and they all managed to scamper down the campus, and the Careers and Alumni Committee is working to establish a mentorface of the wall without any falls. Little kids are really pretty good at not hurting ing program between MIPP candidates and MA candidates. Your Cruise Director and her Social Committee are diligently planning an array of events to be enjoyed themselves, all things considered. I breathed a sigh of relief. this Spring: Valentines, Cherry Blossom, and a Mr. and Ms. SAIS competition to I wanted to take a few more photos of this cave, but I settled for just getting out name a few. The Admissions Committee is also looking forward to entering the secof here with no manslaughter charges. "Okay, let's go,” I said. “Time to go, I'm ond phase of the Student Ambassadors program, contacting accepted students to leaving!" As I turned around, I found the biggest kid standing right behind me make sure they choose SAIS over our rival schools. with a giant grin on his face and a pair of even bigger hypodermic syringes in his One of our driving themes is a greater integration of the three campuses and we are hands. in the process of establishing a formal Nanjing representative on SGA. In addition, our Academic Affairs Committee is actively advocating for establishing a “Global "Ha!" he laughed with gleeful abandon. I could not see my own face, but I imagM.A.” program that would involve all three ined I was a little bug-eyed. This SAIS campuses. The Careers and Alumni kid was holding two enormous Committee is working to establish parallel syringes straight out in front of him, career clubs between Bologna and DC, and sticking them into the air diagonally the International Student Affairs like a flamboyant, pistol-wielding Committee will attempt to improve the villain in a spaghetti western. The transition experience for students coming sun shined through the mouth of the from Bologna to DC. We are happy with cave and reflected off the bare, what we have accomplished so far but our shiny surfaces of the needles. I was job is only halfway complete. Above are kicking myself for not catching just a few examples of some exciting goals sight of the drug paraphernalia we are working on to make your SAIS when I first entered the cave, but experience even better. As ever, please conwith this pack of little munchkins tact us with any feedback or ideas - we are dangling off of me like a gymnasium, what could I do? here to serve you! I squeezed out of the hole and wandered back towards the sunny entrance with my young spelunker apprentices. They charged ahead of me like maniacs, screaming something I couldn’t understand and pointed up at the right-hand wall of the main chamber. When I shined my light up there, it looked like there was another entrance but it was about four meters up. There were pretty good handholds, however, so I pocketed my camera and flashlight and climbed up a few feet.
Continued Page 9 Above: Future Indiana Joneses spelunking
Thanks for listening, and here’s to another semester!
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The SAIS Observer
Chinese in Ethiopia Jullion Cooper I didn’t doubt my decision to spend winter break in Ethiopia with my partner in crime, Jacqueline Foelster for a second. Our love of laughter, willingness to try new things and language skills (seven between us) always make for a good time. More fascinating is the amount of knowledge and insight we were able to share in conversations with locals and international relations professionals after a mere semester of classes at SAIS. Our language skills allowed us to get firsthand knowledge and opinions of some of Ethiopia’s newest immigrant group, the Chinese. In Addis, we met a couple there who built a traditional Chinese restaurant and have lived in the Ethiopian capital for the last two years. They prefer the weather and personal space that Addis Ababa can afford and that Beijing lacks. Perhaps what was most impressive to us, however, was the effort made by the couple to hire locally. Words failed me when I saw our dumplings and other dishes brought out by Ethiopians who were able to communicate with their employers in Chinese!
Cave Adventures; continued From Page 8 The kid was in heaven. He had just found something even better than those plastic guns they sell at carnivals: Heroin needles! What fun! It was kind of sweet to see how happy he was with such a simple pair of toys, but my only thoughts were: If you play with toy guns by pantomime-shooting your friends, then how do you play with used syringes? I managed to keep my cool and speak calmly but firmly. "Hey! No! That is not a toy! That's dangerous! Dangerous! Not a toy!" I barked a little gruffly at the poor kid, but it worked. He put down the needles and we walked back out to the entrance together. I think I jarred him a little with my tone, but I tried to placate him by taking a few pictures of him and his friends. That worked just fine for them. It is really nice sometimes that little kids have such short attention spans. We walked out of the cave into the stretch of land farmed by the kids' families. It is a pretty poor-looking area, and the drug paraphernalia in the cave was probably a symptom of this. I hope these little troublemakers end up all right. Assuming they do, I think the community has several future Indiana Joneses on its hands.
Our language skills and knowledge of international affairs (plus a touch of luck) won us entrance to a meeting in the African Union headquarters. Who would have known that our vacation in Addis Ababa coincided with the annual meeting of African heads of state at the African Union headquarters? We discovered this when representatives of a California-based company working as a government consultant approached us to ask if either of us could stand in as a French translator. While Jacqueline translated, I learned about ways top advisors could help the First Ladies of their respective nations make a difference during their husbands’ presidencies. Having coffee in Lalibela with shopkeepers The picture I've painted of our trip is a fraction of an intricately complex portrait we experienced in Ethiopia, but I believe it to be more than enough to justify coming. From my vantage point back in Bologna, it couldn't be any clearer to me that not only is the world more international than ever, but if anyone were to pursue a degree in international relations, NOW is the time to do so.
Jullion and Jacqueline inside the old African Union headquarters
This Blank Space That Is Otherwise Terribly Insignificant Could Be Yours!
Gabriel Nelson is a certificate student at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, and The Chinese are not only a growing residential group in Ethiopia. The Chinese gov- spent the winter interterm travelling in Guangxi province in Southwest China. ernment has also invested heavily in Ethiopia -- from new roads to the impressive new $200,000,000 African Union headquarters commissioned as a gift (pictured above). In addition to the generous donation, organizations committed to reinforcing Chinese and African relations appear to be around every corner in Addis. The China Africa Development Fund is such an organization. It was established in 2007 and has invested in projects amounting to over $800 million in various sectors including electricity, transportation and industrial parks. (http://www.cadfund.com/) Among the myriad of African flags in Addis one can even witness Chinese flags waving alongside that of the national flag of Ethiopia.
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The SAIS Observer
Brewing 5 Gallons of Hopkins-Nanjing Pale Ale Part One: A Recipe, A Search Clive Parkinson “So, you’re gonna need a funnel, a carboy, and a secondary fermenter. No, that’s two hydrometers. Are you gonna need a second fermenter? No, I gave you a second fermenter. Is it okay if I give you an airlock with no hole in the stopper? You’ll need to drill your own. Did you say you wanted to make wine?” I had never brewed beer before, and apparently neither had Marty, the nice young fellow manning the California brew supply shop on the Saturday morning before my flight back to Nanjing. But after half a semester of craving American-style ales with my classmates, and later discovering that it could be brewed for less than half the cost at which it could be bought, I decided to give it a go. By the end of Thanksgiving break, I had successfully repatriated a mysterious assortment of plastic bits, tubs, and buckets back to their land of origin. Upon unloading them, however, I realized I did not have the slightest idea of what any of them were for. What if there was a crucial part missing, and I would have to abandon the whole thing? I did not want to find out. So there sat the bucket of bits, an ugly sunk cost, taking up space on the floor of my room like a promise unfulfilled. This was until the absolute last January day where it would be possible to try and figure it all out before the semester ended. It was about this time when I realized that normal Chinese grocery stores do not sell pots sufficiently large enough to boil four gallons of water. The international superstore Ikea let me down, and even our Chinese classmates were out of ideas. In a last throe of desperation, I bought the biggest pot I could find. “This’ll cook enough rice to feed ten people!” the assistant eagerly promised, but there was no way around it: the pot was too small.
A Reflection on the London Careers Trip: Political Risk Analysis Dominique Mack On January 30th and January 31st, I along with 17 other SAIS students ventured to London for a Career Trek to visit a variety of potential employers. Of the eight organizations visited, about half were political risk analysis firms; however, we also met representatives from a think tank, consulting firm, and NGO.
My reason for going was not necessarily to procure a job or internship offer with one of the London employers; rather I wanted exposure to career opportunities I might not have considered. In the end, I left London with a better understandThe next morning, I received a tip-off from an American professor about a faraway ing of how I can market what I am learning at SAIS to a number of different place called the Golden Bridge where he had once managed to acquire a baking pan. industries. Based on my conversations with my classmates, the experience was “No one knows for sure where the Golden Bridge is,” he advised, “but if you follow equally as rewarding in this sense. the Thirteenth Bus to the edge of the city, dismount, and turn to the west, there you shall find it.” As it turns out he was right. Our itinerary, organized by Meera Shankar of the Bologna Center’s Career Services, was: The Golden Bridge turned out to be a dusty, five-story multiplex of retail stalls -Exclusive Analysis crammed with merchandise so thick I could not see my hand stretched out in front -Kroll Consulting of me. “Kitchenware Floor 5,” an inscription read, and I began my ascent. -Business Monitor International -Human Rights Watch As I neared the summit, the merchandise became thinner and a sharp fluorescent -European Bank for Reconstruction and Development light began to break through the cracks. Several stalls away, I saw the outline of a -International Institute for Strategic Studies specialty pot shop, its gleaming wares reflecting the harsh light and beckoning me -Roubini Global Economics inward. There, craftily hidden inside a much bigger pot, was the pot I had longed -The Economist Intelligence Unit for. “How much for something like this?” I asked the attendant. Our meeting with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), one of the political risk analysis outfits, was among the most intriguing. Part of the famed Economist Group, EIU provides forecasting and advisory services. Through these visits, I But would you? I paid way too much for it and left. was able to learn what “political risk analysis” actually means and earned an understanding of how it is applied in the workplace. Political risk analysis is a To be continued… field that takes everything we do at SAIS—history, economics, cultural and social studies, political science and (inevitably) languages—and wraps these eleClive Parkinson is a first-year M.A. candidate at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. This ments into one job package. Everyday, EIU employees consider how each of is the first of a three-part series chronicling his adventures in concocting tasty bevthese factors interacts in order to make feasible predictions about the outcome of erages. certain socioeconomic and political phenomena. Internships with these firms are often ad hoc (and unpaid) but a fantastic opportunity to get exposure to a diverse professional field. “This pot? Best quality. Good size. You could fit a child in it.”
Another organization of particular interest was the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. This institution works with the private sector and publiclypublically owned companies to invest in industrial, financial, and business projects in Europe and increasingly around the world. A number of SAIS alumni are currently working here, including nearly a dozen who were present at our meeting. The range of alumni provided very different perspectives because of their various experiences at the organization, providing broad insight into what it would mean to work there after SAIS or later in our careers. Following our whirlwind tour of employer presentations, my fellow Bolognesi and I rounded out our trip to London with a cocktail reception near Liverpool Street attended by UK-based Johns Hopkins alumni. Beyond reiterating the opportunities SAIS will provide as a professional school, we were ultimately reminded that no matter where in the world you may go, you are truly never far from a fellow SAIS-er.
Submit your essay or short story to SAIS.Observer@gmail.com today!
Dominique Mack is an American student studying at SAIS Bologna Center from Maryland. She is concentrating in Latin American studies and graduated from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
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The SAIS Observer
Still Thankful to be a SAISer Nic Wondra It is something that I still struggle to say when I explain SAIS to others, thinking of the many problems this place has. “It's great. It's one of the top schools in the world. It's as though you're sitting at the cool table in high school, but there are six hundred people at the cool table.” While I do actually describe SAIS this way, but as the phrases are in fact heartfelt, they were recently quite the opposite sentiments. Over the winter break I took a trip to visit my wife in the UK. She is a student and the University of Cambridge. It's one of those shnooty places we talk about. The image is beautiful old architecture, lovely bends to take long walks, terrible food but great ale, and a leading modern academic institution. This is all true, except for, it seemed, the leading modern academic institution part. And the same goes for those other highbrow places in the UK. In my travels I spoke with graduates and current students of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh, Kings College, LSE, and Oxford. These schools certainly attract talent as their reputations imply, but resources leave a great deal to be desired. My wife must contend with five different libraries and five sets of library policies, an djust as many web portals and logins. Professors supervise papers rather than administering exams; good luck getting their time. There are no seminars in her course, only lectures. And the entire grading system is based on some confusing 134 point system. It may as well be Surinamese rocket science, it is so clear. These students from the UK university system (some Americans, Germans, British, Ecuadorian) complained about their universities. This is an international pastime, but I paid close attention to the commentary. The LSE student felt like she was in a degree mill; the star professor of the department had left before that year began, but matriculating students were not informed. The student at Kings College was overwhelmed by reticent Chinese students in his Chinese studies program. At the University of Edinburgh, students of law were apparently deceived by the university's program for barrister registration in England, meaning they could usefully on practice law in Scotland. The oxbridge chums, too, were unimpressed with the massive, squeaking machines that were their universities. They were unimpressed with poor professor contact, arbitrary grading, not enough writing supervision, and not enough contact with the real world. “If Cambridge were a car,” it was explained to me in Darwin College bar, “it would be an eight-hundred-year-old Ford Pinto.” Despite the flaws, most said they would not have it any other way. They were endeared to their institutions, warts and all. Cambridge in Summer.Courtesyof University of Cambridge. http://www.cam.ac.uk/
In many ways, going back to university is one of the purchases at biggest risk of buyer's remorse. You don't really know what you're getting until you've finished out your career and decided whether it was a good run or not. The only thing to do in this context is to go with a personal path dependency model: “That place graduates hot-shots who are employed today, so I will graduate and be employed like they are.” In reality, we take more into consideration than this, but the point is that there are huge, inexplicable, and unexpected differences in university quality.
As I was listening to these student reflections on university life, I naturally compared my own postgraduate experience. I have had lectures, seminars, departmental seminars, panel discussions, conferences, and remarkably consistent answers regarding university policies. Some of my professors have been genuinely interested in my passions, so much so that there have been those magical moments where we inadvertently hold the elevator, rudely making others wait, and getting the obnoxious beep that says we have both been running our mouths too long about central Asian hydroelectric prospects. I can't do that back home—which is why SAIS is that place where everyone is at the cool kid table. It's not much to look at. In fact, my first visit to Nitze building during my own application cycle was marked with one elevator under repair and a silent fire alarm of some kind. I truly did do a double-take. I asked the guards “Is this SAIS?” SAIS is so little to look at, in fact, I have to constantly remind my parents that the phrase “on campus” does not apply when speaking about it. I had just come from Georgetown Law and GW, where the digs are considerably more posh. As became evident at SAIS, the place is not about the brick and mortar; though a capital renovation ought to be on the agenda sometime soon for such a prestigious place. As in any new setting, one feels out-ofplace. I felt foreign on the East coast (boy, you guys talk fast!) and was competing in the most driven group of people I had ever been in. Here I am already one quarter of the way into the ride. I have many gripes, from not receiving any financial aid to having a bad adjunct prof. All told, I'm still thankful to be a SAISer, and I wouldn't have it any other way. We do great things, we are good people, and we think necessary thoughts. We have that magical mixture of idealism and realistic achievement. It is better than any of the academic experiences my UK counterparts could detail. But check with me in a semester; if the place is going to be shnooty, the institution should live up to the price. Nic Wondra, Editor-in-Chief, is a first-year student in Russian and Eurasian Studies.
SAIS Campus Photo not available...just kidding, we found one:
Feb 2012 Edition:October 2011 2/13/2012 4:34 PM Page 12
The SAIS Observer
Yugoslavia: SAISers in Sarajevo Lia Nitake & Sarah Gardiner Participating in the Bologna Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development (CCSDD) study trip was an incredible educational experience that, due to the complexities of the region, left me with more questions than answers. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to Sarajevo and develop my understanding of post-conflict reconstruction efforts first-hand in a region that is currently facing challenges of ethnic tensions as well as political and social issues. Prior to coming to SAIS, I had very little knowledge about the Bosnian War or even the Balkans in general. My interest in the region was sparked over a decade ago at an athletic competition. One of my fellow competitors represented Bosnia & Herzegovina, and she described to me the challenges being faced in the region as well as her fears for the future. At the time, it was difficult for me to grasp the reality of her situation. Participating in the study trip presented the opportunity to meet with representatives of organizations currently dealing with democratic development and human rights issues; not only did this experience give me some insight into the history and current challenges within the region, but it has also provided a context through which to better understand the discipline's conversation. During the four-day trip, about thirty students from SAIS and the University of Bologna toured Sarajevo and met with organizations such as the World Bank, UNHCR, the Delegation of the EU to Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Constitutional Court, and (a Bosnian first) Think Tank Populari. The tour of the city took place on the first day of the trip and we learned about the history of the Bosnian War. Although several buildings throughout Sarajevo were still scarred with bullet holes and signs of bombings, I was surprised by the extent of reconstruction and the otherwise scant evidence that such a violent conflict and ethnic cleansing campaign had taken place not so long ago. Meetings with local organizations gave us the chance to learn about current efforts toward post-conflict development and, in particular, the challenges they face on political, social and economic levels. On the final day of the study trip, all of the students took a bus to Srebrenica, the site of the July 1995 massacre in which over 8,000 Bosniaks were killed, most of whom were men and boys. We met with the Women of Srebrenica Association, and some of the women shared their stories, including the losses of their husbands, sons, and other loved ones during the massacre. It was an emotional meeting that reinforced the necessity of bearing witness—not only to connect on the most basic human level, but also so that we may take steps toward preventing similar atrocities in the future. One of the challenges in Bosnia & Herzegovina today is the implication of the current constitution, which was put into place following the Dayton Peace Accords. Although this agreement led to the end of the war and paved the way for the country’s current political structure, many argue that it serves to institutionalize ethnic divisions. One of the women in Srebrenica emphasized that although members of their association are not solely Bosniak, they are brought together by shared suffering and human understanding and believe that their country can do the same; their current constitution, however, serves to institutionalize ethnic divisions rather than promote integration. The study trip was a great opportunity to learn about such issues and the post-conflict development that is taking place in Sarajevo today. Many of the students on the trip hope to contribute to similar work in the future, and we all agreed that this was a valuable learning experience. The CCSDD study trip was a perfect end to a challenging and rewarding first semester. Lia Nitake is a first-year M.A. Candidate studying at the SAIS Bologna Center, concentrating in Conflict Management.
Over semester break, I had the opportunity to participate in a study trip through the Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development in BosniaHerzegovina. Participants included fifteen students from SAIS-Bologna and fifteen students from the University of Bologna law faculty. A Sarajevo native and fellow SAIS student coordinated logistics and led many aspects of the trip. Although we spent the bulk of the four day trip in Sarajevo, we also took a day trip to Srebrenica, the sight of genocide in 1995. By the end of our time in BosniaHerzegovnia, we had met with representatives of international organizations, civil society groups, and private actors. Back in Bologna, people are swapping winter-break stories. When people ask me how Sarajevo was, I have a difficult time organizing my thoughts into a concise response. I have a newfound appreciation for the complexity of post-conflict rebuilding in Bosnia-Herzegovnia. As many of the individuals we spoke with emphasized, the Dayton Accords may have stopped the war, but they did not provide for peacetime. Representatives of international organizations emphasized how difficult it is to move new initiatives forward in a country with three presidents. Civil society representatives encouraged us to critically examine who is benefitting from the current status quo of political gridlock and ethnic fragmentation. It would seem that the impetus for change is not necessarily reflected in the political system as it currently stands. All this is undergirded by the fear that any revisions to the Constitution (however inevitable they may be) will re-ignite the potential for violence. However, more than considerations of the precarious nature of post-conflict political balance, I left feeling impressed by the energy of those we met working to build a unified future. We spoke with youth leaders who chose to identify themselves as “Other” in belief of the possibility of a unified Bosnia, even if this leaves them politically marginalized. We met with the Mothers of Srebrenica, a civil-society group working to facilitate refugee return and psychological healing in the wake of genocide. The group welcomes all participants, regardless of ethnic identity. The Mothers are united in their loss and their commitment to holding perpetrators of war crimes responsible for their actions. As they shared testimony of their experiences during and after the war, the Mothers of Srebrenica explained that they shared their stories with us in hopes that one day, if we found ourselves in the position to intervene in the face of atrocities, we could reflect on what we learned in Bosnia-Herzegovnia. Most of all, I felt humbled at the truly unique opportunity to see the streets of Sarajevo through the eyes of a fellow SAIS student and friend who had lived through siege. I left feeling newly appreciative of all the steps my fellow trip participants and I had to take in order to experience Sarajevo together. A fundamental part of the SAIS education is our ability to learn from each other. I know I will carry what I saw, heard, and felt in Bosnia-Herzegovnia with me for a long time. Sarah Gardiner is a M.A. candidate with a concentration in conflict management at SAIS Bologna. She is originally from Manchester, CT, she is a graduate of Georgetown University.
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The SAIS Observer
Librarians like wars.
Perhaps that is an overstatement. SAIS librarians like to research wars, which generate a lot of information, much of it in the public record. With data, documents, oral histories and, of course, shiploads of analysis, the material tends to be rich, deep, and rarely dull. The librarians also like SAIS students and their infectious enthusiasm over a research topic: “I want to know EVERYTHING about Field Marshal Obscure!” Each year, the Strategic Studies Department embarks on an international staff ride, retracing the steps of a military campaign. They focus not only on operational history, but also leadership, the decision-making process (both political and military), as well as the economic and societal impacts of warfare. In previous years they have covered the Fall of France, the frontline of the Cold War in Berlin and Prague, and the Peninsular War in Spain. This year it is the Battle of Britain. Laura Brent, who co-directs the research staff for the ride, told me, “In the months leading up to the staff ride, the research team develops a suite of historical characters – over fifty!” In addition, specific questions are thought up for each character to address. These characters taken together tell the story of the campaign in quesAbove: Some Staff Ride participants take their Characters very seriously tion. Each participant is assigned a character and, during the staff ride, gives a presentation in 2001. Below, right: Battlefield tours provide the proximity needed to in the first person as their character. The other staff ride participants then have an opportuunderstand policy on the sharp end. nity to ask questions of the presenter, who is encouraged to stay in character. SAIS Librarians are just starting to meet with students to discuss characters they will portray on the trip. Although historical research can be fascinating, it can also be a Byzantine challenge. One student, researching a historical figure sometimes known as the “Spanish Joan of Arc,” ran into challenges regarding the person’s proper name. Was it Agustina de Aragon, Agustina OF Aragon, Agustina Raimunda María Saragossa Doménech or Agustina Zaragoza? These variations led reference librarian Linda Carlson to suggest some specialized full text searching techniques such as “proximity,” searching for words within a short “distance” of other words. Subject headings such as Women & War, Women in War, Women Soldiers, and Women Heroes also proved useful. Finally, the student began to uncover previously elusive material. Aside from access to thousands of scholarly journals, Hopkins has an expansive collection of databases, such as Foreign Broadcast Information Service, which offers English translations of international radio and TV broadcasts going back to 1941. Some sources, like the excellent Cabinet Papers (UK declassified war papers) are free on the web, while others are in the SAIS Library collection. I have often said (morbidly?) that my favorite reference book is Warfare and Armed Conflicts. It is so concise, loaded with detailed casualty statistics from 1494 to 2007, along with accounts that put those numbers in context. And it does not exist online. Tanks alone, however, do not win wars. The same is true with research. Johns Hopkins has some truly amazing tools to help our scholars find what they need, but part of what you pay for when you come to SAIS is access to human intelligence. As librarians, our mission is to help you succeed. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you, discuss your research, analyze the options, and plot a course of action. By Stephen Sears, Research and Instruction Librarian, SAIS Library. With thanks to Laura Brent, Nate Shestak, and the SAIS Library Reference Team.
Safeway Sucks and Should be Smashed by the State Part of the “X & Co. Sucks and should be Smashed by the State" Series By Captain McSmash Safeway has been robbing old people and the bad at math for a long time. I have math, the old and forgetful, and those who are just plain old have better things to almost been the victim of their sleights of price too many times to count—no pun do with their lives. Awkward minutes will go by while some dude slowly checks intended. that his company is run by liars and cheats. Then he comes back with vindication. Almost. How does Safeway steal from you and your grandma? It is a simple scheme in fact. It even comes with a George Bush-sized fist of plausible deniability. And it Do they give you the item for free? No. Unlike Harris Teeter and other non-crimhits right below the belt. inal grocery stores, Safeway just gives you the real price. And to my knowledge, they don’t even change the price in the system. They ring you up for the wrong price, and then claim the “register has not been adjusted to the sale price.” Here is how it goes in detail: How do I know all of this and what makes me think it’s deliberate? First, I’m good at math, or just cheap, depending on your point of view. I remember all the Step 1: Change your prices so frequently the customer’s head spins. tag prices under the products I buy. Because that’s what I’m supposed to pay! When something rings up wrong, I complain, and I’m always right. Step 2: Leave some register prices unchanged when things go on sale at isle. Do this by hiring people who will not do their job and/or will participate in the scam The funny thing is, they never undercharge me. It’s always over. And this happens willingly. Also, make sure oversight process only looks for register prices that are literally almost every time I buy more than a few items at Safeway. Shame. lower than shelf price. Shame. Shame. Step 3: Overcharge customers at register.
Seeking redress, I’ve called their 1-800 number more than once over the course of the past few years. Each time, I politely tell them how they’re ripping off old Step 4: If and when they complain (rare), plausibly deny aforesaid crime: i.e., people and those bad at math and to: “please tell the CEO or someone in charge “Oh, we change around prices so many times a week, there must be a mistake in about this scheme and to donate all of the stolen money to charity.” the computer. Sorry.” But before the apology (oh come on, you know there’s no “Um,” they reply. apology), there is one final step. Step 10: It’s called step 10 because it can take up to 5 minutes to complete and Like their advertised prices, they can’t guarantee me this one either. according to Safeway, 4 plus 5 equal 10. At this point, if you’ve noticed the discrepancy, they’ll reluctantly send someone to the isle to check. Steps 5-9 are basi- Captain McSmash is a SAIS Alumnus class of 1984. cally just minutes standing in line pissing off everyone behind you--others bad at
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The SAIS Observer
The Battle for Democracy Susie Taylor Over the summer The Soulside Out sent three individuals to Kosovo to report on the day in the life of a nation in post-conflict transition. Once a genocide ravaged region, NATO and the United Nations intervened in 1999 and reconstruction has been 'happening' since. The Soulside was, and is, interested in Kosovo because it disappeared from the geo-political radar after 9/11; yet it is the modern case study for post-conflict affairs and pertinent to international perspectives on Iraq, Afghanistan, and now the panacea of Arab Spring nations. Transition, we found, is a high-stakes game of cops and robbers where the uniforms sometimes match and it's hard to see who's holding onto what. But even if Kosovo were a complete failure on the part of the Europeans, the United Nations and NATO, it is still an important case to track for two slightly obvious reasons: 1) It would be dumb of the international community to repeat the 'mistakes' made in the Kosovar case. For instance, the hemorrhaging of socially-owned enterprises like telecommunications, into the slippery pockets loosely associated former militants. 2) By drawing on best practices, minimizing worst, and applying a fresh perspective on our challenges in the middle East, we could potentially diminish the collateral damage and spare the civilian population from torment by bumbling foreign bureaucracies and anthropological strife.
Fis launched a sticker campaign following the incident (Enver Zemberi, a Kosovar Albanian, was sniped by an ethnic Serb at the border on July 25th) in order to label Kosovar products and raise consumer awareness to stop the purchase of Serbian goods, and close the antagonistic budget deficit. Vetevendojse, led by Albin Kurti - a man who spent upwards of 3 years as a political prisoner of war (solitary confinement) in Serbia during the genocide, and another lengthy term in Kosovo - aims at changing the political tides towards a non-violent intelligentsia; bring production back within borders; solve the border confusion by refusing diplomatic talks with Serbia until they are recognized as independent; close the specious Tender & Procurement process strangling the budget; amongst other very sophisticated measures.
It was the Soulside's objective to form relationships with individuals and communities in country to gain perspective on the day-to day grind of the machine, restructuralization: communist to capitalist. Once on the ground we found some incredible individuals heavily invested in the national narrative - i.e. bottom-up community cultivation. One of whom is again the subject of my thoughts: Fisnik Ismaili.
Of all the international players that live and work in Kosovo it is generally believed that the U.S. Ambassador Christopher Dell swings the most weight (even the deputy-head of mission for the OSCE confirmed the rumor, personally). Because the Kosovar government is so conspicuously tied to organized crime at the expense of much needed community development efforts, Ambassador Dell is a culprit. Last week Ambassador Dell, a target for the I met Fis alongside a narrow alley in Prishtina, we went for lunch downtown, and I wrote a piece for the constituents of Vetevendojse, became Fis's subject American Interest magazine entitled Pimper's piece. Paradise. The topic of that piece was then recent presidential election - deemed fraudulent by a consid- Fis began The Pimpsons in follow-up to last erable number of Kosovars- and the media backlash, December's murky election scheme. He's drawn a lot entitled The Pimpsons, burning holes in the interna- of attention from his own diplomatic stars. A few days ago he drew up a new episode of the Pimpsons.. tional veil at the time. please, travel here to LOOK @ THIS first hand. Fis is a guerilla media guru, and someone to pay attention to: he totes 3 times as many views and likes on his FB page than individuals actually living in the country. He's a cultural and creative icon who created Kosovo's Berlin wall, NEWBORN, in 2008 and he's demonstrated a unique acclivity for rallying tens of thousands of people in light of corrupted diplomatic talks, quickly, by simply harnessing his FB popularity. He has a real gripe with the status quo and although he ran in the last parliamentary elections - The New Spirit Party - he currently focuses his attention on the opposition group Vetevendojse (Self-Determination), or VV. They want the international community out, calling it crime, and they want to redefine the narrow Fisnik at his computer, photo by Nate Tabak of capitalist margins framing the transition - i.e. neo-lib- Kosovo 2.0 magazine. eral economics. The character on the left is Ambassador Dell, while the character on the right is Prime Minister Hashim Last summer when Thaci's regime unilaterally enforced embargo against it's old time opponent, and Thaci. (Hashim was a militant in the liberation army former oppressor Serbia, ethnically categorized vio- until the Kumanovo agreement transferred political lence once again broke out at the border. office for his weapons, he took over as PM shortly Unbeknownst to the voluminous international there after). A polyglot himself, Fis generally makes bureaucracy, the move was a slight to a predeter- his audience translate his pieces from Turkish, Serb, mined-hand, and risky; although it was officially Albanian, or English. It's hilarious and clever, nonaimed at fixing the trade deficit, the whole ordeal violent and very very effective. wreaked of organized crime and interethnic, international smuggling spiraling out of control and out from The are nearly 200 comments, upwards of 100 shares, and nearly 1,200 likes...Fis and I were chatting oninside the cave. line just after this occurred and he confirmed he's had
over 10,000 personal messages. Scrolling down the comments you'll see Mr. Dell himself happens to be an accustomed patron of the facebook network. Wednesday at 3:21am Christopher Dell Gee, Fiz, almost funny this time. You're getting better. Would you autograph a copy for me so I can hang it in my office alongside my Robert Mugabe poster? Thanks. Wednesday at 4:17am Le Magnifique I don't like the snake and his politics - but giving Chris Dell too much credit for all these things - as he allegedly done?! It's not Chris' fault that we elected these leaders. Oh another thing - we need to recognize our state - our statehood flag before we can earn some kind of respect . Your buddy - spoke about it last week. Stop waving flags of foreign countries. Be proud of gold and blue. Rrofte Kosova e Pavarur dhe Sovrane! Much of the Kosovar-Albanian population identifies with the Albanian flag, the red and black doubled eagle, while the current Kosovar flag is considered foreign and imposed by the Europeans (it's reminiscent of the European Union, blue and gold with stars). Wednesday at 4:22am Le Magnifique-We are defending our state with albania's flag? How is that logical? - Joke of the day! The Pimpsons Yes, se単or Dell... Your Royal Highness. Thank you, Boss. It is such an honor to get a compliment like that... I am speechless. You caught me unprepared... half dressed, even. Somewhat a specialty of yours, that.It will be my pleasure to send you the autographed copy for your collection. Would you like some pancakes with that, Sir? Oh god, where's my camera. Somebody. A picture! Somebody! Fis then created a printed and framed blow up of the episode, put it in an oversized envelope and sent it over to the Ambassadors office, to hang on his wall next to a picture of Robert Mugabe. Wednesday at 5:09am The Pimpsons-Mr. Le Magnifique, who would have thought I would wake up today and be enlightened by a single Facebook comment? You, sir, just showed me the path. My calling. The purpose of my life.Could you just clarify a couple of things, though, before I start cherishing my Frankenstein country and state: 1. What is there left of a state, when Kosova isn't even allowed to be addressed as a Republic anymore? 2. How come se単or Dell denounced the vote rigging by calling the vote theft, I quote, "industrial", but upon the release of results, agreed that everything was hunky dory? 3. You just insulted every single Albanian, alive and dead, by calling the national Albanian red and black flag foreign. Have you no shame?Messieur Le Magnifique, you don't happen to be ze ozer ambassaddeur who called me a fasceest, no? It would have been le too much of le coincidance to have two le ambassadeurs commenting side by side on my humble little page...
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The SAIS Observer two at most.So, I kindly ask you do step aside, since I'd like to enjoy my cup of tea with His conversing Highness, without being interrupted.
to ignore you.
Wednesday at 6:10 am Le Magnifique Are you asking my to not comment anymore? Are you saying that this is according to the manifesto? Hashim already shunning us to speak. If you are another one - nothing is left to hope from this place. Destitute and in despair! Wednesday at 5:57am Le Sad. Magnifique-My profile could be the way it is. But A Case for Democracy! People are talking directly to my thoughts, my ideas are their government, about their governments, in a pubgenuine and sincere - com- lic forum, on Facebook! ing from an average joe hardworking - barely mak- *The comments were narrowed to Dell, Le ing 150 bucks a month in Magnifique, and The Pimpsons but if you visit the Kosove. I am glad I was facebook site you'll see the numerous comments from capable to reveal the the students, professionals, artists, and the like. Mugabe out of VV and your kinds. Mission accom- After all, there's no going back on the vicissitudes of social networking - although all of our status quoplished. minded bureaucrats may wish for it - and it's momenWednesday at 5:58am Le tum is generating some interesting real-life events. Magnifique-So will shut The Arab Spring is looking more and more like just down and try to imprison another tired turn-of-the-wheel: each day the power anyone who does not have a dynamic carries more heavily in the hands of a facname? wow....who is preach- tion-driven military is one more day down a long repetitive drain of cops and robbers. Wednesday at 5:22amLe Magnifique Mr. Pimpson: ing democracy and freedom! Just like you assume that someone's else fault i.e. Dell's in this case, and continue to deny the state of Wednesday at 6:01am The Pimpsons-I also kindly The elephants in room 2012 are asking this question: Kosovo - remember Serbia does that too - the same ask you, se単or Le Magnifique, to read VV's manifesto If we can tear down a government with socially curatcarefully before giving conclusions like that. You are ed media, does that mean we know how to put them pattern is following here; no man, I ain' again offending now a very large group of people, so back together? Data mining may prove it's weight in gold, but that's another story. For now, I think Fisnik I ask you to refrain from further comments. is coming closest to answering that question and the Wednesday at 5:23am Christopher Dell Fiz, nah, don't need pancakes or any other failed attempts at Wednesday at 6:06am The Pimpsons-Le Magnifique, Balkans remains a battleground for Democracy. clever sarcasm from you. While the thought of you you are only making things worse here, since you're half-dressed is no doubt titillating in certain self- making it look as if Mr. Dell is talking from a fake Susie Taylor is an Alumna Editor of the Observer. determined circles, I'll quietly put my thoughts else- profile. Concealing your identity for me is merely an where. A mere autograph will do fine and nicely act of cowardice and it is very disrespectful to the round out my collection of vicious calumny by worthy person you're trying to debate with. Hence, I choose anti-democrats. Still waiting for Boris to send me something, but you're a good start. As they say, judge a man by his opponents. Happy and proud to have you and Comrade Bob on my list of haters. Wednesday at 5:25am Le Magnifique no frenchie....im proud Kosovar. Proud of my Flag Gold and Blue! You cant defend your republic with a foreign flag. As for the insult note - I will educate you a little bit. Albania's flag was the flag of Eastern Roman Empire. Greeks adopted as their national flag for several years when their declared independence. Watch some turkish movies with Karamurat - and you will learn this well. Wednesday at 5:28am Le Magnifique-The fight against thieves and snake like Hashim is misguided, miscalculated and lacks its substance. Can't be preaching about earning respect like your Boss did talk about on Zeri if you do not respect your state's symbols - start with flag. VV has a lot of potential but this sort of direction political strife is futile. Causes require visibility, simplicity and the voice of the people. Wednesday at 5:44am Le Magnifique-Mullahs in 78 and 79 preached this kind of rhetorical bs in Iran against the Shah - funny i find it quite common with VV - of course excluding the religious part. Wednesday at 5:48am Le Magnifique-I'm sorry someone called you a fascist - but wait. VV preaches socialism - walfare state - and natioanlism .....wait...what was the name of Hitler's party? The Nationalist Socialist Party Wednesday at 5:53am The Pimpsons-Le Magnifique, there is so much to say to you, especially regarding the flag, but what I loathe most is people hiding behind fake profiles, especially the ones who consider themselves magnificent. They get one reply from me,
SAIS students sand-skiing and riding camels
A Pimpsons Sketch by Fisnik Ismaili
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The SAIS Observer
Non-Required Reading Mary Trueblood and Honeychile Rider
The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson.Notable as the only novel set in North Korea that you’re likely to ever read, it’s actually a good story to boot. Has a definite streak of dark humor, and the author doesn’t bother to stick to the boring realms of plausibility with the plot line, but that makes it all the better.
For literature lovers and those of you who feel that a thousand pages of reading a week simply isn’t enough to fill all that spare time, our culture The Tiger ’s Wife by Téa Obreht.The former Yugoslavia! Doctors! vultures have slapped together a brief selection of the best reads floating Grandfathers! TIGERS! Mystical, lovely, insightful, unusual. We highly about at the moment. recommend this one. Nonfiction Confidence Men by Ron Suskind. In case you missed the 17 reminder emails to go see Suskind speak a few months ago…. as we did go see Suskind, we obviously didn’t find it necessary to read his book, but we have it on excellent (albeit Republican) authority that it’s worth cracking if you’re looking for some insight into the Obama administration’s various machinations. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.A WWII Odyssey to the Olympics, Japanese prisoner camps, and the empty blue of the Pacific. Really deserves the moniker “an incredible true story.” Every outdoorsy young man we know has read it and raved. Well, at least three of them have.
Matterhorn by Karl Malantes.This book should be required reading for anyone interested in the military or the war in Vietnam. As we are not in Strat, we struggled a little with the terminology, but it was well worth the two-page cheat sheet we had to draw up. After running into the author and hysterically stuttering at him like some sort of preteen Twilight fan, he told us that the book is actually a retelling of the Fisher King legend, when Percival tries to heal the Fisher King’s wounded groin…. We didn’t see it, but who are we to argue with a literary genius? Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.A truly lovely story set mainly in Ethopia, with a warm and thoughtful cast of characters. Follows the lives of twins born to an Indian nun working at a hospital outside Addis Ababa. Not only is it a fantastic novel, but it offers a lot of insight into both life in Ethiopia and healthcare in the developing world.
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing.If Unbroken leaves you hungering for more adventure, this is the place to go. We may have been initially skeptical about the pace of a book written Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.Set in Henry VIII’s court, this novel follows in the 1950’s, but we were sucked in from page one. It’s just so very the rise of Thomas Cromwell. Both beautifully written and historically good. fascinating. Won the Man-Booker Prize for Literature. Nothing to Envy: The Lives of Ordinary North Koreans by Barbara Demick. A very readable look into the personal lives of a cast of North Koreans who made it to the other side. Fiction The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. Every wondered where the term ‘Master of the Universe’ came from? If so, time to pick up Wolfe’s noholds-barred clash of the classes set in 1980’s New York. Once we got used to Wolfe’s habit of ending every sentence with an exclamation point, we loved it.
Congradultions To Alexis Collatos, Winner of The SAIS Observer Photo Competition!
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.Yes, it won the Pulitzer, and yes, we could see how it deserved it.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. We loved her book Bel Canto, and we seriously liked State of Wonder. Patchett brings us to incredible places (in this case, the depths of South America’s rainforest) and crafts people and stories that are reminiscent of the tragically beautiful, wondrous creatures that are found there. Honorable mention goes to Galore, by Michael Crummey. The author’s name withstanding, the majority of the book is great, with interesting, vibrant characters. Only a lackluster ending that felt a little like a summary attempt to simply finish the book kept it off our main list. But perhaps that was unfair, as we all know sequels are the best thing in literature. Mary Trueblood and Honeychile Rider are current SAIS Ph.D. Candidates studying Covert Operations in the Lunar Studies Department.