The SAIS Observer
October 2012 Vol. 13 No. 1 The Student Newspaper of the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
Election Redux: 2012 Sam Chester
An Interview With Dean Vali Nasr Adrian Stover and Nic Wondra
“Graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”
Dr. Vali Nasr is a Middle East scholar, foreign policy adviser and commentator on international relations whose two most recent books, Forces of Fortune and The Shia Revival, foresaw the postwar sectarian violence in Iraq and the uprisings known as the Arab Spring. The SAIS Foreign Observer managed to sit down with Dr. Nasr to talk about integrating the different SAIS centers, his views on inviting divisive speakers, and what it is like being on the Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Attentive to our first printed question on the notes in front of us, he called us out on skipping whether he preferred coffee or tea. We had jumped to a question on academic and campus integration too quickly. Excusing ourselves, we confirmed which form of caffeine was superior for SAIS’ freshman dean.
- Paul Ryan, Republican National Convention, August 29, 2012
How many of us at SAIS heard Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan make his scathing reference to the excitement Dr. Nasr: Strong coffee—espresso. I take it very seriously. Not just Obama inspired in young voters four years ago and did not reflect any brand. on where we were during the exhilarating 2008 election? continued page 12
From the Great Wall to the Two Towers:
Megan Rhodes and Helena Oh MIPP Candidate Megan Rhodes races in the Great Wall Half Marathon along the Great Wall of China in 2010. (Photo courtesy of Megan Rhodes) The winning shot in this year’s Bologna Center summer adventure photo contest captures MIPP candidate Megan Rhodes smiling as she races across the Great Wall of China. Rhodes finished at the top of her age group, and was the first American woman to cross the finish line at the Great Wall Half Marathon in 2010. The Observer recently spoke with Rhodes and learned more about her participation in one of the world’s most challenging half marathons as well as the five years she spent working and livcontinued page 5
SAIS Observer: Integrating the three campuses of SAIS, given their wide range of intellectual and geographic focus, has never been an easy task. Past deans of SAIS have given a preference to some centers, while others have tried a more holistic approach, with Nanjing probably being the more difficult challenge given its financial and political considerations with the Chinese government. How do you plan to go about treating all three? Dr. Nasr: One of the great advantages of SAIS is that it is a global school, not only in terms of its curriculum, which is very strong in its study of international affairs, but also in terms of its this global footprint which allows the students to potentially study on three continents. Integration happens at multiple levels for this to work. There is integration on the faculty level involving courses and curriculum development, which we are working hard on, and hope to make it more seamless between campuses. We will continue experimenting with ideas about remote and joint teaching, particularly with Bologna because the time difference is workable, and because it is already solidly part of the SAIS curriculum. Many more PhD students are continued page 3
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Inside This Issue
The SAIS Observer encourages you to get started each day witha a balanced breakfast, whatever your definition of “balanced” is.
The SAIS Observer Editors-in-Chief Adrian Stover is a second year M.A. candidate concentrating in Southeast Asian Studies; Washington D.C. He is also a certified American hero. Nic Wondra is a second year M.A. candidate concentrating in Russian & Eurasian Studies; Washington D.C. He would love to be an American hero. Associate Editors Lauren Caldwell is a first year M.A. candidate concentrating in China Studies; Washington D.C. Sophie Xiong is a second year M.A. candidate; SAIS Nanjing Center, China Tristram Thomas is a first year M.A.; SAIS Bologna Assistant Editors Nimisha Jaiswal is a first year M.A. student; SAIS Bologna. Jared Metzker is a first year M.A. student; SAIS Bologna
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 submi articles, opinion pieces, 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 available 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 Johns Hopkins University.
Election Redux, Pg 1 An Interview With Dean Nasr, Pg 1 From The Great Wall to the Two Towers, Pg 1 Reverse Culture Shock, Pg 4 The Bloody Lesson of Libya, Pg 6 American Gun Politics Should Not Be Binary, Pg 6 Of ‘Supporting Women’ in India, Pg 7 First Impressions Illuminate Life, Pg 8 An Interview With Nelson Graves, Pg 8 Running Bologna, Pg 10 Traditional Taekwando at SAIS, Pg 13 Yoga and Meditation Club, Pg 13 The Vision Incubator, Pg 14 Letter From Nicuragua, Pg 14 Bologna Photography, Pg 15 Native Tounge, Pg 16
با درود و خوش آ َمد به دانشکده 1
ویراف مهر سروسیان
اقای دکتر ولی نصر ریاست و مدیر َیت من به شما درود میفرستم و انتصاب شما را به َ Johns Hopkins University SAIS .تبریک میگویم دانشکده المللی تحقیقاتی و دولتی و امور بین سابقه کاری شما در ِ ِ ت بسیار خوبی گذاشته که ِ سازمانهای غیر انتفاعی شما را در موقع َی .می توانید ما دانشجویان را راهنمایی کنید سعی می کنند که در ِرشته های خود نمونه وSAIS دانشجویان ِ شما به زودی متوجه خواهید شد که عالوه بر درس.پیشرو باشند ت کار گیر ِ سازندِگی داریم و پُش ِ خوان بودن ما بسیار عقیده به .هستیم و تجربیات متفاوتی داریم که به ما بسیار کمک می کند .مسائل جهان را حل کنیم انگیز ًه ما این هست که ِ امور همیشه در رشته هایSAIS آرزو داریم که ِ ما ِ ِ مثل شما من تنها یک پیشنهاد به شما.بین المللی از بهترین مراجع دنیا باشد خوشحال.می دهم که با دانشجویان و فعالیته ِا یشان آشنا بشوید .میشوم از نزدیک با شما آشِ نا بشوم .اگر می توانم اطالعات بیشتری به شما بدهم با من تماس بگیرید )زبان فارسی سایس (محمد اسماعیلی با تشکر از برنامه1 ِ Contributors (This Issue): Sam Chester, Megan Rhodes, Helena Oh, Josh Noonan, Jared Metzker, Nimisha Jaiswal, Emily Clark, Tristram Thomas, Alex Shtarkman, Akshat Chaturvedi, Bobby Corrigan, Aaron Schumacher, and Native Tounge.
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now going to Bologna to do research there. We have a lot more of our faculty that are taking sabbaticals there as well. We will continue with these initiatives in the context of the overall expansion, diversification, and deepening of SAIS’s curriculum. The second important element of integration is the students. It is one thing to say that we have three global campuses, but it is another to have students who have been in Bologna and Nanjing integrate well with students who have been in DC—how do we end up having a single SAIS community? In many ways we have to look to the students themselves to tell us what is the best way to create this integration. For instance, at the beginning of the year, you have Bologna and Nanjing students coming in and each of them have had a separate first year, we have to be much more to overcome challenges of our diverse geography and integrate the student body.. No one else has a global footprint like we do, but we ought to look at these challenges in a positive way. The third level of integration is on the administrative side. You have a single school, and it has to run like a single school, whether in the context of our IT, student services, alumni relations, or finance. As we become more integrated, we have to create more of an administrative backhand to the school. Managing the school as a single unit is a goal of SAIS. Each of our units will obviously be developing with its own distinct character. Nanjing is different in its character, than Bologna or Washington DC. Each of these centers are not just American transplants, they have an institutional life in the community from the people they hire, the way they work in the community. There has to be a certain degree of localization that gives them a Chinese character or European character. Still we have to find a way of balancing that localization with having a single school, and it is something that we all have to work at. SAIS Observer: With specific regard to the Nanjing campus, it has the reputation of being the one that is most difficult to work with just because it is not wholly under SAIS control. Do you have a strategy for pursuing academic integration there? Dr. Nasr: I understand that very well. I went to Nanjing for the 25th anniversary, and you’re essentially right that because it is a joint venture it does require working with our Chinese counterparts. In some ways, the Nanjing center is simply bigger than SAIS. The core programs at Nanjing are different from those at Bologna and DC. The Nanjing program is world class and extremely valuable, and we have to find avenues to fold them into SAIS’ core MA program. Bologna is easier because students who go there are studying for the SAIS MA, and at some level it is almost like they are studying in a different building. In Nanjing, that is not the case. The larger challenge with Nanjing is also distance. It is more difficult to do things with the Nanjing campus because of the 12hour time difference. Holding joint classes or listening to a public lecture is a bit more difficult. But there are still some things that we can do, such as facilitating the integration of students that are coming from Nanjing to Washington. Integration is different for Nanjing as opposed to Bologna, and there are more parts in Nanjing that don’t have a direct correlation to what we have here. Still, the center has a tremendous amount of potential for SAIS students who are interested in China, or environmental and political topics where China is important. SAIS Observer: A different aspect of the curriculum here is our language
and economics program. There has been talk about changing the economics requirement to a smaller amount of courses, as well as reforming the language requirement. Could you comment on these rumors of curricular changes? Dr. Nasr: The SAIS curriculum has been designed to give graduates a very distinct comparative advantage in the workforce. At every school, however, it is good to reexamine the depth and breadth of its particular curriculum. I don’t have a particular view on this largely because it is too early for me, as I’m still listening and learning. SAIS has concentrations on many regions of the world, and focus on language and economics have been a distinguishing factor for SAIS. But I believe we always have to be ready to be challenged about our assumptions, the way we do things. One of SAIS’s great strengths over time is that it has been ahead of the pack in terms of curriculum development. It was the first to recognize the importance of economics, long before anybody else did. It has been pioneering in the area of regional studies. I would hope that the school retains that spirit of pioneering leadership with help from students. The students are extremely important in this process. We ought to hear how the students are finding their curriculum. I can’t say I have a view on what the answer would be, but the process of intelligently examining how we do things should always be there. SAIS Observer: How do hope to use your Middle East expertise at SAIS? Dr. Nasr: I hope to be teaching about the Middle East and comparative politics, which is my own interest, but not this year because I’m doing a lot of travelling. My goal for SAIS is really to make sure that the educational experience and intellectual leadership is confirmed, and the school maintains its leadership role in international affairs. It ought to have at its core a very strong curriculum. It’s not that I would favor area studies or not favor area studies. Having all of these at SAIS is a particular strength of the school. I think the question of “either-or” is really the wrong way of approaching it. The school’s strength is how to blend these things. We produce people who are functionally very strong but also have deep and meaningful understandings of the world, in history and politics but also languages. We may add new areas that we may not be teaching right now, such as Eastern Europe or Central Asia. We would like the school to expand the curriculum, and in the long term offer students more courses and more options. These options ought to reflect what is happening in the world. SAIS Observer: Where do you stand personally and professionally on inviting controversial leaders to speak at SAIS, such as Ahmadinejad, Chavez, or Kim Jong-Un? Dr. Nasr: I think what it is important to consider is that SAIS is not a platform for world leaders, whether they are divisive or not divisive. We are an intellectual institution committed to doing two things: one is training our students by providing them with a very rich intellectual experience, and secondly it is to perform a positive role in the public debate not only in the United States but globally. Every choice we make in terms of programs, whether it is conferences or speakers, ought to be informed by these goals. First and foremost the question is how will this enrich SAIS’ educational experience, and how will we relate to it. I personally think that just having people speak can be done
The SAIS Observer elsewhere in this city. It should be beyond giving a world leader or a politician a platform. As far as the educational experience, it has to fit what we are teaching, what the students are focused on, and what it adds to the classroom experience: inviting the head of a central bank to speak to students studying monetary policy, for example. We also want to provide a positive learning environment at SAIS, so being divisive for the sake of being divisive is not necessarily beneficial to the educational experience. SAIS Observer: What is it like being on The Daily Show and interacting with Jon Stewart? Dr. Nasr: Well, he is a very smart guy. He is very well read, and is very knowledgeable about global politics. He has informed views on a host of issues. From my experience, he actually reads the books by the authors that he invites on the show, and he has a very good staff working for him. I found it easier to deal with him than Colbert because Colbert is play-acting. It’s almost like being in a play, but you are playing yourself. With Jon Stewart you are actually having a conversation. SAIS Observer: Do the two shows offer any guidance before filming? Dr. Nasr: With Jon Stewart they said you have to leave being funny to him. Colbert basically told me, “just pretend you are explaining the world to a drunk.” But both were very intelligent, which makes them very special programs. There is a comic element to it, but at the core they are both very serious people who are intelligent enough to engage with the issues that they are trying to address. They do put value on knowledge, analysis, and critical thinking, but then they funnel that knowledge into a broader society that might not find that knowledge accessible. And people get educated about certain topics. If they make fun of the environment, they first have to tell people what the issue is. SAIS Observer: What is your most memorable academic experience--was there an interaction with a professor or a conference you attended that really changed the way you view the world or knowledge acquisition?
Reverse Culture Shock Josh Noonan
Reverse culture shock is the unexpected, but somewhat disturbing, reaction many people have when they change their environments, countries, or regions. According to Martin Woesler, “returning to one’s home culture after growing accustomed to a new one can produce the same effects as culture shock.” Jennifer Huff writes that “this results from the psychosomatic and psychological consequences of the readjustment process to the primary culture.” As with culture shock, there are four stages in reverse culture shock. These stages are; the “honeymoon phase,” where everything is exciting and wonderful; the “negotiation phase,” where things, once interesting, start to bore the individual; the “adjustment phase,” where a new appreciation takes place for things once spurned; and the “mastery phase” where a synthesis of life as it was, alongside the experience of living abroad, takes place. Despite the similarities, I would assert that reverse culture shock is more insidious than traditional culture shock, since it takes place where surprise and shock are unexpected and with things which were once familiar. At the end of my undergraduate studies, I returned home from my year abroad studying in Japan at Shizuoka University. It was a bittersweet time with a multitude of farewell parties, tearful goodbyes, and promises to meet again. Having gained proficiency in Japanese, my first foreign language, I had changed a great deal, and I was cognizant of some changes but unaware of many. Though I knew about culture shock and its corollary thanks to my study abroad advisor, knowledge is not always a sufficient prophylactic. My “honeymoon phase” occurred during my flight home, thinking excitedly about seeing my family, friends, and farm. The second phase manifested after touching town in Omaha, where I went with my family to our favorite Italian restaurant Spaghetti Works. My internal monologue of realizations spilled over into verbal form throughout the meal with comments like “my, people are talkative, indeed” “everyone eats so much” and “the presentation of the food is done poorly, it was prettier in Japan.” Naturally, these comments shocked my family and friends, who were excited to see me. My favorite example of the “adjustment phase” occurred after I returned from Azerbaijan after Peace Corps and I was at an automatic car wash with my mother. As we spoke with the worker there, he handed me a packet of paper towels to dust the inside of the vehicle. Having been frequently hounded by merchants at the bazaars in the regions of Azerbaijan, my first reaction was to flinch and prepare a stiff retort to the offer, telling him I did not want to purchase the packet. It was only after a moment that I came to the conscious realization that the towel was included in the offer we already purchased. My final example refers to the “mastery phase” – a phase I am still striving towards. Having been stateside since January, I still catch myself falling back into the “post-Soviet Scowl and Growl Mode,” though this is counterbalanced by my increased appreciation for guests, flexibility with the punctuality of others’, and need to take time when serendipity intervenes. Though the knowledge that this train wreck of reverse culture shock is barreling down on you may be helpful, I hope my admissions demonstrate you that the worst parts of it are finite and the best parts are lifelong. As long as you can identify some of your reactions, the grouchiness, apparent indifference, or random fluctuations can become tolerable, and perhaps you can share the best parts of the culture you experienced.
Dr. Nasr: At the dean’s reception, I gave this observation about planned life versus summoned life. I think we all have a sense of career and where we want to go, but we don’t know what doors will open in life. Once we walk through them the choices are different. It is good to be fully equipped and knowledgeable so that you are able to take advantage of opportunities that come your way. You do a certain amount of planning, which is very important, but the knowledge and discipline that you learn at SAIS and the friends you make will serve you well. We all have to expect a life that is a blend of planning and responding to opportunities. But there’s a good element of chance when it comes to where you will end up at my age. I never set out to be dean of any school, but your perspective in life changes as you grow and new opportunities come your way. It is difficult to say a single class or single professor was particularly impactful, but many were very important. There were many people who were very influential, but I did not realize it then. With the passage of time, individual experiences became more important and I learned a lot from observing. I learned a lot more from my professors not by what they said to me but by observing them and their work. And that is true of every field. The long and the short of it is that you are at the prime of your intellectual life. You are at one of the world’s best-known intellectual institutions, you are studying with extremely knowledgeable professors, you have a cohort of classmates who are very ac- Josh Noonan is a first year Russia/Eurasian student from Nebraska, and is a complished, and you live in a city that has an enormous amount former Fulbright Fellow to Azerbaijan and Georgia; SAIS Washington D.C. to offer you. If you excel in this kind of environment, you are not going to go wrong for the rest of your life. Adrian Stover and Nic Wondra are the SAIS Observer Editors in
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continued from page 1
ing in China before she came to SAIS. How did you end up living in China for five years? I graduated from Skidmore College in 2003 where I studied Asian Studies. My mother is Chinese, and she was born in Hong Kong. I have always been very drawn to discovering this part of my family and learning more about who we are and where we come from, especially because I didn’t know the language growing up. I studied abroad for a semester at Beijing Foreign Studies University, and I had such a great time; I knew when I left that I would come back.
After I started running, I think one of the reasons why I became passionate about it is because I realized it is like any goal you set for yourself. You can start seeing what is possible as you go along and slowly but surely, you discover you are capable of more than you initially thought. It becomes fun to test yourself, and once you meet one goal, you can set the next one a bit higher. What was it like?
Amazing! It was very surreal at times, racing along and seeing the Great Wall winding its way up and down the hills into the distance. But I had to be sure I didn’t get too lost in the moment -- there weren’t any nettings or fences if you slipped and fell, so you could fall off the wall. Some people were even on their hands and knees, crawling up the steps because they were so tired. It was very counterintuitive -It was very exciting because I had grown up in a sheltered, homocompeting in the race and feeling as though you should help them. geneous small town in New Hampshire [Sharon, NH, with a population of 350]. Everything [in China] was just so stimulating and Most of the race was actually in a surrounding village, and I loved exciting. You can go out and search for adventure, but there were running past these adorably animated children who were exuberantly also the unexpected adventures that would just drum themselves waving and running along next to us, squealing hello. There were up as soon as you walked out the front door. people sitting on the roofs of their houses, smiling and cheering. What was your plan? I actually went to China with nothing lined up at all. I wanted to work there and work on my Chinese, but I had nowhere to live and no job; understandably, everyone thought I was crazy. My sister and I moved there and just started applying for jobs. Two days after I arrived, I landed an interview to teach at an international and bilingual kindergarten school, and I ended up teaching there for two years. I thought it would be a transitional job, but I discovered that I loved teaching. It is refreshing to be surrounded by so much boundless energy and excitement to learn; I loved their curiosity and determination. These children were so much smarter than I am. As it was an international school, the children came from all over the world; there were many dual citizens, with parents speaking to them in two or three languages at home already. When I was a student at Beijing Foreign Studies University, I also worked for Women of China, which at the time was the only women’s magazine in English, and I helped edit articles. My ideal job was to work in US-China relations, and when there was an opening for an editor at the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, I threw my hat in the ring!
Where do you run in Bologna? I’ve been running in Giardini Margherita, which is close to my apartment. What do you want to do after SAIS? I hope to work for multilateral organizations such as the World Bank or the World Economic Forum; I would love to continue working and traveling abroad. No matter what happens, it is important to me to continue being surrounded by people from different countries and cultures -- one of the main reasons I wanted to come to SAIS BC. I love how international the community is here, and I am really looking forward to the year ahead! MIPP Candidate Megan Rhodes is from Sharon, NH. Helena Oh is a firstyear MA candidate.
What was it like to work for the American Chamber of Commerce in China? As the editor, my main responsibilities were to identify, develop and edit content for the chamber’s exclusive monthly magazine, China Brief. It was exciting and challenging work on a fast-paced schedule, and I was always learning something new, especially regarding issues facing foreign businesses in China, including intellectual property rights, standards and market access. What kind of experiences did you face as an expatriate?
blank spaces are sad they are not meant to be filled by only haiku
Here [in Bologna], I am not instantly recognizable as a foreigner. In China, it’s so easy to stand out. People can tell right away that you are different. But of course, as travelers we are guests in the countries we visit, and it is helpful to have patience and flexibility. You want to make the most of the interactions you have with people, and leave the best impressions of where you come from. Many are curious to know why you are there, how much money you make, if you are married (why aren’t you married!) where your boyfriend is from (why aren’t you dating a Chinese guy now?). It’s amusing and disarming, and it doesn’t hurt to have a sense of humor! What motivated you to run the Great Wall Half Marathon?
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The Bloody Lesson of Libya Jared Metzker Throughout the Libyan Civil War, Muamar Gaddafi insisted that the uprising, soon to topple his regime and make his battered corpse a YouTube spectacle, was being carried out by extremists connected to al-Qaeda. The claim was met with jeers by the media and dismissed as the ludicrous ploy of a desperate tyrant. Most in the West believed, as they believe still, that the sudden end of Gaddafi’s 40 year reign was begat by a “secular” revolution, organized on Facebook by democracy-loving liberals. When U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was murdered along with three American diplomats earlier this month, it should have made proponents of that view do a double-take. Eerie in its resemblance to that of Gaddafi’s, the murder and post-mortem defilement of Ambassador Stevens also reeked of unfortunate irony due to where it took place: Benghazi, the former home base of the Libya’s revolutionaries. During the uprising, the media associated Benghazi and its denizens with the democratic hopes for Libya post-Gaddafi. At the very least, the killings of September 11, 2012 prove that there is a sinister side to the Cyrenaican city. Extremism is alive in Benghazi, and its adherents are armed and trained well enough to pull off what one can only assume to be the difficult task of assassinating top American diplomats – and they did’t use Twitter to do it. Media coverage so far has focused almost exclusively on the now-infamous anti-Islamic “movie,” The Innocence of Muslims, as the motive for the attack. However, shortly before the assault took place, the leader of Al-Qaeda, Dr. Ayman Zawahiri, released a video calling on Libyans to take vengeance for the US drone strike that killed Libyan-born al-Qaeda commander Abu Yahya al-Libi. This may only be coincidence, but when one considers it along with the horrific success of the attack, it is compelling evidence that what took place was not the work of random protestors angry about an obscure “movie” trailer. That means it could be retaliation for the drone strike on an anti-America notable. Dr. Zawahiri’s latest video also encourages continued jihad against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, giving credence to the Syrian president’s assertions that al-Qaeda is involved in his impending overthrow. So far, though, the media has behaved much the same as it did during Gaddafi’s protracted downfall, giving little attention to Assad’s contentions. Meanwhile, the guns and rockets flow into Syria. As students at SAIS, we should view events taking place in Muslim countries with a heightened sense of skepticism and try to gain as wide a perspective as possible. The situation is always more complex than it appears, and the “Arab Spring” narrative presented by the mainstream press is over-simplification par excellence. The blood-soaked lesson from Benghazi, applicable to Syria (or anywhere else ambiguous forces are clamoring for weapons now and democracy later) is that such over-simplification can be fatal. Jared Metzker is a first year M.A. student; SAIS Bologna
American Gun Politics Should Not Be Binary Nic Wondra I come from Littleton, Colorado and was soon to begin high school when the massacre at Columbine occurred in 1999. A few weeks ago, Colorado suffered yet another massacre, in a crowded Aurora cinema. I grew up equidistant from the two sites where these shootings occurred, and I remember vividly the public debates and public insensitivities that surrounded them.
A month after the Littleton massacre, the NRA held its national convention in Denver , on a vastly smaller scale than originally planned. Massive public protest urged the NRA to take a respectful stance. (The NRA is often demonized by the oft-publicized line “from my cold, dead hands,” spoken by the NRA chairman at a different event.) The ensuing public debate in Colorado changed how police mobilize in such situations, reformed mutual assistance agreements among state law enforcement and ushered in new management and staging techniques, including the adoption of a whole new radio frequency previously rejected by the law enforcement community. Then, as now, the role of guns in society was questioned. The difference between 1999 and 2012 is that in the first case there were changes in policy. I see the recent shootings as unlikely to catalyze comparable changes. The recent shooting in Colorado was followed closely by another shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, then a shooting near the Texas A&M University campus. Such events have made America the land of policy pity among Europeans. Shootings happen with such frequency in America they are no longer a surprise. I debate with gun-toting friends of mine, who encourage me to acquire a concealed-carry permit. This debate, to Americans, is all too familiar. The policy divide has been binary: guns in society, or not . This is a political debate which is routinely framed in terms of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights: “A well regulated militia[,] being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” I argue that a licensure program for firearm ownership must be instituted. This is a policy initiative that is not supported by either of these two binary extremes. It is a half-measure, and an incomplete policy at best, but it is needed. Just as drivers are licensed by the state and required to carry insurance firearm owners should prove
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they are competent and responsible. The test would be a requirement for every firearm owner to show, every few years and with each of his weapons, that he can put nine out of ten rounds in a downrange target—and that he is not crazy. State laws, too, should apply to sales made at gun shows. Laws which allow gun shows a free pass to retail firearms outside the writ of state laws, often without waiting periods or background checks, undermine all states’ laws. Gun licensure seems like a middle way between restricting availability of weapons to those that are dangerous or unqualified, and ensuring that those who wish to carry are able to. There are three clues that the founders left in this amendment indicating that the present gun control debate was never supposed to be a binary policy choice. First, “well regulated” means some kind of regulation was expected. Second, “militia” informs us that the context of such arm-carrying was meant to be under the purview of the several states, since in that momentary context the several states organized and regulated their militia. Third, the amendment specifically mentions security as its legal justification; it pre-dates a professional army, perhaps indicating that the militia, and the connected legal basis of bearing arms has since expired. The founding documents, and this amendment in par-
ticular, require a re-read by state officials nationwide. After the 2008 and 2010 Supreme Court decisions of District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago, respectively, states and localities have no guidance on the extent to which limitations on firearms are admissible. The 2010 decision took no stance on the specific gun laws in question, then being administered by the city of Chicago, but left that decision to lower courts. Simply put, the permissible legal extent of gun control is still undetermined. The federated governance that America prides itself on must be reaffirmed with local solutions. Solutions in Chicago will be different from D.C., and different still in Colorado. Basic ownership requirements, sales standards, background checks, and policing methods can be complimentary in innumerable ways, creating responsible gun policy outside the realm of the false binary solutions, and it can be wholly constitutional. I call on legislators to read the Second Amendment in a different way: that good regulation is this amendment’s mandate. I want to see state officials interpret their role not as primarily to check the federal government, but to create complimentary policy, and to develop localized solutions to protect their own citizens. Nic Wondra is a 2nd-year MA student in Russian & Eurasian Studies. He is from Littleton, CO and studied at Cornell College, IA. He can be reached at Nic.Wondra@gmail.com
Of ‘Supporting’ Women in India Nimisha Jaiswal
After the phenomenal response to Slut Walk, it seems that victim-blaming in rape cases is a severe problem which an increasing number of people are beginning to confront and understand. However, the entire purpose of many vocal feminists is undermined when instances of ‘support’ are grossly misdirected. Take, for example, a proposed move by the Indian state of Maharashtra, which will attempt to reduce crimes against women in this ‘unsafe’ state. Under this proposed law, employers would be tasked with supplying female employees with Taser guns and pepper spray with which to defend themselves on their way home from work in the evenings. After 7:00 pm, employers would be required to provide transport, along with an armed guard, to ensure women arrive home safely. Women would also be provided with self-defence training in case the above mechanisms proved inefficient. The blame is no longer with the victim – women are not being held responsible for rape when they are taking jobs and leaving home, especially if they are returning in the later hours of the day. The onus, it is proposed, should shift to employers. These guidelines were drawn up after a suggestion by the Bombay High Court, made during the proceedings of a case in which a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) worker in Pune was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 2007. It is hard to imagine that many policy makers in India would react negatively to such a suggestion. In fact, many would find it difficult to even locate any problem with the government’s proposal. Are men understood to be so beyond education, beyond repair and beyond control, that the only possible offense is defence? Is placing the onus on perpetrators absolutely impossible, like placing the onus on a wile creature? Is the only way to stop rape to ‘protect’ women and enable them to defend themselves? Granted, this is a far better thought than locking up all women in the dubious safety of their homes, but is it so difficult to teach respect to half the population of a country, that it is easier to provide women with a guard and a gun? Different countries face different sets of issues when it comes to rape and women’s rights. It is still difficult for many Indians to let go of the notion of women as property. Being the dignity of the family leads to the validation of honour killings. Being a financial burden demands compensation for families a woman marries into (dowry, while illegal, remains rampant), and consequently makes foeticide a better option (sex-determination is illegal as well). Being a woman makes you a potential target for that which can bring dishonour upon everyone you are related to. We deal with these problems by passing laws which are almost entirely ignored, by worrying incessantly once the sun begins its descent, or by saying, as did the Chief Minister of New Delhi, that a female journalist shot dead at three in the morning should not have been “so adventurous”. Helping ensure the safety of women is surely appreciated. Moving towards a society which does not objectify women, however, is the solution we desperately need. As long as women are treated as property, objects of honour and gratification, the concept of the right to movement, the right to access, the right to choices and the right to say “no” will never sink in. Punishments for rape, dowry, dowry deaths and foeticide exist, but simply instating the laws and implementing them once in a while (in the rare instances where cases reach the legal system) is not enough. Apart from the disincentive of punishment, every individual needs to be re-taught the meaning of respect for the lives of others. It may seem to be long process for something which requires immediate attention, but until this respect is made inherent for every citizen, the only thing to dissuade violence against women is the remote risk of legal action. When you venture into the wild, you need to arm and protect yourself. However, a society which cannot ensure basic civil behaviour from half its citizens, cannot be called a society at all.
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Bologna Diaries First impressions illuminate life as a new SAISer Emily Clark
see in Washington next year, but also the wealth of beauty that I have yet to discover. Within every block of the city, you can find a visually captivating structure hidden by other equally rare buildings. For example, there is an easily stumbled-upon church whose brick façade is turned so that its corners face out and create a strange unfinishedlooking pattern. So many discoveries lie unadvertised that I am certain it is only with a thorough year-long exploration that we will find them all. This characterization of Bologna’s structures speaks to certain qualities of the student body, as well. I expected to learn a lot from my classmates, but I am surprised to find myself re-noticing and re-appreciating new qualities about my classmates every day. How incredible that this holds true for all two hundred of them!
5. The Fairs. Bologna is known for its trade fairs. This was not something I gave a lot of thought to at first, but it did seem strange that the International Exhibition of Machines and Technologies for Footwear and Leather Goods Industries was one of the most heavily advertised events at the tourism bureau. It turns out there many of these events (one every week or so), and the trade of goods, ideas, and connections they inspire permeate the culture of the city. Similarly, SAIS provides us with a remarkable place of our own in which to trade ideas and to start building professional connections. In fact, I recognized the value of the SAIS community long before I arrived on campus. I recall being Moving to Bologna as a first year student means taking in a lot amazed at how generous older graduates were towards me, someone of new things at once: people, places, language and culture have who did not yet have even an ounce of SAIS solidarity. We may come converged to make for an overwhelming beginning to my studies to appreciate them more in the future, but I am already well in debt to at SAIS. Yet now and then, real insights come through about why all of the SAISers who have let me rummage through their brains. we are here and what the next two years will hold, regardless of where we start. Here are six, embodied in this new Italian city of 6. The Mountains. On the weekends, when not studying, it is a popuours. lar pastime to bike and hike the foothills of the Apennines. This is how I like to experience the city most. After coming close to death many 1. The Porticoes. I was amazed to find that you could walk from times on steep one-lane roads that fold over on themselves in parallel one edge of the city to the other without ever straying from the hairpin turns, we finally make it to a point where we can see the entire shaded marble porticoes that characterize Bologna. On bright city stretched out beneath us. Each of the features we know is recogdays, the pillars protect us from the sun’s rays; on rainy days, nizable in miniature. As a class, we are at the bottom of the mountain it’s just nice not to need an umbrella. My first impressions of the now, and it is already clear how much hard work lies ahead. CrucialBologna Center left me with a similarly comfortable feeling of ly, however, we should remember that every bit of work, every meter protection, thanks to the wonderful staff. For new students with of elevation gained, is guaranteed to give us a little more perspective no language skills and no experience living in Italy, they are the over the world and bring us closer to our personal summits. reason we can get from one place to the next. Emily Clark is a first year M.A. student; SAIS Bologna 2. The Towers. When you reach the center of the city, there are two medieval towers about 200 feet tall. One is in a centuries-long process of tipping over; the other stands more sturdily. I am reminded of our faculty, who stand firm as models of intellectual thought while serving in this centuries old university city..
An Interview With Nelson Graves Megan Rhodes
3. The Crossroads. Once you reach the city’s center in Piazza Maggiore, you are at the crossroads from which all the city’s main roads extend radially. To help unite Italy, the Romans built the main road (the old Via Aemilia) through the city in the 2nd century B.C. Ancient Bononia’s place as an Italian crossroads has been maintained in modern times by the junction of many rail lines. As students, we are also at a crossroads in life. As newcomers to Bologna, one of our first orders of business has been simply to determine how to get where we’re going each day! Then we will be able to focus on charting a course in life. These questions preoccupy life at the moment for more than a few of us. 4. The Architecture. What strikes me about the architecture in Bologna is not only its novelty in comparison with what we will
He’s funny, friendly, humble, and as warm-hearted as they come. He is also the first person with whom many SAIS Bologna students interact as they begin their year. Nelson Graves is the Director of Recruitment and Admissions at the Bologna Center, and chances are that you have exchanged at least a few emails with him if you are a prospective or current SAIS BC student. Graves, a SAIS graduate himself, attended SAIS Bologna in 1981-82 and received his Masters from SAIS in Washington in 1983. The Observer met with Graves to explore his trivia treasure trove on SAIS Bologna, and nearly thirty years of experience as a journalist around the world. Read on to find out which one of his professors is still teaching at SAIS BC, his advice for aspiring journalists, tips for studying Italian and what happened when the SAIS DC Continued on Page 9
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gourmet club served wine with soup. After nearly 30 years of journalism around the world, what brought you back to SAIS in September 2010? I wanted a change. I am a big believer in change if it renews you. I was getting more and more enjoyment in my duties as bureau chief, fostering young talent. I had enjoyed four years of teaching before taking up journalism, and had also enjoyed serving on the board of trustees of the American Embassy School in New Delhi. So education beckoned. When the opening at SAIS Bologna presented itself, one thing led to another. SAIS Bologna attracted me because of the quality of the student body and of the program. In the role of admissions director, I have a chance to shape the student body. They are at the core of the program. As Director of Student Recruitment and Admissions, what have been your greatest surprises, rewards and challenges? The greatest reward is undoubtedly our very close contact with the students and the chance to help them grow as they go through the application process, and even after they come here. That is very satisfying. The biggest challenge is to be creative and to take risks in an environment that, by its nature, can be riskadverse. Educational institutions with a long and successful track record like SAIS, and without the private sector’s profit motive, sometimes don’t see the need to change and evolve.
his speech. At the end, I was so unsure whether he had said anything important that I followed the more seasoned reporters to the bank of phones to see if they would file any stories. They did not. Phew. But on the way back to the office, walking down a busy K Street, I took the time to listen to the tape recording of Schultz. I seemed to hear him, in a very faint voice, say something about the dollar. I listened to the section several times at the office before writing the story with the headline: US DOLLAR HAS ROOM TO APPRECIATE – US’S SCHULTZ. The dollar skyrocketed on the news. I was a hero despite my inexperience. Lesson: Always use your tape recorder (and have spare batteries at hand). If we had more time, I could tell lots of other stories. That is what is great about being a foreign correspondent: every day brings surprises. What is your advice for aspiring journalists? Take an interest in the small things because they are what will end up counting. Listen carefully. Be curious. Any tips for overcoming writer’s block, and on writing well on deadline? Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Get up, walk around, then start writing. Nine times out of 10 you will throw out the first few sentences you wrote. Do so gleefully: they are there only to get you writing. What would SAIS students be surprised to know about the staff? (Is there a secret athlete/prankster/baker?)
Working for Reuters in six different countries, did one country emerge as a favorite? Which language was the hardest for you to learn? Which one do you return to the most?
For generations of SAIS Bologna students, Ivo was Giulio. For them, Ivo remains an icon and the first person they seek out when they return.
Each of the six countries -- the U.S., France, India, Malaysia, Italy and Japan -- brought me and my family immense satisfaction in different ways. Washington was a real learning experience for me as a fledgling journalist; within days of starting my career I was in the White House and on Capitol Hill covering big stories. My wife is French, so France was a homecoming of sorts, and my first assignment as a foreign correspondent. India was a huge adventure; it’s an incredibly complex and exciting place. We were in Malaysia during the Asian economic crisis and when that country was arguably the most interesting it has ever been from a news standpoint. I was bureau chief in Italy during some fascinating stories, including the death of John Paul II. I also ran a very big and complex news operation in Japan, which is a country that is under-appreciated in the West. The hardest language by far was Japanese. I would return gladly to any of the countries; India has certainly changed the most of them all. Italy is very different from when I first came here 33 years ago; it is going through some very hard times.
What are a few of Amina’s best qualities?
You covered a huge variety of stories at Reuters: commodities fraud, hostile takeovers, acrimonious global trade talks, political upheaval, armed insurrection, hostage-takings, economic and financial crises, natural disasters. Can you tell us about your first scoop? My first scoop is always worth recounting. I was in the first week of my post with Reuters in Washington, still very wet behind the ears. It was 1986, and the US dollar was under siege. I was sent on an assignment to cover then-US Secretary of State George Schultz give a routine speech to Latin American diplomats. It was a sleepy Friday afternoon, and the press corps in the cavernous auditorium barely paid attention to the laconic Schultz as he read
Amina is a fantastic colleague. Her heart is completely in her work, and she loves the contact with candidates and students. Like me, she hates bureaucracy and likes to cut to the quick of issues. That’s a wonderful trait on the job. What is your ideal day in Bologna? Weekend: Un cappuccino, una brioche e una spremuta all’arancia. Read the newspaper on the terrace of the neighborhood cafe. Another cappuccino da Terzi. A leisurely lunch outside a restaurant near Piazza Maggiore. A nap. Read The New York Review of Books. A run in Giardini Margherita or up to San Luca. An aperitivo in Via Marsala. Dinner with friends on the terrace of our 16th century palazzo overlooking the 14th century Basilica di Santa Maria dei Servi. Weekday: Cappuccino, a day at SAIS speaking to prospective candidates and current students, light lunch, run in the afternoon, dinner and a book on my Kindle. Which was the hardest and the best class you took at SAIS? I remember three classes very clearly: Microeconomics with Richard Pomfret (who still teaches at SAIS), Modern French Politics with Ron Tiersky and International Trade Theory with Isaiah Frank. I was completely new to economics, so these professors opened my eyes to that discipline. I was also deeply interested in French politics and history, and I eventually married a French woman and took on French citizenship. Continued on page 10
The SAIS Observer Which is one of your favorite memories as a SAIS student? A group of us from SAIS Bologna formed a gourmet food club while at SAIS DC. Once one of the members served wine during the soup course. My indignant wife took the member to task: “On ne sert pas le vin quand on mange la soupe!” At the next dinner the host found a solution to this problem: he served a wine soup. Which is your favorite place to visit in Italy? Lago di Orta. Your favorite Italian word? Stupidaggine. What was your first job? Drying the dishes at home as a kid. We would form a human chain with my mother washing and the rest of us drying and arranging the dishes. This was before washing machines. Which books would you recommend to SAIS students? Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad, Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe and Scoop by Evelyn Waugh. The best restaurant/bar/coffee in Bologna? Terzi (Via Oberdan). Your favorite running routes? Giardini Margherita or up to San Luca. What tips would you give for learning Italian? Read Corriere della Sera every day and listen to TV and/or radio. Doesn’t matter which program. And find an Italian girlfriend or boyfriend. Do you know how Salvatore keeps all those apartments and keys committed to memory? (Does he remember where your apartment was as a SAIS student?) When I returned to SAIS Bologna after 29 years, I asked Salvatore: “Salvatore, I can’t remember the address of the apartment that you found for us in August 1981.” “Via Brevantani, 15,” he replied immediately. I was as amazed as you are. What are a few things you can’t live without? When Gandhi died, he had fewer than 10 possessions. He was a man of simplicity and of non-possession. A devout Hindu sheds all earthly possessions in the quest for pure spirituality. If I had one last possession, it would be my eye glasses! Your greatest accomplishment: Learning fluent French at age 20, then having the wisdom to marry a French woman, then helping to raise three fantastic children. People may be surprised to know: The fax machine did not exist when I started out as a journalist in Washington. Megan Rhodes, in addition to being a long distance runner, is a first year M.I.P.P. student; SAIS Bologna.
Running Bologna Tristram Thomas Many of us in Bologna enjoy running recreationally or competitively. Several informal groups have already taken root at the Bologna Center. Unfortunately, traffic, pollution, and cobblestones define the most immediate running opportunities the average immigrant to Bologna sees. If running is a passion, the apparent dearth of running routes can be discouraging. However, moving to Bologna is an adventure. And like any good adventurer, I set out to explore my new home -- in running shoes. What follows are route descriptions of route discoveries and recommendations in Bologna along with ratings on the shoe scale; five shoes indicate a great trail, and one shoe indicates a less than optimal trail. Many routes can be combined with others. I have grouped them into three main categories: hilly, flat, and parks. Within those divisions, I have labeled them according to their relative geographic location to the city center; all routes start from the statue of Neptune in Piazza Maggiore to give everyone a common reference point. More information on all routes with more detailed maps can be found at correresaisbologna. blogspot.com. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as I know of others on the city’s east side but have yet to explore them fully; all should explore these routes (and more), and then post their findings online for others to see. Adesso corri! HILLY - South- Monte San Donato - Via degli Scalini. Distance: 6 to 9 miles. 4.5 Shoes From Piazza Maggiore, head south on Via Castiglione. Follow it outside the ring road. Once past Giardini Margherita, road signs will disappear, and it will be tempting to turn off. Just keep going straight; do not turn right up anything steep. About one half-mile up from the ring road, turn left onto Via degli Scalini. Climb uphill for almost 1.5 miles. It is not easy, but it is beautiful at the top and as you go up. Eventually, you will re-intersect with Via di Barbiano where you will veer left and up (not downhill). Once you make the initial climb, there are miles of flat, quiet roads with beautiful views on top of the ridge. Since it is out-and-back, you can make this run as long as you like. Alternate Route: Instead of turning left onto Via degli Scalini at the bottom, keep going straight on Via di Barbiano. It is a gentler but longer climb than Scalini. When you re-intersect with Scalini, just keep going on Barbiano atop the flat ridge. In my opinion, the views are better on Scalini. Santo Michele in Bosco/Istituto Rizzoli. Distance: 2.75 miles. 5 shoes Follow Via Massimo D’Azeglio south of Piazza Maggiore until you cross the ring road at Porta San Mamolo. Once across the ring road, follow Via San Mamolo, and then turn left on Via Alessandro Codivlla. Continued on page 11
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Shortly thereafter, turn right into Parco di Santo Michele in Bosco. Follow the gravel path to the right, and wind your way up to the hospital where you should stop for the best view of Bologna and a map that explains the sites. Go down the road away from the direction you climbed; then make a sharp left, and follow the path slightly below the road back down to Via San Mamolo to make your way back to Piazza Maggiore. - West - Via di Casaglia. Distance: 6.25 miles. 4.5 shoes From Piazza Maggiore, head west through Porta Saragozza on Via Saragozza toward Villa Spada. Turn left on Via Casaglia just in front of Villa Spada, and climb the mountain. The views are great here too, and the climb is not as arduous as Scalini or San Luca. Santuario di San Luca. Distance: 6 miles. 4.5 shoes From Piazza Maggiore, head west on Via Saragozza as if you were going to Villa Spada. When you get to the pink archway and the sign for Via di San Luca, turn left uphill. You can climb the next mile in the porticoes or on the road, but it is a bear of a climb either way. However, the views and the shrine at the top make it worth it. FLAT - South - Via San Mamolo. Distance: 6 miles. 3.5 shoes Follow the directions to get to Via San Mamolo in the description for Santo Michele in Bosco, but instead of going into the park, just stay on Via San Mamolo. You will suffer traffic for another half mile, but by the time you get to the intersection of San Mamolo and Via di Roncrio, veer left and follow Roncrio. By this point, the road will be nearly empty of cars, and you will follow a gradual incline through a lush, empty valley. About 2.5 miles from the ring road (near the high voltage power lines), it becomes steep. Should you keep going, the views are fantastic. - West - Canal Path. Distance: 6 miles. 4.5 shoes. This is the golden ticket to good running in Bologna; this path accesses all the river paths and parks in Casslecchio di Reno. The bike path starts at Via Sabottino and the ring road. Follow the bike path marks on the ground until Via della Crocetta where you should continue on the bike path that crosses to the other side of Via Sabotino, but do not follow Crocetta; follow the bike path along Via Valdossola . Eventually, you end up along the canal out to the river. Once at the river, a big, white suspension bridge towers over the scenery even though it is not on the map. A water fountain can be found in the plaza before the bridge. Twin Bridge Run. Distance: 8 miles. 5 shoes Follow the Canal Path route instructions. Once at the bridge, you
can either cross the bridge now or later. My route description takes you across now. Go across the bridge and up to the first intersection; turn left, then right away veer left again onto Via Tripoli. Go straight through the roundabout. Less than a mile later, you will see the next big white suspension bridge: cross it. Once across, turn right on the path and take it up to the main road; take the paved path next to the road but separate from it for about a mile (eventually it ends up parallel to but below the main road and above the canal). It appears to end at one point. However, if you go left down the hill a few meters, you will see it continues on the other side of the road. This section leads into the Canal Path, which you can take home. River Trails. 4.5 shoes If you follow the Canal Path, Via Chiù or the Via Sabotino Path out to the river, you have access to almost 15 miles of trails along both sides of the river. However, they are discontinuous, and you will sometimes need to hop on to a quiet road to join multiple sections together. In the map provided, I have only just highlighted the area within which these trails exist, so you can plan your own exploration. If you want more details on their connectivity, you can ask me. Casalecchio di Reno Trail System. 4 shoes Follow the bike path along Via Sabotino, but instead of crossing as in the Canal Path route, go straight; it becomes Viale M. K. Ghandi. Eventually, you follow the bike lanes to other side of the road, and when you arrive at the large roundabout, follow the trail to the left down the hill and under the main highway. (You will see a large park to the left where you can do loops too, if you wish.) Once past the highway, you are now in the Casalecchio trail system. You can follow it any direction you wish, as you can now access several parks where you can do loops. You can also keep following the trail straight, which will eventually take you to the river trail system; along the way, you will see a map of the entire system. Alternate access: Follow the Canal Path, and once you reach the cemetery, start following the signs for La Certosa. Once in the La Certosa park area, look for the underpass with the bike trail. - North - Via di Chiù, Distance: 3.5 to 7 miles. 1.5 shoes I feel compelled to list this route because it is flat and quiet. However, it is not pretty. From Piazza Maggiore follow Via San Felice outside the ring road; it changes names to Via Saffi Aurelio. About a quarter mile past the ring road, turn right on Via di Chiù. However, Via di Chiù is not signed from the main road. So, if you miss it, turn right on the next road (Via Malvasia Innocenzo), and then turn left onto the road-turned-exclusive-bike-path, labeled as Via di Chiù. The path itself is about a mile of quiet trail along a canal and next to a wall that separates it from the rail yard. Once you get to the end, you Continued on page 12
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Some were no doubt overseas, volunteering with the Peace Corp in West Africa, breaking their teeth on the Chinese job scene in Shanghai or joining the throngs in Berlin for Obama’s rock star tour of Europe. Many of those in the States were likely Obama fans, going door to door in battleground states like Virginia, clad in “Barack my world” t-shirts while making the case for the chosen one. Wherever you were, how many of you thrilled at the words “hope” and “change,” pasting a sticker version of the iconic “Hope” poster on your laptop or reveling in the Obama merchandise that sprung up across the developing world, from Addis Ababa to Jakarta? I sure was excited. But my enthusiasm in the fall of 2008 was not tied to any interest in Obama or McCain as much as it was due to my location during the most galvanizing electoral campaign in decades. Political ground-zero. Front stoop to history. A newly minted SAIS graduate student in Washington D.C. Yes, I was a SAIS MA student the first time Obama ran for the White House. And while my friends on the campaign trail with Obama in ’08 will disagree, I am convinced that there was no better place to be that fall, no place that thrived off the political energy quite like our one and only School of Advanced International Studies. Every debate became a celebration, as the entire student body gathered in Kenney to watch the candidates slug it out. Even as the nation was undergoing the most cataclysmic financial collapse in generations, foreign policy—wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, energy independence, the constant specter of China—remained central to the identities of both candidates. At SAIS there was constant discussion on the competing platforms and how the rival candidates could present a new face to the world after eight long years of George Bush and 9/11 politics. The excitement that the world felt over the possibility that the United States would soon have its first African-American president, its first global president—one step removed from Africa, with a childhood spent in Indonesia—did not just trickle down into the international student body at SAIS. It flooded our halls and classrooms, perhaps taking advantage of SAIS’ “Year of Water” to inundate every aspect of our learning experience. Fast forward four years. Obama is again seeking the presidency. His opponent this time seems to be doing everything possible to ignore international issues in order to highlight the ongoing economic troubles. And while the semester has just begun and I am wary of drawing hard and fast conclusions, SAIS 2012 has very little of the electoral exhilaration of SAIS 2008. Perhaps our disinterest in the election represents a larger disillusionment with Obama, a president that for all his accomplishments has failed to be the political messiah his starry-eyed supporters hoped for. Or perhaps it really is all about economics, as electoral advisors and SAIS professors never cease to remind us. Whereas in the
fall of 2008 the global financial meltdown was causing our Macro, Micro and Monetary instructors to question the very fundamentals of their profession, the current economic malaise is merely depressing. As graduate students, we can see the job numbers on the wall and recognize that regardless of who is inaugurated come January 2013, our search for employment is unlikely to benefit. Hope and change seem very passé this fall. Still, maybe we can hope for a change of mood here on campus, for some of that ’08 era electoral energy to ‘insert-verb-per-whatever-is-the-theme-ofthis-academic-year-at-sais’ (Does anyone even know what the theme this year is? Anyone care?) our studies. October is less than a month away. And already the debates are set, with at least two Obama/Romney events concerning foreign policy, plus a vice-presidential contest that will surely be worth watching if only to celebrate the absence of cringe inducing Sarah Palin comments. Plus, when election night rolls around in early November, regardless of whom you support, there should be reason to party outside the White House likes it’s 2008, and rejoice over the reelection of the first black, or the election of the first Mormon, president in American history. Sam Chester is a second year MA candidate in the China and Middle East Studies programs, finally graduating this December. continued from page 11
will pass over a main road that burrows into a tunnel below you. If you just go straight, which you can do in any number of ways, you will eventually be on Via di Chiù again. Continue to follow the road past the circles; it is still quiet and flat here but ugly. Follow the road around a sharp left and then look for signs for Via Giorgione; once you’ve done that, you’ll see a big park on the left where you can do loops from one half-mile to a mile in length. Return the way you came. This is also an alternative access route to the river trails if you turn right on Via Giorgione/Via Ponte Romano instead. If you use it to access the river, I think it is a better option to return another way. Nature Trail 4A Distance: 5 to 11 miles. 4 shoes This should be Bologna’s premier running trail. However, given how difficult it is to access at the moment, it only receives four shoes. Follow Via delle Lame out, cross, the ring road, and continue on Via Zanardi until you have passed under the train tracks. At your first right after the trains, turn right on Via Carracci. Three hundred meters later just before the bridge over the canal, turn left down the stairs to the canal path. From here, it should be as simple as following the path for four miles. However, construction at the Industrial Museum requires a significant detour, for which I can provide more details in person. PARKS - South. Giardini Margherita. Distance: 3 to 4 miles. 4.5 shoes Close to school, it has a few trails. The most notable feature is that its main loop is almost exactly one mile long if you need to know a precise pace. Follow the San Mamolo directions for access. Villa Chiusa. Distance: 7 to 10 miles. 5 shoes Follow the Canal Path. Once you see a parallel path on the other side of the canal, cross to the other side; this path will take you between buildings. Eventually, it appears to end at a small road. However, if you turn left up the hill, just before the road you can turn right onto the pedestrian path and follow it for a little over a kilometer (eventually it’s below the road and above the canal) to where the main road turns sharply to the right. At that point, cross the road and enter the park! I have highlighted one of the paths on the map that goes all the way down to a bridge across the river, but there are several paths here that are both hilly and flat. If you want to run far, this is the route for you. - Jared Metzker is an Assistant Editor of the SAIS Observer. Hailing from Southern Oregon, he is a first-year MA Candidate studying American Foreign Policy at The Bologna Center.
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SAIS Club Profiles Traditional Taekwondo at SAIS Alex Shtarkman
My acceptance into SAIS was a dream come true. However, it also meant that I would have to give up an important part of my life: Taekwondo. For the past four years, I had trained under the T. Kang Taekwondo system, one of the largest and oldest groups of taekwondo schools in the New York area. I also served as leader of the Johns Hopkins Taekwondo club at the Baltimore campus, where I taught students ranging from beginners to experienced martial artists. Although I had previous martial arts experience, I started Taekwondo as a white belt. (That’s right, having no experience is practically a prerequisite for joining this club!) The journey was long and hard, full of sore muscles and aches. At the end of four years of training, I finally earned my first dan (“grade”) black belt in taekwondo. After so many hours of work, it was simply not an option to stop training and forget everything that I learned. Therefore, with the permission of my grandmaster, I underwent training to become certified as an official taekwondo instructor. Then, I presented the idea of founding a martial arts club to the SAIS administration. The process of founding a club was daunting. It required more than six months of planning, organizing, and corresponding with the SAIS administration -- after all, this is the first club of its kind. I dove into a world of writing waivers, speaking to martial arts studio owners, as well as dealing with liability insurance and other legal issues. With the assistance of SAIS administration, I was finally able to transform my dream into reality: I founded the first martial arts club at SAIS.
feeling in the world than knowing you must train every day in order to test, to advance in rank, and to better your body and soul through the art of taekwondo on your journey towards a black belt. (Just watch the Rocky movies! It’s just like that.) Taekwondo builds patience, character, humility, and confidence. The values you learn in taekwondo are applicable to any job and everyday life. (Plus, putting “black belt” on your resume impresses many more employers than you might think!) It is difficult to reach the rank of black belt, and this achievement says a great deal about your personality and how hard you are willing to work for your goals. Moreover, learning Taekwondo is like learning another culture -- we even learn to count and give commands in Korean. As a final note, let’s face it: Martial arts movies with Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee are awesome, and I can guarantee that the desire to learn martial arts to look cool has crossed your mind at least once. Well, now you can. You don’t have to travel to a studio, you don’t have to pay outragous training fees, and you don’t have to feel embarrassed to work out in a room full of strangers. The opportunity to learn a valuable life skill is right at your doorstep, and among friends. So come to a class and give it a try. If you are still not convinced, just look up the crime rate in DC. - Alex Shtarkman is a first year M.A. student studying international law.
Yoga and Meditation Club Akshat Chaturvedi
The academic program at SAIS is intense, so it is essential that students maintain healthy lifestyles and mental temperaments in order to get the most out of their experience. Akshat Chaturvedi and Julia Damianova (MIPP ’12) founded Yoga and Meditation Club so that SAIS students could learn and practice the art of balancing their intellectual and physical fitness.
My objective is not to make traditional Taekwondo at SAIS a “club,” but rather a real martial arts school. This school will not only teach students a working knowledge of self-defense, but also allow those skills to be transferrable to any International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) accredited taekwondo studio in the world. Furthermore, I hope to offer uniforms, training and tournament trips, and to conduct belt tests under the oversight of my grandmaster Tae Sun Kang, the sponsor of the club. That means members of Traditional Taekwondo at SAIS will belong to one of the most prominent taekwondo systems, and have the opportunity to train both at SAIS and with In fall 2011, Chaturvedi and Damianova held a weekly free Yoga and the T. Kang staff in Meditation class, with Alex Rosan (MA ’12) as the Asana instructor. New York. The following spring, SGA Social Chair Aly McGee proposed a yoga and meditation session for new and returning students as part of the You can take a seminar course in selforientation program. The session saw a huge turnout, so at the urging of new students and yoga enthusiasts on campus, Chaturvedi decided defense anywhere, to formally found a Yoga and Meditation Club. but those skills are The objective of the club is to provide an opportunity for SAIS forgotten as quickly students to balance their intellectual and physical fitness through the as they are learned. You will not be practice of yoga and meditation. According to ancient texts from Intaught technique, and dia, Yoga is the “union (divine),” a spiritual union of mind and body. The SAIS Yoga and Meditation Club aims to provide an environment I can guarantee that where students can learn to manage their stressful life and work enviif faced with a dangerous situation, you would be helpless. Continued on page 14 There is no better
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ronment. Yoga is a more of a spiritual practice than a body toning and muscle flexing physical activity, according to Chaturvedi. Therefore, unlike many contemporary urban yoga practices, the Yoga and Meditation Club will not feature harsh or strong postures. Students should come to class with a positive attitude, prepared to learn and share a spiritual experience with other students. The class will be led by meditation and Asana (postures) instructors who are trained and ardent practitioners of the art. Yoga and Meditation Club will hold weekly two hour sessions on basic yoga and meditation exercises. Additionally, since meditation has a close connection with classical and traditional dances, the club will hold free sessions by cultural dance instructors, Chaturvedi said. The sessions are free to all students and alumni, although members are asked to bring their own yoga mats. -Akshat Chaturvedi is an MIPP ’12.
vates him or her. “What” consists of formulating a succinct and clear statement of purpose. Finally, “How” centers on developing what TVI calls an Audacious Development Plan, or ADP. The ADP challenges students to think ahead, to weigh their personal goals against professional goals, and to create a plan that looks three months, six months, two years, five years, and ten years into the future. As this young club enters its second year of existence, its members hope to build on the success of its inaugural year. Over 15 SAISers have already committed and are set to begin working on their personal vision. If you’re interested in doing the same, the club is always open to new members. Bobby Corrigan is a 2nd year M.A. student. He is President of The Vision Incubator, at can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Vision Incubator
After two years at a DC consulting job, I left it in May and then spent this past summer in the rural town of Teustepe, Nicaragua. There I helped manage a group of 60+ high school students from the U.S. and Latin America carry out youth leadership and community development projects in 25 different communities. The program that organizes this is called AMIGOS de las Américas. As a two-time high school summer volunteer with AMIGOS, first in Honduras and then in Mexico (this past summer the organization had 13 different projects in eight countries in Latin America), my experience sparked an interest in Latin America that continues today and set me on my academic and career path. Indirectly, it has led me to SAIS, as well as convinced me to return to work with the organization in a supervisory role. The volunteers are placed in small communities that have little to no electricity or running water and whose residents speak no English. Living with host families, volunteers integrate into daily life and work closely with schoolchildren as well as community leaders on projects that revolve around health, environment, art, multimedia and more. They are visited by their respective supervisors (the role that I filled) only once per week; volunteers have a great deal of responsibility to lead projects on their own. My greatest joy was to see the volunteers in my group learn, grow, and develop into mature and worldly young leaders as their Spanish-language skills increased exponentially. Although it was heartbreaking for them to say goodbye to the families and communities of which they became a part, it was heart-warming to know that they made strong connections and had a transformational experience. Despite the positive results, challenges were ubiquitous. Homesickness, physical sickness, using latrines, tensions in the community, inability to articulate thoughts in a new language, cultural misunderstandings and unsupportive community members were only some of the trials and tribulations associated with the work. Bringing together various groups and different interests to carry out projects with logistical and operational roadblocks appeared at every point. For 16- and 17-year-old Americans, many of whom had never left the country before and had rarely previously held this kind of responsibility, this experience was obviously a lot to handle. My goal was to guide them through these challenges and give them the tools to overcome them. In a way, my objective was for them not to need me. Every day of the week, I visited a different community to check up on the volunteers and that day’s activities. It was inspiring to see them implement my suggestions and then realize that they are more capable of solving problems themselves than they knew. To see their gradual progress over the course of the summer was one of the most gratifying and enriching experiences I have ever had. It served only to strengthen my desire to promote youth leadership in the Americas and beyond. Because of its impact on my own life, the organization is one of the few to which I devote my time, energy and money without hesitation. It affords me an op-
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” With this sentiment in mind, in fall 2011, Dan Kornfield and Jen Fishkin (SAIS ‘12) noticed what they felt to be a gap in SAIS’ diverse offering of clubs and student organizations. Every year, thousands of SAIS applicants outline a statement of purpose, filled with idealistic and ambitious goals for the future. For those fortunate enough to gain an offer of admission, these ambitious plans are sometimes forgotten or cast aside as students become immersed in a rigorous curriculum, accompanied by a demanding schedule and the looming “fiscal cliff” of student debt. To counteract these inevitabilities, Kornfield and Fishkin felt that students could benefit from a regular forum in which to cultivate a vision for the impact they wanted to have in their field, and to develop their strategy for achieving that impact. They felt that SAISers who want to be change makers in the world needed mentorship and encouragement in order to develop a strategic mindset in the pursuit of their personal missions. Thus, The Vision Incubator (TVI) was born. The Vision Incubator is composed of small groups that provide peer mentoring and guidance through a semi-structured process of discussing and improving each member’s ideas, and turning them into a series of practical steps. The first twelve participants had a surprisingly diverse set of ideas: One wanted to strengthen US-India intelligence ties. Another wanted to start a global fair trade clothing brand. Others were interested in how to increase education funding and quality in the Dominican Republic, how to reduce malnutrition in mountainous regions, or how to build an index measuring the strength of the social contract in a country. Participants quickly discovered that these small group sessions were inspiring, constructive, and most importantly, challenging their established ideas. According to its constitution, The Vision Incubator’s main goal and purpose is to “provide a regular forum for members to articulate, receive feedback on, and refine their individual vision and strategy for a substantial positive impact they would like to have on the world.” To achieve this goal, the club begins every semester by forming small groups of four to five students, generally from the same year but ideally from different backgrounds and concentrations. Groups meet weekly for eight weeks and work through a series of discussions that aim to formulate answers, in succession, to three simple questions: Why, What and How? The objective of “Why” is to define a member’s personal values and what moti-
Letter From Nicaragua Aaron Schumacher
The SAIS Observer
A handful of SAIS BC students traveled to the coastal town of Rimini recently for a casual day at the beach. However, they were in for a surprise, as the day’s beach-goers were treated to a three-hour air show sponsored by Air Excellence Technologies (an Italian aeronautical company) and the Italian Aeronautica Militare. A variety of aircraft and technologies were on display; military and acrobatic planes, propeller and jet-propelled aircraft, helicopters and seaplanes were some of the dozens of aircraft that roared along Rimini’s shore for almost three hours. The finale included a performance by the Italian Frecce Tricolori – ten Italian acrobatic jets that streak the Italian national colors behind them as they perform aerial acrobatics. The Frecce Tricolori are a part of the Italian Aeornautica Militare and might remind Americans of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels that perform air shows across the U.S. The beach show was part of a two-day aeronautical show centered around Rimini’s Piazza Fellini and the town’s coast on the weekend of September 8 and 9. What follows are a few photos submitted by the day’s SAIS BC beach-goers.
Top Left: Along with inspirations of nationalism, this heart drawn into the sky also inspired cheers along the beach. Top Right: One beachgoer managed to capture a close-up as the Frecce Tricolori blasted up into the atmosphere. Bottom left: An Italian serviceman jumped into the water from a helicopter only to be rescued by his fellow crewmates moments later in an aerial water rescue. Bottom right: The Italian flag was met with thunderous applause up and down the beach.
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Aaron Schumacher is a first year M.A.; SAIS Washington D.C.
Satire und Humor
There’s even room for foreign words within our language, that’s just how cool it is. A friend of mine from Spain (He speaks perfect English) figured out once if you want to sound fancy in English you just have to use foreign words and put them in italics. It’d argue against it, but getting bogged down in arguments is just so passé. At the end of the day, really, it all comes down to mathematics. There are just that many people who have spent more time learning a language that I completely take for granted than the amount of time I have spent learning other languages put together. And yet this means the next time I travel, it really doesn’t matter whether I can learn someone else’s native tounge. Thus, I continue to exist as the lazy bastard that I am. Life. Is. Good.
From The Archives...
Native Tounge: An Open Love Letter To The English Language
March 2009 - In a press statement yesterday, Ben Bernake apologized profusely for a gaffe that has had major consequences for the world economy. “It turns out that there’s not actually a recession,” the Fed chair said as his cheeks visibly reddened. “Those of us working at the Federal Reserve are very embarassed by this oversight, are we are working tirelessly to redress the problem. According to sources, the error occured when a junior staffer, fresh out of an unidentified, local Master’s program, had mis-specified a model when preparing a presentation for Bernanke.” I don’t want to get into technical details, but apparently he confused two things we call the AA and DD curves.” After being bludgeoned for almost thirty minutes by reporter’s questions, Bernanke finally snapped. “Listen this “sh***” is complicated. If you think you can do a better job, why don’t you take a shot at it?” The error has looked especially bad since the Fed has all but shut down after reducing interest rates to 0. -Andrew Polk
Economists Struggle To Get a Pulse on the Economy September 2010 - Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke recently confirmed the dire state of the nation’s GDP growth, stating “this sucker could flatline at any moment,” despite two years of efforts to kickstart the economy. “We’re sh**t, out of luck at this point,” the chairman said. “Best advice I have for people now is to start drinking.” - Associated Press USD GDP Growth (Chg% yoy) 2.5
Ladies and Gentleman, allow me to stand before you and tell it like it is. I’ve been all over around this crazy world of ours and seen a lot of wild, wonderful, and wacky things. I’ve bathed in the desert, dried off in the jungle, recieved a tender massage on the steppes of the tundra, and sunbathed in the artic (Thanks global warming!) Not only that, wherever I have gone, I have made some effort to learn something about the culture of the people I have been among. Well...mostly. There was that tribe of headhunters I visited where that didn’t exactly go so well, but for the most part I’ve made an attempt to be one with the people. I’ve even learned some of the languages out there that would probably make an Iowa farm boy’s head explode if he ever got the chance to hear them. But no matter what I do, at the end of the day when the dust settles and the Rosetta Stone CD’s lie broken beneath a half eaten donut in the trash, I love the English language. The fact is, nothing else comes close. Call me ethnocentric, but I just love my mother tongue. I’m not badmouthing other languages, because there are some ones out there that are pretty neat. The one where people make clicking noises with their tounges to form vowels is one of my favorites. It sounds cool, but when someone tried to teach me how to do it once my tounge got sprained and I had to spend a week without being able to say my favorite word, which just happens to be “thistle.” Even languages that are dying out are staying badass until the bitter end. Look at Manchu. They claim an entire dynasty of Chinese emperors, but last I heard there are only two native speakers left in the world. To make matters worse, they also hate each other. It’s so bad that they’re not even on speaking terms. Think about that for a minute. That’s an entire culture’s legacy left to a couple of h8ers. I like learning other languages, but for us native speakers of English its hard to make the switch. Our grammar is so simple that trying to learn foreign sentence structure seems overly complicated. Look at what I have to do to order a beer in German: Ich möchte ein Bier zu bestellen. You mean I have to go all the way to the end of the sentence to find out what the verb is? Forget the beer, I’m going to take a nap after that series of unnecessary “eye workouts” and dream of subject + verb + object = awesome. Now like most SAISers I can communicate in a handful of them for basic things that I need (beer, more beer, even more beer), but even then words sputter, eyes are rolling, and there’s a sizeable amount of drool spilling out of me as I attempt to do something mundane. It’s disgusting. But when I switch to English, I’m as eloquent as Shakespeare. Put it this way, if the English language were a woman, I wouldn’t have time to talk to you people. I would be busy making unbridled passionate love to her. You heard me.
Bernanke: “My Bad” On Recession Call
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portunity to give back. In that light, I continue to work with the AMIGOS’ DC Chapter (there are 26 chapters nation-wide), which trains area high school students throughout the year to prepare them for the rigorous but life-changing experience in the summer ahead. I hope that my contributions will lead to these teenagers having the kind of exceptional summer that I had a number of years ago in Honduras.
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