JOURNALISM • DIVERSITY • HUMANITY
• home sweet home 4
• breaking borders 40 • In photos: ROOTS 12
EDITOR’S NOTE Roots
his issue is all about our roots: the places we come from that make us who we are. I suppose, then, in that context, that “roots” is loosely-defined; on one hand, we see those like Sean Marc Lee return and thrive in their ancestral homelands (page 12). On the other hand, people like Victoria Campa are beginning to just discover previously-neglected extensions of their own rich heritage. In reviewing this issue, I’ve found that we are all more interconnected than we think. Somehow, a photograph from Kris Brandon’s urban playground (32) could inspire the same sentiments one has when viewing a photograph of busy Cambodian streets (40). Some of us have found new roots, as Norma Anderson had in Malawi (22), while others honor our past, as Nashiz Memon does in his touching narrative, “Memories” (50). Of course, we at Spectra are all fixated on where we are going-but I find it a nice change of pace to reflect on where we come from.
Photo by Joe Miller. Photostory on page 40.
The World Spectra Project About the Cover
Taken in Taiwan by Sean Marc Lee. Lee’s photostory, “Roots”, may be found on page 12.
In This Issue 4
Home Sweet Home by Rubi Lebovitch
In Photos: Roots by Sean Marc Lee
On Class Differences in Malawi by Norma Anderson
by Nashiz Memon
Spectra Asks... by Spectra Staff
Last Look: Roots by Lucas Foglia
Seeing The Beauty Before Us by Victoria Campa
Beyond Borders: An Interview with Joe Miller Interview by Linda Ge Photos by Joe Miller
To New Heights by Kris Brandon
HOME SWEET HOME Photostory by RUBI LEBOVITCH
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y photographs deal with domestic scenes captured in straightforward images. The scenes can be divided in to two main categories: inanimate objects and human scenarios. Both categories are characterized by mystery, vagueness and absurdity. I create a twist in familiar sights and build new contexts, thus endowing the scene with new meaning. Mundane objects and domestic spaces are transformed into something strange and surprising. Like in surreal paintings, a new and impossible reality is created. >> 6
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“These objects become the center of power, emphasizing loneliness and emptiness.” >> At times, my photographs can be seen as an illusion of the Theatre of the Absurd, an illustration which takes place in the house. My images do not contain a clear-cut story or plot. The characters are inscrutable to the viewers and difficult to identify; their relationship with the world around them is senseless and they fail to communicate. A twisted and exaggerated worldview stands in place of rationality. I employ multiplicity of objects, allowing the objects to grow stronger and take over reality; they occupy and control the space. In most of the photographs, the focus is on the objects. As such, these objects become the center of power, emphasizing loneliness and emptiness. 10
The restlessness characterizing my work is connected to Freud’s concept of the Uncanny, which locates the origins of horror in the homely and familiar. The scenes depicted in the photographs emphasize what usually remains hidden: the repressed, which cannot be described. The anxiety these scenes arouse undermines the peacefulness and security usually associated with home.” Rubi Lebovitch earned his MFA at Bezalel Academy in Tel-Aviv, Israel. His work has been featured in exhibitions from New York to Amsterdam. He was most recently honored with the Yehoshua Rabinovitch fund. More of his work may be viewed at rubilebovitch.com.
ROOTS PHOTOSTORY BY
SEAN MARC LEE
MARCH APRIL 2013
Sean Marc Lee was born and raised in San Francisco, California. With a background in Cinema Studies from the University of California, San Diego, he spent 7 years in Los Angeles balancing post-production work in the entertainment industry and photography. He finally moved back to San Francisco in early 2011, where he spent some time with his family. He currently resides in Taipei, Taiwan.
’ve always been a child at heart. Perhaps it’s something my father passed down to us at an early age. Well, truth be told, he is still a child at heart in the way he approaches life in a childlike manner for better or for worse. What always strikes me about children is how pure they can be. From anger to joy, it always comes straight from their instinctual gut without a concern in the world for what others think. I’ve always been drawn to cinema first, and photography second. When I see these scenes play out whether in daily life out on the street, or close to home amongst family, I cannot help but try to make something out of it. Often times, I’m not sure what exactly it is I am after, be it something strange or humorously tender. Yet for all the things that make them children, there are moments of poised warmth and adult like qualities and curiosity that always surprise me. For that, I will always believe that youth is a gift. Not just in children, but in adults as well. I moved to Taiwan in the summer of 2011. I won’t lie, it was for love and a renewal of life. I first came to Taiwan in September of 2009. A good friend of mine asked me to be the cinematographer of a film thesis film he was working on for graduate school. We both studied film in undergraduate school together and kept in touch through the years after. At the time of my arrival back in 2009, I was already in a relationship for three years, stable, but for lack of a better word, bored and uninspired. Life was a daily routine and my creative life at the moment was sorely lacking. That two week trip felt like a month of adrenaline and excitement. Long story short, I met someone. I came back and started figuring out the plot of my life story afterwards. To say it didn’t take time and courage is an understatement. Without the patience and intuition of following my heart, I would not be here. My work had always been closely tied to my emotions and reactions to moments and places I am in. I’m not a conceptual person by any means, big ideas don’t interest me. I’m more interested in the day to day things and strange tenderness life can bring personally. Like a jazz musician, it’s not something that can be mapped out from A to B when C to M is interesting because of all the letters in between. Because I came from a film background, in my mind I’m still a filmmaker. My format is just a still camera. APRIL 2013
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“Wrestling with privilege while living in poor countries has been a challenge over the years.”
F ON CLASS DIFFERENCES in
Story by NORMA ANDERSON
irst, some background: I have lived in Ghana, Ethiopia, and Malawi at different stages of my life. I stayed in Malawi for a year and a half in 2000 and 2001 and then returned during the summers of 2008 and 2010 while I was conducting research for a graduate degree. The last time I stayed in Malawi, I stayed with an old friend whose home abuts the (only) golf course in the capital city of Lilongwe. We could access the golf course via the back gate and take walks along the fairways: my daughter, who was not quite one and a half at the time, liked to run and run and run there. This essay is adapted from a blog post I wrote in 2010. *** Every day around 5 pm, we head through the back gate to the golf course. We go at this time for a few reasons. 1) It is the end of the day, but we have 45 minutes or so of good daylight before mosquitoes become a real concern. (In the tropics, day length does not vary significantly as a result of the seasons, so it’s always dark between 6 and 6:30. Mosquitoes and the malaria they carry are of greatest concern at dusk and during the night.) 2) Because it’s the end of the day, the golfers have pretty much played through and we don’t need to worry about dodging golf balls. 3) It’s gorgeous when the sun is setting. It strikes me as funny that I am spending so much time at a golf course: prior to this trip, I’ve probably been on one golf course in my life and I certainly don’t play. Golf is one of those sports like polo or downhill skiing that seems upper-class: it takes real money to play. Of course, in Malawi, even with my paltry income, I am solidly middle-class, possibly upper-middle-class. Wrestling with privilege while living in poor countries has been a challenge
“In Malawi, as elsewhere, poverty and wealth are not neatly divided between urban and rural or between people of varying skin colors or by the boundaries of a golf course.”
over the years. Going from low-income at home (as a graduate student, I fell into that 47% category who made too little to pay federal income taxes—so little that I qualified for Medicaid) to definitely-not-low-income in the places I’ve lived takes some mind-shifting. Over time, I have made some peace with myself by setting some giving guidelines. Still, whenever I am abroad, there are moments when class differences strike. The Lilongwe Golf Club is for members only, naturally. But many people walk around the pathways on the courses, cutting through to the main road or just enjoying the scenery and exercising. But too, at the time we go every day, there are always folks cutting down trees and/or brush for their fires. Even in Lilongwe, the capital, a lot of people cook over fire. Either they don’t have access to electricity or they can’t afford electric or gas stoves. During my time in Malawi in 2000-2001, I worked in rural villages with women farmers who grew tobacco on tiny family farms. In many ways, those villages and those experiences uphold a common stereotypical western idea of Africa—people living off what they can grow in homemade brick and mud huts, many with thatch roofs. This stereotype, mind you, is not limited to people who’ve never been on the continent: I once heard a conversation between two Peace Corps volunteers: one who worked in a rural area disdainfully told the one who’d worked in an urban area that she “hadn’t experienced the real Malawi.” As if urban Malawians and the issues they face are somehow inauthentic. The other day, we were taking our normal walk. People were still golfing, so we’d frequently hear the THWAK of a ball being hit. But at the same time, we’d keep hearing the THWAK of branches being broken as several women in a wooded area collected
stacks of wood for their family fires. And it was one of those moments when class differences were sharply defined for me. There we were, just kind of ambling around, enjoying the outdoors and getting some exercise. There were the golfers, clearly upper-class Malawians or other Africans out enjoying their games, their Malawian caddies dragging the equipment behind. And there were the women, working, heads down and focused on the task—chopping and bundling stacks of wood, forced to be outside, not in need of exercise because they exercise by accomplishing their daily chores. In Malawi, as elsewhere, poverty and wealth are not neatly divided between urban and rural or between people of varying skin colors or by the boundaries of a golf course. The real Malawi, like the real anywhere else, is a study in complexity. And like cities around the world, Malawi’s cities exemplify inequality. Cities worldwide are home to both our wealthiest and our poorest, who often live in very close proximity without ever actually interacting. So to find the real Malawi then, in terms of complex class realities, I needed to go no further than the golf course behind our house. Norma Anderson received her Ph.D. in sociology in 2011. She currently resides in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts with her threeyear-old daughter, Linneah.
Seeing the Beauty Before Us Photostory by VICTORIA CAMPA
anderlust is a word used to describe someone who has a desire to travel. When I came across this term on Tumblr late one night, I could not imagine a more beautiful combination of letters that resonated more with all the thoughts that had been imploding in my head for the last few years. Having just read Jack Kerouacâ€™s On the Road, I had become fascinated with the idea of travelling across the country in the most naked and natural way possible. I imagined myself taking a year off college with a few friends, packing up a van with blankets, a few changes of underwear and maybe some shirts, taking with us our cameras, our notebooks and little else. I dreamed of the people I would meet and the places I would see, thinking that travelling would teach me much more than anything else could. I still constantly think about doing this. Kerouacâ€™s novel inspires me in a way that little else has, and the thought of travelling still spurs an unquenchable thirst within me. I have an open list of places I want to visit, yet it never stops growing. However, something I recently realized is that when people around me talk of travelling, they want to visit places that are plane-rides away, or cities that are known for their ad-worthy beaches or mountains. Reflecting on this idea, I realized that this was the case with many of the places on my list too, and even when I thought about road-tripping around the country, I never imagined travelling around Spain, which is where I am from, but I visualized a trip around the United States. Why is it that we are drawn to everything that is far away, but we do not consider that what draws us to those places might be found very nearby? Around a month ago, when a friend of mine suggested we go away for a weekend, I was ecstatic. I immediately began searching for places, hostels and transportation. Since we were on low budgets, we realized that the best option was to stay in Spain, and we were excited to spend a weekend on our own celebrating the end of our exams. The names of five cities were put into a hat, and, closing our eyes, we picked the one we would be going to. Like that, it was 24
decided that our next destination was Granada. One of the most exciting parts of the trip was planning it, and deciding where we would stay and what we would do during our three days in the city. After the bus tickets had been purchased and the reservation had been made at the hostel, we were set to go. The only thing between us and this weekend of freedom were our midterm exams, which were over before we knew it.
Online-Exclusive Edition Islamic architecture on the columns in the Court of the Lions of the Alhambra.
The five hour bus ride from Madrid to Granada marked the beginning of our trip, and was followed by another shorter bus into the city. It was late, so we followed our brief instructions to find the hostel we would be staying at for the weekend. After creeping through the tiny, dark, Granada side streets we found the place, but when we rang the buzzer no one answered. Unsure of what was happening, we called the number that was scratched onto the sign of
the hostel, and after fifteen minutes of waiting at the door, a young man ran up the street to let us into the building. Thereafter, everything went smoothly. He was extremely welcoming, and immediately gave us a map and showed us everywhere we had to go around the city. Exhausted from the trip and excited for what lay ahead we went to bed and prepared for an early morning the next day. By 9:30 we had left the hostel, a huge feat >> APRIL 2013
Inside a little store in the Alcaricería.
for us teenagers. The city was different in the daylight, and we quickly saw that the side streets that had been creepy at night led off the main street, so our hostel was in the perfect location. We scoured the main plaza with roaring tummies for a place to have breakfast, and found a corner bar that became the location for our everyday morning meals. There, we searched the map and talked about our plans over green tea, orange juice, and huge toasts with tomato and olive oil. In 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered America. In Spain, however, 1492 was the year of the Reconquista, or the Reconquer of Spain after the Muslims had controlled it for centuries. Granada was the last city that was surrendered by Emir Muhammad XII to Los Reyes Católicos (‘The Catholic Monarchs’), Isabel I and Ferdinand II. For this reason, remnants of the long Muslim rule of the city remain, and as we walked around we explored stands selling tea, spices and dried fruit. Although a truly Spanish city in its language and traditions, the huge influence of the Muslims is tangible in the atmosphere of every street and plaza in Granada. That morning, we walked around, chewing on 26
dried mango and getting lost in the winding streets of the Alcaicería, or what is left of the Arab flee market. Then, we visited the Royal Chapel next to the Cathedral, where Isabel I and Ferdinand II are buried with their daughter. After that, we took a tiny bus to the northern part of the city to visit Granada’s main tourist attraction: the Alhambra. First built as a fortress in 889, the Alhambra was then converted into a palace in 1333. It is known for its exquisite architecture and for the sounds of running water that flow all through its gardens. In total, we spent around five hours strolling around in the sun and exploring the different palaces and gardens of the Alhambra. Later in the day, we saw a few boys skateboarding and doing tricks close to the Palace of Carlos V. We wondered what it must be like for them, having this historical monument as their backyard and seeing it every single day. By the time we got back to the hostel it was late, and we were tired from the eventful day we’d had. We decided to wake up later the next morning, and visit the old part of town. The next day we bought a baguette and some ham for our lunch, and walked down the street to the arch that divided the
The view of the Alhambra from el Albaycín.
modern part from the older half of town, called the Albaycín. In the old part, the only way to go is up. We climbed hundreds of stairs and cut through cobblestone streets too narrow for cars to drive through. Tiny paths that looked like they had no end suddenly opened up into squares of restaurants where families were having lunch, people were playing Spanish guitars and everyone’s happiness converged and created a bubble of security around the town. We reached a ledge where the whole Alhambra could be seen below us, and ate lunch overlooking this Muslim relic. Later on, we walked up into the mountains, where a path led us all around and then back into the city. We saw the river and the Alhambra on one side, and Flamenco caves on the other side. Then we sat in a tiny café that had been built into one of the caves and drank some tea. The tea shop had been decorated with colorful, Arab tapestries and smelled like mint from the Hookahs people were smoking. Sitting there, sipping tea and hearing bits of conversations and laughs all around me, I couldn’t stop thinking about the small characteristics that make one place special, and the magic and beauty that every single place has to offer if only one opens their eyes to it.
I never imagined how different Granada would be from my home in Madrid. Suddenly, what was meant to be a break from reality turned into an eye-opening experience. Visiting this city made me realize how much we undervalue the beauty that surrounds us, whether we see it every day or once in a lifetime. The obvious impact that the Muslim reign had left on Granada made it unique, a place where the past was mixing with the present at every moment. People travel thousands of miles to see new cultures and to experience different lifestyles, yet sometimes, these things can be seen very near home. Instead of searching for beauty, it is important to begin appreciating it when it is right in front of us. As Jack Kerouac once wrote, “The world [is] suddenly rich with possibility,”and it may begin right outside our front doors. Victoria Campa is a high school student in Madrid, Spain, who will attend Barnard College next fall. Her interests include photography, travelling, writing and playing the guitar. In the future she hopes to see the world and document her experiences through photos and words. Some of her work can be seen here: www.flickr.com/vwcampa.
The view of el Albaycín from the Alhambra.
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One of the palaces in the Alhambra.
Online-Exclusive Edition Walking through the gardens of the Alhambra.
TO NEW HEIGHTS Photos by KRIS BRANDON
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“It was my first time visiting New York and I stayed with a few friends who ha Midwest and East Coast was experiencing an uncanny heat wave in the middl trip, thus resulting in perfect weather conditions for exploring New York duri New York vs. Chicago was how tall everything was. Not just the buildings. The up into the clouds. They’re like titans crossing the East River.” 34
ad recently moved there. It was an especially lucky time to visit as the entire le of the winter. This one just happened to coincide with New Yearâ€™s and my ing one of its most trafficked holidays of the year. What first struck me about e bridges too. Chicago has bridges, but the ones in New York just seem to rise
MARCH APRIL 2013
Online-Exclusive Online-Exclusive Edition Edition
Kris Brandon is an underpaid college student at Columbia College Chicago with more hobbies than time or money can accommodate. He loves photography and rarely travels anywhere without a camera. To view more of his work, please visit www.flickr.com/kriswm or www. worldofkris.com.
The National Museum of Cambodia, located in the heart of Phnom Penh, contains the world’s largest collection of Khmer art.
Breaking Interview by lINDA gE
BORDERS phOTOS BY joE mILLER
MARCH APRIL 2013
L. Ge: How did you first get involved with creating From the Eyes of Hope? J. Miller: I was working at a summer camp with one of my best friends who had grown up in Beirut, Lebanon, for 12 years. I was at lunch with her family, and they were telling me about the situation that was happening in Israel and Palestine. I didn’t know much about it at all. I started asking questions like “Why don’t most teenagers know about the giant wall that separates Israel and Palestine?” They couldn’t really answer the question—it’s just something that most people are ignorant about. I said, Well, we should make a film. At the time, I hadn’t had much experience making films—I just loved telling stories. They invited me to go along with them on their trip to Israel and Palestine the following summer. So Anna (my friend) and I started planning how to go about it. It was both our first times in Israel and Palestine. She’d One of the many modern-day slum cities within Phnom Penh.
SPECTRA SPECTRAMAGAZINE MAGAZINE
grown up in Lebanon, which is just north of Israel, but she’d never been to Israel. So we were both excited about that—we didn’t know what would happen. L. Ge: How was it like visiting the Middle East as an American? Did you feel like you were subjected to stereotypes, or was it relatively easy to interact with the people there? J. Miller: It was relatively easy, definitely. We first flew into Jordan, which is just east of Israel, and because of the nature of our project—we were making a film—on the way out, they would confiscate our hard drive and all the material we’d captured like the state of Israel would have captured it. So we flew into Jordan. We drove into the Palestine part, which is on the east side, and overall we were treated with great hospitality. Honestly, Middle Eastern culture is just one of the most hospitable cultures I know of. It’s quite
incredible. You go to someone’s home, and they invite you in and feed you all this food and drinks. It’s like, you’re the kindest group of people ever and how do others have these misconceptions about you? We met a lot of Israelis as well. They’re very different from other Middle Eastern cultures—more like Americans than anything else over there, but even so, they have that great hospitality as well. We felt very welcomed.
the Middle East] to take my spot filming and then we had a professional filmmaker go over as well, and it ended up being a great team. They were over there for much longer than we were there. When Anna and I were there for the first summer, it was only 15 days total. When they went, it was a month and a half. At that point, we had built relationships with people there, so we knew what we were getting ourselves into, and where to mold the story—how to tell it, you L. Ge: You filmed the sequel, They Shall Be Called, after know. There were established relationships already the Arab Spring. Did you think, upon returning, that going into the country, so we had some idea of what anything changed in between the first film and the was going to happen. We got great feedback from our second film? first seven-minute cut and we are working on getting J. Miller: The first was more of a snapshot of the situa- the full-length version done by early or later summer. tion, and that’s what it ended up being. Well, first of In the film, we focused on three stories: one characall, I was contracted to go to Cambodia that summer ter was a Messianic Jew, another was a Palestinian we filmed, so I acted as a producer more than anyChristian, and the other was a Palestinian Muslim. thing. I found a couple of my friends to go over [to The idea was to capture these three stories and weave
Khmer youth watch as a group from World Vision documents the story of Phearum Sovun.
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Phearum Sovun working hard to earn a living after receiving a micro-loan to get her business started.
them into one We took these stories and blended it feature-length film we’re working on right now. We into one [unified] story. And we did. We definitely would love to see [Within Broken Borders] be a platgot it, but about a month ago, one of our characters form that uses media to foster reconciliation between emailed us and said, “Hey, I’ve been going through a the Middle East and America. That’s the immediate lot and I am denouncing my faith in Jesus.” We can’t vision. We might expand more around other cultures use any more of the footage that differ from each other, but “We’re taking someone’s life with her. I feel bad that she’s right now it’s just the Middle in that position...it’s crazy. East and America. We’re seeing and we’re turning it into a film. We’re going to go back at some lots of people who are interWhen you capture someone point to re-shoot. We have a ested in us doing projects with few connections, and hopeful- talking for three hours in front them and lots of positive stuff ly meet some people and see for the future. Right now, we’re of a camera, you can mold what exactly where we want to be. where it goes. But that feature-length film is kind of on they’re saying into your own L. Ge: Were any people hoshold right now. It’ll be 45 to story.” 50 minutes long and that’s our tile to you, or to Americans in longest film to date. general? J. Miller: Yeah, definitely. We’re taking someone’s life L. Ge: Where do you see Within Broken Borders going and we’re turning it into a film. When you capture in the future? someone talking for three hours in front of a camJ. Miller: By the end of the year, [Anna and I] will see era, you can mold what they’re saying into your own it through becoming a [501(c)(3)] non-profit. It’s a story. We always try to remain as true to their story long process, as you understand. That’s our goal for as possible, but people who’ve done interviews in the the end of the year, in addition to completing the past know that stories are going to be molded. Some 44
A group of school children waits for class to begin.
of them have a problem with that. It’s just something say, 50 to 100 countries. This film would be so much you’ve got to sit down with them and talk to them different if it were through another organization. I about; you need to assure them that this process is really respect the work that World Vision is doing, going to be involved [on their part]. We’re not going because they don’t just go into countries and work to publish the film or do anything with it unless they there. They work with the locals there who run the approve it. different World Vision spots in “It just changes Our film has definitely these countries. When we visited stirred up reactions from (this is everything when you there, there was no World Vision where it gets a little controversial, staff from America. I feel like that’s take a step down from so I’m not taking a stance right the only reason it works, because now; I’m just saying just the facts) your culture [...] That’s we’re not going there and just doing Israeli Messianic Jews in America handouts or saying, “Hey, we’re the only way it works.” here to help you.” We’re going there or even some Christians in America. They’ve gotten very upset with with people with people who are the message we’re putting out. So that’s kind of crazy, familiar with the culture. It just changes everything but we’re trying to break up stereotypes in America when you take a step down from your culture. You’re and the Middle East, and the hostility comes from letting go of your idea of what life should be like and Americans, you know? you’re stepping into their idea of the reality of what culture is. That’s the only way it works. We’re stepL. Ge: How do you think the people you met in the ping into their culture, and with that attitude, they’re poorer areas of Cambodia view outside help from able to feel more comfortable. They didn’t speak any Americans? English at all—we used translators—and talking to J. Miller: I went over there with World Vision, a us in their own language made them feel more comhumanitarian organization that works in, I wanna fortable. APRIL 2013
L. Ge: How big of a problem is human trafficking in Cambodia? J. Miller: As compared to any third-world country, it’s very similar. But it just so happened that we were going to Cambodia, and I’m glad we did. The culture has transformed since the Khmer Rouge genocide in the seventies, and it’s similar to what happened after the Rwandan genocide. There’s this thought like, “Now what?” You’re forced to work with each other and build your community again. I’ve been to both of those countries and i’ve never experienced so much joy from anyone in any other country and i think it’s because of the hardships they’re been through together. L. Ge: How does microfinance over there work? J. Miller: World Vision has a side organization called Vision Fund, and Vision Fund is basically a recyclable loan organization. So [these entrepreneurs in Cambodia] initiate a loan, and then it gets paid off. Vision Fund then uses this money to make more loans. It’s The busy streets of Phnom Penh.
not funded by outside people at all, which is great, I think, and it’s proven very successful in encouraging people in poverty to take these finances and change their lives. L. Ge: For what types of businesses do people usually seek loans for? J. Miller: You see a lot of businesses that sell food, like vegetables and fruits. And then you see a lot of businesses that sell fabric and clothes. Most of the people who take out microfinance loans are women. It’s hard to find a man who takes up a loan and starts a business. A lot of the men already have jobs. For one of the families we interviewed and talked with, the husband was commuting to almost the border of Thailand. It was only because of the microfinance loan that his wife was able to get that he was able to stop commuting all the way to the border. He’s helping his wife with the store and now they have a farm. They raise animals. You see stories like that all over. Women take on a loan and hold up their family. Cambodian culture, in general, respects women more
Three Khmer women receive their micro-loans at a Vision Fund Loan Disbursement so that they can start their businesses and make a living.
than other third-world countries do. L. Ge: Are these people usually able to pay back these loans? J. Miller: I think about 80% are able to pay back their loans, which to me is pretty good. The other 20% don’t really get punished because of organizations like World Vision Micro, where outside sources like Americans donate money to funnel into the Vision Fund. They support these funds that don’t get paid off. The training that World Vision does with these
women is great. They sit down with these women and tell them, “This is what you should do, this is how we’re going to help you.” L. Ge: How has your experience in the Middle East and Cambodia affected you? J. Miller: You sit down with people, live the way they live, and forget how you live. It breaks down all those walls. These people in all these different cultures are incredibly selfless. In some instances, they have nothing, and they have more joy than I could ever imagine. It’s a humbling experience just to meet these people and build friendships. Joe Miller is a director and editor. His film From the Eyes of Hope won the “Best Documentary” award at the world’s largest youth film festival. He recently finished a film about human trafficking and micro-finance in Cambodia that was screened to over 10,000 people around the nation. Miller moved to Los Angeles in August and is currently working as an editor, independent filmmaker and intern at SmokeHouse Pictures.
Left: Three Khmer boys give their best superhero pose.
A young boy listens to a peer teach about safety while living on the streets.
A young boy takes listens to a peer teach about safety while living on the streets.
MARCH APRIL 2013
Story by NASHIZ MEMON
ew things in life can be remembered as vividly as they actually happened. You often remember the things that happen later in life, rather than things that happen at a young age. But sometimes, the ability to remember something can be strengthened by the significance or emotional drain that an event has on you. Throughout life, significant and dramatic events occasionally arise when least expected. Everything in life can be going well, then all of a sudden, in the blink of an eye, things can change. In the summer of 2001, my father, mother, older brother, and I went to Pakistan for vacation. We planned this trip to visit the rest of our family, who were still living in Pakistan, as only my family had moved to the United States, several years prior. We arrived in Pakistan on July 20, 2001, and planned to come back on August 22nd. Little did I know, the most vivid memory and most significant event of my life was about to take place. It was a regular summer day in Karachi, 50
Pakistan. My family and I were staying at my Uncle Umer’s house, along with a couple of my cousins. My older brother, father, older cousin, and Uncle Umer decided to go out to run some errands. I stayed home, along with my mother and everybody else, as it was late at night, roughly 9 p.m. They took the car out, and went to “New Age Tailors”, a store on Tariq Road. As soon as they arrived and parked, two men sneakily approached them, from both sides of the car. They ordered my father and uncle to get out of the car, but my father denied them. As the scene escalated, my uncle and father fought with the assailants. My cousin Ashar noticed that the man who was fighting with my father was armed with a gun. “Watch out! Uncle, he has a gun!” Ashar called out. Everything was happening so fast, and as Ashar spoke, Uncle Umer was about to overcome his attacker. Suddenly, the assailant who was grappling my father pulled out his gun. The bullet was fired, sounding like a firework, as he shot my father at that second, and the bullet entered his stomach and exited
from his left buttock. The blood started to drip right then, as his clothes began to soak with blood. The assailants immediately escaped, vanishing into the dim streets behind Tariq Road, with an accomplice who had been waiting in the darkness. My uncle’s glasses were broken in the fight, but he drove through obscurity to the nearest hospital, to try and save his brother, my father. They arrived at Medicare Hospital on Shaheed-e-Milat Road, only a minute after leaving Tariq Road. The doctors there refused to operate on my father, who was bleeding abundantly, however fully conscious. “You have to take my brother,” Uncle Umer pleaded with the emergency room staff, “There isn’t enough time to go to another hospital!” “We don’t treat medico-legal cases,” said the staff, as they declined to take him, because the murder was a legal case requiring medical expertise, and they had to find who was responsible for the killing. A resident medical officer named Dr. Zia came to my father, and he dressed his exit and entry wounds, administered Heprinlock to clot the blood, and Hamaccel, to prevent the shock associated with the loss of blood; but the doctors abstained from doing any more. My uncle hurried next to Liaquat National Hospital, arriving at 9:30 p.m. But the staff
there also refused to treat my father. He begged and begged, pleading for help, as he knew money was not an issue because he had dollars and rupees. My uncle even pulled out my dead father’s blood soaked wad of notes, willing to do anything to save his dear brother. However, the staff still rejected his plea for help. My uncle was able to get in touch with his nephew, Dr. Moosa, an administrator at the National Medical Centre, in Kalapul. Dr. Moosa told him to bring my father there immediately. My uncle called an ambulance, and they arrived through the Liaquat National ambulance at 10:15 p.m. My father was rushed to the operating table at 10:25 pm, but it was too late to save him. He had lost too much blood brought about from a cardiac arrest. The doctors spent half an hour trying to revive my father. “Dr. Memon lost more than two litres of blood while he was being shunted from hospital to hospital,” the surgeon said, adding, “his belly had been full of blood.” At 11:20 p.m., my father was pronounced dead. The next day, my father was brought to the city of Mirpur Khas, where his parents, my grandparents, lived. He was brought and laid out on a bed in my Uncle Umer’s bedroom. I walked in early in the APRIL 2013
morning, with people mourning and crying, sitting all around the bed. As I was a mere five years old, I had no idea what was going on. I saw my mother crying by my father’s side, and tried to ask why everyone was crying. But she would not reply. I stayed there, confused and helpless, not understanding what was going on. My brother pulled me outside of the room, and I began to speak with him. “Why is everyone crying, and why is Dad sleeping?” I asked. “He’s not asleep, Nashiz,” my brother replied quietly. “Then what’s going on?” I asked innocently. “Nashiz, Dad’s dead,” my brother explained. I stood there clueless, quiet, and not speaking. Time seemed to slow down, and my body felt as still as stone and as cold as ice. My world collapsed, and my memory of everything after seems unattainable. My mother and I returned to the United States on September 24, 2001. As I was just a kid, I really did not comprehend what my brother meant. I did not understand life and death, how somebody could just die. My father had been taken away from me at this young age, and until I had grown up and gotten older, I was never able to comprehend exactly what happened. Whenever I 52
think about my life, the memory of the last moment, speaking with my brother, is the clearest memory I have. I think this is because of the confusion and the emotion that was present in that conversation, I did not realize the full extent of it as it occurred. I have lived mostly without a father, and with few memories of him that seem tangible. Although this traumatic event happened to me, I turned out to be okay. My mother has raised me in the best way a person could ever ask for, and I think that I am a much stronger person because of my father’s passing. I have lived knowing that whenever you have something, you must always cherish it, and love it, because you really never know what can happen. I have learned to be thankful for everything I have, and love the people closest to me in life. Nashiz Riaz Memon loves reading, music, photography and basketball. He is currently a junior at Davis Senior High School. He coaches for the City of Davis Youth Basketball League, and interns at a lab at the University of Davis School of Medicine.
“What has been the most influential factor in your development as a person?” Victoria Campa, contributor It was summer, and the Madrid sun relentlessly blazed down onto the city’s sidewalk. As I walked, I passed people, hundreds and hundreds of people who turned into a blur of faces and limbs. Suddenly, I realized that these were not just faces and limbs, but that these were individuals, each with their own backgrounds, their own lives, their own stories. It was then that I discovered my yearning for knowing, my passion for connecting and my interest in the complexity yet simplicity of the human race. I was, and still am, fascinated by the power of individuality and by the defining aspects that lay behind the exterior of every human. I remain enchanted by the minute details that differentiate us and the paths we take, so intricately woven into this patchwork we call our world. When asked to identify one moment that has shaped me I cannot, for it has been millions of seconds like these and hundreds of individuals crossing my path that have created the person I am today. Even now I am changing, and will constantly be until the world needs me no longer. Yet what will always remain unquenchable within me is my love for humans, and for the individual stories that we each have to tell. Because that is what created us, and that is what keeps us going. The beauty within every one of us will always remain undefeated. Photo: Courtesy of Victoria Campa Victoria Campa’s photostory appears on page 24.
Ned Vizzini, bestselling author I developed most as a person in my early 30s when learned how to compartmentalize--that is, to take bad things that happen to me and lock them in one place in my head. To keep them from running around making me hate myself. It’s probably not hard to believe that the person who wrote It’s Kind of a Funny Story could get sent into a depressive mode very easily, but after I wrote that book, I still had that problem for years. It wasn’t until I got married, moved to Los Angeles, and had a child that I was able to calm down a bit. And I still have bad days. But they’re not as bad as they used to be. Ned Vizzini is the bestselling author of the acclaimed young-adult books The Other Normals, It’s Kind of a Funny Story (also a major motion picture), Be More Chill, and Teen Angst? Naaah…. In television, he has written for ABC’s Last Resort and MTV’s Teen Wolf. His essays and criticism have appeared in the New York Times, the Daily Beast, and Salon. He is the co-author, with Chris Columbus, of the fantasy-adventure series House of Secrets. His work has been translated into ten languages. He lives in Los Angeles. Photo: Citabria Stevens
Ben Saunders, polar explorer Working as an instructor at the John Ridgway School of Adventure had a significant influence on the direction I've taken. To the teenage me, John seemed a larger-than-life superhero. He’d served in the SAS, he’d been a formidable heavyweight boxer in the Army, he’d crossed the Atlantic in a wooden rowing boat, he’d made the first crossing of a remote icecap in Patagonia and he’d held the record for sailing non-stop round the world. When I met him, however, I found him incredibly modest about his own achievements, and incredibly good at using his experience to encourage other people to think differently about their own potential and ability as human beings. He was a fantastic mentor, and I often say it was during that year that the screw came loose for me: that was when I started dreaming about organizing and leading expeditions of my own.
Photo taken from www.bensaunders.com
Ben Saunders is a highly renowned motivational speaker and explorer who has has skied solo to the North Pole, making him the third person in history to do so. He is currently preparing to lead a two-man team to Antarctica, setting out to make the first return journey to the South Pole on foot. He holds the record of the longest solo Artic journey completed by a Briton.
Jasmine, Hannah, and Cecilia swimming, Tennessee.
LUCAS FOGLIA: “I grew up with my extended family on a small farm in the suburbs of New York City. While malls and supermarkets developed around us, we heated our house with wood, farmed and canned our food, and bartered the plants we grew for everything from shoes to dental work. But while my family followed many of the principles of the back-to-the-land movement, by the time I was eighteen we owned three tractors, four cars, and five computers. This mixture of the modern world in our otherwise rustic life made me curious to see what a completely self-sufficient way of living might look like. From 2006 through 2010, I traveled throughout the southeastern United States befriending, photographing, and interviewing a network of people who left cities and suburbs to live off the grid. Motivated by environmental concerns, religious beliefs, or predictions of economic collapse, they build their homes from local materials, obtain their water from nearby springs, and hunt, gather, or grow their own food. All the people in my photographs are working to maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle, but no one I found lives in complete isolation from the mainstream. Many have websites that they update using laptop computers, and cell phones that they charge on car batteries or solar panels. They do not wholly reject the modern world. Instead, they step away from it and choose the parts that they want to bring with them.” From an interview with Lowell, a member of one such community in Tennessee: “The Amish have it figured out. On Sunday afternoon, they decide what they’re going to do for the week. When I lived near them, they’d come to me and say: “We’re going to lay the blocks for your house Tuesday, so have everything ready.” I mean, it’s not “We’ll help you do it,” it’s “We’re going to lay your blocks.” It’s just so much easier when you do things that way.” Reprinted with permission from Lucas Foglia. For more of his work with these communities, please visit www.lucasfoglia.com.
who we are The World Spectra Project is a not-for-profit organization based in Davis, CA, born of a desire to bring more understanding in the world. The staff, comprised entirely of students at Davis Senior High School and Da Vinci Charter Academy, work to publish three editions of The World Spectra Magazine per academic year. The World Spectra Project aims to bridge communities across cultural boundaries through collecting and publishing personal narratives. The staff actively solicits personal essays, articles, poems and photostories that inspire discussion from the surrounding community. The World Spectra Project particularly believes in the causes of sustainable education, entrepreneurship in third-world countries and empowerment of minority groups. For more information, please visit the official website (theworldspectraproject.org). Please be sure to ‘like’ the Facebook page for updates (facebook.com/theworldspectraproject).
Founder/Editor-in-Chief Linda Ge ‘13
2012-2013 Masthead CFO Margaret Lawson ‘14
Art Director Natalia Khodayari ‘14
IT Director Avery Krovetz ‘14
Editors Amy Jiang ‘14 Isabelle Chen ‘13
Public Relations Emily Knighton ‘14 Elsa Young ‘14
CEO Shelby Ziccardi ‘14
Project Development Coordinator Selina Arias ‘14
Staff Ashley Han ‘15 Eileen Han ‘14 Emily Kappes ‘14 Justine Cenzer ‘14 Mariah Farris ‘14 Project Committee Emily Kappes, Elsa Young
submit Spectra staff continually seek engaging narratives from people around the world. For an idea of what we publish, please peruse the content that appears in previous editions. Please visit the website for detailed guidelines. Spectra staff have the right to decline or modify all submissions. Story submissions and inquiries may be addressed to Linda Ge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
special thanks to: Lili Floyd, Susan Kirby, Rody Boonchouy, Gwynn Benner, Jeff Shaw, Nancy Yip, Chris Ziccardi, Davis Media Access, The New Tech Network, The UC Davis Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program, all of our contributors and our wonderfully supportive community. Without them, none of this would be possible. APRIL 2013
Thank you to our contributors from around the globe.
The World Spectra Project Da Vinci Charter Academy ATTN: Susan Kirby 1400 E. 8th Street Davis, CA 95616
Published on May 9, 2013
This online-exclusive edition features the work of award-winning filmmaker Joe Miller, photojournalist Lucas Foglia, and the Wall Street Jou...