Category Archives: International

Mandela and the media

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg in 2008. Photo from South Africa The Good News /, via Wikimedia Commons

There it is, on page A8 in the World section–the part I usually flip past between reading the headlines on the front page and the latest dish in Style.

That’s it: The miracle. That’s what I want to talk about, and will get to if you’ll indulge me for a minute. Continue reading

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Filed under International, On media

Alternatives to Black Friday

A crowd shuffles into Target at the DCUSA mall in Columbia Heights. Photo by Gridprop on Wikimedia.

A crowd shuffles into Target at the DCUSA mall in Columbia Heights. Photo by Gridprop on Wikimedia.

Last week, an international student in my class declared that Thanksgiving is a terrible holiday — a time when people are killed.  “What do you mean?” I asked, madly searching for some explanation. I recalled that suicide rates spike during the winter holidays, but I didn’t think that was it.

The student then explained that she’d learned about the origins of Thanksgiving and how it arrived amidst a virtual genocide of indigenous Americans. The other students and I had to admit that was true. This mortality-Thanksgiving connection is, indeed, part of U.S. history. Then, as the discussion continued, another student helpfully pointed out that it wasn’t just a dark spot in our past.  In very recent memory, post-turkey shopping turned deadly.  It happened again last year. The international student wasn’t at all surprised.

“Will you have a chance to experience a Thanksgiving dinner in the U.S.?” we asked the foreigner. Perhaps. She’d been invited to one, but said she feared to venture out of her dorm room that day. The international student was only half kidding. Continue reading


Filed under DC, Events, International, Sustainability, Teaching

A week of fear

Election mailings

Recent mailings leading up to the special election in D.C. Photo by Rhea.

It’s Earth Day, a celebration and cultivation all things green and growing. But in the past week, the country’s biggest crop was fear. First came the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday, followed soon after by the ricin in President Obama’s mail and deadly explosions of West, Tex.

Usually slow to internalize threats, figuring I could die any minute regardless of where I am, this time I felt a pinball of worry start to ricochet around my chest. I live just a few miles from the White House, the Pentagon, and the National Mall with its surge of tourists (one of whom, you have to remember, recently turned up dead — and wasn’t the first). These could each be the next place to shatter. Continue reading

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Filed under DC, International

Image for the day

I count two references to Chinese political dissident Chen Guangcheng as blind and 22 lines of text before his name appears in this article. Other articles do bump up Chen’s name.

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Filed under Image for the day, International

Which words to believe?

Haiti presidential palace and fence

Haiti's presidential palace remains crumpled in August 2010. Photo by Rhea.

January 12, 2011 marks the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that toppled Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It was the aftermath of that 35 seconds of destruction that brought me to the country in August, and led to a five-part series on members of the group Friends of Deaf Haiti volunteering at a deaf tent city (see this page).

In November, Haitians voted on a new president for the first time since the quake. It is this event, perhaps more than arguments in criticism or defense of foreign aid, that have dominated public discussion in recent days. That is, until the airwaves and Web pages lit up with questions about a tragic shooting in Tuscon.

The United Nations and Organization of American States acknowledge some glitches in the election process in Haiti, but overall see no need for a rehash. Others see irrevocable flaws. Meanwhile, in the scramble to find meaning in a deadly few seconds outside of a supermarket, we debate whether slaughter originated in political rhetoric or just an imbalanced mind.

Many truths remain clouded until someone puts them into words. Facts and textures emerge through the telling. But what happens when the stories differ? I’ll leave you with that question as I contemplate a grim milestone and a bewildered country.

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Filed under International, On media