Friday, May 29, 2009
How little does "Pygmy" hold my interest? I keep forgetting that I'm reading it. In other words, I set it down and it's not until I happen to see it again that I remember that I am reading it and should continue.
Sad. I expected to enjoy it as the idea of foreigners who come to America but hate it even though they are not able to grasp it, truly holds promise and touches many things in my experience. Alas! Some things just don't turn out as good as they looked.
By the way, I finally saw the film "Choke" on DVD and enjoyed it, although of course it did not have the in-your-face "think about this now" impact of "Fight Club." But it wasn't bad. (And it starred Anjelica Huston, a woman who is probably no relation but could possible be about a fourth cousin perhaps.)
Still, just in case people wonder, I am undoubtedly cool as I am listening to the Gang of Four and Devo 2.0 as I write.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
NBC-WKTV News Channel 2 Utica, New York
Farmer hires refugees
Originally printed at http://www.wktv.com/news/local/46096862.html
ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - David Schieferstine, a Rome dairy farmer recently hired two Burmese refugees from Utica to work at his farm.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County worked with Oneida County Workforce Development to find Ah Lu and Pah Lu. The two are unrelated but were the only ones out of nine who toured the farm who volunteered to enter a work program.
According to county officials, the money to pay for their on the job training comes from workforce investment training funds.
After six weeks, Schieferstine says that things have gone well.
"They pick up things fast, even with a communication problem we can teach them what we need to teach them, there's been a few times when they may be a little problem..."
Cornell officials say they want to expand the program in the coming years if this pilot program continues to progress.
Undoubtedly some of them faced better offers. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for refugees to turn down work, even when unemployed, if it does not pay as much as their last job or what they think their friends are getting. They often have trouble distinguishing between the pay levels at different kinds of work.
For instance, I've seen some who assume that McDonalds and Burger King must pay more than their factory jobs, presumably because McDonalds and Burger King are so "modern" and "American-looking."
Similarly, a while back I was helping a refugee look for work. (For several reasons, refugees tend to look for work in very inefficient ways. It's very frustrating to watch them, especially if they really need the job.) One thing I did was ask him to fill out an application for me, and, by chance, I happened to select a Burger King application. (Hey, I like Burger King when I go out for fast food even if I do tend to order off the value menu.)
Next time I saw him, he handed me the application, now filled out for practice, and I looked it over.
Much to my surprise, he had disqualified himself from possible consideration by putting down under "desired pay and desired wages," the wages and hours from his last job, a temporary job through a temporary service held at a factory. In other words, forty hours a week at slightly over ten dollars an hour. Obviously this is going to get the application placed in the "discard -do not consider" pile instead of in the "interview now" pile.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
It's probably a bit like some people do not really know how to talk to people in recovery, ex-convicts or war veterans. Some people do not know how to react when they find themselves face to face with someone who has been through a horrible experience.
My advice, and it's just one person's advice, is as follows.
Keep things in the present, focus on the future, focus on the positive.
Ask them how they like things here where they are now and if they have any problems.
Ask them what was the most interesting or most beautiful thing they have seen since coming to the United States.
In other words, show an interest in them, show concern for their current well-being, show a willingness to offer assistance or advice about present issues, at least in a small way.
As time goes on you will have a better idea of who they are and what they wish toi talk about. They will have a better idea of who you are and if you are really someone who they wish to share intimate life experiences with. Most refugees come from non-Western cultures that are distinctly different from ours. And in different cultures, speech is used in different ways. Therefore the notion that one would wish to speak about past traumas to someone one has just recently met is distinctly odd to most people in the world.
Furthermore, due to their experiences, many refugees have learned to be private people. I am amazed sometimes at how little information they share with each other, even their roommates. Therefore, there really is no point in trying to dig out a refugees life story on the first encounter. Besides, what will you do with that information anyway? You don't need it.
Just keep things light and on the present until you get to a point where things need or should go deeper.
Again, this is just my two cents. Take it for what it's worth.
In that entry, it was discussed how the Hmong were, until the twentieth century, illiterate and had no system of reading and writing. As they had extensive contact with other peoples, notably the Chinese, who could read and write, the Hmong people developed a variety of myths to explain why they were lacking in this area while their neighbors were not.
In this entry I will briefly discuss the myths surrounding and explaining traditional illiteracy among the Chin, a tribal people of Northwestern Burma, Northeastern India and parts of Bangladesh. Until the early twentieth century, when a system of reading and writing was introduced to the Chin by Western missionaries, the Chin did not have a way to read and write any of the several dialects of their language.
If you'd like you may find a copy of the Bible written in Hakha Chin, here. You will see that unlike Karen or Burmese it is written in the Roman alphabet, a legacy of its origins among primarily American and British missionaries.
Here is an excerpt taken from page 14 of Lian H. Sakhong's "In Search of Chin Identity --A Study in Religion, Politics, and Ethnic Identity in Burma." (2003, Nias Press, Copenhagen.):
In the beginning, when the stones were soft, all mankind spoke the same language, and there was no war on earth. But just before the darkness called 'Chun-mui' came to the earth, God gave different languages to different peoples and instructed them to write on something else. While the Chin ancestors carefully inscribed their language on leather, the Burman ancestors, who were very lazy, wrote their language on stone, which was soft. However soon after they had made the inscription of their languages, the 'darkness' came and the sun disappeared from the earth. During the 'darkness' the stone became hard but the leather got wet. Before the sun came back to the earth, and while the leather was still very smelly, a hungry dog ate up the leather, and in this way, the Chin ancestors lost their written language.
When the sun came back to the earth, the Chin ancestors realized that while they had lost their written language, the Burman language which was written on the stone had turned into 'the magic of letters'. Moreover, while the sons of Burman spoke the same language, the sons of China spoke different dialects because their common language was eaten up together with the leather by the hungry dog. Thus, the ancestor of the Chin prepared to make war against the Burman in order to capture 'the magic of letters'. Although the Burmans were weaker and lazier, the Chin did not win the war because 'the magic of letters' united all the sons of the Burman. Since the sons of Chin spoke different dialects, their fathers could not even give them the war order to fight the Burman. It was for this reason that the Chin broke into distinct tribes and speak different dialects.
Sakhong says he received this story from Pu Sakhong who recorded it in 1969.
There are other versions of the story, including one recorded by Shakespear in 1912 in which God gave different talents to different kinds of people, and the white man, not the Burman, recieved the talent of reading and writing. (Sakhong, p. 14)
Monday, May 18, 2009
Title : 'Evil' China sex park torn down: state media
Date : 18 May 2009 1556 hrs (SST)
URL : http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/lifestylenews/view/430040/1/.html
BEIJING, China: A sex theme park in southwest China that featured giant genitals and a sex-technique workshop has been torn down after officials said it had an "evil influence" on society, state media said Monday.
"Love Land" was due to open in Chongqing municipality ahead of China's national day on October 1, but it was ordered to close following an investigation by local authorities, the Global Times reported.
Besides displays on sex history and techniques, the park boasted a giant rotating statue of the lower portion of a nearly naked woman bent over at the waist.
The Global Times published a photo of workers in the Nan'an district of Chongqing pulling down the statue from a podium covered in flowers.
"The investigation determined the park's content was vulgar and that it was neither healthy nor educational," an official was quoted as saying.
"It had an evil influence on society and had to be torn down immediately."
He Shizhong, head of the municipal publicity department, said the company behind the park had "ignored its social responsibility and was interested only in profiting from sensationalism," the paper reported.
Images of the park's content found their way on the Internet last week and sparked widespread debate and controversy, with the majority of comment opposed to the site.
But some people expressed disappointment that the park had been torn down.
"The park was above board, so why was it pulled down? How can a country get powerful if it doesn't open its mind?" one person was quoted as saying in the newspaper.
> Copyright © 2008 MediaCorp Pte Ltd
Saturday, May 16, 2009
They are, basically, people just like everyone else, only with a background completely different from most other Americans. Because of this background, they often act differently than those of us who are not refugees.
A few traits that you might see if you should happen to invite refugees in your house and let them in your kitchen.
Some refugees might peek in your refrigerator. There is generally nothing malicious or sneaky about this. Looking in your refrigerator serves a few purposes.
First, they often work from habit of checking to see if their host has any food before asking for food. To ask for food from someone who has none is quite rude, embarrassing and unpleasant for all concerned.
Besides they are often very curious about what you and Americans in general eat and sometimes just plain like to look at a well stocked refrigerator.
Many refugees are not used to refrigerators as refugee camps usually do not have electricity, much less personal refrigerators. Teaching them how to use a refrigerator properly can actually be a challenge. They tend to do things like put catsup and other sauces and sometimes vegetables and fruits that should be refrigerated on the kitchen shelf instead of inside the kitchen refrigerator. I've heard stories about refugees who do not really understand how to process meat that has been frozen solid in the freezer.
This may in part explain the curiousity that some refugees have about peeking inside the refrigerator. (And before someone asks how do I know that a refugee peaked inside my refrigerator? He told me afterwards, not out of guilt or to apologize, just to discuss the contents that he had seen. There was no effort to hid the fact.)
Second, should you serve them they might jump in and try to wash your dishes afterwards as a sign of gratitude. This can be awkward if they are standing next to a dishwasher as they do it. Many recently arrived refugees cannot recognize a dishwasher when they see it and often do not really think about what it's for anyway.
Thirdly, refugees often eat surprisingly little and do so contentedly. Also some have special diets for religious reasons. (Muslims don't eat pork and Hindus, including most Nepali-Burmese, do not eat beef, for instance.)
I once invited one over and served him two hot dogs, some beans and some salad (traditional cuisine in my personal culture) and he described it as a "very big lunch."
Here's a list of the ten not-for-profits that perform these services. The list was provided to me by the state department in January 2009.
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
U.S. REFUGEE ADMISSIONS PROGRAM
RECEPTION AND PLACEMENT (R&P) PROGRAM AGENCIES FY 2009
Church World Service (CWS)
Immigration and Refugee Program (IRP)
Mr. Erol Kekic, Acting Director
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 700
New York, NY 10115-0050
Phone: (212) 870-3300
Fax: (212) 870-2132
Domestic & Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS)
Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
Ms. Deborah Stein, Managing Coordinator
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 716-6258
Fax: (212) 972-0860
Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC)
Dr. Tsehaye Teferra, Executive Director
901 S. Highland
Arlington, VA 22204
Phone: (703) 685-0510
Fax: (703) 685-0529
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
Mr. Gideon Aronoff, President and CEO
333 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10001-5004
Phone: (212) 967-4100
Fax: (212) 967-4442
Bureau of Refugee Programs
Iowa Department of Human Services
John Wilken, Bureau Chief
1200 University Avenue, Suite D
Des Moines, IA 50314-2330
Phone: (515) 283-7922
Fax: (515) 283-9160
International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Mr. Robert Carey, Vice President, Resettlement
122 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10168-1289
Phone: (212) 551-3000
Fax: (212) 551-3181
Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service (LIRS)
Mr. Ralston Deffenbaugh, President
700 Light Street
Baltimore, MD 21230-3850
Phone: (410) 230-2700
Fax: (410) 230-2890
U.S. Committee for Refugees and
Ms. Lavinia Limón, President and CEO
2231 Crystal Drive, Suite 350
Arlington, VA 22202-3711
Phone: (703) 310-1130 x 3003
Fax: (703) 769-4241
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Migration and Refugee Services
Ambassador Johnny Young, Executive Director
3211 Fourth Street, NE
Washington, DC 20017
Phone: (202) 541-3000
Fax: (202) 722-8755
World Relief (WR)
Dan Kosten, Director of Refugee and Immigration Programs
7 East Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: (443) 451-1956
Fax: (443) 451-1965
At the end of a school year it is not uncommon for students to have excess furniture that they just don't know what to do with. Some of this is junk, but other pieces are quite good. Often the furniture is being discarded because someone who lives a long way away is unable to ship it where they will go or else because they just don't know what else to do with it besides dump it. (In fact that's how I got my television and at least one book shelf.)
It's a shame that more refugee centers don't follow up on this opportunity.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Apparently things are getting improved as they now produce things like this. It gives a fairly good description of the job I did, aside from a few minor quibbles. (Most notably they ignore the fact that an ideal candidate should be able to carry couches and such.) Also when I did the job there was no need for computer skills because no one was keeping any records and there was no one who was interested in seeing such records anyway, because, as stated, the manager was running around like a chicken with her head cut off, from self-inflicted crisis to self inflicted crisis.
Also of interest is the statement that the furniture director should be able to take calls about furniture. In my opinion, ideally someone else should take the calls, like the secretary for instance, and then the furniture director should follow up on them. That's because in most organizations it's the secretary's job to take calls and handle initial communications with the public and it's the furniture directors job to then process them. (As stated reportedly, the organization I worked in was a mess and poorly managed. This showed up in the use of the secretary, a topic I hope to expand on further in the future.)
Seeking Volunteer/Intern to Manage Warehouse and Donations for Refugees
USCRI Albany has been helping refugees begin new lives in the Capital Region since 2005. Refugees arrive having fled war and persecution, and must quickly adjust to a wholly new way of life. We help refugees become self-sufficient, contributing members of our community who can again dream of a hopeful future for themselves and their children.
The Albany Field Office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) seeks a volunteer or intern to coordinate our Welcome Home program. The Welcome Home Program Coordinator helps prepare for newly arriving refugee families by
- Receiving calls from community members who wish to donate furniture and household goods, and coordinating drop-offs or pick-ups of those goods
- Sorting the goods in our warehouse and maintaining warehouse organization
- Helping to prepare apartments for new arrivals
- Coordinating Donation Drives through schools and community groups
- Completing required paperwork and administrative duties
We are looking for someone who can volunteer 15-35 hours per week during the regular work week, and who can make a commitment of at least 3 months, and ideally 6 or more months.
This is a challenging but very rewarding unpaid position. You will have the opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of refugees, and to learn a great deal about the work of refugee resettlement.
This is an excellent opportunity for a recent college graduate or for someone looking to keep their resume current while they are in between jobs.
- Must speak, read, and write English fluently.
- Must be proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel and other Windows applications.
- Must have excellent organizational, time-management, follow-up, interpersonal, and administrative skills.
- Must have excellent telephone manner, research and writing skills, attention to detail.
- Must be capable of working in a fast-paced, multicultural office environment, take initiative, and be able to handle multiple assignments at once and meet deadlines.
- Commitment to the human rights and general welfare of asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants.
DESIRED, BUT NOT REQUIRED
- Strong candidates will have previous internship experience in non-governmental or inter-governmental organizations.
- Strong candidates will have a truck, and the ability to pick up donated items from houses
- Strong candidates will be fluent in a second language in addition to English. Preference will be given to speakers of: Arabic, Farsi/Dari, Burmese, Karen, Nepali, French, and Spanish.
How to Apply:
Please send a cover letter and resume to
Jen Barkan, Resource Manager, email@example.com 518-459-1790 x292
USCRI Albany, 991 Broadway, Suite 223, Albany, NY 12202
The Albany Field Office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) has been helping refugees begin new lives in the Capital Region since 2005. Refugees arrive having fled war and persecution, and must quickly adjust to a wholly new way of life. We help refugees become self-sufficient, contributing members of our community who can again dream of a hopeful future for themselves and their children.
Therefore I just purchased this book. It's the sort of thing where if the title excites you, then you must have it and will consider it well worth the approximately $50 dollar price tag. I hesitated long and hard before ordering but when it finally arrived this afternoon, I just sighed and realized it was worth it. (Okay, I confess I have not read it completely yet, just skimmed and picked out passages but I can tell it will be good.)
BURMA AND INDO-CHINA (Armies of the Nineteenth Century: Asia)
# Hardcover: 207 pages
# Publisher: Foundry (July 2003)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1901543064
# ISBN-13: 978-1901543063
I saved a little bit by ordering from these people and was quite pleased with their shipping and service.: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/seller/at-a-glance.html/ref=olp_merch_rating_1?ie=UTF8&isAmazonFulfilled=0&asin=1901543064&marketplaceSeller=0&seller=AZXYCJZZLAE7J
If you like this stuff, this will also appeal to you and, best of all, it's free.
By Adam Scott Reid
Published by Thacker, Spink and co., 1893
Original from Harvard University
Digitized Jun 13, 2008
Downloadable as a pdf from:
By they way, although the Chin are a people of Burma who were known for slave-raiding until the British stepped in and put an end to it, they are not included in the above Foundry book. Instead, their culture, history and means of warfare are covered in the volume in the series on Northeast India, a volume I have never seen. Today the Chin have many problems and often become refugees.
Op-ed column: Same sex no threat
Gay marriage won’t hurt heterosexuals or society
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Mark Wilson/For The Sunday Gazette
Text Size: A | A | A
Some people are gay and, as Jerry Seinfeld said repeatedly, to humorous effect, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
And some people are married, not that there’s anything wrong with that, either.
But New York state is considering voting on legislation combining the two categories and, it seems, many people find something wrong with that.
Almost everyone, gay, married and otherwise, has an opinion, no matter how little they know about gay people or marriage. And, naturally, I do too, despite no particular expertise in either realm,
I am neither married nor gay. I am, for the record, heterosexual and divorced.
Having been unhappily married, I have asked gay friends, especially those in happy, long-term, co-habitating relationships, “Why marriage? Couldn’t that spoil everything?”
(It might. Advocates for gay marriage include divorce attorneys.)
Their answers are generally surprisingly practical. Health insurance, hospital visitation rights, shared property, Social Security and disability benefits, estate tax, inheritance rights, even post-separation rights all figure prominently. Many important, practical matters in the life of a gay couple would be clarified by a formalized marriage agreement.
These are valid concerns and if a sizable segment of our population faces these issues, then society should address them. By adopting legalized gay marriage, these concerns would be met.
But like any divisive issue, arguments against gay marriage need to be looked at. Although I have tried hard to understand them, I find them unconvincing.
One widely held argument is that legalizing gay marriage shows approval of such relationships and homosexuality by the citizenship.
I am, of course, a citizen. Believe it or not, I have discovered, however, that few people — gay, straight or otherwise — care very much whether I approve of their relationships, particularly their marriages.
When younger, before I mellowed, I did occasionally tell homosexuals that I did not approve of their homosexuality. Somehow, they ignored me and continued to be gay. I know, it’s tough to believe.
Like it or not, homosexuality will continue to exist regardless of whether gay marriage is legalized.
There also are many heterosexual marriages out there that I do not approve of. Those involved, just like most gay people, have chosen to ignore me. (Alas, an occasional appearance on the local op-ed page only carries so much influence.)
Perhaps instead of arguing about same-sex marriage, we, as a society, might consider a mechanism to annul poorly thought-out marriages in general. Perhaps a secret vote during the wedding ceremony. Perhaps invited guests could secretly place black and white beans in a jar and if the black beans outnumber the white, the marriage is immediately annulled. Game over. Eat the cake and be gone.
Regardless of gender, some marriages are just a dumb idea. But most people, I’ve found, ignore my opinion on the internal affairs of their marriage.
Marriage is an odd institution in that it requires both governmental and individual definition to fully function. All marriages, gay or straight, require some individual definition from within, even if this just be about defining housekeeping roles or shared shopping.
As stated, I am divorced. When I was separated but not legally divorced, I dated a woman in the same situation. Neither of us returned to our spouses. Was this an adulterous relationship?
I say no. At least one person I know says yes. And, just like people who ignore my views on their marriages, I choose to ignore his.
Bad for children?
Some argue that gay marriage will lead to gay adoption or gays having children. They often argue this is unhealthy for children and that some gay parents might encourage their children to become gay.
First, gay people are already adopting in New York state and even a dog can reproduce without permission. Rightly or wrongly, same-sex marriage legislation will not affect this, save to clarify post-separation visitation rights.
Although opponents need to update their facts, they may take solace in knowing that the only gay couple I know personally who have adopted, take much better care of the child than his crack-addicted, neglectful birth mother.
Second, I don’t believe it’s possible to raise a child to be gay, even if one somehow wished to. Should one attempt it, I suspect about the time hormone-addled rebellion struck, the little guy would start chasing girls just to annoy both dads.
Children, like adults, pretty much date whom they wish, ignoring unwanted advice, even mine.
Gay marriage will ease life for many gay people and clarify legal questions. As a straight man, gay marriage won’t hurt me. (How could it? Am I going to accidentally get a gay man pregnant and his two dads will force me into a shotgun marriage? Unlikely.)
Third, and most importantly, legalized gay marriage will be nowhere near the societal menace that dumb marriage already is.
But you can ignore my opinion if you like. People do.