Saturday, 11 July 2009

A Passion to Understand: update

It has been over three weeks since I posted in this blog but there has been a good reason for that as I’ve been on holiday and visited New York and DC.  What I post about in this blog generally relates to current affairs or my journey in understanding various political and social situations and so I thought it wasn’t appropriate to schedule posts while I was away. 

My journey though, my passion to understand, has grown exponentially while I have been away.  A lot of what I did on my holiday had to do with that journey.

United Nations, New York

One of the questions I have asked in the past weeks was ‘Is the United Nations relevant?’  While I was in New York, I took a tour around the United Nations and took copious notes about what they do and how they work.  Most importantly, I learned about what is within their remit and what are their limitations.  I’ll consolidate my notes shortly and post about everything I learned.

New York Public Library

I visited the New York Public Library to try and answer another burning question I have had lately as to why the situations in Darfur and Sri Lanka have not been labelled as genocide.  I spent some time reading up on the matter and took notes from the Encyclopedia of Genocide.  The next post I do will probably be an introduction into what I learned here and an insight into why the term has not been used in Darfur and other regions.

Holocaust Museum, Washington DC

I also visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC.  This is a fantastic museum and although I wasn’t able to tour the main exhibit, I did visit the section on genocide.  I learned about the war in the former Yugoslavia and the genocide that occurred there.  This was very rewarding and I am pleased as I have been wanting to learn more about that situation for some time.

My activities might seem like strange things for a person to do on their vacation but this trip was very much a voyage of discovery for me.  I travelled alone and had a lot of time to think about where I want to go with my life.  Well, I know where I want to go.  I want to work for the UN or one of the aid organisations and go into these places and help communities and individuals recover.  I want to make the statement “Never Again” become a reality.  This might not be realistic though and so I learned more about what I can do in the meantime and I have decided on three areas to focus on in the short term:
- I’ll continue keeping an eye on current affairs and maintaining this blog
- I've identified a couple of areas in which to do some independent self-study (i.e. those discussed above)
- there are a couple of short-courses and free courses that I can enrol on to expand on my knowledge

I haven’t made a decision yet but I thought I’d draw attention to two free courses from Open University called Who counts as a refugee? and The Holocaust.  These are free courses at an advanced level and take about 10 and 12 hours of study respectively.

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