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Hargeysa, Somaliland-November 2008, Part I

Hargeysa, Somaliland – 11/20/08 (Part I) I am beginning this entry on November 18th, just a few hours after having completed my final facilitation in Somaliland.  I am euphoric.  I just finished uploading the photographs that were taken during the day and strangely enough, I have been reminded of Julia Gegenheimer.  It was a photo

Aso Puente, Guatemala City

Every Insight trainer’s dream is to walk into the presentation room to find a blue and red marker. (Ok, well this is really my dream since my workshops function sans office supplies from the Concord office) When I walked into our classroom at Aso Puente in Guatemala City, Guatemala sitting near the white board were

Last days in Nicaragua and my life list

The first time I saw David Seibel after I was awarded the Fellowship was at the Harvard Negotiation Project’s Mediation course at Harvard Law School. On my drive home I called my friend and said, “He told me that part of my responsibility is to cross things off my life list. Things I’ve always wanted

Northern Nicaragua and the chicken bus

In an incredible turn of events, I was connected with Peace Corp volunteers working in the northern part of Nicaragua. They lived outside of Esteli, in a small town called Pueblo Nuevo. They invited me to spend the night with their host family to learn more about what I was doing, as well as give

It’s a small world, in Granada!

The most insane thing happened to me, something that hasn’t happened to me in 6 months – I ran into someone I knew on the street! And in Granada, Nicaragua nonetheless. I’m starting to understand why I keep hearing “Everybody knows everybody here” comments. I ran into someone I had met networking the week prior,

Granada, Nicaragua

Nicaragua. Despite the similarities I have to keep reminding myself that I am no longer in Asia. I got right down to business in Granada connecting with people who were doing cool things. I found this great little company called NicaLife, which hires Nicaraguan women all over the country to make amazing jewelry that is

Final days in Bali

My experience in Bali has become as unpredictable as the weather here. Despite my efforts to communicate with ROLE what I am looking for in a fellowship placement, the needs of the organization do not meet my own as the Insight Fellow. I have decided that in order to get the most out of my

Bali, Indonesia

My life in Bali is so different than my life in Kampala. I am amazed that it’s only been a few weeks away from life in the convent and in the field with FINCA, but I have loved the challenge of this new adjustment. As I round out on a few weeks at the ROLE

Singapore and Bali

Culture shock can come in a variety of ways. I think people are often shocked by the banter of a foreign language, poverty, food, etc. For the first time I was shocked by massive shopping malls, organized traffic, modern public transportation, and the English language. Singapore. What a place! I stopped there on my way

Workshops in Uganda

I am very excited to write this entry because I had such an amazing and interesting two weeks doing, yet again, things only an Insight Fellow has the opportunity to do! I’ll begin with my workshops (that’s right, plural!). I held an Influence and Negotiation workshop, and a one-day Effective Communications workshop. I have seen

Kampala & Gulu, Uganda

I currently have the privilege of working with Elizabeth Robinson, the director of the FINCA Development Academy, the FDA, to create a toolkit for communication techniques that has the potential to be rolled out internationally! I spent a few days this week applying Insight tools and concepts to FINCA’s culture and creating a mini stand-alone

Taste: Tel-Aviv, and Ein Gedi, Israel

Fran Lebowitz once said, ‘Food is an important part of a balanced diet.’ I agree. In some ways, I’d like to amend that statement by saying that food in many ways also offers insight into the complexity of conflict. Conflict has taken on an unsavoury flavour in the minds of the general public. My own

Through the Senses: Tel-Aviv and Afula, Israel

Sight The first things I see before getting to Israel are the stern faces of security guards at the gate. An experience unlike any other, makeshift kiosks set up with Bangkok airport security waiting to greet passengers. The tired faces—it is close to 12am and the stoic expressions of those who dictate boarding – suggest

Final Placement Journey Through the Senses: Tel-Aviv, Israel

Tel-Aviv, Israel As we move into my final placement on the Insight Collaborative Fellowship, I find myself at an interesting cross-roads. I have tried my best to relay to you stories, anecdotes, observations, and accomplishments, painfully aware that what I am experiencing first-hand, through my senses, will never be authentically captured in writing. That is

Last days in Palau: All Stories Come to A Close

Their Stories The other major deliverable of my work with Palau Conservation Society was a consultancy in assessing the potential for conflict over fisheries management, the various interests of stakeholders in the fisheries industry, and a strategy for helping communities engage in consensus-building and effective problem solving. At Insight Collaborative, one aspect of our training

Palau, The Workshop Story

As a site coordinator for Palau’s Protected Area Network, I have learned that one is not simply tasked with the protection and conservation of Palau’s ecological heritage, but also with the engagement of relevant parties in a rather interdisciplinary conservation effort. What I mean by this is that site coordinators cannot only be equipped with

My Work in Palau, Part II

Fisheries management in Palau, despite what one might expect to be a rather simple affair, given the nation’s small territory and even smaller population, is quite complex for a number reasons. I shall try to enumerate a few of them in this entry, but now is perhaps the time for me to say quite candidly

Koror, Palau-My Work Story, Part I

I have already given you a brief introduction to the work I am doing with Palau Conservation Society, and now that I have a rather robust picture of this placement, I want to dedicate more room here to the details of my work. Because of Palau’s complex political and legislative history, the jurisdiction and authority

Stories from Palau

I have had enough time in Palau to gain a basic understanding of the nation, its history and the quirks of daily life.

Stories from Palau (after a stop in Shanghai and Seoul)

This entry marks the end of my India placement, and the beginning of new exciting adventures in one of the most remote regions of the world: the islands of the South Pacific! Since I am in a new placement, with new information and experiences to share, the format of these entries will also change. I’m

These are the Places I’ll Remember All My Life

Approximately one month ago, I was asked by the <a href=”http://wfo-oma.org/climate-change/case-studies/climate-change-study-in-uttarakhand-india.html“>Uttarakhand Climate Change Centre</a>, a branch and subsidiary of Navdanya, to draft a report on the devastating flash floods that had taken place in June and July of 2013 in the state, displacing hundreds of thousands of people while taking over one thousand lives. It

Charlie’s Making Me Smile!

The Golden Temple, though named thus only colloquially, is mostly pure white marble. Our hotel was about 100 meters from the side entrance. Chalk this up as another benefit of being of Indian origin (or not so much of a benefit), but every 50 meters or so—and I wish I were exaggerating—either I was asked

Those ad-hoc trips you just have to love!

How many amongst us have dreamed of taking a world map, plastering it on a wall somewhere and flinging darts randomly at it, in the hopes that where those darts landed would decide the issue of where to travel? Let’s face it; the liberty to make such a decision on a whim is more fancy

Hmm, where have I landed?

Dehradun, India and Varanasi, India Haan, yeh main aaya kahan hu? (Hmm, where have I landed?) A Visit to the Himalayan Environmental Science and Conservation Organization While Dehradun is hardly the center for environmental scholarship in India, and not nearly amongst India’s busiest cities by any metric, Navdanya is not the lone ecologically-minded institution here.

I am but a traveler, my friends!

So I packed up all my things, pretty much just as I had unpacked them what seemed like only a few days ago. And like the four hobbits in J.R.R. Tolkien’s <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lord_of_the_Rings“>The Lord of the Rings</a>, I found myself looking upon a familiar sight: Montreal, home sweet home. Despite my folks alluding to my

Closing Time

My last two weeks in Boston have actually gone by far more smoothly than I had initially expected – especially before my placement with Navdanya had been finalized. Something I have learned over the course of my higher education and during my Boston training placement is the importance of balancing expectations with the unanticipated. I

Waiting Game

In the midst of training, attending a conference in London and taking part in the AOSIS negotiation workshop in New York, I was trying to finalize my three placements. Into my fellowship and placement choices, I have woven the theme of environmental conflicts and the scales with which they are associated—from local to cross-boundary to

I Wanna Be a Part of It!

Towards the end of June, Insight Collaborative President David Seibel introduced me to Mr. Douglas Stone, Founder and CEO of Triad Consulting and co-author of the best-selling book on effective communication and strategic relationship management, Difficult Conversations. Since Mr. Stone is based in Cambridge, MA, I had the great opportunity to meet him in person—Mr.

Boarding Pass? Boredom Passed!

I love airports. Recycled air, labyrinthine gate and security arrangements, Duty Free stores that make it seem as though buying perfume, expensive watches, liquor and chocolate all in one go is routine, those last-call announcements that are more embarrassing than being called down to the Principal’s office in middle school…. Yes, all of that included:

Empty Boxes

Ready to Start! Empty boxes can signify many things, often the beginning or the end of something: you take out several empty boxes with the intention of packing away your life into them, to move off somewhere new and start fresh. I had a few of those kinds of empty boxes in Montreal before I

Looking ahead

At an address to the Class of 2009, Harvard University President Drew G. Faust cited a passage from Joan Didion’s…

Hargeysa, Somaliland-November 2008, Part II

Hargeysa, Somaliland – 11/20/08 (Part II) Here’s a photo that alludes to what things have been like since returning to Hargeysa from Berbera: According to my friend Jakob, who has worked in Hargeysa with the Swiss NGO Caritas for the past two years and who lives in the same compound as me, the political and

Hargeysa, Somaliland Part I

Hargeysa, Somaliland – 11/20/08 (Part I) I am beginning this entry on November 18th, just a few hours after having completed my final facilitation in Somaliland.  I am euphoric.  I just finished uploading the photographs that were taken during the day and strangely enough, I have been reminded of Julia Gegenheimer.  It was a photo

Hargeysa, Somaliland-10/26/2008

Hargeysa, Somaliland – 10/26/08             As I type these words, I am sitting in the Academy for Peace and Development’s cozy mefrishe, drawing long twigs of qat out of a plastic bag, plucking the softest leaves from their stems, and folding them into tiny balls which I place on the tip of my tongue.  I

Hargeysa, Somaliland

Welcome to Somalia: the world’s most comprehensively collapsed state! Though this assertion by the International Crisis Group…

Last Days in Cyprus-November 2006

12 November 2006—Day 174             I went to dinner with my friend Damian, another American teaching classes here and staying in the University hostel.  We walked around beforehand, exploring the winding streets of the Old City and checking out various restaurant possibilities.  It was nice to recognize most of the streets and landmarks, and feel

Cyprus-November 2006

3 November 2006—Day 165 The week is over, and I’m a little relieved.  One of the more difficult weeks I’ve had in Cyprus so far.  I conducted one interview after another and at the same time have started the process of writing an article.  It seems like I’m always running from one place to the

Cyprus-October 2006

1 October 2006—Day 134 Cyprus celebrates its independence today.  For a country that has been invaded by the Egyptians, Greeks, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Franks, Venetians, Ottoman Turks, the British, and I’m sure many others as well, the day seems like something really worth celebrating.  However, not too much seems to be going on. 

Hello from Cyprus!-September 2006

08 September 2006—Day 101             My first full day in Cyprus.  It came by way of a 7-hour layover in Amsterdam, after a long two days of traveling.  On my hundred and first day of the Fellowship, I really feel like some of the lessons I’ve learned on my trip over here could be entitled

Last days in Boston-August 2006

17 August 2006—Day 79             Next week is my last at Insight before I go home to Kansas for a week and then leave for my first placement in Cyprus.  Interestingly enough, this perhaps has been my busiest time in Boston.  My schedule is full with coaching sessions, daylong training, or last-minute errands in preparation

Boston-July-Early August 2006

6 July 2006—Day 37             Insight’s President, David’s, Fourth of July party was a couple of days ago.  I brought my friend James, who came into Boston from Andover in part to see the fireworks, in part (I hope) to see me, and in part (mostly) to take a break from the high school kids

Egypt, then Home!-July 2006

(06/28/06) Day 300: Luxor After being away from home for longer than I ever imagined I would be, I can’t describe how nice it is to be picked up in a new city by a pre-arranged car and local guide. Not having to sort out the frustrating little details that I’ve been dealing with for

Boston, Working and Planning-June 2006

12 June 2006             I returned to work today reinvigorated from a weekend in upstate New York, where the wedding I attended included a traditional Cambodian ceremony.  The event as a whole was fabulous (it totally appealed to the traditional, romantic, emotional side of me), but the Cambodian ceremony was especially incredible.  It was livelier

Uganda & Egypt-June 2006

(17/06/06) Day 289             Went for a workout today for the first time. I’m pretty out of shape these days. The food here definitely contributes to that. For some reason the health food craze hasn’t hit east Africa yet. Perhaps when there are people starving in your own country, watching what you eat isn’t exactly

Back to Uganda-June 2006

(01/06/06) Day 273: Nungwi             12 dollars per night. That’s the price of a bungalow with 2 queen sized beds, a bathroom and front porch, sitting right on the beach. Nungwi. The town where every 12 dollar bungalow has a million dollar view. I’m a lazy stone’s throw away from the bluest water I’ve quite

First Days in Boston- 2006

30 May 2006             I returned to the East Coast in much the same daze that I had left it, arriving in Boston this evening after a short week at home and a long day of traveling.  In many ways, the whirlwind of these past couple of weeks has yet to subside.  My memories of

Tanzania-May 2006

(05/28/06) Day 269             The fact that I have made it from Mbarara to Bukoba in one day is not proof that the myriad of caveats I received when I decided to take this route were unfounded. Far from it. The trip from Masaka was taken in stages as each van that was supposed to

Uganda and a Trip Down the Nile-May 2006

(04/26/06) Day 237: Pinball             Another day spent working at home wouldn’t have been so interesting had it not been for the evening. Talking to a few Canadian conflict resolution masters students from Royal Roads University about their various projects here in Uganda I see a familiar face walk through the door but not one

Uganda-April 26-30, 2006

(04/26/06) Day 237: Pinball             Another day spent working at home wouldn’t have been so interesting had it not been for the evening. Talking to a few Canadian conflict resolution masters students from Royal Roads University about their various projects here in Uganda I see a familiar face walk through the door but not one

Uganda-April 6-25, 2006

(04/06/06) Day 218: FINCA             Waking up to my second day in Africa I was feeling a little light headed, a possible consequence of drinking two glasses of Waragi, the cheapest Ugandan liquor one can find. I ate a quick breakfast and hopped on a motorcycle taxi headed in the direction I believed the FINCA

Uganda-April 5 2006

 (04/05/06) Day 217: Uganda             After 23 years of hoping I’ve finally made it. Africa. How I got to where I am is a story worth mentioning if not an interesting one. I met with Grant, a desert safari tour guide who took David and Ashley around when they were in Dubai, for a drink

Dubai-April 2006

 (04/01/06) Day 214: Dubai             After being bumped onto an Emirates (direct) flight to Dubai from Muscat international, I almost didn’t want to get off when we landed. On that short hour- long flight I experienced better service and more comfort than I have seen in the last three months living in India. Flying Emirates

India-March 2006 Traveling

(03/17/06) Day 198: Kovalem             On a rock perched over the stormy seas I sit alone, listening. The rhythmic sounds of the Arabian Sea lull me into a place that seems a lifetime away from the office I left just 24 hours ago. There isn’t a cloud in the sky yet I cannot see the

India-Late January 2006

(01/20/06) Day 142: Babu Bhaskar             Today we had Babu Bhaskar come speak to us at work. Babu has been doing work in the field of human rights all throughout India for the last few decades. Hailing from Kerala, he briefed us on the history of the region as we are planning on starting up

India-Arrival, January 2006

(01/08/06) Day 130: Arrival in India Sunday January 8th, 2006, my first day in India. I awake to the sound of prayers coming through a muffled microphone from a neighbourhood mosque. Its origins I would later learn to be from the Pakistani area situated parallel to my neighbourhood of Lingarajapuram. Try saying that one 5

Thailand & Laos-December 2005 & January 2006

(12/11/05) Day 102: In the Big Bang             I arrived in Bangkok late last Thursday night. For the last 3 days I have been mostly taking it easy taking care of three months worth of neglected logistics and relaxing with all the comforts a big city has to offer that a monastery in the middle

Tibet & Thrangu-December 2005

(12/01/05) Day 92: Exam period             At some point during the day I made a decision to give all of my classes final exams. This came as much as a surprise to me as most of the students seeing as I have yet to evaluate them in any way other than verbal expressions of approval

Tibet & Thrangu-November 2005

(11/01/05) Day 62: The fog is slowly lifting I woke up today to an unusual darkness but knew it was morning. I looked at my watch and bolted upright in bed, 10:09am. I couldn’t believe it. I dressed myself in a frenzy cursing myself for bragging about my internal clock just yesterday to my parents.

Tibet & Thrangu-October 2005

(10/02/05) Day 32: Return of the Rinpoche I just got back from Jaiku after having spent today and last night at the Rinpoche’s house. Last night we went out for dinner with Lama Pema and the Rinpoche’s brother. We went to this cool little restaurant and had “hot pot”. It reminded me of the few

So This is Tibet-September 2005

(09/08/05) So this is Tibet Today, just after breakfast and shortly after my last journal entry, Lama Pema (Rinpoche’s right hand man) picked me up and drove me out into the middle of the Himalayas (snazzy way of saying 45 minutes outside of town). There, under a traditional Tibetan tent, Rinpoche and about 7 other

Traveling to Tibet-Early September 2005

(09/01/05) Day 1: On the Plane to Beijing We’ll, it’s actually happening. I’m on the plane to Beijing. It’s a 14-hour flight with no stop over so needless to say, I’ve got some time to kill. This morning I woke up tired and feeling lousy. I guess it may have been a blessing in disguise

Boston & the Insight Partners Retreat-August 2005

08/01/05) Insight Partners Retreat round two             In Toronto now and just got back from the cottage. A long weekend with David, Patrick, Dave Eason, Jeff and my whole family was just what I needed, the perfect little vacation. I gave a presentation to everyone there about the Fellowship including handouts of charts and excel

Boston-July 2005

07/05/05) Fourth of July             Yesterday was the Fourth of July and consequentially, David’s annual 4th party. Had a great time this year and it was interesting to be there for the second year in a row. Cool to see people I met one year ago to the day for the second time. Also great

Harvard Negotiation Insight Initiative- Boston June 2005

(06/20/05) Harvard Negotiation Insight Initiative: Day 1 Well, I’m back here in Boston. I’m not sure how to segue into a reflection of my recent experiences so I’ll just begin with where I am now and try to work my way backwards. I’m writing this, my first journal entry, from Hillel at Harvard University. I’ve

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