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Journal Entries

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…

Bukaru, Democratic Republic of Congo, 05/21-06/06/09

Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo – 06/06/09             I never thought I’d say it, but I think I’m actually starting to get the hang of life in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  True, the cultural and political dynamics of the place are as vexing and inaccessible as ever, but I’ve finally begun to feel confident

Bukaru, Democratic Republic of Congo, 04/26-05/20/09

Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo – 05/20/09             Wow.  What a different four weeks can make.  When I first arrived in Bukavu, I was in the dumps; I felt unmotivated, caged and homesick.  Now, about halfway into my placement here in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and with only five weeks left in my

Bukaru, Democratic replublic of Congo, 04/07-04/25/09

Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo – 04/25/09             A warning: this will likely be the most pessimistic of all my Fellowship journal entries.  This isn’t to suggest that the past two weeks have been filled with cataclysm; on the contrary, I’ve found my new office to be a friendly and motivating place to work, and

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 03/19-04/07/09

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – 04/07/09              I began my last journal entry with the phrase, “…one of the most important lessons [I have learned over the course of this Fellowship] has concerned perserverence and patience; with enough of each, everything will turn out beautifully.”  Looking back on this statement, I can’t help but laugh; it

The Hague, Netherlands 02/26-03/18/09

The Hague, Netherlands – 03/18/09             Though I’ve learned a great many things over the course of the past nine months, one of the most important lessons concerns perseverance and patience: with enough of each, everything in life will turn out beautifully. Nighttime Amsterdam, Netherlands             I’m currently sitting in Eetcafé Sise, a Turkish bar

The Hague, Netherlands 01/20-02/25/09

It feels like an eternity since I last wrote and I suppose it really has been.  My last entry detailed the confirmation of charges against Jean-Pierre Bemba, yet this event seems almost a world away.  So much has happened since then.  So much, in fact, that it might be useful for me to number my

The Hague, Netherlands 01/08-01/19/09

The Hague, Netherlands – 01/19/09 It’s been over three weeks since I returned to Den Haag from St. Moritz and I’ve really started to feel at home in my new digs.  This sense of comfort and place has been partially drawn from my recent experience of Dutch art, which seems to have been a recurring

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-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

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…

Final days in Boston-2007

August 25th Boston’s History Today a local Boston historian gave me a full tour of the democratic and geographic development of neighborhoods in Boston.    He wove his own history, as the descendent of early Irish immigrants, into that of my own family (British-Scots), as well as the Italians, the Black Caribbean communities, the Brazilians, etc. 

Boston-August 7-20, 2007

August 9th, 2007 Hot Buttons Exercise In my last few coaching sessions, one of the associates introduced an exercise for improving listening skills.  She explained that the exercise is particularly useful for difficult conversations, as our listening ability tends to suffer when emotions are high, identity is threatened, and important negotiating substance is on the

Boston-July 23-August 6, 2007

July 24th, 2007 Photo gallery 1: Explorations around Boston View of Boston skyline from ferryboat. Rocky shoreline of Boston Bay’s islands. Tide pools on Boston Bay Island where I went wading one weekend.  Can you see the crab? July 25th, 2007 Tour continued… Paul Revere’s House; one of the sites I passed while walking Boston’s

Boston-July 11-22, 2007

July 11, 2007 Wish List: #1 I mustered the courage to sample the first item on my wish list.  Looking back at my list, the number one item was belly dancing.  At the time, I had added this to my list more as a dare to myself to stretch.  I wanted to do something that

Boston-June-July, 2007

June 17, 2007 Moving Back to the U.S. (from Cyprus) I have to admit I found it quite intimidating moving to Boston. This transition is the first time that I am moving to a place where I know no one. Not only do I know no one, but at least by Cypriot standards, I consider

Budapest & The Hague, June 2007-Then Home!

10 June 2007: I’m making the most of my time here in Budapest: being touristy when I want to, being impulsive when I want to, and generally soaking up the atmosphere of a new place.  This morning I headed out early to the castle (mostly to satisfy that very large part of me which loves

Jordan then home! May-June, 2007

April 29, 2007: Petra I just came back from two days in Petra. Just spectacular. Obviously, the “Rose City” was beautiful, a city created by destruction, carving into the steep cliffs and discarding material.  Warned by friends that it would be crowded during the day, I entered the park at opening time, walking through the

The Hague-May-June, 2007

19 May 2007: In an effort to explore more of the Netherlands, I took a quick day trip to the nearby town of Delft. Only a ten-minute tram ride away, Delft had been recommended to me as a quaint little town, renowned for its Saturday market and its quintessentially Dutch pottery (appropriately referred to as

Africa-May 2007

Tuesday, 1 May 2007 It is Labor Day here in Uganda. Apparently it would be disrespectful to government orders if we did more interviews today, so we’re not. Instead I can do the data entry from yesterday’s work, which is clearly going to be the time consuming part of this project. Yesterday was a great,

The Hague, April-May, 2007

22 April 2007: The day began in The Hague’s central train station and drew to a unexpected close in a boat on the canals of Amsterdam.  The hours passed easily from one pleasant moment to the next, confirming my suspicion that the best memories from this year will come from experiences completely unplanned and unforeseen. 

Africa-April 2007

Monday, 9 April 2007 It’s been a great couple days catching up with Jared here in Cairo. Similar to how I felt when I saw Julia when she arrived in The Hague, in addition to sharing time as friends it is so validating to be able to share experiences of the year thus far with

Jordan-April, 2007

April 10, 2007: Arrival in Amman Blinking, I arrived in Amman. Another adventure though I feel I have accumulated years of them in the past ten months. Indeed, the bags under my eyes would agree. My brother had passed through Amman some years ago, recollecting, “Amman is really white and hilly, right?”  You bet. Like

Uganda-April 2007

April 3, 2007: “A Lone Jew in Kampala” or “Has It Really Been Over Three Hundred Days?” Until recently, I had only a small sense of time passing outside of my experience.  I knew my friends and family were going through their own lives, of course, with finals, vacations, job offers, and the rest, but

Morocco, March-April 2007

Tuesday, 27 March 2007 Looking out on the red Moroccan desert landscape, on a train taking me south from Casablanca to Marrakech. I’ve experienced far more train travel this year than ever before in my life; several long and adventurous rides in China, many shorter and efficient trips in Europe, and now here, as part

Uganda-March 2007

March 1, 2007: Days in the IDP camps Accompanying the USAID representatives to internally displaced persons (IDP) camps was a difficult, amazing experience over the last few days.  We moved from Lira to Kitgum, stopping along the way first at Padjule camp.  Padjule is a large camp but one that was planned; this means the

Uganda-February 7-27, 2007

February 7, 2007: NUPF Executive Committee Meeting Today was the meeting of the Northern Uganda Peace Forum (NUPF) Executive Committee, the group of representatives from the five ethnic sub-regional Peace Forums: West Nile (red), Acholi (green), Lango (blue), Teso (pink), and Karamoja (yellow). The purpose of the meeting was to review formal documents and to

The Hague-February 21-26, 2007

Wednesday, 21 February 2007 This has been a busy social week already, with an evening event last night with interns and staff from the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, one of the UN’s ad-hoc tribunals in The Hague) at the oldest bar in The Hague, and a party tonight at a friend’s

The Hague February 1-13, 2007

Thursday, 1 February 2007 A new month. I’m ready for a fresh start. Though I don’t like to develop cynical attitudes, especially not toward anything just at face value, January’s been a bad month for the past few years. It brought serious health concerns to a best friend, death to my grandfather, and this year,

Cambodia-Last Days!

24 January 2007: I went for a morning run for the first time since arriving in Phnom Penh.  I’m surprised I hadn’t gone before; exercising early in the day is perfect when living in a city that generally begins to wake around 4 or 5am.  In fact, the paths around Independence Monument and along the

Uganda January 22-February 6, 2007

January 22, 2007: Meetings in Gulu I was fortunate to attend meetings throughout the day with a graduate student connected to USAID who is exploring peace-building approaches in northern Uganda as a case study for a larger peace-building toolkit.  For her, it was an interesting opportunity to extract theory from practice; for me, it was

The Hague, January 1-30, 2007

Tuesday, 16 January 2007 I spiraled into a minor anxiety attack at work today based on a combination of things, which are a bit clearer now after distilling my feelings at the gym tonight. I’m trying to find my way through a research project and my current lack of focus is caused by a distracting

Uganda-January 7-21, 2007

January 7, 2007: Kampala After landing at the Entebbe airport, we disembarked from the plane onto the tarmac and I was struck immediately by the smell.  It smelled like camp, the deep musky flavor of trees, humidity, and warmth, even at four in the morning.  The silhouetted lines of vast trees were visible against the

Cambodia, January 2007

30 December 2006:  I just returned from a quick bus trip to Vietnam (4 hours each way).  Although the official purpose of my trip was to secure a Cambodian visa extension (which required officially leaving the country and returning with the correct paperwork), I also used the trip as an excuse to see more of

Traveling-Welcome to 2007!

December 30, 2006 I am finding it interesting to travel through the region, finding myself comfortable in these spaces. Suddenly, I feel as though I know Morocco, how it works, what makes it tick, especially in comparison to my friends and family who have not – and may never – visit these locations.  At the

Traveling-December 2006

­­­December 9, 2006: Hiking Cinque Terre The Cinque Terre are five small villages along the coast of north-western Italy, built into the cliffs and hills that lead to the ocean.  There is a train that accesses each of the towns as well as a hiking trail that weaves in, up, and around the hillsides.  So,

First Days in Cambodia

10th December 2006: I experienced my first days in Cambodia in a state of constant fatigue.  Upon arriving in Phnom Penh last night, I was greeted by an immigration official (sent by my contacts at Youth for Peace, the organization with which I’ll be working) who whisked me through customs and the visa application process. 

China to Paris-December 21-27, 2006

Thursday, 21 December 2006 I am finally on a plane from Beijing to Paris, after a day full of travel fiascos and emotional goodbyes. Students came to my room starting after dinner last night, to say goodbye, ask me again why I had to go and what time I would leave in the morning, when

China-December 16-18, 2006

Saturday, 16 December It’s dark these days at 4:30 and the daylight hours will only get shorter when I get to the Netherlands. Yikes. Last night I spent the night at Xie Cai Xia’s house, something I’m glad we finally had a chance to do. We left school and met her mom at a small

China December 8-14, 2006

Friday, 8 December 2006 I arrived in Shanghai this evening, and after taking the bus from the airport and getting off at People’s Square, I was immediately hit by what a different side of China Shanghai offers. Within the first thirty seconds of getting off the bus, I walked past the Shanghai Museum, which was

China, November 26-December 7, 2006

Sunday, 26 November 2006 This weekend was good, getting back to Yantai and what has really started to feel like my home after nearly two months here. I spend a lot of time walking around the city, reflecting on how very familiar many parts of it are to me. My concept of this year was

Last Days in Cyprus-November 2006

12 November 2006:             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 like

China, November 19-24, 2006

Sunday, 19 November 2006 Yesterday I walked all day long, through hutongs, the remaining old courtyard houses and alleys that have barely hung on through the constant demolition to make way for the building of skyscrapers. The city feels so much newer than when I was here in 2000, and which wasn’t long ago, though

Final Days at The Hague

November 15, 2006: Cold Weather Finally Hits The north-European weather has finally hit. It has gotten cold and windy with rain almost every day.  The skies are constantly grey but not flat, not a single slate gray as clouds in the Midwestern U.S. often are. Here, fortunately, the clouds have a dynamic depth that gives

China-November 7-11, 2006

Tuesday, 7 November 2006 It’s quiet now in the late evening. Today was sunny and much warmer, enabling me to do laundry (which is quite a process, since I just have water, soap, and a plastic basin), which I really needed to do. Classes went well, the kids knew much more about professions than I

Cyprus-November 2006

3 November 2006: 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 next.

The Hague-Late October-November 2006

October 19, 2006 I went over to my friend’s place for a nice dinner party with a bunch of other internationals working in The Hague.  It was a really great time to relax, eat delicious food, and get a chance to hear many more viewpoints.  Eventually, I was talking to a few people about how

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