Emily Cunniffe (UWC-AC ’11-’13)
Arab nationalism, an ideology born in the 19th century among Arab intellectuals, aims for the creation of an Arab national identity. Today, the Arab League can be seen as a result of such nationalism. The Arab Spring launched a new phase of Arab unity and also discord; the domino effect which was witnessed throughout the Middle East shows a common discontent among the Arab peoples. In today’s political climate, is Arab unity, such as that intended by the Arab League, as relevant?
Heidi Egeland (Norway, UWC AC 2011-2013)
Testimonial for my time as a volunteer at “La Casita” Summer of 2012.
June 2012 was a very special month of my life. I flew from Europe to Argentina, with a good friend from Atlantic College, Chloé, to volunteer at a day centre for poor children in the province of Buenos Aires called Escobar.
When Chloé and I arrived by bus to Escobar, we did not speak very much Spanish and looked quite conspicuous as two blond Europeans among all the Argentineans. But we needed not to worry; soon afterwards we were picked up by Brenda Lynn Hibdon, the volunteer coordinator, and Rodrigo Cuevas, the founder’s son of La Casita. Instantly we felt safe and welcome as if we had known Brenda and Rodrigo for a very long time. They both speak perfect English, which made the whole introduction very smooth. Continue reading
Ryan Michael Chin (Singapore) (UWC AC ’11-’13)
‘Is that Walter?’ I thought to myself as I waited awkwardly at the departure gate. Luckily for me it was. And that was how I began my journey on the Arava Valley of Peace UWC Short Course. Basically the course was one situated in Israel and was aimed at bringing 6 Palestinians, 6 Israelis and 8 International Students together to learn about Peace Resolution and Sustainable Green Technologies in the desert. We travelled from the desert Kibbutz to the modern and upcoming Tel Aviv, from the Historical Old city of Jerusalem to the touristy destination of Eilat.
Emily Cunniffe (Ireland/UAE, UWC AC UWC AC 2011-2013)
I walked out of Bengaluru Airport, pushing through the crowds only to hit a wall of sweltering heat. All I had in my hands was a taxi company name, my passport, a suitcase and an address. An adventure is what they tend to call this kind of thing. I guess, it sort of was. After a slight moment of disorientation, I found the recommended taxi company and wearily watched two men fight over my suitcase. I clambered into a taxi and only hoped my suitcase was in the same vehicle ( the driver assured me it was!). Half way through the drive, we had apparently stopped for a bathroom break. My taxi driver leaped out of the car and ran around the corner. He left his car running on the side of a highway and didn’t say a word. Too tired to panic, I just hoped he’d come back. And he did. We then continued the 60 km to Sneha Care Home.
Laura-Bethia E. Campbell (UWC AC 2011-2013)
Think of the parallels, the angles, the impressionistic directions our minds eye creates – lines are everywhere. If the world were muted and all other senses but sight could be halted or become void of distraction, it would take but a simplified glance for some, or maybe a more scrutinizing one for others, to realize that lines create form; undoubtedly shaping everything and all. A streak of morning sun catching the corner of a sign instantly illuminates the words “The Porch Café”; words of which are framed by bordering lines. In even closer sight: the curve of the plate in front of me, the serrated edge of a knife or maybe the rim of the balustrade offer simplistic lines; so easily apparent. It takes a different view to see the invisible – take for example, the unnoticed trail of hands in gesture during breakfast conversation. What significance does the ‘non-existent’ have? Likely it is merely the artist’s perception, a desire to see everything and more. Critique might suggest uselessness in seeing non-apparent lines, but then where does reality end and imagination come in?
The United Arab Emirates, a relatively young nation, whose history with slavery is engrained and deep-rooted within the minds of its people. In recent years, the nation’s treatment of Asian migrants has been a contentious issue of discussion and dispute. The majority of the population in the UAE are migrants, with no hopes of ever attaining citizenship, in search of employment and a better livelihood. These migrants originate from many regions of Asia, including countries such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines amongst many others. Although this statement may be true, one must not justify the human rights abuses they face and the disparity between nationalities in this Arab Nation (and others) against migrant Asian workers.
Growing up in the United Arab Emirates has given me a different perspective on this situation. I was raised in a society steeped in the importance of a social hierarchy, where migrant Asian workers were most commonly at the bottom. Though painful to admit, one does become accustomed to the repression that these workers face, their strained faces of desperation on the sides of roads lessen in impact the more frequently one passes. Their accommodation, built with scrapped wood, on the edges of construction sites becomes a norm. Many forget that the men who work tirelessly, who built the majority of the infrastructure of the UAE, are just as human as the rest of us, that they too have families and the hope of a brighter future.
Of course, steps are being taken to improve the livelihoods of these migrant workers and the implementation of a system which ensures human rights are being met is slowly materialising. The nation has improved significantly in their treatment towards these workers: charities have been established to offer aid, adequate accommodation to house the millions of workers is under construction, and basic social amenities such as healthcare are being granted. However, the social attitude and discrimination against these fellow human beings must be transformed. Once these hurdles are overcome, the true transformation of human rights in the United Arab Emirates can take place.
Emily Nura Cunniffe
UWC AC ’11-’13