Friday, August 14, 2009

Locked Up Abroad

So I don't have a TV in my apartment so I watch very little TV besides the news at work and episodes of the Daily Show online but I found a show I can't stop watching. National Geographic's Locked Up Abroad shows the true stories of people who either get jailed in countries outside the US or kidnapped by rebels overseas. The first episode, shown below, showcases two really dense girls from Southern California (thanks for reinforcing our stereotype) who think it would be a great idea to take up the offer of some strange Peruvian guys they just met to smuggle cocaine from Peru for a "free, all expenses paid trip to the sunny beaches of Peru." Now, besides the fact that this in itself would red flag any sensible person, but these girls didn't even think to research where they were going because if they had they might have figured out that they were going to the country during the winter, and there are no beaches in the city of Lima. Needless to say they get locked up and do a nice little 3 year stint in Peruvian prison which is similar to a refuge camp. From an international relations standpoint, this show is really interesting because it shows the role US diplomats play and the laws around these kind of issues. Another episode is about a guy who gets kidnapped by the FARC in Colombia and talks about the role the Red Cross plays in these situations.
I highly suggest this show if you are interested in these types of issues, or if you are thinking on travelling abroad and doing something stupid. Obviously, all the people in the shows get out of the situation eventually so I learned a lot about what to do when you get kidnapped by a rebel group: act really crazy..pee on yourself, stop eating, inflict injury on yourself.. very useful. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Cab Driver, the Diplomat & the President's Birth Certificate

So on our way to a meeting at the main State Department building two other FPC-ers and myself jumped into a cab to head over to in Foggy Bottom. The group included a my diplomat mentor. The friendly, boisterous cab driver immediately sparked up a conversation, asking us what kind of "shin dig" we were heading over to at the State Department. (I tried to not take offense to his immediate assumption that two women and an African American couldn't possibly be actually just going to work at the State Department.) We explained we worked there to his surprised response, "Oh, it's like that," almost disappointed. He then asked us what we thought about this "whole Obama not being an American thing", to which of course we replied that he was in fact a citizen. The cabbie abruptly insisted "No he isn't.. you guys should know that, you work for the State Department." (uhhh.. ) He insisted that the Obama's grandmother even said he was born in Kenya. (She did? When did she say that?) Now what might not be well known- even if Obama was born in Kenya, (which he wasn't, hence the Hawaii birth certificate) he would still be an American because his mother was American. This is why McCain is a US citizen even though he was born in Panama (his father was stationed there at the time) because his mother is American. Another not so well known fact, most diplomats do their first tour in a visa office issuing passports, visas and confirming US citizenship, hundreds a day for 2-3 year. So they are trained very well in the laws for US citizenship. My diplomat mentor spent her first tour doing just that so she is well aware of the laws in this regard. ANYWAY, the cab driver wouldn't stop arguing with the diplomat that she didn't know the laws about this, that he wasn't American and then asked her how long she had been on the job, cuz she should know this stuff by now. (She did go into foreign service under the Bush administration, in case he was accusing her of being one of Obama's 'croonies'.) Rather than going back and forth with a very stubborn cab driver we all sat in awkward silence. All I could think to myself was, where do these people get these crazy misinformation. The cab driver turned up the radio to fill the silence.. and I heard the voice of Rush Limbaugh...

Want one of your own! Click here!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Olive Tree Inititavie

We're in the media again.. which is nice. I miss that lovely beach in Tel Aviv and all my OTI friends.. For my personal diary of the trip, read back in the September 2008 postings. Second group is about to go soon.. If you are interested in seeing them off attend their bon voyage party August 30, 2009 (Sunday) at Taleo Grill, 3309 Michelson Drive, Irvine. Find more info here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Virtual Student Foreign Service

So I signed up for the Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) Internships program and waiting for my assignment. This is a brand new program announced by Secretary Clinton at the 2009 New York University commencement. This program is "part of a growing effort by the State Department to harness technology and a commitment to global service among young people to facilitate new forms of diplomatic engagement." State is still figuring out how all this will work but I think this is a great idea to use the resources of the youth who know Facebook, blogging, Twitter and all that better than anyone.. why not "harness the energy of a rising generation of citizen diplomats." I am excited to participate and will of course keep you all updated here.

"Working from college and university campuses in the United States, American students will partner with our embassies abroad to conduct digital diplomacy that reflects the realities of our networked world. By combining the talents of young people across America and the right technology, we can forge the solutions that our century demands."

You can get more info on the program here.