How to do a hand-stand

Post contributed by Eline Postma

Developing personal confidence

Developing personal confidence

For a year or two, I have decided to change my new year’s resolutions from something behavioural (e.g. study harder) to something more tangible (run 5k without stopping). I made this change because it seems like they are more realistic goals that have more clear steps that would lead up to the attainment of it.

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My New Year’s resolution for 2014 was actually to learn how to do a handstand without the use of a wall. For some reason, I am terrified of being upside down, so this seemed like a nice goal for this year where I would have to go out of my comfort zone to gain an interesting new experience. If you think about it, being able to do an unsupported handstand symbolises personal confidence in several manners: you have to trust your body’s ability in being strong enough to support you, and have the general confidence to eventually practice it without a wall (note to self: learn some safe exit strategies!).

handstand

After a month or so, I adjusted my goal to learn how to do a ‘head-stand’. I had seen some people do it in their yoga practices, and it seemed like the coolest thing to be able to do. When I was in Edinburgh at the beginning of May, a friend showed me what it felt like to be upside down by holding my feet so I wouldn’t fall over. I realised it isn’t as scary as I once thought, and If you haven’t tried it, I would recommend it, because it is the best energy booster I have ever come across. After a little over a month of daily practice, I managed to do an unsupported headstand. This was the best thing I did this year for boosting my self confidence and positive body image. More so, than any amount of public speaking ever could 🙂

Future target: clearly, an unsupported handstand in 2015!

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The Rice Challenge – An American Perspective

Contributed by Sara Menges

Proactive and Innovative

Proactive and Innovative

Thank you Paul Crouch for nominating me to do the rice challenge! And thank you to Robyn Fox for this wonderful idea of donating rice to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in place of the ice bucket challenge. Since water is such a precious commodity and Los Angeles is facing a drought right now, I was especially pleased to be able to contribute to the ALS movement in this way.

With the Thanksgiving holidays coming up, I decided to donate my bag of rice to the Union Station Homeless Services (Union Station) organization. Committed to ending homelessness in the community, Union Station helps homeless men, women, and children rebuild their lives. Every year they also host a Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park community event that provides holiday meals for homeless individuals, seniors, very low-income families, and those with no place to go during the holidays.

2013 Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park Credit: SOSA PHOTO, www.pasadenanow.com

2013 Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park
Credit: SOSA PHOTO, http://www.pasadenanow.com

I decided to call and ask if a big bag of rice would be useful for their kitchen staff and in preparing for the festivities. The response was very positive! The lady I chatted with on the phone loved the rice challenge idea and thanked me for thinking of Union Station. With this go ahead, I loaded my 50 pound bag of rice into a suitcase and rolled on down to the Adult Center I was advised to drop it off at. The staff at the center looked a little confused at first but laughter and smiles quickly proceeded after I explained the challenge.

Donating my bag of rice!

Donating my bag of rice!

This challenge was a joy to complete for the impact it would have on the center and for the impact it had on me. It never ceases to amaze me how therapeutic a random act of kindness can be. For the rest of the day, after the donation, I felt like I was walking on air! I also noticed a significant shift in the conversation I was having with my friend who accompanied me. Rather than listing all the problems he had to deal with that week, he was instead talking about the different things he could implement to tackle them more easily. It’s as if the whole experience allowed us both to reduce the stress levels in our body and flood it with more positivity instead. I guess Booker T. Washington had a point when he said “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”

To spread the message and joy that comes with this challenge, I am now nominating Cassie Pais, Elizabeth Williams, and Marissa Merrill. How will you donate your rice? Who will you choose to uplift? Can’t wait to see!

The Scottish Referendum

Contributed by Karen Partyka

Karen's voting card

Karen’s voting card

On Thursday 18th September the Scottish people had the extraordinary opportunity to vote for or against independence. It was very interesting living in the country leading up to the day, things were much tighter than perhaps people could have hoped for. For me it was very inspiring seeing the pupils in my school who were eligible to vote throwing themselves into politics. Many that I spoke to had taken time to research the different options and thought carefully about their vote. They each took their vote seriously and felt they were making a difference in their country. Once they had made their decision they were passionate about their vote and got involved in the campaigning. Also in the school the younger pupils also were engaged. Even though they could not vote many had decided what they would have voted. There were many lively debates and discussions heard around the school, in the classrooms and in corridors.

But what struck me the most was how lucky I and the Scottish people were to have our democratic right to choose, to be able to go on the streets and campaign and engage with people and tell them what I had democratically chosen. There are many people in the world who do not have that right and in some cases do not have the freedom of speech.

Pantila, as head student, encouraging whole school voting for student leadership positions during election time

Pantila, as head student, encouraging whole school voting for student leadership positions during election time

I have a friend who told when he votes in his country, you go into the booth, mark your card with “your choice” then someone “checks” you have chosen the candidate that the government has decided will win then you put your card in the box. This is happening today! In these countries they would be arrested for campaigning for their candidate if it was not the chosen one. Today there are 5 communist countries where people do not have the democratic right to openly vote, there are also many more countries which have restrictions about freedom of speech and freedom of the press. According to the Press Freedom Index 2014 “the bottom three countries freedom of information is non-existent”. The Index lists 180 countries and Eritrea is 180th, North Korea 179th and Turkmenistan 178th. Other countries which have terrible records for free speech are Cuba and China and both these countries have the biggest prisons in the world for journalists according to the Press Freedom Index.

senior students facilitating discussion and debate regarding changes in their school constitution

senior students facilitating discussion and debate regarding changes in their school constitution

There are also countries where criticism of their religion or monarchy is illegal and people are imprisoned for committing these crimes.

All the information about lack of democracy and freedom of speech makes me realise that on Thursday 18th September 2014 along with 84% of the Scottish population we cast our vote in a democracy with no fear of imprisonment.

Sewing for global citizenship

Contributed by Karen Partyka

Sewing with Karen

Sewing with Karen

I started sewing earlier this year. I wanted to be free from being told what to wear by fashion and be creative. I also started making little things for other people, bags, lavender sachets etc. Then recently I saw online about a woman called Lillian Weber. She is 99-year-old and for the last two years she has been making dresses for girls in Africa through an organisation called Little Dresses for Africa.

Lillian Weber making dresses for others

Lillian Weber making dresses for others

 

 

 

So far she has made more than 840 dresses and she plans to make 150 more by next May which will mean on her 100th birthday, she will have made her 1000th dress! I was so impressed by this lady, she took her talent and decided to do something with it beyond her own life. I looked into this organisation and decided I could start making dresses.

girl

The organisation mainly gives the dresses to girls in orphanages and to families who would have to choose between food or clothing but could not pay for both. I was horrified to read that during one of the trips to Sudan, they gave the dresses to little girls who were wearing absolutely nothing. Clothing is a basic necessity and one of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Having clothes gives you an identity, gives you a purpose and dignity. People who live in the developed world have no idea what it is like to have nothing to your name and how having one item of clothes which is yours only, you don’t have to share, just yours, can be the little seed which will grow. The charity’s motto is “We’re not just sending dresses, we are sending Hope

Watch this – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (always good to remind yourself)

We all have talents and gifts, when I was sewing my dresses I was thinking I was sending these to African countries and that my dresses would be saving the children. These dresses will not change their lives in a day and I am not saving these children. But it is a partnership, these children deserve the right to have the opportunity to develop into global citizens and to take up their place in their community and the world. One of these girls could become the leader of their country and allow it to prosper and years down the line they will teach me.

“Just because you can’t count it doesn’t mean it doesn’t count.” Sir Ken Robinson

Acting local and thinking global with Anita

Contributed by Anita van Dam – a Global Ambassador

Since the beginning of this Year I have started working at a zoo in Kerkrade, Netherlands, called the Gaia Park. I go there once a week when possible where I work with the primates, for example cleaning the cage, creating recreational activities and making their food and feeding them.

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As a member of the EAG (Environment Action Group) in the school, we collaborated with IKEA for them to switch off all their lights during Earth Hour to raise awareness. I was the supervisor for the group and we also handed out leaflets to costumers and told them about the event and asked them to participate.

Earth Hour

Earth Hour

During my holiday, I bumped into Nancy Gibson* from the Love Wildlife Foundation. She and a few others were heading for a meeting to talk about the opening of the New Dolphinarium in Phuket and so I asked to join in. Below is a link to a rerun on the Phuket News TV about the event.

*Nancy Gibson will feature on a post under speakers soon
Anita and Nancy in Phuket

Anita and Nancy in Phuket

Anita meeting with the Love Wildlife team in Phuket

Anita meeting with the Love Wildlife team in Phuket

I am now in Direct contact with the people there and will be raising awareness in the Netherlands and the other United World Colleges in attempt to make this international.
Making Thai krathongs

Making Thai krathongs

I attended project week where I went to Poland with 5 other students to work with an organisation called Siemacha who work with children who need help in studies or whose parents do not have time to take care of them. Here I led a session where I taught the students about Thailand and had an activity where I taught them how to make krathongs.
The International Fair

The International Fair

Another event that I joined was the International Fair where I had my own Thai stand with pictures and items from Thailand as well as cooking some Thai dishes such as fried rice, rice with Thai omelette, kao man kai and sweet pork shred with sticky rice. I also participated in the international fashion show.
Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

I also participated in Storytelling Bakery where we learned how to make cupcakes as well as decorate them. We had a story attached to each cupcake that related to each other and had the cupcakes decorated to match the story.
MUN in Italy

MUN in Italy

I have also participated in an MUN conference in Italy with the school United World College Adriatic. It was a great experience and I had a lot of fun. I made many new friends as well as learned the procedures while also getting to see the city. The topics were against me therefore I had to work harder and make my points strong in order to protect my country (India) which was being accused of things we had not done.
Thanks for the update Anita and good luck with your studies in your final year of school at UWC Maarstricht. Please keep us posted with your progress and achievements.  
The GC Award Team.
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Ending Gender Inequality

Contributed by Anita van Dam

Anita on the beach with a student from the Camillian Centre

Anita on the beach with a student from the Camillian Centre

As part of her Global Ambassador Award submission Anita included this article that she wrote on Ending Gender Inequality as part of the Academic Achievement Identity.

Ending Gender Inequality

Did you know that two thirds of the world’s working hours are done by women, but they only earn 10% of the world’s income? Or that 60% of 77 million children without primary education are girls?

Research says that woman own less than 1% of the world’s property, and that out of 876 million adults worldwide that cannot read or write, two thirds of that are woman. 

Ever thought how gender inequality is stopping these beautiful humans from being treated fairly with respect and pride?

Gender inequality is one of the Millennium Development Goals that is considered heavily on and thought carefully through about how we can make every human being have equal chances, an equal say and equal opportunities, especially women and girls so they can be treated fairly. Girls should have a chance to learn to read and write and finish their schooling fully instead of being taken out in the middle of education to help their parents with work to allow their male relatives to learn. According to the United Nations Population Fund women who are educated are more likely to have fewer children, become pregnant at a more appropriate age than woman who were denied schooling and will have healthier children too. Most important, they are more likely to send their own children onto full education.

Furthermore, promoting gender inequality will have a positive effect on reducing poverty, another MDG that is extremely important and thoroughly thought through. When women get their healthy dose of education, they would be able to think carefully before doing something for example, they wouldn’t have more children than they can afford to take good care of. They would also be able to get a better and higher wage job which will also bring more respect to women throughout the community. With women getting more wages and fewer children, they would be able to take care of their family properly thus they would be free of poverty and reducing it.

Women with a voice make great role models in our human society with more ideas, ways to solving problems and are represented like the source of light in a dark atmosphere. By giving women a chance to vote and a chance to have a say is like allowing a hermit crab out of its shell and when that time comes, the Earth would become an unfolded map full of information.

Thailand has a few societies/foundations that help and encourage women to become brave and independent people who can express whatever they want, whenever they want and wherever they want. A very powerful person who believes in women and a book with unread mysteries is Khun Mechai. He believed in “giving women a choice” and made sure that women know how many children they’re going to have and that they and their children have a higher chance of good education and by that, you reduce the chance of a family not being able to care for their family and also increase confidence in women. Empowered women ultimately lead to an empowered community.

To conclude, I would like to say that I do believe that women need to be equal. We must have a say and equal chances and gender inequality must be stopped. We should also advertise about this so it becomes a well-known issue and everyone can help to end this. Remember, “If you educate a man, you educate a person but if you educate a woman, you educate a family.”

Thank you for reading,

Anita van Dam