We started off the week by meeting in our grade level cohorts and discussing the articles we had read the weekend before. The 2024 cohort was tasked with the prompt of briefing the US State Department on Europe and our international relationship with them. After a lively debate, we agreed the two main points moving forward is for the US and Europe to prioritize strengthening and building relationships within NATO as well as providing aid to members of the EU facing problems due to COVID. On Tuesday, we convened as an entire group and had a presentation on design thinking by the Word Leadership School. We learned the five steps of design thinking are discovery, interpretation, ideation, experimentation, and evolution. Discovery involves interviewing people to gain understanding and build empathy. Interpretation defines the issue through reflection on discovery. Next you go through ideation which is brainstorming ideas and comparing them to needs. Next you go into the experimentation phases and build a prototype. Finally, you present and gather feedback while revising where needed. This is the final evolution phase. On Thursday, we convened amongst cohorts and talked about how design thinking can be shortened and or changed to fit what we do in Global Affairs Fellows.
The Afghanistan crisis has created plenty of issues for American foreign policy, but among them is that the natural resources are no longer fully available to the US. That might end up being the most essential issue in the long-term. In fact, CNN Business reports that Afghanistan has mineral deposits worth over $1 trillion. That includes iron, copper, and gold, plus other rare earth metals. The previous Afghan government actually estimated such deposits are worth three times that. Most importantly, though, is that Afghanistan contains the world’s largest deposits of lithium, an essential ingredient for batteries, which need to be produced en masse as the world pushes sustainable energy. However, lithium is an extremely limited resource globally. Scientist Rod Schoonover, founder of the Ecological Futures Group, said “Afghanistan is one of the regions richest in traditional precious, but also the metals for the emerging economies of the 21st century,” which are set to be based on green energy. But who gets those metals is in the air. “It’s a big uncertainty,” said Schoonover. This’ll be incredibly prosperous for the Taliban: while the group doesn’t have the resources needed to mine for lithium, they can sell the rights to mine the land to other nations, especially China. Already, the Taliban has sold the mining rights for some of the mineral-rich land of the nation to Chinese companies, many with close ties to Beijing. Naturally, the CCP-backed Global Times reported that Chinese investment is already “widely accepted” in Afghanistan. The Taliban doesn’t have any other financial options. They’re not getting any money from outside, and the former president took the treasury with him to Dubai. China has eyed the strong potential of the region for decades. And China’s timing has never been better: as demand grows for lithium-ion batteries in the West, the deficit to China is only growing (even as nations invest millions to cut it). If China can get the world’s largest lithium deposits, it can hold the supply further over the heads of the US. Imagine the irony: coal-powered China raking in a fortune from an America going green.
This week the Global Affairs fellows each prepared a state of the world report and presented it to the entire group. These reports described various world conflicts around the world, and the possible outcomes and solutions to the conflict. Some of these reports included the Haitian migration, the military coup in Guinea, and the U.S.-Australia nuclear submarine deal. The fellows had a great time learning about and discussing these important events that are unfolding around the world.
To preface our first blog post of 2021, the Global Affairs Fellows will bring back the Fellows blog to keep tabs on what we’re doing throughout this year and written by a rotating rota of all Global Affairs Fellows.
The Global Affairs Fellows began the week meeting with all the fellows together for a discussion led by Fellows director Mr. Whetmore. He talked about being a committed and compelled Fellow, driven by the goals of our programs rather than passively completing the activities. More than that, we discussed the possibility of, and hope for, greater cooperation between the Fellows.
In our meetings, the junior Fellows continued their discussion of human rights, discussing what constitutes a right and what rights must be the priority to preserve. As always, a lively debate ensued, encapsulating the many different perspectives within our program. The seniors and sophomores also enjoyed discussion and debate in their cohorts with their projects.
To cap out the week, starting a project that will continue next week and throughout the year, the Fellows found a global issue – one that encompassed a global affairs issue, naturally – to research and summarize for the benefit of the Fellows as a whole. That’s always a useful activity to keep in touch with what’s going on globally, and tied in with the projects of the cohorts as well.
In upcoming week, you’ll hear from the rest of the Fellows about how these projects go and what the program is doing. We’re very excited to share this with you, and equally excited for future activities of the Global Affairs Fellows.
This year I would like to help a migrant farmer family on the Eastern Shore have a better Christmas. They live in camps with dirt floors, single room living quarters, public bathrooms, and public kitchens. While most of these families move to Florida during the winter to pick fruit, some families have to stay and are unable to make a good income during the winter months. These families tend to be families with a single mom and there are a few with a single mom because the father has been killed. Often in these cases, the mom is unable to take her kids to Florida because she cannot afford to leave or work because she must take care of her children. However, not all families stay for this reason or are families with single parents. The family we will be getting gifts for has five young children. The youngest child, a two year old girl named Ireri, was born with some birth defects and a growth on her neck. Bring your gifts, unwrapped, to our meeting on Thursday, December 13. Thank you so much for your help. Below I have attached some pictures of the family and the name, age, size, and wishes for each child. Please add you name in the sign up column. Thank you!
On our final half day of the Peru Trip, the GAF Fellows had a wonderful time exploring Cusco. The primary event of the day was the San Pedro food market. We spent 45 minutes roaming through aisles filled with various foods and accompanied by unique smells. It was a great experience to better understand the culture of Peru, since food is often the gateway to the heart of a culture, and in that sense we got to see and understand Peru in all its complexities.
Then the GAFs had free time to shop and eat lunch in Cusco. Brammy and I went into one of the beautiful churches on the Plaza de Armas, the central square in Cusco. Built on Incan foundations, the church’s splendor belies its savage creation.
Finally, the GAFs started the long trip home. Suffice it to say, Peru is an amazing country, and the Quechua culture hidden inside is even more amazing. It was an honor for all the GAFs to learn more about such an intricate and beautiful culture while having fun adventures along the way. Going on a trip like this changes a person, and all the 19’s and 21’s grew in one way or another, whether it be in leadership through daily jobs, or in knowledge through daily interactions with the local people. In the end, even with the jaw-dropping Machu Picchu and its incredible Inca engineering, the truly important part of Peru is the people, who still invigorate a great human culture. We are all thankful for the amazing opportunity to go to Peru, and excited to go back to continue to help the Quechua people and expand on the relationships we fostered with various NGOs during the trip.
Today was our final full day at Cusco, and we maximized the potential of the day. After an early wake up, we met with our energized tour guide and drove up to an altitude of 13,000 feet to visit a local village called Patabamba, which boasted incredible views of the Andes in an isolated location. We were greeted in flowery fashion by the town council and spoke with them, asking questions about their technology, government, and education to better understand their way of life. Afterwards, we bounced along a dirt road to visit a sacred lake which was undergoing conservation efforts, and there we performed a ritual to honor Mother Earth using rocks and snacks, holding hands in a circle around our offering. In the afternoon, we learned about the medicinal plants in the area, which were used to replace the need for hospitals far away from the village. They plastered our aching joints with leaves to help with the pain and hit our hands with spiky plants — each plant with its own special purpose. We enjoyed the spirit of reciprocity, or ayni, at the village, and in our evening meeting, we discussed ways we could help them in the future. Finally, we dined at a lovely restaurant and had an early night.
Peru blog July 14:
Finding constellations in the shadows of the Milky Way takes imagination; it takes less imagination to crush the progress of such a civilization underfoot. Juxtaposing the nature-centered, sacred places of the Incas, like Machu Picchu, to the almost gaudy splendor of the Basilica Cathedral, the metaphor of Cusco deepens. The sheen over the Incas’ history is apparent when walking down the streets where the perfectly cut Inca walls meet the Spanish stucco or when noticing that the indigenous beliefs are confined to subliminal messages in Catholic places of worship. The common thread between the architecture, the artwork, and even the recognized constellations in the realm of astronomy is that the imagination and genius of the Incas’ could not be replaced by the Spanish.
Our mind set for the reasoning in why we went to Machu Piccu was to learn more about the Incas, the Quechua’s ancestors, and to see one of the seven wonders of the world. As we learned in our book, the culture of the Quechua women and their ancestors guided the newer generations of Incas and their discoveries in history. We learned about the overtaking of the Incas when the Spanish invaded and took their families and their homes. We reiterated on the dispute between the United States holdings over Hiram Bingham’s findings of over 64,000 artifacts and Peru’s attempt to reclaim its belongings.
We woke up at 4 am. Then we went to the lobby to meet out guide and we were given breakfast in paper bags. We then took the bus up to Machu Picchu. We then hiked up to an overlooking point of Machu Picchu and the lost Inca city. Our guide gave us a vigorous discussion on the history of the Incas and Machu Picchu. After, we hiked to the summit of Sun gate. The Sun gate is where the Inca Trail comes into Machu Picchu. After we reached Sun Gate, we were prompted to write in our journals about our values and who we were influenced by in our lives. While we were writing these, we were sitting upon the rocks of Sun Gate overlooking the peaks of Machu Picchu and all the beautiful scenery around it. We then hiked back down and were given free time to split into small groups and roam the land of the ruins. We all met up again at twelve and a few of us got our passport stamped with the Machu Picchu stamp. We then rode the bus back down. Once in the city, we got lunch and then headed on our way to the train. We had some difficulty finding the train station but we did it!
The Global Affairs Fellows woke up bright and early for breakfast at 7:30 at the Apu Lodge in Ollantaytambo, followed by a morning meeting with Bridget, our leader of the day. We took a break in the main square to exchange American dollars for Peruvian money (Sol). After exchanging money, we met two women who work with Awamaki and traveled with them to the community of Huilloc to meet the weavers that the company supports. Together we all drove up to the mountain, stopping twice to see terraces built by the Incas and one of the oldest Catholic Churches in Peru before reaching our final destination. We arrived around 11am, and were greeted by the women who welcomed us with smiles and offered to clothe us in their traditional garments. The Awamaki women proceeded to show us dyeing, weaving, and loom techniques, and were very welcoming towards us. They gave us flowers on a necklace, clothing so we felt less estranged, and provided us with a delicious lunch. We sadly left the women at 3 pm, to go back to the city for dinner, and to catch the train to Aguas Calientes. When we got home, everyone split for dinner, and met at back at 5:50 to plan on catching a 9pm train. Bridget did an amazing job keeping everyone in order, and the Awamaki women were amazingly friendly despite the language barrier we all experienced. -Annie Livingood ’21