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Journalism in U.S.A

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Ideas that Need to be Expressed

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Immigrating to a country is not an easy decision, and it becomes more difficult when the country in which you now live does not speak your native language. I have been in U.S.A for three years and, just like anybody else, I had to learn the language. Fortunately, I had some knowledge and in the first year I arrived, I was able to take college classes. However, I still struggling to communicate effectively with people, which is due to lack of vocabulary, but also has a lot to do with my lack of knowledge in grammar. Even more, I’m usually frustrated when people do not understand my point, but I also understand that it is not an easy task.

Communication is indeed one of the most vital aspects in nature, and being able to communicate in an effective way becomes a necessity. We as human beings use many forms of communication, but I believe one of the most used besides body language is verbal communication. One can have many ideas in mind, but the crucial moment is when those ideas become words. I find beautiful to be able to express the sensations one feels. It is like in the book Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pastermark as the writer describes: “For a moment she rediscovered the purpose of her life. She was here on earth to grasp the meaning of its wild enchantment, and to call each thing by its right name.” But to be able to named things by their correct name or to know the words that describes a sensation is not enough, one needs to be able to organize the thoughts as well as the words and there is when grammar comes to play.

Written by vurbi

June 17, 2011 at 00:22

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Struggling with Transportation

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Transportation is an essential part in every city, and here in Miami it could not be the exception; in fact, transportation in our Sun Capital is sometimes a bit of a challenge, especially for those of us who cannot afford a car and have no choice but to rely on public transportation. As students of FIU, who are part of the community in Miami, we face the same difficulties. Not only do we pay for transportation between our campuses, we also pay for a yearly parking fee that is included in every student’s tuition;even more,  some students have to buy the Miami-Dade Public Transportation’s monthly bus pass. How do students feel about this issue? What can we do to fix it? Do you think we could have the support of Florida International University’s administrative body?

Written by vurbi

June 13, 2011 at 03:14

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An Invitation to Smile

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There I was, as always trying to make it on time to class, a class that each day brings me new wisdom and experiences. Today could not be the exception. Jasmine Kripalani was the one in charge for today’s exceptional time. Long hair, glasses and a beautiful smile -an honest and warm smile-she is a new inspiration in my life. She urged me to throw myself out there, to a travel and explore the world. “You have to be excited about what you are doing, you have to take ownership … always have the sense of curiosity”.

Curiosity is an aspect any human being should not forget or avoid; it is a part of human nature. For instance, since we are children we are always asking why. Like in that movie “The Sensation of Sight” in which the main character asks himself: “Why is man, the asking animal, always asking ‘why’? From the innocent tongue of a child’s mouth to an old man’s soliloquy on his dying bed, always asking why.” However, I think as times goes by, many people tend to lose that sense of curiosity, maybe because institutionalized education does not have a space to think outside the box and to challenge the status quo. Therefore, in many occasions one is being forced to choose either black or white, and all the in-between tonalities of colors are being completely ignored. As a consequence, many people decide to ignore the natural curiosity so that it becomes “easier” to fit in a determined society; however, if one expects to be a journalist, curiosity must not be forgotten.

So there I was again, sitting in the classroom in front of the person who made my day, her life was an inspiration to me. Now I understand that very well known artists or intellectuals are not the only amazing people, I realized that everyday I find places, sounds, smells, people that help me (if i want) better understand the world that I live in and that give me a space out of the routine of the daily life. Therefore, I need to become more aware of my reality, it is as Jiddu Krishnamurti, a speaker on spiritual issues, once said: ” If you clean your teeth every day while looking out of the window, the cleaning of your teeth becomes a habit; but if you always clean your teeth very carefully, giving your whole attention to it, then it does not become a habit, a routine that is thoughtlessly repeated.” Once one gives whole attention to the surrounded environment and finds beauty in the every day life, stories to be heard and to be told are always going to appeared.

In addition, because Jasmine Kripalani has recently worked at writing stories that are going to be published online, it made me realize how important internet has become for journalists across the world; however, I think there is an aspect that has not being taken into consideration and that is the digital divide. Therefore,even though I recognize the great role that many journalists are playing when it comes to media convergence, I also believe it is important to think about those people who do not have the access to these new types of technology and consider in which ways those with access could engage in a more critical approach by paying more attention to those who do not have access. Continually, we shall all try to come up with solutions that engage journalists from different backgrounds create a sense of unity among those who have and the ones who have not.

I have found amazing how something as simple as a smile can inspire and invite people to believe and to explore the world. It would be irresponsible if we, as citizens of the world, go blind in our daily lives ignoring what is happening in our communities; therefore, we should act accordingly because all living creatures share a common responsibility if we aim the benefit of the world.

Written by vurbi

June 7, 2011 at 22:32

Posted in Uncategorized

An Uncomfortable Truth

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It is true that Miami is full of immigrants from a lot of different countries; and it is also true that the more people migrate, the more others will be forced to assimilate this phenomenon. However, one cannot just look at the consequences without understanding the causes.

In addition, because there is a great diversity of cultures in one place it becomes difficult for some people to accustom to live with others who come from a different cultural and social background. It seems that we as human beings tend to don’t like the other, what is different, what moves us out from the security of our set of values and culture that has been already established since and even before we were born. Additionally, the fact that many people have had different experiences when migrating also plays an important role as the way persons live and behave in the foreign country; therefore, it seems to me not enough just to victimized immigrants but to understand that at the same time we, immigrants can become oppressors among us and/or of other groups of people as well.

When it comes to the situation in Miami and the relationships among different immigrant groups this dichotomy of victims and oppressors is seen frequently; therefore, Miami is not a really melting pot but more like a sandwich in which its ingredients are not combine but just next to each other; even more, this lack of unity among immigrants becomes more complex than just an immigration issue.

Starting from the origin country there are divisions of race and socio-economics, it is a reality that we must not ignore. Therefore, when people migrate to another country they also carry all these stereotypes, prejudices and off course culture of their home country. However, once we get to another country many of us tend to forget certain privileges we had and then label ourselves just as victims of the system.

Consequently, we cannot be blind and say that even among Hispanics we are all united, it is more complex than that. I have found and heard that even among people from the same country who had to face the consequences of being an immigrant they don’t help to each other, and as said before it is not just because we are immigrants but also because of social, economic and even for ethnicity reasons.

I’m talking specifically for Hispanics because I’m Colombian and it is the reality I have faced; therefore, I think it is very important to be honest with each others and understand that even within Hispanic immigrants there are many divisions. Actually, maybe the only time I’ve seen people getting together is when it comes to immigration reforms and policies; but even there, a lot of differences in interests emerged.

Chains of Oppression

Additionally, I also ask myself about how will I feel if in Colombia I find that people around me don’t speak Spanish; if it wasn’t because I’m aware of the dynamics of the system I will act just like many of the people who live in U.S.A. : I will feel frustrated and maybe angry because I cannot make myself understand nor understand what others are saying. I think we as humans tend to just look at aspects that benefit our behaviors but we seldom think about how other people feel because of our attitudes; we, tend to be very ethnocentric creatures.

However, I’m not saying that immigrating to another country is a mistake, it is just the consequence of neoliberalism and globalization, but when it comes to say that many people living in U.S.A. discriminate others it is important to take a critical point of view and being able to understand the what, the why and the how.

Written by vurbi

May 31, 2011 at 18:15

Posted in Uncategorized

See What I See and Feel How I Feel.

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Honey, honey, honey babe y ya dejemos de llorar! “Hurry, because thoughts, reasoning and wisdom sometimes just come for a second, or a minute, or maybe 20 minutes of enlightenment,” I said to myself.

An artist -that is who I want to be, to live my life, to take risks, to believe I am capable of doing anything. Frida‘s book in front of me is my inspiration, just as it is that crazy man Dalí, or my favorite and lovely poet Mario Benedetti.

Frida and the Globe

Everything is now getting together, making sense. Suddenly life starts to have a meaning, and you have started to become more aware of those details you used to ignore even when knowing there was a message hidden on them, but you were not ready to connect the dots. But now, yes now!  He or she are not the ones saying it, it is you; you are the writer of your life. Now it is time to throw yourself to anarchy …  I mean life. Life without poetry, without music, without feelings, or good food, would that be life? With no mistakes, or learnings, no coincidences?

Life is like a soccer ball or a basketball ball, in which the ball is being attacked, and touched and sometimes finds itself flying and it falls and bounces, but at the end the ball will always find its goal, its point-its final destination.

Or life can also be seen as a dance. A dance in which at the beginning you are just learning the basics steps but with time and practice you start feeling more comfortable and self-confident and later: ta-ra! … Magic comes to life … you start feeling the music in your body and without being able to contain it a smile shows up, and you feel your body is too little to embark everything you are feeling in that exact moment, that words are not enough; and that is part of being alive, to be able to touch the sky with your eyes open. I see dance as a metaphor for life because I am a dancer. Yes I am an artist and I love being one. I also love analyzing and finding beauty on the sounds and the meaning of the words when they come together even in exquisite corpse or in form of a poem or a short story; and when those words stay forever in me, filling my memory with beautiful quotes.

… trying to remember what i thought exactly 20 minutes ago …

I remember! I was looking at the globe in front of me and it reminded me of Quino and his Mafalda.

Mafalda. Quino.

… To wait, to wait. Sometimes is not that good idea to wait, but you just know it when you follow your intuition and listen to your heart. Do not judge others, because you could be in their position at any time. Montreal … the canoe my sister made in wood for my dad; and the horse and the “guerrillero” from Chiapas, Mexico. En tu sonrisa yo veo una guerrilla, una aventura, un movimiento! This “guerrillero” and the horse might mean for a child a simple toy, but for others it might mean an idea, a movement, a libertarian army: The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) And who is to say what is wrong and what is right?

Guerrillero y Caballo

Each of us have a process, have our own fears, anxieties… and talking about anxieties: Ansiedad, maldita ansiedad. I’m not so sure anymore if anxiety makes me any better. Actually, I think it does not allow me to think clearly and makes me do ridiculous things.

1st minute: Inhale, exhale. I feel good, I feel I can be like this all time, but can I really? At least I can try.

… last minutes: I had a vision! A beautiful large and black woman telling me I had to see myself when imagining  the things I wanted to do, that each time I imagined something I wanted to be or do, I will have to change the unknown face and visualize mine. That black and large women: My goddess!

Written by vurbi

May 25, 2011 at 00:46

Posted in Uncategorized

Journalists and Civil Society, An Empowering Relationship.

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Many times I have asked myself why if there are so many people that have similar problems nothing has been done to improve their lives. It seems to me that it might be due to the lack of awareness, information and organizational skills within a society. In addition, looking at Professor Richard’s documentary “Lessons from South Africa” and the parallel made on the coverage by the media over HIV in South Africa and in Miami, I realized how important relationships among journalists and civil society are.

Therefore, if the main expectation is to generate awareness and changes in society, an honest and responsible relationship among journalists and civil society is needed; for what if there is not enough coverage by journalists about critical issues, a large amount of the population will not be informed about it. On the other hand, if civil society does not take the lead and speak out, there will be no news to be covered by journalists. In addition, if there are journalists that are advocating for a cause but there are not enough people to mobilize, there will be less opportunity to create awareness. Therefore, responsible dependency and bilateral relationships are vital for both journalists and civil society.

For instance, as seen in “Lessons from South Africa,” civil society and social organizations such as the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa, in which 90% of sexually active populations is infected, started to speak out about the lack of cooperation by their government. People in South Africa demanded an increase of awareness on this issue and the need of improving their health care system by giving more help and a better service to those who are HIV positive. In addition, with the help and the coverage of the media a lot of improvements were made to alleviate problems connected with HIV infection. Furthermore,  the coverage by journalists in South Africa, not just in newspapers, but in TV, radio and through documentaries, has given people a sense of security and self-identification because it gives the necessary importance to regular people who suffered from HIV.

On the other hand, in Miami the situation is completely different. As stated by Professor Richard: “the struggle is not taking place on the streets, the war is largely being fought in the academia,” which makes it more difficult for people who do not have access to education. They cannot be informed about the impressive results that show that South Florida has the highest rates of population affected of HIV in United States. As explained on the documentary, budget cuts on health and the lack of coverage by the media have made that a large amount of people in South Florida are not aware of the astonishing statistics; therefore, the need for responsible journalists and civil society to create strong relationships just as those made in South Africa is indeed vital.

As seen, there are many aspects civil society and journalists can learn from each other and the first step is to recognize that there is something that can be done. Sometimes, because we live in United States, we tend to be very ethnocentric and not to recognize other people’s struggles as important as the ones people experience here; however, humanity is one and issues such as HIV infection affect people anywhere in the world. Therefore, it is time to start relating with those who suffer the same difficulties and learn from experiences and tactics that others have done. Consequently, awareness on health and respect for the dignity of every single human would hopefully become the number one priority for people in United States and hopefully all over the world.

Written by vurbi

May 17, 2011 at 16:53

Posted in Uncategorized

Powerful Information

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In recent years I have been thinking about television as one of the main sources of alienation, stereotypes, prejudices, and ignorant social practices within the society I live in. In addition, it seems to me that T.V. is one of the primary tools used by big corporations to manipulate people’s decisions when it comes to the consumption of products. Furthermore, even when I watch the news I get the sense that there is too much information, but that it lacks of depth; moreover, it follows a specific agenda that is controlled by the ones in power. Thus, my perspective towards television and its uses and effects has not been very optimistic.

Political Cartoons of Robert Edwards. http://www.europeanaction.com/id15.html

However, when I started reading about the effects that TV news have had in various moments in history, I realized the problem is not television itself but the people who are behind it and control it. Even more, I noticed that even when TV channels depend economically on sponsors, there have been situations in which channels have challenged the status quo by responding to the momentum and to people’s right to not receive incorrect or incomplete information. In addition, I could argue that looking at the code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists, it is vital for journalists to “give voice to the voiceless”; therefore, I see how this code was extensively applied on events such as McCarthyism and the Civil Rights Movement.

Moreover, I believe that because news channels understood the importance of these events and gave them the required attention, their coverage became more an advocacy journalism than an objective one. To demonstrate, during McCarthyism era, Edward R. Murrow, considered as the “patron saint of the broadcasting profession”, together with Fred Friendly, a young producer, decided to broadcast a program that would show the unfair practices and accusations made by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. Even more, during Murrow’s program See it Now in March 9, 1954, he broke the silence and spoke for many of the people in United States that had been accused of being pro-communists, and, therefore, were incarcerated and/or their work and careers fisnished. Consequently, Edward R. Murrow gave and honest and moving discourse inviting people to not be silent, but to speak out and to denounce the injustices made by Senator McCarthy.

In addition, advocacy journalism was also exercised by the television during the Civil Rights Movement; therefore, it had a great impact on viewers because they could see at first hand the brutal violence exercised by white citizens and the police towards African-Americans. Journalists, even when sometimes not allowed to stay at places with very strong racial tensions, gave voice to the voiceless, to the millions of African-Americans who have suffered the injustices of unfair politics.

During this revolutionary time of the Civil Rights Movement, the media exercised its role of informing people, but at the same time sent a message of intolerance towards discriminatory practices made by many white citizens, policemen and politicians. An important event during this period took place in Little Rock, Arkansas, in which a group of nine African-Americans students were enrolled at a high school full of white students. Fortunately, TV news gave the importance that this event deserved and they broadcasted all the humiliations these African-American students had to go through; therefore, many people in the country were informed about the unfair way these students were treated.

Finally, I hope that in contemporary times journalism of advocacy grows and has a greater impact on people all over the world. Even more, I now believe that not matter which medium people are being informed by, what truly matters is that a great amount of well informed people can make a difference, make history and change paradigms.

Written by vurbi

May 14, 2011 at 07:32

Posted in Uncategorized