The Good Stuff 4

A roundup of the good stuff I came across in the past two weeks.

First up, a few new blogs that I added to my feed reader. One of my favorites finds is Indolent Youth, a blog that tracks political youth movements in FSU countries. With the upcoming presidential elections in Belarus and parliamentary elections in Ukraine later this month, currently most of the posts deal with those two countries. Although not a blog, but thematically connected is an online youth magazine that Tamar from Armyouth pointed me to. Nasha Versia is a magazine in Russian made by youth from different Central-Asian countries on themes such as politics, education, the environment and culture. I haven’t had a chance yet to read the articles attentively, but they certainly seem interesting.

Back to new found blogs. A nice blog about Moscow is the bilingual Russian-English blog Maaskva: nashimi glazami, run by an Armenian, Raffi Aftandelian. Then there is Nancy White’s Full Circle Online Interaction Blog with lots of interesting posts and links about online interaction, distance learning, internet use for NGOs, online community facilitation.

Though not recently, I still want to point you to an article Hetq Online published two weeks ago. It is written by an American Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Dilijan. She writes about her friendship with one of her students, a disabled young man who confronts her with her own prejudices against handicapped people. A very moving and honest article, that indeed does make you think about any prejudices you might have without realizing or acknowledging them.

Some time ago Zarchka wrote about corruption in the education system, a topic that I care much about. Last week, Tamar also posted about the same topic at ArmYouth. It is so frustrating to know that having money gives you a better education and a better career than having a brain that actually works well. One of the things that I cannot get used to in Armenia, is the fact that knowledge and a (good) education don’t matter, but that money and connections do.

Through the Network of East-West Women I came across an interesting project, Women’s Memory, launched ten years ago to collects women’s history, the stories of ordinary women’s lives in Eastern Europe.

“So far, project participants in eight countries have recorded around 500 women’s stories, amounting to more than 20,000 transcribed pages and some 17 books. And they plan to continue.[…] Organizers see the Women’s Memory project as a way to insert the stories of normal, everyday women into a larger historical narrative focused on men. “There is a view that the men do the big history and make the history books,” said Pavla Frydlova, the Women’s Memory coordinator in Prague.”

Worth noting is that Beirut based journalist Michael Totten continues his series of articles based on his recent visit to Northern-Iraq / Kurdish Iraq. Fascinating reading and great pictures! Well worth a visit for those interested in the Middle-East.

As a recurring thing, I would like to point out Onnik and Nessuna’s weekly updates of the English-language and the Armenian-language Armenian blogosphere at One World. Their latest updates can be found here and here.

3 thoughts on “The Good Stuff 4

  1. Hi Myrthe

    From my own experiences as a college student in the U.S., I would like to bring up the fact that a very similar situation is ocurring there as well. The college that I graduated from cost $32,000 dollars during my first year there. By my fourth year, it had increased to $39,000 and was still going to increase more the year after that. Interestingly enough, this is a trend that is occuring more and more in the U.S. Colleges and universities are getting SO much more expensive and the Bush administration is continously seeking to cut money within the Education sector.

    My family and I were not able to afford such an expensive education. So I was able to attend a prestigious and expensive liberal arts college because the school was willing to give scholarships to me. Fortunately, that was the case for me. However, the higher education system in US is also becoming an option excluslively available to the rich white people who can afford such an education.

    On a side note I would also like to add that it is these same rich white folks’ children which tend to be those obnoxious party people who could care less about their college education, hardly attend classes, party all week and weekend and do not do their homework.

    While there are some differences in this comparison I am making between US higher educ and Armenia – for example, I do not think it is possible for someone to pay to receive a 5 on their exam. Yet those parents who can afford to send their children to the prestigious and expensive schools in the U.S. are the ones who tend to make more money and have the more prestigious careers.

    Frustrating… isn’t it?

  2. Tamar, thanks a lot for your comment. I know how expensive studying in the US is, I studied one year at an American university, the costs of which were in part covered by scholarships. In Holland the college tuition is definitely less than in the US, but we don’t have the campus system so we don’t pay for a dormroom, the cafetaria food etc. However, if you would add living costs to the tuition fee, you would also get a fairly large amount! Most students in Holland therefor have parttime jobs (universities don’t give scholarships or grants).
    Also, in Holland I have noticed the same thing you described: those who can most easily afford to study, are in many cases the ones who care least about the actual studying instead of the “side perks” of being a student (read: parties, lots of free time). Add to this a general tendency in Dutch culture to appreciate the mediocre, the averadge instead of those do well (this is not just in education, but in other spheres as well) and you have loads of students who are satisfied with a 6 (the lowest passing grade in the Dutch grading system).
    I know that in many countries attending university costs money, that in itself is not a problem for me. The thing that I have a problem with in the Armenian education system is the bribing. It is so frustating to talk to students who do study, who are bright enough and know the answers to an exam well, but still don’t pass their exams because they didn’t pay their professor or lecturer the necessary “additional funding”.

  3. Thanks for the update about some of the new blogs out there. It is great to read them.

    How about that LA Times editorial today? Long overdue.

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