Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Must See Flick: "Gran Torino"

This post was originally written on January 11, 2009.  I still love Gran Torino and still think it's worth watching.

I just saw one of the best films on the entire planet that is playing at this very point in time. Gran Torino is some of the best stuff to come out of Clint Eastwood. He is genius. His part is geniusly played.

I love this film on so many levels. It accurately reflects the state of the world as it is today: evil prevails when good people do nothing. However, the converse is also true: good prevails when good people do something (even if their intentions may appear selfish at first).

Not only that, but it depicts the role prejudice can play in a person's life when they have never known anything different and have never been challenged to walk in another person's shoes. Prejudice is something that is developed over time through ignorance and lack of willingness to understand someone who appears different from you.

Gran Torino also spectacularly demonstrates both the good and bad effects of cultural and generational differences. We can all learn a lesson how to be more generous in heart and accepting of that which may not appear as it seems.

To me, Gran Torino demonstrates how persistance and integrity should always be our aim in life. When it all boils down, it is the condition of our heart that matters and not the situation of our life.

This is a MUST SEE film. I recommend that it be part of high school social studies/history curriculum across the entire country. This is a life-changing movie, especially if you are headed in the wrong direction. It is never too late to make the right choice.

GO SEE Gran Torino NOW

To NGO or not to NGO?

Why start another NGO?

In Siem Reap there are more than 300 registered non-government organizations.  Let that sink in for a moment...more than 300 registered NGOs in Siem Reap Province alone!

However, I am certain there are hundreds more groups that are calling themselves NGOs or charities or non-profits or social enterprises, but have no idea what they are doing.

This is a problem.

Cambodia, a country of about 14-15 million people has probably more do-gooders than the rest of the world.  Why is this?

There are no black and white answers.  I see and hear a lot of people coming here charmed by Cambodia and deeply affected by the poverty they see, and don't know what else to do.

This is where Learning Services comes in!

The Learning Service - Improving Volunteer Travel Facebook page provides lots of thought provoking links to consider and re-consider what it means to volunteer and/or start an NGO.

There is also a book coming out.  Find out more about Learning Service at their website.

Here are a few more links to continue researching the whys and why nots.

When Volunteering Becomes Big Business on Al Jazeera

Lessons I Learned by Daniela Papi

Good Intentions are Not Enough website and blog - very informative!

The Trap of Saving Cambodia film trailer and information.

Orphanages not the solution a website aimed at informing and educating travelers about the realities of orphanage tourism

Many of these websites are jumping off points for further reading and information about the volunteer industry.

Despite the negative image that is often portrayed about volunteering and NGOs in Cambodia, there is still a lot of good and amazing things happening.

Why YOU Should Take a Gap Year

I've had a long absence from blogging, and this article, "Why Tina Fey Should Have Taken a Gap Year," from the Huffington Post caught my attention.

Unlike Tina Fey, I did this by becoming an exchange student after I graduated from high school just over 20 years ago. That year in Denmark changed my life.  The benefit was that even though I went without knowing a soul, I was still under supervision of the exchange program and my host family.

The key is finding a well-managed program or project that has the ability to respond to emergencies and the various emotional and physical challenges that can occur when you're away from your comfort zone.

My year in Denmark was a year full of highs and lows, but nonetheless, one that changed the focus of my life forever.  I have never been able to survive a normal work life in a cubicle or otherwise, hence the reason I have been living in Cambodia on and off since 2003.

It's vital for young people to leave their countries/hometowns for at least 3 months and experience a different way of life to confront their in-grown worldviews and see the world differently no matter where they come from.

Since that year in Denmark in 1992-93, my life has never been the same, and I like it like that!

I live outside the "bubble" and push the boundaries of my comfort zone.  I force myself to do this in order to confront the assumed beliefs and perspectives that I grew up with due to being born in the United States, and more specifically in a small town on the Central Coast of California.

My logic and world view is constantly being challenged, and I've learned to be OK with that.  Can you say the same?