Family


Photo Courtesy Of: Minnesota Historical Society

Even though Martin Luther King Day was a few days ago, I wanted to share a post I was thinking about writing throughout the day but didn’t get to with all the excitement of roommates coming home and Fletcher reunions and bday parties to attend.

I grew up in a family that values contribution to society. My parents met and married in Washington, DC during the late 1960s in the heat and excitement of the civil rights movement. Both of them were working on the hill and studying or teaching politics at the time. I was fortunate to grow-up hearing many stories about the thrill of living in DC during that period in time. I’m sure my own interests and work with International Center on Nonviolent Conflict have been heavily influenced by these values, and the experiences they afforded me throughout my upbringing. And I think it is because of their passion for these issues that each MLK day my father would dust off the record player, dig through the few crates of his remaining record collection, and pull out the one or two records he had with Martin Luther King speeches and interviews. I still remember the cover of the album and the sound of MLK’s voice scratchy from the record player, booming through our house on a cold wintry MLK day.

And so before going for a run, scanning the course catalogs to map out potential class combinations for my last semester, picking up housemates at the airport, and catching up over “family dinner’ and drinks, with the urging of my sister, I made a point to honor this great tradition, plugging my Mac into the living room speakers, pulling up some speeches on YouTube (oh, how the times have changed…) and playing several of Dr. King’s speeches and interviews to reflect on his thoughtful words, his character, his insights, and the importance of his work in the lives that we are able to live today.

I encourage you to all turn off your distractions at some point this week and do the same.

I Have a Dream

“I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” Part 1, Part 2, and Full Text

Dr. King “In His Own Words” with NBC News

First off… Happy Birthday to my wonderful Papa Dan! Biggest news of the day in my sphere is my dad turning an impressive 65 today! Wisdom speaks louder than words and his will continue always to echo in my ears.

As many of you have seen, the international news from the Cambodia front has been the announcement of (alias) Duch’s judgement at the EC on Monday. I’ve included a few items and hope to post something myself later this week. Until then, here are some news stories from this past week!

Photo by: Pha Lina

Exam monitors ‘take money’

By: Khouth Sophakchakrya, July 28, 2010

THE head of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association yesterday accused officials in Kandal province of ordering teachers administering Grade 12 national exams to take money from students, part of what he described as worsening corruption surrounding the three-day tests.

Convicted Khmer Rouge prison chief to appeal: lawyer

By Suy Se in AFP, July 27, 2010

Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch will appeal against his conviction by Cambodia’s UN-backed war crimes tribunal, which sentenced him to 30 years in jail, his defence lawyer said Tuesday. Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the court on Monday in a ruling that has been hailed as a “historic milestone” in tackling impunity in the country.

Cambodian women rally behind condemned opposition MP Mu Sochua

By: Observers, July 27, 2010

Mu Sochua, a female MP of Cambodia’s opposition Sam Rainsy Party, faces jail for refusing to pay 4,000 dollars in fines and compensation on a conviction last year for allegedly defaming prime minister Hun Sen. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called the proceedings against her an example of the “alarming erosion” of Cambodia’s free speech and judicial independence.

Photo by: Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian garment workers clash with police

By Prak Chan Thul, Reuters, July 27, 2010

At least nine female garment workers were injured on Tuesday in clashes with Cambodian riot police who used shields and electric shock batons to try to end a week-long strike over the suspension of a local union official.

Press Release: Kaing Guek Eav Convicted of Crimes Against Humanity and Grave Breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949

By: ECCC, July 26, 2010

The Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) today found KAING Guek Eav alias Duch guilty of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and sentenced him to 35 (thirty-five) years of imprisonment.

Duch gets 35 (- 5) years

By: IntLawGrrls, July 26, 2010

So says the presiding judge of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, in Khmer, in this 10-minute video clip of today’s verdict against Kaing Guek Eav (alias Duch), about whose trial we’ve blogged here. The 67-year-old Duch, stoic during the reading of the verdict, was convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity, murder, and torture, and sentenced to “35 years in prison — with five years taken off that sentence for time served.”

Cambodia: The Official Launch of the First Online Human Rights Portal

By: Sopheap Chak in Global Voices Online, July 26, 2010

Sithi.org, a Cambodian human rights portal that aims to crowdsource and curate reports of human rights violations, officially launched on July 22, 2010 with participation from various institutions including embassies, international and local NGOs, media and university representatives. Over the past year, the site has developed rapidly. A number of reports of human rights violations, relevant legal instruments and publications have been made available on the site.

Irish photographer recalls day he found KRouge torturer

By: AFP, July 24, 2010

In March 1999 an old man wandered up to an Irish photographer on his day off in a village in Cambodia. It was Duch, the torture chief of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime who many assumed was long dead.

Cambodian Ruling Party’s Plenum Reaffirms Hun Sen for PM Post in Next Terms

By: CRI English, July 22, 2010

The Cambodia’s ruling party — the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) on Thursday reaffirmed at it plenum Hun Sen’s candidate for prime minister post for the next terms. “The plenum reaffirms its endorsement of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen’s candidacy for the post of prime minister for the next terms,” announced the party’s communique released at the ending of the 35th Plenum of the Fifth-Term Central Committee of the CPP.

When I was nine years old my family lived in Bangkok, Thailand for three months. It wasn’t until recently I realized the wit and fearlessness my parents must have had  in taking my sister and I, ages 9 and 13, out of school and in tow for our first trip abroad.  We  spent Christmas with my aunt and uncle in San Francsico before boarding the plane in January, Tokyo then Bangkok, 1992.

I’ve been thinking about those three months a lot lately. My sister could tell the story better and she does. I chime in but mostly to confirm the images I still have in my head. I knew one day I’d be back and here, eighteen years and a world of reasons later, sitting in 52A with grateful goodbye tears streaming that I find myself like you might one point amongst an infinite number along a full circle.

There are so many events, images, and stories to tell from those three months. The smell of stepping off the plane and onto the tarmac, long walks through busy streets to the bus stop, to the  market, to the University pool, stretching of sheets to fit the beds, Beatles duets while washing dishes,  train rides through the country sides, slash and burning fields burning in the night, vendors meeting a hard bargain with (me) “the baby”, cockroach mortuaries on the laundry floor, learning Thai from “Mr. Dang” on a cassette  tape, incense sticks on spirit houses, intricate daily flower arrangements, making offerings to monks in morning, Buddhist temples,  rose apples, learning to love and learn through living, the meaning of graciousness and filial piety.

I remember before leaving Thailand our friends and Dad’s colleagues at the University held an elaborate farewell luncheon for our family.  There were so many to thank and bid farewell, toasts and speeches to give, gifts to give and receive and a banquet of food to devour. Dad said, my sister and I were to be prepared to speak, give our thanks and goodbyes. I remember the long table was set for several courses and crowded with different sized cups and glasses. The cashew chicken oozed thick and dark brown with purple peppers overflowing on the pink and white plates.

At thirteen, mature and confident speaking in front of a table full of faculty and family friends, Clare stood and dutifully delivered on Dad’s request when called on. Unprepared but unworried and knowing I was next, as everyone at the table turned their heads towards me like slow motion and I immediately burst into tears. Overwhelmed and unseasoned it was all I could do at the time to express the gratitude and emotion I felt for the people around the table, and the time that we had spent with them there.

I learned a lot during those three months. We met a lot of people, had a number of  formidable life experiences, and between all of the fun and funniness of forging through heat-shock and cross-cultural mishaps, our family had established ourselves and a way of life there. It was hard to leave.

I tell this story because it reminds me of Fletcher.  It reminds me of how I first became interested in  international affairs and the world beyond Falcon Heights, MN . It reminds me of the importance of experiential learning and teaching. It reminds me how quickly we bond with new communities and surroundings, and how many meaningful and memorable moments can take place in the blink of an eye, an era we will look back on and think of fondly, some of the times of our lives. And it reminds me how hard it can be to say goodbye to such experiences and accept the circles and transitions of life.

After a phenomenal first year at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, filled with an immeasurable number of fantastic moments, events, experiences, relationships, new knowledge and skills, even the lows stand out as highs in my 27 years of life. And the Fletcher community. It’s not hard to close the textbooks and shelve the note cards for a summer internship in Cambodia, but I find myself back to sitting at the banquet  table wishing I could find the words to express the magnitude of gratitude and emotion I feel towards my fellow Fletcherites and especially the graduating class of 2010 who ushered us into the magical mystery tour.

After spending eight month’s worth of beautiful days and long nights debating, challenging, laughing, learning and loving with a tight group of people in libraries and on dance floors at house parties in Medford, MA only to turn around and bid farewell to many whom you now consider really good friends for life, I find myself returning to one of my Dad’s “life-long learning” adages: life is like a convoy.

On the one hand it’s so obvious: people get on and off your convoy, some stay longer than others.  But the key is that your convoy keeps moving.  It  navigates the intricate seas of social relationships, chance, serendipity, and fate. And though I still find it difficult to leave and let such wonderful people, places and times go, I am reminded though your convoy docks at various ports along the way enabling people to get on and off along the way, it does not stop. We keep moving.

And so I remind myself that while I feel so much is forgotten when we forget to remember, as my convoys sails to Phnom Penh for the summer, it now carries the carvings of this past year’s people and passageways, as we leave pieces of us wherever we go.

Happy thanksgiving weekend everyone!

This year I am especially thankful for a spontaneous life, an amazing, fun, talented, and supportive family and community of friends, the privilege to join the vibrant Fletcher community and work towards a graduate degree in Law and Diplomacy, and last but not least, the most delicious, nutritious thanksgiving meal ever, falling just behind my mom’s annual spread.

Shout out to Baby Ace for partying like a rockstar on his first thanksgiving on earth with mom, dad, and the “R Street Hunnies Family Night Crew”!

Back in Boston the weather’s chilly and rainy, and starting to feel more like winter.  Thought I’d share some fall foliage and fun snapshots before the snow starts to stick.

The first few are from an annual fall festival called Honk!Fest – groups of “activist bands” – mostly horns, playing in the squares all weekend and marching from Davis Square through Somerville to Harvard Square in Cambridge on a gorgeous fall day in October.

Honkfest comes to Somerville

Honk!fest comes to Somerville!

Each year Honk!festers set the Davis neighborhood afire with their shiny, bold brass and the sounds of horns honking throughout the streets.  I spent one perfect fall day off the grad school grid to follow the Honk! festival, enjoying the May Day -esque celebration, watching parade of political puppetry and listening to the activist brass bands.

Stick it to me baby: Health Care!

Stick it to me baby: Health Care!

Carrying the dead

Funky Brass-town

Funky Brass-town

Get it girl!

Kanye West Makes Appearance at HonkFest

Kanye West Makes Appearance at Honk!Fest

Just what the doctor ordered!

Just what the doctor ordered!

Only in Boston

Brazilian Style Drum Jam

Davis Square
Davis Square

Fall bright

Fall Bright 2

One Example of Brilliance at Tufts

Minong, WI
Hello!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’m alive and well and back on the map after spending a week of moving – from Buenos Aires back to DC to  Somerville, Massachusetts – with the “fox force four” a best of friends moving crew
You Haul Team

You Haul Team

Juliana, Melanie, Moi, Zoe

Juliana, Melanie, Moi, Zoe

into a beautiful new apartment in a cute neighborhood just two blocks from the heart of Davis Square!

Kitchen

Kitchen

New Bedroom

View into my new bedroom

The great migration was followed by 10 glorious days of hometown Minnesota

Born in the land 'o lakes

Born in the land 'o lakes

mostly up in the north woods at our family’s cabin Wisconsin where I spent some of my time getting a good dose of “hard labor therapy camp” working with the family cabin crew to build a new path from the cabin to a new dock location.

The A-frame

The A-frame

Marshland with petrified wood behind the cabin

Marshland with petrified wood behind the cabin

"The year of the path"

"The year of the path"

View from the foot of the path

View from the foot of the path

The week was filled with great food, running in the woods, jumping in the lake, soaking up some summer sun, and having an awesome time hanging-out and catching-up with each of my parents, my sister, cousins Ryan and Mel, and of course Abby, the center of attention.

Letting it all hang out

Abby letting it all hang loose

Abby

Endless energy abounds

Tomorrow is a big day for me as I start the Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) program at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.  I have been eagerly anticipating the start of this wonderful and challenging new adventure in my life and am very excited to meet my fellow incoming class!

Stay tuned for some final thoughts on my summer in Buenos Aires including “Why Buenos Aires is a Livable City”, como es la vida and why I already love Somerville, MA, and more about what I hope to accomplish over the next two years!

With love while settling in, Althea

Back on the map!

Back on the map!