My first week in Italy came to an exciting close with a busy day of traveling in Pisa and Lucca. It’s been an eye-opening seven days, and I’ve already grown to love my reformed lifestyle in this beautiful and culturally-rich country. While some parts of my European transition have been difficult (such as a lagging Internet connection and an absence of television in my apartment that may force me to watch Tuesday’s Lost premier on an iTunes delay), I’m fully appreciating this life changing experience that’s only just begun.
Some early trip highlights have been trying interesting foods in Florence (pear ravioli and goat have so far been the most memorable), hiking to the top of the Duomo di Firenze bell tower, and climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s been a wild ride and I can’t wait to see what Week 2 has in store.
Life in Italy is great. I’ve attained access to the Internet and will start writing about my European adventure soon.
In the meantime, I’ve added a link for my LockerBlogger.com page below my blogroll. This up-and-coming site is sort of like Twitter for sports junkies. It provides a unique forum for professional athletes and fans to converse and share their opinions on what’s taking place in the sports world. I’ve enjoyed posting on it, and I strongly suggest joining this free network.
Tomorrow I’m off to Florence, Italy for a semester abroad. This will be the longest I’ve ever been away from my country, and I’ll be sure to document the trip with some quality international writing. Keep on reading…I thank you for your support.
With Leno-Conan drama, the Golden Globes, a New York Jets AFC Championship appearance, and a critical Massachusetts senate race dominating this week’s domestic news, it could be easy for Americans to forget about the unparalleled, ongoing tragedy in Haiti. Thankfully, however, this hasn’t been the case.
Millions of necessary dollars are being raised to help the relief efforts and Haiti’s struggle has appropriately been the predominant story covered by this country’s news media. The giving and press coverage are equally vital for this nation and its people.
In 2008, I traveled to the Gulf Coast on an Alternative Spring Break trip. While living in Mississippi and working to rebuild a home in Louisiana’s Saint Bernard’s Parish, I saw first-hand how Hurricane Katrina affected (and still affects) the families who were displaced by this powerful natural disaster. The devastation was so terrible that those who only lost their homes were considered to be the “lucky ones.” Sadly, what’s happening in Haiti makes Katrina look like child’s play.
An inside look at a home I visited in Post-Katrina Louisiana
Another look inside...
During my freshman year at Syracuse, I was very fortunate to meet and have dinner with Dr. Paul Farmer, a world-renowned physician and medical anthropologist. Dr. Farmer has dedicated his life to treating individuals in some of the world’s poorest countries, and his organization “Partners in Health” has done wonders for many people lacking essential medical care, health resources, and most importantly, hope. Having done previous philanthropic work for the Global Fund (an organization that raises money to combat HIV/AIDS, T.B., and Malaria in impoverished African nations), I was granted the amazing opportunity to discuss global healthcare with Dr. Farmer (a close friend of President Bill Clinton and the subject of Tracy Kidder’s inspirational book “Mountains Beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer”).
Dr. Farmer and President Clinton in Haiti
When speaking with Dr. Farmer, I learned that his early work in Haiti inspired him to confront significant problems in other places around the globe. It was clear, then, that Haiti held a special place in Dr. Farmer’s heart, and I immediately thought about him after learning about last week’s earthquake. To no surprise, I learned that Dr. Farmer is currently in Haiti with President Clinton, scrambling to organize important life-saving medical efforts and lobbying for international support. He has already written a column in the Miami Herald, and Partners in Health has been at the forefront of Haiti’s long road to recovery. Today, Haiti’s struggles make Dr. Farmer one of the single most important leaders on the planet. Having met the man, I am confident that he will rise to the occasion.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled “American Idiots,” which criticized several cultural icons for abusing the “power of celebrity.” I wrote, “While many celebrities do use their wealth and fame to positively change the world (Bono, Oprah, Bill Gates, Lance Armstrong, Brad Pitt, etc.), the majority of our heroes end up abandoning or abusing their unique positions of influence. Leading lives of excess can certainly be difficult, but we need all of our revered public figures to lead by example.”
On Friday, the George Clooney-organized Hope For Haiti Now telethon will air on a variety of networks to support important organizations like Oxfam America, The Red Cross, and of course, Partners in Health. The over-150 celebrities performing/donating their time for this great event are exemplifying the very leadership I previously called for. I encourage all to watch, and give money to the telethon…every contribution willmake a difference.
The world is a funny place. It sometimes paradoxically takes the breaking down of a nation (or a people) to bring us all closer together as one. While it’s impossible to tell how long Haiti’s recovery will take, we all need to unite in order to speed this process up.
Prose and Klons (a new blog created by my friend Evan Klonsky) has been added to to my blogroll.
Evan’s site is “dedicated to investigating and edifying the strange, complex, and possibly meaningful thoughts that enter his mind. More importantly, it’s about cultivating an open environment for unique, novel, or unorthodox ways to view the media and how we digest information.”