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James Burke's Global Portfolio

My Work Showcase

A compilation of all the work that I've done for the Global Studies Program

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About Me

Personal Profile

As a member of the global community I have made it a priority to ensure that I view the world through as wide of a lense as possible. This has come in the form of leaning as much about the world and its peoples. I am interested in education and how the human brain works in general. I have also dabbled in gardening and being environmentally conscious. I hope that through the global studies program I might become a more conscious and productive member of the global community going forward.

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Reflection Journal

My Experiences

A Path Appears Reflection

Summer of 2018

Across every story in a Path Appears WuDunn and Kristof use examples of how humanitarian problems are addressed to help readers best understand the problems themselves and how to address them. These examples are often compounded with evidence to push alternative answers to problems than the ones that we currently may be using. The book serves as a call to action to not just be compassionate towards those less fortunate than you, but to be effectively and efficiently compassionate. There are various methods for helping people that the authors put forward to us. Many of those methods required a new way to look at how we give aid to those in need. Kristof and WuDunn argue that instead of trying to solve problems that are the most apparent and threatening directly, we should try to find the root of these problems and work from there. In many cases the problem’s root lies in the poor conditions that underprivileged children are growing up in. In other words, a little help early on can save a lot of effort in the long run. This is just one example of misplaced humanitarian efforts. There are many more ways that we could help more people more effectively demonstrated in the book. I found it challenging to think that such fundamental change is necessary to be helping as many people as possible. Because of the ideas put forward by a Path Appears i will see charities in a radically new light.

Jake Halpern Reflection

May 13, 2019

Jake’s focus on walking the line between writing a piece that supports or condemns a person’s actions is an interesting example of the challenges journalists must face to write unbiased reports. Jake avoids writing pieces purely critical or supportive of a person and rather tries to focus on their state of mind and reasoning for their actions, be they good or bad. He strives to give the full picture or full story of the person he is profiling as to best represent how their situation affected their actions. Jake mentioned during his talk a conflict that arise between Jamil and Sami in his comic “Welcome to the New World” stood out to me. He said that The father, Jamil disagreed with his son Sami about when they should migrate to America. They had had the greenlight to migrate and Sami wanted to go as soon as possible but Jamil did not want to leave behind other family members in Syria. They disagreed with each other almost to the point of hatred and some family members still harbored resentment toward Sami even after reaching the US. This exemplifies that while it might seem like the only thing immigrants coming to the US have to deal with is our poor immigration system and low quotas, there are many more problems these families must face. I also read another one of Jake’s pieces named “An Icelandic Tale” focuses on a short journey Jake undertook in Iceland. He went on a whim after mentioning a boiling river in the middle of the tundra from one of his fiction stories to his guide who told him that such a place existed and he could take him there tomorrow. On this journey Jake compared his situation trudging through the snow to a situation from his fiction story. Ultimately Jake turns back but listens to his guides reagail him on true, riveting, brushes with death and concludes that faction comes from real world events. As someone who often writes fiction the lesson Jake learned about fiction deriving from fact and not the other way around is equally useful to myself.

Freshly Squeezed Reflection

Oct 9, 2018

I agreed with the panel's assessment of the current political climate and i think that they did a great job at identifying the things that are contributing to the current state of politics. This makes sense since most of the guest’s expertises focus on finding the root of a given social problem so it makes sense that they nailed that aspect. On the other hand I think that they failed to properly address a solution to the problems that they spoke about. They certainly tried to boil down their findings and experiences to solve those problems as best they could. While it is most likely true that there is no clear simple solution to the US’s current political decorum but i still think that the panelists could have done a better job trying to find more relevant solutions. I feel like i wasn't the only person in the audience who thought that way especially after i heard the “kumbaya” question. While i didn't share the same thought process and conclusion with the person who asked the question i did feel like a lot of the discussion was around how to keep political conversations civil on an intrapersonal level, like at a dinner table for example. I felt that that didn't really serve to solve or adress many of the bigger societal problems that are causing these hostile thanksgiving dinners and the like.  As a side note I didn't enjoy how much hartford was focused on in the talk.

Emanuel Synagogue Reflection

Nov 10, 2018

By attending the saturday service that ran from 6:22 to 7:00 at West Hartford’s Emanuel Synagogue I was granted a unique outlook on Judaism. This was one of my first meaningful interactions with a monotheistic religion as they are typically not part of my life. What sets Judaism apart from other abrahamic religions is the belief that god’s prophet has not yet come and a comparative lack of focus on the afterlife. As for what i did see of the service on saturday the first thing that i noticed was the singing. Everyone aside from visitors from watkinson sang various hebrew songs from a red book. This added to the intimate feel of the small service of maybe 15 or soo non watkinson visitors. The singing, while in another language seemed emotionally weightfull especially during what i think was the kaddish. While there was a boundary between us and the worshipers due to me (and i assume most others) lack of fluency in hebrew by reading along i could tell that the general subject matter was fairly serious yet hopeful. Despite that I felt welcome in the pews. I and a few other visitors from watkinson received helpful guidance on the rituals and norms of the synagogue from the rabbi as well as a kindly old woman behind us. The old woman even taught me how to say good evening in hebrew. The ritual of mourning that i was there for was interesting in that we passed various herbs around a circle for everyone to smell. This was strange at first to me as holding hands and forming a circle seems a bit idyllic and interpersonal for most religious services that i know. But i ultimately came to understand and respect the ritual as a symbol. As for differences between it and my previous experiences with religion the saturday service i attended was much more personal and intimate than the overbearing, latin mass funeral that i had previously attended.

Skype with Tarek Zakanda

February 7th, 2019

One thing that surprised me to hear was how well adapted Damascus was to functioning as a city during war times and how Tarek was still able to attend college courses. I would have thought that under such circumstances a cit would just sort of shut down but in the case of damascus where the people living there couldn't leave easily i suppose it makes sense that they made the best of what they had. It also surprised me how Tarek’s family was sort of a scattered to the four winds and ended up in different countries. I think that is is really inspiring to see how Tarek was able to hold on to his dreams of being an artist and/or a teacher under such circumstances. The fact that he was able to continue his studies for as long as he did during the civil war as well as the aspirations he still holds are a testament to his resilience and humanity's willpower as a whole.

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