Photojournalism

Photojournalism is probably the most powerful and affective way of communicating the news in a different way. The photos taken through photojournalism make an impact on us as it sticks to our memory. They tell a story – reporting the news, having a purpose. These images allow us to feel connected to far away realities and being educated, simultaneously.

US Presidential Inauguration, Washington, USA - 20 Jan 2017

Here’s an image of a photo that made an impact on me. It was taken on Donald Trump’s inauguration day by Kevin Dietsch. Instead of escorting his wife and First Lady Melania Trump, Trump himself goes along without her, including former president Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. It shows the contrast between the warmth of the Obama’s, and the ignorance of Trump. It sparkles the fear of what Trump’s victory could mean for both the American and global society, in relation to his behaviour. That’s how I see it, at least.

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Spotlight

Spotlight is a 2015 biographical drama directed by Tom McCarthy and written by McCarthy and Josh Singer. The film is based on true events on The Boston Globe’s spotlight unit – the oldest operative newspaper investigative journalist unit in the U.S. In the movie, the unit consists of four reporters who are assigned to investigate the crimes of the Catholic priest John Geoghan. He is accused of molesting more than 80 boys, and the Cardinal Bernard Law (the archbishop of Boston) is aware of this, but does not do anything to stop him. As the research by the investigation team keeps tumbling, they eventually uncover a pattern; there is not only one abusive priest, but a whole 90 in the Boston area. Since all four reporters come from Catholic backgrounds, they have mixed feelings about their investigation.

What really caught my attention was the way each climax in the film was portrayed. They all consisted of dramatic tunes and dynamic movements. These factors made the film very exciting, almost as if my heart swelled and pulse quickened for a moment. The greatest/most shocking part, is that the film is based on the true events which took place in Boston in the early 2000’s. This is what makes it so unique, because we have the chance to get an insight of what really happened which makes us get a deeper understanding. The realistic filming style made me, for some reason, believe I was in the movie; as if I saw everything through my own eyes.

The film taught me how powerful media can be. In this case, it has a role in spreading critical and very important information to the public. Even though the research seemed to be a long and difficult process, it was worth it in the end. Investigative journalism is an excellent tool in relation to reveal wrongdoings, and to promote freedom of speech. People usually look at priests as sinless, but the movie shows us that it is not always the case…

Lion

The movie Lion is about four-year-old Saroo who lives in a small village in India with his mother and brother Guddu. Guddu works in order to take care of his family, and one day Saroo desperately wants to join his brother on a mission. The journey is risky, so on the way Guddu tells Saroo to stay put until he comes back from work. Saroo falls asleep at the train station, and becomes frightened once he wakes up. No one is at the train station, so he starts to run away in panic. He climbs into a still-standing train looking for his brother, but falls asleep again. When he wakes up, the train is moving fast and he is unable to get off. Saroo travels a distance of 1600 kilometers, far away from his home and family. He now must learn to survive on the streets. The police take him to an orphanage where he soon will be adopted by a couple from Australia. 25 years later, his memories of his hometown and family reoccur, so he becomes desperate and tries tracking down where he originally comes from by using Google Earth.

The movie touch into many different themes, but the most reoccurring must be family, poverty, wealth, love, identity and exploration. The most major one is probably relations. By every situation, every action in the movie, one can conclude with the theme of relations. The biggest points/highlights in the film are the most scenes from Saroo’s childhood, especially when he runs away from the train station, as well as becoming adopted; getting to know the “parents”, moving to another country, and getting used to a different culture. Living a privileged life. Another major highlight would have to be all the research he puts down to track down his origin, and when he reunites with his family – of course.

This movie was quite eye-opening to me, just by watching how different my life is compared to Saroos’ – especially when he lived in India. It is almost like two different universes. I also started to think about how the children of India live today – that many children might actually live the way Saroo does. By thinking about how many children struggle by living on the streets of India might make many couples consider adoption. There are many advantages of this, because the children might get to live a better life – a more privileged life which Saroo experiences. But typically, we all miss home once we move away from our families for instance. I can’t imagine how desperate one can be, when they know that their family is alive, but have no clue of where they are.

Water Crisis – Day Zero

Goal number 6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goal is “clean water and sanitation” – a goal which I see it; essential, and a basic human right. Do we have any idea of how important accessibility to clean water and sanitation really is?

I do not think we often realize that the access to clean water and sanitation also is the key to unlocking education, work opportunities and improved health for majority of the world’s population. Today, 1 in 9 people lack the access to clean water, and 1 in 3 lack access to a toilet. I cannot imagine how life would be for me, for instance, if I lacked something so essential as this.

Women have a major responsibility in collecting water. They spend up to six hours everyday doing so. Six hours are as many hours I go to school. I would definitely not have had the same opportunities in my life if I did not go to school, so it is hard to grasp the reality of those who spend six hours everyday collecting water, missing valuable time for learning.

Water crisis = health crisis. The third leading cause of children’s death is diarrhea. Every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease. Just imagine how the statistics would change if every country in the world had the access to clean water and sanitation…

The Reluctant Fundamentalist: Book vs. Film

The book The Reluctant Fundamentalist and the movie with the same title, have major differences yet similarities. This blog post will compare and contrast the plot, characters and relationships as well as pointing out focus and message of the book and the film.

First off, the plot is what I see as the major difference in this case. In the novel, it starts off by Changez (the protagonist) who interrupts a random stranger in the streets of Lahore. He is able to distinguish him from others by pointing out the person’s characteristics, and from early on we get to know that this stranger is an American, possibly a CIA-agent on a undercover mission. In the movie, the first scenes reveals some  Pakistani culture, in addition to an American (professor who works at Changez’ school) being kidnapped. This particular scene already tells us that it possibly or it is an undercover mission. It is clear to see that they are enemies, and that Bobby (the American journalist) only meets Changez to gather valuable information about him and his relationship to the American culture, because of suspicious circumstances. Basically from the start of the movie we can tell that the focus is more on terrorism and relations, rather than nostalgia which is probably the main focus in the book. In the novel, Changez’ past is based on the plot, where he tells about his college years at Princeton University), his successes and downfalls at a prestigious company (Samson & Underwood Company), in addition to his relationship with Erica (classmate from college). Most of these elements are present in the movie as well, but not as emphasized as in the book, and there are also some clear plot differences. Firstly, Changez fires himself from the company in the film, while in the book he gets fired by Jim (the boss). Secondly, in the novel Erica (which is an author in this case) becomes mentally ill, mainly because of the unexpected loss of her boyfriend, Chris, additionally to the 9/11 event – a plot twist in the story. The reason why I believe this, is that the whole mood shifts from being somewhat happier and successful in the beginning than towards the end of the story.  In the movie, Erica is a visual artist and does not become ill, even though she expresses how much she misses Chris; how she feels guilty for the accidental cause of his death because she was driving while drunk. Since Changez makes such an impact on her, she chooses to include him in her art installation exhibited at a gallery (the cause of their split-up), while in the book, Changez is not involved in any of her work.

I also sense that Erica is more a real human being than a symbol in the movie. Their relationship might as well mirror Changez’ relationship to America; he loves America, but still he cannot seem adapt to the culture.

The movie’s most obvious message is prejudicing and stereotyping, because the plot eventually reveals that the CIA and the journalist were mistaken by Changez’ politics. He is actually against judgement and stereotyping of others and therefore becomes a sort of a person the audience eventually will empathize with, since the CIA agents are too suspicious of the whole situation.

These two medias are good in their own ways on how the plot is portrayed. The novel has some elements that are better than the movie and vice versa. I have no opinion about which of them is the best, because I think they are equally good. I enjoyed all the action and motion in the movie, but I also liked the way the book kept some moments more secret and discreet because the readers had an opportunity to interpret the content theirselves, which made it more exciting.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a monologue-based novel written by Mohsin Hamid. He grew up in Lahore, Pakistan – but also spent part of his childhood in California. Hamid studied at Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

In my opinion, the plot seemed quite direct and strange in the beginning, which starts with the protagonist, Changez, who randomly stops, and starts talking to a stranger, asking him to accompany him drinking tea at a nearby café in the streets of Lahore. At first glance, Changez observe that the stranger is an American, because he himself has lived in the US and is therefore able to recognize them easier. Not only that, but he is also quite observant, analytical and intelligent. Because the book is a monologue, we barely get to know the American. The protagonist is the only person we get to know really well. He tells “us” about his life, especially from the time he studied at Princeton University in New York, in addition to getting a job at Underwood Samson & Company. During the plot, we also get to know some other characters. Jim makes the first “appearance” who is Changez’ boss. He is known for being a direct, professional, judgmental and an action-oriented person: “We’re a small firm … We don’t waste time. Besides, I’m in charge of analyst recruiting. I don’t need another opinion.” Another character that appear early in the story is Changez’ first love, Erica. She is, in his eyes, shy, polite, and extremely attractive, “an uncommon magnetism”. Erica reveals to Changez that her boyfriend, Chris, died from lung cancer, and his death is something that affect her greatly through the plot. For her, it is like a puzzle missing in her life, which she often expresses.

These characters I have mentioned, are probably the most important. There are also other minor characters; Changez’ classmates, (especially Wainwright) for instance.

Because the novel is a monologue, the author primarily makes us believe the protagonist is speaking directly to the American. In my point of view; the more I have read the book, the more I realize that Changez is actually talking directly to us. This element is what I think makes the novel special, because the tone becomes more personal.

My Son the Fanatic & Free for All

The two short stories My son the Fanatic and Free for All are different, simultaneously similar. What makes these two stories similar are how the lives of an immigrant change, and about how it is raising a family in a new culture.

We live in a world filled with diverse cultures, and whenever we travel or move to another country, it is somewhat our duty to integrate into the community in order to have something in common with the rest of the inhabitants. Although, we still do have a choice to still keep our cultures, even though we are in a different country.

In the short story My Son the Fanatic, we meet a similar situation. The son in the story (Ali), transition into a sudden change. His father (Parvez) becomes worried, starting to think if his son has become a drug-dealer, because he sells all his possessions and belongings. With lots of inspections and conversations with his son, Parvez finds out that Ali is going back into the faith and cultures of his ancestors from Pakistan. Since they moved to London, Parvez is trying to become as English as possible – in order to achieve freedom. Ali is struggling to adapt into this new culture, and therefore change radically.

In the other story, Free for All, the plot is set in the US. It is quite similar to the other story, but this time, the son has a “western attitude”, and doesn’t really have an awareness of the behaviours from his origin. His father, a strict but gentle being, tells his son to behave properly. When the son didn’t do as his father told, the father gave him a slap. With his “western attitude”, knowing that “abuse” is a crime, the son calls the police to report the event. The father had to attend the court, where he became charged by his own son. After this incident, the father decides to take the family to his hometown – only to show how different these cultures are. When at the airport in the hometown, the father starts hitting his son by teaching him a lesson. Being startled, the son reacts quickly by running towards the police, asking for help – but they wouldn’t.

These two stories show us how different cultures are, as well as how a other culture crash while living in a country different from your origin.

Thoughts on the film Gran Torino

Questions

4. What experiences does Walt have with living in a multicultural neighborhood? Use examples from the film and discuss to what extent Walt develops/changes through the movie.

  • Walt face, in his own point of view, uncomfortable situations which are quite unusual to him. It is difficult for him to open up towards a new multicultural neighborhood such as in the movie. Especially in the beginning in the plot, where he threatens and is really racist toward the neighbors, and others, but that cannot be compared as to how he behaves with the neighbors. During the movie, he is seen as a “hero” because he, in some way, saves the boy (Thao) next door when he is being forced by his gang-membered cousin to do criminal actions. After that, Walt receives gifts from the Hmong people – which is so unusual and almost unacceptable for Walt that he shush them away from his property. A little while into the movie, the Hmong people again show their honor for Walt. This time, he doesn’t want them to go away, although he seems a bit bitter when they arrive. Instead, he choose to let them in to his home. As Walt more and more get to know his neighbors, he softens, and become more open to discover the Hmong people’s culture.

 

5. Do you agree with this summary of the film? Why/why not? Use examples from the film in your answer.

Gran Torino’s rich portrayal of cultural diversity and genuine dialogue combine to tell a noble story of how human relationships can evolve across cultural boundaries and lead to valuable personal realizations and fulfillment – even in the most trying circumstances.

  • I agree with this summary. It is natural to feel skeptical about new things, such as getting to experience encountering new cultural boundaries, which this movie portrays well. But once we are able to open up towards this, we might become positively surprised, and develop friendships – maybe other types of relationships. If we for example use the protagonist in the movie, he goes through a clear transition during the movie. He is cold and mean towards other cultures in the beginning, and eventually he turns out to be a more open-hearted, less skeptical person.

Two Dozen African Girls Dead at Sea

According to the article “Two Dozen African Girls Dead at Sea” from The New York Times: ‘Since the 1980s, tens of thousands of girls from the area around Benin City, in southern Nigeria, have been taken to Italy, where they are forced into prostitution. Over the past three years, according to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration, Italy has seen a nearly 600 percent increase in the number of potential sex-trafficking victims arriving by sea. Last year, 11,000 Nigerian girls made the trip; some 80 percent of them are thought to be trafficking victims.’

This was extremely shocking to find out, because I have never heard about this.  How can some people bear so much evil that they force girls into prostitution? The worst part is that they usually travel alone, so if they’re found dead at sea or somewhere else, it is quite a difficult task to identify them, compared to those travelling with their families. What really makes me upset/angry is that there has been nearly a 600% increase in the number of potential sex-trafficking victims. What’s so bitter about this, is that these women try to escape horrible conditions in their home countries, but then they only will face something potentially worse then what they got away from. It’s unthinkable to see that this case is a reality in the world today. I cannot express how terrible I think this is.

Source:

Mzezewa, Tariro. “Two Dozen African Girls Dead at Sea”. The New York Times. Published: November 13, 2017.

Importance of Education

Today, I will address the importance of education. The reason why, is that I believe many of us often don’t take time to reflect and appreciate the effect and the benefits education brings to us along our lives. We don’t see or think about the real necessities about the aspects of getting an education. There’s an enormous contrast between us, and children who don’t have the chance to get an education; we often complain about school, about how much work it is, while those without an education are desperately eager to learn.

The more knowledge we gain, the more we grow and develop as human beings. It’s not all about absorbing facts, but rather to think properly for ourselves; how to tell the differences between right and wrong, and to know our rights, for instance. Education aims at producing our ideal selves. Public-spirited, wise and cultured people. Simultaneously, we develop interests that might follow us along the path. There will be doors opening, leading us to a purpose in life.

Education teach us to appreciate other cultures in the world. By knowing global religions, philosophies and histories we have the chance to realize that there are many ways to see the world. We achieve the ability to understand, not disagreeing by being destructive. We do not only learn to appreaciate the world as a whole, but we also learn how to appreciate each other; to be able to accept others’ boundaries, for example.

Today, we face many social and- global related issues only because people lack a proper education. Inequality, conflicts, global warming, and poverty are only a few mentioned. As of living in such a complex, competative world today, it is important for everyone to get an education in order to communicate with the rest of the world. According to the UN statistics division in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, an estimated 58 million primary-aged children are out of school, 31 million of them being girls. This does not only tell us that there are critically many children not getting an education, but also about how unequal we are. The same statistic show that two-third’s of world illiterate adults are women. In numerous areas in the world, women are not even allowed to get an education. This must end!

Words cannot express the importance of education. It is extremely essential for everyone, and it is the path to end global poverty. In the future, I wish to see a world full of well-educated people. I wish to see a world of equality. I wish to witness a world in peace.

Thank you.

 

Sources

  • Chamaria, Vikash. “Short Essay on Education and its Advantages”. Published: July 24, 2015

https://www.importantindia.com/19774/short-essay-on-education-and-its-advantages/

  • “28 Reasons why Education is Important”. Published: July 13, 2016

https://www.importantindia.com/23102/reasons-why-education-is-important/

  • Tripathi, Sanjay. “Importance of Education”. Published: August 7, 2014.

https://www.importantindia.com/10509/importance-of-education/

  • Ford, Liz. “Two-thirds of world’s illiterate adults are women, report finds”. Published: October 20, 2015.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/oct/20/two-thirds-of-worlds-illiterate-adults-are-women-report-finds