23 November 2008

One more year in Norway?

I decided to apply to MCP (President) of AIESEC in Norway. Basically this means if people elect me, I will stay one more year in the country, leading AIESEC. I've been thinking a lot of things about it, for example, why I want to do that. There are lots of arguments, but the most important is that I believe a lot in the organization, its role in society and how I can take advantage of it while also support other people. Why I believe that? Well, there are lots of reasons also, most of then pretty related to my experience and development so far, but here's an example of why my eyes shine when I am working in AIESEC (from the AIESEC International blog):

Story from the Gulf
from Annika

Today was an incredible day here in Qatar.

As I sat in the closing plenary of the 2nd ever Gulf Conference, I looked around me and saw 75 AIESEC members from Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, the UAE, and Iran. Within the membership of these countries, about 20 countries of origin were represented -- from Somali and Sudan, to Iraq and Syria, from India and Bangladesh, to Saudi and Jordan.

A little less than a year ago the Gulf Conference was born, by two visionary MCPs in the Bahrain and Qatar who wanted to have a conference in Qatar but couldn't because of cultural and legal restrictions. Thus the first Gulf conference was held in Bahrain in February, with representatives of Bahrain, Qatar and Oman and members had the chance to discuss what kind of AIESEC they would like to see in the Gulf.

Here in the Gulf, student run organizations are completely unheard of here as young people are not expected to be able to take care of themselves and are given no real responsibility. It is unusual that nationals and expatriate people are working together on the same level, discussing the future of a region that impacts both of their futures.

Everyday, LCs face challenging ethical questions: will we be able to attract companies or other Gulf nationals if part of the leadership is Indian, or Sri Lankan? Will everyone feel comfortable being part of a training where both males and females are present? How will a shy new female member work in a team with males as she has never spoken to a male in her life expect her father and her brothers?

This is special conference. There are no AIESEC dances at this conference, definitely no alcohol, there aren't many guys and girls hugging but there is a spirit and desire for development and change that is incredible. You can hear loud and clear the voices of young people who want to develop, to contribute to a sustainable future of AIESEC in the Gulf.

Not only did these members stand up saying they believe in AIESEC, companies, organizations finally stepped forward to say Yes we support AIESEC. Companies like Qatar Petroleum, the Qatar Businessman's Association, Unilever, PwC, Salam International, BNP Paribas participated and talked about how amazed they were by the scale of the conference and the professionalism. Sheikh Faisal, the second most important man in the country of Qatar gave the opening speech talking about the importance of youth and his support for AIESEC, afterwards inviting all the AIESEC members to his musuem, where we spent a wonderful evening seeing ancient pieces of art, fossils, clothing, cars, carpets and much more before being invited to a wonderful dinner. At the end of the night the Sheikh stood up and addressed the students, talking about his experience growing up and how he had to try and fail many times before getting it right. I wish you could all be there to see the looks on the members faces as he talked about what an important experience AIESEC would provide them.

And that's not to mention the media who will help spread the amazing work of AIESEC here.

Now it's time to run with the momentum created by the event to really bring to life Qatar and the rest of the Gulf countries.

A huge huge recognition goes out to Petra Chovancova, the MCP of Qatar who has pushed hard to make this conference happen and not to accept the belief that it's just not possible in Qatar. Also to Monaem, the MENA ER manager who worked intensively with the OC and the VP ERs in the Gulf to raise partners for the event, and Driss who has been working on bringing back members to AIESEC here and training them to understand and love exchange. Also congratulate David from Oman for doing a great job managing the agenda.

From a happy MENA Director

12 November 2008

The Power Of Nightmares

From Wikipedia:

The Power of Nightmares, subtitled The Rise of the Politics of Fear, is a BBC documentary film series, written and produced by Adam Curtis. Its three one-hour parts consist mostly of a montage of archive footage with Curtis's narration. The series was first broadcast in the United Kingdom in late 2004 and has subsequently been broadcast in multiple countries and shown in several film festivals, including the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.

The films compare the rise of the Neo-Conservative movement in the United States and the radical Islamist movement, making comparisons on their origins and claiming similarities between the two. More controversially, it argues that the threat of radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organised force of destruction, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, is a myth perpetrated by politicians in many countries—and particularly American Neo-Conservatives—in an attempt to unite and inspire their people following the failure of earlier, more utopian ideologies.

The Power of Nightmares has been praised by film critics in both Britain and the United States. Its message and content have also been the subject of various critiques and criticisms from conservatives and progressives.

Check out the 3 parts of it (English audio with Portuguese subtitles):

The Power Of Nightmares - Part I
The Power Of Nightmares - Part II
The Power Of Nightmares - Part III

Documentaries are, as any story telling, the view of someone about something. Usually you should not take it too seriously, probably you have to look to other information from people that disagrees. But, hey, anyway, it's one view and is valid as information. Then you judge whatever you want. Maybe you want just to take it as true, maybe you want to look for other truths.

In the end, nothing is true and everything is permitted.

07 November 2008

Obama won, but his biggest challenge is not economy, war, foreign policy or anything like that

As reported all around, this week senator Barack Obama won the presidential elections in the USA. It was an astonishing victory, predicted all around as certain, but still celebrated as hell everywhere (electing Schwarzenegger and reelecting Bush might have taught the world that anything can happen when the subject is USA elections).

The hype from the campaign has not passed yet, Obama's face is still front page on several publications and, of course, topic of a lot of online stuff, both serious and non-serious, such as the game Super Obama World and the just released change.gov - this last one, a brilliant continuation of the amazing online campaign, where people can give sugestions to the elected president, keep track of what is happening through a blog and much much more. It's hard to deny the brilliance of Obama's campaign, engaging and interacting with people in the best spirit of what is marketing in the online community age. That campaign will for sure be awarded and remembered in the field as a groundbreaking one.

I don't intend to be the one who ruins the pro-Obama followers party (and I would not have enough influence to do that even if I wanted), but I am scheptical with the saviour of the US and the world role that is being given to Barack Obama.

I truly believe in change, in hope, in having great leaders impacting positively a whole society (if I didn't, why would I be in AIESEC, if that's exactly what AIESEC aim?) One good example of this possibility is the recently awarded nobel peace price Martti Ahtisaari, who was part of AIESEC. But, really, even if Obama is the one who will lead USA from the amazing bad influence to the world it has become, it won't be easy. Most especially, if he is the leader to bring change to this sick society, he will need followers, he will need other leaders, he will need all kinds of sacrifices and compromises, he will need loads of commitment from a wide array of people with very different agendas.

And what scares me most is if people are not ready/willing to give all this for the sake of the world.

I am scared of this because I saw the hype when Lula (president of Brazil) was elected as the saviour of Brazil from corruption, from poverty and all that is sick in my country. I don't intend to compare the semi-literate Lula with Obama, because the differences are obvious, but what we have to consider is that no one leads alone. And when we are talking about leading change, the main barriers are not the problems we want to change, but to change people's mindset, to change the day to day actions that lead us to the very current state we want to change.

To lead the change in the world is to change ourselves, not change the leaders we follow.

Are the republicans and democrats willing to change the way they do politics (in a manicheist way)? Are americans willing to change the way the live? Are the gun lobbists able to be pro the end of the war? Are the companies willing to sacrifice profit for common good? The list goes on, the possibilities for conflict of interest are endless.

So, my final and only question to Obama would be:

Are you able to change people's mindset?