This World We Live In: The Poverty Equation

“Imagine no possessions… No need for greed or hunger; a brotherhood of man.” The lyrics of John Lennon’s famous world uniting ballad, “Imagine”, are a testament to the peace-loving 70’s and all the love that the decade hoped to harbor. Whether or not the people of the 1970s succeeded in doing so is arguable, but Lennon’s message still hangs clear: there is poverty, destitution, and despair everywhere in the world and those who inhabit this Earth have the tools to eradicate the darkness… if they really want to do it.

povertyCurrently, nearly half of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day; this hits the poverty line exactly. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme destitution, which means that they survive on less than $1.25 a day. To make matters worse, poverty doesn’t just hit unfortunate adults; approximately 1 billion children worldwide are struck by poverty.

According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to destitution. Many of them die from treatable diseases, malnutrition and life-threatening hunger. In addition to all of that, more than 1 billion people lack adequate access to clean drinking water and an estimated 400 million of these are children.

One might live in Kenya and think that the occasional power outage is, at most, irritable. However, a quarter of all humans live without electricity — approximately 1.6 billion people live in the dark every day. The scariest part is that it would cost approximately $40 billion to offer basic education, clean water and sanitation, reproductive health for women, and basic health and nutrition to every person in every developing country.

This may seem like a big number, but consider the fact that top ten richest people in the world are worth a combined $451.5 billion. That’s enough to provide basic necessities to every person living in poverty in eleven different countries. And that’s only the ten richest people in the world. What does this mean? It means that the people on this Earth have more than enough to eliminate all forms poverty but something’s holding a lot of them back. Why may this be?

It may be because the unfortunate situation that human kind is put in is made even worse by the fact that a great deal of relief programs that try to aid in the lifting of poverty focus mainly on treating symptoms of the poverty cycle instead of directly addressing the problem at the root and eradicating it completely. There has been a world-wide push towards giving children in third world countries clothing and used books; however, this fails to see exactly what people in developing nations really need.

“It’s fairly easy for someone in a third world country to get cheap clothing and books.” Dr. Mariam Githau, a researcher at the World Relief Program has been working in developing nations for over twenty years and has been advocating for women’s educational rights from around the world. She is very well-versed on the topic of world poverty, “Even if it wasn’t, giving a child two shirts and a Dr. Seuss book isn’t going to bring them out of the vicious cycle they’re stuck in from birth.”

So if relief programs that push for books and clothing do not help, what does? Dr. Githau says that the best way is through “directly participating in the education of people stuck in extreme poverty” and “not shying away from interacting with them on a level beyond shallow needs” are the best methods for ending poverty.

– Milkah K

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The Harlem Shake

When you put Youtube with one of the newest dances of February 2013, what do you get? You would get the Harlem Shake.

What is the Harlem Shake?

It has been defined in the Urban Dictionary as “An eccentric upper body dance move that involves the shaking of the upper torso and shoulders.” When looking at the actual setup of the Harlem Shake, Josh Constine created this formula:

[14T x (A1 + V1)] => Δ => [14T x (A2 + V2)] => [2T x (A3+V3)].

This can be shown as:

[14 seconds of (build-up music) played as (one person passively dances while others linger around them motionless)] then an instant video cut to [14 seconds of (bombastic dance music) played as (many people dance aggressively)] then [2 seconds of (a slurring sound) and (slow-motion video of the aggressive dancing)].

youtubeThe phenomenon spread quickly in the month of February. In one month, Harlem Shake footage was watched a total of 2,872 years. With this amount of time, one could watch the extended version of Lord of the Rings trilogy with credits about 2 million times. In a space shuttle, one could have traveled to the sun and back 2,313 times. This is all because of numerous 30 second videos.

Rosslyn Academy took part in this new trend on March 1st during the Students for Safe Elections concert. Stephan R., the student who made the video, said, “I like them, they’re fun . . . and as long as I think they’re fun I’ll continue to watch them and enjoy them.” This Harlem Shake video can be found here.

This new Internet meme is fun and easy to do. You don’t have to be able to do complicated dance steps, and it is only 30 seconds long. Even though there are many good things about it, uploading a Harlem Shake video could have some consequences.

As the Middle East has gotten more involved in Harlem Shake videos, Egypt has had some incidents with them- there were some people who got arrested for violating the nation’s indecency laws.

Currently, there have been cases of a hockey team banned from the playoffs, players dismissed from their teams, and people being banned by the song’s creator.

Being the next thing after Gangnam style, the Harlem Shake has gained its popularity quickly. Even with this new found fame, some people are starting to say that this fad is slowly ending, and that people have been overplaying these videos.

The question is: Will it continue to be uploaded?

– Tia H

Cheers to That!

“You should drink more water because it’s good for you and stuff!”

Stop! Before you roll your eyes at me, let me give you five brilliant reasons why H2O watershould be your best friend. Water doesn’t only need to be ingested; external use is also one of the plus sides of this miracle elixir. Not only does water optimize the internal functions of your body, but it also has great effects on your exterior!

1.  Water makes you smarter!

No, I’m not joking with you, it actually does! Your brain needs a lot of oxygen in order to function at peak levels and oxygen is one of the components in water (for those of you who didn’t already know). Drinking plenty of water ensures that your brain has as much oxygen as possible for the best results. Drinking plenty of water also supports nerve function by ensuring that your body’s electrolyte levels remain high enough to allow your nerves to send messages to and from the brain in the most efficient way possible.

2. Shrink Those Pores!

“I want pores the size of the Grand Canyon,” said no one ever! There comes a time when your skin starts to loosen, or the weather gets humid and your pores start to open up. What should you do? Get yourself some water (it must be cold!) and apply it generously to your face. This will tighten up your pores and give the appearance of firm skin. And just like that, you’ve gone from porous to gorgeous!

3.Operation Cool Down!

We are living in Kenya, and let’s face it, rain has been pretty scarce of late. I for one have not been enjoying the afternoon heat! If you haven’t either, and you feel like your body temperature is on the rise, don’t worry, I’ve got a solution. Have a bubble bath or a shower! Not one of those warm ones either! Have a nice cold bath or an icy shower. Once again, this will minimize your pores, but it will also cool you off really well.

4. Joint Together!

Another reason why you should be practically joined at the hip with water is because water is good for your joints! Yes, it’s true! Where else would your joints get lubrication from? It also helps to keep them strong and healthy and flexible, this way moving won’t be painful! H2 Oh Snap! Bet you didn’t know this one!

5. Flush It Out!

As you go through your day to day life, your body is also working hard to excrete all the bad stuff so that you’ll be healthy. Water is the rushing river upon which all the bad toxins are taken out. Why not give your body a helping hand? Take a swig of water often (two liters per day), and watch the positive changes happen. You’ll be less tired, you won’t be dehydrated, you’ll smell less horrible when you’re sweaty, and your skin will start to clear up? How great is that!

So the next time you make a drink choice, why not make it water?  Cheers!

-Adora L.

Rigged? Concede, Mr. Odinga

Just over two weeks ago, Kenyans left their homes, stood in endless lines, and endured blistering heat and growling stomachs to have a say as to who would be our next President. Major television stations aired clips of the bird’s eye view of the lengthy lines stretching for miles from the polling stations, weaving and curling indefinitely.

Mr. Raila Odinga
Mr. Raila Odinga

America, in their 2012 elections, boasted a 55% turn out. A whopping 87% of Kenya’s registered voters showed up to make their voice heard. Indeed they came out loud and clear, electing Uhuru Kenyatta as their fourth president, despite warnings against it from the outside world.

Let me be clear: Uhuru Kenyatta was not my candidate of choice. Kenya even seriously considering a man in the International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity as a candidate for the Presidency seemed outrageous. I did not exactly approve of Raila Odinga as President either, but with the lack of contending candidates for the Presidency outside the two, he seemed like the lesser evil.

Kenya made its choice, and with a patriotic heart for my country and respect for democracy, I had no choice but to accept Kenya’s decision, right or wrong in my opinion. Echoing the words of Kenya’s loyalty pledge, “I pledge my loyalty to the President and Nation of Kenya..”; being loyal to Mama Kenya is synonymous with being loyal to the leader her children choose.

That would entail defending our sovereignty as a nation by rejecting the notion the West could dictate who we wanted to choose as our Commander-In-Chief. Kenya chose, and that means I chose. Uhuru Kenyatta was, therefore, as much my choice as Uhuru Kenyatta’s most earnest supporter through the 2013 elections.

That is why my heart grows heavy as I watch my preferred candidate, Mr. Odinga, try to derail the progress Kenya has made in our political maturity thus far, and I cannot help but think Kenya made the right choice after all.

Not long after the IEBC reported the results of the elections, the former Prime Minister, who once again found himself sitting in the opposition, released a statement to the press explaining that he had no intentions of conceding and was intent on challenging the election of Uhuru Kenyatta as President. The matter, he promised, would be raised in the High Court, the only power with the authority to recall election results. He of course went on to say that he was doing it not for personal gain, but by his obligation to protect the rights of the people of Kenya. He would go on to prove he is attempting to do the opposite.

There is nothing wrong in itself with challenging the results of the election in the courts. But the matter should remain exactly there: in the courts. The results are not to be the topic of discussion in rally-style gatherings and so on. It was a lesson we thought was well learnt, but our leaders seem to say otherwise. There is no reason to inspire feelings of “cheatedness” and outrage in the public, the same emotions that are the root of the problem that fractured statehood in the past years. If violence begins to seem imminent people who feel they have been wronged will take the chance to be ahead of the curve. And with the way Mr. Odinga is going, he might be steering people in that direction. Minor bouts of violence have sparked from the Ex-Prime Minister’s insightful comments, and we can only pray the flame isn’t fanned.

More ironically, the Prime minister requests that the only results being reexamined are the Presidential results, none other that would challenge the seats people in his CORD coalition’s seats. If he truly worried for the integrity of the results, as opposed to his own ambitions, wouldn’t that be carried down to all levels?

All the signs point to one thing: Raila wants to create a crisis as a means to renegotiate himself into the government. That is, at least, the way it seems to appear.

The air in the corridors of power is tense and Kenya’s fate is uncertain. This seems like just the beginning of this second round of the battle between titans, and for one of them, it nears the end of their time in government.

– Luca A.

A Pleasant Surprise

“AHHHHHHH!” I saw the little flakes of snow floating down to the ground. With Kenya’s elections, many people had to leave the country and we sadly had to as well. Luckily, we got on a plane to Germany, which was a surprise in itself.  When we arrived, I walked outside, then immediately walked right back inside to feel the warmth again. I thrust my suitcase open and pulled out all of my winter clothes I had and put them on.  Our car finally arrived and whisked us off to our pleasant home that we would be staying in for the next few weeks.

Our very own Kara, in her first ever snowstorm!
Our very own Kara, in her first ever snowstorm!

When I woke up the next morning, I looked out the window to find snow still on the ground but slowly melting. Growing up in California, I never really experienced a “snow day” or a “white Christmas” that the movies idealize. Sadly, Christmas has passed, but I finally got my snow day even if the snow was melting. Although, at that point, I still hadn’t seen it actually snow yet, but snow was everywhere and I was a happy girl. As the days went on, there was no more snow on the ground and the flowers started to bloom, and spring began.

After a few days of beautiful sunshine, the clouds came in once again. The flowers soon began to withdraw once again and then the wondrous snowflakes fell from the cloudy sky. It was magical. I even tried to “catch a snowflake on your tongue and let it melt” like I’ve seen in many movies. It wasn’t nearly as enchanting as the movies displayed. But having snow and losing it, and then it returning again has added beautifully to the theatrics of life in this winter wonderland. It would have been nice to stay at home during the election season, but I can say that it has been more amazing being here than I ever imagined it would be.

– Kara N

Eye on The Road : What Uhuru Kenyatta Means for Kenya

In 1963, Jomo Kenyatta was elected the first President of the Republic of Kenya. Forty years later, his son, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, has been elected the fourth. The restoration of Kenya’s political royalty to the throne did not come without difficulty. The parameters to qualify as President as per the new constitution were steep, and anyone who did so cannot be considered undeserving. A simple majority vote would not make the cut. The President must not only make 25% of the votes in 24 of the 47 counties in Kenya, but also over 50% of the total votes. Upon achieving the required county margins as well as 50.07% of the total national vote, the IEBC announced Mr. Kenyatta  as the President-Elect.

World powers such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Cuba were quick to send their uhuru-kenyattacongratulations to the President, as well as multilateral organizations such as the African Union and the East African Community, and many other African nations. The West (with the exception of Russia), though diplomatically congratulating Kenya on carrying out peaceful elections, suffered Kenyatta a series of diplomatic snubs as Britain, the US and the United Nations refused to congratulate him on his victory. Could this be ominous of the impact the election of Uhuru Kenyatta would have on Kenya’s relations with these powers?

US Secretary of State John Kerry said, “On behalf of the United States of America, I want to congratulate the people of Kenya for voting peacefully on March 4 and all those elected to office. Across the country, Kenyans turned out by the millions to exercise their most fundamental democratic right. I am inspired by the overwhelming desire of Kenyans to peacefully make their voices heard, and I applaud the patience they have shown as votes were tallied.”

“Foremost in our minds is a desire to see the will of the Kenyan people expressed freely and fairly. We strongly urge all parties and their supporters to peacefully address any disputes with today’s announcement by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission through the Kenyan legal system, rather than on the streets.”

The EU had earlier made its stance clear when it vaguely warned that there would be repercussions for electing Uhuru Kenyatta into the senior executive office in the Republic. The word “sanctions” rang heavy on the tongues of many political analysts, reporters and citizens. Are Kenya’s allies ready to abandon their strategic interests in the region, interests they have so unremittingly guarded for so many years, over the outcome of the election? Kenya’s horticultural industry is one of Europe’s largest cut-flower providers, and Kenya’s strategic position and military assistance has proved invaluable in the Somali conflict in the recent years.

China and Russia, other significant world powers, are showing increasing interest in Kenya, and great economic relationships are on the horizon. In a goodwill message delivered to Mr Kenyatta by Russian Ambassador Alexandr Makarenko, the Russian Government pledged to strengthen bilateral relations between Russia and Kenya.

“In Moscow, we greet with satisfaction the successful conduct of elections in Kenya, note the democratic nature, welcome the election of Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta as new president of the country and reaffirm willingness to strengthen further traditional relations of friendship and cooperation between Russia and the Republic of Kenya,” said the ambassador.

China and Russia are no doubt important allies as their economic relationships with Kenya continue to blossom. China’s steps towards becoming an active stakeholder in Kenya’s economy are already visible, and Russia is following in suite. The discovery of oil and gas as well as other valuable minerals continue to make Kenya very desirable to a world in need of resources, resources that Kenya is abundant in. Kenya is on the fast track to being indispensable to the global community, and it is up to the rest of the world as to whether they want to play a part in that or not. There are countries who will if they don’t.

Kenya made its choice; one that has to be respected, as it is a sovereign state. As beneficial as a cordial relationship with the West is, it should and will never trump the Kenyan people’s democratic right to choose their leaders. There is no higher court than the court of the people, and the people have spoken: Uhuru Kenyatta is our Commander in Chief. No one but the people of Kenya have a say in the matter.

– Luca A

The 31st Annual Model United Nations

The 31st Annual Model United Nations kicked off this February 25th where adolescents from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and even Rwanda gathered for a week at the United Nations Headquarters in Nairobi to debate issues and solutions to many of the world’s problems. The program involves young adults proposing programs to help human rights, economic, political and ecological issues in our world today with the use of resolutions, which are written documents that present a solution to an issue a country faces or a program to help out a country in need. The program also groups students in their own country or delegation and each member of a delegation represents his/her country in specific committees.

MUNThe whole MUN agenda is focused on debating these resolutions and the debate is directed by heads of the assembly called Junior and Senior chairs. Debating resolutions includes time ‘For’ and time ‘Against’, where delegates take the floor to express their ideas and opinions about the resolution. After the delegates are done debating, countries within the assembly then vote For, Against or Abstain the resolution. Delegates can also amend resolutions and debate if the resolution should be debated or not which makes the whole experience very interesting.

The program also focuses on growing the character of young people, with even the program’s slogan being “Building Leadership for Tomorrow”. Rosslyn lived up to what the program had to offer and our very own Anastasia, Anita and Sydney were Junior chairs and led debates for the entire conference. Rosslyn also managed to pick up an award with yours truly picking up the Best Resolution in the Economic Committee. The program also helps build public speaking skills as shy students have the chance to shine and build their confidence, and the whole conference helps people from other countries and school build connections and learn about what each other has to offer during intellectual debates.

Overall the whole conference was very educational and entertaining. Most of Rosslyn’s resolutions passed and the Students for Safer Elections Concert at the end of the week made the whole experience absolutely amazing. A special thanks to Andrey Shchukin for helping organize the entire event. The conference also marked the ending of the legacy Mrs. Mithika left on the Model United Nations program as this conference was her last. For years she has helped organize the whole conference and made sure everything ran smoothly for the entire week so a great big thank you goes to Mrs. Mithika and the whole MUN administration for hosting such a memorable event. Honestly, I just can’t wait till next year.

– Afraaz L

As Sneetches We Stand

The Sneetches made their way over to visit Rosslyn Academy in the play “As Sneetches We Stand”. The middle school play showed on the 21, 22, and 23 of February. The play was written and performed by some of the middle school boys and girls. They told a story of how a group of Sneetches stood together, “united, but divided”.

MS PlayThe play started off with the Sneetches enslaved by the McBeans. The next thing that happened was that they found a McBean on their escape ship! They escaped, and landed on a deserted beach. The explorers for finding food for the Sneeches on the beach soon found themselves eating fruit that gave themselves stars on their bellies. Sylvester got adopted into a Sneetch family. Sylvester soon found himself doing everything wrong. He even made his parents break up. He did so much wrong, that he ran away, and ended up in the Kingdom of Didd. After meeting up with Bartholomew, Sylvester figured out a way to bring the plain belly and star belly Sneetches together. With his device, the Sneetches finally figured out the importance of being united through their differences.

Even though at the first rehearsal for the play contained the unfortunate event of a student throwing up, the end product of their hard work was an appreciated and well done play. This can be seen through the reactions many that had the experience of participating in the play. Two cast members from this play named Cheney G. and Noor E. commented on how one of their favorite things about being in this play was meeting and getting to know the entire cast and crew members.

One of the reasons this play was unique is for the fact that it was written by students. Tristan K. is one of the members who wrote this play. He mentioned that he would enjoy writing another play with others in the future. One of the concerns going into writing the play was the idea of themes. The director, Mr. Statler, wrote in his director’s note that they chose the themes of acceptance and unity. Statler added, “We built the rest of our play around this theme… Being who God created you to be… not being someone that others tell you, you should be”.

Not only was this play a success, but it also revealed to the audience that even though people may be divided, they can stand united.

– Tia H

This World We Live In: To Read or Not to Read

It hasn’t been a surprise to many that reading rates have been dropping steadily over a consecutive number of years. In September of last year, high school SAT scores reached the lowest that they ever had been for the past four decades. This meant that there was a punctuating mark on present-day college bound students to read passages and comprehensively answer questions concerning the passages. But this isn’t a problem that only affects Unites States students or those in the American school system; it has also greatly impacted the reading patterns of students in Kenya.

African writers and literary critics have been stating for years that African students are readingreading less and less for leisure. Recently, the author of an opinion column published by the Daily Nation insisted that medics and poets deserved the same amount of pay since it didn’t matter the profession, but the skills and passion each person brought to their vocation. Unfortunately this is not the mindset of a lot of Kenyan students, along with other global students. “People don’t care too much about reading, and, like, the arts and stuff because that’s not where a lot of energy is channeled at school,” Chiru Kamau tells me. She is a 10th grader at West Nairobi and .wants to become a neurosurgeon. While she doesn’t dislike reading, she can see why reading rates are dropping.

“More and more people are looking into careers that are math and science heavy, so in school they’re encouraged to pursue classes that really focus on things like that. It’s not like you go home and think, ‘oh, I think I’m just gonna take a break from calculus and read some Hemingway or something.’ ” And even though she laughs, it’s an issue that not only affects kids but also the teachers. In American universities, on the whole, English and Fine Arts professors typically get paid significantly less than those who teach classes such as Engineering or Statistics. While the pay scale may take in to account years of experience, passion, or general knowledge on the subject, two teachers may have the same teaching experience and level of education, but if one teaches a literature analysis course and the other teaches a college-level physics course, the physics teacher has a chance of getting more at the end of the month.

This, however, is not the fault of either teacher nor is it the fault of the students. It’s a direct reflection of our society and the kind of blue-collar workers that are intended to be made by schools. There is no argument that the 21st-century global village is one that is very technologically centered. In order to keep it running as efficiently as possible, there needs to be an influx of scientific, technological, and mathematically inclined workers; that is what schools are required to cultivate. Though many schools, such as Rosslyn, have put a lot of work and attention to their arts and English departments, the students are invariably being told by colleges and the media that degrees in math and science not only pay better, but they also are the highly competitive fields that define our generation. It is not an easy idea for those who have devoted their lives intentionally to equipping students with reading skills to swallow, but it seems to be constantly reinforced as more and more students turn to math and science courses and ditch their Hemingway.

– Milkah K

The Importance of Grades

Today our society views grades as the key to the future and success. Many people out there believe that it’s all about getting excellent grades, so that they can get into an outstanding college and make something of themselves. Is this really the only reason that we go to school? Everyone knows that grades are important, but are they all that really matter?

report cardAfter consulting several students and parents it was evident that there was a general consensus: No, there is more to school than grades. But, this does not mean that grades don’t matter at all. In the words of an anonymous parent, grades are simply “a measure of learning.” They are a teacher’s attempt to put a numerical value to the amount that you have learned in a specific subject. Often this is a very effective method, but occasionally it doesn’t represent the student’s learning correctly. At the end of the day, only the student really knows what they have and have not understood.

In that case, what more is there to school other than learning about biology or reading Shakespeare? School is made up of layers that unfold and each layer teaches us something different about life. One layer that students seem to agree on is that going to school helps you discover who you are and what you believe in. In life, you will encounter people who think the complete opposite of what you do and it is important to learn how to deal with this before going out into the real world. Along with this idea we develop social skills and figure out how to interact with people. Parents, on the other hand, have their own reasons for sending their children to school. They want them to learn how to develop an inquiring mind and become curious about life. From their perspective it is more important to learn how to question, discover, and help others than to bring home a report card with straight A’s.

Even though most people say that there is more to school than grades, all throughout the student body we see people who are still stressed about their grades and GPA. Most of this originates from a desire to do well but, leads to unnecessary stress. Pressure comes at us from all sides: our parents, ourselves, even our classmates. Most of our parents probably just want to encourage us to do our best and don’t realize that they cause us so much extra anxiety. Our longing to succeed in life adds to our parents’ pressure. And of course, we often compare ourselves to others and make sure that we are keeping up, creating even more stress in our lives. It just adds up so much that we begin to loose sight of what was first important to us.

In these few short years of school you will learn things that a textbook can never teach you and experience things that can’t be put into words. So in the end, grades are important and they do matter, but it’s important to keep in mind that going through school is an experience worth enjoying.

– Hannah B