Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Small World Machines: Sharing Happiness

Sometimes it is very easy to think that big problems require even more elaborate solutions.  Our recognition of the complexity of a situation creates a paralysis that is hard to overcome.  However, small efforts and simple ideas can help lead a slow, but gradual paradigm shift.  When it comes to international relations, long-standing quarrels can be difficult to defuse.  A problem arises between nations, and the problem begins to shape public opinion in a way that makes it difficult for the people of each nation to empathize with the other.  Even peoples that share a common past can find a wedge driven between them.

Today, I had the good fortune to view an inspirational video of a small effort to reacquaint two neighbors.  Since the partitioning of India and Pakistan in 1947, there has been a political boundary between the two nations and, at times, a significant human divide.  While the challenges of this relationship won't be solved by sharing a soda and a video connection,  I would encourage you to view this short video of two Coca-Cola vending machines that tried to share some happiness and build a bridge between the peoples of India and Pakistan.

Apparently, based on the story from The Stream at Aljazeera English, these machines dispensed 10,000 cans of free Coca-Cola to the participants.  They were then sent back to the US, where Coca-Cola is evaluating the next possible locations for these machines.  Hopefully, some of the capabilities of these machines can be integrated into vending models that can remain permanently in place throughout the world.  What a great combination of marketing, public relations, and leveraging technology to reveal in fun, innovative ways those things in which humanity has in common.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Preparing for Adventure in Istanbul--Crossroads Between East and West!

The impetus behind starting this blog is to create a venue for sharing thoughts and ideas, but also travel experiences and discoveries.  Over the years, I have had the very good fortune to participate in a wide variety of travel and study programs around the world.  On many of those trips, I developed blogs, podcasts, or other content to bring my experiences back for others to discover.  Those trips abroad included visits to the following places:

1999: England
2002: Italy
2003: Japan
2004: Greece and Italy
2005: Mexico
2005: Egypt
2006: Saudi Arabia
2006: Germany
2006: South Africa and Swaziland
2007: Ireland, Scotland, England
2007: Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands
2008: South Korea
2009: China
2010: Germany, Austria, Italy
2011: Norway and the Svalbard Archipelago

This summer, I will set out on a new adventure!  I have been selected to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute entitled, "Istanbul Between East and West: Crossroads of History."  This Institute is centered around a three-week academic experience in Istanbul, Turkey during late June and early July.  The Institute will provide an intensive overview of a city and region that has played a pivotal role in ancient, medieval, and modern world history.  The Institute uses Istanbul as the base for exploring the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires and modern Turkey.  Our study of Istanbul's past and present will be placed in the larger context of the Mediterranean and Middle East with emphasis on cross-cultural encounters and global comparisons, in the broader framework of world history. 

Currently, I am reading a number of books on the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, and modern Turkey, as well as trying to study some basic Turkish.  Feel free to follow my adventures by visiting this blog, subscribing to the blog's RSS feed, subscribing to have new posts sent to you by email, or following me  on Twitter @KWSojourn!