Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Erin Jones broke the spell. She was the first domino to fall. The first of thirty. Erin left Little Rock this week to return to Chicago before embarking on her Clinton School International Public Service Project in India. Jay Thompson's domino topples soon after, on Saturday. Next week, Carly leaves for New York, Chance for Denver. The dominos fall very quickly after that.

And here's the thing: We will NEVER be together again.

Most would quality my proclamation by saying we'll be together at graduation, but I'm going to bet that someone decides to forego the walk across the stage.

We will NEVER be together again.

The spell has been unravelling for some time. People sniping at each other in the way that people do when they know they have to let go. Well, to be honest, we don't all always like each other, but the spell has been magical nonetheless. You see, being a grad student at the Clinton School of Public Service is an extraodinarily intense experience. We were thrown together in a total immersion experience: of academics, public programs, special events, volunteer projects, theme parties, happy hours, student sessions with speakers. During the first semester I told my classmates: "Be the Clinton School." "This isn't grad school, it's a lifestyle!"

We were together all.the.time. And now it's over. ***SIGH***

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Funeral pyre along the Bagmati River -Kathmandu, Nepal

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."
-- Neale Donald Walsch

...I have to write and give a speech; prepare and deliver a "Clinton brief" - a policy briefing for the incoming President - with my classmates in American Grand Strategy; complete my Capstone proposal; prepare an analysis of the curriculum or classroom framework needed to ground our UACS fieldwork; draft my fall independent study elective proposal; fill out the UALR elective paperwork; choose another elective (or 2 or 3); attend Drs. Nitta and Raheems farewell reception; attend the Wangari Maathai lecture (she won the Nobel Peace Prize); prepare for and host the Class 3 'prom' at my house; clean the side walkway; clean the front yard; get rid of the danged box springs on the porch; buy more mulch for the backyard; clean the patio; clean the deck; paint the house (or get it painted); get my $$$ in order for the trip and for paying bills at home; welcome Katie home!!! *****WHEW!*****

Saturday, April 26, 2008

READ Nepal is the NGO I will be working with this summer for my International Public Service project. READ has established libraries in many of the rural districts around Nepal. It's a pretty big deal because the literacy rate is low and the people did not have access to books. For my project, I will explore the existing women's art and craft cooperatives and determine the feasability of linkage to the libraries as for-profit ventures. I will also be a part of the team planning to establish regional computer centers. These centers may open the way for e-commerce. Here's some additional info about READ for those of you with a longer attention span:

VISION: A better world through universal educational opportunityand rural development - one person, one village, one country at a time.
WORLDWIDE MISSION: To empower communities using a replicable model of sustainable economic and community development that pairs non-profit libraries with for-profit ventures.

READ Nepal was established in the early 1990's. An American, Dr. Toni Neubauer, came to Nepal on a trekking expedition and asked the Sherpa what was most needed in his village. His answer "A library!" sparked the beginning of the international NGO, READ. For almost two decades, READ has brought life, learning, and literacy to underserved rural communities of Nepal by pairing non-profit library community centers with for-profit businesses in partnership with the local population.

Here is a map of Nepal with the locations of the READ libraries:
To date 553,380 people have benefited from these projects, 75 librarians have been trained, 95 computers serve the community, an average of 3,500 books fill the shelves, and each library employs an average of 5 people. READ library centers serve as community meeting halls and health clinics. English and literacy classes are held, entrepreneurial training takes place,conferences are conducted, and many other events unfold, all aimed at enriching the community and its people.

This year, READ Global received a grant from the Gates Foundation to expand the model into four additional developing countries. Ultimately, a global network of READ country projects will share resources and best practices much the way the Nepal network is functioning today.

Friday, April 25, 2008

One month from tonight, I will be aboard a Qatar Airways red-eye flight from Doha to Kathmandu. I'll land at 0830. I expect the Kathmandu valley will be shrouded in it's typical smog but wonder if I'll see the Himalayas as I fly in. The Himalaya Guest House, located on Jhocchen, will be my headquarters. Jhocchen was formerly called Freak Street during the '60s when the free spirits used to visit. What a trip!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Clinton School of Public Service practicum team planned and hosted an Arkansas DeltaMade Marketplace at the Clinton School on March 16, 2008. The objectives of the Marketplace event were to raise awareness of the Arkansas DeltaMade brand among the general public in central Arkansas, attract the interest and support of local business and political leaders, open new markets, and foster relationships among the producers.

In preparation for the event, the team developed an event plan, and mailed an informational packet to Arkansas DeltaMade producers. The team created a mailing list of Central Arkansas retailers, business leaders, elected officials and other key stakeholders, and produced the event invitation. Ben Beaumont, UACS Director of Communications, coordinated the event publicity including a segment on KTHV’s Positively Arkansas, print articles in the Arkansas Times and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, coverage on the Clinton School website and blog, and a press release which was picked up by numerous local and regional print and online media outlets.

Public officials, economic development professionals, central Arkansas gift and food retailers and buyers attended the preview party hosted by Arkansas First Lady Ginger Beebe. Immediately following the preview party, the Marketplace opened to the general public for shopping with an estimated attendance of 350. The event grossed just over $10,000 for the 30 Arkansas DeltaMade producers who participated. In addition, buyers from retail outlets including Wal-Mart and the Peabody Hotel gift shop made appointments with selected producers to discuss future wholesale orders.

Whoohoo for DeltaMade!!!