In the U.S., I find myself sometimes avoiding conflict in social situations. My kids…well, not so much…
“You can’t take that, it’s mine!!!” Or…
“She is writing on the kitchen table!”, while my girls battle for a crayon. Or…
“If you knock over my blocks, I’m telling!”, while just seconds later, my little one knocks the blocks with a cheeky grin. Or…
This is the reality now with a 7 and 3 year old, but I’m predicting that when they’re teenagers that they will rebel in the same way I did. Fight with their parents for a later curfew. Disagree with their mom because they want to wear a strapless dress to the eighth grade dance. Insist that they’re dating whoever they want. I hope their outspoken fire to challenge society will grow into and beyond their teenage years. I didn’t say that I am prepared for it, but I can accept that it is coming…I think.
But, as adults, it seems many of us tend to harden and lose that fire over time. The fire that ignited our teenage passions to think in a different way. The fire that kept us learning to support our own stance, for what is right. Going with the flow just feels more comfortable sometimes, especially when big odds are not at stake.
But, at the World Bank and IMF Civil Society meetings last week, big odds — which impact the lives of the world’s people and often the most vulnerable among us — were at stake. I witnessed change-makers taking a stand for the greater good. Here are some people who are carving out the new, more responsible way forward for the World Bank, IMF and beyond…
Jessica Evans of the Human Rights Watch challenged World Bank officials on incorporating human rights into new banking safeguards. She said that in the past the World Bank didn’t touch corruption because the institution wasn’t supposed to engage in politics according to its policy of the past, but now fighting corruption is fair game and a larger part of the World Bank’s mission. She pointed out this ability for the bank to change in a positive way on corruption, but its failure to do the same considering human rights.
She (Jessica Evans of the Human Rights Watch) claimed that human rights should not fall into the ‘political’ category. They are a necessity for responsible lending practices and should be incorporated into the current safeguards as they are being rewritten now, not as an afterthought a year later when they will be completed.
Jessica Evans of the Human Rights Watch speaks about the importance of human rights on a World Bank Civil Society Meeting in Washington, DC. October 7th, 2014.
To my surprise, I also had the chance to reconnect with a fellow Villanova University alum, Joseph Robertson, now Strategic Director of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. He questioned Dr. Kim, President of the World Bank, and Mme. Lagarde, President of the IMF, on carbon pricing during the Civil Society Town Hall. Joe is championing a coalition called Pathway to Paris, which is seeking to mount a global coalition effort “to secure an agreement to motivate carbon pricing country by country.”
Joseph Robertson of Citizens Climate Action, questions World Bank President Dr. Kim and IMF President Mme. Lagarde on carbon pricing.
I also met the bold, Faith Nwadishi, Executive Director at the Koyenum Immalah Foundation, who had come so many miles — from Nigeria — to Washington, DC to put pressure on organizations to come together in the fight against Ebola in West Africa. Faith had no qualms about later taking the spot right next to Dr. Kim during the Town Hall. I was inspired by her energy!
Faith Nwadishi came all the way from Nigeria for the World Bank’s Civil Society Meetings in Washington, DC. Pictured here with Jennifer Burden of World Moms Blog on October 8th, 2014.
And, I could have listened to Patrick from the Congo speak for days. He’s a 28-year old masters student (his second, this one in international development). Patrick is enacting change at home through an organization he founded that educates both, women and men, on rape prevention in Congo. He sees his little sister within every woman in his home country and is dedicated to making Congo a safer place for women.
World Mom and RESULTS Board Member, Cindy Levin, talks with graduate student and change maker Patrick from Congo at the reception following the World Bank and IMF Civil Society Town Hall. October 8th, 2014.
There is no doubt the World Bank and IMF’s lending practices of the past have negatively affected civil society. And there is no doubt that the organization in the past had closed their doors to the voices of those very same people.
But, the cultural shift at the World Bank Civil Society Meetings is one that encourages change makers to join them in debate, intellectualism, passion, heated discussions and a lot of heart, which are all clearly the silver lining from the bank’s closed door past.
The current bank President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim is even a former bank protester, which is an indicator on how the tide is turning.
It is time for the world to listen to the likes of Jessica Evans, Joseph Robertson, Faith Nwadishi, Patrick and many more change makers around the world. They are the kind of people that will press and lead the World Bank toward it’s goal to end poverty. You can join them, too…what are you waiting for?
This is an original post by World Moms Blog founder, Jennifer Burden in New Jersey, USA. Jennifer and Cindy Levin of Missouri, USA were invited by the World Bank to take part in the bank’s Civil Society Meetings in Washington, DC. See additional posts by Cindy Levin about their experience on her blog, Anti-Poverty Mom:
Keeping It Civil at the World Bank
A Different View of Citizen Engagement at the World Bank
A New Course for the Big Ship of the World Bank
Photo credits to the author and Cindy Levin.
Bilingual people are lucky. Not just in all of the usual brain-expanding ways, but because they have options.
Sometimes, English just doesn’t cut it, and I wish I could effortlessly sort through my mental rolodex for a more helpful way to express myself. Code-switching, or flipping back and forth between languages in a single sentence or conversation, is something common to bilingual people, big and small.
My bilingual four-year-old just did it about five times in the last two minutes:
These are my favorite chausseurs.
I can danse très bien avec these.
Mon ami à l’école doesn’t like them.
Je veux…ummm…I want le marqueur to make le dessin!
You don’t even have to be truly bilingual to reap the benefits. Jacomine, from Multilingual Living, gives this example: “When I talk with an [Arabic speaker] in the Netherlands, we might both use Dutch and I might sometimes use some Arabic words in order to identify myself as a person who knows some Arabic, even though my Arabic is very poor. Code-switching is a powerful tool for identification.”
That’s more my style, because while I wish I was a “balanced bilingual,” it will never be so. I can function in French and Spanish, but I think and dream in English. Unfortunately, I’m stereotypically American in my relative monolingualism. However, after three years in Congo, there are several French phrases I appreciate for their descriptive power. I will share three of them, but with the disclaimer that I may have invented my own understandings in the midst of my adult-language-learner’s fog. I also acquired all of my French in Africa, not France. Apologies, and please feel free to laugh.
#1: On est là.
This phrase sort-of-literally means “we are here.” I hear it a lot around Kinshasa, usually from people who want you to be extra aware of their presence and help. I like it because it feels more subtle than “at your service,” but still demands a certain degree of recognition. It seems like a way to point out that you are offering time, skills or attention that deserves appreciation. I’ve been thinking about this a lot after reading The Confidence Gap last week. Women of the world: on est la!
#2: Ça va un peu.
Sometimes you just aren’t okay, and it’s fine to say so. I say, “Ça va?”, about fifty times a day. The conversation often goes like this:
Jill: Ça va?
Other person: Ça va un peu… (“I’m a little okay…”)
Jill: Ohh? Pourquoi?
Other person: (long story about worries, illness or other trouble)
When I ask someone if they are okay in English, the response 99% of the time is, “I’m fine”. In French, although I sometimes I dread the explanation, I believe in the opportunity to truly express yourself. I find that I’ve been embracing emotional honesty more often au français.
#3: Bon courage!
This is an important one. I can’t think of a way to tell someone in English with equal sincerity and brevity to “take heart,” “be brave,” and “have godspeed” all at the same time. This simple phrase gets the job done neatly and concisely. People have said bon courage to me at some of my most tender moments; when my child was hospitalized, when I was facing a tough decision or when I felt tired and sad. Somehow, the phrase bon courage never seems trite.
I always think it would be the perfect thing to say to a woman in labor – somehow expressing, “You can do this, but you have to do it yourself. No one can help you, but you will be okay. Have courage.” All that in just two perfect words.
Some things just sound better in French.
What do you think? Can you think of any phrases in languages other than English that use less words to express so much more?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Jill Humphrey. You can find Jill blogging with Sarah Sensamaust at Mama Congo.
Photo credits to the author.
This summer our three-year-old daughter had her tonsils and adenoids removed. Many children have this routine surgery, but we still teared-up a bit as they wheeled her away. Then we enjoyed our coffee while we waited for the surgeon to tell us everything went “just fine.” Because we knew it would be. Even if there was a complication we rest assured in the fact that we were in the United States.
This summer Mama Youyou, our nanny in Congo, also had a routine surgery and we were scared out of our minds. Mama Youyou waited to have her surgery until we left for our summer break in the States so she wouldn’t have to take off work. (Bless her.) When she told us she needed the surgery, we did everything we could to make sure she had access to good health care.
You see, Mama Youyou has already outlived her life expectancy as a Congolese woman. Complications during routine surgeries in DRC, and lack of access to medical care, are the type of thing that keeps her life expectancy rate down. (more…)
Once upon a time I may have been an adventuress, but that was a very long time ago.
- The Okavango Delta
It was a time when I was young, carefree,and as far as I ever thought of it, immortal. As a mother now, the stakes are extremely high. My teenage desire for risk taking has been satiated, and now comes the payback. I have to guide my own children through that sense of indestructibility. Although they are still a ways off….we are creeping closer. My husband and I call the teenage and young adult years The Gauntlet. We realize all parents need to get through the gauntlet, to reach the holy grail of happy, healthy adult children. I remember the moment that switch flipped for me as a young adult, and hope that realization comes to my own children in a much less dramatic way. (more…)