Unpack those Expressions

Restored Vietnam Photo by Alexandra Nicole Photography / flickr

It is perhaps surprising to some regular readers/listeners of my work, but I don’t much care for the way elections and campaigns are carried out in several countries including the United States.  But don’t stop reading assuming this text is about elections, it isn’t.  It is about the words and experiences of someone less well known internationally who happens to be running in an election in the US. Words that I think should echo throughout the world and be truly understood.

His name is Bob Kerrey former Senator from Nebraska, not to be mistaken with the more well known John Kerry, Senator from Massachusetts and former presidential candidate. After a hiatus of several years, he is now once again running for Senate in the upcoming election, which is part of why I got to read a recent interview he gave and couldn’t help but re-read a few times, his experience as a soldier in the Vietnam War.  There is a contreversial story involving a mission he had some authority over, where through a series of events his team wound up gunning down a village full of women and children. Kerrey, along with members of his team, did not speak publicly about the event for many years afterwards. But when it did come out, the former governor did not deny the story. He came out and painstakingly explained what had happened and including how the women and children had been murdered. Some argued that he gave the order, while a member of his own unit said that is not the case, but indeed he did not use the power he had to put a stop to it.

The long term result of this horrible event is that today Kerrey is staunch critic of any governing official of any party that speaks of going to war as an acceptable approach to handling disagreements between nations. He seems to take any and every opportunity to remind us that military action means terrible things for all sides, the civilians and soldiers who lose their lives or are forever scarred by what they experience.  The cost, and not just in the money sense of the term, of war.

This comes as nowadays so many voices, especially in positions of power, talk about going to war with a nation like Iran, as if it is an option to be used within the foreseeable future. Like choosing something to eat off a menu, they talk about “options on a table” and “having no choice.”  What I find admirable about Kerrey is that here we have someone who has carried out war. He has done horrible things based on strategies and what some see as “acceptable” means to solve  problems.  Yet all these other powerful people, who’ve never lived the reality of being a soldier or a citizen who’s home is under attack, they will claim they know what is best and what the risks are, and that war is still something they will use when they feel its necessary.

Myself I’ve never been a soldier, a victim of war, or a politician. So I listen to someone like Kerrey who speaks from experience and is honest about things that are more complicated and horrible than I could ever imagine.  Those aspects of war that few people can handle really talking about, much less fix in its aftermath.

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bm220 Teaching Videoblogging in South Asia

Ryanne and her partner Jay have made it their goal to spread the word of videoblogging around the world. Lately that quest has taken them to India, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. In this program I take some time to talk to Ryanne about the journey and how she see’s the state of video online in relation to south Asia. And of course we’ll talk about the future. (pardon the occasional audio clitch, I liked the interview too much to let that that skype problem stop me)

Her Projects, which you should check out, are:
Ryan is Hungry – on Sustainability and the environment
Ryanedit – personal vlog
ShowInABox – for people wanting to start videoblogs

We Discuss:
– The Journey to south Asia
– Journey to India
– Things in Vietnam and censorship
– Representation of South Asia on the internet
– Function of having people tell their stories online through video
– prospects for the future

 

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Watch them in Cambodia

I’m still not fully recovered from several days of wedding, but thankfully I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with pioneer videoblogger Ryanne during her travels (with Jay of course) in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand.

Aveiro - Costa NovaInstead of listing the large amount of reasons I recommend her posts, I’ll just say that it is inspiring to see my colleagues in the world of podcasting travelling and speaking to new audiences about what we do and why… and how it can be useful or interesting for them. Furthermore its not about making money or selling a product of any kind… it is about making the big world a more connected place where people communicate and understand more about each other at home and abroad.

Anyway I digress, watch Ryanne’s vlog entries during this fantastic journey. I hope one day.. nee.. I promise that one day I too will go to Asia in the same spirit that they have.

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Portuguese in Vietnam

As I sit down to lunch with my parents at a beachside resort famous for having a huge population that immigrated to Newark, New Jersey, the waitress walks over with a bottle of wine. “This one is compliments of the gentlemen sitting in the back of the restaurant.”

My dad is already smiling as he looks across the very basic and typical Portuguese establishment, he starts talking and suddenly I realize he’s talking to me as he looks at the man “Don’t you recognize M? Mr. M who has the so and so business in Newark?” I turned to look at a familiar yet unfamiliar face.. already coming my way with a hand extended. He sat down next to me and immediately began going over all the old Newark stories that he remembers involving my parents, going all the way back to 1960.

Of all the stories he told at the lunch table, one in particular kept coming back and stuck out in my mind. His time in Vietnam. As he showed me scars all over his body, from bullet and grenade wounds, he spoke about his Portuguese friends who had grown up with him, immigrated, and died in the jungle. My dad followed each name, seemingly going through his own list of which Portuguese neighbor who he knew from grade school in Portugal that had wound up serving in the US military and dying in Vietnam.

As he spoke about the day he was ambushed, and the coma that followed, and all the people who thought he was dead… he would occasionally come back to the present, talking about all the young kids and immigrants serving in Iraq. “We had kids with us back then, but they were surrounded by adults, people who could take care of them and teach them… not like how they send them out today.”

Seemed like hours that he spoke, story after story.. and I kept thinking about all those immigrants.. Portuguese people who hadn’t been in the country for more than 5 years, and how they ended up – of all places – in Vietnam.

I sat and listened to Mr. M’s stories well after lunch was over. Sad as it may have seemed, there was a tone of quiet satisfaction…. to have lived a full life since then and to be able to remember each person and tell about them.

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