What insights did you gain doing research on your country?
The guest lecturers I found most engaging and informative were the speakers who you could tell really cared about their topic and had extensive knowledge.
Jamila Raqib from the Albert Einstein Institution especially struck me with her presentation because of how informed and well spoken she was. I found myself wondering more about nonviolent action and about her personally after she concluded. She talked about nonviolent action in as an objective of way as she possibly could have from her standpoint. She presented the issue in a way that let the audience take in information and then form questions. I noticed that her lecture produced some of the most questions from the audience during any of the lectures. She knew seemingly everything there was to know as far as nonviolent action, how to obtain resources, and who her information was used by. I found it interesting that she would take the time to come speak to our class in Missouri when she represents a nationally recognized and involved organization. Overall, I liked that she spoke extremely well and presented information for us to think about and form our opinions instead of forcing a viewpoint down our throats.
I also really liked the lecture given by Soren Larsen about the Cheslatta-Carrier Nation. Larsen spoke with such an intensity about the subject that it made me want to know more immediately. Even though the lecture was about a very specific problem that affected a very specific part of the world, it was apparent how the lessons learned and the behaviors witnessed and recounted by Larsen could be applied to situations worldwide where people have more connection to the land in their culture. I liked how his lecture emphasized the differences in culture that might be in our own backyard, and how industry in all countries tends to ignore these practices. His story was one of David and Goliath, which grabbed me and made me feel for the Cheslatta people. I especially liked how Larsen had been to the area multiple times, had become accepted by the people, and really cared for their welfare. That made for a much more engrossing lecture than if someone who had merely read about or even visited the area once had told us about the Cheslatta and their rights and troubles.
The main insight that I gained while doing research on Belgium is that it is a deeply divided nation, which I did not know before. The country is basically cut into three parts, and each part not only tends to keep to itself, but it competes with the others for resources, and even in aspects of pride. It struck me how much more affluent the French-speaking area of Wallonia was in comparison to its Dutch-speaking counterpart, Flanders. And in the capitol region of Brussels, a giant melting pot of more cultures that Dutch and French mix together to create a lot of unrest in that region. The language barriers create problems in federal government, where the regions compete for funding.
When I did my research on the Belgian Red Cross for the second paper in this class I was struck that even NGOs like the Red Cross are broken up by region and by language. In America, the Red Cross is one entity, and America is much, much larger than Belgium. But in Belgium, the four Red Cross branches within Belgium act both independently and together to aid certain areas.
In sum, Belgian is a country rich in history and is a somewhat hidden cultural crossroads. The country has been in the middle of many major historical events and wars, and has been the background to major terror attacks in current times. It is however, ahead of other countries when it comes to ecological action and protection; but it does experience the same problems as many other nations worldwide, including sex trafficking.