Montag, Juli 30, 2007


feeling familiar

Being at familiar places can trigger many feelings. It can make me feel at home and save, this is the best option, but during the weekend – coming to Mattsee for an entire month, I experienced many faces of familiar.
Going to the local open-air bath is familiar and I felt old and tall. Last Millennium, when I used to go there more regularly, it seemed all so huge. When I went from one side to the other with my friends it needed a deliberate decision and felt like a hike, and now, it is just so tiny.
Going to a local restaurant is familiar and I felt paranoid. I had the feeling I know every single person in the restaurant. Not only that, I also was shocked by how old the babies I used to know are. There was this baby girl that attended kindergarten with my brother and she was serving us now, but in my memory she is supposed to go to primary school now. I could have calculated better, I admit, and knowing that my brother is 19, it was kind of logic that she is older then 15 as well.
Going around the usual Sunday walkways made me feel huge, I all to well remember the torturous and tremendous long Sunday afternoon walks with my family. They used to last for hours. But now I can do it in 20 min, really amazing how the mountains did shrink.
Everything did shrink, also the ice-cream cone sizes in my favourite ice shop are now ridiculously small and if I calculate it back to Schilling, I anyway have to start crying.

Freitag, Juli 27, 2007

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the rest of the world calls 'butterfly'

Donnerstag, Juli 26, 2007


European Consultation and Consultation with the African Youth Diaspora living in Europe

“About half of the world’s armed conflicts and some three quarters of the UN’s peacekeepers are in Africa. This is because millions of Africans are still at the mercy of brutal regimes; showing no respect for human rights, or even human life.” These are the words of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, spoken at the celebration of the 89th birthday of Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg, yesterday. Mandela turned eighty-nine on 17 July, with a party held yesterday, 22 July.

Nelson Mandela was using his birthday to launch a new organisation of former world leaders that is to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems - a so called “world council of elders” to take on big issues such as AIDS and global warming.

According to a statement from the organisers, the group will contribute their wisdom, independent leadership, and integrity to address some of the world’s toughest problems: it is a big idea with powerful people behind it.

Although it’s not yet clear who will serve on the council, among those attending the launch yesterday were the former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, former US President Jimmy Carter, and the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson.

Whilst it is a noble idea, and while the fight against hunger and poverty undoubtedly needs the mobilisation of all who are prepared to participate, I think it is therefore vital, that we young people join this fight.

I am certain that we do not have to call ourselves ‘wise’, but our organisations must be independent and fight all infringements on our autonomy and we need to remain upright in our belief in peace and cooperation. Our work here over the following days needs to multiply within and across our organisations, and needs to reach out to our constituencies - and in turn, to the heads of states and government of the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU). At the end of the day it is good if retired politicians pull at the strings of power to help realise a better world, but what we do here in Marly-le-Roi needs to matter more and for longer, otherwise we have failed.

The cost of combating hunger and poverty worldwide is, according to the United Nations, approximately 195 billion USD a year. Twenty-two countries pledged to work towards each giving 0.7% of their gross national income to international aid – which the European Youth Forum (YFJ) is convinced is too low a proportion in any case, but which would raise the $195 billion. While some countries have been slow to meet their pledge, only five countries have already reached the goal of 0,7%: Sweden, Luxemburg, Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark. Shamefully, some countries have not even scheduled a time frame for when they want to reach their pledge – for example, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United States.

While the list of problems that need to be tackled continues to grow, the willingness and enthusiasm of young people to contribute to the global partnership for development remains unbroken. As it is imperative that all possible means and tools are mobilised to achieve the MDGs – it is therefore evident that we young people must be at the forefront when it comes to being consistent, coherent and accountable in our work. We must not fall into traps of bad governance of our organisations and campaigns, we must act according to our own claims and demands, and we must do this together.

Which brings me to the work that we will be doing over the next two days, as we work in eight different workshops – all of them key to a joint strategy for Africa–Europe cooperation.

The Millenium Development Goals
The slow and delayed progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals is, frankly speaking, a major disappointment for all, and particularly, for the youth of the world: this failure in acting to solve humanity’s most agonising problems is unsatisfactory and dangerous. As youth organisations, we comprehend our responsibility and duty to hold governments accountable for their actions and their inaction in this regard.

Approximately 25,000 people die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations. This is one person every three and a half seconds. Unfortunately, it is children who die most often.

Yet there is plenty of food in the world for everyone. The problem is that hungry people are trapped in severe poverty; they lack the money to buy enough food to nourish themselves, and being constantly malnourished, they become weaker and often sick. This makes them increasingly less able to work, which then makes them even poorer and hungrier. This downward spiral often continues until death for they and their families. The MDGs are a global partnership for development that are supposed to break this vicious cycle.

Good Governance & Democracy
Respect for the rule of law, pluralist democracy, the protection of rights and property, fighting corruption and promoting good governance – these are all essentials for a sustainable future. We young people have to show this ourselves, by maintaining transparent and accountable decision-making in our own organisations, ensuring our organisations act as true schools for democracy, and assuring our legitimacy to ask the same from governments.

Peace and Conflict
As armed conflicts proliferate around the world, increasing numbers of children and young people are exposed to the brutalities of war. In numerous countries, boys and girls are recruited as child soldiers by armed forces and groups.
In the current political environment, the dominant theme in political discourse is security, and immigration is seen as a growing threat to economic stability and security. Unfortunately – when European politicians talk about security, they do NOT think of development cooperation and creating the conditions for peace – which would mean decent jobs, quality education, clean water and environmental protection. They think of a policy of deterrence to make sure only highly qualified migrants enter Europe, not understanding that as long as there are unstable countries and armed conflicts there will not be security.

Globalisation, Trade and Socio Economic Development
Without developing solutions to the negative impact of a both protectionist and imperialist trade policies, Europe is not only exporting poverty, environmental problems and instability to other countries, but we are also aggravating problems.

Existing trade barriers, agricultural subsidies and restrictive rules on intellectual property rights reinforce global inequities and make a mockery of our tall claims to eliminate hunger and poverty from our world.

Corporate social responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families, as well as of the local community and society at large. As such, I am looking forward to the panel discussion on Public-Private partnerships for development, taking place tomorrow.

Climate Change and Sustainable Development
Sustainable development is defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Global pandemics, climate change, natural disasters, poor soil conditions, and deforestation — all these are issues at the heart of sustainable development, and ignoring them could have many possible consequences: such as rising sea levels, extreme droughts, erosion and loss of forests, increases in slum populations (noting that the majority of slum-dwellers are under 25), species extinctions and collapsing fisheries. There is also increasing evidence that issues such as water scarcity play a role in internal violence and regional conflict. I assume these are all scenarios that we want to avoid, so we have to fight these trends.

Migration, Mobility, Intercultural Dialogue and Co-development

The planned European common system for immigration and asylum focuses almost exclusively on ever-tougher deterrence by violent means and deportation beyond judicial control.

It is illusionary to believe that the stream of immigrants trying to enter the EU can be halted by increasingly excessive means of violence: we must counter this dangerous claim vigorously. Policies relying on violent deterrence will only raise the death toll, but won’t stop immigration.

Intercultural Dialogue seeks to approach these multiple viewpoints with a desire to understand and learn from those that do not see the world in the same way. A good ‘dialogue’, therefore, is an enriching and opening interaction which encourages the respectful sharing of ideas and an exploration of the different thought-processes through which the world is perceived and understood.

Employment and Decent work Agenda

Having a job does not only mean receiving an income, it often means dignity for a person and his or her family and it leads to stability of communities. Having a decent job not only means an income, but also the right to organise into a free trade union, removing glass ceilings for women, having social security and protection: having a decent job means working in dignity.

In many countries legislation to safeguard decent work conditions does not exist, but even where it does exist, governments often fall short in implementing the commitments made and international institutions lack mechanisms to enforce decisions taken.

Strategy and Instrument for Euro-African Youth Participation and Cooperation

The EU Common Agricultural Policy requires further reform - urgently. This is not only indispensable for larger investment in education, research and development, but it must also be the basis for fair trade relations and development cooperation with other world regions.

Exchange programmes, scholarships, job shadowing and development cooperation are just some areas where Euro-African Youth cooperation needs to be strengthened.

This consultation is a first step to such increased cooperation as it seeks to demonstrate the good practice of working together with representatives of the African Diaspora; similarly, I would like to thank those organisation that held national or internal consultations before coming here.

I’d also like to stress how integral this cooperation is for this process, by using the Zulu maxim “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” — meaning, in essence, “a person is a person through other persons.” The practice of ubuntu is fundamentally inclusive, involving respect and concern for one’s family and one’s neighbours. Ubuntu defines the individual as a component of a greater inclusive collective whole, and it stresses social consciousness and unity: it is with this spirit that I’d hope us to engage in this conference. Furthermore, it is our multitude of experiences that can make this event a success.

It is my conviction that we have to fight and negotiate if we want to change something, and that such fights are only possible when we are organised and work together. Africans and Europeans must work together to fight against conflict, hunger, poverty, disease, water shortages and environmental degradation, and as such, I wish us all a lot of success for this consultation and for the plentiful action to follow.


good people

Korea seems very family friendly and social. It is all the little things that let me get a very good impression of Korean way of community life.
There are surely also some curiosities; for example the Etiquette bell at every toilet, it is a bell that makes a loud flush like sound; people press it that their own body sounds that they might make at the toilet are not shared with other people.
Then they behave like in classic Asian tourist commercials. They smile and are friendly; they keep on bowing in front of people and try to make your life convenient. I was really treated like a states guest there. I have to admit thought that it is not easy to deal with the fact that someone is bowing for you all the time, I can not get rid of a servant and devote image in my head, although it seems to be mainly respectful and courteous.
They seem to be super punctual and hard working, once a working session started 3 min late and they were all very apologetic for the disrespectful delay.
So often I got the impression there is a strange mixture between American Puritanism and Japanese busyness and hectic (not that I have been in Japan ever before). So they are friendly, rather conservative, they have churches everywhere (with neon signs saying “CHURCH” and huge illuminated crosses on top).
The American life style is copied in university clubs and societies who go out in groups on Fridays and get drunk on pitchers and pitchers full of beer, always the hand in front of the mouth when giggling, total fashion victimisations (if I draw conclusions from the window shopping I did and the adverts I saw) – but there is not much going out on Saturdays, because that would be bad for attending the religious service on Sunday morning. But going out in Sinchon on a crowded Friday evening was a tremendous experience.
Seoul has a wide and modern underground that functions well. It is not very expensive but still older people and kids can use it for free. As they have barriers for entering the underground like you might know it from London or Paris, every ticket counter has a little box with free tickets in front of the glass window of the counter. Old people and kids can go there to pick their free tickets and it seems to work and not being abused by others for free rides. The other people have kidney bean sized little cell phone straps with bar codes that they swipe at the barriers to pay their for their transportation. And as everything is focused on mobile phones – there is a mobile phone charging station in every car of the metro, 4 in each to be precise.
In addition Koreans are also very strict – guess that is the part that makes them so hard working. The Agenda for our meeting for example had every day an agenda point called “go to bed” this point was usually scheduled for 22:30.
Unfortunately I was there in monsoon period. Which means that the whole city was covered in one big cloud, the humidity was around 3728% or so and every move made me sweat a lot, despite the fact that it actually only had 24°C.


food and korea

Korea and food is a fascinating chapter for me. Not only because most of it tastes well, but also because I brought back lots of goodies with me! (Took the big suitcase from my mum).
First of all Koreans seem to know only chopsticks and spoons, no knives no forks, and other then we see in some Asian movies, they never get the bowls with food close to the chin or mouth, no, they leave them on the table. Now everyone who has read my miserable attempts to eat Bacalhau knows that chopsticks are not a smart idea for me.
Then there is Kimchi. Kimchi is a fermented vegetable dish that can be stored for a long time. There are more than 160 Kimchi varieties – the ones I tried taste like cabbage with some spicy red pepper paste; this all would not be a bad thing, but kimchi is the sine qua non of Korean kitchen, and I am not good with cabbage for breakfast.
And then there is seaweed. As crisps, as soup, as suckers, as everything. Do you remember that slightly rotten and salty taste of the sea? Well, this is what seaweed is all about. Being woken up in Korean airlines with a rice porridge and seaweed breakfast was not the most pleasant waking up I could imagine.
Teas, the teas, I really do like herbal teas, so Korea is a paradise for me, but there are some flavours of hot drinks that I am not such a big fan of. Rice teas, it is just – well, they taste like when you but rice in water, let it wait a bit and then take the rice out again, I consider this is a very boring taste. Sweet corn tea on the other hand tastes a bit like liquid popcorn, also not really something I missed so far in my life.
But now I sounded very negative, I really liked all the rice dishes, the fruits and vegetables are wonderful and must tastier then the things we get in Austria where they are taken off the plants when far from ready for harvesting and I love Bibimbap.
I was served Bibimbap in the airplane and the hostess was very apologetic that she had only Korean food left. So I was a bit scared when I had it on my tray, especially as I got also a manual how to eat it correctly. I can only say it tasted well, it had only a not so good seaweed soup coming with it, but if you ignore that one, it was wonderful.


Choruses from the Rock

The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to GOD.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

Dienstag, Juli 17, 2007

Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the LORD. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.
Genesis 19, 27

Montag, Juli 16, 2007


Sodom and Gomorrah

The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
Genesis 18, 26

Samstag, Juli 14, 2007


so beautiful

Love is like an aeroplane
You jump and then you pray
The lucky ones remain
In the clouds for days
If life is just a stage
Let's put on the best show
And let everyone know

Cause if I have to die tonight
I'd rather be with you
Cut the parachute before the dive
Baby don't you cry
You have to bring me down
We had some fun before we hit the ground

Love is like a hurricane
You know it's on the way
You think you can be brave
Underneath the waves
If life is just a dream
Which of us is dreaming
And who will wake up screaming
(sean lennon)

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