Monday, 15 January 2018

समाप्त (The End)

 “It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” - Bill Gates


I personally felt that this novel was an excellent read. Especially for the Global Issues Novel Study. The reason I think this is is that it addressed global issues like poverty, gender equality, and education in multiple countries such as Nepal, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, and more. It could’ve had the terms Global and issues stamped onto it. Another thing I liked about the book is that it was from the perspective of John Wood, who grew up in a First World Country (America), and being told from that perspective helped me understand the unfortunate situations which were, and are present better. Anyhow, I really enjoyed the book.


I thought it was a good read because it introduced an anchor of sorts, which made it feel relevant to my life. This was engaging and interesting. The anchor I’m referring to is the perspective from which the story is told. John is from a 1st world country and describing how he felt seeing, and comparing the two societies really made it feel more real. The perspective helped me connect my everyday life and these problems that many people face. I would definitely recommend this to others.


I haven’t really read any other novels that address these sort of problems and revolve around this sort of setting, but I’ve read A LOT of books, and I truly enjoyed reading this one. I’d recommend totally it!


“The biggest risk is that a lot of people will try to talk you out of pursuing your dream.” - John Wood


Wednesday, 10 January 2018

प्रतीक (Symbolic)

“FAIL” - My teacher (Hasn’t said it yet, so I’m still holding out :) ) I can imagine that’s what many of you are thinking too. That’s your finished product? Really? It looks like a rough draft, blah, blah, blah. Great I get it. My drawing can be rivaled by my 1-year-old cousin. I DON’T CARE. This final post is a drawing (obviously), but it’s meant to connect to deeper concepts and ideas from the book. The drawing is meant to be of John Wood’s bedroom, or rather what I think it would look like.


While this might sound simple, finding specific evidence throughout the book, was not. I tried as hard as I could to give everything meaning. Some things are visible just from looking at the image or reading the book. Others are more subtle.


For example, the quotes on top of the bookshelf (Yes, it’s a bookshelf) have meaning. Not only do they connect to John’s work with Room to Read, but individuals who John mentioned he admires personally. The second quote is from Muhammad Yunus. World renowned social entrepreneur, who John states “Was one of my heroes” (p. 153). The fourth quote is from Steve Ballmer. Someone who John worked with at Microsoft and learned lessons from that he applied at Room to Read.


Symbols that are more obvious can also be found. For example,  the reason I added books ALL over the place was that John mentions he loves books on several occasions.
  1. “My excitement for setting up a library can be traced directly to my childhood. My earliest and most vivid memories involve reading” p.14
  2. “During long car trips, my nose would be stuck in a book while my brother and sister were otherwise engaged punching each other.” p.14
  3. “On occasion, I’d earn the ire of my teachers when they discovered the storybook hidden beneath the class textbook.” p.15  
  4. “His (John) hobbies include running, tennis, skiing, reading, and great red wine.” p. 261
I felt that it was important John’s love for reading was incorporated into this drawing. He’s started a worldwide charity around it, so I guess he must love it very much! A particular book that I put in this picture is called Zak the Yak with Books on His Back. A book John wrote himself and said he was looking forward to writing in Leaving Microsoft to Change the World.


Something else that holds symbolic significance is the suitcase, ready to go, at any time. John mentions traveling many times throughout the book, but I thought these two would be the most impactful:
  1. “I was once again on a trans-Pacific flight, wondering when this pace of travel would kill me” p. 208
  2. “He (John) lives in San Francisco, CA, but travels constantly for Room to Read.” p. 261


Another object(s) that holds a connection to the book include the skis, hiking boots (by the mat, at the door), and bike. On p. 261, it is mentioned that John’s hobbies include “running, tennis, skiing, reading, and great red wine.”.


I tucked the bed away in the corner because I feel it holds less connection to John than many other things. John’s life has always been focused on his work. Also, since he travels a lot, I’d imagine John sleeps in hotels most of the time, or an office couch, instead of his own room. That’s also why I made his room reasonably messy. John’s so focused on work, and travels so much, he probably doesn’t have the time to clean. I left a trail of crumpled up paper leading away from the garbage to try and reference John’s preparation for all Room to Read’ s fundraising events at which he gives speeches, and pitches the charity.


Against the wall opposite from the desk, I put some plaques on the floor which John would have. These plaques include his Master of Business, Bachelor of Science, and his 2 Skroll Foundation awards, and is a recipient of the Draper Richards fellowship for social entrepreneurs.


The reason I kept the room simple, and the reason it looks like a draft, instead of a finished project, is because it is SYMBOLIC. It’s not all nice and fancy because John didn’t live in a nice and fancy place. His heart is in his work. I’d bet he doesn’t care much for interior decorating. The room is plain, which also references John’s life outside that of work. He stated on p. 172 John said the long hours that came with working on what he loved was “absolute hell on my relationships”. On particular time when John was dating a woman, she referred to John’s work as “your wife, your mistress, your child, your family dog, and your career” (p. 172) She then told Mr. Wood that “nodding vigorously and grinning”( p. 172) was not the right response. John also mentions that his financial life was “A bit of a mess” (p. 173), which is the reason for lack of furniture. John probably saw it as an unnecessary expenditure and kept his costs as low as possible.


I only colored objects that I feel had importance to John. For example, I added color to the laptop because it’s clear John spends a lot of time sending out emails through quotes like “Pulling up Hotmail, I counted over 100 people stored in my online address book. Clicking ‘Mail All’ button, I prepared to make the best sales pitch of my life” p. 17 and “My email chimed with a missive from Erin” p. 123. So, the laptop is important to him because it helps him complete his work.


It’s clear John loves his work. One quote that really makes this clear, and that I kept in mind during the creation of this room is “I have found the one thing I always wanted - a career with meaning and about which I feel passion” (p. 172)

Keeping this passion in mind, I tried my best to create a room John Wood might actually live in.

Monday, 8 January 2018

विस्तार (Expansion)

“My mother always told me, ‘hide your face, people are looking at you.’ I would reply ‘it does not matter; I am also looking at them.’” - Malala Y


The sun shone through my window, like a newly lit match. I had tried to draw old clothes over them, but they were so thin, the sun came through as if they weren’t there at all. I was quite surprised the clothes hadn’t blown away. In the sunlight they looked as brittle as parchment. Well, I supposed that’s what’s to be expected when you live in New Delhi. Really, anywhere in India. It always became so hot during July. I used to study in summers before school. It was the thing I most looked forward to. Now...marriage at 15. Lucky me. Shipped off like a package from Amazon. Forgotten, and tossed, like an old coat. As I got changed, brushed, and ate, I noticed a little note by the door. It was from a friend, Sirena. Once I saw the “To. Anita” I’d known what was in that note. One more thing that needed to remind me about my life-changing loss. I stepped out the door, ready to take on the world when the sunlight seared into me with its blades of gold. It stood in the sky, mockingly. For even it knew it could not calm the storm inside me.  


Walking down to the farms on the outskirts of town was difficult. But, before I entered the chaos that is the marketplace, I turned around and looked around. I saw the vast land, filled with people trying to put food on the table. Most of these people were women. Gone to complete housework. Make the food, clean the house, and take care of the kids. They had never been educated properly and gone to school. They’d been treated inferior for something as far out of their control as the cosmos itself. Men were treated more important. They received higher level schooling from their family and acted superior because of it. They truly had less sense than the gravel on the path home. I always wondered what would happen if I was born male. In India, 2 proverbs had been drilled into my head since I was young. “May you be the mother of a hundred sons” (Indian Proverb p.182). I had heard that when I was just 3. Before my little sister was born. I still remember it to today. Another one I hate; “To give birth to a son is like witnessing a sunrise in heaven. A daughter is like having an uninvited guest at the banquet” (Indian proverb p.182). Thinking of these quotes caused bitterness to swell inside me like a balloon, and anger to wash over me, pulling me under. These beliefs have run deeper through Indian history and culture than Marianas Trench. It is truly sickening.


Carrying the basket home felt like nothing at all. I had adrenaline pumping through my veins. Adrenaline-fueled by anger, and disgust. My parents had never wanted me to go to school, but I had always been able to “argue successfully” (John p.183) with my parents into letting me continue my education. Now, instead of entering the ninth grade, I’ll be completing housework, and be preparing for marriage. My parents only make only “$400 per year” (John p.182). I’ve always been “frequently pressured” (John p.183) into dropping out of school, but I always stayed in because I knew it was the key to my future success. Now, I’ve been forced to drop out, and marry someone. It was an uphill battle, but I never thought I’d have to stop climbing. There was, however, a brief flicker of hope. I’d found out Room to Read, a foundation which empowered young girls, and built schools and libraries were coming to New Delhi with girl scholarship opportunities! I was so excited! I’d never wanted anything so bad in my life! The School Committee had told me there was no hope. I was too late and the deadline for applicants had passed. Regardless, I had to try. I “protested vehemently” (John p.183) to fight for my right to education. Everyone told me it was wasted breath, and they had me convinced. What did I have to offer? In spite of this, I had still hoped, for the past few days, I might just land it. It’s why I took the route beside the school every day. An extra mile or two wouldn’t hurt. This time as I approached the school, a teacher, the same one who helped bring my case to the Committee, stood grinning ear to ear. He said three words that would change my life; “You got it”. I looked back at the sun with tears in my eyes. The sun looked at me curiously as if wondering why I could be crying and smiling at the same time.

“We cannot all succeed when half of us have been held back” - Malala Y

Friday, 5 January 2018

राइट्स र प्रेमीहरू (Rights & Freedoms)

“A right delayed is a right denied” - Martin Luther King Jr.

In Canada we’ve got 2 documents. Well, I suppose 1 document because one resides inside another, but for my sake I’m calling it 2. These 2 documents are fundamental to the treatment of Canadians. 1 of the documents is called the Constitution of Canada. This document restricts the power of each section of government (ex. Municipal, Provincial, and Federal) what they can do, and how they can do it. It also contains many acts and decrees on human rights and freedoms. A particular section of this document is what I’m going to call our second document. This “section” is referred to as the Charter of Rights & Freedoms. The Charter goes in-depth on the rights and freedoms Canadians have access to. For me personally, the Charter has played a large role in my life. I’ve been able to grow up in a safe environment, go to my chosen school, speak my choice of languages, etc. 

In this book (Leaving Microsoft to Change the World), John travels into 3rd world country where school is a luxury. From what Mr. Wood describes, the country is home to many pleasant people. However, while the people may be nice to each other, poverty rates are so high, people are more focused on surviving than ensuring the protection of human rights. Quite honestly, I would be too. On p. 1 John mentions that he was served by a 8-year old Nepali boy in a bar. John also mentioned that it was “youngest bartender” (John p.1) he’d been served by or seen. Instead of going to school, the 8 year old was “running the small trekkers lodge on his own” (John p.1). When I was that age, I was more focused on passing Grade 3 and my upcoming hockey game, then wondering how to provide for my family. 

In Canada, our provincial, and municipal governments ensure schools are up to date and well off, with some help from the federal government. Canada has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and one of the two optional protocol to it while signing the other. Responsibility for implementation is split between the federal government and the provinces. It might not be a part of the Charter, but it’s still a right that I have as  a Canadian.  For high school I have many different options, to apply to. If I don’t succeed with my applications, my designated high school (the one closest to me) has no choice, but to accept me. I can still have a standard education. When contemplating the idea of expansion (In the future) John thought of all the places in the world where he could impact. The idea brought up by a friend, was that many kids in 3rd world countries were so distracted, that they lost focus on schoolwork.  If I had to pick between food and an english assignment, I’m going with food (Sorry Ms. G). In Niger, “8/10 of children don’t pass 5th grade exams” (John p.134). In Ethiopia, 70% of girls can’t read!??!  In war-torn countries (ex. Israel), textbooks are provided by terrorists which brainwash kindergartners, and get them into the “war” mindset since before they were 6 YEARS OLD. 

I feel that Canadians access to educational opportunities (like ability to attend a school that teaches in one of the countries official languages) and the country’s efforts to protect basic rights and freedoms, make up who we are as a 1st world nation.  We need more projects like Mr. Wood to help develop poverty struck nations by instilling in them a foundation for education, and life-long learning. 



“WIth gun you can kill terrorists, but with education, you can kill terrorism” - Malala Yousafzai

Thursday, 4 January 2018

परिवर्तन (Change)

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new” - Socrates


“My ideas were met with silence” (John p.63). This one line pretty much describes the next 20% of this book. In my previous post I talked about John’s thoughts on how he viewed the change between his current lifestyle and the one he wanted to adopt. John had mentioned that he enjoys the life of travel and helping others. “On a normal day I would be ordering another coffee at sundown, preparing for the three or four hours left in my workday as marketing director at Microsoft. Today was blissfully different- the first 21 days of trekking the Himalayas. I wanted the beer to toast the start of my longest holiday in nine years, and a break from the treadmill of a life in the software industry” (John p.1). After about 25 pages into the book, it was clear John didn’t want to continue to live in Beijing, where he had helped run Microsoft operations. On p.30 if was more than clear when John said “There were already problems with life in Beijing. The athlete in me was suffering from life in a bitter-cold and polluted city” (John p.30), John also stated that he had “A constant cough as pollution stuck in my throat” (John p.30).


John was clearly unhappy with his current situation. However, John had found something that made him happy. I bet you can guess what that is. A friend of John’s in Sydney had said “Look, there are two ways to remove a Band-Aid: slowly and painfully, of quickly and painfully. Your choice.” (Mike p.67) John chose quickly and painfully. He resigned from Microsoft the next day, and broke up with his live-in girlfriend. A little while after that John found himself in San Francisco setting up his charity which he had named “Books for Nepal”. The name would later be changed to “Room to Read”.


John had set up his charity and it was growing quick. With an endless amount of projects to be worked on though, John’s capital was drying up. He went to different firms and bankers looking for the funds to continue his work, but came up with nothing many times. One a particular time that I found quite disappointing, was a meeting John had with the American Himalayan Foundation (AHF). John was excited and I have to say, so was I. Even though I know how Johns ended up I still wanted to see him succeed. In this case however, I didn’t get to see that. I was dissappointed, but I can imagine it’s nothing compared to how John felt. “The executive, in her mid 40’s and elegantly dressed, was friendly enough upon greeting me. But warning signs soon began flaring. Twice on the way to her office she stopped for conversations with colleagues that lasted for several minutes. She did not bother to introduce me. I assumed she was having a busy day. The skies darkened further when we got to her office. Within two minutes of explaining my goals, I was cut off.” (John p.77). The executive asked John why they (the AHF) should even be talking to John. “There are hundreds of little groups doing what you do.” (AHF Exec p.77). John never did end up working with them on future projects as far as I know. It was incidents like these hat disappointed me. I felt like what John had done was remarkable, but others apparently, did not. I also felt like John received an unnecessary icy reception from bankers, friends, and family when he talked about his ideas and goals. What do you think?


“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor” - Unknown

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

समझौता (Compromise)

“Work hard in silence, let your success be the noise” - Frank Ocean


We all know what it’s like to work hard. Day in and out. This thing, and that thing to get done. There’s always something. Over 70% of US citizens are unhappy with what they do for a living. That’s crazy! I couldn’t imagine being stuck in something that I was unhappy with for year after year. John Wood, American businessman, and entrepreneur was stuck in a similar situation. John wasn’t particularly unhappy, but he also wasn’t happy.


In his book “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World”, John starts to make more frequent visits to Nepal. On one particular occasion, John found himself in Kathmandu, Nepal. 

Kathmandu, Nepa

“I am not a morning person, but on our first day back I woke just after dawn” (John p.35). At this point in the novel, John has not left Microsoft, or set up Room to Read. He had, however, started delivering books to schools in Nepal. His life was a balancing act between his work in Nepal, relationships, and of course, his work with Microsoft. That morning in Nepal, John had intended to walk the “quiet streets” (John p. 35) and hopefully, find some clarity on ways to maintain his balancing act. However, instead of finding clarity, he found a group of monks. They moved into a nearby monastery for morning prayers. John felt like joining them but wasn’t sure if he was allowed. As John pondered this, a monk approached him with “Two large weather-beaten hands. They engulfed mine. His eyes, deep and warm, stared into mine with a look that was profound and peaceful, putting me at ease. He motioned me to follow him inside.” (John p.35).


John could leave Microsoft to work in Nepal, but what would this do to his relationships? How would he provide? I’m sure many have come across these sort of questions when contemplating a career change. However, as John contemplated, he thought of the meaning behind his work. “Did it really matter how many copies of Windows we sold in Taiwan this month when millions of children were without access to books? How could I get fired up about our electronic e-commerce initiative in Hong Kong, when seven of ten kids in Nepal face lifelong illiteracy?” ( John p.36). John’s contemplation in the monastery took over 30 minutes. 30 minutes of pure inner turmoil. Perhaps John realized he cared more about the meaning behind his work than the money coming from it? I personally think it was a compromise. Where he knew he wanted to make money to live, but also wanted to make a bigger impact on the world. So he left the higher paying job, for the higher impact one. But, what struggles will he face in his transition? How will he continue to provide? How will he maintain his relationships? What would you do?

“Your positive action, along with positive thinking, is what results in success”- Shiv Khera

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

New Project, New Adventure?

“It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” - Bill Gates

“Private Sector Brain, Nonprofit Heart”. There’re a LOT of charities, and organizations working with children 3rd world countries. It’s normal to hear or see these charities/organizations. There’s one, however, whose story and impact goes far beyond normal. Room to Read works in 3rd world countries trying to empower children by providing them access to education. “Through literacy and gender equality in education with an emphasis on sustainability and effectiveness, we believe that long-term systemic change is possible for future generations to come.”
John Wood, Founder of Room to Read, used to work at Microsoft at a high paying job, and as left to follow his passion. John cares deeply about the education of children and this is clearly highlighted in his book (even though I’ve only read a few pages).


“Leaving Microsoft to Change the World”. This is the title of the book that I’m currently reading a novel study in class. It is also the documentation of John Woods shift from Microsoft to Room to Read. The reason I chose this book was that I was interested how someone made the transition from something that they were unhappy doing something they were interested and passionate about. I was also interested in how John built Room to Read. I run my own business (trident-outfitters.com) and thought I may be able to learn from John.


I project will end on January 8th, but I believe I can finish before the 1st. With a 2 weeks winter break (giving me lots of time) and a book, I think I’ll like to read, I believe this project can be completed by the beginning of next month. As I said previously, I think I’ll enjoy this project because it’ll be based off something I like doing; reading. As with anyone who enjoys reading, I prefer to read books the appeal to me. This book certainly appealed to me as mentioned before. Hopefully, all goes well, and by the end of the book I’ve learned from John and submitted a meaningful, polished project.

Here's a schedule I have that leads up to Winter break. It includes in-class time and dedicated time towards homework:


Class Schedule:


Wednesday, December 6
Thursday, December 7
Monday, December 11
Tuesday, December 12
Wednesday, December 13
AM - 40 minutes

Read to p.20 and complete intro post
AM - 30 minutes

Read to p.40 and edit intro post (if necessary)

AM - 0 minutes
AM - 30 minutes

Read to p. 95
AM - 40 minutes

P. 120

Start post 2/5
PM - 0 minutes
PM - 15 minutes

Read to p.60 and start 1/5 post
PM - 15 minutes

Read to p.80
PM - 15 minutes

Read to p. 105
PM - 0 minutes

Thursday, December 14
Friday, December 15
Monday, December 18
Tuesday, December 19
Wednesday, December 20
AM - 30 minutes

p.30
AM - 0 minutes
AM - 40 minutes

Read to p. 170
PEACE FESTIVAL...
PEACE FESTIVAL...
PM - 15 minutes

Read to p. 135
PM - 0 minutes
PM - 0 minutes
PM - 0 minutes
PM - 0 minutes

Home:


Wednesday, December 6
Thursday, December 7
Friday, December 8
Monday, December 11
Tuesday, December 12
Edit, or finish intro post
Review previous notes
Review previous notes
Review previous notes
Work on post 2/5




Review previous notes

Wednesday, December 13
Thursday, December 14
Monday, December 18
Tuesday, December 19
Wednesday, December 20
Read to p.135
Read. to p. 160
Read too p.200
Review previous notes
Review previous notes
Review previous notes

Start post ⅗
FInish post ⅗
Read to p.200


“The biggest risk is that a lot of people will try to talk you out of pursuing your dream.” - John Wood