27 January 2010

Ever Dream of Expatriating Yourself?

If you're anything like the average travel junkie, you often dream of living abroad. Or maybe you have lived abroad, or currently are. Good, you'll love this show. It's nothing new, to the world or to me, but I realized my network of nomad buddies have never heard of this program before... how could this be? Perhaps because it's not on Travel Channel or PBS? It's actually broadcast on the Home and Garden network.

House Hunters International is the perfect quench to your expatriating thirst. How much for a flat in Prague? A villa in Bali? Perhaps a studio in the quatrieme arrondissement in Paris? Moving to Morocco? The show features a home buyer, many of which are not Americans who are moving within their own country or purchasing vacation homes, and three of their best options for home-ownership.

With each home tour, the show features points about the town or region in which the home is located. Often in obscure locations not featured in travel guides (fancy a country home in Slovakia lacking modern amenities including plumbing?). It also gives square footage (and meters!), price in USD along with a detailed home tour. Did you ever imagine yourself living in downtown Berlin for under $100k? The possibilities are nearly endless... I'm gettin' all excited just talking about it!

The show has loads of reruns so tune in often, or set your DVR for an escape to Brazil just before dinner, or maybe a French countryside fantasy with breakfast. Who knows, maybe one day you'll be seen on HGTV, touring your first flat in London. Cheers!

21 January 2010

Making a Personal Impact In Haiti

With the earthquake aftermath in Haiti just over a week old, and the news of massive aftershocks still coming in, many Americans, and for that matter, people all over the world are wondering how they can act, and make sure their contributions are effective. I understand how the world is feeling. In my generation (I am 25) I have seen some of the most horrific natural disasters decimate human life and infrastructure in what seems are poor and already in-need areas of the world.

Since I was in high school, three major natural disasters (Katrina, Asian Tsunami, and now the earthquake in Haiti) and the terrorist attacks on 9/11 have occurred. For my generation, this is the world that is shaping us, the world we are inheriting for our future. Personally, I want to help. Not only now, but I was desperate to help when the waters rose in Sri Lanka and New Orleans, and when buildings came crashing down, rubble and dust filling the streets of New York. I donated as much money a college student can spare, but still wish there was something more I could actually do.

I have been listening incessantly to NPR, trying to take it all in, somehow comprehending the tragedies people are facing there. Last week 60 Minutes reported from Haiti showing images of bloated dead bodies being scooped up by heavy machinery and dumped into mass graves. I understand the serious health concerns here, but these are people who's bodies were laid to rest by a massive dumping by machines, void of all human contact and compassion.

For all the media coverage, there is a part of me which feels that conventional media is simply not making the correct impact. From all the interviews conducted, I am only hearing the voices of American doctors or the Haitian radio employees. I wish there was someone fearless and compassionate enough to speak with the people. To listen to them and take their photograph and try and understand. Not just to look and observe but perhaps lend a shoulder. I wish there was more I could do in Haiti or any disaster, natural or otherwise to help the people on a personal level. Part of me wants to grab my camera and get down there, but how is that possible? Will that do any good whatsoever? Is it wrong to feel that just giving money is not actually the same as giving hope?