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Event Recap: Sarah Margon, Washington Director of Human Rights Watch

Posted By IRC, Monday, September 17, 2018

On Thursday, September 13, the event hosted by the International Relations Council, “An Evening with Sarah Margon,” took place in the heart of Kansas City at Stinson Leonard Street Law Firm. As the Washington director of Human Watch Rights, Ms Margon serves as the organization’s main point of contact with the U.S. government and provides strategic and advocacy guidance, including legislative and policy development. Interviewed by Christina Arnone, a lawyer from Stinson, Ms Margon responded to diverse questions regarding foreign policy and international relations.

After enjoying some food and refreshments during the reception, the audience was ready to listen to the speaker to gain insight on what is going on around the world in a relaxed and informative atmosphere. She addressed issues ranging from Iran and the global refugee crisis to human rights in Africa.

In addition to providing an overview of human rights issues in 2018, she also elucidated the operations of Human Rights Watch, an organization that has a presence in 90 countries, including the U.S. In order to decide the countries to focus most strongly on, Human Rights Watch researches the places where the most atrocious human violations happen and raises awareness. Ms Margon also touched on the subject of funding for Human Rights Watch and said that they do not receive any funds from governments and are supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide.

After the interview, the audience had the opportunity to ask questions, which Ms Margon answered impartially and with expert knowledge. Various topics from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Puerto Rican natural disaster were explored.

The "Evening with Sarah Margon" was a great moment that encouraged people from our community to understand international issues, while bringing awareness on other parts of the world to people of Kansas City.


About the Author
Grace Komoe is the Fall 2018 events intern for the IRC and is a junior at Park University studying Political Science and Legal Studies.

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Book Review: Should We Fear Russia?

Posted By IRC, Monday, September 10, 2018
Updated: Friday, September 7, 2018

The book Should We Fear Russia? by Dmitri Trenin focuses on the prospective threat Russia poses to other countries. The author takes the reader through Russia's past and present and addresses the root causes for other countries' widespread fear of Russia. This book stands out from other books about Russia because Trenin is from Russia and writes from his point of view, and it is important to include Russian voices in the discussion to create a better understanding of the country many people fear. In the end, Trenin believes that the fears many hold about Russia's place in the world are well-rooted in the country's history, albeit unnecessary and detached from the actual threat Russia poses.

Trenin breaks the book into four sections: the first section discusses fears of Russia and a brief history of Russia’s past after the cold war; the next section addresses goals of Russia and how those goals impact other countries; the third section discusses ways other countries keep Russia "in check"; and lastly, the fourth section offers comments on modern Russia and how other countries currently relate to Russia. Throughout the book, Trenin offers a thorough explanation of Russia’s past and how it connects to present realities and perceptions.

Overall, I found this to be a thought-provoking book that makes a complex situation more accessible for the average reader and world citizen. My recommendation to the author would be to release a new edition in light of the news attention Russia has received over the past year for its alleged influences on the last U.S. presidential election.


About the Author

Emily Hattan is a student at Florida Southern College studying Criminology and Psychology.

 

 

 

 

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Member Spotlight: Fred Baehner

Posted By IRC, Monday, September 3, 2018
Updated: Friday, August 31, 2018

Fred Baehner is the publisher of IBNewsmag », a monthly magazine that covers 15 states and provides small- to medium-sized enterprises with practical information to stimulate international trade. Other international endeavors of Baehner have included working in international business with his company, InterMark3, Inc.; serving as the president for the International Trade Council twice; and receiving security clearance to be an advisor for the U.S. Trade Representative, as well as serving on its industry trade advisory committee (a position and clearance only held by 30 other people in the U.S.). Baehner also has been a member of the International Relations Council since 1994 and still remembers receiving phone calls from Eliot Berkley, founder and long-time president of the IRC. 

Baehner currently serves as a board member of the Pan-American Association of Kansas City, which works to educate people about the importance of the Americas and the intertwining of its countries. He is also working to develop support for the International Fashion Exchange of Kansas City. In the past year, one of his major accomplishments includes co-hosting the Discover Global Markets event in Kansas City, which attracted more than 300 participants and 26 companies from 16 countries. On the horizon, he is looking forward to expanding IBNewsmag to other countries.

 

The IRC spotlights our members and their diverse work and interests in the international space. To learn more or to indicate interest in being spotlighted in an upcoming post, please visit: http://www.irckc.org/page/MemberSpotlight ».

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Event Recap: Ethnic Enrichment Festival

Posted By IRC, Monday, August 27, 2018
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2018


Kansas City’s 39th Annual Ethnic Enrichment Festival was held in beautiful Swope Park on August 17-19. On display were a host of activities from more than 60 unique cultures, including musical and dance performances, plentiful activities for children, and a wide variety of cuisines.

A brief walk from Pavilion Road yielded great views of the events at the pavilion stage. Featured on stage were folk dancers from Iran, the St. George Serbian Choir, the Scottish St. Andrew Pipes and Drums, and a vibrant, colorful ethnic fashion show displaying an array of the attire parading around the grounds. One of the many highlights on Saturday was the colorful and joyous Folkloricas Viva Panama, who closed the day’s activities at the pavilion. Sunday’s performances were quite impressive, particularly the voluminous, rhythmically precise Indonesian Gamelan Genta Kasturi and the soulful, powerful vocals of the Three Little Birds/Jahration singers.

The food at the festival is an annual treat, and this year was no exception. Many started their day with a rich, delicious Turkish coffee or a Malaysian Air Badung. Visitors to the festival were introduced to Ethiopia’s Key Siga Wot stew and the tastiest Venezuelan Arepas north of Caracas. Others stayed cool with a mango shake from Pakistan or shaved ice from the Hawaii booth.

The Ethnic Enrichment Festival is a wonderful reminder each year of Kansas City’s diverse population and shows how the various cultures and ethnicities help to construct this unique metropolitan area. Upon arrival, kids received a complimentary passport book and had it stamped for visiting each of the booths. Crafts were featured at the Kids World Tent both Saturday and Sunday.

It was a pleasure meeting so many new people and seeing so many familiar faces at the International Relations Council booth. We send our sincere thanks to the festival's planners, the Ethnic Enrichment Commission – an IRC organizational member – for their decades of work to promote multiculturalism and international awareness in our community.

 

About the Author
Jason Rose is a student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Business Administration and Spanish and is the community intern at the IRC for Fall 2018.

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Book Review: Capitalism without Capital

Posted By IRC, Monday, August 20, 2018
Updated: Friday, August 17, 2018

In the modern world many citizens worry about the economy and how the American gross domestic product (GDP) often feels like it is seconds away from a monumental crash. Capitalism without Capital by Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake looks at how, in the world's poorer countries, a slowing of GDP often correlates with how the country measures intangible investment. 

 

The same kind of thought can be transferred to major markets that are growing in the Midwest of the U.S., such as online shopping and ride sharing. For online mogul Amazon, the Midwest has become a focal point for movement of their actual tangible capital, like the products they sell on their website (an intangible asset).

 

Intangible investment is present in everything involved with business that is not physical, including every piece of code, organizational counseling, marketing, research and development, and brand recognition. However, it is not a simple addition of money spent, because that would look at the input and not the possible output that these investments would payout.

 

The book is an excellent exploration of the implications that come with an ever-increasing market for intangible goods and how the ideas and patents that are created in our intangible era are just as important as the actual capital found in businesses of the past. The authors also explore the idea of scalability, or the spike that is commonly seen in intangible heavy industries.

 

 

About the Author
Chris Boyce is a student at Rockhurst University studying Business and Accounting.

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A City of Culture and Connection

Posted By IRC, Tuesday, August 14, 2018

When I was seeking a new school to continue my education, a must-have for me was a place with culture. I was looking for a place that extended beyond its city limits, one that I would have opportunities for growth. I found that here in Kansas City. Many towns and cities have sister cities, another place across the world with which they’ve established a link, usually for the purpose of cultural exchange. Kansas City, however, has 13 sister cities. These are found all over the globe, in places such as Spain, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, and Taiwan, and others.


You can find evidence of other cultures' influence throughout Kansas City’s landscape. Much of the Country Club Plaza has architecture found in our sister city, Seville, while the Dragon Boat Festival is a result of our relationship with Xi’an, China.

These cultural exchanges and takeaways have added unforgettable culture and life to the businesses of Kansas City. We strive to forge relationships with cities that have industries in technology like we do, and focus towards building ties with cities that have similar museums or universities. These sister cities and their affiliated organizations greatly contribute to making Kansas City an exciting place to live and provide numerous experiences.

Students, artists, musicians, and even professionals can benefit from these international relationships. Local universities offer many different options in the form of student exchange programs, the ability to study abroad, and even travel courses. Likewise, international professionals and students from sister cities have come to Kansas City to teach and learn here as well.

If you want to see a bit of the culture yourself, head on down to the Country Club Plaza and view the “Kansas City Sister Cities International Bridge.” Built in 2000, this bridge promotes international understanding by creating connection between the cities all over the globe. It’s a great place to visit with your family and take in all that Kansas City has to offer.

 

About the Author
Melissa Donley is a senior at Avila University majoring in Graphic Design and was the marketing intern at the IRC during summer 2018. 

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Member Spotlight: YMCA

Posted By IRC, Monday, August 6, 2018
Updated: Friday, August 3, 2018

The YMCA of Greater Kansas City is one of approximately 2,700 locally managed and governed nonprofit associations across the United States, guided and supported by the national resource office, the YMCA of the USA. The YMCA has been active in Kansas City since 1860. 

The organization's main areas of focus are Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility. Youth Development focuses on the nourishment of every child and teen. Healthy Living focuses on improving the nation's health and well-being, starting with our own community. Social Responsibility focuses on giving back and supporting our neighbors.

The YMCA takes part in service on the local and global level. Founded in London in 1844, the YMCA now has presence in 119 different countries and serves 45 million people. Currently, the YMCA of GKC is two years into the English as a Second Language program and was recently awarded a grant to expand the program. Moving forward, the YMCA is also exploring additional partnerships in the local community, as well as research and work to establish and International Partnership with other YMCA locations around the world. Soon, they will launch conversational Spanish classes to help staff be more welcoming and inclusive with our diverse community.

People interested in volunteering  with the YMCA can learn more at: www.kansascityymca.org/volunteer ». For rewarding job opportunities, both part-time and full, visit www.KansasCityYMCA.org/Careers ». 


 

The IRC spotlights our members and their diverse work and interests in the international space. To learn more or to indicate interest in being spotlighted in an upcoming post, please visit: http://www.irckc.org/page/MemberSpotlight ».

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Book Review: Drift

Posted By IRC, Monday, July 30, 2018
Updated: Friday, July 13, 2018

Rachel Maddow is a public liberal political commentator and author. On MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” she stresses the importance of transparency and accountability from American leaders in regards to political affairs. She received her Bachelor's degree from Stanford University and a Doctorate of Philosophy from Lincoln College, Oxford.

Rachel Maddow’s Drift analyzes United States military history and involvement in international conflicts while simultaneously critiquing the unhinged executive power involved in the decision to declare war. Maddow dissects the Reagan administration and its use of cloak and dagger tactics when it came to disclosing military decisions to the American public. By exploring examples such as the U.S. invasion of Grenada, the Contragate scandal, and the Iran Hostage Crisis, among others, Maddow paints a revealing image of administrative power and secrecy. Maddow criticizes the Bush administration’s attitude towards removing Saddam Hussein from power and decision to go to war. Maddow shifts her focus towards the cost of war and how the U.S. tried reducing expenses by hiring out private contractors, which she says negatively affected the way the world viewed the United States military. Additionally, Maddow explains an American paradigm shift and acclimation to war, which she suggests should be alarming. She concludes her book by discussing the risks of the United States’ sizable nuclear stockpile. In her epilogue, she clearly outlines how she believes the United States should handle being at war, approach internal conflicts, deal weapons, reduce its nuclear infrastructure, and reduce executive power in the decision to go to war.

In this book, Maddow takes an intriguing look at the morality and ethics of war while considering whether CIA covert ops are truly necessary.  Overall, Rachel Maddow’s Drift effectively lays out the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to American military power, and proposes several solutions to said issues. While the book is left-leaning, it can appeal to a wide audience insofar as it provides interesting arguments that can ignite discussions around difficult topics.  

 

About the Author
Lea Spiers is a student at Illinois Wesleyan University studying International Studies and Pre-Med.

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2026 World Cup

Posted By IRC, Monday, July 23, 2018
Updated: Friday, July 13, 2018

In the midst of tariff escalations and immigration policies, it may seem there is currently little that Canada, the United States, and Mexico can agree on – except perhaps soccer. FIFA's announcement last month that North America would host the 2026 World Cup has thrilled American soccer fans disappointed in the U.S team's failure to qualify for the 2018 games. For local soccer enthusiasts, the announcement came with a bonus, as Kansas City was named as a potential host site. 

Even if your understanding of offsides is, like mine, a little confused, there is still plenty of reason to be excited about the potential of this global event landing in our backyard. For the first time, there will be 48 teams competing in the games and the opportunity for Kansas City to welcome players and fans from all corners of the world with our Midwestern hospitality.

Hosting the World Cup is more than just a chance for us to introduce the world to Kansas City, but also for the world to introduce itself to us. Every team, every fan has a story to tell, one of pride and hope and dreams, one worthy of our attention.

When that first whistle blows, we can leave dramatic domestic politics on the sidelines and focus instead on the drama of the tournament. We may serve as the summit for unlikely alliances created during the group stage, when a Korean win could mean success for Mexico. And when an underdog team inevitably makes a Cinderella run we may just have the chance to see in person the goal that sends watch parties thousands of miles away into joyful chaos.

Even if there isn't a home team to cheer on, there will still be plenty to celebrate. With any luck, crowded around the Power and Light District or cheering from the Arrowhead bleachers, we may all learn that our differences are not as big as the game that unites us.

 

About the Author
Morgan Biles is the Summer 2018 events intern at the IRC. She is a rising sophomore at Boston College and plans on majoring in political science and communications.

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Member Spotlight: Andrea Khan

Posted By IRC, Monday, July 16, 2018
Updated: Thursday, July 12, 2018

Andrea Khan is a graduate of the University of Utah with a degree in Anthropology. After living in Taiwan and later Kenya, Khan returned to Kansas City with a renewed sense of excitement to bring more world cultures to the area.

One of her most prominent contributions to the area includes the formation and continued involvement in an organization called Indigenous to Indigenous. Indigenous to Indigenous brings art and speakers from African countries to show the unique culture that comes from indigenous people around the world. The organization also works to connect indigenous Native American tribes in the United States with African countries. The primary goal of the organization is to get the perspective of the Indigenous people about their experiences and needs going forward.

Khan is highly involved in many other African-focused groups such as Wasim, Baraza African Cultures Center », the Ethnic Enrichment Commission », and Sister Cities ». As for committee involvement, she was member of the board for the Ecuadorian Association of Kansas City », served on the Refugee Immigrant Forum committee, and the World Refugee Day planning committee.

Around 20 years ago when she moved back to Kansas City, she and her husband were members of the IRC Speakers' Bureau » and would often present and speak about African art and culture they brought back. She also participated in the International Classroom Partnership program. Looking to the future, Khan hopes to continue developing her programs and connections in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania and urges people to get involved in the various programs promoting diversity within the Greater Kansas City area.

 

The IRC spotlights our members and their diverse work and interests in the international space. To learn more or to indicate interest in being spotlighted in an upcoming post, please visit: http://www.irckc.org/page/MemberSpotlight ».

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Calendar

10/2/2018
IRC Book Club: War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence

10/3/2018
Global Experience: Emilie’s French Teas

10/9/2018
CHINA Town Hall: Tariffs and Trade with China

10/16/2018
Your Global Future

10/25/2018 » 10/27/2018
Greater KC Peacebuilding Conference

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