Wednesday, November 16, 2011

“Stop The Traffik”, Daniel Bedingfield’s Fight Against Human Trafficking

In late October, I was privileged to attend The Global Forum on Human Trafficking sponsored by Not For Sale.  The conference was held to inform attendees about the new developments of anti-trafficking efforts around the world, as well as to discuss alternative and creative ways of combating this injustice. 

The conference had many amazing speakers including the Dutchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, and Twitter Founder, Jack Dorsey.  However, as a musician, I was most pleased by the unannounced arrival of Daniel Bedingfield.  For those of you who might not be familiar with Mr. Bedingfield, he arrived on the music scene in the early 2000’s with his hit “Gotta Get Thru This” followed by, “If Your Not The One.”  He originated in the UK dance scene, and quickly jumped the pond to the U.S. early in his career.  I was so excited to see him at the conference that I left a friend mid-conversation to run and listen to him perform.

When we broke for lunch, I had a chance to meet with Daniel and asked him about his involvement with this important issue and the organization Not For Sale.  He shared that after he first heard about the abuse and slavery of young girls and children, that he would use the platform he best understood, music, to further the cause. He shared with me that he was so passionate about stopping human trafficking that he decided his next album would be titled “Stop The Traffik.” When speaking to Music & Life about his new album, and whether this issue would hinder his creativity, he said, “I think that passion and music are so incredibly intertwined; if I didn't do something like this, we'd never have any good songs from me ever again."

Well Daniel, I couldn’t agree more.  I believe if music isn’t infused by passion and isn’t pointing to something beyond ourselves or looking or humanity straight in the eye, it’s just ear candy.  Music is the one thing that can capture my mind and my heart at the same time. Music is emotion-infused storytelling, and is capable to move people to action which is why I believe it is one of the best avenues to share about this heartbreaking injustice.

Sara Groves, Matisyahu, Natasha Beddingfield, Enation and many more musicians are using their creativity to bring awareness to the issue of modern day slavery.  My advice; check them out, support their music and become informed.  If you are a musician, write your thoughts and put them to music.  A life may be changed by your call to action and awareness.

To learn more about the issue of Human Trafficking, please check out the following website

-Kirsten Devlin

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Week In The Life of A FutureProfits Teacher

For my first blog entry on Waking Awareness, I’d like to share some snapshots into my life over the past week. I interact with close to 450 students each week through teaching FutureProfits classes at local high schools. Often because of busy schedules I only get to develop relationships with a few students each semester, but the ones I do relate with impact me significantly.  Here are a few of their stories....

Johnny*: Last week, I was teaching a class right before lunchtime. Generally, as soon as the bell rings, most students rush out to soak up as much time with their friends during lunch, but on this particular day, Johnny didn't get up from his seat.  I took it as a cue to walk over and talk to him. I sat down and started making small talk, which quickly led to a deeper conversation. Johnny started sharing with me about his struggles with school, his struggle to pay attention in classes that weren’t interesting to him, and not being able to trust his friends. He expressed feelings of loneliness that came with not being able to trust anyone due to betrayal in his past.  I was reminded in that moment, that behind the mask a lot of high school students wear, there is often a much deeper story.

Jose*: The next day, I saw Jose, a boy who lives around the corner from me. He was in one of our FutureProfits classes 2 years ago as an 8th grader.  Again, I initiated a conversation that led to Jose sharing about his loneliness as well! He shared that he has a lot of friends, but still feels lonely and doesn’t feel like he belongs.  I remembered my conversation with Johnny and wondered if there was a pattern happening in the lives of young men.

Marie & Claire*: During this current unit of FutureProfits, we are teaching the students how to make a budget by giving each of them a job and asking them to pretend they are 25 years old.  This past Tuesday, Marie and Claire were sitting at the back of the class discussing what their imaginary life will be like when they are 25.  As I listened to their conversation, I discovered that they had decided to live as roommates in a 2-bedroom apartment.  I walked around listening to the other conversations, but wandered back to listen to Marie and Claire.  As they got further down the list of expenses in their budgets they hit the “pet” line item.  Marie was set on having a small dog. Claire was not.  After much discussion, during the rest of the class, they had still not come to an agreement about the pet, but it was clear they still wanted to live with each other.  It may be a small exercise, but these two girls are learning a lot about compromise and needs vs. wants.

Something 2 Eat Thursday of this past week, I walked around the Menlo-Atherton campus with two girls from my FutureProfits class as they asked anyone and everyone to donate to our Something 2 Eat campaign.  The generosity of the students was amazing, and the two girls raised  $43.13 for the campaign in under an hour. In light of Something 2 Eat, I have seen so much generosity erupt from these students as they plan and discuss ways to bring necessary food to those who don’t have it.  To find out more about their generosity and this student-led campaign, please check this blog later this week for an update.

These are just four snapshots of life interacting with students from this generation. They are generous, lonely, struggling to live life, and learning from activities and each other. Through our classes they are learning practical skills for their future. But through our relationships, they are impacting my life in deep ways.

-Jenni Ingram

FutureProfits Program Manager

*The names mentioned above are fictitious

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson & Generosity- Kirsten Post

Justin Bieber often compares his career to the late and great Michael Jackson (minus all legal mishaps).  One of the most compelling reasons Justin wishes to model his career after Jackson, is because in his lifetime Michael donated 300 million dollars to charity.  Justin wants to match or surpass that goal during his career.

Justin Bieber came from a small town in Canada, and grew up as the son of a single mom.  Many times growing up, especially during the holidays, Justin and his mother would receive food from a local food bank in their town.  This year with the release of his new Christmas album, Justin announced that he would donate $10,000 to the food bank of Stratford, the very one he received food from growing up.  He also announced that a percentage of CD sales would be donated to his other two favorite charities: Pencils of Promise and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

What I find amazing about Justin, is his power to catalyze others to get involved through every available avenue he has access to.  Like Michael Jackson, Justin actively promotes the charities he gives to.  In his new album "Under the Mistletoe," Justin invites his listeners to get involved this holiday with these words:

It's crazy how some people say they, say they don't care
When there's people on the street with no food, it's not fair
It's about time for you to act merrily
It's about time for you to give to charity

Justin Bieber is making it "cool" to give to charity.  Some people find this off-putting, and ascribe to the belief that generosity should be a selfless act.  I disagree.  I believe each of us wants to be aligned with something "cool", "hip", or "unique".  Generally, when people choose to give to an organization, they have been convinced or compelled by the mission or by well executed marketing.  Nobody wants to give to a charity that isn't having an impact.  Although some people will jump on any bandwagon that Justin Bieber promotes, I think many people (or should I say girls), will realize the joy and fulfillment from giving and they will be more compelled to give again.   I believe generosity is a learned trait, and I think Justin Bieber is this generations biggest teacher. 

P.S. Hey Biebs, can NCUD get some props?!

Be "cool" this holiday season and give generously,