Sunday, January 02, 2005

Tsunami news and some upcoming plans

I read in recent days that Western tourists in Thailand, and also to some extent in Sri Lanka and coastal Inda, were receiving preferential treatment by regional authorities. In Thailand they were being set up in facilities with internet connections and air conditioning, as local affected and homeless Thais made do as best as possible, often in makeshift structures. Local Thais were being passed over in favor of Westerners for medical attention, unless seriously injured. In India locals affected by the disaster were being handed old clothes and measly food aid, some of which they rejected as offensive to their dignity. This all has apparently caused resentment amongst locals of the region, but the situation has been justified by both tourists as well as by some of the presumably local tourist operators, in that tourist spending is essential to the economies of places like Thailand and Sri Lanka. It seems that the self-help of other locals has been the greatest source of immediate aid to date, as aid from regional governments and aid agencies has been limited and slow in coming to the affected areas. If we are interested in winning the hearts and minds of these people and others in the world, there has got to be a better way of going about it, a way that guarantees that people are treated with dignity and respect in a difficult time, regardless of place of origin or income. Now is the time to be sensitive to issues such as these in assistance provisioning.

In other, and less important news, I'm planning on taking a few days off in mid-January, somewhere from the 12th through the 17th. If I can find a cheap, 24-48 hour notice flight, I might go somewhere like New Orleans or San Francisco for a few days. Or, I might get a flight to Albuquerque, and then drive a rental car back through Santa Fe, then up through the Jicarilla Apache Reservation in northern New Mexico, and finally on up into San Luis, CO and the Great Sand Dunes National Park,before heading back to Denver. If I do this, I plan to stop at the reservation and see if I can establish any familial contacts based upon my grandfather's possible connection to this area. I also would like to see if any problems or issues affecting the Jicarilla might allow me to do some work in assisting them as related to a possible Master's thesis project. I should have a clearer focus on what I'll be doing in a few more days, though.


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