Saturday, April 30, 2011

Just Don't Waste

1)Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours -- or the equivalent of a half a gallon of gasoline.
2)During the time it takes you to read this sentence, 50,000 12-ounce aluminum cans are made.
3)Once an aluminum can is recycled, it can be part of a new can within six weeks.
4)An aluminum can that is thrown away will still be a can 500 years from now!
5)There is no limit to the amount of times an aluminum can can be recycled.
6)We use over 80,000,000,000 aluminum pop cans every year.
7)Every ton of recycled steel saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,000 of coal, and 40 pounds of limestone.
1)To produce each week's Sunday newspapers, 500,000 trees must be cut down.
2)Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
3)If all our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!
4)During World War II when raw materials were scarce, 33% of all paper was recycled. After the war, this number decreased sharply.
5)If you had a 15-year-old tree and made it into paper grocery bags, you'd get about 700 of them. A supermarket could use all of them in under an hour! This means in one year, one supermarket goes through 60,500,000 paper bags! Imagine how many supermarkets there are in the U.S.
6)The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
7)Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.
8)The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. Most is packaging and junk mail.
9)The 17 trees saved (above) can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. Burning that same ton of paper would create 1500 pounds of carbon dioxide.
10)The construction costs of a paper mill designed to use waste paper is 50 to 80% less than the cost of a mill using new pulp.
11)Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution!
1)Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour! Most of them are thrown away!
2)Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year!
3)Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as buring it in an incinerator.
4)American throw away 25,000,000,000 styrofoam coffee cups every year.
1)Every month, we throw out enough glass bottles and jars to fill up a giant skyscraper. All of these jars are recyclable!
2)The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours. It also causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.
3)A modern glass bottle would take 4000 years or more to decompose -- and even longer if it's in the landfill.
4)Mining and transporting raw materials for glass produces about 385 pounds of waste for every ton of glass that is made. If recycled glass is substituted for half of the raw materials, the waste is cut by more than 80%.
1)The first real recycling program was introduced in New York City in the 1890s. The city's first recycling plant was built in 1898.
2)About one-third of an average dump is made up of packaging material.
3)The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. This means that 5% of the world's people generate 40% of the world's waste.
4)Roughly 90% of landfill contents are recyclable.
5)Out of ever $10 spent buying things, $1 (10%) goes for packaging that is thrown away. Packaging represents about 65% of household trash.
6)On average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash, $50 to send it to the landfill, and $65 to $75 to incinerate it.
7)Americans generate and throw away 9 times as much waste as does a person in Africa or Central America, but we also generate two to three times the amount of waste as people living in industrial countries with a comparable or better standard of living as us.
1)More than 20,000,000 Hershey's Kisses are wrapped each day, using 133 square miles of tinfoil. All that foil is recyclable, but not many people realize it.
2)McDonald's saves 68,000,000 pounds of packaging per year just by pumping soft drink syrup directly from the delivery truck into tanks in the restaurant, instead of shipping the syrup in cardboard boxes.
3)Rainforests are being cut down at the rate of 100 acres per minute.
4)A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water.
5)You can walk 1 mile along an average highway in the United States and see about 1,457 pieces of litter.
6)The Washington, DC-based Institute For Local Self-Reliance calculates that recycling creates 36 jobs per 10,000 tons of material recycled compared to 6 jobs for every 10,000 of tons brought to traditional disposal facilities. (6 times higher employment!)
7)A typical family consumes 182 gallons of pop, 29 gallons of juice, 104 gallons of milk, and 26 gallons of bottled water a year. That's a lot of containers -- make sure they're recycled!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A View Through My Window

Each morning I awake to the call to prayer, sounding from mosque minarets, joined by chickens cackling and a rooster crowing.  These sounds drift through my bedroom window overlooking Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Below, crumbling stone walls encircle bombed-out wreckage.  Leaning out the window, I still expect the freshness of home after rain; instead I smell pungent, burning garbage.  Colorful houses, smattered with bullet holes, line the narrow pot-holed street.  My eyes sweep upwards to the surrounding mountains I climb, which once hosted snipers and landmines.  Neighborhoods intermingled with white-stoned cemeteries rise up the hillside.  It is a beautiful scene marred by war and negligence. 
Mostar is a city of contrasts.  Our freshly painted orange school stands next to destroyed communist-era apartments.  Trash lies heaped around the beautiful park.  Built as a symbol of hope, the giant cross on the mountain serves for some as a reminder of religious oppression.  I see politicians drive Mercedes-Benzes past Roma refugees, bowed begging for bread.  Untreated sewage pollutes the aquamarine Neretva River.                
These contrasts are personal because this is the second home I have learned to care for and love.  Coming to Mostar from Portland, Oregon, where it is sacrilegious not to recycle and “Peace” is on bumper stickers, my senses cringe to see pollution and ethnic division.  Contrasts reveal to me my privileges, give me hope for change, and compel me to act.  My dedication to sustainability prompted me to initiate community care days removing the trash.  Feeling what it is like to live in a post-conflict society, engaging in the process of reconciliation, evokes compassion and a deeply rooted commitment to honesty above political influences. The truly hospitable Bosnian people inspire me by their tenacity in the face of adversity.  Through my window I see both the beautiful and the scarred, and the potential to change.  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Watershed Moment

Is a critical turning point.

Here is the opinion of one person regarding the top ten "watershed moments" in history - 
Do you agree?

I think the internet is revolutionizing our world today, or at least broadcasting the revolution.  

What are the watershed moments in my life?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Quote of the Day

"We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves."

William Stafford Poem

"It is a test for us, that thin
but real, undulating figure that promises,
“If you keep faith I will exist
at the edge, where your vision joins
the sunlight and the rain: heads in the light,
feet that go down in the mud where the truth is.”

UWC Couchsurfing

Beyond the Naked Eye

A Piece of Beauty

A Birth Certificate shows that we were born.
A Death Certificate shows that we died. 
Pictures show that we lived! 
Have a seat, relax . . . and read this slowly.
I Believe...
That just because two people argue, 
It doesn't mean they don't love each other. 

And just because they don't argue, 
It doesn't mean they do love each other.

I Believe...

That we don't have to change friends if 
We understand that friends change.

I Believe....

That no matter how good a friend is,
They're going to hurt you every once in a while 
And you must forgive them for that.

I Believe...

That true friendship continues to grow, 
Even over the longest distance.
Same goes for true love.

cid:D00658560AE14049A13C7A194A62D158@dellI Believe...
That you can do something in an instant 
That will give you heartache for life.

I Believe....

That it's taking me a long time 
To become the person I want to be.

I Believe...

That you should always leave loved ones with 
Loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

I Believe....

That you can keep going long after you think you can't.

cid:A0EBA63DBC004A799D6E13012AFF6C6D@dellI Believe....
That we are responsible for what 
We do, no matter how we feel.
I Believe...

That either you control your attitude or it controls you.
I Believe...

That heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs 
To be done, regardless of the consequences.
I Believe....
That my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time

I Believe....

That sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down 
Will be the ones to help you get back up
I Believe...

That sometimes when I'm angry 
I have the right to be angry,
But that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.
I Believe....

That maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had 
And what you've learned from them and less to do with how many 
Birthdays you've celebrated.

I Believe....

That it isn't always enough, 
To be forgiven by others.
Sometimes, you have to learn to forgive yourself.
I Believe...

That no matter how bad your heart is broken
The world doesn't stop for your grief..

I Believe....

That our background and circumstances 
May have influenced who we are, 
But, we are responsible for who we become.
I Believe...

That you shouldn't be so eager to find 
Out a secret. It could change your life Forever.
I Believe.....

Two people can look at the exact same 
Thing and see something totally different.
I Believe....

That your life can be changed in a matter of 
Hours by people who don't even know you.
I Believe....

That even when you think you have no more to give, 
When a friend cries out to you - 
You will find the strength to help.
I Believe...

That credentials on the wall 
Do not make you a decent human being.
cid:BF40AA5FBA1C484BB438470EEEC94CA1@dellI Believe...
That the people you care about most in life 
Are taken from you too soon.
I Believe...

That you should send this to 
All of the people that you believe in, I just did.
'The happiest of people don't necessarily Have the best of everything;
They just make the most of everything they have.

Steve Giesecke - He got all 7 :)

Way to go Uncle :)  You're such a 55 year old in a 35 year old's body :P

US Debt Clock

A Sad Passing

Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment world. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly.
He was 71.

Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of  celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the
Hostess Twinkies and Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours.

Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Born and bread in Minnesota, Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers.

He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he still was a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model for millions.

Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, three children: John Dough, Jane Dough and Dosey Dough, plus they had one more in the oven.

He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart.

The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.  (Until golden brown)

If this made you smile for even a brief second, please rise to the occasion and pass it on. You will be sharing that smile with someone who may be having a crumby day and kneads a little lift.

A Song from Samia

Shared as part of a World Today called "Revolts and Riots in the Arab World"
Discussion about the riots, the historical impact, and our Arabic students perception and insight.

At the dawn of the third Millennium there's still hunger, homeless children, crying and tears
Let's annihilate wars, O' powerful states
No to poverty, No to grief, No to racism!

Who are you? I don't care. But your agony can tell me
I don't know of which colour or religion you are,
But i know that you're my brother in humanity

At the dawn of the third Millennium, there are still outcasts and people in detention for years
At the onset of this era while it's yearning, let's eradicate oppression and terror and meet for justice.

Who are you? I don't care. But your agony can tell me
I don't know of which colour or religion you are,
But i know that you're my brother in humanity

I come from the east, the land of faith
Our villages are the rays of Sun and the colours of time
From here to all peoples we salute
May generations go and come on the road to justice

Who are you? I don't care. But your agony can tell me
I don't know of which colour or religion you are,
But i know that you're my brother in humanity.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do we take our human rights for granted?

Read this article written by two UWC students in Hong Kong, writing about this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner from mainland China, an advocate for human rights, who may not even be able to accept his prize, because he is detained and his rights have been revoked.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Can you see the beauty every day?

I hope this inspires you to see the beauty each day as you live life fully.

Joshua Bell - World Renowned Violinist, playing on a street corner.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Between Portland and Mostar, Building Bridges, Climbing Mountains :)

An article about me was just recently published in the SW Community Connection, a local Portland Newspaper.
Check it out :)

Southwest student in melting pot of culture, education

Former Wilson High School student on two-year IB exchange

(news photo)
Johnson, a former Wilson High School student, looks over Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, her home during a two-year International Baccalaureate exchange through United World Colleges.

A world apart, together
HILLSDALE — While most others her age are still navigating the waters of American high school life, Hilary Johnson, a senior and former Wilson High School student, has already spent a year abroad in Bosnia-Herzegovina and is beginning a second through her participation in a two-year International Baccalaureate (IB) exchange program.
“I originally heard about the United World Colleges program through my uncle, who was an admissions counselor trying to recruit UWC students,” Johnson said.
Further research piqued her interest even more.
The United World Colleges program was founded in 1962 by German educationalist Kurt Hahn and since then has established 13 campuses worldwide, from Swaziland to Singapore, Norway to New Mexico.
According to its website, almost 40,000 students have participated in the colleges’ two-year IB track, which is meant to “deliver a challenging and transformative educational experience to a diverse cross section of students, inspiring them to create a more peaceful and sustainable future.”
Queen Noor of Jordan acts as president of UWC, and Nelson Mandela holds the title of honorary president.
Each year, only 50 U.S. students are selected for the program through a process that involved what Johnson called an extensive written application” as well as a day-long interview for finalist candidates.
UWC’s Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, campus opened in 2006 and houses 154 students between the ages of 16 and 18.
“They consciously place students of diverse backgrounds together as roommates,” Alice Johnson, Hilary’s mother, said. “Hilary’s roommates included an Israeli and two Bosnians, one of Muslim background and the other Serbian.”
Johnson said the majority of her schoolmates come from Eastern Europe, but Western Europe, Asia and Africa are also represented.
There are five other American students in her program from Alaska, Ohio, Michigan and Vermont.
UWC employs teachers from around the globe as well. Johnson said her economics teacher is Welsh and her biology teacher comes from Africa.
“The same classes are taken both years of the program to give a great depth to and comprehension of the subject material,” Johnson said.
Usually, students take three standard-level courses and three higher-level ones. Johnson is taking four higher-level classes, which require a greater number of classroom and work hours, and two from the standard tier.
This year, her course load includes a mix of physics, economics, English, French, chemistry and mathematics.
Johnson said that, although her classes are taught and her exams administered in English, a basic knowledge of the Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian languages spoken around Mostar is essential for day-to-day interactions.

After school

Aside from the diversity created in UWC’s school environment, Johnson said the city of Mostar itself is also full of contrasts.
“I live on the Muslim, Bosniak side of the city,” she said. “So many mornings I wake up to the combined sound of roosters crowing and the call to prayer.”
Moreover, as the city was a center of fighting during the 1992-96 Bosnian War, it is still in a process of physical repair.
“You see gleaming new buildings but not far away bullet-ridden, bombed-out structures since they are still recovering from the … war,” Alice Johnson said.
In fact, UWC’s Mostar campus is focused on demonstrating how members of different ethnic groups can cooperate in this post-war period.
“The biggest adjustment (for me) was recognizing and becoming comfortable with the cultural differences and expectations,” Johnson said.
She said Bosnian culture places a high value on hospitality and respect for elders but that there is “not much support for underprivileged groups such as orphans and the mentally and physically disabled.”
Through UWC and independently, Johnson has traveled throughout Europe during her fall and spring breaks as well as for college-sponsored programs such as debate tournaments in Stuttgart, Germany, and educational development programs in Kosovo.
Johnson visited UWC’s campus in Italy during a Spring Break trip and spent time at its Victoria, B.C., campus this summer.
When students aren’t traveling, she said they also have opportunities to share their own culture with their schoolmates in Mostar.
“Every year, we have four cultural weeks representing regions of the world: Asian and African; Balkan and Eastern European; Western European; and American,” she said.
“During the week students organize dances, cultural movies, food tasting or events specific to their culture.”
These weeks are capped off with a meal served to the student body by these “ambassadors,” who dress in traditional attire and present a show.
Johnson said her experience abroad has allowed her to learn more about American culture as well.
“My appreciation for Portland, the beautiful city of roses, and the entire Pacific Northwest, which I call my ‘bio region,’ is much greater because of my time abroad,” she said.
Both she and her mother recommended the program for both its challenging curriculum and the experience living abroad provides.
For more information about United World Colleges, visit

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dan Brige Za Okolis

                Did you know that it takes 10 to 12 years for a cigarette butt to decompose?  10 to 20 years for a plastic bag?  200 to 500 years for a beer can? Never for Styrofoam.
On Saturday, October 23rd, the United World College in Mostar hosted its second annual Community Care Day (Dan Brige Za Okolis).  The aims of this coordinated effort, led by the Environmental Council were to physically clean up several central locations throughout Mostar, to raise community awareness regarding environmental issues, and finally, to unite people from all over the city towards a common goal.
It was a clear and beautiful day, the plan was to clean three locations throughout Mostar – Spanish Square and around our school, Susac Stairs, leading to our residence, and the Partisan’s Memorial, which used to be an imposing tribute to the people, but has declined into a local hang-out for drunks and druggies, covered in litter.  It was a big task to take on in only one day – and many hands were needed.
In Spanish Square we were joined by students from Gymnasia as well as a near-by Economics School.  Surprisingly, when a group arrived at Susac Stairs they were already clean!  Thanks to a political student group, who then proceeded to join UWC students in cleaning the stairs opposite the stadium.  We could have been very proud of just these accomplishments – but the work continued. 
The Partisan’s Memorial posed a daunting challenge, and upon arrival people were stunned by the quantity of garbage covering the white stone monument, and filling a pool which was once upon a time a symbolic fountain.  Dani, a second year from Spain said, “It was too dirty to be real.” 
Sara, an American first year commented, “The coolest part for me was to see how the community outside of our school came together to work with us.  After the day finished I felt really tired, but very content, and proud of the work we did.”
“For me, it was really pleasing to see the results, to compare before and after and see that we actually made a big difference,” said Lusia, a Belarusian first year.
Our work was very visible, not only the change in the surrounding, but the piles of garbage bags waiting to be taken away.  The garbage bag statistics include 25 bags from Spanish Square, 40 from the stairs, and a whopping 130 from the Partisan’s Memorial!
Even though so much work was done, and great progress was made – there is still much to do, if we want to make the Partisan’s Memorial trash free – a goal for the future.  “Taking into consideration the number of people that were present, we did a great job and made a difference,” said Marina.  She went on to explain her disappointment in the people who created this huge mess, as well as the many people who did not take the responsibility to clean it.
Summarizing many feelings, Mirwais, a third year Austrian-Afghani student, bluntly stated, “Shit happens, but you can change it.”  Our goal was to change it.
Another continuing initiative is implementing a joint recycling program between UWCiM and the two gymnasia curricula.  As well as cleaning, students painted and prepared recycling bins to distribute throughout the school.  This was also the beginning of an environmental awareness advertising campaign - distributing informational posters around the city.
On behalf of the Environmental Council we want to profoundly thank all the people who came, and strive to make this city a clean safe environment.  We especially want to thank teacher advisor Jasminka, and everyone who made the day logistically possible.  You are my heroes.
“I’m excited about what we can do next time.  With more people we can make even more progress, and continue making this city and this world a better place,” said Maggie, another American first year.
A message to citizens of Mostar, and of the Earth – this is all of our responsibilities, take each opportunity to take pride in the place you live, and keep it clean.

Written by Hilary Johnson
Edited by Maggie Bursch

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership

How can you be the change that you wish to see in the world?  To do so, whether you want to be a political activist or a doctor, an engineer or a mom, an artist or an architect you must become a leader.  The next question you may ask is who is a leader?  Are they the people that stand up on the podium and make the speeches?  Are they the most intelligent, qualified people?  Or can they be the people working behind the scenes to run an organization, or the professionals who fulfill their responsibilities each day?  What type of leader do you want to be?       
                “The Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership is designed to strengthen the role that young people play as future community and world leaders.”  Utilizing a framework comprised of discussions, presentations, guest speakers, workshops, and interactive leadership training, 100 students from all around the work came together for three weeks, with the backdrop of the beautiful campus of UWC Pearson on Canada’s west coast, the land of big trees, salmon, bears, mountains, and the Pacific Ocean.   Broadened perspectives revolve around themes of “ecological sustainability, social justice, and international understanding.”
                Skill development is focused on “project planning and coordination, ecological education in a temperate rainforest setting, information on local and international social justice issues, indigenous ideas and traditions, public speaking and awareness-raising techniques, people management skills (group management, conflict resolution, mediation), cross-cultural and diversity training, personal reflection and self-awareness exploration, critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making, goal-setting, and ethics-based action.”  Forming these skills as part of life require confidence, the information and skills necessary, and the opportunity to practice.  The intentional community at PSYL seeks to develop a space where student leaders are nurtured, to create the impetus to enact change, in themselves, and in others.
                Facilitating, was a unique role, as part of a tight knit group of fifteen UWC students and several past participants – forming a bridge between the participants and educator coordinators, both teaching and learning.  A comparison would be the UWC experience without IB, and as a result of this experience I have become more of who I seek to be.
                From consensus based community meetings every morning, to Carpe Diem “seize the day”, Spirit Spot, to just chillin’ in the Fridge (the student common room) each day was stimulating and innovative.  You were never falling asleep in “classes,” because your classroom might be in the middle of the forest, or out on the bay in a canoe, just as easily as in an amphitheater.  Daily session topics include: power and privilege, conflict transformation, self-awareness and leadership, sustainability 101, gender dialogue, and ecological wisdom.  Throughout, the importance of ceremony, music and creativity were highlighted.       
                Each participant developed an action plan, detailing how they want to be a leader in their community back home, whether it is in Canada, Brazil, or even here in Mostar.  My hope is that we are all leaders in building a community here at UWCiM, focused on peace and conflict transformation, through education.
 “I have a dream….”  Fill in the blank, and then make it come true.

Fluss. Agape.  Real. Kai.  Pura Vida.

If you wish to apply for a position as a facilitator, or simply want to learn more about the program feel free to ask me, or go to

Adventure Crew: Rafting Trip

Rain pounding down on our heads, the boats, the river.  Everybody stroking in time.
“Everywhere we go!  (echo)
People stop and ask us.
Who we are, and where do we come from.
So, we tell them!  UWC in Mostar!
MIGHTY MIGHTY MOSTAR!”  The chant rang out of the mouths of the twenty paddlers.
Created this year to incorporate hiking, biking, rafting, and skiing, the adventure crew embarked upon a rafting trip on the upper Neretva, as the first official adventure of the year, although just living in Mostar is an adventure in of itself.  Plans for the rest of the year include hikes to classic favorites like Diva Grabavica, and Veliki Vran, as well as some new routes, and overnight camping. 
Faces were apprehensive as the group gathered in Spanish Square in the morning for the bus ride to Konjic, to transfer to another van to go to the house of our rafting guides.  The ominous dark rain clouds did not bode well for our expedition, or so we thought.  Upon arrival at “base camp”, we were graciously welcomed as guests, with a hospitality that was incredibly generous throughout the entire day.  The laughter began as we dressed in sexy wetsuits and booties, comparing our newly discovered muscles.       
The crew was divided into five boats, five people per boat, with one guide.  Our only instruction was, “don’t fall in love with the skipper.”  On the van ride to the head of the run the guy (what is his name)  told us some history and folklore of the region – about the Neretva river as a woman, and the mountain Prenj as the obstinate and unpredictable man.
Stalling for time, to wait for the rain to cease, we ate a freshly grilled fish meal and plums, which we gathered from the trees.  Finally, the expedition started, with no let-up of the torrential rain, but we carried the boats to the riverside, suited up in wetsuits, helmets, and goofy raincoats.  And we were off!
The landscape was incredible, as the boats took us down the Upper Neretva, surrounded by soaring canyon walls, cloaked with greenery, and the river dimpled by the raindrops.  Each boat crew quickly developed its own sense of pride, and competition for the cherished first spot.  Code words were created, like cevapi, for a surprise attack on another boat.  Cheering, laughing, and stroking with our whole bodies, we sailed downriver, straight into the heart of the storm.
We all survived the thunder and lightning, the drop-off rapids, the fierce competition, and the belly aching laughter – and were welcomed back to the “base camp” once again for a huge traditional meal, warm dry clothing, and swapping stories.  Simply put, it was an epic day for those who chose to come out and accept the challenge of adventure! 
G. K. Chesterton said, “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.  I challenge you to look for the adventure.
Over an out, Hilary Johnson reporting live from Adventure Crew Central.          

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Invitation

The InvitationBy Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for,
And if you dare to dream of meeting
Your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
For love, for your dream,
For the adventure of being alive.
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow,
If you have been opened by life's betrayals,
Or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain,
Mine or your own,
Without moving
To hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy,
Mine or your own,
If you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
Without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic,
or to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself,
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
I want to know if you can be faithless and therefore be trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty
Even when it is not pretty every day,
And if you can source your life
From its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure,
Yours and mine,
And still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon,
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,
Weary and bruised to the bone,
And do what needs to be done for the children.
It doesn't interest me who you are, how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
In the center of the fire with me
And not shrink back.
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
From the inside
When all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone
With yourself,
And if you truly like the company you keep
In the empty moments.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Bhulbona ar shohojete
Shei praan e mon uthbe mete
Mrittu majhe dhaka ache
je ontohin praan
Bojre tomar baje bashi
She ki shohoj gaan
Shei shurete jagbo ami
(Repeat 2X)
Bojre tomar baje bashi
She ki shohoj gaan
dao more shei gaan
Shei jhor jeno shoi anonde
Chittobinar taare
Shotto-shundu dosh digonto
Nachao je jhonkare!
Bojre tomar baje bashi
She ki shohoj gaan
Shei shurete jagbo ami
(Repeat 3X)
Bojre tomar baje bashi
She ki shohoj gaan
Shei shurete jagbo ami
Bojre tomar baje bashi
She ki shohoj gaan
dao more shei gaan
Stream of Life [English translation of Praan]
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.
I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

(Search, "Where the Hell is Matt video on youtube to hear the song)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Save the Date:  Tuesday the 13th of July
Time: 5:30 PM
Where: Mercy Corp Headquarters
            28 SW First Ave

I'm going to be giving a presentation about my experiences going to the United World College in Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The description of this year is INDESCRIBABLY GLORIOUS.  Come to see why :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Water, is it really a free good?

Here in Portland, we are lucky to access abundant water supplies, that is drinkable straight from the tap.  But increasingly around the world water supplies are being exploited, depleting either the quantity and/or quality of water sources.  Recently, the UN posted a statistic stating By 2025, 1 800 million people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under stress conditions.  Source: FAO
There is a website which approximately calculates your household's daily water usage - and the results will surprise you.  We see our actual physical water usage - but there is a new concept called "virtual water usage" and this has the largest impact.  This is calculated by our daily consumption of products which need water during production such as foods, electronics, and energy.    Take the quiz and discover for yourself how much you consume, and find some tips for conserving water - because even if you live in Portland, water is still a limited resource, and we do not want our own tragedy of the commons.

As an end note though, I am proud of my cities efforts - currently I wake up every morning to the sound of heavy machinery drilling and digging, and beeping down the street as they tear up the antiquated water mains and replace them, to prevent leakage - as part of a water conservation initiative in the city.

For those of you who are really interested, there is a book called "Blue Covenant" about the emerging water scarcity worldwide - which also evaluates the anthropological causes.

As always, Cheers and more to come,


P.S.  I'm excited to be going on a great three day adventure with my Mom and Dad this weekend.  We're going to climb South Sister in Southern Oregon and spend some time on the hot rock at Smith Rock as well.  

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

If time flies, where does the time fly to?

Today is the second official day of summer, but I've already been out of school for almost a month.  While it feels as if I saw all those wonderful people only yesterday, it also feels like ages - because I know how much happens in just one day for us, so multiply that by 30.

Where do I begin to tell the stories?  Hopefully, I will be posting more often now, catching you up on all the adventures.

But, today is a significant day, because I just finished my FIRST GUITAR LESSON!
I've been talking about starting to play the guitar for a long time, and I always admire the people who can just sit down and play a couple of songs or just start improving.  Especially my younger sister Serena, she's awesome now, and a composer.  She even wrote me a song for my birthday :)  She taught me the chords to one of her first songs "The Amazing Race" so that is my next task to tackle.  Today I learned how to play "Collide" by Howie Day, and "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol.

I'm hoping to add quite a few more to my repertoire by the end of the summer.  I have fond memories of some of the first weekends in Mostar, spent listening to guitar and singing on Andy, Amer, and Mustafa's balcony in Susac - bundled up in blankets, under the stars in the evenings.  I have to give a shout out to Andy, thanking him for donating his guitar to us first years.

Hulda, I cannot wait until the next time I see you, because we can finally jam out on the guitars and ukuleles with worship music :)

This morning I enjoyed a video conference with some students from Scotland through Mercy Corp and the Global Citizen Corp - they taught us a lesson about the Millennium Development Goals, and a current initiative for Education throughout the world, using the World Cup.

This evening, there is a presentation about Bosnia, by a guy who lived in Sarajevo and was an aid worker during the conflict years.  I'm really interested in what he has to say.  I'm also excited because they invited me to do a short presentation about UWCiM's efforts in Bosnia regarding integration of the education system on Thursday!

Lots of thinkings swirling around!  Where's it going to lead, who knows.

Until the Next Adventure, Cheers,