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Entrepreneurship Spotlight: Book Delivery in Vientiane, Laos

Book Delivery is bringing more than books to Vientiane, Laos; it is also igniting the startup culture in the city. I recently caught up with Kingsada Sengsavang, one of the founders, and asked about their journey in building Book Delivery.

 

Thank you for taking the time to share your story. I remember 2 years ago you had mentioned that you wanted to create a business. Can you start off by letting us know, what is Book Delivery and what are the services that Book Delivery provides?

Book Delivery, one of the most notable startups based in Vientiane, Laos, sells and delivers books, magazines and newspapers online. Having a hard time [finding] where to buy books (they are expensive), customers can order them on our platform and we deliver them right in front of their doorsteps. 

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Writing to inform and inspire others to be a blessing in the world. Always exploring ideas, listening to music, and seeking the truth.

Queen for Seven Days posters

Young Leaders and the SDGs

Being a young leader doesn’t mean one is powerless, even if certain powers make it seem that way. This past summer I taught a high school leadership class for a summer program with the hope that the students will grow into strong leaders in their own ways and in their own time. I decided to incorporate my studies (IEDP) into my lessons and dedicate some time in discussing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with my students. It was an experiment in some ways. I wanted to see how they would react to the content and stir discussions that they may not be used to having in their public schools. We centered our discussions on Goal # 4 Quality Education and Goal # 5 Gender Equality.

UN_Sustainable_Development_Goals

The students got a sample of the realities that exist beyond their local community and the challenges of international development. It was very fascinating to hear what they had to say when I showed them stories of youth around the world who overcame some horrific situations, fought for their right to education, and still found the strength to give back to their communities (for some examples see the International Children’s Peace Prize winners). We also discussed the limitations that girls and women face because of their cultural and religious beliefs and how boys and men also play a role in attaining 50/50 leadership. (By the way, the boys were quite supportive of the girls during our discussions.)

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Writing to inform and inspire others to be a blessing in the world. Always exploring ideas, listening to music, and seeking the truth.

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Food on the Discussion Table: A Source for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Global Education

school lunches around the world - sweetgreen's tumblr

Food has the power to impact our lives both emotionally and physically and create bonds among people. When Sweetgreen published a series of photos under the title “School Lunches Around the World,” the collection elicited a range of reactions. Although the photos are, according to Sweetgreen, “not intended to be exact representations of school lunches, but instead, are meant to portray different types of foods found in cafeterias around the world,” they nevertheless raise several questions regarding the quality and nutritional value of cafeteria food and the impact of that food on the wellness of children. A child, who is hungry and malnourished, will most likely perform at a suboptimal level compared to a child who is well fed and healthy. At the other end of the spectrum, children who are obese can also have health complications that may affect their well-being beyond their school years. These concerns continue to stir a melting pot of discussions that go beyond figuring out the types of food and how many calories we consume.

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Writing to inform and inspire others to be a blessing in the world. Always exploring ideas, listening to music, and seeking the truth.

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Gardens of the Future

DSCN6750Gardens have a unique ability to ignite the imagination, balance the relationship between humans and nature, and calm the senses in urbanized settings. When I walked through the botanical gardens and the famous Gardens by the Bay, I couldn’t help but believe in and be impressed by Singapore’s vision to become a city in a garden. Our increasing awareness of the negative effects of climate change should encourage us to make more conscious efforts to preserve and reinvigorate the Earth’s natural beauty and healing powers. In a world that is reliant on technology and man-made structures, gardens provide a necessary respite and reminder of a home that we all lost. Continue reading “Gardens of the Future”

Writing to inform and inspire others to be a blessing in the world. Always exploring ideas, listening to music, and seeking the truth.

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Leaders and Cacophonous Harmony

“Leaders, whatever their professions of harmony, do not shun conflict; they confront it, exploit it, ultimately embody it. Standing at the points of contact among latent conflict groups, they can take various roles, sometimes acting directly for their followers, sometimes bargaining with others, sometimes overriding certain motives of followers and summoning others into play” (MacGregor Burns, 1978, p. 39).

A short reflection on leadership during a time when new leaders will assume power:

With the passing of the United Nations’ global goals, known as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), countries are looking for ways to attain the ever-elusive peace and build a global community that cares about people and the environment. I want to work toward harmony, but I’ve come to accept the fact that conflict is inevitable and serves an important purpose. This purpose is to unveil areas of divergence, build common understandings, and map out a collective plan that leads to improvement of life, not acceleration of death. This sounds extreme, but from what I’ve seen, read, and experienced so far, life vs. death is the overarching theme of many problems in the world. Continue reading “Leaders and Cacophonous Harmony”

Writing to inform and inspire others to be a blessing in the world. Always exploring ideas, listening to music, and seeking the truth.

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Financial Education in the Era of SDGs

Wealth formula-FLM_Social_Media_Infograpics-01There is a general consensus that financial education is necessary. The global financial crises during 2000-01 and 2007-08 pushed the international community to better educate the population on how to manage their finances. Several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to promote a robust economy while narrowing the socioeconomic gaps within and across the nations. While April is considered as Financial Literacy Month in the U.S., financial education is a lifelong process. After all, the economic landscape is always changing.

The long-term effects of having a financially illiterate population may prove to be more damaging than the recent economic recession if there are no interventions in place. Hastings, Madrian, and Skimmyhorn (2012) highlighted an array of financial mistakes that people have made and continue to make, such as irresponsible credit card usage, inadequate diversification of assets, and failure to refinance fixed rate mortgages during a time of declining interest rates. Individually, these mistakes are already costly; collectively, they create a complex web of economic problems.

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Writing to inform and inspire others to be a blessing in the world. Always exploring ideas, listening to music, and seeking the truth.

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Development Work and Postmodernist Thinking: Is there no absolute right or wrong?

This is a short reflection that I wrote for one of my courses during grad school:

 

“At the heart of postmodernism lies a patent self-contradiction. It expects us to accept, as absolute truth, that there are no absolute truths. We should note this common, fatally flawed characteristic of relativistic thinking: it tries to exclude itself from its own pronouncements” (Lennox, 2015, p. 39).

 

Relativism is an interesting and alluring thought, particularly for us who work in diverse settings. We see more gray areas than perhaps any other color in the spectrum of life. The temptation is to say that one can never truly know what is right or that there is even such a thing as a right action. This thinking will inevitably stumble upon a dead end.

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Writing to inform and inspire others to be a blessing in the world. Always exploring ideas, listening to music, and seeking the truth.

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The Future in Our Minds

UN Headquarters Sept 25-27 2015

In my previous post I touched upon the reason for and meaning of ‘designing’ our future. This time the emphasis is on the ‘future.’ In particular, the future as envisioned by the overarching framework of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The deadline of these goals is set for 2030.

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Writing to inform and inspire others to be a blessing in the world. Always exploring ideas, listening to music, and seeking the truth.