Thursday, March 7, 2013

Snippets of Service—Recapping Two Years of Blogging: Books and Movies

Over the course of the last two years I’ve watched a lot of movies and I’ve read my fair share of books, however I know there are plenty of other volunteers who can claim to have seen more movies and/or read more books.  Despite this fact, I still feel for me it was a lot. 

As you’ve probably seen, I’ve blogged about some of the movies I’ve seen and many of the books I’ve read, although I always kept it somewhat relevant.  For example, if I was reading a classic like Jane Eyre, I didn’t bother blogging about it.  I didn’t see much of a point no matter how much I liked the book.  On the other hand, if I was reading a book about Africa or foreign aid or something a bit more obscure, I might be more inclined to blog about it.

On that same note, I treated movies in the same way.  If I watched Back to the Future for the 100th time, I didn’t think it was worth mentioning, but when I watched The Last King of Scotland I mentioned it, because it is related to where I am and the history of the country I live in.

So you can imagine just how much time I’ve spent watching movies and reading based on the fact that I obviously read more and watched more than I blogged about.  But nonetheless, here are the highlights…

The books that I really enjoyed the most were the ones about Africa written by people who could really know, because they have extensive personal experience here and the books about economics and foreign aid.  I obviously love this continent (otherwise, I wouldn’t have stayed here so long) and I think that its history and political systems are fascinating.  This is why I really enjoyed books like Africa: Altered States Ordinary Miracles by Richard Dowden and A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope for Africa by Howard French.  Both of these writers had worked in Africa for a long time as reporters and they covered some of the most interesting news stories that have happened here in the last half century.  It’s nice to get a sense of Africa’s recent history so you know exactly where you are and why.  The second category of books that I really enjoyed, the ones about economics and foreign aid, should be pretty obvious why I liked them.  As many people know, I’m planning on going to grad school when I get back to the U.S. (still waiting on all my admission decisions…) and I want to go for International Economics.  When I read books like Dead Aid: Why aid is not working and why there is another way for Africa by Dambiso Moyo, The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria, and Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working: The Trouble with Africa by Robert Calderisi, I realize exactly why I want to go to grad school.  This is exactly what I want to learn in grad school and the fact that I like these books so much justifies my decision very well.

As for movies, this is a lot less complex.  The few movies I’ve blogged about directly relate to Uganda, Africa, foreign aid, etc.  They were all directly related to what I was already blogging about.  I think my two favorites were Blood Diamond and War Dance.

As a volunteer, you have to fill your spare time with something and most volunteers, like me, fill that time with reading and watching movies.  Although I think usually volunteers don’t think quite so much about what they are reading and watching.  I guess you could say I thought it was worth mentioning.  If you are interested, feel free to check out all my movie and book recommendations by clicking on the “Movies and Books” tab at the top of the page.

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