It is just gone

I travel because I care a lot for the beauty of our world and I am often asked why I feel the need to do it all now. I am told I have all my life to see the world, that I shouldn’t feel like I am missing out on something. However, to be realistic, we don’t have time and I have already missed out!

A few years back I had made plans to travel to Syria to see the beauty and majesty of this ancient country, feel the magic of bustling souks, photograph thousand-year-old landmarks and see the smiles and happiness in peoples’ faces as they proudly walk down the streets of their cities and towns.

It breaks my heart in a million pieces that this plan fell apart due to personal reasons. So did the cities, the world heritage sites, as well as the people – they all fell apart.

And it broke my heart even more reading the four words “It is just gone” in a New York Times article, because that’s exactly what it is: Gone! None of us will ever see Syria and Iraq like it was. It does not exist anymore. It is simply gone.

Some people take pride in scars and say they tell stories, but in war, scars are just the destruction of stories, the destruction of lives, and the destruction of a connection to the past we try so hard to preserve.

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My blog post for UNA Tampa Bay: UNA Tampa Bay and Nelson Mandela Day

In a world where conflicts, terror, and suffering are featured on every newspaper’s front page, the Internet shows a small spark of hope today. Nelson Mandela Day is observed annually on July 18th and people around the globe are posting quotes from the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate everywhere on social media.

Globally, people are speaking out about their vision to solve international and internal conflicts with a strategy that emphasizes diplomacy instead of combat and terror.

Even google.com has dedicated it’s doodle to this outstanding man, who, believing in diplomacy, shepherded South Africa from apartheid to a democracy. That won him the US Medal of Freedom in 2002.

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In honor of Nelson Mandela Day, UNA Tampa Bay invited its members and friends to join in for a free movie screening at The University of Tampa’s Reeves Theatre.The free movie screening followed a networking session with refreshment and h’ordeuvres and attracted about 30 guests, including members from Rotary Club and people who have lived in South Africa.

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The film “Reconciliation: Mandela’s Miracle” portrays the events that lead up to what South Africans have coined “Mandela’s miracle,” a strategy that led to a peaceful transition from apartheid to a democracy. It is driven by the notion that even the most terrible tyranny can be overcome through reconciliation.

The event was a great success, which fostered meaningful discussions and how people with different beliefs and cultures can live together peacefully. The movie also inspired a comparison to the horrific Israel/Palestine conflict. Nelson Mandela’s relentless diplomacy should be an inspiration for people struggling for freedom around the world.  We can only reflect on his work and legacy to strive for a better and more peaceful world.

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Nelson Mandela passed away December 5th, 2013, but though he is gone, we did not lose his exceptional example to work towards a peaceful coexistence without bloodshed and pain.

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