May 2008


I wish KP NL would hurry up and tell me the status of my application already.

Of course, the last time I wished that, I got rejected 5 days early.

argh. The anticipation plus all the end-of-sem assignments (including a rather messy rhetorical essay) is just stressing me out.

Seems that my last post hit quite a nerve – Jens made his blog protected and I’ve suddenly got more KPs coming out of the woodwork. My hits have jumped heavily in the last few days too.

Hey, nothing is free from criticism. When I travelled with Up with People (or even before I started) we all faced a hell of a lot of criticism just because of UWP’s reputation and history. And there were things that could have been done better. But it was still the best time of my life. Just because something’s attracted some negativity doesn’t make it totally bad. No one’s gonna like everything.

I just wished that the feedback was more constructive. If you disagree, that’s great. (I had a friend take down a post because I disagreed with his logic and points. Nothing against him, just his rhetoric. He somehow took it as a “personal attack” and then took it down because he thought I was offended. Wha? Disagreement doesn’t mean censorship! But anyway.)

The point of my last point was that the core substance of the KaosPilots seems to be lost in between all the party pictures and the “woo, foreign country!”. If you know where the substance is, show it! Give me links, references, contacts. Tell me about the stuff you’re doing. I want to know, many others want to know too. Share that energy! We want to share in it too! But we can’t do that if we don’t see it.

In semi-related news: can anyone translate this Danish blog entry? My boyfriend, and a web translator, had a go at it and all we can work out is that this guy went to his company’s teambuilding workshop for 3 weeks, which involved a KaosPilot, and it was totally fluffy and useless. But we don’t know if that is actually what he wrote. So a Danish to English translation would be good.

La de da! The closing date for Rotterdam (not Amsterdam, Thomas) was yesterday! Let’s see how that goes. I can’t wait two weeks, visas get in the way.

I’ve been following the blogs of some KaosPilots, particularly those that are on OutPosts overseas (that tends to be the main reason for their blogging). Quite honestly, I haven’t seen much in the way of cultural awareness – or even an attempt to understand and appreciate their host societies.

Most of the OutPost blogs tend to feature parties and gatherings – photos after photos of blonde blue-eyed Scandinavians drinking the night away while they party in an exotic country. There’s very little in the way of actually examining the culture, exploring their location, or even the work they’re doing. The work in their OutPosts are usually relegated to one or two posts – “this is our project, tada!”. Otherwise? Party party party.

The team in Mumbai right now are tasked with answering questions about India, sent in by the KP board members. One student is taking in questions from the Web – and, quite frankly, his response to the latest two questions shows a deep level of ignorance:

Implying that the West has made mistakes is apparently biased!
Cellphones and Internet in India is rare, people marry young, and Indians must be liberal with porn because men like to share porn on phones!

Complete headdesk-worthy. (Read my comments on the above posts for my responses.)

Two KaosPilots blogs that I find to be very thoughtful and reflective about the educational processes are Henrique‘s and Zulma‘s (Zulma’s website also rocks hardcore). Henrique is in China and his blog has plenty of thoughtful and interesting entries on China and Chinese culture, including the conflicts with Tibet. He really shows his effort at understanding his host country. Zulma’s is more personal, but she talks a lot about her projects, and the processes she goes through in completing them. She also talks about her budding life in Denmark – including a new baby! (aww).

It’s really interesting that the two blogs I featured above are both from international students – Henrique is from Brazil and I believe Zulma is from Colombia. They have had to face the challenges of being outsiders, of being foreigners, from Day One – while most of their classmates would have been right at home in similar cultures. Now these students are overseas too, sent by their outposts – and they haven’t quite picked up the skills of cultural awareness, of just being curious about where they are. They’ve instead become insular, clinging on to old patterns while dismissing their host culture’s patterns as just oddities.

I’m rather glad that the KaosPilots Netherlands have announced that they’re received expressions of interest from all over – Russia, India, Nepal, a few other places (including multi-country me). This would lead to a much richer pool of applicants, and hopefully this batch would be much more culturally aware than the others. I’ve checked out the Facebook group for the latest Aarhus school, Team 15, and there doesn’t seem to be any indication of non-Europeans in their team (and apparently Macs are MANDATORY! What?!).

It does make me wonder, though – why are the students of the “best school for the world” seemingly unaware of the world they’re in?

I have a pile of books to sell, in varying conditions (generally good). Selling for best offer + shipping (some of the books are pretty big); will ship international from Brisbane, Australia. I accept Australian bank transfer and PayPal. RRP = Recommended Retail Price.

Click More for the list of books for sale:

(more…)

I just read the book version of One Red Paperclip, a quest by Kyle McDonald to trade up a red paperclip for a house. It reminded me of all the crazy things people have set out to do, with varying degrees of success.

Sean Aiken’s One Week Job; the Pursue the Passion tour; the 1 Second Film project where for $1 (goes to the Global Fund for Women) you can be a producer and possibly join Oprah (my producer ID is 9859 btw); selling a million dollars worth of web advertising or different works of personal art; or just making a million dollars in a year.

I’ve done my version of an Inspiring and Slightly Nutty Web Thing – after being sick of an empty mailbox and watching Ryan Fitzgerald get a zillion calls just by posting his phone number, I got myself a P.O. Box and asked people to send me mail. The P.O. Box is still available, and so is the offer – feel free to send me anything (as long as it’s legal and not food, because AusPost will confiscate it) to:

Tiara Shafiq
P.O. Box 6216
St Lucia, QLD 4067
Australia

I mostly got mail from other Mefites, but it was good fun, and particularly lovely as I went through a really bad patch in life after making that video – so all the letters helped.

This website is one of those Slightly Nutty Web Things too. How many people document their progress at applying for something online – and risk having it all fall apart? The end decision was the one thing I couldn’t control. I was rather hoping that this website will bring some sort of Internet fame…it hasn’t reached Red Paperclip levels (and possibly won’t unless KP NL accepts me), but I did meet a whole bunch of interesting people this way. All the KaosPilots past and present and future, general supporters, social activists like Beth Kanter who promoted me on BlogHer, all sorts of folk.

Even though the project now has taken a sharp turn into a different European country, and has another potential to go really wrong, it still has the potential to go really right. Or at least really interesting. I already have an offer to go to Biel to train with BrainStore for 3 months. If KP NL doesn’t work out, there’s another adventure. If KP NL does work out…well! We have quite a ride on our hands!

Obviously there are quite a few turning points for all those projects. The point where it becomes not just a private fun game, but hits the big time. Where things go “haywire”, as Kyle put it. Something can make the difference.

I’ve been getting a fair bit of attention the past few months because of EducateDeviate. I was actually shortlisted for KLue’s Blue Chilli Awards, but I think I’ve been kicked out because I couldn’t make interviews and photoshoots this week (no fair! there should have been advanced notice!). Second time a magazine has turned me down at the last minute (feh). Interestingly, an article I wrote two years ago, which led to one of the most-commented posts on EducateDeviate until now, has now become an email/blog forward thanks to it being posted on one of the Malaysian homeschooling Yahoogroups. So there’s my Internet notoriety. Heh.

The people I’ve highlighted above didn’t fear the repercussions when they set off on their projects. They made careful choices along the way (such as Kyle’s careful choosing of the trades he made) but were more than willing to make big risks and just do really extraordinary things.

The most extraordinary being that they started.

What is your inspiring but slightly nutty idea? Have you done it already? Why or why not?

Got this email from KP NL just now:

Student Support Fund established as an alternative to student loans & grants!

This email is to tell you the GOOD news that a fund supported by partners (Flight Facilitators), most from the worlds of business and local government, has been set up! This allows us to waiver your monthly tuition, just like we did for Team 1. In total this means that we can support you with funding to cover your full tuition fee at KPNL in your first year.. A total amount of 4800,- Euro! It is not a loan, neither a gift nor a sponsorship since we want to establish real working-relations with our partners – the return value from the school and the students will be 80 hours of project-work during the first year of studies, which will be partly curricular and partly extracurricular…

This agreement does not include the general one time entry fee of 4000,- Euro that needs to be paid up front. So, we also solicit for your commitment to our school and ask you to pay this in advance and thus gaining co-ownership over the learning space…

YAY! €4000 is about AU$6553, which is a bit less than a typical semester’s worth of uni fees for an international student in Australia. The monthly fees add up to about that amount a year, so that would be BIG savings. And project work is why I applied in the first place!

What would be a good way to raise €4000? At least it’s a smaller number to target than the 6-digit monster I was dealing with back with KP DK! (Note to self: fundraise for a year at a time. Less scary that way.)

I’ve just posted out my application for KP NL this afternoon. The printing was a bit wonky (a couple of photos didn’t get exported properly) and QUT has sucky staplers, but otherwise it should be OK.

The last day is May 19th and the workshop is on the 19th and 20th of June. I’ll be in Malaysia then (mid-year hols) so flights would be cheaper, but not by much. KP NL does have a more organized system of financial support, though, so I’ve asked them to help me out. Even a connection to KLM would be good!

I did some calculations last year across KP Stockholm, Aarhus, and Rotterdam, and Rotterdam came down to being the cheapest of the lot. I haven’t really done much research into living expenses yet – should do that soon. And hey, I’ve always wanted to learn Dutch…

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