Reading in Bhutan

Reading in Bhutan

I wanted to share this video from READ Global today on International Literacy Day.  Literacy opens up the world in ways those of us who can read take for granted. In rural Bhutan, half of adults are unable to read which prevents them from reading labels, signs, or directions.  The non-profit READ Global is out to change that statistic.

 

#Blogust Highlights First Times & This Is Mine

#Blogust Highlights First Times & This Is Mine

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This is my first time.

My first time letting go.

My oldest child goes off to school in another state next week, and I have to admit, I’m having a tough time with that. The thought that for the first time in her life she will not be living under our roof. For the first time I have to trust her to the outside world. For the first time I won’t be right there for her for whatever she needs, and let’s face it, I can’t check on her whenever I need for my own piece of mind.

I know I’ve said this before at other moments of child rearing, but have decided that this, this stage of parenthood must be the most difficult. This realization that I’ve brought her up, and come to this point where I have to to send her out into the world to continue to grow.  I know that is how it should be. I know she will be fine. It’s me I’m worried about!  Knowing in my heart they grow up, while in my mind I’m clinging to her feet, dragging behind her screaming, “noooooooooo, my baby  I can’t let you go!”

I’ve heard the description of having your hear walking around outside of your body before, and now I fully understand the feeling. My heart will be four states away.  At the same time I am feeling excited for her, and grateful that she has grown into the healthy, confident young woman that she has.

Through my work with the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Campaign we highlight the fact that where children are born should not impact their chance to grow up healthy and happy.  Eventually they should all have the opportunity to leave their parents home off on their own pursuits.

Vaccines save lives, it’s as simple as that. All children around the world deserve a Shot@Life, they deserve to celebrate first birthdays, first days at school, losing their first tooth, and yes eventually, their first year away from home.

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During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2014—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000).  Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world.

What Does The Word #Lead Mean To You? Enter To Win $100 In Save The Children’s #FindTheWords Campaign

What Does The Word #Lead Mean To You? Enter To Win $100 In Save The Children’s #FindTheWords Campaign

ELiza

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”-JFK

I am participating in Save The Children‘s #FindTheWords social media campaign to highlight the importance of early education for children. For this campaign I am 1 of 30 bloggers who will write on 30 words over 30 days as a way to symbolize the 30 million fewer words that children from low-income homes hear by the age of  3.

By age three, children from low-income homes hear on average 30 million fewer words than their peers, putting them 18 months cognitively behind his or her peers when they start school.  Around the world, if all students in low-income countries acquire basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty – Save The Children

The word I was assigned is:

LEAD

Leadership can sometimes come from the most surprising places. Thinks of Malala, known now by her first name alone, who has become a world leader just by standing up for her own beliefs. She was not afraid to break out of the mold and forge a new path towards what she believes in, and this is a case where the new path she forged is one that others chose to follow as well. Because she was being educated, she knew how important it was for her and other girls to continue to be educated.  Knowledge is one of the most powerful tools, and children who are not given the opportunity to learn from an early age are denied their full potential.   According to statistics provided by Save The Children 65% of young kids in need have little or no access to books.  More than two-thirds of poverty-stricken households do not possess a single book developmentally appropriate for a child under five.  And kids whose parents do not speak to them often and are not spoken to in an engaging, and supportive way are less likely to develop to their full intellectual potential than kids who hear a significant amount of child-directed speech.

Malala Yousafzai, Wikipedia Commons

Malala Yousafzai, Wikipedia Commons

Which in the case of Malala is exactly why there were those who did not want girls to be educated, because they know how empowering education can be.  As a parent I try to led by example, I know that learning and development for my kids is not just academic, but across all aspects of life, and I know that they will absorb what they see.  Personally I do not consider myself a leader, nor do I aspire to lead, yet I find myself on occasion in leadership roles. I’ve ended up advocating on Capitol Hill, acting as social director, sitting on various boards, as president of the PTA for my child’s school, and directing or producing media content.   It is a lot of leadership for someone whose first choice would not be to lead. That said, I am also distinctly not a follower.  Never have been, and what I think inspires me to step up into these positions is my belief that if you want something to happen, or something to change, you can not just sit back and wait for someone else to do it.  You need to make it happen. This is the same reason that I was eager to take part in the #FindTheWords campaign.   Society needs to be aware of the importance of early education for all children, and for the future of the community as a whole. Citizens who live up to their full potential are better able to contribute to society and to break the cycle of poverty. You can help spread the word as well!

What does the word LEAD mean to you?

You can enter to win $100.00 gift card by sharing this post, the campaign on social media, leaving a comment about what the word Lead means to you, or by taking a picture that represents the word LEAD to you and post it to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. To be entered to win don’t forget to use the proper hashtags #FindTheWords #Lead and tag @elizabethatalay
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Save the Children provides kids in need with access to books, essential learning support and a literacy-rich environment, setting them up for success in school and a brighter future. Learn more about Save the Children’s work in the US and around the world HERE.

Of Wanderlust And Coming Home

Of Wanderlust And Coming Home

Elizabeth AtalayI try to keep a cool adult demeanor as I open the tiny package at my seat. In it I find a pair of socks, a diminutive set with toothpaste and toothbrush, and a sleep-mask. I want to turn to the older gentleman in the plane seat next to mine as I pull out each item to show him with bright eyes and exclaim “Look how cute this toothbrush set is!” but I manage to keep my cool.

Wanderlust ;  a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.

Wanderlust is my favorite word.  Aside from being fun to say, it most aptly captures my enthusiastic desire to discover new places.   The more I traveled, the more I learned about new places I’d love to see. Put me on an airplane and I am as giddy as a child. I love to travel, and it’s not just about the destination. The journey itself thrills me as well. That sense of excitement and adventure as a trip launches. The forced stretches of time on the trip to read, write, or watch as many movies as I can fit in.  I love the diminutive compartments of the meals, accompanied by tiny bottles of wine.   I enjoy conversations struck up with other travelers, slices of lives in transit. Where we are, where we are going, and where we’ve been.  I’m excited by the anticipation of a new place, and of entering the unexpected.

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#MakeWomenMatter

#MakeWomenMatter

She would never tell her family. They could never know.

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I was amazed that the young woman was brave enough to tell her story at all.

With a teary smile she explained that she was telling us because she was just so happy that her life was not over as feared.  She was just so relieved to have found someone to help her.  The week before she had called her friend to say goodbye. Read the rest of this entry