tirsdag 27. mai 2014

The Modern Medias

What is the medias’ role in modern society? With Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in the 15th century, modern television and the internet, we are in the age of information. This overflow of information does, however, mean you have to be critical to what you see, hear and read. How news and other information are presented is essential to how the receiver interprets it; so what causes the media to present information the way they do?

The world is a competitive place, and to make profit, news agencies must adapt accordingly. There is a broad specter of news agencies that have different focuses on what they publish. You have “serious” and internationally recognized newspapers like The New York Times, and newspapers like The Sun, whose content may look more like gossip than news. Why aren’t all newspapers like The New York Times? One answer to that is probably that a lot of people prefer to read the, far from objective, gossip about celebrities, rather than the latest update on the crisis on Crimea. The more shocking the revelation, the more they sell.

The vast majority of the media present a lot more than news. Personally, I rarely watch live broadcasts on television, except from the seven-O’clock-news, because half of my time I’ll be watching commercials. It’s not just on the television either; magazines and newspapers are stuffed with these adverts. The amount of advertisement does vary of course, but generally it’s too much. Has the profit become more important than the news themselves, or are the news agencies simply forced to advertise in order to avoid bankruptcy?

In Norway, and most other countries in the West, the news agencies are independent organizations, under no obligation to the state or government. The people that live in the West, me included, may take this for granted, but in many places propaganda and censorship are common. The media is an essential part of the democracy, and if they’re not independent, there is no democracy. To exemplify, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un won several gold medals in this year’s Olympics, at least that’s what North Korean newspapers wrote.

I could write a long novel on this topic, but the lesson would remain the same. Sir Francis Bacon once said “knowledge is power”, and in many ways that’s true. What people think, or are convinced to think, affect their actions; the media has a great responsibility, as well as great power. So keep in mind whenever you are exposed to new information, that there is always more than one aspect to a matter. 

tirsdag 22. april 2014

Earth Day

Every April 22nd, we celebrate Earth Day. People all across the world spend this day supporting environmental protection, and every year there is a spesific focus. April 22nd 2014 is the day of Green


A few kilometres outside the capital of Norway, lies a tiny city called Sandvika. This is where we go to school, and even though Sandvika isn’t much of a city, we want to look at its role as a Green City. Sandvika mainly consists of a shopping mall; nevertheless, it’s the largest mall in all of Scandinavia. The mall has numerous customers and visitors each day, and these people need to go to the restroom. The amount of paper towels these people would consume each day would be enormous, but Sandvika shopping mall won’t have any of that! In every restroom in the mall, there are 25 cm by 25 cm cloth towels for you to wipe your hands on after washing them. Instead of throwing these away after use, they are washed and reused. In the long run, this is a lot more beneficial to the environment than using paper towels. Other than the environmental perspective, there are several perks to the cloth towels; they feel luxurious, they don’t make a mess in public restrooms and they can absorb a lot more water than a single paper towel. We hope our school will follow the trend, and stop contributing to taring down the Amazons!

The cloth towels will, however, not make our city green on their own. The public transportation around the capital is quite significant in this regard. All of the busses in our county run on biogas. This gas produced by the breakdowns of sewer and food waste, and emits 90 per cent less CO2 than the diesel used in most busses. Recycling sewer and food waste is also very beneficial to the environment.

Our city could definitely be “greener”, but the cloth towels and biogas busses are good examples of what we aim to achieve. There are plans for parts of the city to be rebuilt, so let’s hope the people responsible have green minds!

tirsdag 18. mars 2014

Water, a luxurious resource

Last Call at the Oasis
Time and time again the media reminds us of how big of a problem the contamination and lack of fresh water is across the world. What might not be as commonly known is that this problem is not exclusive to developing countries, but in fact affects, amongst others, the USA. Changes are needed in order to solve this global issue, and the movie “Last Call at the Oasis” displays these very well. When looking at the globe from outer space you might laugh at people claiming we must conserve the water we consume in such a massive degree, however only one per cent of this water is fresh water.

Conflicting interests often come in the way of progress. The needs of the few might cloud our vision, and prevent us from moving and looking forward. Farmers in Midland, Texas, don’t see how the extinction of an “insignificant” species of fish will affect anyone in the long run. They spray their crops with chemicals and fresh water that spreads in the ground water and affects ecosystems. Humans have built cities in desserts, like Las Vegas, and consume the fresh water sources a lot faster than they regenerate. We didn’t anticipate this happening before, but now we know and risk being out of fresh water some places. The amount of water on planet earth is constant, but when we pollute and consume such amounts of pure and fresh water by watering the lawn, breeding kettle for steaks, and filling our pools, we will face a shortage of fresh water somewhere down the road.

If we can´t see past our own needs, how will our grandchildren have their covered? Finding new sources of fresh water and consuming them at the same pace as before will not last long, so how about recycling the water we´ve already used? Desaltation of water is very expensive, but there are several examples of sewage water being “recycled” and used again. The problem may be that people are repelled by the fact that the water has been used before, and after seeing the sewage treatment plant in New York, I realize why. Nevertheless, I believe in recycled water, or “future water” as it is campaigned.

Collaboration project with Alaskan students

For the last month or two we’ve been doing a collaboration project with an Alaskan class about World War 2. It’s my first time doing something like this, and it’s been a new experience. We worked in groups of 4-6 and made a text, narrated video or presentation for the Alaskan students, who invited us to do this collaboration project for their history class. To get to know each other we made videos introducing our school and ourselves, and they replied with a similar video.

The big difference between this project and any other school assignment, I think was the fact that we did this to educate someone else. Usually these projects are to be handed in to the teacher who evaluates them, but this time we actually taught someone. I think the project is relevant to both our international English course and the Alaskan history class, seeing as we interact with international English speakers and they get an insight to our view on WW2.

Whether or not Norwegian students know more about WW2, I don’t know. From what the Alaskan students answered on our questions, it seems they know a fair bit about it. However, since Norway geographically was so much closer to the center of the war, it’s unheard of for anyone to not know the history.

The collaboration did exceed the topic of WW2. What I have come to realize is that very few people outside of Scandinavia are familiar with Norway, our politics and customs. Norway is a great country to live in, and we Norwegians are very proud of that. I feel I have a good grasp of how it is to live in America, but it doesn’t seem to be mutual regarding how the Alaskans perceive Norway.

21st of September, Peace One Day

In 1999 the English actor and filmmaker Jeremy Gilley founded Peace One Day. This is a non-profit organization with a clear objective; creating awareness around the International Day of Peace. 21st of September every year is a day of non-violence, conflict resolution and safe ways for UN and other organizations to go into areas of conflict and carry out help.

After getting a unique presentation by Jeremy Gilley himself over Skype this morning, I´ve gotten a better idea of just what the intention behind this day of peace is. Throughout the year Peace One Day primarily works on making the global community and as many individuals as possible aware of the 21st of September. There are numerous benefits to this. Obviously a day of piece is a great act of
humanity, but the movement itself causes an increased focus on peace and empathy that is profound. Even though there is only one day of piece a year, the result is an overall reduced amount of violence, bullying and so on.

Jeremy Gilley compares Peace One Day to a formula 1 car. It´s the commercial and sponsors on the side of the vehicle that keeps moving forward, and the same goes for Peace One Day. Together we move forward, thus we come closer to our goal of peace.  You might ask yourself why the EU and Barack Obama receive the Nobel Peace Prize after reading about Jeremy Gilley and Peace One Day.

tirsdag 4. mars 2014

The Spanish-speaking world

I speak two languages fluently, Norwegian and English. I know most of what there is to know about Norwegian culture, and quite a bit about the variety of English-speaking world as well. By the time I graduate from a university I hope to speak a third language fluently, and I am in the process of learning. Nearly 500 million people speak Spanish; imagine how many people I could communicate with if I spoke their language properly!

There are several aspects to learning a language. I learn Spanish- and English grammar in school, but I think my knowledge and understanding of Spanish- and English-speaking cultures and history is equally important. I feel my knowledge of the English-speaking world is adequate, but as for Spanish, it could definitely be better. How did Spanish become such a huge and widely spoken language? By taking a look back in time, I hope to clarify this, as well as presenting the modern state of the Spanish-speaking world. You can read all about this in my upcoming in-depth project for International English.