Sarah Glenn

Never stop exploring

Independence

Written By: admin - Apr• 24•12

Before this mess started, I was sitting on an old tipped over refrigerator talking to a sweet teen I met through the local After School Program. I’ll call her M.

M wanted a favor. She wanted money. This budding, beautiful woman wanted so badly to participate in her High School’s sports day, which required a small fee.

We all remember being in High School. Some of us were those kids who always had the means to participate, although it didn’t change our “dork” statuses or our pock-marked faces. Others were like M and I.

This was the third time she had asked me for money. So we sat and talked for a while.

I asked her what she wanted to be when she graduated. Her dream was college, America and a nursing degree. With the halcyon hues of hindsight, I remembered that my dream was college, a journalism degree and a life of independence.

Next I asked if she was working hard in school so she could go to college. she replied, “Yes, I am.” I asked if when she was in college and working on her nursing degree, she would still think about that sports day? It was not a question that a teen wants to answer, when the world spins on one dramatic twist of high school fate – or when she wants money. I understood.

People have recently told us that the federal government is eliminating dependent care from loan disbursements for big ticket degrees. You know, doctors, lawyers, all those degrees that sink the average person into debt hundreds of thousands deep. Here is how it works. The school tells you tuition and living expenses will probably cost $XX,XXX, so that’s how much you can ask for when you beg the federal government and/or the bank for a student loan. But if you have a spouse or kids, the school says you can ask for a little bit more. Parents can still ask for a little more money for their kids. But spousal support is kaput.

I wont comment on how people will tackle this decrease if they have kids.  I don’t know what a rugrat costs these days. However, I do have something to say about the spousal support.

When our spouses are doctors, will I still think about not attending that sports day? I mean …

I told the upset M all about my struggles in college when I first struck out on my own. All of the 29 Cent Taco Bell burritos that made up my meals. The dank basement apartment next to the drug dealer. Walking to the corner mini mart to get what some might call groceries (others might call it crap) rather than driving, just to save that last drop of gas. And then there was that bleary-eyed wondering if you were awake or asleep walking into 12 credits of class (or 30 hours of work). I was usually awake, darn it.

I am sure my parents would have provided a little “dependent care” if I had asked. But then what would I have told the up and coming M?

When I married my crazy husband and his wild dream of becoming a doctor, I jumped in head first. I gave up my pride the first time I woke up next to him with mascara caked thick under my eyes and fro-tastic hair. I gave up my dignity the first time I had a real medical issue. He has my heart and soul. And if being with him on this crazy journey means living in a pretzel bag behind a Denny’s and going back to those (*shudder*) 29-cent Burrito dinners, then I will do it.

Because who am I to tell M that she must give up something for a bigger goal when I can’t do it myself?

Rambling on Gas

Written By: admin - Mar• 26•12

As my total ticked up at the pump, a nervous laugh escaped my lips. This rinky dink, ramshackle gas station thought they were going to get me, a red-blooded American, to pay $80 US to fill an 11-gallon tank.

Then the nervous laugh melted into a humbling realization. Most of the civilized world pays more for a tank of fuel than Americans do.

Here is yet another amazing article on the fact.

I found out the hard way that Grenada’s gas costs about $7 US per gallon, give or take a few cents. That’s a far cry from the $3.99 at my beloved street corner 7-11.

As I drove away, the idealist in me decided to come along shotgun. What if I could figure out what makes Grenada’s gas prices so high? I would not only be a more informed citizen, person and American voter, but I would also save the world! As Newt has proudly proclaimed to CNN, “The price of gasoline is becoming a genuine crisis for many American families. If it continues to go higher it will crater the economy by August. People will have no discretionary income.”

The fate of the American economy was in my hands – along with the little island car’s steering wheel.

Let’s start with where Grenada gets its gas. Every drop is imported from Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela. Next I turned to Grenada’s web-published National Energy Policy, after turning off the car of course. They blame speculation, Middle East politics, concerns over nuclear policy a la Fukushima and the weather.

Here, my journey toward solving the world’s gas problems hits a brick wall.

When all your oil is imported, little bumps in the market turn into big roller coaster rides, complete with rocketing prices and bumpy bottoming out. Imagine that the shocks have been taken out of your car just before taking it on an off-road spin up an unpaved road.

Oil prices are an uncharted path. We don’t know where they will go in the next few years, nor can we control all that speculation when Iran pulls a few political punches.

Frankly my dear, it’s volatile.

Using my little island home as a case study, bringing the petroleum home is a good idea. That ticking total at a Grenadian pump is simply a small reflection of what the people at the port have to pay when the barges roll in. If I chokingly laughed at my total, the guy at the port must be in hysterics. If you need something and you can’t get it yourself, it’s time to pay the man – and he can charge whatever he wants. You are the sucker in a bind after all.

Another fun fact, Grenada doesn’t get oil. It gets gas. There isn’t a refinery to be found up or down it’s 25-mile coast. Once Americans get their oil from, choke, Canada, then it must be refined into the product you put into your tank. Once you add all the shipping and taxes and refining and importing and labor, you have one hefty fueling up cost.

Well, since I can’t solve the world’s problems after all, it was time to think about my own personal pain at the pump.

The rental car went back this week. This independent, red-blooded American has rejoined the masses who either walk or take a bus. Frankly, being free of those gas prices is a little liberating.

Hey Sexy

Written By: admin - Mar• 22•12

Not getting enough cat calls in your life lately ladies? Come one down to Grenada and take a walk down Mont Tout Road. You will get your fill and more of those “hey sexy!” exclamations.

If you think I am exaggerating, I’m not. It’s a serious problem for women here. The topic made the local talk radio show today and the conversation turned feisty.

The male host, a guy named Kevin, argued that those sometimes sexually-charged exclamations were his right to utter. He played the “Free Speech” card.

“Whether or not it is sexual is dependent on my mood,” he said to a woman co-host. “Can you regulate mood? I mean, what if I am in a jolly good mood and walking down the street and I want to share my joy with the people I meet. I say, ‘that dress is fitting you nice, lady you lookin’ like Beyonce today.’ That’s my free speech.”

You could hear the woman’s face turn red. She didn’t quite care what his intentions were.

“But there has got to be some recourse, some law, for women who are constantly bombarded with these unwanted sexual advances,” she pleaded.

Grenada has no sexual harassment laws. Neither of those words appear in the nation’s 110 page constitution. Catcalling isn’t a crime. Culturally, it’s a compliment.

The man further argued that having laws that would penalize people for calling out “compliments” in the street would have a chilling effect on free speech.

Would you feel sexually harassed if you were walking to the corner grocery store and a man yelled after you, “Hey lady you lookin’ fine today!” Now let’s add the race element to the conversation. Say you were a white woman and the man was black. Does that change much?

Frankly, I could do with a fewer “compliments”. What do you think the Grenadian government should do about all this? How do you define sexual harassment for a people who believe catcalling is appropriate and complimentary?

 

Facebooking your problems

Written By: admin - Mar• 16•12

In the shade of a schoolhouse porch in the poorest neighborhood in Grenada, I asked an invisible child if he knew who Joseph Kony was. His big, brown eyes looked at me like I was crazy before he said, “Um, no miss.” Then, the serious business of jumping rope quickly continued.

A few days a week you can find me out in a field teaching a forgotten Caribbean kid how to read — or at least how to not steal, do drugs or skip school, as many in this low-income Grenada neighborhood are prone to do. These sweet children don’t know what Facebook is, nor do the posts, reposts and “likes” have much bearing on their lives. They certainly don’t know who Joseph Kony is. A few years from now, that name probably won’t have much bearing on your life either.

If your head hasn’t been in a social media hole, you probably saw some Facebook or Twitter post about this menacing leader of an African rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). For those who didn’t watch the 30-minute viral video, the man kidnaps young boys and turns them into child soldiers. Don’t worry feminists, he is an equal opportunity bad guy. He’ll take young girls too — for prostitutes.

The video relays tales of kidnap, rape and torture aimed to change the online conversation and start a social revolution.

And just as it came, Kony will disappear from our national consciousness quicker than the recoil from our mouse-clicking trigger fingers.

The man who made this movie, Jason Russell, makes a point that is a little larger than an African conflict. Pay attention, it is a good one. The way we take “action” on important issues is changing and, what’s more, the world is developing a case of self-induced Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

A woman much wiser than I once said that after all is said and done, a lot more will be said than done. We are the generation of Facebook revolutionaries, the ones who will change the course of human history with the click of a mouse. After all, Egypt’s iron-fisted president was toppled by social media. Why can’t Kony the warlord be rooted out the same way?

Here’s the major difference: Egyptians walked out the door. Kony’s Facebook fans simply clicked, bought and sat.

It’s not what you say that resonates through the ages. It’s what you do that changes the course of human history.

I look at Grenada’s forgotten children — the destitute, those without shoes on their feet or food to eat — and think how much an online Kony-style campaign would help them.

But really it wouldn’t.

Of course, it would make a lot of money. I have learned that wallets usually melt open when people see the face of a starving or battered child. But what happens when the money runs out? What happens when the child still can’t feed or defend herself when the wallets close back up and the money runs dry? Who is still willing to be there when the next big viral cause comes along?

Public opinion is a fickle mistress. One day you are riding high, the next day you are just another whiner. But personally investing your time, talents and emotions in something, now that’s where real change happens. The course of human history, the rise and fall of dictators or even the safety of a small child pivots on what you are willing to do, not say on Facebook.

Only 5 percent of the world’s population has access to the Internet. So when the Facebook frenzy fizzles and dies for the Kony cause and explodes for another, Grenada’s forgotten children won’t even notice. They will be too busy learning how to read and write and eat and survive. The same is true for the big, brown eyes staring back at us from Uganda, the Congo, Sudan and Darfur. But those children are much worse off.

The idea that we are the generation of Facebook activism is disgusting. The idea that we cannot be the generation of compassionate action is even more chilling.

It does not bode well for the hinge on which human history turns.

Sarah Cooper-Glenn is a journalist from Sparks. She currently lives in Grenada where she is a global politics and travel writer. She can be contacted at sarahglenn2010@gmail.com or via her website, SarahGlenn.Net

 

Published Tuesday March 13, 2012 in The Daily Sparks Tribune.

Second rate problems of the first world

Written By: admin - Mar• 16•12

Yesterday might not have been your best Monday. Maybe the coffee got cold too fast. Maybe the pile of work on your desk made your eye twitch or maybe you just plain didn’t want to be there.

Go ahead, list all the problems you had.

1.

2.

3.

4.

Have you thought about a few? Good. Now come with me to a Caribbean island. It might make you feel a little better.

With his black-skinned toes in his native sand, Thomas sets up shop beneath a palm tree, looking out at the ocean and keenly watching the old, white, wrinkled European tourists as they stroll down the wave-tossed waterfront.

I met Thomas when he tried to sell me a woven bowl crafted by his nimble yet weather-worn fingers. The bowl wasn’t as appealing as his story.

Asking $16 for his wares, Thomas strolls up and down the beaches of Grenada selling what he can. It’s his full-time job and always has been. The nearby call of “Spices for sale! Necklaces too!” tells me that he isn’t alone. Those baskets and necklaces and homespun trinkets peddled to tourists are many Grenadians’ meal ticket.

Unemployment in this little country teeters at 40 percent.

Forty percent of the smiles you see on the street hide hunger pangs and that nagging image of a family back home in painted plywood and sheet metal bungalows. There aren’t any screens on the windows to keep the mosquitoes and flies out. Dengue fever is common; luxuries such as milk, or a computer, aren’t.

It’s an old, hashed axiom that no matter what your situation, there is always someone else worse off. Your eyes might have glazed over the old phrase because it was drilled into your head by your mother. But mom was right.

In America, unemployment sits at 8.3 percent. Consumer confidence weakened in January while at the same time homebuilder confidence continued to show signs of growth. The United Nations Human Development Index lists America as the third least impoverished country, just nanopoints behind Australia and Norway. Grenada landed 67th on that list, meaning Thomas and his hut-dwelling and hungry friends are in the top 50 percent of the richest countries in the world. The Democratic Republic of the Congo was dead last at ranking 187.

With nothing but Top Ramen on the table, living in an apartment because of a foreclosed home and the Internet out of order because of a late power bill, many Americans think they have hit rock bottom. With a blackened and rotting semi-smile, Thomas tells me that he knows what the Internet is, but like a Rolls Royce or air conditioning, it is esoteric. Something he knows exists but will never experience. As I walked back home, my mind turned to all the little things that were waiting for me back in America.

Now, you were telling me about your Monday …

Sarah Cooper-Glenn is a journalist from Sparks, Nev. She currently lives in Grenada where she is a global politics and travel writer. She can be contacted at sarahglenn2010@gmail.com or via her website, SarahGlenn.Net.

Published Tuesday, February 27, 2012 in The Daily Sparks Tribune

My American Dream Goes Abroad

Written By: admin - Mar• 16•12

“Home is what you make it,” I thought optimistically as we opened the door to our new apartment. Then the pink molding around the doors stared back at me. Lord almighty, this was going to take some getting used to.

Two years ago, my husband and I left the friendly neighborhoods of Sparks to chase a medical degree at a Caribbean school, St. George’s University. His elusive M.D. has taken us on a wild ride across England and now down to this little speck of rock we call home — Grenada, West Indies.

Yes, the same one Reagan invaded.

With each new door we have opened, one thought continues to run through my mind: This is no American dream. But we’ll come back to that.

There is a good chance that you are a transplant yourself. I hear that a beast commonly known as “The Great Recession” has scared a few people out of their homes.

One in every 177 homes in Nevada got a foreclosure notice in December 2011, according to RealtyTrac. The majority of these notices were given in Clark County with a whopping 5,474, again according to January numbers from RealtyTrac. Washoe lagged behind with a modest 562 foreclosures in January alone.

So what happens when times get rough and the recession monster comes knocking at your door? Sometimes, you move. If the move is housing related, e.g. a foreclosure, you will probably stay in state, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. Only 11.6 percent of Americans moved more than 500 miles because of a housing issue. If it’s a job problem, however, 43.9 percent of us will load up the moving truck for a long haul of more than 500 miles. Incidentally, fewer than 25 percent of the Nevadans you know and love were actually born in the state. That’s the lowest local population in all of the U.S. of A. Being a true, blue Nevadan is a rare thing indeed.

But I have a sneaking suspicion you don’t care much about all that. Change transcends the data and statistics don’t paint the full picture of recession-recovering America. It’s that pit in your stomach when the bill comes. It’s the exhausted sigh on the couch at the end of a too-long day at a dead end job, or no job at all. For me, it is the herd of goats and beggars that wander around our old Grenada apartment complex. Ah, the joys of living in a third-world country.

Why do we live here? That’s an easy question to answer. When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the bands that have held them to a certain place, they must move on to pursue life, liberty and happiness. I took some bold liberties with those sacred words, but I think you get the point.

The American dream is one worth chasing, even beyond its own borders. In the 18th century it was certainly worth fighting for, dying for. Chase that job, pursue that dream, even if you run into some ugly pink crown molding in a dingy apartment along the way.

We went all the way to Grenada to chase the American dream. What are you willing to do?

Sarah Cooper-Glenn is a journalist from Sparks, Nev. She currently lives in Grenada where she is a global politics and travel writer. She can be contacted at sarahglenn2010@gmail.com.

Taiwan’s Here. It Wants its Money Back.

Written By: admin - Feb• 16•12

Payback can be a pain.

Grenada is having a little trouble with money these days, specifically money it owes to Taiwan. A friend sent me this interesting article Monday detailing the drama. The synopsis is this: Grenada got a lot of foreign aid loans after Hurricane Ivan wiped out half the country. The Caribbean country has slowly been paying people back, except for Taiwan. Somehow, Taiwan’s $28 million helping hand loan got ignored.

Either way, Taiwan is now essentially garnishing the country’s wages. After a successful lawsuit in US Court, the Taiwanese now get all of the landing taxes from airplanes and cruise ships that descend on Grenada. Unfortunately that’s the money that Grenada uses to keep the lights on at the airport. Oooops.

While the government has assured everyone that the airport’s operations will go on, the country is still in a sticky situation. You can read the Transportation Minister’s official press release here. He and other government officials are promising to pull the money from other places to keep the airport open. But in a country that can’t afford to feed its poor, can that money be pulled from other services long enough to conjure up $28 million?

Some have wondered if the whole mess is a result of Grenada’s buddy-buddy relationship with China, specifically those in Taiwan according to this article. Others, simply sigh and look forward to fewer airport staff, longer lines and pulsing headaches as they try to get out of Grenada for the summer break.

My American Dream Goes Abroad

Written By: admin - Feb• 16•12

My old employer, The Daily Sparks Tribune, recently asked for a series of articles on my experience living abroad in order to have a better life in America.

For your reading pleasure, here is the first installment.

 

 

“Home is what you make it,” I thought optimistically as we opened the door to our new apartment. Then the pink molding around the doors stared back at me. Lord almighty, this was going to take some getting used to.

Two years ago, my husband and I left the friendly neighborhoods of Sparks to chase a medical degree at a Caribbean school, St. George’s University. His elusive M.D. has taken us on a wild ride across England and now down to this little speck of rock we call home — Grenada, West Indies.

Yes, the same one Reagan invaded.

With each new door we have opened, one thought continues to run through my mind: This is no American dream. But we’ll come back to that.

There is a good chance that you are a transplant yourself. I hear that a beast commonly known as “The Great Recession” has scared a few people out of their homes.

One in every 177 homes in Nevada got a foreclosure notice in December 2011, according to RealtyTrac. The majority of these notices were given in Clark County with a whopping 5,474, again according to January numbers from RealtyTrac. Washoe lagged behind with a modest 562 foreclosures in January alone.

So what happens when times get rough and the recession monster comes knocking at your door? Sometimes, you move. If the move is housing related, e.g. a foreclosure, you will probably stay in state, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. Only 11.6 percent of Americans moved more than 500 miles because of a housing issue. If it’s a job problem, however, 43.9 percent of us will load up the moving truck for a long haul of more than 500 miles. Incidentally, fewer than 25 percent of the Nevadans you know and love were actually born in the state. That’s the lowest local population in all of the U.S. of A. Being a true, blue Nevadan is a rare thing indeed.

But I have a sneaking suspicion you don’t care much about all that. Change transcends the data and statistics don’t paint the full picture of recession-recovering America. It’s that pit in your stomach when the bill comes. It’s the exhausted sigh on the couch at the end of a too-long day at a dead end job, or no job at all. For me, it is the herd of goats and beggars that wander around our old Grenada apartment complex. Ah, the joys of living in a third-world country.

Why do we live here? That’s an easy question to answer. When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the bands that have held them to a certain place, they must move on to pursue life, liberty and happiness. I took some bold liberties with those sacred words, but I think you get the point.

The American dream is one worth chasing, even beyond its own borders. In the 18th century it was certainly worth fighting for, dying for. Chase that job, pursue that dream, even if you run into some ugly pink crown molding in a dingy apartment along the way.

We went all the way to Grenada to chase the American dream. What are you willing to do?

Sarah Cooper-Glenn is a journalist from Sparks, Nev. She currently lives in Grenada where she is a global politics and travel writer. She can be contacted at sarahglenn2010@gmail.com.

Read more:Sparks Tribune – My American Dream Goes Abroad

The Little Guy

Written By: admin - Nov• 22•11

Why did people ever start paying for newspapers?

It’s simple, really; They wanted to know what was new.

Unfortunately the muti-billion dollar industry that spewed from a printing press is now crumbling like a house of cards. The basic need that the news industry fulfilled is now being provided for free, with the click of a mouse.

The little guys so far have been spared the brunt of the economic beating. With an aging, dedicated, local readership and foreclosure notices running rampant across the legals section, small-town papers have managed to squeak out a meager living.

But this won’t last long.

The editor of the small town paper where I cut my cub reporter’s teeth said it well this week. Take a look. I would love to know what you think.

Stop the Free Presses? By Nathan Orme

 

Censored

Written By: admin - Nov• 16•11

This little initiative is making the rounds and raising a few questions.

I am fairly close to an information absolutist. If it is true, it should be told. But music and movies have problems with this little open medium called the internet – it spews their stuff all over everywhere for free.

However, our robust democracy is more important than your art and entertainment.