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Showing posts from July, 2012

Mis-Guided Girl Guides?

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Even while I am traveling internationally, a furour back in Australia has caught my attention. The Australian ‘Girl Guides,’ the female counterpart to the ‘Boys Scouts,’ has adopted a new pledge.
Have a look and see for yourself:
Old Promise “I promise that I will do my best: To do my duty to God, to serve the Queen and my country; To help other people; and To keep the Guide Law.”
New Promise: “I promise that I will do my best: To be true to myself and develop my beliefs To serve my community and Australia And live by the Guide Law.”
The major change in the promise is the removal of ‘God’ and ‘The Queen.’ This is no small omission. To understand the significant shift of emphasis reflected in this new promise, it is important to remember that Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts in 1908, and Girl Guides in 1910 (along with his wife and sister). His goal was to instill values and character from the Bible and Christian faith. This is clearly reflected in the old promise yet it is …

Why I Love Russia

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I have just completed my eighth visit in nine years to Russia, the great Land of the North. Specifically, I was part of a Singapore-based team that that went to the great Siberian cities of Ulan Ude and Irkutsk. So why do I keep going? Why do I love Russia?

While there are many worthwhile destinations in the world, for me, Russia is exceptionally special. Here is why:

Russia is Hospitable: Russia is a unique mix of Asia and Europe; note that the stereotypical Russia has a fair complexion, often fair-haired, yet with mild Asiatic eyes (courtesy of the Mongols and Tartars who came storming through the land centuries ago?). From Beirut to Beijing, Asia is the hospitality continent. Probably more so in Siberia than Moscow, the Russians are very attentive to their guests and their homemade food is delicious. I did not have to worry about meals or companionship on this trip. Yet like Eastern Europeans, Russians can be very warm-hearted and relational.

Russia is big: Russia is 17 million sq…