Day 8: A moment you felt the most satisfied with your life.

Answer: I think this is a trick question. The trick is, there’s no right answer, only wrong. Being human, it’s impossible to be satisfied by anything. When you have everything that you want, there’s something else that you need. So, I guess, what I am trying to say is that it’s impossible to be completely satisfied.

Yet, the most satisfied I have ever felt in my life was when I was five and there was no school, drama or want for stupid things that you don’t really need. Yepp.

Day 4: Your views on religion.

Answer: I was raised as Christian Orthodox, but I find the subject of religion amusing, because there are so many different view on the topic. This Monday (Jan. 2) I went to Hindu temple and I was meditating there (mind you that I am clearly seen to be a very white European) and felt perfectly in place. By being raised by traditional Russian views, I do not celebrate Christmas on December 25th, but instead on January 7th… yet I do actually celebrate the Dec. 25th Christmas with my friends while my family may not. But these are only examples about how open I am to religion: extremly.

In 8th grade English my teacher asked our class who our favorite character from The Hunger Games was. Most of the class said Katniss or Peeta, some said Prim or Haymitch. When he got to me, I said Effie Trinket was my favorite character and everybody looked at me like I was completely insane, and the teacher asked why. I told him Effie was my favorite character because she was the person who (in my eyes) cared about Katniss and Peeta more than anybody else. Effie Trinket lived her life in complete shelter, never understanding that the Capitol was the true enemy, but then she met Katniss and Peeta, and she grew to love them, actually love them, not just the idea of them. She loved Katniss and Peeta and in her own way defied everything she ever knew because of these two children who, by complete chance, fell into her life and changed her whole world. And I think that’s the truest love displayed in the entire series.

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Second Week In Peru

I first saw Carabayllo at night, in Farmer’s company. The road from the airport, four lanes and divided, felt very smooth, even after the driver turned away from the old Spanish colonial center and the skyscrapers of downtown and headed into the settlements of Lima’s northern outskirts…. “Lima doesn’t seem like the third world,” I said.

“Oh, yes it is,” said Farmer. “You’ll see.”

- Mountains Beyond Mountains

As the Tech in the World team settled into Lima, I felt like I had never left New York. Our apartment there had all the furnishings of my home in the US and was in one of the safest and —not coincidentally— richest neighborhoods in Lima. The only changes to my habits seemed to be only drinking bottled water and not flushing toilet paper down the toilet. We soon discovered a different Lima as we finished first weeks of work and went on our first weekend trip. 

Within a week of working in the Socios En Salud office, the other TITW fellows and I had discovered many similarities between Lima and the other developing countries we had lived in. From the intermittent bullhorn blasting fruit sales that idled under our office windows every afternoon to the whizzing engines of the three wheeled autos, Lima sounded a lot like the India I experienced two years ago. In addition to these smaller observations, I also noticed the convergence of other components of the city. For example, the city had an informal bus system operated by lanky men dangling out of tiny, rusty buses brightly painted with the main stops on the side. Called jeepneys in the Philippines and combis in Lima, these cheap buses seemed to attract local commuters of all kinds while foreigner travelers like us opted for the official Metropolitano bus for fear of not being able to communicate with the conductors about the cost or the destination. 

Combi in Lima, Peru

Jeepney in Cebu City, Philippines

These and other noticeable similarities led me to consider the history of development. Take the bus system for example, there seemed to be two possible paths for developing these similarities, which I decided to call convergent and divergent development. Convergent development I defined as the result of each community, in this case Cebu City in the Philippines and Lima in Peru, facing the same problem and, in turn, coming up with the same solution. Similar to how the theory of convergent evolution of the four chambered heart in mammals and birds, convergent development could have occurred when each city realized the need for an efficient but cheap transportation system to move its workers from the city edges were they lived to the developing center of the city. 

Divergent development, on the other hand, occurred when a developing city A comes up with a solution and, as a result of international communication, city B sees the solution and implements  it as well. Both the Philippines and Lima developed during the colonial period under Spanish rule and each became critical harbors in the Mexico and silver trade routes, respectively. Without further research, I didn’t have further insights into which theory—either divergent or convergent—played a greater role (as I’m sure both played a part). But this thought experiment did lead me to some other questions: is globalization good for development? Was it better for each region to come up with their own solutions independently or for a working solution to be modified and applied? Did it matter if both sometimes seemed to produce a similar result? 

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