Category Archives: Already Did!

International World Water Day

I have some pretty cool friends.  They are rather accomplished – burgeoning engineers, urban planners, various health-related specialists, educators, and entrepreneurs.  Many of them have pursued further schoolings or are currently working in their major-related jobs.  The biggest blessing, though, is that they think in terms of eternity.  It encourages me that when we joke around about our futures, we don’t talk of owning adjacent cabins in Tahoe, but we plan on practically impacting the world for Christ.  In college, we’d eagerly swap ideas of going to a developing country: someone would work in the government, someone would work with water, someone would start a school, someone would preach, someone would be the financial backer.

The coolest part however is that this could be a reality.  My friends are actively pursuing fields that can open doors for working in developing countries should the opportunity present itself.  And how awesome is it that by being able to meet physical needs, we can open doors to sharing news about spiritual needs?

Speaking of physical needs, today is International World Water Day.  Yesterday, at 11:15 pm PST, I found out that 98% of the deaths that occur from unclean water (3.5 million people a year) occur in developing countries.*  (I also found out that it was International World Water Day around that time too.)

Were you aware?  I wasn’t.  But we can educate ourselves now, can’t we?



Gregg Breinberg: A teacher I SUPER-ADMIRE

Two years ago, I came across a sweet cover of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” sung by Staten Island, NY’s PS 22.  For a while, I followed them on Twitter, (they introduced me to Lady Gaga!) but the novelty wore off.  I felt that especially with their growing numbers and fame, I could visit, but I didn’t need to follow.  We parted ways, PS 22 and I.

They did pop on my radar sporadically over the years, and as an avid music lover myself, I can’t say that I was always gracious.  The harmonies began to feel too familiar, the solos not so riveting, and the physical movements of emotion that had so charmed me at first began to irk me since their rhythm was sometimes off.  So, I do understand when people are not swept away by them.  But honestly, Andy Cohen’s tirade about PS22’s recent Oscars performance was super uncalled-for.  Who the heck says such things about children?  My issue  has nothing to do with being “politically correct” or anything like that; just, honestly, who does that (cut down kids on TV)?  Furthermore, when I watched the actual clip, the kids were not bad at all.  This time, the familiar harmonies and their rhythmic movements (along with the magic of cinema) gave me the shivers again!  Not necessarily because they were fantastic, but because music does that – the swells, the blends, the words, the associations – ah!  I agree there is a time and place for everything, but I don’t think this presentation was out of place at all.  The way Andy Cohen described it, you would think that it was some sort of reverse-slumming or something condescending like that.

Anyway, Gregg Breinberg, the teacher behind all this, definitely  has something going on here, and it’s gold.  I always love seeing teachers being innovative and effective in ways that do not require the latest innovations from technology or constant entertainment.  Also, to see this man labor with such faithfulness and enthusiasm year after year is amazing.  Not only does he continue steadily in his job, but he expands the experience for his students, draws in other members of the community, and opens doors for opportunities that most students (whether over- or underprivileged) may not see!

Mr. B. Rocks!

Lastly, I love how Gregg Breinberg takes an elective and incorporates it in a way that not only supplements his other lessons but actively bolsters them.  Music is not simply a high art, but it’s a medium that channels emotion and stimulates thought in so many ways.  Few art mediums can cause emotions and bodily reactions (chills, tears, disgust, anger, peace)  this easily.  And it is sad that because schools are cutting the arts and music programs and because not all teachers have the ability (or desire) to supply such experiences, that students don’t get this.  Yet in PS 22, thanks to Gregg Breinberg and his efforts, generations of students benefit!  Despite the “immeasurability” of his work, the effects are definitely visible.

To read more about Gregg Breinberg and PS 22 Chorus, check out this interview on Open Education!

ordinary people can do things (accent on the “do”)

My friend recently shared  blog post with me.  I skimmed it and didn’t watch the hour-long interview (that both she and blog recommend), but I guess the general gist is Jay-Z and Warren Buffet are out there doing some amazing things.  Pretty awesome.  (Also, who would have thought Jay-Z and Warren Buffet would be sitting side by side giving an interview?)

That post reminded me of a Marketplace interview I had heard a few weeks back.  It was with an Oxford professor named Tony Ord who decided to donate $1 million dollars over the course of his life.  He’s currently living on around $27K a year and has a website to encourage other ordinary people in these philanthropic ventures.

What inspires me about people like Toby Ord or William Crouch (another Oxfordian who is donating a third of his $25K/year income) is that they are incredibly normal.

Don't they look normal to you?

Granted, they’re not poor, but they’re not Zuckerberg or Gates.  I think as comfortable Middle-Classers, we can get used to a modest but selfish lifestyle… although I am definitely not making enough to qualify for middle class right now, I can say that with my abilities, education, etc, I am not suffering and probably will never suffer for economic reasons – at least not any more than the next man or woman.  Anyway, examples like these remind me not to be complacent!  You should think over this too!