What I did learn from leading extremely busy life?

Time is money, or so the saying goes. People seem more and more in rush, productivity tips are flooding Facebook, Google+ and other social media’s timelines and it is expected that one will be constantly increasing amount of things that can be done. It does take time to achieve something, but you cannot work 24/7. And even though you’re getting enough sleep and manage to eat healthy food, the mere fact of constantly being in a big rush may be sometimes overwhelming. It’s been almost a year since I started blogging, and halfway through I became so engulfed in the daily events I couldn’t find a moment to write something – the activity I took pleasure in before. These last months were the busiest time in my life and I wanted to share what I learned from it.

Learning how to fail

I’ve been up to many things during this time – I organized a social project, did some traveling and preparation for the final exams which are looming at the end of this school year. It cost a lot of time and energy to do many things at the same time, but it is also the way you learn, that’s why I believe it was totally worth it. The most important thing I realized this year was the fact you can’t win all the time. You are bound to fail many times in the process. The ability to accept failure, learn from it and move on is something that I’ve always had problems with. But somehow, by having more things coming on distracts your mind from dwelling on mistakes you made. Also, I get to the conclusion that were it not for all the things that didn’t work out I wouldn’t achieve things that so did. Even though I got disillusioned so many times, I still believe in the beautiful American dream myth and work towards it.

Put some limits on working

The time management is another issue. The skill that I still need to learn as I am very often left with long to-do list and in the situation that it is impossible to complete everything. There was time when I often found myself at 2 am still studying. Gradually, I started the habit of prioritizing and skipping stuff for it was never possible to do everything. I learned the hard way that there is either quality or quantity and sought the first one. I also gave up on trying to be perfect, which was probably the hardest. I will never excel at everything and there’s no need to.

Know your goal

The question that probably annoys me the most is “why do you do all these things when you don’t have to?”. Because I want to make a difference, I want to make my surroundings a little bit better. That’s why I do volunteer, why I do engage in societal initiatives. I could probably only do the schoolwork and would have plenty of time for myself and for my friends. But instead of it, I chose to find myself much more to do – but due to that I had opportunity to get to know amazing people from different countries. I believe there is nothing more enriching than meeting new people and sharing ideas. I’ve been amazed at all the achievement a lot of them accomplished – that was my motivation to engage in many events myself. My friends also played a huge role – I wouldn’t have done anything without their huge support. One can never overestimate the importance of friendly souls around them.

The busy life is not necessarily a bad thing. It is indeed really demanding, but also rewarding. If you push yourself to the limits – you are becoming better version of yourself. That is the goal I want to aim at.  I’ve been humbled by the support of so many people and lucky to be given opportunities that helped me to be in the place I am now.

If they wanted the right to vote, they’d better use it!

If a world had a perfect solution to how to rule a country, we would have the same rules and regulations everywhere. Some issues are always under debate. When I was abroad on an European youth project, I participated in country-bulding simulations, by which I mean we were presented with a map of four countries whose governments and most of population were destroyed during Third World War. Our task were to establish brand new political system, create government and take diplomatic actions among one another. It was very developing experience, especially as we were in different ages , ranging from those who just started high school to seniors at university. During the process of establishing laws and writing constitution, we got into an argument over the suffrage. The main question was if it should be obligatory as it forces people to be interested in who runs for seats, it is good solution. But is it democratic at all?

History is abundant in examples for groups of people to fight for their right to vote. There was a long and backbreaking work to be able to go once in a while to put a piece of paper with a name on it in the ballot box, just to express a personal wish who you want to be governed by. It took women almost a hundred years to be finally recognized as a person able to vote in United States in 1920. Four years later, Native Americans were granted such a right. Then, it took a lot of great personalities, such as Martin Luter King Jr or Rosa Parks, and thousands of supporters for the Black People to follow. And after several decades we take this right for granted, showing low interest in politics and expressing it in low turnouts on elections. So, there is an idea od making voting not a right, but a duty.

Some countries already force their citizens to show up at the ballot  – as for example Luxemburg, Brasil or Australia. The reason of such a policy is obvious – if you have to vote, you will probably get to know who you want to support and improves the general knowledge of what government is doing. They are representing all of their citizens, after all. Another advantage is that this solution diminishes the possibility of absence during elections for petty reasons such as bad weather or lack of good transportation. Moreover, compulsory voting ensures that there is no discrimination against disabled people as it must provide facilities for any kind of needs.

But if it is such a good solution, why only 22 countries are practising it? It may have many advantages, but I strongly believe that the state should never impose an action on their citizens. That is the first step to abolish democracy. If someobody doesn’t feel the need to be a part of community, they should have the right to abstain from the vote, that’s the point of having freedom. Also, there are people who don’t really know what the world of politics is all about and will support a person who is best with words. Then, it is great opportunity for populists to get power and then not fulfill their promises, which is certainly not what the state want to achieve.

It is always very easy to use force to get the intended effect. And violence, even in the form of fines (especially as they are often very hefty fines!) is never the answer for an issue, which here is lowinterest in government. We may quote the famous words that the democracy is the worst system ever, but there is no better option. And may it have positive effect on society, but in my opinion, giving away part of personal freedom in the name of presumption that citizens will be more aware of the events in the government is way too high.

Leave me alone for some time – a message from introverts

The conflict Introverts vs extroverts is as old as the hills. Extroverted people are deemed the most successful, energetic and simply the best possible kin, unlike those anti-social, selfish loners who does not want to talk and go out all the time. But having more time on our own and not socializing with many means that one have opportunity to develop as a person and their own interests and passions. Also, it is said that generally those “gifted” are most likely to be introverted. Can we say that either one is better?

On many occasions such as youth projects, quite often job interviews or other group admissions, the extrovertism is a trait that is very sought for. It is very logical – people who are easy-going will probably find their feet quickly and easily, which is preferable when building a team. We tend to value social skills more than any other personal qualities. Some people seem to omit the fact that in many cases people who are not so skilled with people are very creative and innovative, which is also very important for effectiveness. kawki

You should not feel worse if you’d rather drink a cup of coffee and enjoy a good book than go partying.

As in most things people fall somewhere on the scale of two extremes – as it is with politics (left-wing – right-wing), or life attitudes (those who are always happy without a reason and those who are always dejected) – and very few are on the absolute edge. Nobody has problems with that as it is just normal for people to be different. But somehow in today’s society there is a pressure on being very sociable. We constantly talk, party and post pictures of it on social media. The more evidence  of how successful our lives are, the better. Those who avoid overstimulating situations are in many cases excluded or have the label of nerd or weirdo.

Even so, let’s not forget that most influential people in history – artists, musicians and others – were introverts. Just thinking of VanGogh or Karl Darvin, and the list is so much longer. I believe we take this idea of Perfect Extrovert far too seriously and don’t even try to get to know the other side of the coin. Getting to know people and their own world of ideas and feelings is maybe not the most easy thing to do, but it may win you a very interesting friendship.

The United Kingdom survived. Intact?

Today’s the day after the big day. Yesterday was the day that was to make history. A referendum concerning Scottish independence was held. Scots had to decide whether they still want to be a part of the United Kingdom or want to leave the union and become sovereign. This is one really important question, so it is not a surprise that more than 80% of population went to cast a vote and say ‘aye’ or ‘not’. And as most polls showed the opinions cut almost evenly in half – nothing was certain until today’s official statement.

First, let’s ask why does Scotland even want to be independent? Being under British rule since 1707, the first independence ideas has been around since late XIXth century. But the current situation is mostly triggered by the 2011 election of the Scottish National Party. The whole campaign was accompanied with heated debates, politicians making promises and statements and ended yesterday – at ballot. In my view, the details of what will happened after secession was too unclear and uncertain for it to become true. People mostly was lead by their feelings not by the real situation of the Northern part of the island.

When I was talking to a Scotsman about a month ago, he said a similar thing – that Scottish independence is very beautiful and romantic idea that will never work in practice. But there are advantages of such an event. Even if all time I spend in Scotland was rather fleeting, I managed to get a glimpse of how this nation is distinctive from others. They have their own accent, culture, attire (these kilts…) or food just as any other one. They seem to be rather unfriendly towards British people indeed (but not everyone, as it is now presented in media!). And I did try to pay  pounds issued by Scottish bank in London. I do not recommend it to anyone.

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The famous Scottish Highlands, so different than London's cityscape

Our continent faces a lot of problems – the crisis in Ukraine or the position of Great Britain in EU (!).. Right now, the situation of Europe is very unstable and the consequences of independent Scotland could be very disadvantageous. Not only we cannot be sure of its position in EU and NATO – most likely it would have to apply to be admitted just as any other country, but also – and in my view more importantly – it could have triggered an avalanche effect. There are many regions that waited only for the outcome if today’s referendum – the Basque Country, Catalonia or Silesia. And creating more little countries with little power will seriously diminish the political unity of whole continent. To say nothing of Great Britain – had the Scotland seceded, Great Britain would probably have lost the permanent seat in the Security Council. Overall, the influence and importance of UK would be seriously diminished. That’s probably the reason why David Cameron promised Scots even more autonomy if they don’t vote yes at referendum.

Today’s a memorable day. For some great one, assuring that UK is still union of four countries, for others it’s a day of grief and lost hopes for possible better future. Unfortunately, there are always winners and losers. How will it affect relations between these two nations? We will see.

The paranoia of the war on terrorism – the aftermath of 9/11

This time, thirteen years ago all citizens of United States of America were in commotion. In panic. In fear. The eleventh of Sepetember 2001 was to become a pivotal point in recent American History. A day that changed the future of the country, its policy and attitude of its citizens. The day when America has altered for ever, when four terrorist attacks were launched on World Trade Center, in New York City. The suicide attacks destroyed the Twin Towers and left people terrified, looking for their friends and relatives.. It was al-Quaeda’s five minutes that will never be forgotten which cost three thousand people their lives and more than $10 billion in property and infrastructure damage.

The sudden and unexpected collision of planes with two of the biggest buildings in the world in broad daylight is quite an event. It has been talked about for long, long time after and has influenced the society. Isn’t it great for a terrorist organizations such as al-Quaeda? After 9/11 the national paranoia started. Also, people changed – they immediately started spending more time with family. praying and showing patriotism. This shows how big the impact of this tragedy is. And let’s not forget that fearful nation is very easy to manipulate, which is very dangerous. A lot of uncertain facts and lies has been said (here, I will recommend you Michel Moore’s book ).

Such a big killing spree cannot leave people and governments intact. The conspiracy theory which were not unpopular in the history of United States became a collective paranoia. The anxiety level has been noted to be much higher than before. But the most noticeable thing was obsession with security. When you read the stories of people who were considered as dangerous at the airport for ridiculous and inadequate reasons. The attempts to track down terrorists by scanning the web in search of people who use words such as “bombs” or “terrorism”, sometimes not even cinsidering the context.

But these reactions are understandable. And even if the war on terrorism had made it hard for people to travel, we may risk saying that al-Quaedea and Osama bin Laden is not around thirteen years later. Maybe the United States and world is not completely free from terrorism, but we do everything to improve. As Americans didn’t allow such events to repeat, we can only look with hope to the future where our sense of safety will not be upset.

The new President of the European Council – strong man for difficult times

   Last Saturday evening everybody was talking about one thing – the election of the new President of the European council and the new European Union High Representative. As the first has been assigned to Polsih Prime Minister, Donald Tusk and the other to the Foreign Minister of Italy, Federica Mogherini. In the times of unstable situation of Europe, when United Kingdom considers leaving the EU and the conflict between Ukraine and Russia poses serious threat to continental security, having a strong leader is crucial. And Polish politician seems to fit this perfectly. 

   Donald Tusk is one of the very few Prime Ministers in Europe to be elected for the second term and the first one in Poland after fall of the Iron Courtain. He is known as a great and charismatic leader, having maintained his position throughout very difficult times, especially during global financial crisis which has been a nightmare for the whole continent. Poland, during the government of his party  was the only EU country not to fall into recession in 2009. Although he isn’t so popular among people in his country – right now 25% of people suppot him, while as many as 43% is against him, according to the April’s CBOS survey, he is probably a good choice for the position. 

   I believe that his nationality is not to be overlooked. Europe has started to divide into the “more-developed countries, mostly those having euro currency” and “less-developed, those not willing to change the currency right now”. Or the richer North and poorer South. Besides, we are facing war in Ukraine. Being Polish, Donald Tusk is both representing a country without euro currency and aware of the situation of Poland’s east neighbors. Thus, he should bridge the gap between “two part of EU”, as a leader from a country where you use local money and draw attention to the Ukraine-Russian conflict which may seem distant for countries that lie far from them.

 

 

   One of the biggest problems and threats to the EU is Great Britain’s place in the union. As one of the most powerful countries of Europe, its presence is crucial. If they leave, the stability will be upset. And Mr Tusk’s task will be speaking with other leaders – David Cameron or Angela Merkel on behalf of the common view in the union. And given his good realtions with most powerful representatives of European countries, we can hope his two and a half year will not be wasted as it is big opportunity – for him as a politician, for his country and for whole Europe.

   The elections are always drawing media’s and citizen’s attention. But after being chosen for one of the most important jobs on the continent, you are given the credit of trust and you are under constant surveillance – of your fellow workers,, media and people. It’s great opportunity, but also huge responsibility. Even if Donald Tusk is not a perfect politician – he made a lot of mistakes and also failed to be elected as a president , he is good person for these difficult circumstances.

MUN or how to engage young people in politics!

United Nations is one of the most crucial organisation holding countries together to maintain world’s peace and tackle the problems concerning them. Even if most of their resolutions are not legally binding, its recommendations are taken seriously and also serve as a moral support. There’s no shadow of doubt that it plays huge role in international relationships and have real impact on the world. But do the ordinary people, especially young ones, know a lot about this organization? I don’t think so.

That’s the reason the Model United Nation was created in United States and later spread nationwide. It is a student idea of simulating the meetings of UN with the aim to make young people interested in learning about diplomacy, politics,  international relations and the UN itself. It is extracurricular activity which helps people to connect with each other, share ideas and get a glimpse of how do the big politics work.

For the last three weeks I’ve been away in Berlin, participating in international project in politics and diplomacy. And one weeks was completely devoted to MUN, thus gave me an opportunity to get to know how it really works. Firstly, the committees are divided just as they are in reality – you may be assigned to security council, human rights council or crisis council. There are many of them, depending on the conference you are attending. Then, you are assigned a country which you will be representing. After this moment, you are officially called a ‘delegate’. Last and most important – you are given the topics of the discussion. And the real work begin.

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The opening speech, resolutions and notes.

The Model United Nations procedures works similar to the UN procedures. Dress code is formal and delegations are given specific amount of time to speak. In short – they act as it was real. This is the way to make young people ( mostly from high schools and undergraduate programs) interested in politics and real world’s problems. The event teaches you a lot – at least that was my case. The skills you acquire are long-lasting and useful for your future career. First, the research. Something that you have to do for the university, for your boss or your writings. You will learn critical thinking and how to find the sources of information that are trustworthy. After you’ve gathered the facts, you have to present them. For me, it is the most important skill I learned during MUN – public speaking. Making opening speech, stating your country’s position on the issue, may not be that hard, but defending your points during general discussion definitely is. And let’s not forget how many times in real life you have to convince people you are right . I learned you must not be afraid to speak up and voice your own arguments, even if later proven wrong.

The most important factor that makes Model United Nations so special is the fact that it gathers young people, interested in similar problems together. When you are among those who have various political views and opinions, maybe know more than you do, it makes you motivated to be creative, to learn and to come up with new ideas. It improves your leadership and oratory skills – lobbying time, finding your allies and introducing new amendments to resolution, it all requires certain abilities. And also teamwork is not to be overlooked. Even if you have the brightest ideas how to solve every existing problem, without support of others you will lead you nowhere. Learning how to cooperate with coworkers is probably the most useful thing you may learn here.

All in all, Model United Nations is great idea to gather people from different background, all working together to form better future for their countries and the world. Some of them may end up dealing with it in their professional lives, while others may only treat is as an adventure. Either way, it cannot leave any participant indifferent and disappointed.