Author Archives: joshuasunga

Matching Mania and Visa Application

This week’s been a little bit busier than the last few weeks.

I’m currently organizing a “matching mania” event for Spanish students and recent graduates that are currently enrolled in AIESEC internship programs. If you don’t know what AIESEC is, then you won’t know what a matching mania event is. Make sure that you read the following explanation:

  • AIESEC runs two internship programs, the Global Internship Program and the Global Community Development Program.
  • Students and recent graduates admitted to these programs search for and apply for internships worldwide using AIESEC’s online database.
  • Part of my job with the AIESEC national team in Spain is to recruit students and recent graduates to these programs, and make sure that they are able to secure their internships.
  • A matching mania event is meant to help these students and recent graduates meet with AIESEC volunteers managing these internships in other countries online (usually via Skype), and hopefully, allow them to secure an internship much quicker.

The matching mania event is going to be held on 07 July, so there’s still a lot of time to organize the event, but it’s a lot of work. I’m very proud of the bilingual website I made for it!

Aside from that, I’m still waiting for my Spanish visa. It’s been a painfully long process, but I’ve been getting good news the last few days, so hopefully it will be issued soon.

Pacquiao v Bradley

Pacquiao v Bradley.
Picture taken by The Associated Press (click on pic to see the page I took it from)

I know I might seem anti-Pacquiao given my previous post on him, but I still watched his fight against Bradley on Saturday. Let me be clear, though I remain outraged at his apparent dereliction of his congressional duties and think that he’s not competent enough to serve in public office, I think he’s a great athelete.

While Pacquiao seemed a lot more sluggish in this fight compared to previous fights, it was clear that he was inflicting more damage to Bradley than Bradley was on him. He clearly won!

I don’t know too much about boxing, but I’m pretty sure that in order to be able to properly assess a fight, you have to actually watch it. I doubt that the 2/3 judges that ruled in Bradley’s favor did.

Meetings with local chapter VPs OGX

In my blog, I will probably be referring to VPs OGX a lot, so it might be a good time for me to explain what these people do.

AIESEC in Spain has 13 local chapters located nationwide, and each chapter has a VP Outgoing Exchange (VP OGX), which is responsible for recruiting Spanish students and recent graduates for AIESEC’s internship exchange programs, and also for sending them on internships worldwide.

Anyways: Last week, I started meeting with the local chapter VPs OGX. The meetings have been very interesting as I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about how AIESEC runs outside of Canada, as well as the many things that they have excelled at, and the many challenges that they are currently facing, especially in light of the current economic crisis plaguing Europe at the moment.

Of the 13 VPs, I’ve met with 3 so far, and I look forward to meeting the rest of them this week! These meetings have been really helpful, not just because I’m learning more about each local chapter, but also because I’m getting the opportunity to think about ideas that can help the local chapters with their work!

Code Academy: Importance of Self-Learning

So I recently discovered Code Academy, a website that allows its users to learn basic programming skills like JavaScript, HTML, CSS and so on. I just finished Part 1 (covers basic programming) of Code Academy’s introductory track, Code Year. I’m going to start the project-based course (Project Fizz Buzz) tomorrow!

Badges I earned after completing the first course!

The badges that you get after hitting milestones in Code Academy’s courses are motivating – right now I have four. I know that only completing Part 1 of the introductory course doesn’t count for much, but hey, I got four badges!

Anyways, one of the reasons why I’m talking about Code Academy is because I want to highlight the importance of self-learning and self-education. In order to remain competitive in today’s job market, everyone has to constantly upgrade their skills to keep up with the competition and to adapt to the demands of today’s marketplace. Code Academy is a fun way of gaining basic knowledge of programming – I encourage you to try it!

One World International Scholarship

Earlier today (should I say yesterday as its now 3.20am, Saturday), I received an e-mail confirming that I had been awarded the One World International Scholarship by the Irving K Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society and UBC!

The scholarship is awarded to support BC students in embarking on international exchange. The financial aspect of this scholarship will certainly help when I start my year-long work term with AIESEC in Spain, but I’m even more excited at the fact that my work with AIESEC at UBC has been recognized in this way by both the Irving K Barber Society and the university itself!

I want to give a big thank you to Professor Raul Pacheco (@raulpacheco, attended his Poli 375 Global Environmental Politics class in third year – you might want to sign up for it!) and Deb Browne (President of Entrepreneurial Success Network and member of AIESEC UBC Board of Advisors) for helping me out with the application!

Pacquiao’s absences from Congress

Manny Pacquiao, who is considered the top pound-for-pound fighter in boxing today, also happens to be the Representative of the district of Sarangani in the Philippine House of Representatives. Because of Pacquiao’s obligations to his boxing career – including his many fights abroad, and the training sessions he has to do in order to prepare for them – have prevented him from fulling discharging his role as a Congressman.

In fact, as a result of his boxing career, Congressman Pacquiao has only managed to “actually attend” 27 out of 59 session days or plenary sessions of the House of Representatives in 2011. That’s 45% of all plenary sessions of the House that took place during the 15th Congress last year. According to the attendance record, Pacquiao did not give prior notice for his absence at 21 House plenary sessions – if you think about it, its like not showing up to class 21 times just for no apparent reason.

According to Section 70 of the House Rules, representatives who are attending House committee meetings or meetings of the Commission on Appointments are “deemed” to have attended the plenary session, if these meetings clash. Based on this rule, Pacquiao was deemed to have attended 38 out of the scheduled 59 plenary sessions. But still, that means that Pacquiao only attended 64% of the total plenary sessions that took place last year.

Pacquiao serves on 15 House committees. Of these, he serves as Vice Chairperson of the Millennium Development Goals and the Poverty Alleviation Committees. Other committees he’s serving on include National Defense and Security, and Mindanao Affairs.

Now, let’s compare that to one of the Representatives who with a 100% attendance rate: Rep Pedro Acharon Jr. Congressman Acharon serves as Vice Chairperson of the Aquaculture and Fisheries, and the Land Use Committees, and serves as a member of nine other House committees.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not anti-Pacquiao or anything: I support him in his boxing career, and I avidly await his fight against Mayweather (whenever that ends up happening). However, many people seem to forget the fact that he is an elected legislator – an employee of the Filipino people.

Yes, pretty much everyone in the Filipino community worldwide (including here in Vancouver) watch him whenever he fights, and that he is considered a national symbol whenever he represents the country in the boxing world. However, as a result of his boxing commitments, when he’s not doing his Congressman duties as a result of his boxing fights, his constituents lose out. Yes, it might be beneficial to have a famous boxer or celebrity representing you in Congress, but if they only show up to work 64% of the time, then they’re useless.

Perhaps it is time for us to scrutinize more closely the candidates we choose to elect to office. It’s not just Pacquiao being a truant – there are other Congressmen who skip out on work, and in fact, have a much lower attendance rate than Pacquiao does.

Imagine if you skipped work without prior notice 21 times (21 days worth of House plenary sessions is equal to 21 days of work for everyone else) – wouldn’t your boss get pissed off? Never mind that – wouldn’t you lose your job? Perhaps it’s time that we raised the standard for our elected officials, and demand that they show up to work.

Bin Laden Documents Released

A selected set of Bin Laden’s documents and correspondences seized from his Abbottabad compound in Pakistan have been released online. This last semester, I was taking a class on Terrorism Studies at UBC (Poli 369D), and I’m amazed at how a lot of the things I learned in that course remain applicable to current events. These documents (click on the link above to access!) give an interesting look into how Al-Qaeda functioned while Bin Laden was hiding.

I can’t give an exhaustive analysis, but here are some thoughts that I have after glancing over the docs:

Media

According to Margaret Thatcher, “publicity is the oxygen of terrorism.” This applies directly to Al-Qaeda. In Lawrence Wright’s work, The Looming Tower, Al-Qaeda’s dealings with the media and journalists are accounted for in detail. Even while Bin Laden was in hiding in Pakistan, he continued his public relations effort.

In one of the released documents (SOCOM-2012-0000004), Adam Gadahn, Bin Laden’s American-born spokesman, talks about how Fox News “falls into the abyss… and lacks neutrality,” while CNN in English “seems to be in cooperation with the government more than the others.” However, CNN’s Arabic arm is considered by Bin Laden’s spokesman to bring “good and detailed reports about As-Sahab (Al-Qaeda’s media arm) releases, with a lot of quotations from the original text.” Gadahn mentions that that other news agencies like Reuters and AP don’t quote directly from Al-Sahab press releases, instead, paraphrasing and summarizing them.

Another thing I find interesting from this document is how Gadahn elaborates on how Al-Qaeda should try to court the support of Christians in the Middle East through the media. Gadahn laments an attack by Al-Qaeda in Iraq “on the Catholic Church in Baghdad,” saying that such actions “do not help to gain people’s sympathy.” It seems evident that Al-Qaeda’s high-ranking leaders didn’t agree with everything its affiliates were doing.

Hoffman/Sageman Debate

What are the implications of these documents for the Hoffman/Sageman debate? Do these documents shed some light on how terrorist organizations work, and which argument proves more relevant to these organizations today?

At the moment, it seems that the released documents give more credence to Hoffman’s argument that terrorist organizations remain threats, instead of Sageman’s argument that we should be more worried about self-recruited, lone-wolf terrorists.

Al-Qaeda’s affiliate organizations, like Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and wannabe affiliates like Al-Shabab in Somalia seem to have a bit of a difficult relationship with Al-Qaeda’s “leadership-in-hiding” in Pakistan. It seems that, while the organization is hierarchical, splinter groups that subscribe to the overall ideology of Al-Qaeda have different ways of pushing or turning Al-Qaeda’s “vision” into reality. Effectively, this meant that Bin Laden’s control over the affiliate organizations was weak.

This shows that Abu Musab al-Suri’s proposal that Al-Qaeda be more decentralized, and allow adherents to form their own organizations following Al-Qaeda ideology has been implemented; however, it has resulted in friction with affiliate organizations and Al-Qaeda’s highest-ranking leaders. Did al-Suri’s proposal backfire on Al-Qaeda?

Anyways, those are my thoughts. This is really interesting; hopefully, in the future they’ll release more of this information! Do you think that the unreleased information portray Bin Laden increasingly out of touch with his organization, or do the documents withheld from public viewing show something different?

I’m tempted to take the 400-level course/seminar when I get back from Spain next year!

AIESEC International PR Hub Meeting

I finished exams last week, however that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been busy! This week (Monday-Thursday), I attended the AIESEC International Public Relations Hub Meeting. This event is basically an AIESEC conference held in seven locations worldwide simultaneously. The purpose of the meeting is to help the AIESEC International head office in Rotterdam to cultivate a global public relations strategy for the organization as a whole. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to attend the North American hub meeting hosted by AIESEC SFU, in the heart of downtown Vancouver!

One of the things that I found most interesting about the meeting was that different countries within the AIESEC network were facing the same problems on issues concerning public relations and getting the organization’s name out there; but even more interesting were that each of the regional hubs participating in the meeting came up with very similar solutions. Needless to say, I’m very excited to see what local chapters in North America (particularly in Canada!) and elsewhere do with this output; and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to use some of the ideas generated during this meeting for AIESEC in Spain!

April so far

It’s been a while since I posted, so I thought I’d post a quick update:

  1. Turned 23 on Tuesday! Nothing big, just went to dinner with the family and then went back to studying. Dad’s visiting from Indonesia and will be returning tomorrow.
  2. Big Skype meeting with the incoming and outgoing AIESEC national team in Spain! The Achieve 2012 Conference will be taking place in Malaga next week, and I will be participating virtually via Skype in parts of the conference. It sucks that I won’t be able to be there in person, but showing up via Skype is better than nothing.
  3. Finished my International Political Economy exam and term paper. I have my Arab Politics exam on Wednesday and my Terrorism Studies exam and term paper on Friday. Can’t wait to be done!
  4. Haven’t really been following the Canucks’ progress during the playoffs – hope they succeed!

And that’s it – hope to resume blog activity after exams finish!

Swimming

This post is part of series on my personal history. Enjoy!

When I was younger, I was a competitive swimmer. I wasn’t an olympic athlete, but I swam on a regular basis, everyday for at least two hours after school.

Unlike other sports, swimming isn’t exactly what I would call a “team sport”. Sure, you’ve got a coach and other people in a “team” swimming with you, but unless you’re doing a relay, swimming is very much an individual sport. Even when you’re competing, while you’ll be swimming against other people, at the end of the day, you’re success isn’t based on whether you finish first, it’s based on whether you beat your seed time or not.

Here are two things I learned from swimming:

  • Time Management: Swimming practice can be a bitch, especially when you start school at 7.30 am, get around six hours of sleep after pulling an all-nighter studying. After classes end at 2.45pm, I usually had an hour-long break before practice started – and even then, I still had extracurricular activities to do before. I juggled a full IB course load during my junior and senior years while I was on the varsity team – keeping track of time and not slacking off was important if I was going to get any rest and stay awake for swim practice.
  • Commitment: Being part of the varsity swimming team in high school was cool, but the ultimate goal for everyone in the team was to compete in the annual IASAS swimming competition to represent the school. Everyone had to try out to get into the varsity team at the beginning of the school year; but to get into the IASAS team, you had to perform well throughout the semester in order to be selected by the coach, so essentially being on the varsity team was a semester-long tryout. I didn’t get into IASAS during my first two tries (sophomore and junior year), however it was extremely satisfying when I got in on my senior year. I learned how to stay committed because of swimming.

Swimming during high school was awesome. I wasn’t the best at it, but it was a lot of fun. I liked to do short distance and medium-distance freestyle, so 50m, 100m and 200m.