Saturday, June 11, 2016

Election, Disarmament, and Suicide Issues

A lot of people have been asking us about the U.S. election. It is strange being abroad for this one, and for feeling like you have the burden of explaining the rest of your countryfolk's decisions to various New Zealanders and international people. Many of them are incredulous at what's happening. It is nice sometimes not having regular television programming and being able to avoid most of the news. I requested to be able to vote electronically, so I hope that all works out okay when the election comes around in a few months.

I was in a room on campus finishing up one of my jobs when some people came in for a meeting about the Public Advisory Committee on Disarmament and Arms Control and how to raise awareness of the issue of disarmament among the community, especially young people. They invited me to stay for the meeting, and it ended up being a very fortuitous encounter -- I learned about their work in New Zealand and was able to help them with some advice about social media strategies. The committee was established by the 1987 New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act and has a pool of funds for scholarships and programs -- the funds being given by France after the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior was bombed and two French Secret Service agents were charged (

In more depressing stats about New Zealand, there has been some media coverage about it having one of the highest suicide rates in the western world, especially for men. The earthquakes here have caused an increase for the Canterbury region in particular. I hadn't realized that it was such an issue until now, but it makes sense with the emphasis on rugged masculinity and the drinking culture where people don't feel comfortable opening up (or admitting they need help) unless they have alcohol to loosen up. And weirdly, just this past week while I was in the library there was apparently an incident where someone was stopped just in time.

In food may be nearing summertime in the U.S., with plentiful and cheap berries (so I hear), but the food selection has shrunk here, and I just can't justify $6.99 for a small pack of strawberries!

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