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Favorite Guest Lecturers 

One of the guest lecturers that I enjoyed the most was Larry Dill, his talk about technology usage in China was fascinating.  I was especially interested when he started talking about wechat because I have personal experience using both the social media function and the mobile payment function of the app.  He brought up the fact that China is now has the largest population of internet users in the world and is rapidly becoming the primary market for internet based companies.  My Chinese heritage gives me special insight into the rapidly changing economic and social structures of the country.

Larry Dill

The other guest that I found the most interesting was Soren Larson, his stories about the Cheslatta people and their fight for justice was inspiring and enlightening.  Prior to his talk I did not even know that the Cheslatta existed, but hearing Larson talk about their struggle to maintain their cultural identity in a rapidly globalizing world made me realize how ignorant I am of indigenous matters.  The story of the Cheslatta being forced off their ancestral land to make way for the Aluminum Company of Canada’s (ALCAN) exploitation of their natural resources speaks to the economic and social priorities of wealthy Western countries.

The story of the Cheslatta nation is a long and tragic one, fraught with injustice and broken promises.  The Cheslatta have long accepted the cultural practices of white settlers attempting to live with them in harmony while still retaining a semblance of their own culture.  Despite this the Canadian government allowed the ALCAN corporation to force the Cheslatta off their land to make way for a dam, in the process they also flooded the Cheslatta’s sacred burial grounds scattering the bones of ancestors long dead into the lake.  The Cheslatta took the Canadian government to court and eventually won the lawsuit providing monetary recompense for their spiritual loss.

Insights Gained About Angola

Prior to doing research on Angola my knowledge of the country was extremely limited.  However in the course of my research I discovered a multitude information about the country’s economic, social, and political systems and the various problems facing Angola.  The foremost of which are governmental corruption, wealth inequality, unsustainable development, and environmental degradation.  It has become clear to me that in order for Angola to move into the future massive changes in its economic, social, and political systems are needed.

Angola while ostensibly a democracy functions in actuality as a one-party autocracy, with every president since independence being a member of the ruling MPLA party.  While founded as a Marxist-Leninist party to combat Portuguese colonial rule, the MPLA have since abandoned their roots to become the totalitarian capitalist overlords of Angola.  Under the reign of president Eduardo dos Santos Angola began exporting its natural oil reserves en mass which boosted economic growth.  However this newfound prosperity did not affect everyone equally with the lion’s share of wealth gains being funneled to a handful of millionaires and billionaires while most of the rest of the population still languishes in poverty.

In order for Angola to survive into the future they must look to a new generation of activists and civic leaders to combat inequality, stamp out corruption, and foster economic growth for all.  In addition to these measure they must also take steps to address the environmental degradation that threatens all citizens of Angola.  As supplied of water for drinking and irrigation dry up, and forests are cut down the people of Angola must ask themselves what price they are willing to pay for a livable society.

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