What's all this then?

Many aid workers keep online journals called web logs, or "blogs" for short. Blogs tend to be very personal, to present unabashedly biased opinions and to be much less formal than an organization's web site. Blogs are sometimes provocative, and some may make you feel uncomfortable -- you certainly won't agree with everything you read in blogs, including those produced by aid workers.

The AWN blog portal presents a range of aid worker-produced blogs from around the world. However, AWN is not responsible for the content of any of these blogs, and inclusion here on the AWN blog portal in no way endorses their content by AWN. If you disagree with what a blog has presented, by all means, write the blog author ("blogger") directly and let him or her know what you think.

If you would like to submit a blog by an aid, relief or development worker, please complete this form.

Popsicles from Malaysia

Nathalie Abejero - September 28, 2013 - 3:52am

I love these popsicles once in a while. They’re one of the few interesting ice cream brands I’ve seen in Cambodia. By interesting I mean the flavors are local, not the typical imported vanilla chocolate strawberry. They carry red bean, sweet yellow corn, durian, taro (this is the least tasty flavor unfortunately), and black glutinous rice. I’ve only ever seen them in the bigger TELA gas station mini-marts or at the Paragon grocery store (behind the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh).

Categories: AidBlogs

things I love about Bangkok – Thai Iced Tea and Iced Green Tea

Nathalie Abejero - September 28, 2013 - 3:41am

One iced tea costs 25 Baht (~US $0.83) from a street vendor just outside Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok.

Categories: AidBlogs

The industrial mistake - February 21, 2013 - 4:32pm

People who are raised in the industrial world and who get enthused about systems thinking are likely to make a terrible mistake. They are likely to assume that here, in systems analysis, in interconnection and complication, in the power of the computer, here at last, is the key to prediction and control. This mistake is likely because the mind-set of the industrial world assumes that there is a key to prediction and control.

- Donella H. Meadows (2008), Thinking in Systems: A Primer

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Categories: AidBlogs

Humanitarianism is a Disease - February 19, 2013 - 11:22am

The humanitarian system will collapse; if that sounds catastrophic, then perhaps you’re looking at it the wrong way. Humanitarian organisations aren’t inherently worthy, any more than any type of organisation is inherently worthy. Organisations are only delivery mechanisms for goods, and it’s the goods themselves that have value, and the success of the organisation in delivering those goods determines their own value. This is true whether the goods in question are health services, power tools – or humanitarian principles.

“Humanitarianism” isn’t a good in the way that health services or power tools, however. It might be more useful to think of humanitarianism as a disease, one that we want to spread so that it infects all of human society. A lot of progress has been made in this way regarding (for example) human rights – think of the near-universal state-level condemnation of slavery or torture (although there are frequently exceptions to prove the rule). This progress is always contingent, since diseases can go into remission, and the factors which make their progress possible change over time.

Humanitarian organisations are valuable only in so far as they act as vectors for the transmission of humanitarian principles. The physical goods and services that humanitarian organisations provide can be and frequently are provided by other types of organisations. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, and that trend will continue to grow; and that’s one of the things that we need to take into account when we think about the future of humanitarianism (and think about it a lot more deeply than we do at present).

You could argue that humanitarian principles are how humanitarian organisations distinguish themselves in the marketplace; but that would be to accept the logic of late-stage capitalism, which I suggest you don’t. In fact, we might argue that late-stage capitalism is a rival infection, one which has been more successful than humanitarianism; successful enough that nobody now blinks an eyelid when Bill Gates declares that development “now is more like a business”.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The reason that argument fails is because it puts the cart before the horse. Humanitarian principles aren’t a product of humanitarian organisations; humanitarian organisations are the product of humanitarian principles. If the “goods” that humanitarian organisations were set up to deliver are humanitarian principles, and it seems likely that those organisations will wither and die over time, then what we need to develop is not are alternative delivery mechanisms, new vectors for the transmission of humanitarian principles.

This focus on principles is an old, old song – but this is a brand new tune. This isn’t about an MSF-style back-to-basics approach to humanitarian principles; I appreciate their focus, but it’s essentially backward-looking, and therefore doomed to failure given the changes in our external circumstances. This is about a wholly new approach to humanitarianism, one which does not locate its principles in the attitudes and actions of institutional stakeholders, but in the wider culture.

This has to be the future of humanitarianism: not a tower guarded jealously by a self-selected set of organisations, but a “people’s humanitarianism” that guards the world. This requires a massive shift not just in the way in which the existing humanitarian system organises itself, but a change in the way in which we think about humanitarianism. It also needs a massive communications effort to ensure that those principles survive in what is often rocky ground.

I don’t think the humanitarian community is capable of implementing these changes (for reasons outlined in this post), and the alternatives on offer are frankly limited. As a starting point, my prescription is to move from organisations to networks as the most effective vectors for those principles. Even if not all the nodes in those networks will themselves be humanitarian organisations, we need to ensure that humanitarian principles infect as many nodes as possible, creating a humanitarian pandemic. I think I’ve exhausted that metaphor, and so I’ll end this post here.

Related posts:

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  2. The single biggest threat to the humanitarian system
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Categories: AidBlogs

The Two Crises of Humanitarianism - February 12, 2013 - 10:56am

In the view of the humanitarian community, what distinguishes our work from other actors providing similar goods and services (such as the military) is the basis on which it is provided. One way of framing this is the difference between humanitarian assistance from the provision of relief: the latter can be done by anybody for any reason, while the former can only be carried out by specific types of organisation based on clearly articulated principles.

Unfortunately the recipients of aid do not share this view. The available evidence suggests “that while in some settings local people differentiate among international actors, they are generally more concerned with what is being provided than who are the chosen agents of assistance and protection” (Donini et al. 2005, Mapping the Security Environment). This suggests that, regardless of whether aid recipients are justified in their views, humanitarian principles exist largely to provide a philosophical framework that enable traditional humanitarian actors to justify their actions.

Aid provided by avowedly non-humanitarian actors – such as the extensive social security provision by Hezbollah in Lebanon – causes great discomfort because it establishes an overtly clientilist relationship. Even with the best intentions, however, it is inevitable that some degree of clientilism is generated by such relationships. The Listening Project’s recent report “describe[s] how assistance begins as a boost to people’s spirits and energies, but over time, becomes entrenched as an increasingly complicated system of reciprocated dependence.” (Anderson et al. 2013, Time to Listen, p2)(PDF)

While agencies are not unaware of this, the standard response is that “there is a tendency to criticise relief for failing to improve the situation and enable a movement towards recovery or development, when humanitarian aid was never claiming to have that as an objective, or is a wholly inappropriate instrument for that purpose. The problem lies not with relief and its failings, but with the lack of other forms of international engagement.” (Harvey and Lind 2005, Dependency and humanitarian relief, p17)(PDF) This may well be the case, but it is largely irrelevant to the recipients of aid.

It is increasingly clear to humanitarian actors that the needs of those recipients are frequently not the same as those met by the supply-driven aid system. Affected communities frequently point out that amongst their most pressing requirements are employment opportunities or general security, neither of which humanitarian aid can deliver. More imaginative responses are now being implemented, such as cash transfers, but these have been held back by the humanitarian community’s limited understanding of the wider social, political and economic forces acting on affected communities.

The Listening Project report goes on to say that a number of aid recipients “say that they believe aid providers depend on the recipients’ “needs” because responding to these needs justifies the providers’ existence and work.” The point is not that aid generates clients, or that humanitarian principles have been undermined by western military policy, or that humanitarian organisations are viewed with ambivalence by other stakeholders; these are trivially true, and have been discussed at length elsewhere.

What is critical is that these developments demonstrate that the narrative which the humanitarian community has created for itself does not match the narrative created by those outside the community, particularly aid recipients. Increasingly the humanitarian community is not in control of the narrative around humanitarian action, specifically because of the advent of the information age, which gives rise to two related crises:

  1. A crisis of legitimacy. We are trapped in responding to outside criticism which is not based on the reality of aid but on media perceptions of aid, and permanently stuck behind the curve in responding to that criticism, which is not helped by the persistence of poor management throughout the sector. The end result is that our self-justifications are no longer viable in the face of increasing evidence that those justifications are irrelevant to aid recipients.
  2. A crisis of confidence, brought on by the crisis of legitimacy. The external narrative is so strong, and there is such a great disparity between these two narratives, that those working in the humanitarian sector are unable to reconcile them. In such a situation, the dominant narrative will slowly overwhelm other narratives, which is what is happening to the narrative around humanitarian principles: they are seen by external actors as at best peripheral to the provision of relief.

In the last decade, the competing narrative has been driven by the public in early-industrialised countries (facilitated by failure-focused media coverage): aid is ineffective, and the solution is mechanisms which improve effectiveness, e.g. managerialist projects such as the UN’s humanitarian reform efforts. In the next decade, however, that narrative will be overtaken by the voices of aid recipients. Thanks to the research cited above, we are beginning to have a better understanding of what those voices are saying; but the only thing we can be certain of is that they will tell a completely different story: “effectiveness” is not their god, but participation is.

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Categories: AidBlogs

The single biggest threat to the humanitarian system - February 8, 2013 - 3:48pm

The leading industrial nations are also oil states. Without the energy they derive from oil their current forms of political and economic life would not exist. Their citizens have developed ways of eating, travelling, housing themselves, and consuming other goods and services that require very large amounts of energy from oil and other fossil fuels. These ways of life are not sustainable, and they now face the twin crises that will end them…

- Timothy Mitchell, Carbon Democracy, in Economy and Society Volume 38, Issue 3, 2009

Mitchell’s article (later developed into an excellent and very readable book) makes a compelling argument about the role that fossil fuels  – and specifically oil – have played in creating and shaping our political, economic and social frameworks. You don’t have to buy into every aspect of that argument to recognise that broadly speaking it’s obviously true – all civilizations depend on their energy resources,  both in the more visible efforts to control those resources, but also in the more subtle ways in which those resources make all other achievements possible.

This recasts the huge progress that humanity has made in improving the quality and quantity of life as less impressive than it first appears. Without disparaging the efforts of the many millions of people who have improved their own lives and the lives of others, those improvements were possible only because of the massive energy windfall that fossil fuels represented. The Green Revolution was a tremendous achievement, but made possible partly because of fossil-fuel-based industrial services and goods such as synthetic fertilizers.

Carbon democracy suggests a deeper problem. If the political and economic wealth of industrialized nations – modern democracy and consumer culture – has been paid for by access to fossil fuels then, as fossil fuels dwindle, that political and economic wealth will dwindle also (although with a time lag similar to the initial lag between use of fossil fuels on a large scale and their impact on civilization). The frameworks that were built by and continue to rely on that wealth will change in response to this external pressure (amongst others) to take new forms that may or may not support the values that we currently believe to be important.

Humanitarian action is also reliant on those frameworks of wealth, both for the economic resources which are transferred from richer to poorer communities, and for the political and social mechanisms which facilitate that transferral. As that wealth starts to disappear – not just if industrialized nations become comparatively poorer, but also because the overall wealth of nations lessens – then inevitably the humanitarian system which it currently supports will also start to disappear.

If this is true, it is the single biggest long-term threat to the humanitarian system, since the institutions which we currently work through and the resources which they can deploy will no longer be available. In light of that, we should be exploring how to ensure the survival of core humanitarian principles past the death of those institutions. What might these new forms look like? I’d suggest that resilience might provide a useful approach, with a focus on building networks of mutual support that can deploy scarce resources more equitably while still maintaining humanitarian principles – but in truth we haven’t even begun to think about these issues yet, because we assume that our institutions are eternal.

They’re not.

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  3. Humanitarian blog resources

Categories: AidBlogs

The same old dilemmas - February 6, 2013 - 2:02pm

This may sound familiar:

Few of the modern professionals seem to be immune from the popular attack – whether they be social workers, educators, housers, public health officials, policemen, city planners, highway engineers or physicians. Our restive clients have been telling us that they don’t like the educational programs that schoolmen have been offering, the redevelopment projects urban renewal agencies have been proposing, the law enforcement styles of the police, the administrative behavior of the welfare agencies, the locations of the highways, and so on. In the courts, the streets, and the political campaigns, we’ve been hearing ever-louder public protests against the professions’ diagnoses of the clients’ problems, against professionally designed governmental programs, against professionally certified standards for the public services. It does seem odd that this attack should be coming just when professionals in the social services are beginning to acquire professional competencies. It might seem that our publics are being perverse, having condoned professionalism when it was really only dressed-up amateurism and condemning professionalism when we finally seem to be getting good at our jobs. Perverse though the laity may be, surely the professionals themselves have been behind this attack as well. [Emphasis mine.]

- Rittel and Webber (1973), Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning, p155-6

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Categories: AidBlogs

Building in Failure - February 5, 2013 - 5:45pm

After years of sniping from the sidelines, I have finally begun to write my critique of the humanitarian sector. Central to the critique is an idea that I haven’t seen discussed in the humanitarian sector – indeed, I haven’t seen it discussed anywhere, although I doubt that it’s a new idea. The idea is that all human-built systems – and some (but not all) natural systems – have failure built into them.

We build failure into systems when they are explicitly or implicitly designed for one thing but we expect them to do another. The reasons why we might do this are many and varied, but it need not be a conscious effort. Individual humans are perfectly capable of saying one thing but doing another; individual organisations are even more capable of this, especially when they grow sufficiently large and diverse; and in systems comprised of multiple organisations with diverse interests, it is almost inevitable.

This is particularly true as the external environment changes over time, since the growth of systems is essentially an evolutionary process. New approaches are tried, and if they succeed (and we need not strictly define what we mean by succeed) they are passed on to the next generation. Each new iteration builds on the changes in the previous iteration; as changes build and build on each other, they become locked in place, a process known as path dependency. Once you get far enough down a specific path, it is not possible to jump to another path, or even to retrace your steps and take another path.

What this means in practice is that the systems that we build for one purpose cannot be re-directed to another purpose easily – and it may not be possible to re-direct them at all. This does not mean that change is impossible: there can always be improvements within the system, but the system itself cannot be radically changed. In some ways, the fact that improvements are possible within the system is itself problematic, since they frequently lead people to believe that these incremental steps are inevitably leading towards the radical change that they really want. This is not necessarily the case.

We can see examples of this in other sectors. Western militaries that developed organically as part of the formation of the nation state were able to transition to the Cold War by pretending that the territorial conflict they were designed for had not been rendered irrelevant by nuclear weapons. With the end of the Cold War, their utility became questionable until the declaration of the “global war on terror”, once again cast as territorial conflict, when it was anything but.

The expansion of western militaries into humanitarian intervention and disaster relief should be seen in this light. Such expansion demonstrates that the military has developed; but even when given clear direction, however, the military cannot simply be re-purposed. They may be able to establish and maintain a field hospital which can provide medical care for large numbers of people, but they cannot turn themselves into a national health system. This seems very obvious, but wait:

The role of national health system is exactly the role that humanitarian NGOs have played in Afghanistan. If we do not believe military organisations can be re-purposed in this way, why should we believe that humanitarian organisations can? Have those agencies been able to fill that role successfully? The short answer is no. “An estimated 70% of medical programs in the country have been implemented by aid organizations” and “82% of the entire population lives in districts where primary care services are provided by NGOs under contracts with the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan or through grants” the Afghan health care system remains largely a shambles.

The managerialist response to this is threefold. First, we blame political processes: sclerotic, corrupt or otherwise, we can shift the blame to those making the decisions about how to set up and run the system. Second, we blame resource constraints: lack of funding, lack of staff, lack of equipment, some of the responsibility must surely go to the difficult operating environment. Third, we blame organisational capacity: if only we could invest in e.g. management skills, then the system would work much more effectively.

All of these things are true, but all of them mask the real truth: the humanitarian system simply cannot deliver what is asked of it. This goes beyond the criticism that health services are not “fit for purpose”, because that phrase suggests that they can be made fit with the right political decisions, sufficient resources and improved capacity. This is not an attack on those NGO and government staff providing health care in extremely difficult circumstances; it is an attack on we who expect them to fill a role that they cannot possibly fill.

The aid system was set up and subsequently developed (although mostly unplanned) to work in a particular way that did not include relatively new concerns such as coordination, accountability, transparency or even efficiency. Despite this, we persist in believing that a few key initiatives – training more humanitarian co-oordinators, for example, or establishing organisational certification – can transform the entire sector, making it possible to do things that it was never designed to do. This seems unlikely, to say the least.

That’s the diagnosis – what is the treatment? I believe that there are three specific requirements:

  1. We need to become more aware of systemic constraints. In particular we need to have more reasonable expectations about what type and size of change is possible given those constraints.
  2. We need to address the fact that the system itself is likely to collapse due to changes in the external environment, or shift to a new equilibrium that is not necessarily recognisable to us, and prepare for that contingency.
  3. We need to recognise and restate that the critical factor that distinguishes the humanitarian system from other delivery channels (such as the military) is not its relative effectiveness, but the values that it embodies.

In practice we need to begin building alternative systems to a) fill in the gaps in capability based on those constraints, b) eventually replace the system and c) ensure that the values that the system was originally meant to deliver continue to be delivered, even if the current system does not survive. Unfortunately at present, all our efforts are focused on option a) because it is the most visible and most accessible; but investing only in this single option guarantees failure in the other two. We need to expand our conception of how the humanitarian system actually works, rather than how we would like it to work.

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Categories: AidBlogs

New Blog

Louder than Swahili - June 24, 2011 - 11:50am

I don't blog on louder than swahili any longer.

Please, visit me on my newest blog here.

Categories: AidBlogs

English Talent Show Part 2!

Faster than a falling coconut - June 8, 2010 - 12:04pm

Crossing my fingers and hoping this works . . .

Categories: AidBlogs

English Talent Show Part 1!!!!!!

Faster than a falling coconut - June 8, 2010 - 5:43am
Hellllllllllloooooooooooooooo pessoal!!!!!!! How does this find everyone!THings couldn't be more hectic this morning . . . and because of the stubborn lethargy of this internet connection I'm not sure exactly what will make it to your side of the mundo. Hopefully the video will play. There will be more to come. From the Youth Training Center's last English Talent Show!
The crowd anxiously awaits the first performance, which will be . . .
A duet by Amade and Alex, Abba's "I Have a Dream" Up next Teacher Dunija and Zania, Celine Dion's "I'm Alive" The crowd loving every second!

A trio, "You're Still The One" by one of Mozambique's favorite, Shania Twain. GOsh, I hope this works.
Please, reader, do know this is a very miniscule sampling of the musical renditions of the night. We're still missing James Blunt, Chris Brown, Bryan Adams, Mariah Carey and more! I'll try the connection later, hopefully I can post more clips.Love to all,Alex
Categories: AidBlogs

New Kinshasa blog

Extra extra - February 1, 2010 - 9:59am

Extra Extra is no longer being updated. May I suggest you take a look at Solo Kinshasa?

Categories: AidBlogs

4 More NLP exercises by Bandler: Exams, Study, Motivation, Money

iDevelopWorld - December 21, 2009 - 2:53am


Continuing on from my previous NLP and Bandler post, you must be more interested to learn some other Neuro-Linguistic Programming exercises. (Visit the previous post to learn more about the fundamental NLP concept of submodalities.)

The following 4 NLP exercises are also excerpted from Bandler’s “Getting the Life You Want.” The great thing about Bandler’s book is that he provides the NLP exercises in an easy-to-read manner. They’re easily accessible and organised well.

These 4 exercises stood out for me and I want to remember them, and by recording them here, these exercises may help you too!


Getting Through Exams

  1. Before you study, organize your study so you make it similar to the kinds of circumstances you’ll face in the exams.
  2. Remember a time you felt confident, excited, and superbly focused. See what you saw, hear what you heard, and feel how you felt. Amplify the feeling.
  3. As you study take time to look at particular notes you have and practice hallucinating them in different locations around the room. Do so until you can see them anywhere you put them by imaging them vividly.
  4. When you go into the exam, bring about the same state of confidence, excitement, and superb focus again and spin the feeling.
  5. Begin to answer each question but imagine being back in your room and hallucinate the answers in front of you in the same way.
  6. See yourself vividly and notice the way you are smiling, breathing, standing, and moving. Move in that way.


Getting to Study

  1. Imagine something you are really motivated to do and create the feeling and spin it inside you to intensify it.
  2. Imagine yourself studying and doing really well in the exams.
  3. Spin the feeling of motivation faster and faster as you think about studying and doing exams.
  4. Think about not having enough time to study and spin the urgency.
  5. Think about studying again and doing well in the exams as you spin the urgency and feeling of motivation faster and faster.


Motivate Yourself with Words

  1. Think of something you find yourself easily motivated to do.
  2. Notice the tone and rhythm of your inner voice that you use when you talk to yourself about these activities.
  3. Become aware of the different words that work best to motivate you out of the following choices:

    • I WISH
    • I WANT
    • I NEED
    • I HAVE TO
    • I’VE GOT TO
    • I MUST
    • I SHOULD
    • I CAN
    • I AM DOING
  4. You will notice that some of these words work better for you than others and motivate you more than the others. Use the words and the tone and rhythm of the words and voice that motivates you. (Check out my other NLP post for more about auditory and other submodalities)


How to Make More Money Exercise

  1. Build a belief in yourself being wealthy.
  2. You can do this by going back to the inventory where you found the sub modalities of a strong belief. Take the thought of you becoming successfully wealthy in the near future and move it off and back up into the sub modalities of the strong belief Do this a number of times.
  3. Focus on making your money based upon what you know rather than something you don’t know much about.
  4. Learn everything you need to know about whatever business or opportunity you are looking at. Research in depth so you are absolutely clear on everything.
  5. Find a mentor who has already succeeded in the business you are in and ask them all the questions you have about how to make it work.
  6. Always ask how you can be more valuable to the world and prepare to work more effectively than ever before.


These 4 NLP exercises are found in Bandler’s book, and be sure to check it out to find out more about NLP and more ways to achieve peak performance in your life and work.

Do you have any other NLP exercises that you know or use in your life and work? Share with us your ideas below.


This article was inspired by
Get the Life You Want (Richard Bandler)

Check it out at Amazon

Related posts:

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Categories: AidBlogs

Neuro linguistic programming (NLP) exercises by Richard Bandler to help you achieve peak performance in life

iDevelopWorld - December 20, 2009 - 5:48am


Technology in our modern world has developed so much in the last 100 years. You can see this in the technological advancements in computers and communication and transport.

Just as there have been great leaps in progress in technology in these areas, we have also seen advancements in the technology of your mind and body.

Neuro-linguistic programming (or NLP for short) came about when Richard Bandler and John Grinder went on a mission to find out what works when using our minds to achieve what we want. They noticed that much of previous reserach on psychology focused too much on the problems and explaining how the mind works or how mental challenges (like fear or anxiety or limitations) come about. However, the discipline of psychology often lacked clear steps for people to take control of their own minds. It lacked a coherent way for people to use their brains in a systematic way that could work for them to get the life they deserved.

Bandler and Grinder then did research on psychologists and clinical psychiatrists who were actually achieving results with their patients. They particularly followed much of the work of the American psychiatrist Milton Erickson. Overall, they discovered that there are certain ways that you can use your mind and language in order to program yourself and your habits to achieve anything you want.

NLP’s purpose is really to “find ways to help people have better, fuller and richer lives.” Originally, NLP was catered to address psychological problems like phobias, depression, habit disorder, psychosomatic illnesses, learning disorders. However, in more recent times, NLP has been promoted as a “science of excellence”. It has led to a greater impact in management training, life coaching and even for peak performance in sports.


NLP exercises to help you get the life you want

NLP does sound like it has great potential. But do it’s techniques really work?

A number of psychology academics have criticised NLP for a lack of theoretical evidence. However, NLP practitioners argue that NLP focuses less on scientific theory, and more on real-world application.

Of course, when it comes to theories and academics, there are always debates. (Think even about nutrition and food and diet debates). I agree that it can get really annoying.

Therefore, the best way to find out if NLP works, is to test them yourself. (Just like any sort of diet). What works best is what works for you.

Since Bandler is one of the founders of NLP, I therefore decided to get a hold of his book, “Getting the Life You Want.” The exercises below are excerpted from his book. They are the ones that stood out for me and felt would be great to share with you.

Even if NLP doesn’t work out for you, the best thing about thinking about NLP is the process of self-analysis. You being to question your actions. You being to see the patterns in your behaviour. Through this self-reflection, and looking at yourself from outside yourself, you then have the power to change yourself.


What are your submodalities?

In NLP, it is suggested that whenever you feel a certain way, you are actually representing the situation in a certain way. You represent whatever happens to you using various submodalities.

One major way of taking control of your emotional state so that you get yourself in a peak state, is to understand your submodalities. When you examine yourself and how you represent and perceive the past or present or future, you will recognise that there are specific things you do in your brain.

If you notice the patterns in how you think and represent, you can then take control of yourself. For example, you can then notice what goes on in your head when you feel fear. You can also notice what goes on when you feel confident and unstoppable. When you notice these patterns, you are then in a position to be able to use your brain and your thoughts in a way that you choose.

Here is a list of submodalities that Bandler outlines:

      Visual Submodalities:

      • Number of images
      • Moving/Still
      • Size
      • Shape
      • Color/Black and white
      • Focused/Unfocused
      • Bright/Dim
      • Location in space
      • Bordered/Borderless
      • Flat/3D
      • Associated/Disassociated
      • Close/Distant

      Auditory Submodalities:

      • Volume
      • Pitch
      • Timbre (mood of sound)
      • Tempo
      • Tonality
      • Duration
      • Rhythm
      • Direction of voice
      • Harmony

      Kinesthetic Submodalities:

      • Location in body
      • Tactile sensations
      • Temperature
      • Pulse rate
      • Breathing rate
      • Pressure
      • Weight
      • Intensity
      • Movement/Direction

      Olfactory/Gustatory Submodalities:

      • Sweet
      • Sour
      • Bitter
      • Aroma
      • Fragrance
      • Pungency (strength of smell)

It will help you to know which submodalities are working in your mind and body when you represent your feelings and experience. Submodalities are fundamental in NLP, and they are featured in many NLP exercises, to get you into peak performance for your life and work. Check out the following exercises below that Bandler features in his own book.


How to Feel Wonderful Exercise

  1. Think of a time you felt wonderful.
  2. Close your eyes and imagine that time in vivid detail. See the image clearly, hear the sounds loudly, remember the feelings as they were then.
  3. Imagine yourself stepping into that experience and imagine being in that memory as if it’s happening now. See what you’d see, hear what you’d hear, feel how good you’d feel. Make the colors stronger and brighter if that helps. Notice how you were breathing back then, and breathe that way now.
  4. Pay attention to the wonderful feeling in your body and get a sense of where the feeling starts, where it goes, and the direction it moves in. Imagine taking control over the feeling and spinning it faster and
    faster and stronger and stronger through your body as the feelings increase.
  5. Think of a time in the future where you could use these good feelings. Spin these feelings throughout your body as you think about the future and the things you are doing over the next few weeks. Don’t be too surprised if you find yourself feeling really good for absolutely no reason.


Changing Bad Feelings Exercise

  1. Think about somebody who annoys you, intimidates you, or irritates you. Make an image of him/her and see him look at you in whatever way he looks at you when he is annoying you. Hear him say whatever it is he says and notice the bad feeling that happens in your body.
  2. Take this image and make it black and white. Move it far off into the distance. Make it much smaller, oneeighth its size. Place a clown’s nose on his face.
  3. Hear him say whatever it is he says, but hear him say it in Mickey Mouse’s, Donald Duck’s, or Sylvester the Cat’s voice.
  4. Notice how you feel differently. Then distract yourelf for a few moments and think of him again. You will still be feeling differently about him.


This article was inspired by
Get the Life You Want (Richard Bandler)

Check it out at Amazon

Related posts:

  1. You are a human “BE”ing. Not a human “DO”ing.
  2. The ultimate success formula
  3. 4 main excuses people use to stop them from thinking BIG

Categories: AidBlogs

أهلا Saying hello and other greetings in Arabic

iDevelopWorld - December 15, 2009 - 6:29am


One of the most important conversational skills initially in any language is to know how to greet people. Arabic greetings can be elaborate and prolonged, but some all-purpose expressions will get you by:

The following notes come from Wightwick’s and Gaaafar’s “Mastering Arabic“, which I am using now.

Remember: These greetings are mainly in modern standard arabic. Different arabic-speaking countries may have specific greetings according to their colloquial dialect.



  • أهلا (ahlan) Hello
  • أهلا بك (ahlan bik/biki) Hello to you (talking to a male/female)
  • صباح الخير (sabah al-kkayr) Good morning
  • صباح النور (sabah an-nur) Good morning (reply)
  • مساء الخير (masa’ al-khayr) Good evening/afternoon
  • مساء النور (masa’ an-nur) Good evening/afternoon (reply)
  • مع السالمة (maaعs-salama) Goodbye


Tip: The reply to a greeting often varies from the original, although it is also acceptable to use the original phrase in reply.


This article was inspired by
Mastering Arabic (Wightwick and Gaafar)

Check it out at Amazon

Related posts:

  1. أنا ماثيو البارتو “I am Matthew Alberto” – in Arabic!
  2. اللغة العربية الفصحى What is the difference between Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and the Spoken Colloquial Arabic dialects?
  3. طفل Baby steps for Arabic words and sentences

Categories: AidBlogs

اللغة العربية الفصحى What is the difference between Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and the Spoken Colloquial Arabic dialects?

iDevelopWorld - December 13, 2009 - 7:10am


It would be useful for you to know that the Arabic content for this website, is specifically targeted for learning Modern Standard Arabic. The articles so far and the in the future, will be mainly geared towards MSA. Only after I’ve got a strong grasp of MSA, will the articles move onto other spoken colloquial dialects (perhaps Egyptian or Levantine).

Nowadays, though, I’ve been going through Wightwick’s and Gaafar’s textbook “Mastering Arabic.” It’s a great, and easy-to-follow text that teachs you how to learn Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).


What is the difference between Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and the Spoken Colloquial Arabic dialects?

Note that MSA is the more formal arabic that is understood by all arabic-speaking people. Each arab country speaks their own variant of colloquial arabic. For example, locals in Egypt speak a colloquial Egyptian Arabic, while locals in Iraq speak a different kind of colloquial Iraqi Arabic. This sort of distinction may be difficult to grasp at first. While speaking arabic may differ from place to place, MSA is used for writing, and the written arabic is more universal and commonly understood amongst all Arab countries. MSA is mainly derived from classical arabic, which is found in the Quran. MSA is a kind-of modern version of classical Qur’anic arabic. MSA is also used for formal functions as well as arabic TV and radio news, and the use of MSA for these purposes is consistent throughout the Arab countries.

For a clearer understanding of what Modern Standard Arabic is, click here.

If you are beginning your journey on learning Arabic it is important for you to decide which type you are going to actively study: whether the Modern Standard Arabic or the spoken-colloquial arabic that is specific to each of the arab countries. It took me a while to fully grasp that the Arabic language overall is a phenomenon of diglossia, which means that Arabic speakers generally read and write in Modern Standard Arabic, however, Arabic speakers converse with one another using their local colloquial variant of Arabic (e.g Egyptian or Levantine or Sudanese or Iraqi Arabic). MSA can also be spoken (and it is generally understood by all Arabic speakers, particularly the educated), but MSA is usually more formal occasions or public addresses or for TV news.


Why is it useful for you to know the difference between MSA and the colloquial arabic language?

  • It’s useful because when you are learning arabic, you should decide right from the start which kind of arabic you are going for.
  • Knowing the difference is significant because you must find arabic resources that are specific to your variant. I found this out the hard way. For instance, I got myself a copy of the PDQ Arabic FAST course. I assumed that it would be in MSA. Only later did I find out, when I already began learning from the course, that it was specifically for colloquial Egyptian arabic.
  • Knowing the difference between the arabic variants, and understanding that the Arabic language is a diglossia, can save you time and money in the end!
  • You want to know which form of arabic is appropriate for your situation and context: Formal and situations and reading and writing call for MSA; Speaking to local Jordanian people means that you are better off speaking Jordanian Arabic or Levantine Arabic (not MSA).

If you are wanting to travel to a specific Arabic-speaking country, and you want to speak to the locals, you are better off learning the spoken colloquial arabic dialect of that country. That is, learn Egyptian if you are only going to stay in Egypt. Learn Iraqi arabic if you are intending to only stay in Iraq. Learn Lebanese if you are planning to go only to Lebanon.

However, if you would like to have more flexibility and you want to learn the more universal written and formal spoken Arabic, then go for Modern Standard Arabic. It will be a great starting point to help you read and write in Arabic, understand TV news and newspapers and books, and it can make it easier for you to learn any of the colloquial arabic dialects in the future.

As an absolute beginner, I decided to start of with MSA because I had understood that MSA is used throughout the Arab world. There are also plenty of newspaper and written and TV news resources that I can get to help me learn MSA. Furthermore, I knew that MSA would be a great foundation point for me, to help me easily learn any other colloquial dialects of arabic, if ever I find myself in Sudan or Egypt or Lebanon.

Share your own experiences and ideas. Do you have any other tips or suggestions regarding the difference between MSA and colloquial arabic?


This article was inspired by
Mastering Arabic (Wightwick and Gaafar)

Check it out at Amazon

Related posts:

  1. أهلا Saying hello and other greetings in Arabic
  2. طفل Baby steps for Arabic words and sentences
  3. Persistence – Learning French, Arabic & Tagalog: June, 2009

Categories: AidBlogs

أبجدية عربية‎ How to write the Arabic alphabet with 28 basic letters

iDevelopWorld - December 11, 2009 - 7:33am

Arabic alphabet, with 28 basic letters

Contextual forms Name Translit. Isolated End Middle Beginning ا‎ ـﺎ‎ ـﺎ‎ ا‎ ʾalif ʾ / ā ﺏ‎ ـب‎ ـبـ‎ بـ‎ bāʾ b ﺕ‎ ـت‎ ـتـ‎ تـ‎ tāʾ t ﺙ‎ ـث‎ ـثـ‎ ثـ‎ ṯāʾ ﺝ‎ ـج‎ ـجـ‎ جـ‎ ǧīm ǧ (also j, g) ﺡ‎ ـح‎ ـحـ‎ حـ‎ ḥāʾ ﺥ‎ ـخ‎ ـخـ‎ خـ‎ ḫāʾ (also kh, x) ﺩ‎ ـد‎ ـد‎ د‎ dāl d ﺫ‎ ـذ‎ ـذ‎ ذ‎ ḏāl (also dh, ð) ﺭ‎ ـر‎ ـر‎ ر‎ rāʾ r ﺯ‎ ـز‎ ـز‎ ز‎ zāy z ﺱ‎ ـس‎ ـسـ‎ سـ‎ sīn s ﺵ‎ ـش‎ ـشـ‎ شـ‎ šīn š (also sh) ﺹ‎ ـص‎ ـصـ‎ صـ‎ ṣād ﺽ‎ ـض‎ ـضـ‎ ضـ‎ ḍād ﻁ‎ ـط‎ ـطـ‎ طـ‎ ṭāʾ ﻅ‎ ـظ‎ ـظـ‎ ظـ‎ ẓāʾ ﻉ‎ ـع‎ ـعـ‎ عـ‎ ʿayn ʿ ﻍ‎ ـغ‎ ـغـ‎ غـ‎ ġayn ġ (also gh) ف‎ ـف‎ ـفـ‎ فـ‎ fāʾ f ﻕ‎ ـق‎ ـقـ‎ قـ‎ qāf q ﻙ‎ ـك‎ ـكـ‎ كـ‎ kāf k ﻝ‎ ـل‎ ـلـ‎ لـ‎ lām l ﻡ‎ ـم‎ ـمـ‎ مـ‎ mīm m ن‎ ـن‎ ـنـ‎ نـ‎ nūn n ﻩ‎ ـه‎ ـهـ‎ هـ‎ hāʾ h ﻭ‎ ـو‎ ـو‎ و‎ wāw w / ū / aw ﻱ‎ ـي‎ ـيـ‎ يـ‎ yāʾ y / ī / ay

Modified letters

The following are not individual letters, but rather different contextual variants of some of the Arabic letters.

Conditional forms Name Translit. Isolated Final Medial Initial ﺁ‎ ـآ‎ ـآ‎ آ‎ ʾalif madda ʾā ﺓ‎ ـة‎ ‎ ‎ tāʾ marbūṭa‎ h or
t / h / ﻯ‎ ـى‎ ‎ ‎ ʾalif maqṣūra ā /


The only compulsory ligature is lām + ʼalif. All other ligatures (yāʼ + mīm, etc.) are optional.

  • (isolated) lām + ʼalif (lā /laː/):
    1. ﻻ‎
  • (final or medial) lām + ʼalif (lā /laː/):
    1. ـﻼ‎
Adapted from Wikipedia, under CC-BY-SA License


This article was inspired by
Alif Baa: Introduction to Arabic Letters and Sounds (Brustad et al)

Check it out at Amazon

Related posts:

  1. اللغة العربية الفصحى What is the difference between Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and the Spoken Colloquial Arabic dialects?
  2. Persistence – Learning French, Arabic & Tagalog: June, 2009
  3. أهلا Saying hello and other greetings in Arabic

Categories: AidBlogs

How you can be a modern hero in your own life?

iDevelopWorld - December 7, 2009 - 2:46am


The modern hero, the modern individual who dares to heed the call and seek the mansion of that presence with whom it is our whole destiny to be atoned, cannot, indeed must not, wait for his community to cast off its slough of pride, fear, rationalized avarice, and sanctified misunderstanding. It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.

- Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces


The idea of the “Hero” attracts us

The magic of Campbell’s book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, is that he believes in the power of stories.
Not only for our imagination, but for inspiration in our own lives.
He has a great sense of awe and wonder about myths and stories. That they convey more than just words. They convey meaning. Deep meanings and representations to be shared between and for humanity.

George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars movie series, had said that he was inspired by Campbell’s understanding of the power of the hero image and character. You can witness the impact it had on Lucas when you view and enjoy his Star Wars films, and see the trials and triumphs of the hero, Luke Skywalker. From these films, you can also see the impact that the “hero” representation has had on millions of viewers and fans worldwide.

Although the Star Wars films may not be for everyone (I like them though!), the idea and attraction of the “hero” story is universal.

Why are we so drawn to heroes?

I think that the reason we are drawn to heroes in stories is because we feel that our own lives are stories. And they are. Our lives are enmeshed with tales and challenges and problems to overcome.

Heroes in stories often give us the inspiration, the visions and the possibilities in overcoming the most difficult circumstances.

I like how Campbell linked our human lives to the lives of hero characters. He had said:

We have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.

Basically he imagines that our lives are adventures, too. That we often turn to heroes in storybooks or in films or in comics or cartoons because they give us a model. A model of behaving and overcoming.

How you can be a modern hero in your own life?

It’s true that you may not face dragons in your life adventure. You may not have to fight goblins or monsters.

But is that necessarily true? Campbell points to the fact that stories often use metaphors, because your subconscious mind and your soul speaks in the language of metaphors.

Sure you may not face a physical dragon. But what about the “dragon” of fear, or the “goblin” of a person whom you have to deal with in your life. What about the “monsters” of pain and suffering that life throws at you?

When we think of these hero metaphors, we begin to feel that heroes and stories are not so imaginary after all. Heroes really can help us in the way we respond and act to real-life situations.

I’ve heard the comparisons being drawn between storybook heroes to everyday heroes. And it sure is intereting.

Heroes in the real world can be your fire-fighter going in to save a child in a burning home. It can be a single mother, working hard to make ends meet for her children. It can be a person with an illness, who looks past their physical problems, and still thinks positively about life and their circumstances. It could even be a quality father who acts as a role model for his kids, inspiring them to be all that they can be.

If you want to be a modern hero in your own life, look at heroes you look up to. Notice the positive characteristics that you can actually apply in your life. You can probably notice that in many heroes, they have these sorts of qualities:

    • Courage
    • Persistence
    • Strength – physical or moral or mental or emotional or social
    • Special Talents – what are your unique talents?
    • Determination
    • Desire to Help and Contribute to Others

You’ll notice that as a human being, you can actually take on these “heroic” qualities. What if you were to apply them in your own life, and use these qualities to solve your problems? What if you developed them within yourself?

The Pattern of Adventure for a Hero

Campbell curiously describes the general pattern of adventure that heroes embark. Reading Campbell’s book, you notice that he has read several hundreds or even thousands of hero stories and myths. It’s very impressive.

So when he outlines the general pattern, there is some merit and value in it. You can also see how it influenced Lucas’ adventure plot for Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.

The mythological hero, setting forth from his common-day hut or castle, is lured, carried away, or else voluntarily proceeds, to the threshold of adventure. There he encounters a shadow presence that guards the passage. The hero may defeat or conciliate this power and go alive into the kingdom of the dark (brother-battle, dragon-battle; offering, charm), or be slain by the opponent and descend in death (dismemberment, crucifixion). Beyond the threshold, then, the hero journeys through a world of unfamiliar yet strangely intimate forces, some of which severely threaten him (tests), some of which give magical aid (helpers). When he arrives at the nadir of the mythological round, he undergoes a supreme ordeal and gains his reward. The triumph may be represented as the hero’s sexual union with the goddess-mother of the world (sacred marriage), his recognition by the father-creator (father atonement), his own divinization (apothesis), or again his theft of the boon he came to gain (bride-theft); intrinsically it is an expansion of consciousness and therewith of being (illumination, transfiguration, freedom). The final work is that of the return. If the powers have blessed the hero, he now sets forth under their protection (emissary); if not, he flees and is pursued (transformation flight, obstacle flight). At the return threshold the transcendental powers must remain behind; the hero re-emerges from the kingdom of the dream (return, resurrection). The boon that he brings restores the world (elixir).


You’ll find that Campbell’s hero pattern is described as male. This is probably because Campbell mainly drew on mythological heroes, who tended to be male. Nowadays, we find several female heroes in films and books, and several of the common themes of adventure still remain.

Think of heroes you look up to. Have any of their actions or attitudes, such as self-confidence, helped you? Comment on some of your own personal hero inspirations below!


This article was inspired by
‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ (Joseph Campbell)

Check it out at Amazon

Related posts:

  1. I find that, above all, the soul wants stories.

Categories: AidBlogs

«C’est» et «Il est» en français – Partie 2 / french

iDevelopWorld - December 6, 2009 - 3:01am

La Profession

  1. On ne met pas d’article devant les noms de profession en français:
      • Je suis secrétaire.
        Vous êtes ingénieur.

    • L’absence d’article concerne la nationalité, la religion, la profession, etc.. qui sont traitées comme des adjectifs.
      • Keith est médecin.
        Il est anglais. Il est protestant. Il est marié..

  2. On met l’article pour apporter une précision:
      • -Paul est un professeur exceptionnel..
      • -Marie est une bonne secrétaire.

    • On ne met pas d’article quand la précision indique une catégorie professionnalle:
      • -Je suis secrétaire bilingue. Je suis une bonne secrétaire.
      • («Secrétaire bilingue» est une catégorie professionelle mais pas «bonne secrétaire».)

  3. Cas de la 3e personne: on utilise «c’est» d’identification au lieu de «C’est»
    • «C’est» + nom déterminé:
      • -C’est Jacques Dutronc.
      • -C’est mon voisin.
      • -C’est un chanteur.

    • «Il est» + adjectif ou profession:
      • -Il est blond.
      • -Il est sympathique.
      • -Il est chanteur.

    • Dites: C’est un médecin.
    • Ne dites pas: Il est un…
    • Dites: C’est mon médecin.
    • Ne dites pas: Il est mon…


This article was inspired by

Check it out at Amazon

Related posts:

  1. «C’est» et «Il est» en français – Partie 1 / french
  2. La Réponse en français / french
  3. Starting – Learning French & Tagalog: Feb, 2009

Categories: AidBlogs

«C’est» et «Il est» en français – Partie 2

iDevelopWorld - December 6, 2009 - 3:01am

La Profession

  1. On ne met pas d’article devant les noms de profession en français:
      • Je suis secrétaire.
        Vous êtes ingénieur.

    • L’absence d’article concerne la nationalité, la religion, la profession, etc.. qui sont traitées comme des adjectifs.
      • Keith est médecin.
        Il est anglais. Il est protestant. Il est marié..

  2. On met l’article pour apporter une précision:
      • -Paul est un professeur exceptionnel..
      • -Marie est une bonne secrétaire.

    • On ne met pas d’article quand la précision indique une catégorie professionnalle:
      • -Je suis secrétaire bilingue. Je suis une bonne secrétaire.
      • («Secrétaire bilingue» est une catégorie professionelle mais pas «bonne secrétaire».)

  3. Cas de la 3e personne: on utilise «c’est» d’identification au lieu de «C’est»
    • «C’est» + nom déterminé:
      • -C’est Jacques Dutronc.
      • -C’est mon voisin.
      • -C’est un chanteur.

    • «Il est» + adjectif ou profession:
      • -Il est blond.
      • -Il est sympathique.
      • -Il est chanteur.

    • Dites: C’est un médecin.
    • Ne dites pas: Il est un…
    • Dites: C’est mon médecin.
    • Ne dites pas: Il est mon…


This article was inspired by

Check it out at Amazon

Related posts:

  1. «C’est» et «Il est» en français – Partie 1
  2. La Réponse en français

Categories: AidBlogs
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