March 22, 2012
Posted by: Doug Morrow, Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer
A recent article in the New York Times made me think about the importance of water, not just to our day to day lives, but to the fates of nations and industries. The article described a huge swath of the central United States, from South Dakota to Texas, underneath which is one of the world’s largest aquifers, the Ogalalla. Prior to the 1930s, this region was known as the Great American Desert, and farmers who attempted to ply their trade there were frequently brought to ruin – particularly in the famous “Dust Bowl” of the early 1930s, when huge clouds of topsoil, loosened by plows, swept across parts of the United States in terrifying mile-high dust clouds.
The Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in Iceland, by Amnon Eichelberg. (Photos of National Georgraphic)
In the 1930s, a massive campaign began to tap the Ogalalla for irrigation, and the region became one of the most stable and productive agricultural success stories in the world. This part of the United States now produces a large portion of our livestock, corn, soybeans, and especially wheat. But the bounty won’t last. This desert requires huge volumes of water to maintain its productivity. In total, farmers are draining the Ogalalla aquifer by 23cm per year, but the natural recharge rate of the aquifer (how much the aquifer is replenished by rainwater each year) varies from only 0.61mm to 150mm per year, depending on the region. As a result, some experts estimate that within 20 years, the entire aquifer will be gone! (more…)
March 21, 2012
Posted by: Major Patrick Self, Assistant Air Attaché, Defense Attaché Office, U.S. Embassy Kyiv
On March 7th U.S. Embassy Kyiv hosted 2012’s first meeting of the Georgetown Club of Ukraine, featuring a conversation with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft on Ukraine’s Place in U.S. regional foreign policy for Eastern Europe and the CIS Countries. The event saw over 20 Ukrainian and American alumni of Georgetown University coming together to engage in a fascinating discussion with Ambassador Tefft. The participants enjoyed networking during the subsequent cocktail hour, continuing a tradition that brings closer a worldwide network of individuals who all share the same unique experience of studying at Georgetown University.
Former Ukrainian First Lady Kateryna Yushchenko and Ukraine CitiBank Director Steve Fisher attended the event, along with a number of young professionals from Ukraine’s vibrant public and private sectors, including professionals from investment banking, legal, academic, media, public policy, political and government circles. U.S. Embassy Kyiv alone counts about 14 Georgetown Alumni, mostly employees, but also spouses. An especially remarkable “Georgetown family” among these is that of Ambassador Tefft, who graduated from Georgetown University along with his wife, Mariella, and one of his daughters. (more…)
March 7, 2012
Posted by: Jason Gilpin, USAID
When I moved to Ukraine in 2007, I was pleasantly surprised that Women’s Day is a national holiday. Given all the inequality and injustice that women all over the world have faced and continue to face, I wondered why we in the United States hadn’t thought to celebrate a day outside Mother’s Day to honor the more than half of the world who get less than a quarter of the credit.
The origin of women’s rights in the United States is the Declaration of Independence of 1776, which declared that “all men are created equal.” As the English Dictionary, Merriam Webster points out, a definition of “man” is “the human race: mankind.” Unfortunately, it took my countrymen about a century and a half after 1776 to establish that “men” in the Declaration of Independence didn’t refer to the “male human,” it meant “the human race: mankind.” American women were denied the right to vote until 1920, but even at the time of America’s founding, the nation’s strength was dependent on the wisdom, prudence and perseverance of its women.
Even though women in revolutionary America were prohibited from voting, serving on juries, or even signing contracts, I wonder today how the
Martha Washington (June 2, 1731 – May 22, 1802)
young USA could have succeeded without the wisdom, foresight, and courage of its founding mothers, such as Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Margaret Catharine Moore Barry, and Dolley Madison (that’s not a typo – she spelled her name Dolley, although most people think it’s Dolly!).
Martha Washington is honored for having set the standard for intelligence, sensibility, and indefatigable patriotism in American women. She also continually encouraged her husband onward in the Revolution, despite the threat that she might very well lose everything she had, which was not at all insignificant, considering the fact that George Washington owed most of his wealth and economic status to her inheritance. (more…)
March 6, 2012
Posted by: Eric A. Johnson, Public Affairs Officer
As March 8 approaches, Ukrainian women often ask me what Americans do to celebrate International Women’s Day. My short answer is: nothing. But before anyone can get offended, I rush to explain that we honor the important women in our lives on two other days. On St. Valentine’s Day (February 14), every right-minded American man celebrates the main woman in his life (be she wife, lover, girlfriend) by taking her out to dinner (or cooking it for her) in addition to buying a card, chocolates (often in the shape of hearts), and flowers (usually red roses to signify true love). And then on Mother’s Day (the second Sunday in May), Americans honor their mothers by taking them out to lunch or dinner – or, better yet, cooking it for them. But given that so many men can’t cook, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day tend to be the two days of the year when it’s almost impossible to find a free table in a good restaurant.
Starting in New York City in 1857, women workers made a tradition of labor actions and protests on March 8. In 1910, the first International Women's Day was celebrated on the same day. This photo shows an early Women's Day protest.
All holidays begin somewhere. Mother’s Day is the relatively recent invention of American Anne Jarvis who suggested a holiday honoring mothers after the death of her own activist mother in 1905. Jarvis – who never had any children of her own – first proposed the holiday in 1912 and by 1914 U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had turned it into a nationally recognized day. By the 1920s, Mother’s Day was celebrated across the country.
St. Valentine’s Day has much older roots dating back to pagan celebrations in Greece and Rome which revolved around Hera (Juno), fertility, and her marriage to Zeus (Jupiter). With the death of the Christian martyr Valentine of Rome (killed AD 269 and buried on February 14), the holiday evolved into a Christian feast day. However, it wasn’t until English poet Geoffrey Chaucer was inspired by the Italian Renaissance to write his Parliament of Birds (1382) that St. Valentine’s Day became associated with romantic love – and love letters – in the popular imagination. The holiday, however, did not come to resemble something that we might recognize today until 1847 when another American woman – Esther Howland – began producing St. Valentine’s Day cards for her father’s store in Worcester, Massachusetts. The rest, as we say, is history. (more…)