Benedict Allen at Middlesex University.

As a third year student, I need to slowly start planning my future, and what better way to get inspired than listen to Benedict Allen talk about his experience with travelling and exploring? But before I begin, let’s do a short introduction about who Benedict Allen is.

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Photography by Murdo MacLeod

Benedict Allen is a British writer, traveller and adventurer best known for his passion of travelling to remote locations and learning new survival skills from indigenous people. He has recorded six TV series for the BBC, written nine books and is also an international motivational speaker. One of the things he’s famous for is the fact that he had to eat his dog in one of the expeditions, due to harsh surviving conditions.

However, let’s not be scared by that! Benedict explained how it was his dream since childhood to become an explorer and see the world with other eyes. Ever since a child, his interest in exotic locations and customs was inspired by his father Colin Allen.  As the years went by, Benedict’s desire to go out in the world and see what it has to offer increased, making his main goal to travel across the Amazonian rainforest.

Benedict said:

After graduating [university], I worked in a warehouse for a few weeks, just to get the money I needed to travel to South America.

Everything was said and done and soon after that, Benedict found himself in the rainforest, being chased by goal miners, “third-class assassins”. As he dived deeper into the nature, he ran across a few aborigine villages, where in order to be part of the community, he needed to be initiated ( to be strong as a crocodile). After undergoing several trials, Benedict explains:

All this men were dancing and telling us to be brave. Having been through that ritual, we thought the worse was over, except, that was the better day of the initiation. After that, we got beaten with sticks at least four times a day.

The ceremony was all about bonding, all about forgetting the differences and learn to work together.

By the end [ after six weeks], we were finding a way to cope with this huge world. I was initiated into this culture.”

His journey hadn’t stopped there. He underwent several adventures with different villagers and worked with children as well and he understood he needed to be more humble after seeing how little girls had great knowledge of surviving in the rainforest and using herbs as treatments.

I’m either going to become a hunter or a [herbs] gatherer.

Gradually, after spending months in the rainforest, Benedict understood the necessity of processing his own food and things were slowly deteriorating. He started to become ill and his cautiousness was slowly fading. When things started to go wrong, he realised he needed to take challenges and try something else.

In the end, I wasn’t alone. I thought of the people who had faith in me, my parents, friends; and I survived. After seven and a half months, I pulled myself outside the rainforest in the Amazon.

Benedict Allen had not stopped there. After the Amazon expedition, he travelled all around the world in order to find new villages and understand better the functionality of new communities: Russia, Mongolia, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Papua New Guinea, the Gobi dessert . His determination and curiosity of learning new things was what kept him going.

On his webiste, http://www.benedictallen.com/, he says:

For me personally, exploration isn’t about conquering nature, planting flags or leaving your mark.

It’s about the opposite: opening yourself up and allowing the place to leave its mark on you…

That’s why, for me, listening to him was inspirational and made me understand I need to find a way of creating my future, of deciding whether a path will be right or wrong and challenging myself more. As Benedict himself said,

It’s all about finding something in yourself.

It’s about how much potential you have.

For those in the same situation as me, take a minute and think about the options you have. Are you really doing what you want with your life? If not, what would you change? Don’t let harder steps ruin your desire for a better future! Work, determination and inspiration is what makes a life truly full-filled.

Always remember, the choice of today is the reward of tomorrow!

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How will the Ironmaiden affect Romania?

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Map of Ukraine with its neighbours

 

Ukraine has passed through a series of political changes and military tensions during the past months, due to the desire of people to be connected to Europe, rather than forgotten in the immensity of Russia. With tensions having started in November 2013 and  still continuing until today, Ukraine has faced great loss of both people (according to the UN office, the death toll rises to 7,962 since 2014), and territory (Crimea being annexed to Russia.)

Due to these tensions and to its close borders with Romania, some Romanian nationals expressed concerns regarding the start of a civil war.

Considering Romania’s Strategy of National Security and its fundaments, some things may be affected. Because the Strategy implies preserving national security, the mere start of a civil war in Ukraine can endanger Romania’s safety and national security.That is why, Romania has increased its defence and people seem to be concerned about why these tensions might affect the country.

For instance, some of the opinions were:

“I think the Media has a lot to do with this new social panic. Of course, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is a serious matter to be carefully handled, but people should not be fed useless news. There are a lot of countries, strategic and diplomatic teams working together working to solve this. As far as Romania goes, the threat is a real as it was for the Ukraine, anything can happen, but, Romania is not a weak country.” (A.C, recruitment worker)

On the other hand, someone else considers that:

“In Ukraine, the population is divided into two categories: the pro-Russians and the pro- Europeans and until Russia will keep intensifying the conflict, we cannot think of stability. As for how Romania might be affected, I can only say that the import of gases from Russia will increase its price, so we’ll have to deal with our own resources. As long as Romania keeps its nose out of their [Ukraine] military business, there’s nothing we should be afraid of.”(D.H, photographer)

To conclude:

 “Considering the historical problems between Ukraine and Russia, I don’t think that the so-called war is a way of motivating the population, moreover, it will strain the relationship with the neighbour-countries, plus the loss of so many lives. As for the effect of this conflict on Romania, a possible war might break on Romanian territory. My opinion is that these tensions might be solved peacefully, avoiding the option of a war.” (Codruţa Filip, 19, student)

All in one, tensions in Ukraine keep fortifying every day and both Russian and Ukrainian troops are standing ready by the borders.

How will this all end?

 

FabulousFashionistas: rebellion against ageing

” Damn it. I can do anything!” Sue Kreitzman

Fabulous Fashionistas at Women of the World Festival

event chaired by Ruth Pitt ( television producer, journalist and writer) and guests Bridget Sojourner, Daphne Selfe, Sue Kreitzman and producer Sue Borne ( all known from the eccentric documentary Fabulous Fashionistas)

As I am making my way in to this talk, I hear my friend saying: “This will be so awesome!” and I smile questioningly.  Every seat is taken, so we decide to sit on the floor near the first row so we could get the best view for what was about to change my perspective on life.

The event started with an introductory clip of the documentary and with Ruth Pitt’s question about how is it to be old but still living the life to the fullest?

Bridget, Sue and Daphne from Fabuous Fashionistas

 

Fabulous Fashionista is all about ageing beautifully, and the speakers said that it’s okay to age and enjoy it, as it is a part of the natural cycle of life. Even though life has its ups and downs, we must carry on. These ladies have proved that life can be fun even at 80!

“As you grow older, you learn to let go”, Sue says, and there’s nothing truer than that. Even as I hear these words, I remember that at some point in life, I had to let go of some things to be happier. And that’s what Fabulous Fashionistas is about: learning to know that you are enough, that you are strong, and regardless of what people might say, the capacity of doing things rest in your hands.

The other thing that stuck with me was the fact that the speakers not only emphasised how important is it to love yourself and to accept the things that come with age, but it’s important to make the most of the years you’re having ahead.

Daphne said that she always made her own clothes, thing that characterised her as a person and as an artist, while Bridget gets most of her clothes from charity shop.On the other side, there was Sue with the conviction that beige “might kill you.

It does really reach the life of you. It will make you sad and old.

The discussion tackled some of the issues we have to deal with in our daily life and also the new context into which older women are put, and sometimes, even marginalised.

All in one, Fabulous Fashionistas was all about living the life fully, enjoying the small things and carrying on always.

Many thanks to ‘Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World Festival 2014’ organisers for giving me the opportunity to attend this event, which was more than interesting and motivational!

Highlights:

  •  Fabulous Fashionista – documentary;
  • Discussion about life, art, and why wearing beige might kill you;
  • Redefining age;
  • Living life at its maximum!

Quotes of the talk:

  • ” Carpe Diem. Live every moment. Do things that mean to you.” – Sue Kreitzman
  • ” The process of dying can be quite dramatic.” – Daphne Selfe
  • ” Of course I’m on Facebook. I’m not a fossil.” – Sue Kreitzman
  • ” We’re lucky to be old.” – Daphne Selfe

London Parade welcomes the Chinese New Year of the Horse!

The Chinese New Year is the longest and the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. This year, the Chinese calendar celebrates 4712 years of existence and the animal that is attributed to it, is the horse.

This year, I chose to attend the New Year’s Parade downtown, on Sunday February 2, mostly because I’ve never been to something similar and also because I like the Chinese culture.

Thousands of people gathered in Central London to welcome warmly the event, and nonetheless, they were gifted with surprising acts. At 10 A.M a parade through the West End headed for Trafalgar Square, where the traditional opening ceremony took place on the main stage at noon. It was followed by an afternoon full of Chinese event including a gravity-defying lion dance performed atop high poles.

The parade in Leicester Square started off with a traditional dragon dance, followed then by floats and beating drums, in an explosion of colours, which brought to life the entire celebration.

Little girls and boys were dancing dressed up in traditional Chinese costumes, and even a Flying Lion Dance Performance was set up for the delight of the audience.

Chinatown became lively and active.

New Year-themed decorations, special menus and events at its 100-odd restaurants, bars, cafes and shops and all sort of food and craft stalls were empowering the streets.

Even little children were dressed up in traditional costumes and playing with funny crackers, and the performances last throughout the entire day, in order to welcome properly the New Year.

London definitely knows how to bring Asian culture to life and how to celebrate it in a lovely way!

农历新年



 

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