Posts Tagged ‘Brown Bag Speaker’s Forum’

On Monday, January 23, the Albany YMCA/Albany Library Brown Bag Lunch Speaker’s Forum presented Fariba Nawa.

Fariba Nawa is a journalist and the author of Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan. She also authored the report Afghanistan, Inc., and is a contributing writer to Under the Drones: Modern Lives in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Borderlands, to be published in spring 2012 by Harvard University Press. She writes for London’s Sunday Times Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Christian Science Monitor, and numerous other publications. She holds a master’s in Middle Eastern studies and journalism.

Ms. Nawa wove her own life story into the fabric of Afghani history. Her family comes from a center of learning and culture in the south of the country. The people of the region speak Dari, a variant of Farsi. (The other official language of the country is Pashto.)

She began her talk by describing life in a war zone and her first glimpse of death. This event inspired her to become a war correspondent. (See video below.)  Her family emigrated  from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power, but her early experiences prompted her to return as an adult after the U.S.-led invasion of the country.

Though she continues to bear witness to positive changes in Afghani society. she has zeroed in on the continuing brutality and economic hardships which surround the opium trade. (Though much of the world’s opium comes from the country, it’s full-scale production into heroin and other drugs happens elsewhere.) Nawa describes how children become victims of adult power-relationships; young girls are sold into marriage to settle debts.

Opium Nation documents a global tragedy exacerbated by the greed and ignorance of those who have no concern for Afghanis and little knowledge of Afghanistan. Any audience that hears Fariba speak feels the sadness of her memory-laden journey.  But we also feel her power and sense her determination to educate the world about the causes of the violence and the economic and social remedies needed to restore peace.


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As part of the ongoing Brown Bag Speaker’s Forum, Andrew Gunther gave a slideshow and talk about Global Warming. Gunther trained with Al Gore and most of the photographs he presented were from Gore.


The talk was sobering. He began with the 3 factors that are contributing to global warming: the population explosion, the scientific and technological revolution and our way of thinking – we are not really thinking about what we are doing. Perhaps the best quote he gave was from a June 26, 2006 letter from 43 top economists from across California to Governor Schwarznegger: “…The most expensive thing we can do is nothing.”

Two tips he had for immediate changes we can make were: Unplug items when they’re not in use – like cell phone chargers; and change all your light bulbs to fluorescent ones. Whatever we do, he told us, the real question is: When people look back on this generation, “are we going to be cursed as the most selfish or revered as the most generous?”

The Brown Bag Speaker’s Forum is a collaboration between the Albany Library and the Albany YMCA. This ongoing monthly event is free and no registration is required. The next one is at 12:30 on October 15 and it will feature renowned musicologist Joseph Kerman. More information about this series and other events at the Library can be found on our website at www.aclibrary.org.

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