Top 10 Ways We Can Begin to Change the World (for the Better) in 2017

Santa creepy, hurry down the chimney tonight…?

First off, merry Christmas everyone! I think I haven’t posted in a month b/c finals, art, competitions, crap from my life, more crap from my life, and more crap from my life, so I better get started here…

Today, I thought, keeping with the festive Christmas (& end-of-2016) theme, I should post something about changing the world, especially for the better. Some are things that we mere mortals can do in our everyday lives; others will have to be done by charitable billionaires (Bill Gates u listenin’?) or organizations, but here are just my Top 10 Ideas for Changing the World in 2K17.

10. (Actually) Help a Homeless Person

This doesn’t have to be enormous: sometimes, just smiling & greeting them helps by cheering them up. If you have some odd jobs that you can offer them, then this is even better. They gain experience, money, a sense of accomplishment, and a potential career beginning as people see that they are skilled at something. That then may lead to a part-/full-time job, meaning that they can start on the road of becoming self-sufficient, which, in my opinion, should be the ultimate goal for not just financially distressed people, but for everyone. Of course, direct monetary & material donations help too, but there’s a saying somewhere along the lines of “Give a man a fish, & you feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish, & you feed him for a lifetime.”

9. Help the Environment…And Yourself

Retailers are now officially giving you free stuff (& coupons/gift cards) to recycle their products. Check out 10 of these retail chains right here!

8. Donate a Cell Phone

Though cell phones have gotten a bad rap from modern American society, I can’t help but expound their virtues. They are cheap, easy to use, and sturdy (especially Nokia phones; I have one myself, and I’ve probably dropped it at least 25 times (no joke), w/o any visible effect to the function of the phone). They’re also completely life-changing – w/ instant connection to the rest of the world, people can find job opportunities, dial someone for homework help, and, in some extreme cases, escape oppression, like in the example of Donna Rosario, as depicted by Charles C. Mann in his book 1493. Rosario, a Brazilian farmer, was at risk of having her land unlawfully confiscated by (corrupt) gov’t officials backed by Brazilian & international corporations. However, she was able to dial her lawyer when land inspectors came to confiscate her farm, and in the end she kept her farm, a very happy outcome considering how her parents’ farm, among others, was confiscated unlawfully just a couple of decades ago.

7. Give Poor Communities Internet/Phone Access

Image result for laptops cheap

I honestly think that connecting the world is probably the best way to alleviate poverty: if you look into the stats, most of the countries w/ the smallest GDPs are landlocked. Many, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa, are not poor in natural resources – they’ve got a decent climate for crops and numerous natural resources, such as gold. All they need is some method of “getting out” & connecting w/ the rest of the world.

Also, unless we have an unlimited supply of money, it’s not sustainable to keep donating money toward feeding these communities; what we need is to “teach them to fish,” to continue the metaphor begun in #10.

With the advent of phones & the Internet, it is easier than ever to connect the world. What we need is people to organize communities’ attempts toward connecting themselves: I propose establishing satellite connection in all inhabited areas, and having the communities pool money toward buying a computer & a phone each. Then, the inhabitants can share the computer & phone, getting, say, an hour per person per week of internet & phone time. Though it’s not much to us people living in developed countries, it can be 1) an enormous boon to education & job-training, 2) a way of connecting w/ others & opening the eyes to other cultures/places, 3) great for finding job opportunities & selling stuff online, and 4) fun – I mean, who doesn’t like looking at Twitter wars once in a while?

If the said community is, however, too poor to pool money for this type of purpose, then I propose having several communities pool money for a low-end Android smartphone (b/c iPhones are just too expensive – high-end ones cost almost $1000, while I’ve found $10 Android phones). If 12 communities come together, they can get 1 month each of smartphone time per year, and each community only has to pay less than a dollar to buy the smartphone. And I say smartphone instead of cell phone here, as people can both surf the web & call people using them. However, if it’s just for the individual, sometimes even $10 for a phone is too much – according to this website, South Sudan’s annual GDP per capita is just over $210.

6. Micro-Loans

Sometimes, even a loan of $20 can change a life. Read more about micro-loans here.

5. Reduce Trash

Need I say more?

*Also, kudos to this BuzzFeed producer for trying to make no trash for 30 days!*

4. Use Less Paper

Seriously, though, I actually know a guy who calls himself eco-friendly albeit having printed out his entire 700-page Chemistry e-Book & hand-writing all his papers & homework.

3. Talk to Someone Random

Who knows? You might gain a new friend, that person might need someone to talk to… Anyways, what’s there to lose?

2. Quit Wasting Food

The next time you go to a restaurant, consider taking your leftovers home in a box instead of having the waiter/waitress dump them; it really makes a difference. Not only are you saving yourself money by not having to buy yourself unnecessary food, but you are also helping the environment & people in need. Supermarket retailers, read this article to see what France is doing to alleviate their own food wastage problem.

1. Smile

It really can make someone’s day, beside being scientifically proven to change your own mood for the better.


Top 10 Places to Vacation [Script]

*For the video, click here.*

When it comes to holiday getaways, these are our top picks.

In this list, we reveal the best spots to relax after a hard school year, after a long year of work, or the day after you were fired by a fuming boss. Be it a beach retreat, a paradise hidden in the mountains, or just a quiet, clean city with a relaxing atmosphere, you name it, we have it listed. But we are excluding fast-paced places that may be good for tourism, but are not necessarily vacation spots for relaxation and leisure. So, without further ado, here are our top ten picks, based on cost, location, atmosphere, security, climate, food, and year-round accessibility, for places to vacation.


Number 10:

Marrakech, Morocco

From its bazaars and five-star hotels to the Jemaa el-Fnaa plaza filled with fire-eaters and other marvels, the thousand-year-old Red City never ceases to awe. The International Magician Festival, UNESCO-dedicated World Heritage Center Medina, day trips to the beach, and Bahia Palace are just a few attractions in this man-made desert oasis. After booking a stay at a traditional riad, spend time at the fine golf courses and enjoy a Turkish bath at one of the hammams to truly relax. However, security concerns land this desert haven a tenth on the list.


Number Nine:

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

One of the world’s most iconic monuments, the statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooks a city teeming with six point thirty-two million people, beautiful beaches, historical art districts, urban forests, and other wonders. Popular destinations include the Sugarloaf Mountain and the world-famous Jardim Botanico. Case in point, Rio de Janeiro is a cultural hub where white-sand beaches with coconut trees and food vendors fill the scene to make it the perfect place to relax.


Number Eight:

Sydney, Australia

An irresistible juxtaposition of both Western and Aboriginal culture, natural beauty, contemporary modernism and a uniquely Australian vibe make this city the perfect place for a vacation. Go to a wine-tasting, take a day off at the beach, stroll through its spotless paved streets, and visit the numerous tourist destinations on site, such as the Sydney Opera House. What’s more, its status as a thriving city in a developed nation with few security concerns and a mild and sunny climate lands it an eighth on our list.


Number Seven:

Bali, Indonesia

A globally-renowned living postcard, Bali combines fine white-sand beaches, green mountains, and a unique cultural experience. One can commune with its unique collection of tropical creatures, dive with the beautiful fish in its coral ridges, and visit a Hindu temple hidden in its mountains. In the city of Ubud, there are renowned cultural dances to enjoy and yoga classes to invigorate both the mind and the body.


Number Six:

San Francisco, California, the U.S.A.

This cultural, artistic, and technological hub is home to wonders in the likes of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Exploratorium, and the crooked Lombard Street of hairpin turns. Shop in the Ghirardelli Square, a former, you guessed it, chocolate factory, then take a ferry to the notorious Alcatraz Island. Grab Dim Sum in its renowned Chinatown, then visit one of its numerous suburbs, the most famous of which being the Bay Area, a.k.a. Silicon Valley. Finally, one may relax and take advantage of the mild climate at one of its beautiful beaches.


Number Five:

Kyoto, Japan

A mild climate, beautiful scenery, and an authentic Japanese cultural theme dominates the tone of Tokyo’s remarkable antithesis. A paradise for the peace-seeker, numerous rock gardens and temples both Zen Buddhist and Shinto dot the area full of attractions like the Nishiki Market, two former imperial palaces, the Gion geisha district, the Nijo castle, which is a former Shogun residence, and various museums and aquariums.


Number Four:


While the Eiffel Tower beacons everyone to Paris, many other areas in France are also not to be missed. Nice, an artistic and cultural center since medieval times, harmonizes striking beaches with signature cuisine, a sunny yet mild weather and a refreshingly liberal attitude. Burgundy is renowned for its wines and chateaux, Versailles is home to one of the most opulent palaces in the world, and Provence, with its beautiful lavender and olive fields, rolling hills, and quaint villages, is similarly marked to stun. However, high costs have landed France a fourth on the list.


Number Three:


The birthplace of the Renaissance among other cultural and artistic movements, “the boot” contains a host of diverse geographical, artistic, cultural, and historic features. Architecture lovers can visit the various feats of the area from the Pantheon in Rome and the Florence Cathedral to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in, well, Pisa. Its masses of museums are also worth a visit, and from Rome one can also take a day trip to Vatican City, the smallest country in the world and also the current papal residence. Beach-lovers can hang out at one of the country’s numerous beaches, and its famed cuisine is also an attraction in and of itself.


Number Two:

Bangkok, Thailand

The pronounced tourist capital of the world, Bangkok is visited by 38 million annually. Situated on the Chao Phraya River, the Grand Palace is a sharp contrast to its neighboring skyscrapers. Low prices and big malls make shopping a popular activity. Siam Paragon, one of the largest malls in Asia, even consists of an underground aquarium of 5 million liters, the Siam Ocean World. However, Bangkok’s status as a capital of sex tourism is undeniably interconnected with its political turmoil and human trafficking, leading to various security concerns.


And, finally, our Number One for this list is:

Barcelona, Spain

Never has a city been so thoroughly defined by a single person. Antoni Gaudi, a 19th-century Catalan architect, designed the fantastical, modernist buildings that the Barcelona of today is renowned for, ranging from the Casa Milà and the Casa Batlló to the Sagrada Familia church, in construction ever since 1882. However, Barcelona’s treasures are not limited to the works of Gaudi. Its unique art and cuisine are exceptional in their own right, and a beautiful beach, a dynamic nightlife and a mild climate add even more to the Barcelonian tourist experience, landing the city a number one on our list.