A global sand grab is wrecking ecosystems and communities around the world

“They never discussed with our community,” Vanna says. “They came to dredge and the land fell down. And the water became deep.” The land “fell down” because the dredging caused the riverbanks to wash away. Now, Vanna says, there are no fish, because without any shallow water, they have nowhere to spawn. On the nearby shore, small, gaunt children dance to a boombox while the adults snack on longan fruit. They, too, have lost their livelihoods. One of the men, Sa Lee, points to the other side o

Back on the Map: Recovery and Resilience in Tsunami Aftermath

If there’s one thing I’ve never been able to comprehend, it’s the capacity of humans to recover from sheer devastation. The easy answer is that they have no choice. That you can’t just sit around and give up, though some do. Human resilience is more complex than that. Medical and scientific literature has tried to quantify what it is that allows people to continue to function, and even thrive, after trauma. As with everything else in our lives, genes likely play a role. But most people, when asked, can’t fully describe or explain what pushes them forward after a natural disaster, a violent crime, or war.

Myanmar: Three Days' Journey Among the Temples of Bagan

Myanmar. Burma. This is one of those places most of us have heard of, but most of us have never seen. In that way, it’s like so many places in Southeast Asia… closed off for a half-century because of a brutal military dictatorship, and now slowly re-opening its ancient doors in the wake of democratic reforms. Freedom is still in its infancy here, the power grid is unstable, and economic growth that exceeds infrastructure capacity has created traffic gridlock in the cities, and detrition of sacred sites by tourists.

The ethical questions that every traveler should ask about poverty tourism

Poverty tourism is in vogue. Well-heeled global travelers now regularly stray off the beaten path with the goal of understanding “real life” in the places they visit, dropping in on Brazil’s favelas and New Orleans’ hurricane-ravaged Lower Ninth Ward. Reports are circulating that Norwegian teens are even participating in a camp that lets them role-play the experiences of real-life refugees—an experience promising to teach young people compassion via “play, fun and joint adventure.” It’s hardly

Obama's Foreign Policy Challenges: The Next 4 Years | America Abroad Media

President Obama's second term begins with a series of foreign policy challenges on his plate. From unrest in the Middle East, to a rising China, to Europe's economic woes, the next Obama administration will face a series of foreign policy challenges. To learn more listen to this month's episode of America Abroad – Obama's Foreign Policy Challenges: The Next 4 Years. Produced by Maeve Frances, Martha Little, A.C. Valdez, Jocelyn Ford and Teri Schultz, with additional production by Flawn Williams

Donald Trump is ruining my life as an expat

I generally mind my own business on flights. But on a recent trip within Vietnam, I couldn’t help myself when the two Australian businessmen seated next to me began chatting about Donald Trump. “I don’t know. I didn’t used to think so, but who knows?” “IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN!” I interjected. I didn’t shout, but I did say it in urgent all-caps as I shook my head. “IT CAN’T. NO WAY.” They looked over at me. “Ah, so you’re American? What is going on over there?” I briefly toyed, as I so often do

Final Thoughts from India '18

I was talking with a friend back in the states last night who said of my photos from India: “Sometimes I look at them and can’t even believe we’re all on the same planet.” Sometimes it feels like that while you’re there, too. It just has to be another planet. Everything is different. The scenes, the smells, the sounds, everything. I was with another friend in Delhi a couple of days ago, trying to explain why I’m so taken with his country. I pointed out that I’ve traveled to nearly every countr