Author: Leah Zazofsky

Leah is from Needham, Massachusetts, and attends Boston University, where she studies Psychology and Communication and writes for The Borgen Project. Leah is bicoastal as well as biracial, with roots in Russia and the Philippines.

MONROVIA, Liberia — Agriculture enthusiasts can leap for joy because the USAID is apparently also a fan. On March 15, the USAID FED, a program for Liberia that partners with the Ministry of Education, launched the new National Diploma in Agriculture. This new honor will be awarded to graduates of a skills-focused, two-year program that trains high school graduates who want to go into agricultural employment. It involves teaching the students in demand, highly marketable skills that provide flexibility and mobility within Liberia’s growing agricultural market and industries. Indeed, the new program could not come at a better time. Warring…

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WASHINGTON — U.S. food aid goes back to the days following World War II. Initially, the idea was to take American grain left over from the war era and export it to starving populations overseas. The problem with this altruistic gesture is that the system of distribution is highly inefficient. According to Oxfam,  U.S. imports can take as long as six months to reach their destinations. The long wait time is due to 50-year-old laws that require all food aid be bought from American granaries. This practice raises the cost of transport compared to using local sources. Another contributor to…

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BOSTON – Last month, former UK Environment Minister Owen Paterson shared his political views in regard to GMOs by sharply criticizing opponents of the crops. Specifically, he described said opponents as “…the ‘Green Blob’ … the environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scar stories and green tape … focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely.” Paterson’s is only one of many voices expressing either ardent support or disdain of GMOs. With fervently dogmatic opinions on both sides, the controversy surrounding GMOs will…

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MONTEVIDEO, Ururguay — The polls have it: the most beloved politician of the 20th century was Nelson Mandela. Facebook exploded on December 5, 2013 with people all over the world mourning the loss of the last scrupulous politician, or so they thought. José Mujica, popularly termed the “Pauper President” of Uruguay, is nearing the end of his last presidential term. Known for practicing the progressive lifestyle he preaches, Mujica returns to his humble home with aged VW Beetle and a pristine conscience in tow. His unofficial title stems from a decades-long career of humble servitude to his country. This is…

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ASUNCION, Paraguay — Totaling only 406,752 square kilometers, Paraguay is one of the smallest countries in South America. It is landlocked by Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia. Although Paraguayans declared independence over 200 years ago, the nation remains impoverished and hunger-stricken. Large swaths of the population are impoverished because Paraguay’s most recent economic improvements have not had much impact on most of the population. In fact, the country continues to be plagued by political corruption. In few places is the corruption more blatant than in the soy industry. Paraguay’s reputation as the fastest-growing producer of soybeans comes with a backbreaking cost in…

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NEEDHAM, Massachusetts — Paperwork. Needles. Long lines. These are the most common sightings at vaccination clinics in the U.S. Getting a flu shot in this country during the autumn and winter months is pretty standard fare for individuals and families alike. In the poorer parts of Africa and Asia however, different cultural perspectives prevail. Caught between attitudes ranging from vaguely skeptical (the minority) to adamantly suspicious (the majority), as many as 2.5 million deaths a year occur as a result of vaccine-preventable diseases. The most vulnerable demographic is children younger than five. The most common preventable killers of children in the…

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NEEDHAM, Massachusetts — “The map said: ‘No Man’s Land’,” explained Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes” when describing the desert of the Jordan-Syria border last November. “Who could survive here?” he mused. But thousands of Syrian refugees are attempting to do just that. Their plight stems not from a preventable health crisis such as polio or malaria, but rather from the military regime that now plagues the nation they once called home. Now, with the military becoming exponentially more aggressive and no other feasible option, Syrian women and children roam the desert en route to the more politically stable Jordan. Hardly anyone…

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WASHINGTON — When all has been said and done, Obama’s approval rating may not be as polarized as that of his predecessor, but his views on foreign policy and international relations are still subject to significant scrutiny. From the pivotal defeat of Osama bin Laden to the scandalous revelations of Edward Snowden, the spotlights set upon Obama’s figure cast a tall shadow. Regardless of any judgmental errors, the benefits of the president’s responses to other countries ultimately outweigh the drawbacks. Obama may not have been among the Navy SEALs who undertook the strike upon bin Laden himself, but the fact remains that…

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NEW YORK — When Bill Gates’ name comes up in conversation, one probably thinks of Microsoft or the Gates Foundation. Little did anyone suspect when he appeared as a guest on Jimmy Fallon’s show three weeks ago that his newest mission would serve as a radical departure from his typical appearances. Sitting across from Fallon with two glasses of water between them, Gates informed the Late Night host that they were about to do a taste test that would require Fallon to guess which of the two numbered glasses was “poop water”- water produced from recycled sewage. Once Fallon drank…

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