The first issue that I feel pretty strongly about is China invasion and occupation of Tibet since 1950. I have a very basic and general knowledge of the events and issues that are a result of this event, nothing too detailed. However, I do know that since the Chinese have taken over Tibet, there has been no sense of human rights in their nation. Torture and executions are happening on a daily basis, the population is starving, the geography of the nation is dwindling thereby effecting their economy, and the Chinese are only making plans to make it worse through industrialization. Children are being pushed further and further away from their own culture and religion and Chinese culture is being forced upon them. Their native language now falls as a second language that they learn in school, where they now get a “re-education” as opposed to an education. Children and younger people don’t know the history of Tibet or the reason for the intensive military occupation in the villages, and they may never because the parents are too afraid to tell them in hopes of protecting their young from knowing too much. My proposal for addressing this issue is to target the children in Tibet. To design a product that they would interact with in the home where it’s the safest for them and learn about their Tibet roots; their culture, the nation’s past, and what used to be; a type of re-re-education. Since children are the future of the world, the future generations, creating an awareness at a younger age perhaps will create a stronger national attitude when they get older to understand that their right to live their own culture, speak their own language, is intrinsic. It would be a product that would build courage and pride in who they are and where they came from, their background. I’m not exactly sure on what form it would take, whether it’s a game, something that the children can interact with each other with, etc. For my NFP, I found a few possibilities. There is Students for a Free Tibet (SFT), an organization that runs non-violent campaigns to empower the younger people in the fight for freedom and independence for Tibet. There is also freeTibet and International Campaign for Tibet (ICT). My next step for this would to be dive really deep into the history of Tibet before the invasion of China. Also to have an intense research period addressing a lot of the articles that talk about this issue. There are also different point of views on the issue, where some people disagree and feel that Tibet was a part of China all along even providing maps from different nations that back up their claim.
The second issue that I have a passion for is the whole e-waste recycling programs idea. Today, there are so many companies and stores that encourage e-waste recycling programs in lieu of saving and protecting the environment from the toxic chemicals that are contained in all of these electronics and devices. However, the hidden picture is never revealed openly to society. In reality, perhaps our electronics are being recycled from the U.S., but they are only being sent to less developed countries where they end up having to deal with our garbage. Go figure, once again another nation dealing with the United States’ mess. It’s not only the fact that the waste is being sent to another country so we don’t have to deal with it, it’s more about the affect that this waste has on the population of the small towns and villages that it’s being deported or smuggled into. The inhabitants of these places have the jobs of taking apart these electronics and devices and scavenge for important metals and materials of value that are hidden inside, such as gold, silver, etc. During this grueling process, the workers are constantly being exposed to toxic chemicals and pollutants that affect their health. Mothers are being affected in turn that is affecting their offspring causing birth defects or physical illness. Through all of this the Chinese government isn’t doing anything about it through governmental regulation. The workers don’t have any sort of protective wear to keep them from being exposed, not even masks. However, this is a multi-billion industry for these small towns which is why it becomes a difficult issue; the backbone of their economy. Even then, the workers involved are still being paid less than $3 a day. In my opinion, there are two ways to address this issue: one being that I would have to redesign a system that takes care of how e-waste is recycled in the world, or I could develop something that would prevent the workers from being exposed so heavily to the toxic chemicals, including mothers, children, and other inhabitants of these small towns. I propose the latter. A series of protective wear that could be sent to these villages including places in India that are going through the same situation where they can continue this business of theirs for their economy to continue thriving, but be able to keep their health too. In these types of countries, there isn’t much room for choice when it comes to issues dealing with monetary value, which is why I feel that improving the conditions that they work in through design would be a better solution than completely taking away a business that provides the country with money and also benefits another one from reduction of waste. I haven’t been able to really find a NFP organization for this particular issue, but I did come across many programs that will do e-waste recycling for large companies and even individual persons. In other words, they’ll handle shipping your laptop to China for you so that you don’t have to!