9 Reasons Why the Fyre Festival Debacle is Incomparable to the Refugee Crisis

Author: Gauri Bhatia, Current Events/Politics

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard about the Fyre Festival and ensuing debacle.

Here is a small primer: Last weekend there was to be a “luxury” event on a “private island” in the Bahamas once owned by Pablo Escobar. You heard me, private island, Bahamas. (Fact: The island also had a Sandals Resort, and Pablo Escobar never even visited.)

As it turned out, founders Billy MacFarland and Ja Rule (yes, that Ja Rule) had no idea how to make this happen; lamenting “we tried building a city out of nothing,” as if this is the first time anybody has done that (see Coachella, Bonnaroo, Burning Man, etc.)! The festival weekend devolved into a chaotic mess of ultimately “shoddy housing, questionable meals and overall substandard conditions,” according to Rolling Stone.

While I have no doubt that attempting to attend said festival was nerve-wracking and possibly terrifying, there is no way that it compares to the refugee crisis like some of the patrons claimed. That trivializes other people’s suffering, which doesn’t lessen their own. In case you missed it, here is just one of many headlines making the comparison.

So here are nine reasons why the two are incomparable (and, as a bonus, one way in which maybe they are comparable):

A warm welcome
Fyre Festival-goers chose to attend this festival and were welcomed on both ends. Refugees are generally fleeing from one country where they are not welcome (their homeland) to another country where they are either unwelcome or have to jump through years of hoops to be invited inside.

Substandard accommodations
Yes, the festival’s “luxury glamping villas” turned out to be leftover USAID tents. In that case, the accommodations were comparable to the ones refugees stay in… except for the fact that refugees are frequently crammed into these tents several families at a time and left to deal with the elements. On Fyre Cay, it was first come, first serve for the tents, but everybody was given a bed, and all had a nice view of the sandy beach and clean blue water.

Luggage
During the festival, the luggage was late and ended up being unloaded in the middle of the night. Refugees frequently carry their most important possessions (including their families) on their backs in the middle of the night, get off of the transports in the middle of the night, not only late, but also with no idea where or when they have been dispatched.

Injuries
The worst physical injury to come out of the Fyre Festival Debacle was the man who fainted in the airport. Refugees are lucky if they make it through the journey with all limbs and family members intact. I cannot speak to the mental and emotional injuries of all parties, but perhaps those are comparable?

Food and entertainment
Fyre Festival-goers were promised gourmet food and special guests including Migos, Blink-182 and Major Lazer. Instead they found cheese sandwiches in Styrofoam containers (and obviously, no Blink-182). I don’t quite have a comparison to refugees in this case. The festival-goers certainly did however, and the Fyre Festival organizers have threatened a lawsuit because “the comparison could incite violence.”

Trying to leave
Yes, festival-goers being locked inside the airport on the island was undoubtedly frightening, but it certainly does not equal the hardships refugees have gone through to leave their own country or enter countries like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, etc.

Money
Fyre Festival-goers paid between $450 and $250,000 for this “unparalleled concert-going experience” on a sunny island. To be clear, they chose to pay this money and it was modest compared to the wealth these “influencers” have.

Refugees spend comparable amounts to travel to safer regions hoping to start a new life there, and that amount is frequently their complete savings and life’s work. In addition, Fyre Festival-goers were told to upload money to their wristband accounts and hence carried no currency to the festival, which caused an issue when they needed to use public transportation and frequent restaurants on the island. I think I made my point earlier about refugees using their entire life savings to travel to another country, so in this comparison, they are left with nothing at all.

Help
All of the attendees of the Fyre Festival were American citizens (with some European models thrown in) and were eventually helped off the island by the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas. Refugees are stateless, or even worse: still citizens of the regime that is trying to kill them. They have nowhere and nobody to turn to for help. Festival-goers also were secure in the knowledge that eventually somebody (or some organization) would come to their aid. There were numerous tweets to Delta and American Airlines (not United), asking for a plane to come pick them up (as the private planes that flew from Miami to the island were out of commission). Refugees have no similar idea of an end point. There is no hope or knowledge that the suffering will end at some point — it is endless.

Social Media
The reason that we know what happened at the failed festival is the complaints the attendees registered to the world via Twitter, Instagram and numerous other platforms. Refugees don’t have similar means to call attention to their condition. Although, the festival-goers’ antics on social media might have net them some trouble, as the organizers are threatening a defamation lawsuit, in counter to the attendees $100 million lawsuit.

The One Way in Which the Two Are Comparable
Both Fyre Festival-goers and refugees face unknown situations in which what they have been promised and what they are faced with are vastly disparate. Festival-goers were expecting a weekend of fun, sun and Blink-182 and got a harrowed night of rain, blocked escape routes and The Hunger Games instead.

Refugees flee persecution in hopes of a better life in a more developed country and face a different kind of persecution, and perhaps also The Hunger Games. I truly hope that after this debacle, the same influencers use their platforms (and perhaps their refund money) to call attention to the substandard conditions refugees face daily (as opposed to for the weekend). And I am not the only one.

 

Disclaimer: The views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.

Elections of the World: What’s Going On?

Author: Gauri Bhatia, Current Events/Politics

Recently there have been a spate of shocking election and referendum results around the globe. Living in the “American bubble,” sometimes we are inclined to think that we are the only country facing this kind of discrimination and structural inequality. Spoiler alert: We are not! All around the world, discrimination and income inequality exist and have been affecting elections and referendums this year.

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America
November 8, 2016 — All the world’s eyes were on the American Presidential Election as Donald Trump pulled off a shocking upset over Hilary Clinton. The media and the country were left asking “why?”

Over the last decade, the previous administration’s focus was on empowering and providing for the more disadvantaged portion of the American population: LGBTQ rights, poverty alleviation, refugee acceptance, women’s rights, etc. The more traditionally advantaged members of the population — aka those who live in the middle of the country, those whose families immigrated to America more than two generations ago, those who feel that immigration has stolen “their” jobs –- they were anxious for a change and were ready to be “in power” again. This portion of the population voted for the figure they felt best represented them and their views: the all-American Donald Trump with his harsh immigration reform and promise to “Make America Great Again.”

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Britain
June 23, 2016 –- A referendum –- a vote in which everyone of voting age can take part — was held to decide whether the United Kingdom should leave or remain in the European Union. Leave won by 51.9% to 48.1%.

This vote was dubbed “Brexit” – meaning “British exit.” The UK is now in the process of invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which gives the two sides two years to agree to the terms of the split. That process was started on March 29, 2017 — which means that the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29, 2019.

I previously described the ease of inter-EU travel. This has led to increased immigration from the poorer EU nations into the more developed European countries, such as the UK, France and Germany. Xenophobia and the thought of immigrants stealing “their” jobs led to an extreme result in this referendum, whose effects are still to come.

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France and Germany
These two developed nations of the EU have elections coming up in 2017, April 23 for France and September 24 for Germany.

In France, for the first time in 15 years, the far-right National Front has a good chance of winning the presidential race under Marine Le Pen, according to the BBC.­­ In Germany, the far-right “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) party has gained momentum after the migrant crisis and Brexit. While it seems likely that Chancellor Angela Merkel will stand for reelection, there is a chance the AfD or SDP (in the form of Former European Parliament President Martin Schulz) will unseat her.

These two countries have historically been amongst the most developed in the European Union and their “open-door migration” policies, coupled with the uncertain times the world is facing in regards to terrorism, have led to indecision about how the countries should be run in the future. We have seen how these issues have affected the elections and referendums in the United States and the United Kingdom; now all eyes will be on France and Germany to see if they will fall victim as well.

Following the April 23 election, Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen on May 7, 2017.  

Macron won 66.1% of the popular vote, compared to Le Pen’s 33.9%. According to Sud Ouest, a French newspaper: “this was the first time in the history of the Fifth Republic that the runoff [second round of elections] did not include a nominee of the traditional left or right parties.”

Nevertheless, Macron was officially proclaimed President by the Constitutional Council on May 10; although, the result was conceded by early estimations on May 7.

Some may doubt Macron’s prowess, given his former investment banking background, but the effects of his Presidency have yet to be seen. Let’s give him 100 jours and see what happens.

 

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog. 

No More Weekends in Paris

Author: Gauri Bhatia, Current Events/Politics

There has been a lot of confusing news lately concerning visa restrictions for Americans wishing to travel in Europe. Let me help ease some of that confusion for you, millennials — our travel experiences are very important to us.

What does the news say?
The New York Times reports: “The European Parliament has passed a nonbinding resolution calling for the reintroduction of visa requirements for American citizens, raising the stakes in a long-running battle over the United States’ refusal to grant visa-free access to citizens of five European Union countries.”

Let’s break that down a bit. What were the restrictions for Americans in Europe before?
In general, it is extremely easy for someone with an American passport to travel to the rest of the world, visa-free. As of January 1st, 2017, holders of a United States passport could travel to 174 countries and territories visa-fee or with visa on arrival, making an American passport third in terms of travel freedom, according to the Henley visa restrictions index. The only countries that rank higher are Germany and Sweden.

Specifically pertaining to Europe, the first thing to know is that there are two parts of the European Union. One part is known as The “Schengen Zone” and is composed of 26 countries. The countries not included in the Schengen Zone are: Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, the United Kingdom and Ireland, which have their own regulations.

For all of the EU countries, Americans do not require tourist visas and can stay for at least 90 days without needing a tourist visa (six months in some cases). The difference is that travel within the Schengen Zone is free, meaning passports needn’t be shown in most cases when crossing the border. In the rest of the countries, the passport needs to be shown to cross the border.

So, while there is not much of a difference for Americans at the moment, this information is important to understand for the future. In addition, a visa is required for Americans who wish to work or study in the European Union. So, for example, I required a visa to study in London for a summer, but not to volunteer for an English-immersion preschool in Italy (Ciao, Vupti!!!).

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In most cases in the Schengen Zone, the border is a playful and touristic one, like the one between Belgium and the Netherlands.

Basically, us American passport holders (sorry, international folks reading this) could travel to Paris or Rome on a whim and stay for three months, no second thoughts!

Now let’s go a step further. What were the restrictions for Europeans in America before?
The United States usually sets visa restrictions on a bilateral basis.

Which means: if an American citizen needs a visa to go to a certain country (like India, for example), a citizen of that country needs a visa to come to the U.S. (which is true for India, in my example). However, it is definitely not reciprocal in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Europeans who wish to visit the United States can do so with a visa. Citizens of 23 EU countries are eligible for the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which allows them to travel to the U.S. for tourism, business, or while in transit for up to 90 days (on each arrival from overseas) without having to obtain a visa.

So, it is kind of reciprocal, except that Europeans have to apply for the waiver before coming to the U.S., while Americans literally just show up in Europe. Five E.U. countries are not on that list: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania. This exclusion is a large part of the reason the European Parliament is considering reinstating visa requirements for American citizens. The European Parliament has been pushing for inclusion on these countries (with the exception of Croatia who only recently joined the EU) since at least 2014.

What are the proposed restrictions for Americans in Europe?
In essence, the European Parliament is demanding that the European Commission demand visa restrictions on American travelers, unless the Grump Administration lifts travel requirements for citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania. For the record, similar demands were placed during the Obama Administration.

The European Parliament is threatening to bring the European Commission to court if it does not confront the new administration in Washington.

Officials in the European Parliament, including the head of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs are hastily pushing for an updated timetable because of “heightened concern about the current administration.”

The European Parliament gave the European Commission two months to take legal measures to impose visas for American travelers to the European Union unless the Americans offered reciprocity to all citizens from the block. European Commission officials are afraid of making travel to Europe more difficult for Americans, as it would have a high economic cost and would not resolve the issues facing citizens of the five affected countries.

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So, what does it mean?
It is unclear about what the visa restrictions will mean for American passport holders in the future. These discussions have been going on for at least three years, but the EU seems to be pushing more vehemently given the new administration and the reservations Europe has about our newly-elected President.

My opinion is, given the changing global political landscape and the EU’s concerns about America’s current President, the European Parliament will succeed in imposing visa restrictions for Americans traveling to Europe. It is in the EU’s best interest to have more control over who is entering and exiting the area. In addition, President Trump is unlikely to begin relaxing visa requirements, as his prior reforms have served to tighten requirements and “secure borders.”

However, I think it will take time for the demands and requirements to take effect. This means: no more impromptu weekends in Paris…. eventually.

 

Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog. 

Holi Hai!

Author: Gauri Bhatia, Real Life Stories

In India, where my family is from, we celebrate the start of spring by throwing crazy colored powder at each other! Intrigued? Read on…

Here are some things you might not know about the spectacular Hindu festival of Holi:

Holi celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
The main celebration involves tossing gulal (or colored powder) into the air (and at each other) to completely coat yourself and your friends in spectacular form. The serious purpose behind it all is to celebrate fertility, love and the end of winter (or beginning of Spring). It is a festive day to meet your friends, play and laugh and to repair broken relationships. The holiday is based on the lunar calendar so it differs year-to-year, but generally Holi occurs in late February or early March, according to the Gregorian calendar.

There are many different stories for how Holi started, but here is my favorite:
The legend of Krishna and Radha. Krishna (a god) fell in love with Radha (a goddess), but was concerned about differences in their skin color, his being blue. His mother advised him to playfully paint her face to overcome their differences. That tradition is carried on by couples today.

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My dad and I celebrating Holi in India

Holi is usually a two-day event (although it takes place over 16 days in the Braj region).
The first night is called Holika Dahan. It involves a bonfire made of logs and dung-cakes. People pray over the fire to destroy their internal evil and enhance their internal good. Families also roast grain, popcorn, coconuts and chickpeas together. I know it sounds a bit odd to do this over a dung-cake fire, but hey, you make do with what you have (and I assure you, you can’t taste anything weird)!

The second day, Rangwali Holi (“colourful Holi”) is a free-for-all carnival of colors, water guns and water balloons, to ensure everyone gets equal treatment: friends, strangers, rich or poor, man or woman, child or elder. It occurs on the streets, in parks, in temples, outside apartment buildings, pretty much everywhere! People sing, dance and bang drums to make the celebrations as raucous as possible.

After the celebrations everybody cleans up and dresses up to visit friends and family and eat huge meals (and sweets!) together.

Tips for playing Holi:
Moisturize your skin and oil your hair carefully before playing, so the gulal can be easily washed out. Trust me — you don’t want to be blue for days to come (cue: “I’m blue, da boo dee, da boo DYE”)! Use non-harmful dyes. Typically organic gulal is made from dried flowers or food dye and flour.

It is a great time to visit India!
With one huge caveat…..play safely. I cannot emphasize this enough. India still has a long way to go with women’s (and men’s) safety. If you are planning to go to India and participate in the Holi festivities, please plan to go to an Embassy’s event, with friends, or to a hotel event. Do not go out on the street and play with local people. You may see this as elitist or “Western-centric” but local boys tend to play Holi hard and rough. They beat each other with “lathis” (wooden sticks), drink “bhang” (a lethal milk and almond concoction whose main ingredient is marijuana), along with the regular water balloon attacks and excess alcohol consumption. Just trust me. It is a fun celebration, but some people take it way too far.

Happy Holi and Happy Spring!

Are You a Software Professional? These Job Sites Are for You

Author: Gauri Bhatia, Career Advice

So, like many millennials, you studied computer science or a similar field in college…or you took computer classes to expand your skill set…or you are just really innately good at navigating the technological world we live in!

You don’t necessarily need to have the first two backgrounds to find a job in the technological world. I work for a software company and yet, I have no official computer science or coding background. I have learned everything I need to know for work while on the job.

So, here are some websites with software and computer jobs to help you look for those dream jobs (whether “for now” or “forever”)!

General job search sites that include software jobs:

Glassdoorglassdoor

Glassdoor includes employee reviews, salary tools, etc. as well as job postings.
Software job listings: 400,000-plus

 

Indeedindeed Also featured in our list of Twitter accounts to follow, Indeed has over 100,000 jobs with new ones being posted every day! There is also an option to upload your resume and get emails with matching jobs.
Software job listings: 180,ooo-plus

 

Monstermonster

Monster has an excellent section with career advice, in addition to the regular job searching tools.
Software job listings: 1,000-plus

 

LinkedIn!linkedin

It’s not just for those with jobs already — software or otherwise. It provides wonderful networking opportunities and job listings.
Software job listings: 390,000-plus

 

Local college bulletin boards
These can be physical or electronic. The software company I work for frequently posts openings to local boards.

 

The sites above list software jobs that aren’t as centered on formal computer skills, such as marketing, analysis (like what I do!), sales, etc.

The following sites are more startup and IT centric:

Dice.comdice

Dice has contract and permanent IT jobs. Over 80,000 of them at the moment!

 

Crunchboard.com
tech crunch

Crunchboard has IT, startup and engineering jobs. They are the leading authority on startup culture. Pretty exciting!

 

TechCareers.comtech crunch TechCareers is the most technical skills-heavy site on this list. They have lots of great jobs to browse and apply for.

 

I hope that this information helps you get that job you are looking for. For more information on tech jobs you can get without a degree, check out this article from Forbes.

Good luck!