Theravada & Mahayana Buddhism: Safe Diff?

When people think of Asia and religion, Buddhism is usually what comes to the forefront of most people’s minds. What many don’t always realize is that there are a different schools of thought within Buddhism. Zen Buddhism is pretty widely known, but the two sects that I’ve become familiar with through my travels are a bit less widely known. So, I’d like to explore some of the similarities and differences between Theraveda and Mahayana Buddhism.

more “Theravada & Mahayana Buddhism: Safe Diff?”

Religion and a Higher Power in Ghana

I’ve seen in some rankings and lists that Ghana is often among the most religious countries in the world. Living here, it’s not that difficult to believe. Many shop names mention God or Allah or reference a Bible passage. One of the first questions I get asked when I meet new people is often, “What religion are you?” And on Sunday mornings, life slows down considerably and the air is filled with the singing and preaching from the dozens of churches. Religious beliefs are very much a part of life here, and there’s an interesting break-down.

more “Religion and a Higher Power in Ghana”

Cambodia’s Past Blurring into the Present

Just a few days ago, “First They Killed My Father” began streaming on Netflix. The movie, based on the book with the same name, follows the story of a girl who is forced to become a child solider while her family is sent to labor camps under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. The other famous film about this time in Cambodian history is “The Killing Fields,” that tells the true story of a journalist and his interpreter. While the genocide in Cambodia that occurred from 1975 to 1979 under the rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge may be generally known, the legacy of that time that stretches into the present is much less so.

more “Cambodia’s Past Blurring into the Present”

Welcoming and Naming New Babies in Ghana

A few weeks ago, my friend and co-worker gave birth to her first child – a baby girl. This was pretty exciting, as it is culturally a good sign for her to have a baby so soon after her wedding, and I was excited because it meant I had a chance to take part in some of the cultural practices around welcoming a new baby. These traditions are commonly called naming ceremonies.

more “Welcoming and Naming New Babies in Ghana”

Enjoying Bedouin Tea of Egypt

The heat of the Sinai bears down from the cloudless sky all around me while the Red Sea glitters. I drop my bag on the ground and sink into the low cushions underneath a palm frond canopy. “Would you like some tea?” a man in a white jelabaya offers me. Normally, the heat would put me off from a hot drink, however I take him up on his offer. It’s the first of many cups I will drink over the coming days.

more “Enjoying Bedouin Tea of Egypt”

Chale Wote: Accra’s Street Art Extravaganza

High Street is filled with rivers of people, shoulder to shoulder, flowing in competing directions. From Usher Fort at one end to the Jamestown Lighthouse at the other, the road has been blocked off and foot traffic has taken over, supplemented by street performers, muralists, artists, vendors and the ubiquitous women and children selling water from atop their heads. It’s Chale Wote, Accra’s annual street art festival breaking down the conceptions of West African art.

more “Chale Wote: Accra’s Street Art Extravaganza”