12.31.2011

Obligatory End of the Year Post

I often felt like I balanced as many things as this
 guy did during 2011. 
As 2012 draws ever closer, I feel obligated to have the traditional end of the year post that thanks everyone for their support, gives the stats on the blog for 2011, and looks ahead for the year to come. I'll try to make it as painless as possible.

A Review of 2011
In my most recent post I reviewed the highlights and lowlights of Africa throughout 2011, but this is a review of my blog for the year and not of current events. Luckily my blog was a bit more successful than say the Ivory Coast elections or the succession of South Sudan. I saw a large increase in visitors from 2010, most likely due to the fact I changed from writing about non-profit organizations to international conflicts, developing world politics, and humanitarian aid-related items. Throughout the year I've had visitors from 135 of the 196 countries in the world, with hits from as far off field as Mali, Sudan (perhaps the beloved Bashir himself?), Fiji, and the Isle of Man. 

The most popular posts throughout the year have been:
You, Me, Malnutrition, and Food Dependency (Not my favorite post, but whatever)
Zimbabwe Stones and Conflict Minerals (Again, not sure why the popularity on this one)
Manshiyat Naser - AKA Garbage City
R2P Version 2.0 
R2P Intervention: Defining the Indefinable and Unimaginable 
Blood Gadgets? 

A few of my well-thought-out, snarky, sassy, and favorite posts have been:
Military Humanitarianism
Colonel Whatshisname?
So...You Want to be an Aid Worker?
Failing R2P: The Neglect of Sudan

But despite all the craziness, I was able to see some
pretty cool places throughout the year.
Leaving a diamond mine in Sembehun, Sierra Leone
All in all, I want to thank everyone for being so supportive this year and being patient during the dry spells when life bogged me down, when I was in Africa, or when I was having an existential crisis. It has been a great year for the blog and I only have you, my readers, to thank. Let's make 2012 even better and I'll try to produce more analytical, sarcastic, and thoughtful content. Looking ahead, I'm likely going to post more on refugee issues, humanitarian aid, international conflicts/wars, international politics and despotism, and, as always, my journey to becoming an aid worker. I'm in the works of planning a 3 month trip back to my beloved Sierra Leone, so there is the strong possibility that from June to September there will be more posts on my life in mama Salone in addition to my regular content. If you have any suggestions on content ideas, I'd love to hear them, so please comment on this post or email me at calledtocompassion[at]gmail[dot]com. Anything else you want me to know? Then post that here as well! I always welcome feedback. 

The Good Stuff
Enough about me, let me turn to some other great blogs that I've recently discovered that will be worth supporting in the new year. Let me first say that the blogs I link to on the side of my blog are all worthy of reading, even if they haven't been updated in a while, read them, it's worth it and I have them there for a reason! However, there are a few blogs I'd like to highlight that are either about issues close to my heart that I'll be focusing on more during the coming year or are about humanitarian aid, Africa, or NGO logistics (which is the field I want to enter). So without further ado, here are my blog picks for 2012 (in no particular order):

Africa is a Country
I'll be the first to admit that much of my content is not on the most uplifting topics, which is why I try to include some lighthearted posts every once and a while. But, if I don't post enough upbeat content about Africa and you need a quick fix, check out this blog that is a cumulative effort by several contributors on music, sports, film, politics, and more in Africa. It has got some fantastic music recommendations and great (lighthearted) pieces on Africa. 

2011 has brought me and my travelling companion,
 Guillaume, to some pretty interesting places.
Mutianya, People's Republic of China
China in Africa: The Real Story
I (very) recently discovered this blog written by a professor at the American University's International Development Program, who gives the truth about China's new-found infatuation and deep involvement in Africa. I'm particularly interested in China's (dare I say neo-colonial?) relationships with African nations, especially after I saw all that the Chinese have done in Sierra Leone. This blog does a good job at describing China's involvement and its implications for the continent - the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

Shotgun Shack
Written by a mid-Westerner like myself, the anonymous author of Shotgun Shack writes about the experiences that led her to working in the INGO field, the conflictions faced by aid-workers, and rants on common perceptions of the developing world, charities, and "doing-good". It's a wonderfully written blog written sometimes with uncomfortably raw accuracy and often with admirably cynical and sarcastic remarks. 

The Logistics Project
I was thrilled when I found this newly created blog that discusses the challenges, rewards, and comedies of life as a logistician in the NGO community. As a wanna-be NGO logistician (I'll be for-hire in a year...just as an FYI), I find the posts hilarious yet helpful. I look forward to continuing to enjoy the content that Al produces about life as a logistician (and not a dental technician).

Texas in Africa
This is an insightful academic blog written by an assistant professor in political science on sub-Saharan African politics, security, and development with particular emphasis on the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although it is more of an academic blog than the others I am recommending, it is still easily readable and extremely informative - especially if you want to know more about Central Africa. 

Transitionland 
I'm going to jump from Africa to Afghanistan briefly to highlight this blog by an international development worker living in Afghanistan. I figured I needed to recommend a blog by someone "in the field", and I think that Transitionland does a good job at mixing personal stories of life in Afghanistan with info about development and the atrocities in Afghanistan. This is not your "I'm living abroad, come read about my life" blog - so enjoy! It is also hilarious at times

2011 was just the start of my travels/life in Africa
More to come for Guillaume and I in 2012.
Bo, Sierra Leone
The Road to the Horizon
I've long been enjoying this blog and I think it is still worth recommending to everyone. Peter is an experienced aid worker with a passion for international conflicts, travel, and bizarre oddities. When not posting about the humanitarian aid field, Peter shares funny content sometimes sprinkled with two of my favorite ingredients: cynicism and sarcasm. This is a helpful, insightful, resourceful, and enjoyable blog for the new year.

Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like
What can I say? This blog delivers hilariously accurate and satirical accounts of things expat aid workers like and what they think. As I read this blog, I am uncomfortably aware of how true it is already in my life as a wanna-be aid worker. Reading this gives me a glimpse into what my life might well look like in a year with hilarious personal testimonies and satirical cartoons. This is another great blog to visit if you are looking for a guaranteed laugh and a break from the less-than optimistic content covered here. What else can I say? Read it. Love it. Laugh. 

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