Music has been an integral part of my life, well, for roughly my entire life.
I remember moments growing up where we would be in the car with country music on the radio and just singing it out. Those songs, when heard again, are dear to me. And if it wasn't country, it was classical music - with the powerful melodies or strong brass lines or dream-like flutes and strings - a place where my imagination could flutter away.
When I was a little older and my classmates were talking about and singing this classic rock stuff of the early 90's, I would "stealthily" listen to a radio station in my room when I thought nobody would hear. I still don't know why I thought I had to listen to it in secret, like it was against the rules or disloyal to like another genre. Strange kid, I know.
Middle school band changed my life. Seriously.I was the shyest introvert ever, but when you have to play and express yourself out-loud, whoa. And as a teenager, my French horn has been an outlet of expression for me when I didn't have any other way.
But you know what I miss? Today, while going to class on the U-bahn/S-bahn (local train) with my iPod streaming music into my ears, I miss singing out loud.
Back when I would drive to work in a self-contained vehicle and when I had my own apartment, I would sing along to the radio (or whatever else was playing in my head). Or start up iTunes and just have a field day with my favorites. I don't do that here. But I wanted to today. I really wanted to. I even walked to the edge of the train platform where nobody was just so that I could sing softly. I feel like I don't want to disturb people, and I'm sure self-conscientiousness plays a prominent role. But it's such a deep urge within me, that I only identified today.
I also miss worship music that I allow to impact me. It's like I've shut myself off from that type of emotion because I just don't want to deal with it right now. I miss music, and I miss music that impacts.
One of my classes for the first semester of studies in this master's program is Power demand, supply, & distribution. Part of this class is presentations by fellow learners about their home countries' power situation (i.e. electricity). For the most part, I find this time rather interesting considering we have the United Nations represented in young minds right here. We have examples of countries with so much demand that it's pitiful when compared to the rest of the world (i.e. USA), countries that have an increasing demand as the country develops (i.e. many Latin American countries), countries that a minority percentage of households have access to electricity and even that the country cannot supply (i.e. Nepal & India), and countries that have an incredibly low population with access to "daily" amenities (from the eyes of an American) and seem to be okay with it (i.e. several African countries). It truly is fascinating to me - the world.
This last student presentation session was about different countries demand's for commercial nuclear power (as in non-military) and hydro-electrical power production. One person's presentation in particular struck a chord of some sort within me: Afghanistan.
But to back-step a bit, the country right before was Nepal and their extensive use of hydro. Some 40% of the small population (it is a small country consumed by the Himalayas, so the small population part makes sense) have access to electricity, and the government can only provide those with power for half the day - morning and evening/night. From living in India, power cuts are of no great surprise to me. But with Nepal in my head, Afghanistan was next.
In the mid-20th century, Afghanistan, with the aid of a few industrialized nations, developed quite a sufficient infrastructure including several hydro-electric dams. However, due to the Cold War fought on their soil, then civil war, then once again this "War on Terror" against Taliban forces, they are broken. (I'm not entirely sure who "they" is - the infrastructure, sure; the nation, maybe; the trust of the people, seems reasonable; the people themselves, I hope not.)
14% of the population have access to electricity. Wow. When asked about that percentage, my Afghani classmate responded that during times of war, when bombs and bullets are a daily sign of life, it is expected that one would give up on luxury items. Naturally. My bigger "wow" moment occurred when he talked about how his government is trying to rebuild itself. One problem with that: hydro-electric dams have huge up-front costs, and no financier will provide the government with a loan. In their [World Bank & Bank of China] eyes, the country is too unstable and a guarantee cannot be provided that their investment will last long enough to get a return.
This all makes sense, but it's devastating nonetheless.
So my internal wheels started turning. "War-torn and unglued: redevelopment after war and natural disasters." My thesis topic for next year popped into my head (well, potential topic, anyway). This is a good fit to what I've done, where my heart is, and where I am thus far. I want to study, and subsequently put said study into practice, how countries/nations/people-groups rebuild their lives, their homes, their world after disasters - human caused or otherwise. How do we get Haiti back on her feet after the devastating earth-quake or gulf coast regions on the U.S. after hurricanes or Afghanistan after decades of war or Rwanda and Sudan after genocide or North Korea ... does it finally make sense to me why I've wanted to go there? How did Germany and other Eastern Block, previous Soviet occupied countries rebuild after WWII and beyond?
I think I've figured out what I want to do. It's a good thing I'm studying in Germany, so part of my [potential] thesis research is at hand. And a bonus (though my friends might not consider this a positive), long-term travel can be arranged while in the thesis semester ... so I can go to other disaster-laden lands and see what I see.