Saturday, January 28, 2006

Leuven - Great City

On January 7th we had the opportunity to visit and enjoy the city of Leuven with my friend Pieter, who is originally from this great city.

The city of Leuven appears in historical documents for the first time in 884 AC, when Vikings settled in an old fortification called "Luvanium" in Latin or "Lovon" in the local vernacular.
This city became the home of the Counts of Leuven who also acquired later on the county of Brussels and in 1990 the acquired the title of "Dukes of Lower Lorraine", with the right to rule over the middle part of today's Belgium.
Leuven increased its importance and became the capital of the Duchy of Bravant, but by the 14th century the cloth trade lost its importance and Brussels appealed more to this title.
In 1425 Duke John IV founded the Catholic University of Leuven, the most important University in Belgium and one of the oldest, still existing catholic Universities in the world. It's impressive library (pictured below top line) was constructed between 1921 and 1928 and it replaces the original library building which was destroyed in 1914 by German troops. In 1940 the building was set on fire again but once again it was reconstructed and now is home for over 1 million books.
The Town Hall (pictures below mid and 2nd line of pics) was built between 1439 and 1468 in a flamboyant Gothic style. The 236 statues that adorn the facade represent artists, scientist and other people that played an important role in Leuven's history. On the higher floors the Counts of Leuven and the Dukes of Brabant are shown.
Saint Peter's Church (in the lowest and right picture) began to be erected in the early 1400, but only by the end of the 15th century its nave was completed. In 1507 the construction of its towers started, but because the soil of the church proved to be too unstable to handle the weight of the planned 165m, the towers were left unfinished, as it can be seen in the picture. As the rest of the town the church suffered considerably damage during WWII bombing raids and went through restoration which finished in 1998.

Leuven - Detail of libraryLeuven - LibraryLeuven - Library and bug
Leuven - Town hallLeuven - Us in front of the Town hallLeuven - Detail of the Town hall
Leuven - Detail of Town HallLeuven - Town HallLeuven - Saint Peter's Church

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Questions to the PAI

There was a new forum created in communities to ask questions to the President of AIESEC International (PAI) Brodie, and here is the first question and answer which I found to be very interesting and wanted to share and get see what people think of it, so What do you think of the following?

What can you find(and learn) in AIESEC and you cannot find(and learn) in a company? - Marius Ogrean
Hmmm... Well, I think there's a ton of things that we get out of AIESEC that are at least rare to get out of most companies or other organizations.
I think one interesting way to describe one of the central things - from a professional perspective - is a concept I read about in a book a few months ago. It talks about how individuals grow through successive stages of leadership paradigms. They often move from a technical, through a political, to a transformational leadership paradigm.
In the technical paradigm, the concern is efficiency. How quickly, cheaply, etc... can we get the job done? Most people at this stage look at the world like a problem to be solved - and want to solve it efficiently. EFFICIENCY, EFFICIENCY is the call of this level of paradigm.
In the political paradigm, a person (usually after becoming a manager) realizes that they really have to take into account what people think and feel, and how the social power is distributed in an organization. Here, people are thinking about how to please people, how to maintain power and influence.
In the transformational, or leadership, paradigm, a leader moves into a state where the central purpose is higher than themselves or any one person or group of people. They think about the long-term health and success of an organization as well as its short-term performance. They enter true humility (which is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less -placing a higher purpose first and foremost), and are - at the highest levels - driven less by ego than by purpose.
Some people don't fully understand the transformational paradigm, and think that it's beyond the other two paradigms - as if the lower two paradigms are bad in some way. The important point though, is that the transformational paradigm INTEGRATES efficiency and influence, and ADDS concern for relevance, purpose, the long-term, design, etc... If transformational leaders forget efficiency, then they're not going to transform anything. But they just need to view efficiency in its correct context.
I find one of the most amazing things about AIESEC is that it creates an environment in which people can very rapidly move through the above three paradigms. The risk of this is that some people are not fully developed in one stage before jumping onto the next, but it's an exciting thought that we can start, at least, to understand higher and more developed ways of functioning while being so young.
The downside is that some people, when they leave AIESEC, find it very hard to move into an organization where they'll most likely be put in a role that expects out of them the technical, not the transformational, paradigm. But the opportunity is that if all of us as AIESECers are looking through an efficiency, an influence, and a transformational paradigm, we can do some exciting things in and for the world and each other.
I hope the above all makes sense!
Looking forward to the next question! :-)
Towards 2010, every day...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It's truly a small world

Is there any better way to start a week than by reconnecting with old friends which you haven't seen in quite some time?

Well this is precisely what happened this Monday, my family and I got to meet for dinner with Pieter and Triinu. I met Pieter first time in ITC 2001 in Romania and then after 3 years we ended up sharing an apartment in Florida as DHL interns for some months, and Triinu I met first time in IC 2001 in Switzerland when she was OC, then we were roommates in ITC and met again in IC 2003.
Guys, it was just AMAZING to have the opportunity to see you again. This is one of the things I love of being in Europe, it gives me a chance to reconnect with friends I couldn't before.
Stay in touch, enjoy the pictures and hope to see you soon

Triinu and Daniela
Monday dinner with AIESEC friendsTriinu, Pieter and me - A mini ITC 2001 reunionPieter, Boryana and Daniela

Saturday, January 14, 2006

New Year's Card

New Year's Card
Originally uploaded by rafuchoski.
Although almost half January has already gone by, I wanted to wish you all a great 2006!!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Happy New Year 2006

New Year's took us (my 2 ladies and me) to Liege to meet my good old friend Thomas Heymans (right) and a group of his friends. This year it was a costume party and although we didn't have any, we manage to borrow some from other attendees.

We had indeed a great time and it was the best way to start a New Year, in the company of good friends, with good music, costumes, food, drinks, fireworks and family.

It was also quite an interesting morning the next one to sit around with all of them, listening to jokes and stories all of them in French, he, he, I need to definitely start my French courses - one of the new years resolutions ;-D

Enjoy the pics from the Party, it has been a long time since I had that much hair he, he, he.

New Year´s Party - Thomas & Daniela
New Year´s Party - Good old and new friendsNew Year´s Party - Marie and DanielaNew Year´s Party
New Year´s Party - Kinky ChampagneNew Year´s Party - Having a good timeNew Year´s Party - Drunk Perla
New Year´s Party - Julian and meNew Year´s Party - Francoise and meNew Year´s Party - Groovy ah?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Interesting Today's news

New Orleans universities seeing real homecoming: All New Orleans colleges saw some storm damage, but none more so than Dillard, a historically black university in Gentilly, about a mile from Lake Pontchartrain. Every building flooded on the elegant 55-acre campus, causing $500 million in damage.
If you have a look at the graphs you can see that before Katrina de population in the city was estimated at 462K while now it is between 175K and 190K, only 84% of the areas have electric power, out of 117 public schools that were open before Katrina, now only 17 are open and from 9 Hospitals, now only 2 are functioning. Clearly New Orleans is still a long way from recovered, and my thoughts are with them as in 6 months Hurricane season will start again.

Bird flu's spread in east Turkey: Almost three weeks ago, poultry started dying in biblical numbers in the town of Diyadin in eastern Turkey, Mehmet Yenigun said Monday. In two days, the villager said, all of the birds - thousands of them - were dead
On Sunday, officials finally reported an outbreak of bird flu in Agri Province, which includes the village of Diyadin, though they have not yet reported an outbreak in Diaydin itself
At this time last week only two or three locations had reported outbreaks. As of Monday, 12 villages had confirmed the disease, stretching from Van City in the far east to Bursa, near Istanbul, 1.600 kilometers away, or over 990 miles. In response, 106.000 birds have been culled, the Agriculture Ministry said.
In addition to those outbreaks, the governor of Istanbul, Muharren Guler, announced Monday that birds in three districts of this city of 12 million had been diagnosed with the flu, although it was not yet clear if they carried the most dangerous H51N strain.

India's lost daughters: Abortion toll in millions: As many as 10 million female fetuses may have been aborted in India over the last 20 years as families try to secure a male heir, according to a study published Monday in The Lancet, the British medical journal.
"We conservatively estimate that prenatal sex determination and selective abortion accounts for 0.5 million missing girls yearly" Dr. Prabhat Jha, a public health professor at the University of Toronto, who headed the research team, said in a statement.
The ban in 1994 on revealing the sex of a fetus is widely ignored and there is little attempt to enforce it. In theory, pregnant women who seek help for sex selection could face a three-year prison sentence and a fine of 50.000 rupees, or $1.100, while doctors can have their medical license suspended, but no case has yet come to court.

From Brazil's hinterland, 2 musicians rise: Over the years, Zeze di Camargo and Luciano, the brothers who are a leading country music duo in Brazil, had grown accustomed to people saying that their life story would make an inspiring movie. Theirs is a classic rags-to-riches tale: Two hard-working peasant boys rise from poverty to stardom, prodded by a sharecropper father who sacrifices everything for them.
More than just a movie with a happy ending, "Two Sons of Francisco" has become a cultural and sociological phenomenon here. The brothers' feisty, down-to-earth father, Francisco, who is still alive, has emerged as a national symbol of tenacity, and the combination of adversity eventually compensated by success has clearly struck a deep emotional chord with audiences.
"We view this movie as a useful tool for all of society," Zeze di Camargo, 43, said. "We show Brazil's failings, but in the end, there is a victor."
"This story is the synthesis of the Brazilian experience, and it's good for our self-esteem as a people," he said. "These are folks who come from nothing, but end up on top, not because they've trampled others but because they have battled hard and honestly and followed their dream."

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Tech Support - Outsourced to India

Some time ago I found this animations through a friend of mine, and I have to say they have to be 2 of the most funniest things I have seen so far.
So just click play in the animation below this lines, and then see the 2nd one in the other posting!!

Tech Support II

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Glory is transitory

Checking my monthly Warrior of the Light edition, I came across a writing from Paulo Coelho that is really worth to mention:

"...I heard something similar from member Josue Montello. He told me: "Every person has the duty to take the road that goes through his village"
Why? What is on that road?
What force is it that impels us far from the comfort of what is familiar and makes us face challenges, even knowing that the glory of the world is transitory?
I believe that impulse is called: the search for the meaning of life."

"The glory of the world is transitory and it is not that which gives us the dimension of our life - but the choice we make of pursuing our personal myth, of believing in our Utopias, and fighting for them. We are all protagonists of our existences and very often it is the anonymous heroes that leave the most lasting marks.
A Japanese legend says that a certain monk, filled with enthusiasm by the Chinese book Tao Te King, decided to raise funds to translate and publish those verses into his mother tongue. He took ten years to collect enough.
In the meantime, a plague afflicted his country and the monk decided to use the money to relieve the suffering of the sick. As soon as the situation returned to normal, again he began to raise the money needed for publishing the Tao; more than ten years went by and when he was ready to print the book, a seaquake left hundreds of people homeless.
The monk again spent the money on rebuilding houses for those that had lost everything. A further ten years went by, he began to raise money and, finally, the Japanese people were able to read the Tao Te King.
Wise men say that, in fact, the monk made three editions of the Tao: two invisible and one printed. He believed in his Utopia, fought the good fight, remained true to his objective, but did not stop paying attention to his similar. I hope it will be like that with all of us: sometimes invisible books, emerging from generosity shown to one's fellow human, are as important as those that fill our libraries." Read the whole issue

Cheers to a New Year, cheers to new challenges, cheers to new roads that will be taken, cheers to a return to philosophical questions and matters, cheers to a great New Year's party.
To all changes, cheers.