Kenya, Africa : Nkoidila Ole Kisemei is a young Masai living just out side the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. His father owns cattle, sich is the way a Masai shows his wealth. His mother earns a little money by making beads which she sells to tourists. Her work is very skilled and she passes on those talents to her daughters. Nkoidila helps his father by looking after the cows and goats. On some days he wakes at 2 AM and walks the cattle to a salt lick. He spends the day with the herd, watching out for lions and other dangers. He wishes for books to read. Unlike his sisters, Nkoidila attends a fee-paying school. He has to walk for over an hour to get to school each day, being careful to avoid the elephants, which can be very dangerous. In tourist season, he accompanies the visitors to help in their search for sighting animals on the savannah, and earns some money. The family attends a Christian outdoor service, but the wedding of an uncle preserves the traditional tribal ways. Nkoidila feels the Masai have more taken from them by the government than is returned, and he wants to enter politics to change that.
Felix and his brother Francis live in a small isolated house with their great-grandmother, on the edge of the rainforest in Cameroon, West Africa. They collect firewood daily, and cook meals over an open fire, with food grown in the forest. Whenever they dig into the forest earth, they can be sure to find something you can eat. They speak a pidgin English. Felix shows his 10 year-old brother different useful plants, and how to set a trap for animals, their only source of meat. One plant provides “chewing sticks” to clean one’s teeth – toothbrushes and toothpaste are too costly. They attend a dance festival in the nearby village. The dances honor various animals. Many trees have been cut for timber or plantations growing tea or palm trees for palm oil. The deforestation troubles Felix deeply, since his life depends so heavily on the plants and animals of the rainforest. The bark of the African cherry tree is used to reduce a fever, while the juice of another plant will take away eye pain. At school he plays soccer, and studies mathematics, geography and the dangers of deforestation. It usually rains heavily and daily. At a wrestling competition in a nearby town, Felix successfully defends his winning title. Felix likes the rainforest because he can find everything he needs there, and knows that when he grows up, he will want to remain there.
Yasmine Affifi and her family live in a modern apartment in the center of Cairo, the capital of Egypt, on the famous River Nile. It's a modern city and one of the most important centers of the Muslim religion, Islam. The school bus collects her and her brother every weekday; which in the Islamic world means from Sunday to Thursday. She studies English Literature, Math and Science in English, and Arabic, Religion, Geography and History in her national language, Arabic. She likes science, and wants to be a doctor. Her father is a teacher, her mother, a business consultant, and she has a younger brother. There are 15 million people living in Cairo, and the city is growing bigger all the time with more crowding, more pollution and more traffic. After school, she sometimes plays basketball. As a special treat before the Islamic holiday of Eid-al-Adha, the family takes a boat trip on the Nile River. It is also traditional at this time to take gifts to the poor, and Yasmine visits an orphanage to give them the love they really need, as well as gifts. Eid-al-Adha celebrates the biblical time when God told Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice a lamb instead of Ibrahim's son. Women in Egypt do not usually pray in the Mosque but rather quietly at home to their God, Allah. Yasmin and her family visit both their paternal and maternal grandmothers, where many of their relatives, whom they have not seen for a long time, have come together. The food is special for the feast. Yasmin likes to live in Cairo because she is among lots of people, there are lots of shops, and many places to visit. But with the construction of buildings continuing where so many already live along the Nile, on a very narrow strip of fertile land next to the desert, she worries about the future.
China is a global economic power. Chapter 1: Hong Kong, Economic Catalyst 2 min. Hong Kong is a key international center of commerce and finance. As a former colony of Great Britain until the offshore island was returned to Communist China in 1997, it is a linchpin for the booming economic growth within China and between China and the rest of the world. Chapter 2: Guangzhou (Canton) & Regional Agriculture 5 min. Today, there is a vibrant 100 mile long Chinese economic corridor from the island of Hong Kong that extends throughout the mainland Province of Guangdong, which contains the city of Guangzhou (formerly Canton). Among the 1.3 billion Chinese, there is now an historic mass migration of hundreds of millions of peasants from rural China to cities like Guangzhou in search of of a better life. Chapter 3: Shenzhen: Special Economic Zone 2 min. Guangzhou is located next to several special economic zones in Guangdong Province, such as Shenzhen, which allow foreigners to invest in and operate factories with minimal government regulation. With these economic incentives, a city like Shenzhen is typical, which has exploded in a few decades from a sleepy town into a city of nine million. Chapter 4: China, Recent History 3 min. Until his death in 1976, the attempts of Communist China’s leader, Mao Zedong, to build a new society were marked by many failures and terrible hardships for the Chinese people. The subsequent leadership very significantly changed China’s economic model towards less government control and more private enterprise, with great success. Chapter 5: Cultural Changes 2 min. Yet, almost half the population still lives in rural areas where life is far more traditional. Booming economic growth on such a vast scale inevitably has brought with it not only a rapidly expanding middle and upper class; but also deepening problems for urban immigrants’ living conditions, systemic corruption, the pervasive pollution of land, water, and air, and product and worker safety problems.
India is an emerging global economic power and the world's largest democracy. India has 3 times the number of college graduates as the United States, all of whom speak English. India is quickly coming of age as a global economic power. Chapter 1: Land Forms and Climate India has 3 seasons which are created by its landforms, shifting winds, the Indian Ocean, and the Himalayan Mountains. First comes the dry season, which is followed by the wet season with monsoon rains coming north from the equatorial Indian Ocean, and finally the cool season with winds flowing south from the Himalayan Mountains. Chapter 2: Religion and Caste 80% of the population is Hindu and 13% of the population is Muslim. Muslim extremists have used violence to try to gain independence for the Indian state of Kashmir, which has a Muslim majority. The Sikh religion also has extremists seeking independence for their region and faith. India’s caste system consists of distinct inherited social groups that define a person’s station in life. Social attitudes towards caste are more liberal in the younger generation, and in urban centers. When India gained independence from Great Britain in 1947, the caste system was abolished, but prejudices remain. Chapter 3: Economic Development After India gained political independence, the simple economic ideas of Mohandas Gandhi, India’s famous moral and political leader, launched the country towards economic independence. With the gradual relaxation of government control over industry in the 1990’s, the economy’s growth accelerated. Today India is one of only 12 countries in the world with a trillion dollar economy. The service industries, which include information technology, contribute to more than half of the Gross Domestic Product, followed by industry with 27 % and agriculture with 17 %. Agriculture still employs the majority of the population, in striking contrast to more developed countries, such as the United States, in which only 1% work on farms. Small or cottage industries” are the second largest employer, followed by the service industries, and finally heavy industry. The country’s economic growth has continued to be impressively high and consistent. Chapter 4: Environmental Issues India’s massive and growing population, though an economic asset, is taxing the country’s infrastructure and environment. India has 25 of the world’s 100 fastest growing cities; China has 8. Major environmental problems are air pollution from factories and automobiles in urban areas and deforestation, soil erosion, and overgrazing in the countryside. Pervasive water pollution is a problem, particularly in the sacred Ganges River which runs from the Himalayan Mountains in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south, and along which about 350 million people live. Recent steps have been taken to improve this problem. With its enormous potential finally being realized, India is emerging as a very important nation on the global political and economic stage.
Japan emerged from devastation after WW II, to become the second largest economy in the world, second only to the U.S. It's four large and many smaller volcanic and mountainous islands are scattered across a wide range of climates, and rest on a fault line which causes earthquakes. Intensive cultivation of rice provides the staple grain, and the surrounding sea, supplies fish, the staple protein. World trade is vital to this island economy. Because it was largely isolated for 700 years until mid-19th century, a strong and still pervasive Japanese culture took deep root, which includes traditions such as: Samurai warrior values, formal gardens, martial arts, the tea ceremony, Kabuki theater, and Buddhism. The cultures of nearby China and Korea were also influential. Today, Japan is a constitutional democracy with a symbolic Emperor, where English is a mandated language in school, and western cultural values are pervasive.
Accessible,safe water for humans, llivestock, and farming is a global issue. Who gets access to fresh water is creating tensions in many regions of the world. In most of the Middle East, water is scarce and precious. Globally, for almost 2 billion people, access to water is distant and must be hand carried. Drinking unsafe water causes an estimated 7 million deaths a year. Disposing of waste water which is polluting rivers and aquifers is a global environmental problem. But waste water can be treated and made safe for re-use. World wide, 70% of all fresh water is used for agriculture. The staple food of Asia, rice, requires vast amounts of water. In China, 70% of the water in the Yellow River has been diverted into agriculture along its banks. Irrigated agriculture provides 70% of all Chinese grain production. But the water level of the Yellow river has dropped significantly. Managing water resources is now a top priority for China. In Jordan, fresh water is scarce, and because it is shared with neighboring countries, is causing disputes. What can be done? Desalinization of sea water, at present, is too expensive. More efficient drip-irrigation systems are being used, and irrigation using salt water has been developed. With an ever-increasing global growth in population and industrial development, the world is facing the fact that fresh water is limited and precious.
Six distinctively different physical regions make up Canada's vast land mass. British and French explorers and fishermen, became settlers. Although Canada became a British colony, one out of four Canadians is of French descent. The interior was explored by traders, the west coast by gold rush miners. Politically there are 10 provinces and several territories. Cultural influences are from Native Americans, French, British, and Asians.
Canada and the United States share similar economies, democratic governments, and the English language. Because of the harsh climate, most Canadians live along its southern border. Early economic development was aided by the government. Opening the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean ships via the St. Laurence Seaway was a The government is a parliamentary democracy, with the Monarch of Great Britain as the ceremonial monarch of Canada. Powers of national importance rest with the federal government, while regional matters remain with the provincial governments. Environmental problems are overfishing off the Grand Banks, and acid rain. There is a French Canadian separatist movement in Quebec.