Monday, November 26, 2012

In Alsace, land of my ancestors, people still live off the land to surprising degree

This was originally published on The Huffington Post on Nov. 13, 2012.
Germaine cooking in her kitchen
HOUSSEN, Alsace, France -- Here in the village from where my great-great grandparents emigrated to America, in the former province known as Alsace, those who derive their living from the land are now a fraction of what they were at the time my ancestors left in 1872. But many, including the Eckerlens, my modern-day relatives that I know best, still live off the land to a surprising degree -- especially in the late summer and early fall.

During a visit here in September, I had a dinner and two lunches at the home of Germaine Eckerlen who lives in the village of Houssen, where my great grandfather Eugene was born in 1867. And yet everything, or nearly everything, I ate came directly from her backyard in the village. Germaine, 80 years old, is the widow of my father's third cousin. She treats me like a long-lost relative which, in fact, I am: I only discovered this village in 2000 after many years of genealogical research.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Using technology to talk to Ethiopian university students about HIV

The home page of

This article originally appeared on The ONE Blog on Oct. 26, 2012.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The most dramatic demographic divergence in Ethiopia in recent years has been an explosion in the number of young adults enrolled in post-secondary education. Ten years ago, there were 15,000. In 2012, that has risen to 380,000 students attending state universities — a 25-fold increase. Most of them moved out of their family homes and also from the protective shields of their parents, with all the implications that has for their sexual and reproductive health.

To reach them in the most effective way with information about protecting themselves from HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections, health programs in Africa are increasingly turning to technology — digital, mobile and social. In Ethiopia, for example, DKT Ethiopia, an affiliate of the non-profit organization DKT International, launched the Higher Education Initiative in 2009 in an effort to get on top of this demographic trend and the potential negative health consequences it portends.