Okahoma State University Oklahoma State University

Surfing and the Art of International Development

Dr. Mike Dicks

I recently gave a short speech at the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society Annual meeting and was asked to put it in the International Informant. This is an abbreviated version, but if you would like the entire speech I would be glad to email it to you.

I don’t really remember learning to swim or body surf. It was simply part of me, something that I grew into just as most grow into walking or running. By the age of 20, I don’t think there was a water sport that I hadn’t mastered. One thing unique in the experience was that these water endeavors came about through our creation of new devices to play in the water or simulate that play on land.

Most of these water sports defy instruction. You could take class after class on the physics of motion, water, and surfaces and you are still not going to be able to surf without actually putting your board in the water and attempting to do it. But the reward for success, the inclusion of yourself into and as part of a great wave is simply unforgettable. The mere memory of gliding through a great rolling tunnel of water, the prospect of the light disappearing in a great collapse of energy as you are mauled by the tidal forces, or the spectacular elation at finding an expansion of daylight as you make it out of the great wave in victory. These are the reasons for doing it. Getting thrashed or kicking out after a long ride are awesome experiences, neither good nor bad, just different. However, most are comfortable sitting on the shore and watching while some brave the water and sit amongst the waves unable to take the plunge down the wave’s face. Few will risk all to be filled with the joy that comes with finding just the right path.

My total immersion into an alien environment at such a young age and the desire to create new forms of fun in this environment developed the attitude and problem solving skills useful everywhere. Development is about meeting needs and using the available resources to do it. Not something easy to teach, but more an Art form that you become skilled at through practice.

Just like Surfing, International Development is an Art form where you are required to learn a new environment before you can begin to be creative and success depends on that creativity and persistence.

I hope that each of you will have the opportunity to experience the joy of total immersion and commitment in a different environment. If you get that opportunity, here are a few pieces of advice to assist you in the successful ride in the new environment.

  1. Take advantage of all the opportunities available to learn and come prepared with appropriate knowledge. Before you get there, learn all you can about how surfboards are made and why. Learning about skim boarding, belly boarding, body surfing, and every other ocean sport. Learn how to swim, hold your breath, and not to panic underwater. Learn about the tides, how waves form, how they break, and how their energy dissipates. Learn about the ecosystem.
  2. Come equipped with the right tools. A surfer needs fins or boards, wet suit if the water is cold, towel, sunglasses, and hat at a minimum.
  3. When you arrive don’t just jump in, observe. Have a seat on the sand and enjoy watching the waves. Observe, where the breaking point is, the direction of the break, and the length of the break. Watch those surfing to see where they are paddling out to catch the waves, where they sit in waiting, when they start their approach, and what they do when trapped by the wave. As you observe, paint a picture in your mind of how you will enter the water, paddle out through all the crashing waves to a point where the wave break begins. Visualize how you will be positioned to become involved in the wave, when and where you will begin to paddle, when on your fall to the waves floor will you cut and at what direction. Will you thread a needle through the waves curl or roller coaster from crest to trough?
  4. If you don’t know or understand, ask. The locals are friendly if you simply let them know you’re a novice but want to try. They won’t be so friendly if you barge in on the home grounds and get in their way. They get especially irritated if they offer help and you blow them off and continue to do it your way.
  5. When you are ready, give it all you’ve got and understand that it may take many trips before you are successful. The ocean doesn’t care if your successful or not and your success won’t change the tides or anything else. You don’t do it for that reason; you do it because when you finally learn how to become part of the wave you will feel the exhilaration of being part of a new environment.

A Passion for Giving People Clean Water

Liberty Galvin

During spring break 2011, I traveled to Sierra Leone with several other students to perform community development projects related to agriculture. We had the opportunity to work side-by-side with local orphans and were able to teach them techniques like how to build and care for nursery seedlings, implementing bucket-drip irrigation, and erosion control for the monsoon season. We left the children with sprouting seedlings; they left us with a memory that has helped shaped our academic aspirations and goals.

After our trip I could not contain my desire to return to Sierra Leone and continue helping the compassionate people there. I decided that focusing on water security was very important and decided building water filters was going to by my next project. I gathered a group of engineers and we returned to Sierra Leone during Christmas break of 2011, this time working with students at Njala University. The Njala students and professors were very eager for us to begin our work. After we gave the Njala students the information for the filter construction they took over the project; their passion showed in their determination to complete the construction of several filters. There were two filters formally installed and one filter container built and ready to be filled. The filters were put at primary schools; the headmasters at each school were very excited to have the clean water available for their students and encouraged project longevity.

During May 2012 I will be traveling back to Njala to work with the students there and perform project maintenance on the filters built during the 2011 Christmas break. There are several changes we want to make to the filter mold to make it more sustainable for the region. In any developing country a continual education process is necessary to encourage sustainability and long-term success of the project as a whole. The filters that were originally installed are built to provide 100 liters of water per day; this water is being distributed to children at a young age and encourages them to come to school. I would like to see long-term success for this project because it not only provides impoverished primary school students with access to clean water, but also gives the students at Njala an easy, healthy, and sustainable way to help their own people grow and succeed.

The International Network of Customs Universities (INCU)

Anthony Cambas, International Trade Specialist CITD

The Wes Watkins Center for International Trade and Development (CITD) at Oklahoma State University was recently granted affiliate member status with the International Network of Customs Universities (INCU). The INCU is a not-for-profit international association, which was founded in 2005 to create a single point of contact between the World Customs Organization (WCO) and those universities and research institutes involved in customs related research, education, and training. The secretariat of the INCU is located at the University of Canberra in Australia and is responsible for facilitating the exchange of information and experiences amongst INCU affiliates and coordinating communication between those institutions and the WCO.

One of the major factors that led to the establishment of the INCU was the awareness that there was a need to provide a centralized platform for experts in the customs field that work in diverse disciplines in government, universities, tertiary organizations, and import/export companies. The new platform would assist with the development and dissemination of theories and best practices on customs matters. The activities and publications of the INCU work to support improvements in trade facilitation and customs control over import and export transactions. The flagship publication of the INCU is the World Customs Journal which is the first academic publication of its kind and provides a platform for the publication of peer-reviewed theory and best practices on topics such as trade facilitation, the international trade global regulatory environment, and the reform and modernization of customs and border management organizations around the world.

The following objectives of the INCU were formally announced at the fourth annual PICARD conference which was held in San José, Costa Rica in September 2009:

  • Promote academic excellence in customs management law and administration
  • Generate greater public awareness of customs matters
  • Provide the World Customs Organization with a single point of contact with universities and research institutes that are active in the field of customs research, education and training
  • Manage the production of the World Customs Journal
  • Promote and facilitate research in the field of Customs and related matters
  • Provide an educational source for students wishing to further their knowledge in the field of customs, international trade, supply chain management, and logistics

The INCU assisted in the development of the World Customs Organization’s Partnerships in Customs Academic Research and Development (PICARD) program and standards. The need to improve the levels of cooperation and partnership between the public and private sector stakeholders involved in global trade and the increased demand for the professionalization of customs directors and upper management lead to the establishment of the WCO’s innovative university centered program that was announced during the 2nd PICARD conference in Brussels, Belgium in March 2007.

As of April 2012, the following five universities have academic programs that have been recognised by the World Customs Organization as meeting the education requirements of the WCO PICARD standards for the Customs profession:

  • Centre for Customs & Excise Studies, University of Canberra, Australia
  • International Business and Law Institute, St Petersburg, Russia
  • University of Costa Rica, Costa Rica
  • University of Munster, Germany
  • Riga Technical University, Latvia

For further information on the INCU, the PICARD standards and the World Customs Journal: