Halfstack Highlights Ep. 42- Featuring

Friday, August 19, 2016 Jen Lezan

Hey readers - I hope all of you are doing well. This episode of Halfstck Highlights was equal parts hard and equal parts inspiring for me. On one hand, I had the opportunity to talk with an amazing woman using her skills, talent and platform to help others. Yet, on the other hand we are talking about war, refugees and people who are facing atrocities that I could never imagine – no matter how hard I had it in my own youth. Over the last year, I have really been battling between what I created Halfstack to be (an entertainment, fashion and cultural publication) and what it has evolved to be (something so much deeper than I ever thought it could be). While many people read the Halfstack Quarterly Issues, listen to Halfstack Highlights Podcast  or visit our website to escape the hardships of the world, to be entertained and to look at beautiful things - Many also read and listen to us to be inspired. I don’t want to be afraid to go in this direction, to continue to share stories, even if they aren’t pretty. I think it will be important to do so, especially if we can somehow make a difference. 

We released our first international issue this week – it’s a dual language issue in both English and Arabic - and this week I realized how far our voices and our platforms are starting to reach. From Chicago to the Middle East to places even farther. That means something - not because lots of people read us, but because we can share stories of people who need a voice. That's what this podcast episode is about, THAT is what Halfstack has ALWAYS been about. Giving people who may not have the opportunity to share their voice, a platform to be showcased, a platform to connect with each and every one of you. A way to inspire, motivate and a way to give you hope, even where it seems there is none left. 

Just hit the play button for the full interview 
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First off, I've been really sick - So, I am sorry if I sound not so great on the intro and I am emotional over all of this, so I apologize for my crying. I thought about re-recording, but it's already 2AM on Friday here in Chicago and it's reality and I am not going to hide my feelings. I wanted to schedule this episode out and edit it really clean because I had too much noise in the background ( I couldn't find a quiet place on the campus I teach at) - As my type a-personality tends to want to do. But when I woke up this morning and I read the story about Omran Daqneesh, the little boy whose image went viral today - who was injured in an air strike, I realized I couldn't wait. 

I said screw this perfection crap and let's get Milana's story and journey out there. Because these bad things we are starting to see on the news are happening more and more and more and more people need our help. I cry, I hurt, I get frustrated. BUT that gets me nothing. I don't have a million dollars to donate, hell I am blessed I have enough so I can pay my bills on my adjunct teaching salary and take care of my kids, and I am not the President of the US, but I do have my words and my words can be powerful. Our words can initiate a movement. Our words can spark ACTION. And doing something is better than NOTHING. I don’t want to get into politics, but this is a political and serious issue. And while, it might be a long time before this war ends and while it may still seem as if we are so far removed from it, WE CAN DO SOMETHING TO HELP right now. 

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On this episode of Halfstack Highlights I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Milana Vantyrub. You all may know her as a comedian or know her from her Youtube Channel. She's also an actress – most well known for her quirky and cute character Lily in those funny AT&T commercials. But I know of Milana for a much different reason. I was exposed to an organization she founded and that is doing some incredible work for the Refugee Crisis. Milana’s story is an inspirational one in of itself, but her organization is what I truly believe will be a part of her legacy. She brings happiness to the world through her comedy, but she is changing the 
world through her activism. #CantDoNothing, hosted at and on social media outlets at @CDNGeneration, focuses on helping refugees by having its supporters use their voice in posting on social media, their time in volunteering, or their money in donating to select organizations working directly with refugees. The organization concentrates on the real positive impact participants can have in helping refugees immediately.

Milana is doing something through and we can help her and all of the organizations she is helping to try and at least make a difference in the lives of the refugees coming from places like Syria. Just because we can’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there. We need to find our humanity again. I hope that this episode inspires you, I hope that it instills something in you as Milana has sparked in me. I don’t have much, but I have enough to find a way to help in my own way and I hope that each of you can too.     

I hope this episode inspires you.
Take care,
Jen Lezan | Editor-in-Chief 

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