“Notes from My Travels” by Angelina Jolie

I was recently editing some stories that dealt with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and refugees in general and I was reminded of Angelina Jolie’s book, Notes from My Travels, a book I read back in high school after watching “Beyond Borders.”

In her book, Jolie talks about traveling to Africa, Cambodia, Pakistan, and Ecuador with UNHCR, an organization for which she is now the Goodwill Ambassador. In each of these places she visits with refugees and depicts the hardships they have faced and continue to face due to the outcomes of war and devastation. It’s horrifying what these people have gone through and amazing that they persevere.

Angelia Jolie, Goodwill Ambassador for the UNHCR, in the field.

I know what you might be thinking, “Angelina Jolie wrote a book and now this chick with a blog is telling me to read it?” The answer is YES! It’s an amazing book and Jolie, despite her being a famous actress, is a very smart, determined, and compassionate individual and all of that comes through in her book.

Along with reading the book I suggest you watch Jolie’s movie, “Beyond Borders.” It’s actually how she became familiar with UNHCR and why she continues to support the organization. The movie focuses on the hardships of refugees and doesn’t hold back in showing you exactly what it’s like in refugee camps. Cambodia is one of the main focuses of the movie. Jolie adopted her first son, Maddox, from Cambodia after filming the movie. In a recent interview for a Louis Vuitton photo shoot shot in Cambodia, Jolie talks about her love for the country.

Here it is:

Also, here’s the trailer for “Beyond Borders:”

One of the things that stuck out to me the most from Jolie’s book was her encounter with Loung Ung, a Cambodian woman who survived the Pol Pot regime and Khmer Rouge years in Cambodia. Ung is the author of the book, First They Killed My Father, a story about her experience as a young girl watching her entire family be killed and enduring time as a child soldier. The book is very explicit, but an amazing read. I spent a summer carefully reading the book and having to stop because I couldn’t help, but cry. It’s one of those books that you read and think, “no this can’t be true,” but you know it is and that it didn’t happen just to Loung Ung.

Pick up a copy of both Jolie’s and Ung’s book. You won’t regret it, I promise. If you wanted more info on Jolie’s work with the UNHCR, you can find it here.

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