Archive for the 'Activities' Category

Finally! A new posting!!

January 4th, 2012

Okay, so I realized the other day that I basically have been on blogging vacation for a good seven months…oops.  On the other hand, I have not really had a whole lot of stuff to blog about.  I worked at a summer camp over the summer, and I spent a lot of time working on homework and my Independent Study (eek!) last semester.  That’s pretty much it.  I’ve been applying slowly but surely to various grad schools, fellowships, and internships so I have something to do next year after I graduate!  First of all, I can’t believe I’m actually going to be graduating from Wooster in May.  I am both excited and pretty scared silly about it all, cause I’m finally going to be out in the real world (gasp!).

Actually, I’m in Boston right now, which is pretty cool.  I will be conducting an interview tomorrow for my I.S. with a guy that has done significant work with interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding and conflict resolution with religious communities.  I’ll be talking to him about his work in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Which reminds me…my INDEPENDENT STUDY!  I should tell you all about it.  I’m drawing on both my disciplines (International Relations and Religious studies in case you’ve forgotten) and studying the effectiveness of interfaith dialogue in post-conflict settings.  I’m comparing three different case studies, Bosnia-Herzegovina, El Salvador, and Lebanon.

When I’m not spending every waking moment working on I.S. I am working on graduate school applications and whatnot.  I’ve decided I want to go into a Peace Studies program, so I’ve applied to four schools that have very strong peace and conflict studies programs: Notre Dame University, American University, University of Bradford (in the UK!), and Trinity College Dublin.  I’ve also applied to various internships and fellowships in the Peace Studies field so I can gain some real work experience before I go straight to graduate school.  My plan is to apply to everything now, see what happens, and make a decision based off of what happens.  It’ll be great.

I’m also pretty stoked about my schedule next semester!  I only have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays (with the exception of Monday night yoga).  Granted, my first class is at 8am, but think of it, I only have class on Tuesdays and Thursdays!  I’m taking an awesome class called Global Social Entrepreneurship.  The class focuses on different entrepreneurial approaches to solving current social problems.  The class culminates in a summer field experience to Bangalore, India!  I am so excited to be able to have the chance to visit India and to work closely with an Indian nonprofit organization.  I think I would like to go into non profit work in the future, so I think this class would provide an amazing opportunity to get real experience, in addition to preparation for grad school!

Right then, I think that’s enough of an update for one night.  I’m actually pretty exhausted, and it’s only a little bit after 9pm.  Travel does funny things to you.  I need to get some rest so I can get up early and prepare for my interview!  Wish my luck!

Calligraphy Lessons

December 2nd, 2010

So, I have to tell you that this week has been pretty quiet.  Nothing really remarkable has happened, people are just now realizing that they have term papers due and are working feverishly to get those done, including myself.  So today I was just focused on getting through classes.  Arabic went by smoothly this morning.  We’re learning about the weather.  I got the Arabic homework done during my break.  One point for being proactive!  In the afternoon I had my gender studies class where we learned about female political empowerment and youth subculture.  It was actually a very interesting class. I was introduced to Moroccan hip hop; we listened to songs by one group called Fnaire.  Their songs have political and social messages.  This one is called “Don’t Touch My Country” (English translation) (ماتقيش بلادي) and it is speaking out against terrorism.

So, after classes were over we had the choice to stay for a calligraphy demonstration.  I enjoy doing calligraphy at home, and so I thought that learning how to do Arabic calligraphy would be very cool.  It turns out that the person doing the demonstration was Mohamed Qarmad, one of the best Arabic calligraphers in the Muslim world!  (See Mr. Qarmad at work) It was so exciting!  There were only five of us who were there for the demonstration, so he wrote our names in calligraphy on a piece of paper for us, in several different fonts.  He even made a design that we could take to a jewelers and get set in a gold pendant! 🙂  He did this all for free too.  I can’t believe I just got free artwork from one of the best calligraphers in the Muslim world.  I am definitely taking this paper home and framing it!

This is my name in Arabic, written in several different fonts

My first plane ride, chocolate, and Germany…

August 29th, 2010

Hallo!  This is how they say it in Germany.  I was happy about that because I know probably no more than 10 words in German.  At least I could understand a friendly greeting!  Also, I’ve found that German and English are very similar, so you can generally get the gist of road signs and train maps.  So yeah, the flight from New York’s JFK airport to Frankfurt International in Germany was my very first plane ride ever.  Fortunately, I liked it.  I think it might have also helped that I flew with  Singapore air, and they are quite a nice airline.  I was handed a hot towel by one of the flight attendants before the plane even took off.  I was also impressed with the vast selection of American and other international movies I could watch on my personal 6×8 screen.

So when I landed in Frankfurt, I was obviously extremely jet lagged (it was 10:30 local time, but 4:30am back home) but I was also super energized.  It kept going through my head over and over “I’m in a foreign country, I’m in a foreign country!”  I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting, but I definitely was surprised to find that the Germany was full of white people, just like Vermont, and that the landscape was very green and mountainous…just like Vermont.  I guess I had expected to feel more out of place, if that makes sense.  I think I would have if I hadn’t been picked up at the airport by my aunt.  When we got on the Autobahn to drive to Stuttgart, where my cousins live, I was fighting to stay awake, but I was also like, “Oh my gosh I’m on the autobahn!”  Actually, my perception of the autobahn was that it was this vast highway with lots of cars driving at ungodly speeds, but what I found when I was actually riding on it was that yes, there is a speed limit (usually between 100km and 120km per hour, or 65-75mi/hr).  There are some stretches of highway where there isn’t a speed limit, but most people don’t seem to speed up too much.

I’ve actually seen a lot of sights in the short time I’ve been here.  I’ve been to the oldest concrete television tower, which is located in Stuttgart.  That was pretty cool.  The tower itself pales in stature compared to the tower in Toronto, but it is still very impressive.  You can see absolutely everywhere from the top of the tower.  Another day my cousin took me to the Ritter Sport Chocolate museum, but there was a mix-up and we ended up in a modern art exhibit.  We walked into this big room with a painting with a white background and a single word printed in the middle that translated from the German as “painting.”  Needless to say we were kind of confused, but decided to make the most of it and take a look at the exhibit.  There was a piece that looked like a giant version of the game Pick Up Sticks, and an exhibit of five painting that were all the same sized square shape, and were all painted the same color blue, but had different titles underneath.  That’s interesting….I guess.  Actually it was kind of cool, and the important thing is that we did get to the Chocolate Museum eventually, and we each bought WAY too much chocolate.

I also visited Strasbourg, France yesterday as part of a day trip I took with my aunt, uncle, and cousin.  It was only a two hour car ride, which I thought was really awesome, and entirely new country in only 2 hours!  Then I realized that Montreal is only a two hour car ride from my house, and that’s in a foreign country as well 🙂  I did not realize that the Parliament building of the European Union was in Strasbourg, and I really wanted to go and see it, but the tourism offices said that the tours were by reservation only.  Too bad.  Still, I got to see a good part of the center of Strasbourg, which is absolutely adorable.  The central part of the city is situated on an island with a small canal running around its entirely.  The streets are winding and many are cobblestone.  It feels like one of those stereotypical European towns.  The Cathedral in Strasbourg is one of the most impressive buildings I’ve ever seen.  I really love going into old churches because the whole thing is just one grand piece of art.  The details are so ornate, and the entire church is extremely detailed, not just one section or one window, but the entire cathedral.

Today, I went into a little university town called Tübingen with my uncle.  This was an extremely picturesque village.  It was built on a hill below a fairly sizable Schloß (the German word for castle).  The old part of the city has lots of winding streets and you are either going up hill or downhill on these cobblestone roads.  We walked up to the Schloß, which was still being used for academic lectures.  How cool would it be to attend class in a castle?!  The cool thing about Europe is the age of your environment.  You walk past these buildings that were built in 1488, and are STILL being used as restaurants or shops or whatever.  If a building in the US reaches its 200th birthday its basically closed down and reopened as a tourist attraction.  The buildings were actually a lot taller that I had imagined.  In some places I had a really weird feeling of being shrunk down a couple sizes because the buildings were so tall.  I guess I’m used to skyscrapers being that tall, but tall houses with peaked roofs was quite unfamiliar to me.  Another thing that Tübingen has that I think is really cool is they give gondola rides down the river.  Now, I’ve always assumed that all gondolas “live” in Venice, Italy (another city I would love to see), and never expected to encounter the boats in Germany.  Apparently it’s a pretty popular tourist attraction.  I think it would be fun to ride in a gondola some day, but we didn’t because we were to busy strolling around town.  My uncle pointed out to me that Germans like to take walks, and he’s right, I saw a lot of people out strolling through the park and along the streets.  I guess when everything is so close by walking is the only logical form of transportation.  I wasn’t complaining.  I wish I could walk more places back home.  It would be healthier, and would make not having my own car not as bad.

That’s really it for now.  I’ve been in Stuttgart six days so far, but it seems like a lot longer!  In the next couple days I hope to explore some of the museums that are in down town Stuttgart before I leave for Morocco.  It won’t be such a big deal if I don’t get to them because I will be coming back and spending the Christmas season here before heading back to the States in mid January.

Summer in Wooster…so far

June 5th, 2010

Good afternoon all you lovely people!  I hope you have been having wonderful summers so far, and that you are finding time to rest, relax, and read some books… or at least catch up on your favorite television shows!! 🙂  This is my third weekend here at Wooster during the summer.  I have to say, the campus feels different without all the students, but it isn’t a bad feeling.  I’m actually sort of having a really great time.  First of all, I get my own room!  Now, that seems normal, one generally has roommates in college and most people tend to really miss their single room back home.  Only, I don’t have a single room back home; actually I share it with both my sisters.  That’s right. A TRIPLE.  It even looks like a college dorm room with the beds bunked and lofted, a shared boudoir, and desks and dressers crammed into every possible corner.  So for  me to be in a rather spacious single room is quite unnatural.  It was really really really weird and unnerving at first, especially since I didn’t have built in company who I could talk to because they lived there.  I had to make an effort if I wanted to have human interaction.  Thankfully, I’m rather introverted and don’t need to be around people every single second to be happy.  Actually, I’ve gotten quite a lot done in these few short weeks all by myself.  I’ve made some excellent dinners (including straw-berry rhubarb pie!), read three books and have started on my fourth one this morning, watched some really good foreign films, and made significant headway on my craft project.

This isn’t to say that I’ve loafed around doing nothing all day for the last three weeks.  I have a job.  I’m a research assistant to a professor in the Political Science and International Relations departments.  Every morning, Monday through Friday I walk over from my dorm to the main academic building on campus to my “office.”  It’s not really an office.  I believe it’s official title is “student worker room” and I share it with one other person who is also doing sophomore research, but for a different professor.  It’s really great because I’m learning how to conduct good research, which will come in handy when I have to start independent study in (gasp) a little more than a year.  So, I sit there from 9am until 5pm and do a myriad of things pertinent to his research, and he has a lot of interests/research topics, so I’m doing a lot of different things.  However, he was in Vienna this past week (lucky) and so I had some assignments to work on, which was fine, except that it kinda got a little tedious by Friday around 4pm.  So, I’m excited for Monday to come when my boss will be back and I can start a new project!

You know what else has been weird??  For the last month, I can’t tell you how many thunderstorms we’ve had.  I know that loud and scary thunderstorms are quite prevalent around the mid-west, but this is a little ridiculous.  The first week after school got out there were storms that were so bad tornadoes were forming and touching down and I got a lot of emergency emails, texts, and automatic phone calls from the school telling me to get to the lowest point of the building, even when I went to my grandparent’s house for a few days before I started work.  And this last week, it has rained, I kid you not, literally every day.  Around noon the sky would get really dark and there would be a torrential downpour for a few minutes, maybe some thunder and then it would go away until the evening when another storm would come along.  Last night, the storm was so big the lightning actually woke me up before the thunderclaps it was so bright, and if you know me well enough, you know that I can basically sleep through anything, so for something to be so bright that it woke me up at 1:30am, it must have been bad.

Also, I know this post is getting really long, but I really want to tell you about this dream I had the other day, it was kinda funny.  So I dreamed that I was already in Morocco and at my host family’s house.  Oh yeah, if you don’t know, I’m going to be studying abroad in Morocco this fall.  I leave September 1st!  Anyway, I was at their house and my host mom says (in French, cause my Arabic wasn’t that good yet), “Hey, come see this American show.  Do you watch it back home?”  Curious, I went over to see which American TV show she was referring.  I got into the TV room and found her watching Glee, dubbed in Arabic.  That’s right, Glee, which I must confess, I’ve actually never really seen.  Why Glee?  I don’t know, but if I do find out that you can watch Arabic-dubbed Glee in Morocco that would be just about the best thing ever.

Okay, I must know brave the fearsome weather and go grocery shopping/return some library books!  Cheerio!!

Spring Break Part II: West Virginia

April 6th, 2010

I think it might be a bit late to write a Part II from spring break, but I’m going to go ahead and write it anyway (1) because I said I would and (2) because I’m in a rebellious mood and can’t wait to challenge societal norms.  How will I challenge societal norms?  I have no idea, but I like to think that since I said it, I will by default have done it, if that makes any sense.

So, you wanna hear about West Virginia eh?  Okay, I’ll start out by saying that it was WONDERFUL!  I know that in an earlier post I had expressed some doubts about the success of the trip, but it all pulled through in the end and everyone had, I think a very nice time.  It was a service trip, so it’s not like we went tanning on the beach, we were actually doing some serious physical labor!  A small group of us dug ditches every single day to drain water that was coming off the mountains away from people’s homes.  The rest of us painted houses, which was challenging in and of itself.  You had to be very precise and very patient.  We did our own cooking and participated in a group reflection every night.  It was very insightful.  I think we all walked away feeling a little bit differently about ourselves, and I know we all definitely saw the world in a different light.  I’d love to talk more about this experience, but I have a feeling it could be quite long, so I will sign off now.  However, I’d ask you all to think about doing a little service work yourself in the future.  It’s good for the soul. 🙂

1st Annual International Food Festival!

March 28th, 2010

Well, I don’t know about you, I’m quite pleased with how my first weekend back from spring break is going!  Yes, it’s true on Friday that I did sit in the Library until it closed at 10pm, and then migrated to Lowry Center to work some more until 11pm but I am proud of the work I accomplished that night.  I’m also happy with all the stuff I managed to get done during the day on Saturday.  It was crazy how busy EVERYONE seemed to be even though it was IS week and the seniors generally don’t do a whole lot of stuff.

I’m a TA for the Peace Studies class this semester, and they have a big paper due tomorrow, so I spent a good chunk of time Friday afternoon meeting with students and going over what they were going to write about.  Basically, the students are focusing on one particular country that they picked at the start of the semester, and they are researching the current state of violence in this country as well as the history of violence in the country.  The paper concludes with their personal vision for what peace would look like in this country.  I was quite impressed with the amount of work that the students who’ve come to see me have done.  They had some really good questions, and I think they’ll do a nice job.

Saturday night, my brain was so fried I couldn’t do any work, so I  went to see the Saakumu Dance troupe perform in McGaw Chapel.  It was fun, interactive concert full of dancing, singing, and all sorts of wonderful music from all over Ghana.  I could swear though that I’ve seen this troupe perform in Vermont before because the leader seemed so familiar.

Today, the International Student Association held the 1st International Food Festival.  Wooster students cooked food from Spain, Argentina, Burma, The Netherlands, Texas, Lebanon, India, Japan, Egypt, and Jamaica.  We had judges tasting the food, and over 100 people showed up!  We actually ran out of drinks, which was good because that means we got more people than expected!  We just had a lot of really nice feedback and a lot of people really enjoyed it.  So, now you can start planning for next year’s 2nd International Food Festival!!

3 Days and Counting…

March 2nd, 2010

Well, it is almost spring break!  I must tell you that the last couple of weeks has not been the most pleasant for me, or for most of my peers here at Wooster.  You see, in the two weeks or so leading up to spring break, all the professors decide that it would be a really, really good idea to give their class a midterm, or a big paper, or a project, something that will keep us nice and stressed out for a few days so we can better enjoy our two weeks of freedom in the middle of March.  Actually, what happened to me this week was that all the papers and midterms that I was supposed to have this week have been turned into take home exams due after spring break.  Great.  Although I dislike feeling stressed out about papers and tests during the week, I hate being stressed out about those same things while on vacation even more.  I’m not being completely honest though.  I was overjoyed to find that I had two more weeks to work on these assignments because right now, my spring break plans have me all frazzled.

This first week of spring break I have the honor of traveling with the Wooster chorus through Pennsylvania, Virginia, and into Washington DC, performing a glorious selection of choral music.  Each day we will travel to a new town, where we will be performing a concert.  We get a free day to relax in Washington DC at the end of the week.  I”m very excited because my grandparents and my mom’s cousin are coming to see my concert in Pittsburg!  My mother was also a member of the Wooster chorus back in the day, so the Chorus has always had special significance to my family.  I shall have a fun, albeit exhausting, first week of spring break.

Yes, I said “first week” because Wooster is awesome and gives the students a whopping two whole weeks of spring break.  For the second week I will be going to West Virginia on a community service project, I hope.  You see, I have been planning this trip since school started back in September.  Yes, that’s right, September.  I’m the treasurer for the International Student Association (ISA) on campus.  Last year, the ISA collaborated with Circle K International, and the Wooster Volunteer Network and took a group of 29 students (plus one adult reflection leader) on a wonderful service trip to Montgomery, West Virginia.  This year, the ISA wanted to continue this tradition because we felt it was an excellent way for International Students to meet domestic students, and not only see more of the US, but become more socially engaged with different communities.  I volunteered to handle the planning, but missed deadlines and apparent lack of commitment by the participants caused myself and others to consider canceling the trip altogether.  This is not at all what I want to do.  It is not fair to the students who really want to go; it is not fair to the organization we’re working with who are really looking forward to our work.  However, it is not fair to the people of West Virginia to bring a group that is not committed to the service they will be doing.  So, we’re having a mandatory meeting tonight, and afterward I’ll make the call.  I really, really hope it works out.  I will remain positive however, and hope for the best!  I’ve got to go now, I need to go to chorus rehearsal and get ready for the Chorus tour! 🙂