Monday, June 30, 2008

Cats at AUB

Yahoo! I'm able to post. I have loads of homework again but I had to post these since I could.

The story goes that the Biology Department used to dissect the cats that lived on campus. But, the current university president is a cat lover and put an end to this practice. Now, all the cats are neutered and spade and are given shots as well. They are everywhere. It's hard to walk anywhere on campus without seeing at least one, if not two or three.

A woman goes around somewhere around 5:00 am and feeds them. I wouldn't mind getting up early and meeting her. I have also heard that cat support costs the university $150,000 a year. I want to find out if there is a way to donate to this cause. You might feel that this is frivolous when there are so many humans who are in need of assistance such as the people of Nahr el Bared for instance. You are correct. But for me, seeing the cats makes me happy. Here is a safe place for them in a world that is often hostile to them. It gives me hope. What other livable refuges can we create for each other?

Oh, who does this darling below look like?


And my laundry detergent. I'm a bit obssessed.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

American University of Beirut

Finally, I can upload a few photos. I'm days behind. Here are a few from AUB. I still want to post cat photos, textures, and photos from my walk downtown.




Words

Some are just heard and understood within a string of others. Years have passed but they are familiar. I pick them out of the ephemeral air. They run around when I am trying to sleep. Shoo badek? Maaleish. Then they dissappear. Aimiye is what I am remembering even though I never knew that was what it was called. I am enjoying this instinctive learning. Trying not to analyse or dissect. I'm just appreciating the connection to this world and to myself.
I've been wanting to post photos for two days now but have been having trouble. Please be patient.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Buried Language

Homework for Friday 27, 2008 الواجبات ليوم الجمعة 27 حزيران 2008
From your textbook: Al-Kitaab fii Tacallum al-cArabiyya
12 ،11 ،10 ، 1) دراسة القواعد صفحة 7
Study Grammar P. 7, 10, 11 and 12
12 ، 10 ، (part A from the exercise) 2) آتابة تمارين 8
Write exercises 8A , 10 and 12
Memorize today’s vocabulary list (3
Write 5 sentences using “this” in both masculine and feminine (4


It's after 7:00 pm and I haven't started. We had classes from 8:30 to 3:30 today and I needed to clear my mind after.

I had a huge smile on my face nearly the whole day. I went in with only what my brain could pull out from over twenty years in storage. I could put words together pretty well thanks to all of those word drills at MarDoumet where I went to school as a child. I could also understand almost everything. I just couldn't speak. When I couldn't understand something, I got obssessed with saying "Ma maana ...?" "What does ... mean?" And was probably annoyingly hyper. Many who know me are very aware of this character trait.

No photos today even though there are many more to come. I have themes developing: AUB, cats, textures, architecture,...

Maa Salama

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Greenness

So, these are my attempts to show you how green the campus is. Except that I concentrated on detail as usual. Notice the amazing banyan tree. Oh and FYI, I learned that the beach is indeed open. One just has to go during the day and not after 6:oo which is when I went. Considered going today but chose coolness instead.














I've Arrived

I'm not really sure where to begin. Not much to report yet. I spent yesterday sorting out my internet connection, having lunch with an old friend, and sleeping.

We had our Arabic placement exams and I will find out my language level this afternoon. I don't like fumbling with languages. I'm such an over achiever that I wish that I could say I spoke Arabic already.

I like the AUB campus. Its an idyllic academic environment with trees, visually stimulating architecture, and a sea view. I have already taken lots of pictures and will organize them by theme. I'm behind on politics which is easy to do on this campus. I know that there was fighting in the North near Tripoli this weekend but that is all I know. The head of security spoke to us this morning and encouraged us to call him if we are traveling anywhere and want to know what the situation is like.






So that you have a sense of where I staying, these are views from my dorm.




















After a nap yesterday, I went in search of AUB beach. It was closed and so I took a short walk along the sea. The photos below are of the entrance to the beach and along the Avenue de Paris.

I haven't given you a very accurate perspective of the campus. I'll try to do that in my next post. The greenness of it doesn't come through in these photos.
Until next time!!!
Peace,
GBG

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why I'm Voting Republican

I'm loving this.
Are you registered to vote?



Just to make sure you know: I am not voting Republican.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What I Do Before Traveling

I have been making a point to see all of my friends before I leave. If I can't see them, I am giving them a phone call. As I am an introvert who can go months without seeing some of my friends, I am not sure why I am doing this. Now that I am traveling, I am feeling the need to contact all of my friends. I am only leaving for two months. It has been much longer than that since I have seen or spoken to some of my friends. I hope that this isn't a premonition. I may be traveling to the "Middle East," but that doesn't mean that I am not coming back home. I have come to like where I live. I want to come back and do some more nesting. Perhaps this is what happens when you start being a part of a community. You want to check in with people, to be reminded of your connection, to ground you. This is what I am coming home to. I am taking a break but I have roots, community.

Monday, June 16, 2008

More on Values

I am still doing alot of thinking about values. In graduate school, I read Reamer's Social Work Values and Ethics. I pulled it back off the shelf but haven't started it. I wasn't all that challenged by my values and ethics class in school. I was challenged last week.

I remember a scenario in graduate school in which a social worker worked at a health care facility where the workers went on strike. The dilemna was whether or not the social worker should cross the picket line to ensure that the clients were cared for. I don't remember details of the strike but I think the workers were requesting a living wage. There was no question in my mind. You strike because in the long run, living wages for the staff would translate into better care for the clients.

So last week when I had a difficult decision to make, I struggled. I went with the majority opinion which was what my gut was telling me all along.

I have finally come up with why my decision makes sense. While I believe in inclusivity, I cannot support someone who is exclusive and who can use the power given to her/him to exclude others. In the long run, my exclusivity will insure inclusivity. In some ways, this values problem is very similar to whether or not to cross a picket line. The short term may make one lean one way, but a long term perspective changes everything.


The posted photos are from our community's PRIDE celebrations this past weekend. It has been getting bigger and bigger ever year. Days like this, I am very aware of how some try to exclude. This is the first year that I have attended where there have not been protesters. We're standing up to exclusionary perspectives and the world is growing more overtly supportive.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Values

Progressives have too many issues to count; while conservatives have two: gays and abortion.

Someone whom I greatly respect said this to me the other day. I would add immigration and war to the list, but I pretty much agree.

I've been thinking about the way progressives think compared to conservatives. If you haven't read it, I recommend that you read George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant! I read it a few years ago and as time goes by, it makes more and more sense.

I try so hard to embrace all perspectives and to acknowledge people's values. I don't ask that people accept homosexuality into their value system, that they embrace abortion, or sex before marriage. But I do ask for tolerance and the acceptance that others are going to have values that are different than someone else's. What I have found is that tolerance and the acceptance of alternative perspectives and values is not an option with conservatives. Basically, they want to impose their values on everyone else. It's the patriarchal system that Lakoff talks about.

I want to be inclusive and recognize their values but then they will not recognize mine. It is so draining. Some days I wish I could stop being such a "wanting to hear all sides liberal" and just staunchly support my side. But my side is inclusivity and the Escheresque image moves deeper and deeper...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Nopal

This is for my fubolero guerillero friend from South Texas. Nopal in the town where I grew up in Lebanon. I'll be there in less than two weeks. So much to do. Finishing up projects at work, trying to see all of my friends before leaving. Travel always makes me appreciate my life and my loved ones. Everything becomes fresh as it does after rainfall.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Palouse Falls

We had originally planned to go camping by a lake, bringing kayaks along. But, we found out that it was supposed to rain this weekend. And so, we jumped in the car and went off to see an Eastern Washington treasure, Palouse Falls. After driving through a bit of rain, it cleared up when we arrived and stayed that way for the remainder of our time there.

What a wonderful day, the landscape and the company both. Friends are the best.





Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Endings and Beginnings


Utah Phillips left us this past week. Since I heard the news, I have pulled out Fellow Workers and have been listening to it repeatedly. I tend to do that. "The Most Dangerous Woman," about Mother Jones, is a personal favorite. "The most dangerous woman,... 83 years old,..." in Ani's unique twang. And Utah says, "She wasn't an organizer, she was an agitator."

We need to remember the stories of those that fought for us to have rights. We can't even take the eight hour day for granted. Utah would remind us of this. Collaborations such as Fellow Workers with Ani will hopefully help ensure that the struggles that others have endured for us will not only be remembered, but also remind us that there are other rights that we need to stand up for.

Summer posted an article by Amy Goodman about Utah. Two quotes struck me:
After spending time postwar Korea, Utah said, "It all has to change. And the change has to begin with me."

And he remembers Ammon Hennacy saying, "You’re going to have to lay down the weapons of privilege and go into the world completely disarmed."

I just watched a BBC Documentary about Jean-Paul Sartre that At the Moment posted which is also influencing me. We need to make sure that we are engaged because we do create our world at least to some extent.

I drove one of the teens I work with home today and played "The Most Dangerous Woman" on the way. He was polite and listened. I am not sure what he really thought of it. I know that he is a thoughtful young man and at least filed it away in respectful acknowlegement. On the drive, he also told me that he was doing a short report on Lebanon. He hadn't realized that I grew up there. He just thought it sounded like a place he wanted to learn more about.


Connections. This is where it begins.