Thursday, May 5, 2016

Final Reflection

May 5, 2016

The final note, the thoughts and knowledge that I have experienced until this point has settled my unanswered questions and exterminated any stereotype of the Arab world.

At the beginning of my spring semester, I was very eager to expand my knowledge of the Arab people. Especially the inner thoughts of an Arab or Middle Eastern person, especially focusing on becoming aware of the strugggles they have gone through pre and post 9/11. The information taught at the end of the semester and especially the topics found in the plot of The Yacoubian Building. The struggle of identity as a women, a widow, and man who lacks pleasure from his wife, a gay man; the personality of these specific characters in The Yacoubian Building affected the dominated views the Western world planted into my mind. The thoughts the Western world have not only implemented on myself but on other citizens were not just first realized with the release of The Yacoubian Building but were predominated in the American society since the beginning of the Hollywood movie business.

The final lessons at the end the April and few days in May were the most influential and impacting pieces of information that I really had absoutely was very unaware about. The lack of mindfulness I had for the struggles and intense skeptic stereotypes Americans forcefully applied on their citizens was unbelievable. The most impactful information was learning of the original lyrics of Disney's movie Aladdin (1996).

Oh I come from a land, 
from a far away place,
where the caravan camels roam. 
Where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face, 
it's barbaric, but hey, it's home.

This is the opening scene of a Disney's classic in the 90's, this movie was released 20 years ago, the year of my birth. These writers and producers of the music in Aladdin knew exactly what they were doing. The idea that they allowed for these to be the opening lyrics to a children's movie were completely unsurprising but heartbroken to say the least that the Western world specially wanted to implement not only in adults mind about the way to think about the Middle Eastern world, but to also give this idea into the innocent minds of young children is unacceptable. 

Though all of the semester I was able to have the blessings to be taught all the information not only given by Professor Esa but also by Dr. Christina Leahy, was all my education growth wanted. Know to be more educationally knowledgeable about what it means to be Arab and the long years of struggles since the Arab Spring is an achievement in my college education. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Naomi Shihab Nye

Reflection 8
April 26th, 2016

Naomi Shihab Nye is an Arab-Amercian poet who was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Though born in the United States her family moved to Ramallah in Palestine during her high school education. But before moving over the waters to a different country, farther more before she was even born, Naomi's family were refugees of the Palestine and Israeli conflict. They were one of thousands of Palestinian families who lost everything they own to the hands of the Israeli government.

Most, if not all, of her poems are her experience as an Arab-Amercian women. She is a figure of peace and humanitarian work. She calls herself the "wandering poet", due to her extensive amount of traveling all over the world to present workshops for individuals on poetry and her writing works. In 2009, she was elected to be a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Suheir Hammad

April 21st, 2016

Suheir Hammand is a highly respected, admired, Arab-Amercian women who migrated with her parents to the United States as Palestinian refugees. Before coming to Brooklyn, New York, her family resided in Lydda, which is now in Israel. Placed right in the middle of the evolving hip-hop, rap, r&b word, Suheir was influence by the world of 1980's-1990's Brooklyn individuals.

She became a memorable face to respectable names, one of them being Russell Simmons. Russell Simmons was highly into the works of Suheir and lead her into the path of being signed by his label for writers, poets,lyricists, HBO's Def Jam Poetry.

Suheir Hammand most famous poem was that written just days about the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11th.

" is a week, and seven is of heavens, gods, science.
evident out my kitchen window is an abstract reality.
sky where once was steel.
smoke where once was flesh.

fire in the city air and i feared for my sister's life in a way never
before. and then, and now, i fear for the rest of us.

first, please god, let it be a mistake, the pilot's heart failed, the
plane's engine died.
then please god, let it be a nightmare, wake me now.
please god, after the second plane, please, don't let it be anyone
who looks like my brothers.

i do not know how bad a life has to break in order to kill.
i have never been so hungry that i willed hunger
i have never been so angry as to want to control a gun over a pen.
not really.
even as a woman, as a palestinian, as a broken human being.
never this broken..."

Monday, April 11, 2016

Alaa Al Aswany

April 11th, 2016

Narrating the Revolution...
[The Cairo Review-Spring 2011]

Before reading this interview between the Cairo Review and activist Alaa Al Aswany, I have to confess that I had no clue who this remarkable man was. Not only did he publish The Yacoubian Building around the time of the Egyptian revolution, he participated in this revolution, having hands on experience on fighting for the Egyptian dictatorship regime to end.

January 25th-the day the revolution begin for the Egyptians. In this interview, Alaa Al Aswany said,
"...I had once written that if we have five hundred thousands protestors in Cairo, the regime will fall. I could myself with one million people."One million people. The Egyptians were all on the same boat to remove then president, Gamal Mubarak, from the system due to his agenda becoming more of a dictatorship then a democracy. And this was exactly what they did. There were demonstrations and manifestations that Aswany participated in that lead to the resign of Gamal Mubarak. Egyptians also knew this was not the end but just the beginning of the movement. They wanted to democracy and knew that once Mubarak resign they needed to act quickly to get the right an honest individuals into their government. Not only did they had so much support for the citizens, scholarly names, and the army, the revolution of Tunisia (which was happening more so at the same time) was a motivational platform for the Egyptians. If one country could achieve democracy so could Egypt and the citizens had belief that they will achieve this goal of democracy.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

THE, Professor Christina Leahy

April 7, 2016 

Another one of my favorite professors on campus, Dr. Christina Leahy, who is ahead of the Political Science Department, is incredibly knowledgable on the ever confusing topic of the United States relationship with the Middle East. It seems like the conflict between the United States and the Middle East could have, with lack of a better word, easily could have been less violent and detrimental to the Middle Eastern countries. There were topics Professor Leahy reviewed I had no clue happened post 9/11. 

I mean on 9/11 I was only 3 years old, almost turning 4, but I still can directly remember how that day turned out. And after then, I can still remember my too young of classmates to even try to understand what was going on. I remember them saying how they hate Muslims and people from the Middle East are nothing but completely evil. 

Where did this sudden hate come from? And most of all, I thought to myself,  the Middle Eastern's could easily say the feeling is mutual. This hate coming from the Middle Eastern, more specifically the Palestine's, is completely justifiable due to the on going horrific events that happened just weeks after 9/11 and are still continuing into 2016. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Where is the United States? Are they going to even help?

April 4th, 2016

Why U.S Leadership Matters
[Commercial Appeal-04.04.2016]

President Barack Obama has very obvious views on what he thinks of the Middle East and what he thinks the United States can do to help-"...the Middle East could not be fixed-not on his watch, and not for generation to come."

As a young adult, I somewhat can and can not believe these words that President Barack Obama said. He statement of thinking the Middle East is in this time of not being fixable is outrageous. In this article, "Why U.S Leadership Matters?", the author stresses on the policies of Obama pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan is not a good one. He compares policies of Obama of the war in the 21st century to those of Truman during WWII. Truman was under pressure to withdraw all troops from Germany and Japan but stood his ground for many years to established a democratic foundation for both of these countries. The question of, "why can't Barack Obama do this also?" raises for those individuals who see the importance of keeping troops in the Middle East. Though it is very understandable to be the president of the United States and want to pull out of this long, driven-out war, the peace for the individuals who remain in these countries need to helped before the United States thinks its necessary for them to pull out al troops from the Middle East.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Professor Zaru's Lecture

April 3rd, 2016

Who knew someone on the McDaniel campus had a first-hand experience of living under occupation of the Israeli's? One of my freshmen year professor, Carol Zaru, heard the blast, smelled the toxic air, and saw her own friend's home be destroyed by the Israeli army.

I honestly had no clue how to feel when Carol was telling the class about her early years living in Palestine. How she would turn up the volume of her television set so her children would not have to hear the sounds of the demolition that was happening right by her home. How she was in Palestine when the start and end of the Seven Years War had began and ended. I could not even imagine how her life had been prior to moving her whole life to the United States.

I feel so small in this enormous world of war and evil. I feel so unaware of what actually is going on and what is actually being done to help the individuals who are being tortured by the Israeli-Palestie conflict. I, overall, can not think of an actual solution that can help stop all the hate between these two different identities. At the most, which is a very simple thought, is for the United States to at least have more saying and more aid for the individuals in this struggle. From the past lectures of Dr. Boukhars and Professor Carol, from my understanding its obvious to these intellectuals that the United States hardly has put any of their power to help out the nations in destress.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

March 27, 2016
Palestine Chronicle: How Impunity Defines.....

March 27th, 2016

Reflecting on this specific news article, I wanted to start off with a poem that was included in the article which depicts a violent scene of an Israeli harming a Palestinian.

“Across the vanquished city in a jeep he did speed –A lad bold and armed, a young lion of a lad!And an old man and a woman on that very streetCowered against a wall, in fear of him clad.Said the lad smiling, milk teeth shining:‘I’ll try the machinegun’ … and put it into play!To hide his face in his hands, the old man barely had timeWhen his blood on the wall was sprayed.”

It was written in 1948 and almost 70 years later, this vivid description of an Israeli receiving joy from killing an innocent Palestinian is still seen today. The continuing conflict between the Israeli and Palestinian has only lead to both sides of the court to be immune to killings, seeing it as a normative way of living in this part of the world. How can a conflict between individuals have grown into the civilizations being so immune to the deaths of thousands of individuals? Hearing about an loved one, a friend, a teacher, a child, being killed is nothing new to these people, and more specifically towards the Palestinians. 

This article I read was found on the, which by telling by the name of the news site it is more biased to those of the Palestinian race. Which personally, how can you not understand the brutal events that are obviously happening more towards Pakistanis than Israelis. 
More young children, babies, kids who have not even had the opportunity of started their primary education, are more likely to be killed than an Israeli solider.

The writer, Ramzy Baroud, also stressed on how no one is being held accountable for the deaths of the Palestinians, absolutely no one. We know who unnecessarily killed these people, the Israeli Army, and yet there is nothing being done to them but a pat on the back from supporters who believe this is how fighting should be done.

The killing, bombing, destruction, of innocent lives whether Palestinians, and maybe even a few Israelis, need to be address more. Destroying lives for the account of own selfishness is not a reasonable way to be living. 

Please Continue too Confuse Me

March 22, 2016

Just on the day of the attack in Brussels at their airport, Dr. Boukhars was the guest speaker for our class today on the topic of radical Islamist groups and how they define themselves.

Its wild how theres a wave length between the bigger picture and what is going on in my intimate community at McDaniel College. It's even crazier and heartbreaking to think that three students from Brussels were in my class with heads high when this lecture was given.

And I'm still not over how the day of this lecture was also a day on the attack in Brussels.

Dr. Boukhars has confused me even more in trying to understand who these extremist men and women are and what they want to achieve, and WHY.

Why the violence, why the horrific videos, why the destruction of villages and families. I am still left with the question of, "why?". I am left with uncertainly and a very uncomfortable feeling that I am not informed enough on this ongoing conflict. And to be honest, I rather be left more confused to my awareness of the Arab World continues to grow.

From my understanding and what I got from the Dr. Boukhars lecture, one main point, that stuck out to me a week later after the discussion; what is the ideology these individuals follow by. If anything more, I have this conclusion in my mind that these Islamist extremist do not have the foundation most individuals were able to have, therefore, they turn to terrorist groups, who in a way, make them feel accepted. Making a horrible comparison, but like being on an athletic team with teammates wants the same goal of winning a game, these groups find comfort in the ideology that group like ISIS are able to give them.

Where these men and women typically are located is the problem. ISIS is not one country. It is not Iraq, it is not Iran, it is not Saudi Arabia, its specific individuals from all over the world actually who take a turn in their life to devoted themselves to this terrorist group that want nothing be to achieve what the 17th century Muslim world once was.

Friday, March 4, 2016

My Voice is My Drum

March 2-3 2016

Massamba Diop Concert and Recital 

The past two days, early morning and evening, have been filled with the sounds of Massamba Diop talking drum. The past two days, early morning and evening, my eyes were fixed on the fingers of Massamba's, as he was hitting so enthusiastically to make the sounds us students were so unaware about.
Tony and Massamba!

One topic that really stuck to my mind after the concert and talk we had with Massamba Diop and his touring group was the idea that Massamba's son is not very much interested in continuing the legacy of his family and the talking drum. The talking drum has been in Massamba's family for generations and the idea that now it has stopped with Massamba is a bit heartbreaking as an outsider. It made me wonder of my own parents cultures and traditions that I possibly have not been aware of as I grown up. The over all point I got from being around Massamba is this idea of family, culture, and traditions. How social media can either help us develop connections or destroy our way of being with another. It made me feel more aware of how our world is developing and with that development, what we need to preserve and not hope to lose.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Reflecting Arab Music: Lena Chamamyan

Sareri Hovin Mernem [Lena Chamamyan]

Lena Chamamyan is an Arabian women who was born and raised in Damascus, Syria. From the beginning of her childhood she start elementary school in her home town and finished her higher education in Damascus as well. At a very young age she developed a love for music and began to participate in her elementary and secondary school musical events, which first began at the age of five. She religiously started studying music at the age of nine which then lead to countless musical positions due to her voice being such a blessing.

Chamamyan graduated from with an Economics major while at Damascus University in 2002, but while getting her education in economics she still maintain a musical balance in her life. She also picked up another title from the Damascus University in 2007 as a vocalist. Most of her musical sounds categorized into jazz. How amazing is her voice actually if she developed this sound of Arabian Jazz? Everyone around her was amazed at her unique voice, which she mentioned was heavily influenced by oriental jazz and Armenian music.

There was not much information about her ( least in English) for me to write more about her on, but I did take some time and listen to her album she released in 2006, 2007, 2010. Most of her songs, after the translation, connect with love and the Arab world. In one song that I replayed a couple of times, Al Rozana, had a very Hispanic/Cuban dance feel to it. It speaks upon a women lover leaving and letting the man left alone and searching for her.

And I am still going to continue to play her music, what more could I ask for when good music comes my way?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Who's that teaching? It's Dr. Deveny!


In today's class we were able to have the blessing of Dr. Deveny teach our Arab World class about Arabic and Islamic present in Spain, in this period and in the past. Dr. Deveny began his lecture with the start of the fifth century and up until the year 1492 when the famous names of King Fernando and Queen Isabel ruled the Spanish territory. From the beginning to the end of the ninety minute class period, I felt I have beyond more knowledge of how Spain was and still is influenced by the Arabic world.

Spain has so much value and history to its culture that at one point the city of Cordoba was the most powerful region on the year 1000.

Before the Spaniards had any sort of ruling over the territory of what we know as Spain today, the groups known as the Visigoths had power over this land. The Visigoths were one of the multiple groups that had privilege of the land they were living in. The Visigoths though from the fifth century and forward had much control of the area and their power became more apparent in the year 711. In 711 the Visigoths, and with the help of barbaric individuals known as the Al-Andalus, began to rapidly conquer all of Spain and it was not until 720 was when Christians began to take over the territory that was once lost.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

I Need to be More Informed of the Arab World

To be honest-

I feel completely unaware of what exactly is the Arab World. Though I do feel I have some knowledge of the Arab World and all its beautiful aspects, I still feel this need and want to have more education on this topic. That is why I enrolled in this course! I overall just want to be even more informed about this beautiful culture I been very curious about since my entrance into the college environment.

I just want to learn and just be informed. I want to learn every aspect of the Arab World; from the language, religions, art, family life, political views, etc. there is so much of this world that I feel I have very little knowledge about!  I never been to the Arab World but it is one of my goals to live there a duration of my life to volunteer in any way possible. I hope to be more knowledgable about this part of the world and be able to answer peoples questions if any come about on this topic.

Prior to 9/11, I honestly had no view of the Arab and Muslim world. The most I can retrieved from my memory about my views towards the Arab and Muslim community in my hometown was they believe in a different religion. I was only four years old when 9/11 happened and had a really hard time understanding why any individual would execute a plan like 9/11. Prior to already having very minimal views of Arabs and Muslims, I think the events of 9/11 did shape me to have certain views of them...

That overall, Arabs and Muslims, should take no responsibility nor be disrespected in any inhumane way because of this event. All Arabs and Muslims had no control of this event and should not be treated as evil beings.