Thursday, April 28, 2016

weekly report 8

Naomi Shihab Nye is an Arab-American author. She has a Palestinian father and an American mother. In addition to being a novelist, she is also a poet and songwriter. She considers herself a “Wandering poet”, but she currently lives in San Antonio, Texas.  She started writing poetry at the age of seven. She credits her mother as a large influence in her life. Naomi would often write about the world around her. She wrote poems that covered nature, friendship, school, teachers, and animals that she saw around her.
When she was fourteen years old, Naomi moved to the West Bank with her family, although she moved back to San Antonio a year later. While there, she visited with her grandmother. This visit is the inspiration for the children’s book Sitti’s Secrets.

Sitti’s Secrets follows a young girl, Mona, when she travels to visit her grandmother, who she calls sitti, the Arabic word for grandmother. At first, they rely on Mona’s father, who speaks both Arabic and English, to translate. Soon, however, they develop a language that does not need words. Mona picks up certain Arabic words, like habibi, which means darling or beloved. When Mona and her family return home, she writes a letter to the President about how he should meet her sitti, presumably because of all of the conflict surrounding the media’s portrayal of Arabs and how they are not all bad people.

My favorite part of the book as when Mona wakes up, and she thinks about her sitti, who is just going to sleep. When Mona goes to bed, she tells her that it is her turn to experience the day, because of the time difference between Palestine and the US. I really enjoyed this book and think that it has a good message for everyone who reads it. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Report 7: Arab Americans

Dr. Michael Debakey was a Lebanese-American cardiac surgeon. He was born in 1908, and died in 2008. He is very well known, and developed many surgical techniques and performed thousands of surgeries over his career. He is most well-known for helping develop the mobile army surgical hospital. This helped people receive critical care in the battlefield. This saved many lives beyond those involved in Korea and Vietnam, and continues to be beneficial today.  He worked with the Surgeon General and inspired a system of research that the Department of Veteran affairs used. He also advised many presidents, and worked hard to start the National Library of Medicine. He performed well over 60,000 operations in his life time, continuing to work past the age when many of his colleagues in the field had retired. He performed cardiac surgeries both on well-known and famous people, as well as those who were poor and could not afford the procedures that could save their lives.
Dr. Debakey received many awards for his achievements, including the American Medical Association Distinguished Service Award, and most notably the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction in 1969, the highest award a US citizen can receive.
Debakey helped pioneer the first successful coronary artery bypass, the first successful implantation of a ventricle assist, and others. He also helped pioneer an artificial heart, and later helped create a heart pump that could be used in children.
In 2005, Michael Debakey suffered an aortic dissection. Years ago, he had developed an surgical procedure, known as the Debakey procedure, to fix this problem. He initially refused the surgical treatment, but then became unresponsive. A board of Ethics at the hospital voted to give him the procedure. The surgery lasted seven hours, but ultimately prolonged his life. He died at the age of 99 in 2008, two months before his 100th birthday.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Report 6

Alaa al-Aswany was a dentist before he was a writer. In fact, his practice was in the Yacoubian Building, which is in Cairo and where his famous novel takes place. Long before he formally joined the protest movement, he spoke out frequently in relation to Egypt’s leader Hosni Mubarak. He is grateful that he had such a presence in society. He theorizes that this appeal with the public helped keep him out of jail or possibly worse. If he cannot find another platform to protest on, al-Aswany is confident that he will turn to social media and that his movement will still flourish. He says that a politician has to work within certain limitations as to be careful not to overstep boundaries or irritate the public, but that a writer “must be a dreamer”. This is true, as a writer can write about anything they choose, especially in fiction, but a politician is limited to certain topics that they are permitted to discuss. Writers have free reign.

People today, especially youth, are typically more likely to pick up a book as opposed to listening to the news or paying attention to politicians. Youth want to learn as much as they can from every side of the story and I believe that novels like these, although fictional, really help illuminate another side to the story that is not shown often to the mainstream public audience.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Reflection 6

Dr. Leahy’s lecture focused on the United States and the Middle East both pre and post September 11th.  She focused heavily on the United States, Israel, and their relationship and history with each other. She mentioned at the beginning of her presentation that forty percent of all US aid, totaling to around $3.5 billion a year, goes to Israel. This was surprising because people generally think of foreign aid going to developing and third-world countries, which is not the case when almost half of the money is going to a very well developed country.
Democracy is a point of contention between the Arab World and the rest of the United Nations. In 2006, the first free and democratic election was held in Palestine.  As soon as Hamas won, they leveled sanctions against Palestine and cut their funding. This is very hypocritical because the United States as well as the United Nations both supported and pushed for these elections to take place. However, they did not like the fact that Hamas won, so they took aggressive actions.
The Arab world is also subjected to many Human Rights violations, especially from Israel in particular. In 2006, Israel invaded Lebanon. Hassan Nasrallah only attacked the military. Meanwhile, Israel attacked civilians as well. The United States supports Israel in whatever actions they take and will continuously veto any negative actions the other countries in the United Nations want to take against them. During the Battle of Jenin in 2006, the IDF attacked homes and killed many, yet the United States vetoed the motion that the UN take action against them, so it did not pass.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Report 5

The Pakistani cricket team has been playing the majority of their home games in the United Arab Emirates ever since gunmen attacked a bus full of team members in Lahore in 2009. Six policemen were killed, and seven players along with an assistant coach were injured. Their captain, Shahid Afridi, has stated that he will make a decision on whether or not to retire once he returns home to Pakistan, after the current cricket season is over. He has been captain of the team twice, having been appointed for the second time in 2014, two years ago.

He is very famous in Pakistan, nicknamed “Boom Boom” for his hitting style in cricket matches. He lamented that they did not perform well enough in their last four matches, although it was difficult since they were up against such a good team that has a high record of wins. Instead, they lost and Australia went through to the next round.  

Cricket is a very demanding sport that requires a lot of physical and mental strength from its athletes. Additionally, it can be quite taxing for the team to not be able to play home games in their home country like all of the other teams. This can lead to decreased team morale and spirit, making them burn out faster and not perform as well in games.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Reflection 5

The Arab-Israeli conflict is like a tangled mess of cords. It has been going on for so long with so many changing groups, beliefs, and powers that we are now left with a big ball of confusion and hurt. No one knows exactly what lead to one thing or another or what the direct motivation behind things are anymore. Because this is so entangled, it can be very difficult to know where to start in order to untangle the conflict and find peace. If both parties do not cooperate, however, nothing will change.
The people of Palestine are presented with living in very inhumane conditions, as shown in Carol Zaru’s talk on Tuesday about what it was like to live under occupation. There are curfews put upon them without any notice or warning, random checkpoints that could turn a fifteen minute drive into a two hour drive, as well as power and water being cut off without any idea of when it will be back.
The United States also does not fully understand or acknowledge both sides of the conflict, siding with the Israelis. They need to step back and fully commit to learning and hearing both sides of the story before making a judgement. I realize that this can be difficult to do, but an effort should be made. We need to be educated on Palestinians and everything they are going through, and increase pressure on Israel to change their ways.

If this happens, there is a greater chance that dialogue will become more open and involved, that people will listen to each other instead of a “he said/she said” battle. Perhaps then a fair compromise that will please both parties will one day be reached, and the cords will finally be untangled.