Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Love bites. And while I'm on it, I hate men. No, that doesn't mean I've moved onto women, I am just disliking all of humanity at the moment. Ugh.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

AIESEC Oman Villa

So this week, I made a new video of our house. David and Brett made one of our old house, but we haven't lived there for over 6 months, so it was time for a vid of our new house. Ten people are living here. Ten people are currently living here, but every week we have guests visiting and staying a few nights. So needless to say, things around the house are always interesting. Enjoy the video.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Censored: A Human's Right to Information & Discovery

Upon reading the article "Youtube faces ban in Kuwait over Islamic content," it got me thinking about all of the websites and programs that Omantel has conveniently blocked here in the Sultanate. No, I'm not strictly talking about pornographic websites; I'm talking about your average informational websites, such as celebrity gossip pages, skype.com, etc. If Kuwait can ban Youtube because of the content of a few videos, then how long will it be until the "governmental powers that be" find out that every 18-30 year olds' favorite site, facebook, harbors groups such as the widely dissented "f*** Islam," among a slew of other religiously and personally offensive groups. One argument is that it is for the moral well-being of the impressionable youth to ban such vagrancy in cyberspace. My question to that argument is therefore, how does blocking such content save the minds of these "vulnerable" youth? My opinion is – it doesn't. If you are comfortable with your own abilities as a parent to instill within your offspring a sense of morality and the difference between right and wrong, then you should have nothing to fret over. Furthermore, does not a counter argument strengthen and solidify the original argument? If this is true, then would not offensive material denouncing a common practice or belief, in fact, further develop said practice or belief, by addressing the questions brought up by the so-called "questionable" material, thus, making the practice or belief much more concrete? Sure, maybe I'm grasping at straws here, but should it not be every human beings' inalienable right to have equal access to information? And in a technologically-advanced, globalized world, is not competition that much more prevalent? Therefore, is it fair for governments to create a population less accustomed to competition and decrease an individuals overall ability to achieve success? Just some food for thought.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Eid in Oman

So this was my second Eid in Oman. The first Eid, back in October, I went to Hasna's village Shariq. And for this Eid, we took the interns to Dhabab to spend a traditional Eid with Nasser's family.

Shariq was a very small village, but all the people were so nice and so excited to see us there! They wanted to share everything with us. Hasna had helped me pick out a "jalabya" (an elaborate dress that shows no curves whatsoever) for Eid prior to our departure. Hasna's family is Swahili-Omani meaning that at some point, her family went over to Zanzibar (an island off of Tanzania) and came back many years later. Her family speaks both Swahili & Arabic. So the food served during Eid was both traditional Omani and Zanzibari. We traveled from house to house wishing everyone "Eid Mubarak" and being served snacks & Arabic coffee. The next day, the Bedouins came to visit and have lunch with us. Hasna referred to them as "our Bedouins" because they live on the outskirts of the village and though they live in the Emirates now, they come back to Shariq every Eid. Seeing the Bedouins & Hasna's family together in a room was quite interesting because you could see and feel the cultural difference just between the two parties (forget that Susy & I were ever there)! The Bedouins were wearing such beautiful jalabiya with jewels and the best fabric, their faces were painted with elaborate make up - foundation to make them extremely pale, thick eyeliner & pink lips. Some of them were had a faded tattoo on their chins & others wore the "barqa" which is the black mask over the top half of their faces. After some time of awkward silence, they started asking Hasna questions about Susy & I and I started asking Hasna questions about them. Before we knew it, they were giving Susy & I Bedouin makeovers! They were surprised to find out Susy & I were not married at our ages and I was more surprised to find out that not only were they married, but some of them also had children and were only 18, 19, 20 years old! It was definitely a unique and amazing experience I am sure I will never have again.

Eid in Dhabab was different. It was more traditional and we did not have to travel to so many houses eating food at every stop (if you are not seen eating, it is considered rude). When we arrived, they were in the process of cutting up the goat meat. The head was laying by a tree with the skin still attached. One of the men picked up the head with the skin dragging behind to show us and we all squealed like girls. They thought it was hilarious. Then a small child walked buy carrying the goat's severed leg - probably the weirdest thing I had seen in a while. The men had us cut some goat meat, stir the pot full of goat pieces & shoot guns. Omanis love to shoot rifles in the air during Eid. Next we had lunch with an assortment of food - chicken-rice stuff, almond paste, baklava, cookies, halwa and more. After lunch, the women and men split up. The girls and I went and sat in the "majlis" (an area for entertaining) on the floor with hard pillows lining the walls. There were Omani women & girls coming in and out saying "asalaam aleykum" and "kifhalish" and always my response was "wa aleykum asalaam" and "hamdallah". They really seemed to like this! Perhaps because they were shocked that I can speak a little Arabic or more likely, my accent in doing so was very entertaining. One of the girls made henna for all 5 of us, which was a great experience for our interns since they had never had henna before! They were so excited about it. The remainder of our time in Dhabab was spent playing with babies (wearing cute little dishdasha & kuma!), eating, napping and chatting amongst ourselves. It may sound a bit boring, but that is just how Eid is - a time to spend with family, catching up, eating, enjoying the company. And that's just what we did. We are like a family here. The interns & MC all live together in one giant villa. We see each other everyday, we hang out together, eat together, go on trips together - we are an unconventional family of various nationalities.

We had to say goodbye to Susy this night as she returned to Colombia. I have lived with her for the last 11 months and it was hard to say goodbye. At times, we were the only two girls here. Brett will be leaving in two weeks as well. We welcomed Brett's replacement, Carlos from Colombia and we begin transition on Saturday.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Exciting Times

So I did it. I submitted my application packet for MCP of AIESEC US. A bold step, but I feel this is the best time for me to be able to contribute to AIESEC US. There are three of us running for MCP, and I can definitely say there is some really good competition there and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the applications and reading/watching the platforms. I think I am just most excited for this whole process I am about to go through. The mere fact that the LCs are going to be voting for the MCP excites me so much! No more ass-kissing those "in power" in order to try and climb up the leadership ladder, but the actual decision being made the LCs saying "we have confidence in this person to lead us & represent us". Ah! I'm so excited!

I'm looking very forward to WC as well - to see all my friends & meet new members. It should be a great conference. Right now I'm trying to locate a dishdasha and kuma so we can turn AIESEC US members into Omanis for Global Village. ;)

Oh and I'm going to be selling AIESEC Oman shirts at the conference!!

In other news, I put up a Christmas tree last night. Now it looks festive in here. I tried a white tree (first time ever) with white lights, blue & silver ornaments only. It looks rather nice, it surprised me.

Also, my boyfriend decided to surprise me with a 4 day visit to Oman to see me :) . I'm excited to see him, it will be the last time before the MENAXLDS conference in Egypt in March. Long distance kind of sucks.

I think it's going to be a good month. Inshallah.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Change is on the horizon...

As you can see...I post oh-so-often.

Well, there are a LOT of things happening here right now. We have 2 trainees from the U.S. coming TONIGHT!

John from Illinois
Celeste from Minnesota coming through AIESEC Miami (that's right, we kick ass!)

In one week, we have another trainee from the U.S. coming:

Elina from Georgia going through GT

And a few days later another:

Mikael from Finland

Then 2 in June. So far Muffadal from Illinois and Hajo, the former MCP of AIESEC Germany. These are just our short-term trainees. We have about 8 TNs open for long-term trainees with really reputable and awesome companies that will start around September/October. Needless to say, Brett kicks serious butt when it comes to raising TNs.

Brett worked out a one-year platinum partnership with Pricewaterhouse Coopers Oman, which is awesome. So now we are finally generating the revenue we will need to be sustainable. Now if only we could get the legalities worked out. It was supposed to happen like now, but with the way things move here, I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up taking us the whole summer to finally become legal. Just as long as it happens before the start of Fall semester for the students, then I think everything will be nice and smooth.

On top of all that, we are signing a lease to a new, bigger and more beautiful Villa in a couple days. We are getting the money together right now for the upfront payment of 3 months rent. Totaling....a lot. But this villa will house the 4 of us who work on the MC, 2 significant others of the MC and then up to 16 trainees if need be. Needless to say, it will be a big house of love.

We are also in the beginning stages of planning a trip to India this summer, which I am really excited about and hopefully, my boyfriend will be able to join us.

Finally, we just got a puppy for the house! yay! Now it seems like a real big AIESEC family. The puppy's name is Geneva (but Lynn hates that name, so we may change it to Foxy since she looks like a little fox). We'll see.

That's about all the updates for now. I am hoping to try and post more inshallah.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Turkey & the EU

I was going to write about my trip to Tunisia for AIESEC's MENAXLDS '08 conference, but I was reading an article about Turkish politics on BBC.com and suddenly felt the urge to discuss my dissatisfaction with the European Union.

I was reading an article about a lawsuit being filed against the AK party (AKP) in the hopes of banning the party. Why? Because secularists feel the AKP has an Islamist agenda and Turkey prides itself as being the only Muslim country where a secular democracy exists. Longstanding has been the notion in Turkey that Islam should have no impact, or affiliation with the secular governing structures put in place by Atatürk in the first half of the 20th century. Since then, any attempt at trying to incorporate Islam into state operations has proved futile since the military has not hesitated in the past to remove threatening parties and leaders by way of putsch. Ensuring Turkey's secular principles is what they call it, but alas, I am not writing to express my opinion on this issue one way or another. What caught my attention in the article was the last line: " The EU has expressed its concern at the case, saying it could jeopardise Turkey's ambitions of membership."

It seems every article I read about Turkey these days, this sentence is always attached at the end. Why is this?? Does the EU now feel that they are like the U.S. and can flout their political girth wherever they see fit? When the EU formed, Turkey was one of the first countries to apply for membership. Guess what? Turkey is one of the few countries still waiting to actually start going through the process of becoming a member, which the process in itself can take 20 years. There is a reason Turkey's membership talks have been suspended time and time again. The EU has no intention of EVER letting Turkey into the EU. It's not hard to see this. Hell, even Turks are fed up with the EU and its elitist bureaucratic bullshit. There are a million excuses the EU likes to give about why Turkish membership has taken so long, but it was an ambassador from Austria to Luxembourg that finally said what everyone knew already: the EU is a union of Christian states and there is no place for a Muslim democracy. This statement, to me, seems absolutely preposterous. I can't even fathom all the potential positive things that would come out of an EU comprised of Turkey. Turkey is in a very strategic position - acting as the gateway from the west to the east. This position should not be taken lightly. While the EU dangles the potential of Turkish EU membership on a string in front of Turkey, Iran seeks to realign Turkey with the Middle East. I cannot comprehend why the EU would not want to ensure Turkey's alignment with the west by having them as a member. Instead, the EU just continues to push Turkey away by saying that if they don't do what they [EU] say, it will hinder their ability to join the EU. What a load of CRAP! The EU has no intention of ever letting Turkey become a member. And guess what? The Turks aren't as incompetent as the EU might think. Most of them see right through this patronizing facade. The EU needs to just shut up before it pushes Turkey even further away and this very strategically-positioned country severs ties with the west.