Tag Archives: human interest

Spotlight on George Burke: Mentor and Advocate

July 6th, 2017

George

“For 40 years, I’ve been preaching international opportunities among the refugee community,” George Burke, a man of many interests and a strong advocate for international education said.

Burke is an international educational consultant who is presently the International Admissions and Recruitment Specialist at the University at Albany in New York. His rich history involves working with universities and colleges on all facets of international education, international travel and recruiting, and assisting immigrants and under-represented groups. He is a wonderful mentor and well-respected in the profession of applied comparative education. He assists people in the U.S. and all over the world. His dedication is unparalleled.

He is also a Certification Board Member for the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC), works in recruiting and academic program development, Fulbright Advisor, President of Steiner House (International Student Cooperative) and works with Welcome Immigrants to Northeast Ohio, Global Cleveland, and Welcome America – all organizations assisting refugees and analyzing the vibrant economic impact of immigrants and the survival of these groups.

“I assist with all aspects of assisting immigrants.  I also travel quite a bit, I traveled 80 days overseas this year. I help students to network and use organizations to build relationships. I’m the person to help them frame the issues and help them find assistance.” Burke said. “We now have new immigrant groups that must be addressed.”

When asked what challenges he sees with the new administration in regard to immigrants, Burke stated that we need diversity and integration. He says these things start within our own communities. “When you think of diversity, there needs to be integration. If you think everything is integrated now, you run into a dead end and you won’t be prepared for the next change. It takes time, but in the long run, we all need to be prepared for change. Integration is being lost. We need to focus on integration and we all need to be involved in our communities.”

He stressed that integration is positive. “Integration is not a negative word. It has been lost in our communities and our society. It is what is being missed right now. But we cannot have forced integration. It has to be a part of our everyday lives and happen organically. We need to be accepting and prepared for positive change.”

For many years Burke has assisted immigrants, refugees, and under-represented groups. He has worked with African Americans in his state of Ohio to assist in providing pathways for them. He also works to integrate African Americans with the immigrant community. Burke said that family connections are very important when discussing integration and the immigrant community, “Family is their connection, they need family relationships. By breaking apart families, we are creating a dysfunctional antithesis of the American story.”

When faced with an issue, Burke said that he thinks about it, talks about it, throws to out to his colleagues and communities, and they throw it back. Keeping an open dialogue is very important.

He not only preaches diversity and integration, he makes it happen. Burke closed with, “These things take time and I always have hope.”

https://www.linkedin.com/in/george-burke-78962511/

http://www.albany.edu/international-admissions/70602.php

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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I Am Not A Citizen Of The World

August 11th, 2016

worldpeople

No soy una ciudadana del mundo.

I come from Chile, located at the end of the world. Surrounded by the immensity of the Pacific Ocean, the loneliness of the Atacama Desert and the impenetrability of the Andes cordillera, it could be considered an island. 

I am not a citizen of the world.

I am fluent in Spanish, French and English. I am “cultured”; I know about history, art, music and poetry. I am “travelled”: I biked the Golden Gate Bridge, I went up the Eiffel Tour, I got the Padi diving course in Koh Samui, Surfed in Sydney and knew the leather tanneries in Fez. However, when I travel, I care about the amazing travel selfies that I post on instagram. I am not interested in knowing the locals, since they look different and their cultural traditions are ridiculous, obsolete, and nonsensical, compared to my “modern” and “liberal” way of life. I am not interested of Khmer Rouge and its impact in Cambodian citizens, and I certainly do not take advantage of my language skills to understand their beliefs, their stories, or their wounds.

Je ne suis pas une citoyenne du monde.

I do not care about global issues such as the energy crisis or the uncertainty of the refugees’ life. I have electricity and hot water in my house and recycling is too much effort. And when by accident I run into the international news happening in a faraway land, I quickly change the channel to the Turkish soap opera of the moment. After all, the facial expressions of Hurrem in Muhteşem Yüzyıl, are much more attractive than the death baby on the beach. My main concerns are the next season of Games of Thrones, the next Taylor Swift album or the 4 kilos that I desperately need to lose before my next trip to Costa Rica.

  1. Turkish soap opera: The Magnificent Century

 

I am not a citizen del mundo.

I do not have time to get informed of world news, search different sources of information and form my own opinions. I do not have time to do any volunteer work since my life is “crazy” and I have a lot on my plate; after all, you do not get to the 1013 level in Candy Crush Saga playing for only one month.

Je ne suis pas une citizen of the world.

I go to fancy restaurants, and the bill covers a month of an entire family living. I buy Louis Vuitton bags, while outside the store is a lady selling coconut water to support her family, and I bargain her down from two dollars to one. I love to buy cheap t-shirts, but I never ask myself how the price can be as low, and who is really paying for them.

Je ne suis pas una ciudadana of the world 

My favourite and most valuable relation is with my smartphone, since it provides all that I need. Wakes me up in the morning, keeps me company during the day and even introduces me to people to date, since I long lost the capacity to engage with others in real life. When I do not have Internet my phone, I feel disconnected. I am numb.

I am not une citoyenne del mundo

I live unconsciously. I do not connect to others in any significant way. I am a consumer. I try to fill my internal void with external things, and wonder why I never feel as happy or complete as the girls in the women’s magazines. Even when on my Instagram I have hundreds of likes and I seem to have it all, I do not want to acknowledge that “thing”. That “thing” on my chest. That “thing” that I conveniently “confuse” with hunger so I eat/drink/smoke to make it go away. That “thing” that accompanies me everywhere I go. That “thing” that never leaves me, not even in my dreams. That “thing” that gives me nightmares every night. Nightmares that I do not realize that I have or even question why or since when I have them.

Since most of the time I travel alone, is not unusual that people approach me to ask where I come from and why I am traveling by myself; people with epicanthic fold, women wearing veils, with different skin and hair colour, in summary people that I had never the interest to approach. It is when they kindly ask me about my culture and they tell me about theirs, when I realize how narrow my worldview is. How come they are interested in me but I am not interested in them? When they talk to be on the bus or in the hostel lobby I realize how much I focus on my belly and not on what surrounds me. I realize how loyally I mirror Chile. I am also an island. Surrounded by invisible but robust frontiers, locking me in a comfortable bubble wrapping me to everything dissimilar.

Out of nowhere, these strangers show me their openness, their kindness, their generosity, and their happiness, and strangely, it feels good, and that “thing” on my chest feels somehow warm. It is then when I realize I lack those attributes. I cannot demonstrate affection as easily and as openhandedly as they do. I wish I could, but that “thing” on my chest, seems to be cold and empty…

It is only because I am multilingual that I am able to talk with people from China, Lebanon, Malaysia, India, Nigeria and Russia about the common battles we face as women over coffee in Edinburgh. Women who would be unlikely to meet in Chile since the percentage of immigrants from China is 2%, and even less for the other mentioned countries. Our natural barriers seem to act like an impenetrable membrane from the rest of the world, which gives the illusion that we are the norm and the others are the different ones. Our barriers keep us physically, mentally and emotionally disconnected from the rest of the world. 

It is when we cry our hardships together and encourage one another that I discover and I am able to appreciate these former strangers as human beings. Humans with feelings, struggles and dreams, just like mine. And it is then when I feel something moving on my chest, and I notice an urge to help them to achieve their goals, and to do it together. Suddenly our conversations are not about the bachelor or what we consider attractive in a man, but about our adventures or misadventures, on how we misread cultural norms, and what we learnt from them. We compare traditions, customs and meaning and it is then when I start to appreciate their way of life, and recognize that maybe my way of life is not the best one, that it is certainly not entirely “right” or “good”. Theirs may be more “conservative” and traditional, but at the same time it is more respectful, cooperative and caring. Women are not displayed as sexual objects, people are not in an endless race to show who has more, and people think twice before judging someone else. Learning different perspectives and about different ways of life, allow me to think about new ways, new solutions and new possibilities. I am able to see the richness of our world and it opens my mental frontiers to consider that maybe if we share more, we can take what is good from each other´s cultures, build a new perspective together and share a new common path to improve our communities.

It is when they tell me about their life stories when I realize, that that news that I heard about war and the bombing of that country in a faraway land, becomes real. It is not something that happened to random people on TV. It is my friend’s life that was on the line. I had shivers and sorrow to hear her describe how her father decided to split the family members in several different cars to drive to the frontier in case one of them got bombed. The shivers and sorrow I was able to feel were only possible because we were able to talk the same language and were curious about each other experiences. 

It is then that I realize that multilingual ability is more than technical proficiency. Multilingual ability serve to something more than to land a job in an international company, have high scores in a given test or ask for directions in a foreign country.

Multilingual ability can be more. It can be a door to empathise and develop significant relations with others different than us that we would have never talked to since we would not understand each other. It can allow us to connect with others emotionally and break our stereotypes. It allows us to constantly redefine the meaning of kind words according to the langage we speak. It can be a way to engage with others as human beings and find what bonds us instead of what takes us apart.

Multilingual ability awarded me the gift to have new friends with diverse customs and worldviews. Friends who showed me their generosity and their love; friend who taught me how to develop the attributes I lacked. Attributes that moved and warmed up that “thing” inside me. It was with their friendship that I started filling up the everlasting loneliness that was with me, no matter how far I went or how many things I bought.

Multilingual ability threatens my perfect “casual” picture on Instagram of me looking at the horizon in the Grand Canyon, and replaces it for a messy picture in my wallet with all my friends sharing hummus, dumplings, patacones, fish and chips, chalakaka and pisco sour on a long table.

It is when I acknowledge the stereotypes I have,
It is when I start to connect emotionally with others and with myself,
It is when I question the fears I hold,
It is when I recognize what impact my actions have in the world,
It is when their issues become mine, and mine become theirs,
It is when my friends´ homes become mines,
It is when I see the richness of what we could create collectively,
It is when I live my life with others,
It is when I share the warm of heart,
It is when we realize that we are all in this together,
That I start my journey of becoming a citizen of the world.

maria
Maria Jose Ramirez C.

Maria Jose holds a PhD in Education from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, Master’s in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and degree in teaching from Ponrificia Universidad Catolice de Chile. She loves sports, nature and travel and for over 12 years has worked with athletes by motivating and inspiring them to not only win medals but achieve their own excellence not just at their sports, but also as human beings. Maria Jose was one of the 60 winners of the 2016 international essay contest of Many Languages, One World® (MLOW) that included students from 36 countries and 54 universities. Her essay, shared in this blog, was selected from a pool of over 3,600 entrants. Many Languages, One World is organized by ELS Educational Services, Inc., and the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI)

alcanzandotuexcelencia@gmail.com

http://www.alcanzatuexcelencia.com

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15 Facts on the Republic of Vanuatu

March 19th, 2015

Vanuatu

On March 14, 2015, the Republic of Vanuatu, an archipelago consisting of approximately 82 islands, which lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire between New Caledonia and Fiji in the South Pacific, was hit by a category five cyclone and sustained severe damages. We thought it would be helpful to share some facts about the Republic of Vanuatu. [Note: If you are interested to help with Vanuatu’s disaster relief, please refer to this link for a list of relief organizations “How You Can Help with Vanuatu’s Disaster Relief”]

1. Vanuatu means “Land Eternal.

2. Population as of July 2014 est. 266,937

3. The capital of Vanuatu is Port-Vila with a population of 47,000

Vanuatu_flag
Image: Flag of Vanuatu (The ‘Y’ in the flag signifies the chain of islands of the country.)

4. The country grained independence from France and UK on July 30, 1980. Its government is Parliamentary Republic.

5. During World War II the U.S. launched attacks from here against Japanese troops in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea, inspiring James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific

6. The official languages are Bislama, English, French and more than 100 local languages.. Pidgin is one of the languages spoken on the islands.

7. 65% of the population depends on agriculture which includes copra, coconuts, coffee, cacao and fish. Off shore financial services and tourism constitutes the remainder of Vanuatu’s economy. Copra, beef, cacao, timber, kava.

8. Vanuatu’s natural resources include: manganese, hardwood forests, and fish.

9. Christianity is the main religion followed in Vanuatu.

10. The traditional drink of Vanuatu is kava, which is made from the roots of piper methysticum.

kava
Traditional set-up for kava drining (photo credit: Tracy Moreno)

11. Literacy: 83.2%

12. 5% of GDP is spent on education (2009)

13. Primary education is available for almost all children except in a few remote tribal areas. Education is provided in either English or French.

14. Full secondary education is provided by the Anglophone Malapoa College and the French Lycée at Port-Vila; limited secondary education is also available in five English post-primary schools and three French mission schools.

15. For postsecondary education, especially medical and technical training, selected students go principally to Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand.

Bonus fact:

16. The national dish of Vanuatu is ‘lap – lap’, which can be either savory or sweet. It is made from a vegetable porridge, cooked in coconut milk.(See more at: Facts About Vanuatu)

Sources:

http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Vanuatu.aspx
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/nh.html

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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The Difficult Life For Those Born Albino In Africa

August 22nd, 2013

in-the-shadow-of-the-sun-2-300x168
Joseph Torner from the film, In the Shadow of the Sun

There is a new film about being born albino in Africa, In the Shadow of the Sun. The name derives from the classic book, The Shadow of the Sun by Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski. In this moving narrative, the author talks about Africans, dispossessed of their history, who simply walk around large shade trees all day to gain refuge from the sweltering heat and sun.

This holds true for Africans born with albinism. Superstition has it that black people can’t be born with white skin; the devil and sorcery must be involved. As such, superstition and traditional thinking also has it that such people must have otherworldly powers either from the devil or witchcraft. Such unfortunate albinos are murdered and their body parts sold. It is a terrible underground economy. Murdering tigers and black rhinos for gall bladders and horns to sell on the Chinese market for aphrodisiacs is tragic enough; killing albinos for similar reasons is perhaps even more horrific, depending on how you feel about endangered animal species.

The new film is by Harry Freeland and it tracks the life of an albino man in Tanzania named, Josephat Torner as seen in this video trailer. Click here to watch.

A more famous albino is Malian superstar Salif Keita. He was scorned in his youth for having white skin. Rejected and lonely, he would roam the fields nearby his home and sing to the birds. A neighbor heard him and complimented him on his powerful and beautiful voice. He went to the Malian capital Bamako, joined the band at the rail station which became known as The Rail Band and later Les Ambassadeurs du Mali, and rose to stardom for his incredible music.

He told me about the pain of being ostracized when I interviewed him. I put it in my book Rhythm Planet: The Great World Music Makers (Rizzolli). Salif affirms his differences from other in a beautiful song called, “La Différence”. In the song he sings that what makes somebody different also can make them beautiful.

Here are the lyrics. Keita opens the song singing in French, then switches to Mandeng:

Je suis un noir
I am a black man
Ma peau est blanche
My Skin is White
Et moi j’aime bien ça
As for me I like this
C’est La difference qui est jolie
It’s the difference that is pretty

Je suis un blanc
I am a white man
Mon sang est noir
My blood is black
Et moi j’adore ça
And I love this
C’est La Difference qui est jolie
it’s the difference that is pretty

Je voudrais
I would like
Que nous nous entendions dans l’amour
that we hear each other in love
Que nous nous comprenions dans l’amour
So we can understand
et dans la paix
each other in love and peace.

There is a beautiful photo of Salif’s daughter on the cover of the 1995 album Folon: The Past by photographer Matthew Donaldson.

salif-keita

There is also a message in the CD booklet:

If you want to help Salif Keita’s fight for albino people, please send your gift to SOS Albino, Post Box 133, 93511 Montreuil, Cedex, France. I found this link online from the president of SOS Albino (it’s in French). In it, the President of SOS Albino, Thièmo Diallo, appeals to the African public for fuller understanding on what actually causes albinism in hope for an end to superstition and fear.

Make sure you tune into my show at http://www.kcrw.com/music/programs/cl

Tom Schnabel, M.A.
Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Host of music program on radio for KCRW Sundays noon-2 p.m.
Blogs for KCRW
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

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10 Valentine’s Day Celebrations from Around the World

February 14, 2013

heartworld

It’s Valentine’s Day today, and though I’m no fan of the over the top commercialization of love, I’m still a romantic at heart. I couldn’t let this day go by without delving a little deeper into its history and origins and finding out how the rest of the world celebrates. It is a temporary diversion from evaluating international credentials though I’m still maintaining a “global” perspective.

Without going into too much detail (for the longer version check out this link http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day), its believed that the origins of this day of love stemmed in an attempt by the early Christian church to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival celebrated on February 15 or the Ides of February. By the end of the 5th century, Lupercalia was outlawed and February 14th was declared by Pope Gelasius as St. Valentine’s Day. Now, it needs to be said that the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different martyred saints named Valentine each with his own appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and romantic figure.

Here in America, we celebrate February 14th by exchanging greeting cards, giving chocolates, gifts and roses. I’ve randomly picked 10 countries to see how they celebrate this day or similar day dedicated to love and here’s what I found:

1. Brazil – Celebrates “Dias dos Namorados” or the Day of the Enamored on June 12th where couples exchange flowers, chocolates, and presents. They celebrate it on June 12th because June 13th happens to be Saint Anthony’s Day, which is when single women perform “simpatias” or rituals to attract a nice boyfriend. They probably don’t celebrate it in February because it’s too close to Carnival, which by itself is a love-fest of its own!

Brazil

2. China – Celebrates two Valentine’s Days, one being the commercially recognized February 14th and the other falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar, known as “Qi Xi,” or “Magpie Festival,” or “The Night of Sevens.” The legend is that a young cowherd and a weaver girl, who happened to be the daughter of the Goddess, met on earth, fell in love and married. But when the Goddess learned of her daughter’s marriage, she ordered her return to heaven. The cowherd followed his beloved which angered the Goddess who cast a river into the sky, creating the Milky Way, separating the two lovers. But once a year, all the magpies from around the world would fly up into the Milky Way forming a bridge over the river so that two
lovers could meet and reunite.

China

3. Dominican Republic – Friends and family play a game called “Angelito” where they rip pieces of paper and write the name of another person, either girl or boy. Then each player gives his/her “angelito” a present.

4. El Salvador – Same game as “Angelito” in the Dominican Republic, but they call theirs “secreto.”

5. Japan – There are two Valentine’s Days in Japan. On February 14th, girls give dark chocolate to the boys they like and on March 14th, boys give cookies or white chocolate to the girls they like.

6. Slovenia – Celebrates the day of love on March 12, or Saint Gregory’s Day, known traditionally as the day of love and the first day of spring, although Valentine’s Day/February 14th has usurped tradition. There’s Pust, or Carnival, where Slovenians celebrate the beginning of a new cycle of nature and farming. The celebration includes wearing masks and costumes resembling the animals in the field. To learn more about this festival, check out this link: http://www.slovenia.info/en/Pustne-prireditve/search-selected.htm?carnival=0&srch=1&srchtype=sel&sqlst=3090&lng=2&ctgrdr=1

Slovenia
“Pust” (Carnival) Celebration in Slovenia

7. South Korea – Apparently the 14th day of every month is celebrated in some way to honor love in Korea. There is Kiss Day, Green Day, Wine Day, Hug Day, you get the picture. But on February 14th, also known as White Day, men give candy or gifts to women. On April 14th or Black Day, the women who didn’t get anything on February 14th, go to Chinese restaurants and eat black noodles to mourn their lackluster love life.
A bowl of jjajang myeon noodles served on Black Day, image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

8. Spain – Only people in love get and give presents.

9. Vietnam – Couples wear the same style and/or color of clothes.

Vietnam

10. Iran – May have rejected Western influences, but Valentine’s Day and all its accouterments have worked their way into the minds of the youth of the Islamic state’s affluent culture who want to have fun and romance. Giving cards, flowers, chocolates are just some of the ways the romantically-minded youth in Iran express their Love on February 14th, despite the disapproval of the authorities.

iran
Image Source: Sepidedam & Persian Icons

iran2

Whether you personally celebrate or not, let us know how Valentine’s Day or its equivalent is celebrated in your country. Here’s wishing you a Happy Valentine’s day!

hearts


The Frustrated Evaluator
www.acei1.com

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Travel: The Bridge to Friendship

November 01, 2012

Imperial Airways & Associated Companies 1938

A few days ago I was at Soaptopia–one of my favorite neighborhood stores–picking up a few bars of their heavenly scented handmade soaps when I noticed the exquisite earrings the lovely young saleswoman was wearing. The earrings were round in shape and made of gold but wafer-thin, almost transparent with detailed carvings studded with tiny stones which looked like coral and turquoise. I hadn’t seen anything like them, at least not here in the States. They were exotic and delicate. 

I felt compelled to compliment her on her earrings and she beamed me a bright smile and told me that she’s had the earrings since she was 16. “I got them when my family travelled to Persia!” She told me.

“You mean Iran,” I said.

“Yes, Iran,” she confirmed, her smile never leaving her lips.

I told her that I was from Iran and that I was half Armenian. She told me she was from Senegal and how much her parents loved to travel but that Iran had been one of her favorites. Though I haven’t been to Senegal, I had travelled to Kenya when I was 13.

“I had my ears pierced in Kenya,” I told Isabelle, my new-found Senegalese friend.

Soon Isabelle and I started chatting about Senegalese music, Persian food, Armenian coffee and the joys of travel.  A middle-aged woman standing nearby couldn’t help but join in on our fun. Turned out she was from Cape Town, South Africa and she too spoke of her trips to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt and would’ve loved to have visited Iran had politics not intervened. 

This is exactly why I like Los Angeles, in spite of the smog and traffic. The beauty of living in Los Angeles is the myriad of cultures that coexist and the stories we have each brought with us.

At Charters Towers School, the boarding school I attended in England, I had the privilege of meeting and making friends with girls from all four corners of the world. At 15, thanks to my friend Sheila Samani, I attended my first Indian wedding, dressed in a turquoise blue sari. I learned about miso soup and nori from my Japanese friend Masako Kawahara. I listened to stories of apartheid in South Africa from my friend Kavita. My friend Anupama, a devout Hindu, told me stories of the guru whose teachings she and her family followed. This was the first time I heard the word “meditation,” and techniques to sit, breathe and calm the chattering mind.

I owe my African adventure to my boarding school friend Anne Summers, whose parents had moved from England to Kenya like many other English expats. Anne had talked me into piercing my ears and I still remember the day I placed the long distance call from Nairobi to my parents in Tehran for permission. My mother gave me her blessing, but it wasn’t until we were on safari when the deed was done. Out in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles away from Nairobi, we happened upon a small white-washed box-like structure with the words “Clinic” painted in black. We were greeted by an English woman dressed in an all-white nurse’s uniform. She even had on her white nurse’s cap, white hosiery and sensible white shoes. There and then I decided to have my ears pierced. She agreed to pierce my ears and while numbing my lobes she casually mentioned that she’d never done this before, which made me nervous. But my worries quickly disappeared when she broke into Farsi on learning I was from Iran. Before relocating to Kenya, she had lived in Isfahan, Iran where she learned Farsi. I still can’t get over my encounter with the English nurse. What are the chances of having your ears pierced by a Farsi-speaking English nurse on safari in Africa?

Travel, be it in the form of a study abroad program, back packing or vacation, is the antidote to xenophobia, and the “us and them” mindset that prevents us from seeing the goodness in everyone. The experience of travel also broadens our minds and helps us appreciate the connections and similarities we all share, no matter where we’re from or the languages we speak, or the religions we follow.

Next time you’re in LA, Mar Vista to be exact, make sure you stop by Soaptopia, say hi to Isabelle and share stories about your travels and ask her about the Persian earrings!

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI
www.acei1.com

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The War on Women: From USA to Iran and around the World

August 23, 2012

Afghan women voice concerns to coalition forces [Image 4 of 4]

There is a war going on; it is against women and it’s on a global scale. From the outrageous remarks on “legitimate rape” made by US Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), to the arrest of the three feminist rockers of the band Pussy Riot in Russia accused of speaking out against Vladimir Putin, to the practice of defacing women with acid in Pakistan, Uganda, Bangladesh, Nepal, Cambodia and 15 other countries, to female genital mutilation, child brides, sex trafficking of young girls, and on and on it goes.

And now, Iran, a country not known for its stellar human rights records, has taken its hardline stance against women a step further. In an officially-approved act of sex-discrimination, Iran is barring female students from more than 70 university degree courses. According to Robert Tait of the UK Telegraph, the move “has prompted a demand for a UN investigation by Iran’s most celebrated human rights campaigner, the Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi.” The Iranian government’s decision means that 36 universities will no longer allow female students to enroll in 77 BA and BSc courses in the coming academic year. These courses have been labeled as “single gender” and open exclusively to men.

Here’s a partial list of university degree programs from which women are barred: English literature, English translation, hotel management, archaeology, nuclear physics, computer science, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, business management, petroleum engineering, chemical engineering, mining engineering. The universities complicit with the Islamic Republic’s agenda claim that they are creating an even field, a balance between the sexes by restricting these fields to single-gender students as a large percentage of female college students were left unemployed after graduation.

Just two months ago I wrote a blog about higher education in Iran, and the rising number of Iranian women holding university degrees. In fact, women account for nearly 60 percent of the total enrollment at Iranian universities. Higher education and global awareness of social issues have freed Iranian women to embark on a life of singlehood to pursue careers, rent apartments, travel, and question their rights. Iran’s recent barring of women from more than 70 university degree courses is telling of the Iranian government’s agenda on suppressing women in the traditionally male-dominated society.

Iran, as noted in Tait’s article “has the highest ratio of female to male undergraduates in the world, according to UNESCO. Female students have become prominent in traditionally male-dominated courses like applied physics and some engineering disciplines. The relative decline in the male student population has been attributed to the desire of young Iranian men to “get rich quick” without going to university.” The radical steps taken by the Islamic regime and followed in lock step by the universities are to turn back the clock, return women to a domestic life and suppress their voice in the public arena. Whether the government bans women from a large portion of university degree programs, it does not mean that young Iranian men are going to flock to the universities and take the place of their female counterparts.

The attacks against women are attempts to silence their demands for equal rights. Like everything in life, we cannot take anything for granted. The struggle is not over.

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI
www.acei1.com

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