Tag Archives: blogging

Day 10+ (July 2-3) – Princesses, LAU, Shatilla, Le Péché, Flight

For those of you still following my trip blog, I do apologize for the delay.  there is just such a finality to writing this post, and I honestly haven’t wanted to deal with it.  While my post-fellowship plan includes extensive blogging of my trip research, this is really the last “Today we did X” kind of post, and it really does end the trip in some ways.

Originally planned for our last day in Beirut was a wrap-up session with the LRF and a farewell dinner at Le Péché.  Through some discussion of our goals and some amazing flexibility on the part of the LRF, we were able to have several extra meetings, including meeting with Druze Princess Hayat Arslan, one of the coolest women I’ve ever met.  Arslan met with us at her home in Aley, a beautiful mansion overlooking Beirut.  It looks a little something like this:

Hayat Arslan's House

No big deal… Just kind of huge.

Arslan and her two daughters spent about an hour and a half with us, discussing women’s place in politics in Lebanon.  Currently, there are only four women in Parliament, which Arslan sees as a huge problem for equality.  She proposes a quota system requiring a minimum of 30 women in Parliament at any given time.  Without the quota, she argues, women will never have the opportunity to run for office effectively.  Right now, the few women who do choose to run for office are often bullied out by a much stronger, better financed good-ol’-boy system.  I’m honestly not quite sure how I feel about that.  I can see both sides of the issue.  I’m planning to do an election-related piece later on this blog when I’ve had more time to think about it.

I was also able to cross “make an idiot out of myself in front of a Princess” off my bucket list at Arslan’s house.  Totally tripped and spilled tea all over her patio.  Saved the china though.  Go me.

ANYWHO, after that, we visited the Lebanese American University, who hosted us for a goodbye lunch of falafel, a tradition in their SINARC program.  Our study visit escort, Linda Funsch, had helped start an Arab Women’s Studies a program at LAU, and it was really cool to go back with her after 30 years and meet with people she knew then.  We also were able to interact with students in the summer Arabic program, talking about Model Arab League and our joint experiences in Beirut.

Originally we were then supposed to visit Shatilla, the Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut.  Unfortunately, we were not able to do more than drive by, but the sight was heartbreaking even from the street.  Beirut is a city where the buildings are fairly close together, but nothing prepared me for the cube-shaped concrete apartments crammed together in Shatilla.  As the camp was supposed to only be temporary, the land it is on cannot possibly accommodate its current numbers, and residents have had to build up, not out.  I plan to do an entire post on Palestinians in Lebanon at some point, so more on this to follow.

After a marathon of packing and photo-swapping back at the hotel we left for our farewell dinner at Le Péché in Junieh.  The restaurant was stunning, with a open air area overlooking the water, mountains, and city below.  Dinner consisted of different types of fish, grilled calamari, mezze, dessert, wine and arak.  We stayed far longer than I think any of us anticipated, enjoying our last night with our wonderful hosts.

We arrived back at the hotel near midnight with only an hour and a half to get back to the airport to depart.  It was both exciting and sad to be going home, and I think we were honestly all pretty tired as well.  I flew home with the same group of 6 I came over with.  It was a completely different flight this time, with all of us knowing each other so much better than on the flight from DC.

In the coming weeks, I will continue to blog about Lebanon.  I’ve only barely begun to think and process this wonderful study visit.  This blog will continue to talk about Lebanon, and really anything else that pops into my head.  Next on the agenda definitely is a post comparing the pros and cons of traveling with a laptop v. an iPad.

Getting Ready To Blog

I started this blog because it seemed like every class in my life last semester had some sort of requirement about it.  Now, with no assignments, I found my voice was gone.  Do I really have nothing to say?

Um, have you met me?

A month from now, insha’Allah, I will be in Beirut on a Lebanon Summer Fellowship  (cultural immersion/travel) sponsored by the National Council on US-Arab Relations.  My goal is to blog the entirety of the trip, from the pre-planning through my year following my return.  Part of the fellowship is that we share the knowledge we gain over our 10 days in Lebanon with our communities.  Well, with a blog, my community is anyone.

A few comments.  VT’s WordPress site does not work well on the iPad.  Creating links is a nightmare.  Edits are equally problematic.  I am using a Logitech keyboard I just got off Amazon to update this, and so far I really like it.

It is my goal to be constantly blogging and updating Twitter while I’m there.  Follow my hashtags on Twitter (#lebanon2012, #LSF2012) to keep up with me in real-ish time.

To be 100% honest, though, I may have to migrate to official WordPress if this is going to work.  This lack of editing could be a problem.

Blogging as Subversion

In all three classes I have to blog for, people are either enthusiastic towards or terrified of having to blog (with very few in between).  In part, I do think some of the terror might come from a person’s definition of a blog.

So often, blogs are described as online journals, which I think is completely unfair to them (and us).  The first blogging platform I ever used was LiveJournal (there was also InsaneJournal and GreatestJournal to pick from back in the day–IJ is still around), so the naming of it didn’t help.  But by equating a blog to an online journal, we’re already limiting its potential use.  I think a lot of people then go into blogs thinking it’s just a written version of your super-personal thoughts.  Of course that would be terrifying!

But that’s the brilliant part about blogs:  they really can be whatever you want them to be.  Some of the catchiest online presences around have nothing to do with presenting the person as they actually are.  @feministhulk on Twitter is one of my favorite personas.  Yes, I’m sure whoever runs that account is probably a feminist.  But I somehow doubt they walk around talking in Lou Ferrigno voice (which is disappointing…) spouting feminist agendas all day long.  Twitter is their vehicle to have fun and say something they want to say in a unique and reative way.

Dr. Fowler did get me thinking about this all of last night–why are people reticent to blogging?  What is so problematic about it?  If you see a blog as only an online place to dump your padlocked-secret-Lisa-Frank-journal thoughts, then yeah, that is terrifying.  But if it’s a way to have fun with something your interested in, even if it’s not particularly unique (your way of saying it is probably way more unique then you could ever realize), a blog becomes a very special outlet for your creativity and imagination.

I called this post “blogging as subversion” because right now, that’s how I’m seeing them.  We’ve been talking so much in Dean DePauw’s class about tenure, promotion, and the all-important difference between assistant, associate, and full professorships. The hoops one has to jump through include publishing peer-reviewed journal articles and books through university press  publishing are daunting.  In my mind, we’re automatically limiting who receives this information by picking these expensive, subscription-required (or access to a university library in some cases) media.  Glossies and mass media publications are bad.  Because, G-d forbid, we might actually be sharing knowledge with the masses.

Blogs are powerful and, yes, subversive.  I can write anything I want here.  It’s terrifying and dangerous.  It’s wonderful and awe-inspiring.  I can come up with new ideas here and get feedback from all of the world.  And yes, someone might then steal my idea and write about it, but it’s still my idea.  And I can go publish something too, because the idea will be in my own words and will be said differently by me than anyone else can.

Do I want people to read a book I might write someday?  Absolutely.  And yes, the selfish “I Need Validation For My Hard Work!!!!! Look at meeee!!!” reasons are there, jumping around somewhere in my Id.  But honestly, books are a medium, like so many, that hits everyone in a different way.  I’d rather have a book I write mean something to one person then to sit on a shelf in a university library (because their the only one’s who can afford it) doing nothing.  How often have you been the first person to check out a book since the 1950s at the library?  It’s sad, isn’t it?  What’s the point of all this school and learning if we can’t share what we’ve learned with people outside of this crazy academia bubble we live in?

Blogging might be an answer to this situation.  Why not go into it thinking that maybe we can change the world with our words?  That sounds ridiculous and trite as I write it, but why not dream big?  I’d rather dream the impossimprobable (neologisms are fun!) then not even try.  If blogging isn’t working for you, figure out why.  Make up a character.  Blog about something you actually despise just to see if you can.  Have fun.  Be subversive.