Monday, December 18, 2006

Like the deserts miss the rain

Today has been a really long day so I am going to hit the highlights and expand on it tomorrow:

1. Looks Like Sam, BB, Jared and I are all sick. I dont know who got it first, but we are all scratchy throated, runny nose coughing fit sick. Looks like Sam cant keep food down and missed the whole day today.

2. We went to the Ministry of Higher Education today and had a meeting with the head of foreign students there, learned a lot about their schooling. Wish it was so good here. The minister of higher education got called away on an emergency and extended to us the coolest apology invitation on the planet, which I'll tell you about shortly.

3. After the ministry we went to eat lunch at Kuwait Towers. We were kept waiting outside for a while, and when we got in we found out there was a huge meeting and we were about the only other people allowed a table. Said meeting included three prime ministers, most of the Kuwait government, a buttload of diplomats and other rather important people. Which explains why there was a motorcade outside full of men toting automatic weapons.

4. Lunch was really good, we tried a lot of traditional dishes. And, as luck would have it, two very cool people spotted us and had lunch with us - the president and the director of the middle eastern reigon for the international commission on human rights!How sick is that? I got to sit by the director and we spoke at length about women in politics, its her specialty area in law, human rights violations of women, and so the hour I spent chatting with her was amazing. At the end she gave me and BB her card [and no one else!] and told us to call and email her, she even wrote in her private number. She said she wanted to keep in touch, some visit our school and do a symposium, and help the both of us get jobs when we graduate. I almost cried from happiness.

5. after the lunch we went back to the poetry library so Dr. O could grovel for money with the benefactor/owner/founder of teh library. I was a little embarassed because the benefactor came out and received us with coffees and teas and food and started to talk to us [the students] about his collection and his goals with his library and Dr. O interrupted him, drug him to the other end of the room and occupied his attention for the entire hour we had scheduled with him! We weren't happy.

6. We found out the ministry of information, and the Kuwait government likes us so well they are planning on sending us as student leaisons to universities around the us [a lot of tehm the alma maters of the officials] and speak to the schools about out experiences. *Plus* they want us to come bacck each year with more students [they'll bump our group number from 7 to 15] and teach them the culter with them, like student leaders/ambassadors. And they'd pay for all of this. How cool is that?

7. We went after the library to the "conservative" women's group and I'll likely devote an entire blog to everything I learned tonight from those women. I can't tell you how impressed I am, how much I love them, how wrong I was about them.We're actually having a "girls night" tomorrow or Wednesday so we can all bond and discuss women's culture together without the "interruption of the men" as they put it.

8. Because *someone* [the same someone I might add] got on a tangent during our question and answer session with them about something that I felt was nearly unrelated we were late and ended up missing what I had been looking most forward to, our apology date with the minister of higher education. Want to know what it was? *sobs* An invitation to the very first ever Kuwaiti women diahwana. This may not sound important, but for women's politics its a hugely historic moment. Women arent allowed in dihawanas and its the main forum for political discussion and movement. All the important movements in the Kuwaiti history have stemmed from these special meetings. I am really disappointed, and rather angry, we missed it. I'll tell you more about the meetings sometime, if you like.

Thats my day, we've finally gotten home, fed and I've started to pack again, I dont know how I am going to get it all fit inmy bags...

So no one has any questions? Anything they want to know about the culture?

Tomorrow we;re off to sit in on a parliment session and ride camels, which we put off today because Looks Like Sam was so sick.

Love you all - XX



Aravis said...

I'm sorry you're not feeling well and that you missed that meeting. Stupid person with their stupid tangent!

But what an exciting day, filled with such amazing opportunities and interesting people!

I don't have a lot of questions at the moment because I have a little knowledge of the culture, and feel that some of the questions I have may be answered in posts to come. But I'll probably have some later.

For now, though, where do you think your future lies? With your obvious love of the region and interests in the politics and culture, are you headed in a field that would allow you to spend time there? Or are you not done exploring your options yet?

Alecya G said...

Wow. thats a good one to start with.

I'm not sure where my future lies. The more time I've spent over here, the more time I spend talking to the people in my group the more I realize that I really do love politics, especially international politics, although some of them seem so much farther ahead of me. On the other hand, they've all gone out of thier way to tell me how talented they think I am in the area, and how impressed they are with my knowledge and abilities since I am only a freshman and they're, you know, graduate students.

Honestly, I want to teach, but I've been talking to all of these foreign ministers and they love their jobs and they're so rewarding and they make know qualms about the frustrationg nature of their jobs. I love international relations, and here I have about 30 good contacts already int he most important reigon to have contacts in- its very temping to jump ship in writing and teaching and become a politician.

I think, in an ideal world, I would teach international comparative politics, I would focus on women's movements, and women's rights, and women's effect on politcal movements. then I would spend my summers traveling and pubishing articles on the things I am interested in and writing books. that's perfect world.

Honestly, it never seems set in stone. It seems like there's always another option, but I feel like I am completely in love with political scinece again, and I am reveling in the opportunities this trip is providing me. It will be difficult to say no to all the things they are offering us.

On the topic of the other questions you might have, feel free, I know when I got here I had the complete wrong idea. Stereotypes are so prevalent about the ME reigon and its people, and I think I've learned so much about the perceptions we have. The funny thing is, they are so aware of it, they know that we believe those stereotypes. The good thing is , they want to change them ,a and thats the point of our trip, to learn about them from a bottom-up level and become more informed and share that with the people we know.

The reason I ask for your questions, so you know, is that I've been asking them. They always let us ask whatever we like, and I've been askign a lot of personal, sometimes borderline nosey, questions that I want honest answers to, and I'm getting them, so its great for me to be able to say, hey guys, how do you feel about this question that Aravis had, or that I might have too, and see how they really feel.

Oh, dear, now I'll have to post about all the questions I've got. Thanks, Aravis, ;)

Aravis said...

Well, and there's no reason why you can't have both career paths: politics and teaching. One could enhance the other, and both would allow scope for your writing endeavors as well.

You're really doing brilliantly, your colleagues are right. This is your first semester and look where you are and what you've accomplished! No point comparing yourself to them for, as they say, they're graduate students.

What would they say the biggest stereotypes we have about them are, which they would like to overcome? No need to narrow it down to one. And what stereotypes do they have of us- if any- that have perhaps surprised you and that you want to attempt to overcome on our behalf?