Friday, March 23, 2012

Middle East Studies

I was running some errands in delivery mode, taking some paperwork to La Salle High School near Clackamas Town Center and picking up a few wine bottles for the chairman's suite, getting passport pictures.

I got a call regarding the meetup organized by Portland State's Middle East Studies Center, part of its outreach to district school teachers.  I'd attended this event once before.  I was at the venue within minutes.

Sometimes these Middle East discussions get volatile.  I learned that at a last meetup, two of the gentlemen, one in particular, had gotten really voluble discussing the issues and the restaurant was having second thoughts about allowing the group to return.  I was the only male this time and the conversation remained quiet.

What occurs to me is a lot of these worries about "what to wear" (veil or no veil) go away in the distance education world I frequent.  Middle Eastern women wanting to learn Python, Javascript, MongoDB, have plenty of opportunities, given ample bandwidth.

The course materials might be in the local language, even if some of the instructors only communicate in English.  Tatia, of Lebanese heritage, had been clear on the model.

On my way to Tarboush, a venue my Wittgenstein Study Circle has also used, I followed a Prius with a 99% bumper sticker.  Demonizing a full 1% of humanity, or around 70 million people, seems somewhat over the top and I chided Friends, during the workshop around Occupy at AFSC HQS, to be less exclusionary.  It's "that of God in everyone" not just in some 99% (the criteria of division remain unclear).

Once I got there, one of the teachers introduced herself as retired from formal teaching, but currently representing Occupy "the education wing".  I don't claim to know all the deputy ministers or whatever her position and was glad to get my picture taken next to her.

I'm glad our Ministry of Education is continuing to look at the Middle East -- at its refugee camps especially.

The 2-letter country code system may have broken down, leaving many people nationless, but that doesn't mean we can't provide better connectivity through subdomains.  Several refugee camps might be linked together behind one umbrella domain, along with a university or two.  Many URLs might take one to the same place.

Some of the dot mil facilities might be reachable by a different front door, in line with Marshall Plan type repurposing.

I talked about Hawo's Dinner Party (the DVD) and the work I learned about at the AFSC meeting in Philadelphia.  Religious practices, practices in general, tend to be divisive.  Dietary restrictions are just the beginning.  When it comes to sharing houses, as we do around Portland quite a bit, we find ourselves using a lot of check lists. 

Mixing vegans and carnivores is sometimes more trouble than its worth.  Just because they don't live together doesn't mean they can't share commit rights to the same Subversion repository or whatever (we're converting to Subversion at work).

Tatia suggested we could get our course materials translated for free, and I think she might be right about that.  Plus there's Google Translator and so on, for when the readings are not too technical.

Dr. Tag sees a lot of problems with patriarchy.  I'm not sure what constitutes patriarchy exactly, but the Somali students have been asking good questions, such as why it took women so long to get the vote in the USA, and why there are still relatively few women in the US Congress.  Getting USAers to talk about their own deficiencies, versus their ideas for how to fix other peoples, is usually good therapy.

Arab Spring Poster
:: poster child: arab spring ::

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