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Last Friday, I went to VCU with two other wonderful Hollins ladies to present my work at the annual political science fair. I presented on the paper that I wrote during J-Term (on Islamic feminism). It was such an exciting experience to showcase my research to other people!  More so, getting to know the other two ladies who also partook in the panels was wonderful. I aim to present this same paper at the annual Hollins conference, which should be great since I will be able to improve on the VCU presentation I delivered.

A screenshot of my Prezi =) See it here: http://prezi.com/pe1n8j3_5mwb/i/

A screenshot of my Prezi =) See it here: http://prezi.com/pe1n8j3_5mwb/i/

The two major events that S.H.A.R.E. hosts every year are our Olympiad (October) and the spring event, which varies from year to year. This year, we volunteered with local animal shelters. We helped clean and organize the facilities  for about half of the time we were there. The rest of the time, we spent interacting with the animals! I loved walking the dogs, who were so excited to see us! I then stayed in the cat shelter for the remainder of the time, hehe. Spending time with the animals gave me a much-needed morale/energy boost to keep me going through this semester. =P

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Upcoming events include Spring Cotillion and the Cultural and Community Engagement Banquet, both of which I am sooo excited about! Stay tuned!

When I signed up for the JCIP 2014, I understood that I would have an excellent time–just by merit of traveling to a country I’ve never been to. I never thought I would have as much fun with JCIP as I did. Nor did I think I would fall in love with Jamaica as I did upon immediately landing on the island. Nor did I think this experience would have the profound effect on me that it did have.

JCIP is a truly unique and unparalleled program. For one week, students in the program stay with a host family in Jamaica taking full advantage of the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the whole island. The program is based on a service of platform (it was originally called the Jamaica Service Project) but JIP makes no chauvinistic pretense at “helping Jamaicans” or “giving aid.” The Immersion Program is intended to leave more of a meaningful impact on the Hollins travelers rather than the community, though we do a lot of service in the community.

For three of the 6.5 days we are in Lucea, each student spent about 3 hours in the local primary or elementary school, helping teachers out with assignments, learning from the students, and implementing their own lesson plans. Although I made some really cool lesson plans for my fifth graders, I didn’t really implement them when I was there because of scheduling conflicts. I intended on teaching the kids about nutritional benefits and deficiencies, etc. so I had a bunch of plastic fruit to use in my lesson plan to use as props. Instead, the kids taught me how to play cricket– we used the fruit as cricket balls!! We did play other educational games, though, involving geography, spelling, and math (or maths, as they like to call it =P).

I was so genuinely touched by how excited the children were to see us. They were all so incredibly nice and welcoming. They were so eager to learn about my background and culture (“Afghanistan is in Cuba?” hehe).

After the teaching sessions, all the ladies gathered at a local fast food place (Juici Patties- sooo yumm!)  and rest and eat. Afterwards, we all went to the Hanover infirmary together. There, we volunteered for about 2-3 hours spending time with the residents–telling them about our families, making crafts, telling jokes… Yet again, I was so touched by the appreciation and love that the residents of the infirmary showed us. I made a few friends at the infirmary too–Misses Vida and Lillian–who told me about their upbringings in other parishes in Jamaica.

There are so many beautiful aspects of the experience that I’d like to expound upon as well, including our hostess Mrs. Malcolm who let my roommate Andrea and I feel as if we were back in our individual homes! From here on, I will do a picture summary of the trip which I think will do it more justice.

(I broke my phone just recently so I don’t have immediate access to it just right now but when I do, I’ll put up more of my personal pics!)

A segment of my lesson plan!

The gang on the last day before leaving- we went to the touristy part of town, which I have to say was my least favorite experience (which is not saying much because the whole trip is invaluable)

The gang on the last day before leaving- we went to the touristy part of town, which I have to say was my least favorite experience (which is not saying much because the whole trip is invaluable)

Andrea and I with Mrs. Malcolm, our lovely home stay

Market vendors- from whom I bought an unfathomably tasty mango on the second day

Market vendors- from whom I bought an unfathomably tasty mango on the second day

Goats on the road because Jamaica is surprising like that

Goats on the road because Jamaica is surprising like that

View of Jamaica upon landing

View of Jamaica upon landing

The team

The team

On a tour of the breathtaking Black River, we caught a glimpse of this little guy

On a tour of the breathtaking Black River, we caught a glimpse of this little guy

We caught this gorgeous sunset the first day we arrived

We caught this gorgeous sunset the first day we arrived

Fresh coconut water! Given to us by the Fabulous Harvey sisters of Harvey River-- relatives of Lorna Goodison, whose book we read in our class.

Fresh coconut water! Given to us by the Fabulous Harvey sisters of Harvey River– relatives of Lorna Goodison, whose book we read in our class.

Many many more pics coming soon!

For International Women’s Day, Hollins invited Samhita Mukhopadhyay, a women’s rights activist, to deliver a lecture. Before the 7:30 event, I had the honor of having dinner with her at President Gray’s house. In addition to eating excellent food, the guests had a great conversation about Hollins life, current issues regarding women, and the role of social media in fostering creative feminist discourses.

The following lecture was titled, “Miley vs. Beyonce: Race, Class, and Gender in the Media.” The speech addressed the divergent ways in which Miley  and Beyonce have asserted their sexuality in the media. The talk was not only educational but hilarious! The whole audience was in laughter. What I loved most about the event was that it was less of a lecture and more of a discussion. Mukhopadhyay only introduced the complexity of the situation to us; she made no pretense at having the answers to the question of  the night. She suggested that the discourses surrounding women’s sexuality in America ought to be more humble. Each woman’s experience is  so diverse that it is simply unfair to tokenize one individual’s background and beliefs.

Aside from the content of her lecture, Mukhopadhyay’s speech was so interesting to me because she was so relatable. Like her, I too have found it difficult to find my feminism among the exclusivist discussions in this nation. Even further, I was delighted to find that she enjoyed listening to old school hip-hop, which I love.

How sweet

How sweet

After the discussion, there was a reception at the VAC, during which Mukhopadhyay spoke with eager students. This lecture was one of many in the distinguished speakers series that Hollins is hosting this year. I can’t wait to go to many more!

My LOC internship video

Yay I’m internet famous! Just kidding- check out my video if you’re interested in internships or career development at Hollins.

Snoooow

Hollins had a 4.5-day weekend as winter storm Pax blanketed the whole campus with snow! Wednesday night–the first night of the incessant snowfall– some of the Sandusky residents and I went onto Tinker Beach for an awesome sledding session.

L to R: Andie, Andrea, and Corrine!

L to R: Andie, Andrea, and Corrine!

Afterwards, we went in for tea and hot chocolate. Knowing we’d have school off the next day, my friends and I did nothing but eat and listen to music the rest of the night. Thursday was no more productive as we spent the whole day watching the entire season 1 of The Bates Motel on Netflix, eating hummus and cookies, and debating the show’s outcome.

The front of Sandusky

The front of Sandusky

Andrea and Andie being Andrea and Andie

Andrea and Andie being Andrea and Andie

With Friday off as well, I’ve decided to get ahead on some readings for Globalization and Development and practice my calculus. This semester’s looking really good for me!

I’d just like to take some time to note how thankful I am that I can process this snowstorm as a joyous experience instead of an adverse one. I’m thankful to have a home I can return to after all the shenanigans and I’m certainly thankful for my friends and food! I was really impressed with how normal the food at Moody was despite the snowstorm! A big thank you to all the Hollins maintenance, administrative, and food services staff for taking care of everything! =)

WDL internship

My time at the World Digital Library was very fascinating! From working in the cerebral environment of the Library of Congress to taking time to appreciate the rich culture of Washington D.C., this J-term experience was ideal for me. During my internship, I helped organize metadata about the WDL’s content as well as some partner institutions’ content. (The WDL is connected with various national and international libraries, with whom we exchange information.) I also helped create and organize social media and even helped identify certain features about some of the artifacts on the WDL webpage.

As I’ve mentioned before, though there were times when my tasks seemed a little repetitive (editing spreadsheets, e.g.), I never ceased to be impressed by the “bigger picture” of the work I did. The way I see it, the WDL is a rarity in today’s world. In a world divided along the lines of creed, race, and ethnicity among other factors, the WDL seeks to promote intercultural exchange and understanding. With the unprecedentedly large volume of migration, these distinctions can often times intensify rather than diminish.

Whether by exhibiting an astronomy book written in Persian and translated into Latin, or by tweeting a picture of Japanese emigrants headed to Brazil, the WDL reminds us of the absurdity in boxing ourselves up as exclusively one identity. In fact we always have, and always will, thrive with the support and interaction we give to one another. That said, here were some of my favorite artifacts from the WDL. (Click on the photo to go to the WDL page for more info.)

Fan girl level: 439932

Fan girl level: 439932

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I don’t know what it is about this little guy- maybe I was related to him in a past life or something- but I just find him unbearably adorable. I just want to toss him in the air and hug him =P.

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The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, or as I like to call it, “The Tale of the Girl Who Had no Time for Basics”

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International group of circus performers

"Verses on the permanence of good deeds" It reads: Oh wealthy one, soothe the heart of the indigent / Because the treasury of gold, riches, and coins will not remain / On this topaz canopy (the sky) they have inscribed in gold / That nothing will remain except the good deeds of the generous ones

“Verses on the permanence of good deeds”
It reads: Oh wealthy one, soothe the heart of the indigent / Because the treasury of gold, riches, and coins will not remain / On this topaz canopy (the sky) they have inscribed in gold / That nothing will remain except the good deeds of the generous ones

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Moorish women making carpets. I love any work that shows the beauty of women’s work- so long neglected in the public image and so easily dismissed as irrelevant.

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Obligatory Cuba reference =)

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San rock painting in South Africa

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Because of the budding urban developer in me, a map of London from 1860

I also wanted to share some pictures from my time at the WDL and in D.C.

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The outside of the LOC

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I met a wonderful alum at the cocktail dinner who reads my blogs!

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The Capitol.

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My desk at the office.

Til’ next time!

Throughout January 2014 I will be interning with the World Digital Library division of the Library of Congress. As an IS/ economics major I find this opportunity to be very inspiring. Just to be surrounded by other globally-conscious and intelligent individuals is such an honor. I will be helping in part to coordinate the digitization of a set of pictures collectively known as the “Turkestan albums”— a splendid collection of (colored!) photographs from what is now Uzbekistan. All of these pictures were taken by a Russian photographer named Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii in the early 20th century.

I’ve also been working on some more simple jobs like writing tweets for the WDL by incorporating any interesting content I find on the organization’s webpage. Even at that task, I found myself consistently being fascinated and in fact even challenged. One of the most important things that this internship and others have taught me is to be aware of the culture and environment in which you work. From conversations with staff members I’ve found that the WDL has to be sensitive of the tone with which it presents itself, especially in such an open arena as social media, because of the wide variety of audiences we reach. Hence I’ve had to ensure that I write about interesting topics in both an entertaining and professional manner, all while complying with the bureaucratic standards of Washington… sigh. Nevertheless, this experience shall prove to be an enlightening one, especially as I begin helping with the new batch of Persian calligraphies.

I should note that I am also working on a paper about Islamic feminism with Professor Barbieri, who’s a star. I will be comparing and contrasting the methodologies several Islamic feminists use to illustrate their analyses of the Quran.

Finally, the “polar vortex” has been a large deterrent in my quest to discover more of D.C. However, I do get to see some of the city’s most beautiful monuments on my blissful 8-minute walk to work. I pass right by the Supreme Court and the Capitol building!

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