Sunday, December 28, 2008

Peace on Earth?

While we were in Jordan, many of our team saw the light in terms of Palestinian Strife. In the US, we are receive a primarily Pro-Israel slant. Our government sponsors Israel so much that Jordanians would tell us that Jordan is the 52nd state-Israel being the 51st.
My views are as follows: there needs to be both a sovereign Israeli State, as well as a sovereign Palestinian State. I had hoped with the Obama administration, that goal would become true. However current events would dampen that hope. Pay attention to the news, and not just American sources. Al-Jazeera, as well as Jordan Times do pretty good jobs of depicting accurate news in English.
I hope that in this Christmas season, there may be Peace on Earth, however I may have to wait till next year.

Warning Slightly graphic nature:
http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=13082

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

This is my favorite Christmas tune, have a very merry one:




Time in a Bottle

In the terms of the No Woman No Cry post, I got to thinking of other rather obvious things I missed in life.  Here was probably the best one I could remember:

            In my area there is an ATM company called TYME.  I believe it stood for Take Your Money Everywhere.  (Drake has an ATM on campus and believe that is where I started telling this story to some friends) So whenever we were younger and we were heading somewhere, my father would also mentioning have to “make a stop of the TYME machine.” 

Fast forward to Jordan One.  I was walking down a street corner looking for an ATM.  TYME in my area is a lot like Kleenex, that’s what we called, it, never an ATM.  So In Broken Arabic I asked for what directions to what translated to the Time Machine.  I could not understand why they looked at me as if I was insane.  It eventually occurred to me that TYME is a play on TIME.  My Jordanian friend still gives me a fun time because I was the American idiot who asked where to find a Time machine, as if I was waiting for a DeLorean to take me back in time.

First day off


Wow we have tons of snow here.  Iowa wasn’t bad in terms of snow, but there was always a  nice breeze.  Woke up this morning, and for once in almost the last two years, had nothing to do.  No papers, no meetings, no classes, no anything.  It was great!  However I am worried about boredom.  I went back to my old high school, and talked to some mentors and students.  I also was blessed to hear my former orchestra play. 

            I do not really have any huge plans for over break.  I will see friends, family and the norm.  Soon, I will head to Milwaukee for a day to see the Titanic exhibit.  When I was younger I was a huge maritime history buff, especially on the Great Lakes.  Later on I will be giving a panel discussion on college life to my former school’s senior class.  I hope to intersperse my postings with those answers.  All in all, very good to be home again.  

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No, Woman, No Cry

I want to apologize dear readers for my lack of posting.  We had finals which were very intense so I will slowly try to work on back posts:

 

I had my eyes opened up a few evenings ago.  Over the speakers of one of my favorite places to hang out in the evenings came on Bob Marley’s song: No Woman No Cry.  There was a group sitting around and everyone started to sway and sing along.  After the song was done, there was some major bonding.  It will be a sheer pleasure and joy if I see any of these people over the month long break.  For so long this place, these people, and this college thing has ruled my life.  I have enjoyed my first semester.  I akin it to being abroad, though the culture shock is different.  However the feelings of happiness are the same, and the feeling of ones place also stays.

  At the end of the song someone made the comment that it was a great song but was not very enlightening in terms of romance.  They, and truth be told I, always thought it was No Woman, no cry.  This would imply that hey man, even if you don’t have a woman, no worries.  However, the gentleman speaking told us there was an extra comma, which completely changes the meaning of the song.  In fact it should be written No, Woman, No Cry.  Implying the woman should not cry that “everything’s gonna be alright.  It is true the words Bob sang, that “everything is gonna be alright.” 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bulldogs n books

These last few days have been damn near perfect.  First off last night Drake beat Iowa State by 3 points even though we were down most of the game.  My friends and I got to watch it at a sports bar near campus because the roads were too nasty to try to get up to Ames.  It was an excellent game, and a nice atmosphere. 

My Arabic exam came back, and it was really good.  I found my ring from Jordan that I thought I had lost.  Currently I am out of books to read as I just finished The Sex Lives of Cannibals, which has nothing to do with sex or cannibals.  It was a wonderful light book about a guy who spends 2 years in Kiribati, smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  I was delighted as I was finishing when he talks about re-assimilating to Washington, and having to travel as a consultant for a development project.  He ends the book traveling, with escort, through my beloved Jordan to see Petra.  I didn’t know that was even in the book so I was quite pleasantly surprised.  There is not anything major going on at Drake, as we are all hunkering down for Finals week.  There has been lots of studying to do, but there are plenty of study guides handed out.  This shouldn’t be too bad.  The construction that has dominated my walking life for the past 3 months is finally over, which means new routes to make use of around campus.  

            On Monday I attended the RHA presidents board meeting and picked up a whole thing on different programs for the hall.  I am applying to become an RA and will keep you updated on such proceedings but hopefully I shall get to use some of the things I learned at that meeting. 

            

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Comedy of A'ers

Had a pretty intense weekend.  Friday was my final class for ROTC.  I ended up receiving the Squad 2 Leader award.  I was really stoked about it.  Waking up at 530 am 3 days a week paid off.  Then I got to cram the rest of the day for Arabic.  I am done with the class and had my final on Saturday.  Dear readers, I want you to be the first to know: I received an A on my final, which would be the first A of my college finals.  This will result in some major celebrating at Drake Diner with the worlds best milkshakes.  Last night I attended one of the Greek Formals.  Think of something like prom or homecoming but for college.  Drake has about 1/4th Greek enrollment.  I am not in a fraternity, nor will I be.  However this goes to show that one does not need to be in a house in order to participate.  (I would also look to say that I looked damn good in a suit.)  The night before, after all the Arabic cramming, we went and saw a comedian form Last Comic Standing.  This was free because Student Activities Board brings comedians to campus every month.  I think I have permanent six pack abs form laughing so much.  The guy was hilarious.  After that Tyler, Alex and I went to Drake West Village, which are suite style apartments, brand new, next to campus.  All in all a great weekend.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Done with PT

Getting back into the swing of things down here.  We had our last ROTC PT  test today.  I ended up running two miles in 13:45, which is a personal best.  For the last semester, 3 days a week I wake up at 5:30 am to go workout army style.  And now it is over.  Friday is the final day of that class, and will be reserved for awards and debrief.  I am going to miss it, as well as the motivation, and opportunity it gave me to get in shape.  However, getting to finally stay up late and sleep in is something I cannot wait for.

            Mid terms are coming up.  I am nervous so next week will be nonstop studying.  I have been keeping up on notes, but also knocking off a few projects.  I am not sure what to expect, so wish me luck.

            Guys and girls both had basketball games the last few days, and both dominated.  I miss the student section at the UW but on weekend games the Dog Pound (Drake student section) holds its own very well.  If we hit ten 3 point shots, which we generally do within the first half, there is 30% off at the school store, so went on stocked up again on Drake gear.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

a lot like Christmas

So it has snowed a few inches here at Drake.  We got back an hour after expected due to all the snow.  There were many cars in the ditches, so dear readers, please take your driving easy.  At the time of previous post, there was an utter lack of winter storm outside of the car window.  The storm managed to pick up the last 2 hours.  So far everyone has made it back which is nice.  Drake has a bus system for students, which goes to Minneapolis, Chicago and Kansas City to help students get home. 

            When I got settled in I took a walk around campus with some of the girls to catch up.  My camera was not charged so sorry I have no pictures.  Fear not, snow is a frequent occurrence in this state so I will eventually post some.  The campus was absolutely gorgeous when covered with snow.  The east side of campus is my favorite to walk though due to old and stoic buildings.  They are now all snow kissed which makes me think: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

ridin along in the automobile

In the style of previous posts written somewhere over the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea: I am currently somewhere in Iowa heading back to Drake.  I had an excellent weekend though I thoroughly missed Drake.  On Thursday morning I woke up to realize I had nothing to do.  There were no tests to take, no classes to go to, no essays to write.  I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I ended up going for a jog.  The town looks the same for the most part but it did not feel like my town anymore.  Throughout the weekend Drake friends called or texted, so I was never really out.  I did get to see Badger hockey and basketball which was nice.  Some Waunakee friends joined me for the hockey game and the badger game was a good chance to catch up with my father.  I managed to see almost all of the folks I spent time with when I attended high school, which was nice.  Some people have really matured, and others might take a little longer.  Major changes however were not expected until maybe a year out. 

            The drive is pretty in a simplistic sort of way.  This is definitely not Hawaii, but there is an allure to this state I now call home.  The farm fields are slowly being dusted with snow as we pass forgettable small towns.  It reminds me of the road from Amman to Aqaba, with farmland substituted for desert.  Tranquility is very present.  The drive is not hard, just monotonous hours before I reach my new home.  A girl asked me if I would like to go home next weekend, as she lives nearby and did not head back for break due to family visiting her at Drake.  I replied that Drake is my home and I need to stay there as much as possible.  (I made it 3 months before heading back to where I grew up.)  I do really feel as if Drake is my home, and I cannot wait to get back-hopefully we stop soon-my bladder is calling.

ridin along in the automobile

In the style of previous posts written somewhere over the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea: I am currently somewhere in Iowa heading back to Drake.  I had an excellent weekend though I thoroughly missed Drake.  On Thursday morning I woke up to realize I had nothing to do.  There were no tests to take, no classes to go to, no essays to write.  I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I ended up going for a jog.  The town looks the same for the most part but it did not feel like my town anymore.  Throughout the weekend Drake friends called or texted, so I was never really out.  I did get to see Badger hockey and basketball which was nice.  Some Waunakee friends joined me for the hockey game and the badger game was a good chance to catch up with my father.  I managed to see almost all of the folks I spent time with when I attended high school, which was nice.  Some people have really matured, and others might take a little longer.  Major changes however were not expected until maybe a year out. 

            The drive is pretty in a simplistic sort of way.  This is definitely not Hawaii, but there is an allure to this state I now call home.  The farm fields are slowly being dusted with snow as we pass forgettable small towns.  It reminds me of the road from Amman to Aqaba, with farmland substituted for desert.  Tranquility is very present.  The drive is not hard, just monotonous hours before I reach my new home.  A girl asked me if I would like to go home next weekend, as she lives nearby and did not head back for break due to family visiting her at Drake.  I replied that Drake is my home and I need to stay there as much as possible.  (I made it 3 months before heading back to where I grew up.)  I do really feel as if Drake is my home, and I cannot wait to get back-hopefully we stop soon-my bladder is calling.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

There's no place like home

            “Go to class, we are paying for you to get an excellent education which means you better go!” is how I imagined my father telling me not to skip my last class before break.  So I did go, along with other people-not everyone left, and we actually had a great discussion on Obamas cabinet, and we got let out early.  Then I packed into a Camry with 3 other students and we headed back.  I have seen some amazing Iowa sunsets and last night, though driving the other way, I kept looking back on an absolutely gorgeous one.  (There’s probably a metaphor in there about looking back on my first Drake experience and beauty but I digress, as I am not a philosophy major.)  I arrived home to a shopping spree/makeover-not my idea I might add.  I was however in need of a new suit, which prompted a new jacket, belt etc.  The folks on those makeover shows would have been impressed.  Then I headed the Mecca of fine Wisconsin dining: Culvers.  Few words can describe the goodness of ones first foray back into the fried cheese world.  (Des Moines does have a Culvers, and it is good, but we have only been there once)  Then I finally got back and just sprawled out on my couch talking to my mother who is making what smells to be an excellent thanksgiving feast, my father and friends.  It is very good to be at my other home, though this one is lacking the wonderful unlimited soft serve ice cream of Hubbell.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Almost home

The tension is building a little bit.  Folks are very excited to get through this week and head home.  For many of us, it will be the first time back.  Drake has a fall break which was about a month ago.  I took the time to head up to Minnesota to see some friends.  After 2 and a half months I will be heading home in a week.  However some big things are going to happen before.

Friday night looks to be fairly entertaining.  The alternative to drinking group on campus puts on movies every couple of weeks, so we get to watch Tropic Thunder in the theatre for free.  This will be directly followed by Club Crawford.  The Crawford Hall Executive Council hires a DJ every year, then turns their entire dorm into one big rave.  Should be an excellent way to finish out the week.  Sunday is the basketball game and a choir concert.

The big part of my week will involve me giving a lecture on Italy, specifically the first republic.

I am sort of nervous to go back.  I have had the feeling of going home after being away for a long time before, but the culture shock was much different.  Also Drake is my home as well, so it is more so as if I am visiting, rather than going home.  I haven’t seen many folks since then, and I was home for such a short time right before college (8 days) that it will be kind of weird.  I am however looking forward to food, my bed, and not having to wear shower shoes.  

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Iraqis and Sororities

I had a very multi-cultural day on Thursday.  A girl had previously come to ask my Arabic teacher about how to write a note to their sorority house cleaning lady, who speaks only Arabic.  We found out that she was Jordanian, so on Thursday my Arabic teacher and I went over to have lunch at the sorority house.

My teacher and the woman spoke in Arabic, while I translated for the sorority girls.  We found out some amazing things about the woman who had been working for them for the past few months:

            She is Palestinian/Jordanian, meaning her parents are from Palestine, and though she has never been there, she still considers herself of that heritage.  She grew up in Jordan, and has citizenship there.  She is also a Sunni, as is most of the Muslim world, especially to the west side of the dividing line (right down the middle of Iraq.)  The man she married is Iraqi, and is a Shia.  (The plot thickens-Sunni and Shia=Capulet’s and Montague’s, especially in post invasion Iraq.)  They have 4 kids together, all named after the Jordanian royalty.  Her husband worked with the US Army as a translator.

            Both religious sects found out about what was going on and wanted them to divorce, as this was at the height of sectarian violence prior to the surge.  When it was learned who her husband was working for, her house received mortar and grenade attacks, crippling her leg.  Her husband received death threats, and her sixteen-year-old son received attempts of kidnapping.  Upon learning of this action the US Army picked them up and brought them to Jordan for her to receive medical help, and to get them out of the violence.  Then the embassy gave them refuge status so they could come here.  Now they are raising 4 kids in Iowa with limited English speaking ability, and she is working for a sorority.  And I thought my life got hard at times.  Needless to say it was a very interesting conversation.  The girls all absolutely love her and she loves them-which was fun to translate- so it seems like it is working out.  Chalk it up to Drake Greek life to have such an impact on someone’s life.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A math test above the rest

Today I got an A on my math exam.  I do not believe I have gotten an A in math since probably middle school.  It was definitely a time for celebration.  Then I got back to the dorm only to find that a friend needed help replacing a flat tire.  So we got a bunch of us out there and ended up fixing two cars.  It was cold, but it shows the family vibe we have on our floor.  I am very happy with how things turned out, these are people I know I can count on.  We try to build on the good vibe by everyone having a meal with each other at least once a week.  I remember when I was younger my mother insisted on us having a sit down family dinner as much as possible with everyone there.  I think that really contributed to how much I got along with my folks and little brother.  It is a policy I will try to implement if I become an RA next year, which I will be shooting for.

            In hopes of keeping up with the international theme of this blogs origin, I have applied to spend a summer once again in the Arab world studying Arabic.  I have no idea if I am going to be accepted, but really hope so.  In other news a Drake trip has been pre-approved for next summer to the Middle East with Dr. Hamad, or resident Arab.  I enjoy his teaching and registered for one of his classes today.  I will be taking World Politics, Psych+lab, Macro Econ, Arabic, PT, and another army class.  Tonight there is a comedian on campus again, so we are going to check that out.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

America

Last night was a monumental moment in my life.  I was in room 234 Morehouse with Dave Kyle Scotty and Katie when it was announced.  I akin the moment to where I was when I learned of 9/11.  It seems very ironic, that 9/11 and the events that spawned after have defined my generation.  And now change has come.  Obama is president. 

There is nothing else like America, and last night is what it is all about.  People were mad as hell with out leadership.  However we did not kill Bush, we did not incite a riot.  We voted, and we changed it.  No shots were fired, only ballots cast.  People across the world rejoiced, and the good senator from Arizona conceded.  As an IR major, I have spent the past year studying different revolutions and take over’s.  To see the change of leadership of the free world over night with simply asking people who they want, is a monumental thing.

I love my country.  It was such a shame when I was abroad to hear about how much people loved our country, our culture, our music, our movies our food.  But they detested our government.  Hopefully they will not anymore.  I used to worry that someday my kids would ask me what America was like when I was growing up.  Hopefully with the change in leadership, I can tell them the path America is on to once again being a symbol of freedom and good started last night.  It is for reasons like last night, that I am Proud to be an American.

 

 

 

 

Drake University endorses no candidate nor political affiliation but does encourage intellectual debate and conversation about all issues/candidates.  The views expressed in this blog are solely my own (and I guess more than half the population) but are not affiliated/endorsed with/by Drake University.  

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Love at midnight

So I am 19 today.  This is turning out to be a very entertaining birthday.  It started with yesterday being a near perfect day.   PT in the morning went quite well.  I am training for the half marathon for the Drake Relays, and the training is really helping my run times for PT.  Arabic class was all countries, which I do a really good job on.  Then Math our exam was voted as a take home exam, WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO.

            I have been giving tours to prospective families.  I have given two so far, and both have gone well.  On Monday I gave one to three families.  We make the loop around campus and I tell them things and show them academic buildings.  One of my favorite stories however is not in the touring manual.  Here it is:

Outside of Old Main is a rock with some engraining on it.  We pass this on the tour which is where I start telling the story.  More than 120 years ago George Carpenter and several others came to the spot on the edge of Des Moines.  Among the trees stood a gorgeous and mighty elm tree.  Carpenter climbed up to the top of it to survey the land.  He claimed “here we shall build our University.”  The tree is known as the Chancellors Elm.  It is longer there, however the rock indicates it’s spot.  It is said that if one meets there sweet heart there and exchanges a kiss at midnight to the tune of the Old Main bell, they will fall in love.  I do not know if there has been a study done on such a thing, however, I can attest that there are 6 Drake Grads in my town.  They married other Drake grads (3 Bulldog couples), and to this day live in harmony. Aside from rigorous academic life, awesome athletics, Drake offers fairly tales.  

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Parties of Politics

            I managed to get an interesting look into the Republican Party the other night.  A couple of my friends on the floor are fairly active in the McCain Palin campaign.  Governor Palin came to town on Saturday.  My friends mentioned that the rally would need some help with introducing Palin to the city.  I figured that would be a pretty cool way to spend a Saturday, so I crossed party lines and went to the prep session Friday night.

            Apparently we were not going to be doing any introducing, but acting as ushers for the masses that were apparently going to be attending the rally.  The interesting part came when they mentioned protesters.  They said we as volunteers were to be stationed throughout the crowd once everything got under way.  If we heard protestors we were not allowed to touch them-apparently there was an incident in Detroit.  Then we were supposed to start the USA chant, which would hopefully drown out the protestors.  This was also the buzzword for the police to come in and “remove the threat”.  All very interesting.

            I came down with a nasty case of the flue on the day of the rally, so did not attend.

            Earlier in the week, the writers and minor voices of Family Guy came to campus, and did stand up.  It was Hilarious.  I have not laughed so hard in my life. 

            Last night I saw Body of Lies.  It was a good movie, though it supposedly took place in Amman.  None of it was shot there.  They claimed a structure was the US Embassy, which is blatantly wasn’t.  There was also talk of massive Al-Qaeda influence in the country.  Not in Jordan, the secret police so damn good that even though Jordan is right in the middle of the hotbed of terrorist activity, there has been one bombing since 9/11.  Half the country is in the government, and keeps it’s eyes open all the time.  However in terms of the story, it was pretty good.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Away and back

This weekend was legendary.  Thursday went very well.  I found out I got an A on my first mid term of college.  Go figure I get better grades in college than at Waunakee.  On Friday all of my classes were cancelled for fall break.  A fair amount of students left Thursday because the business and journalism schools do not have classes on Friday.  (Students are supposed to pursue internships on those days) 

            I managed to get a fair amount of work done on Friday, as I was not leaving till 5:30.  Rebecca and I gave a tour to three families in the afternoon.  That was a blast.  I was sort of nervous, as I had never given one.  They seemed to enjoy it, and mentioned of the colleges they looked at, I had done the best one.  Rebecca also mentioned she even learned a thing or two about her own campus. 

            Friday evening I made it up to see my friends at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.  This was an extreme difference to Drake.  I am very secure in my decision of picking a smaller school.  However, it was nice to be among the masses for a change-though, as at Drake, I saw people I knew.  I saw a few Drake students who live across the commons from me as I was walking into my friends Dorm.  I met up with a lot of my close friends from Waunakee.  We went bowling, to the Mall of America, walked around campus, and hung out.  I also went and saw W. with new friends made.  All in all it was a great weekend, but I am glad to be back at my Bulldog Home

Thursday, October 16, 2008

first grade

Iowa has early voting (via absentee) and today I exercised my American duty.  This is the first general election in which I am eligible to participate.  I got to vote in the primary in Wisconsin, but due to Iowa being more of a swing state, I changed my registration.  College kids need to vote, if only so they cannot complain. 

I shadowed a tour yesterday, and will be giving m first one tomorrow.  I am very excited but sort of nervous.  If you read my blog, and are on one of tours let me know what you think. 

            My first midterm grade came back today, which was very exciting.  I did much better than I thought.  I think I am getting better grades in college than in high school.  It is very nice to be able to choose classes that interest you, compared to having set classes one needs to take.  This is one of the things I enjoy the most about Drake.  I am not bogged down with gen ed credits.  We do have a version of them, but there are tons of classes one can take to fulfill a certain area of inquiry.  My math class, which as most people know-I absolutely despise math, is geared towards social sciences.  It is meant to help with research such as the kinds we will do in order to get a Fulbright.  Currently I am taking 4 classes that have direct impact on my major, and one AOI (gen ed.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

International Weekend

This weekend was a very culture intensive weekend.  I was trying very hard to keep my mind off of the homecoming festivities taking place in my hometown.  I am pleased that I managed to stick it through and will be able to return at thanksgiving to see my family.  To make up for the homesickness, during fall break I shall be heading up to Minnesota to meet with some friends.

On Friday night half of my floor, along with the Drake Muslim Student association, attended the International Folk Fair.  There were many different food stands.  I was a big fan of the Bosnian food.  I was talking to one of the cooks, and he said Iowa has the largest contingency of Bosnians in America.  Who knew the heartland had so much international culture? 

On Saturday night we went up to Ames to Iowa State University to a hookah bar.  Hookah for those who do not know is a mixture of tobacco and molasses and flavoring.  There is no longer the illegal substance stigma among the current generation.  In the Middle East, every coffee shop has hookah.  There were three different hookah places within 50 feet of my hotel this summer.  It is very relaxing, and above all else, a very social activity.  On the wall were pictures of the Middle East.  The captions were in English and Arabic.  One picture was taken in Lebanon, and the English said it was a grotto.  In Arabic it translated to bathroom, which I found interesting.  

Justice and Ambassador

I had an awesome weekend.  On Thursday, Chief Justice Roberts spoke at the Knapp center.  I was not terribly impressed with his content, but the fact that the most powerful judge in the world was in our presence was definitely something to behold.  I ended up getting to see an Iowa State football game on Saturday, after touring some of the small towns in Iowa.  Wherever you end up, get to know the area and the state as much as possible.  On Sunday I got to put my game face on.  Ambassador Pickering, who is the most decorated Foreign Service Officer to have served our country, was visiting campus.  On Sunday he also gave a talk in the Knapp center for a few hundred people.  The next day we gave a smaller talk to a group in the library.  Following that, myself two other students, a few alums, and my professor, had a personal lunch with the Ambassador.  This is one of the reasons I picked Drake-it brings in big names in all fields and gives students face time.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

censor from inside

There is a website that does a fair amount of advertising on facebook called Juicy Campus.  The general gist of it is a discussion board in which people post anonymously.  It ends up in libel, which is illegal.  I saw the site once, as a friend was showing it to me, and it appears there was mostly greek vs greek bashing.  With all the libel, it was brought to the attention of the Student Senate to try to block the website from being accessed via campus servers.  That means that sitting in my dorm room, I could not log onto that particular site.  The bigger issue comes up in terms of free speech.  Due to the fact that we are a private university, not public, we can play around those rules a little bit more.  However distasteful the topic was, Drake University’s President Maxwell, who paid attention to the revolutions of previous times, urged the students, not just the university, to take action against the website.  As of 30 seconds ago, one could still log onto the website, and read all of the unsigned harassment.  Therefore Drake has not acted.  However the president mentioned spamming the walls to lock up the server, etc.  He was definitely proposing out-of-the-box responses to a nasty website.  If Drake had just shut it down, there would till be students who find another way to do bash each other without owning up to the comments.  However, Maxwell had a point in saying it would be far more effective as a student run endeavor.  Here is the link to the article:

http://media.www.timesdelphic.com/media/storage/paper1086/news/2008/09/29/News/Pres-Maxwell.Says.Juicy.Campus.Is.Antithetical.To.Drake.Values-3456411.shtml?refsource=collegeheadlines

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Livin for the weekend

This weekend marked I got to see people I have known for a long time.  It was Drake Parents Weekend.  My family came down for the event.  The highlights included red robin, red lobster, spending time with them at the football game, and watching the Greeks do a musical revue, which was really funny.  On Friday one of my friends came through because she was looking at Drake for college tours, so I got to have lunch with her.

            I don’t think college is the same sort of culture shock, as being abroad is.  However they are definitely close.  It was nice to be on my own for a month, but then sort of get reeled back in to those previous connections and family.  There definitely is some homesickness and culture shock going around, and people deal with it in different ways.  I have not heard of anyone dropping out of Drake yet after they have started.  Today my mother witnessed a freshman girl asking if she could just go back with her parents, and transfer to a different school.  The parents said no, she had to stick it out. My mother had the same issue when she went to college.  The first three weeks she hated it, but then fell in love with it.  If someone at one point felt strong enough to be here then they should at least wait it out through the semester.  I have grown to really enjoy this place, and my apprehensions about being down here have been settled.  There are people who occasionally bring up transferring, but it helps the floor bond.  Talking through these things with our other Drake family helps everyone involved.  I don’t think we will lose too many, if any, people on our floor.  It was cool to see the families this weekend, but it also really brought back homesickness for some.  Regardless of where one ends up, they should try to see it through a semester.  We always told our team that once they get over that three-week hump, the honeymoon phase ends, but then it eventually evens out and people adjust to the real life.  Most here love the real life; most love the Drake life.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Weekend update

Last night as part of the homecoming festivities there was a comedian on campus.  Alexandra McHale was good, as always, but was a little less conventional.  There was only one blatantly canned joke, the rest were stories.  The humor was more so in the delivery than in the depth of the joke.  On Sunday we painted windows for homecoming.  The theme is Box Office Bliss.  In honor of the Morehouse moose mascot (say that 5 times fast) our Executive council decided to do a Rocky and Bullwinkle theme.  The honors students did a montage of movies centered on Jaws eating up all subject matters which was clever.  The Chemistry club did Flubber, and the rainbow union had Rocky Horror Picture Show, both of which were really clever.  

            This weekend was pretty cool.  Saturday I went around des Moines via bus to get to a volunteer thing.  When we got back, went bowling, then to a Hawaiian Party.  This upcoming weekend is Parents Weekend, so I am excited to see them. 

            

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Acorns are falling on my head

This has been an absolutely gorgeous day.  Thankfully my afternoon has been fairly free of commitments so I grabbed reading homework and found a bench.  People ask me why I did not go to UW Madison.  It is a nice school, but it is too close to home.  The other thing I did not like was the urban environment.  I wanted sweeping lawns and trees to sit under.  Drake is a gorgeous campus that I took full advantage of today.  Once the construction is over, it will become even better.  The only issue I had was an acorn using my head for target practice.  Time to head back outside.

 

 

(Last night I attended a briefing on securities languages.  The following is the same version of what I did but for the college level: www.clscholarship.org)  The State Dept Internships are now open for those finishing their sophomore year by this summer: http://careers.state.gov/students/programs.html#SIP)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rush

            This weekend was Rush, therefore a fair amount of the floor was working with the Frats and Sororities on which one they wanted to join.  This is an excellent way to meet people, even if you have no intention of being Greek.  The guys seem to have it much more laid back then the girls do, but there is also a lot more choices for the guys.  The girls have 4 houses and the guys have 8 different houses to choose from.

            For those of us who were not into the Greek thing, on Friday night there was a comedian on campus.  The headliner was Johnny Walker who has done a comedy Central special with his guitar.  He was hilarious, and the warm up act was pretty good too.

            This week is just full of good things for me.  There are numerous State Department people coming to campus this week.  One will be a recruiter, and another will be a gentleman from the same bureau that sent my team over to Jordan. Due to these appearances on campus I will get to make some use of the tie and jacket I brought.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11

I suppose the whole international sequence of my life started 7 years ago today.  9/11 exposed me to things I have never seen, nor never had experienced before.  Due to the response with the war in Iraq, I ended up in Jordan twice.  Today I found out about some awesome opportunities Drake has for me to extrapolate on my experiences.  In the next year Drake professors will lead groups for students to China, Uganda, South Africa, Central America and for what I hope to be a part of Egypt.  It has been a less cheerful day here, and I got an opportunity this morning to watch some of the speeches made on the Coast regarding the terrorist attacks.  Yet it has also been a day of joy upon finding State Department will be here on two different days next week in regards to sending students abroad for securities languages-which is what I was involved in, as well as an internship possibilities presentation.  It is an amazing thing that these opportunities are presented to everyone on Drake campus, but it is sad when one remembers why they have to come.  May we never forget 9/11. 



Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ambassador and Educator

I just got back from lunch.  Granted cafeteria lunch is only slightly better than high school lunch, but with more entertaining chefs, and better drinks (plus all the ice cream you can eat.)  This lunch was amazing however.  I got to eat with a group of people I am very familiar with, because they all live on my floor.  However we had an addition.  His Excellency, Ambassador R. McMullen agreed to meet us before he gave a lecture which we attended as part of our Freshman class.  We got a whole hour of intimate face time with an expert in the field.  He talked about obvious political things, which I would prefer to keep off my blog for fear of my obvious bias.  However he also told some war stories, which considering the past face meetings I have had, I still thoroughly enjoy.  One more reason I am glad for being at Drake; they bring in experts who not only lecture, but that I can have an actual conversation with.  We got to talk about Jordan-he was there in April.  I got advice, and we had a less conventional class.  This was awesome, and guess what? It will happen 17 more times this year.  The Arabic word for things such as this is Al Humdilallah-Thanks be to God!

 

This morning in my comparative politics class I had something I have never had before.  The professor was not sure how he was doing, so he told the class to get out paper and write what they thought of the class.  He then had other students read then anonymously, after which he addressed the points.  I have never seen that kind of evaluation done unless it was at the end of a semester.  Dr. Hamad is a fluid and dynamic teacher who cares about his class.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A fitness of one

Take every opportunity to stay in shape in college.  Drake has what amounts to a very very very nice work out gym/club that students get into for free.  This is not just some bench presses.  There is two different weight rooms with state of the art equipment, numerous classes, multiple tracks, a pool, a wonderful tennis facility (not just a court-because Drake OWNS at tennis) basketball courts, and even racquetball  courts.

One of my electives this semester has been the Army Physical Readiness class.  This trains one to be able to pass through the PT test one would take if they went to Basic.  Today we had our first PT test.  I did not pass nearly close enough to go to war anytime soon, but the whole point is to make improvements.  I was rather proud, I ran an 18:35 2 mile run had 19 push ups.  Regardless of how much you “Be all that you can be,” at least be in shape.  It is a great way to get out stress.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

One week down

The first week of school went very well.  The biggest difference between college and previous schooling is the amount of free time I have.  Granted very little of it is spent doing absolutely nothing.  I have spent a fair amount of time reading, much more than I ever have in my life.  There is a lot of preparing, which is paying off.  Whether it is rereading notes or checking internet news sites, or loading up on carbs for the morning workout of the ROTC class, there is tons to prepare for.  In terms of the first week of college, the basic rule is meet as many folks as possible.  Everyone is feeling awkward, and you don’t need a magic bullet for conversation.  There were so many times I engaged in the dance of; Hi my names Ian…International Relations major…From Wisconsin.  Everyone does it, because it works.  Our floor still feels like a family, which was nice over the Labor Day weekend, as a fair amount of people spent the time with their families.  It really helped going to all the little icebreaker sessions, which were informative and meaningful, but more so because I met more people, and reconnected with folks I had previously met. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Two down

I survived my first two days of classes.  Tomorrow I will be up before the sun, for a PT class led by of our nations ARMY.  It’s not that bad; push sit ups and a fair amount of running.  Should keep off the Freshman 15.

My Arabic class is going to be interesting.  Our teacher lived in the same neighborhood as Basma and her family.  We got to watch a travel documentary on Jordan in Arabic on the first day.  Drake has a really revolutionary way of teaching languages that focuses on conversation.  There will be very limited grammar training, which is excellent because it doesn’t really help you on the ground anyways.  I invite you to check out the DULAP program if you are interested in Drake.

My comparative politics teacher is from Egypt and will be planning a trip there in the coming years, so inshaalla I will be abroad again soon enough. 

I have yet to meet a teacher who is not passionate about their subject.  For example I am taking a stats class for social sciences (read how to conduct an opinion poll)  First day the professor asks who is excited for the class.  Not a single one of the 20 of us (small class sizes) raised their hand.  She replied she was excited enough for all of­ us.  The class shouldn’t be too bad and it is nice to know we have professors that are very passionate about their work. 

The dorm floor is clicking very well with each other.  We have even branched off to meet the other kids in the dungeon (basement) and the all girls floor above us affectionately reoffered to as the nunnery.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mirror

For the last 8 months I have had a Drake sticker on the rear window of my van.  For those months every time I look in my rear view mirror, Drake has looked back at me.  Tonight is different.  I no longer have my car.  Waunakee is in my rearview and Drake is ahead.  

I have settled into my dorm for the most part.  The people are really cool.  We have a very laid back dorm.  We are in an upper class dorm, yet none of them are here yet.  It is all first year students.  My room mate and I found our way to the newer freshmen dorms.  They are very nice but lack the character of ours.  Supposedly ours is haunted, due to a hanging suicide.  I will let you know if I hear anything tonight.  

If you are thinking of coming to Drake, the first person you will meet is the admissions person.  Mine is named Ryan and has been absolutely wonderful.  Today as I was unpacking and settling in he stopped by to say hello.  This is one caveat of the excellence Drake provides.  I am really starting to feel home.  

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Debrief

I am finally back home. It was nice being in my own bed. So far I have been knocking off good chunks of the things I missed on the list. Think I may have binged on the root beer, though.
The question I am getting a lot is whether I liked the first year more. The answer is an obvious yes because it was all new. However if the person wants to have an actual conversation, I generally say they were very different. The two years were almost too different to compare. The sights were different, for which I am thankful. Our leaders each year had very different styles. The group dynamic was much different. This year was much more work, yet some of that was very rewarding. Setting up a sit down with the Minister of Foreign Affairs is something I am very proud of. Our team was successful at the networking game.
I talked to the head boss, Dr. Fritz Erickson, my last morning in DC. Him and had some time to kill before we flew out, and went to stroll around Arlington Cemetery. He said he was very proud of what happened, the work everyone did, and the amount of Arabic instruction that went on. That really helped. We weren’t sure how successful we were going, as we were pretty much guinea pigs. In the end though he was pleased, and that’s what matters. Nothing really bad happened. Even the shooting did not really hamper our day-to-day lives. When I first landed, our in-country director, Ethan, said he had two goals. The first was to keep people safe. The second was to make sure the students had the best summer of their lives. Both were accomplished. All in all, the trip was an excellent success.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Graduation

Our last days in Jordan were very busy.  I am sorry I haven’t posted recently.  Currently I am sitting at La Gaurdia and it is 7:30 saturday morning.  We were supposed to be in DC last night, but thanks to the wonders of Delta, I managed to get a 3 hour nap in a hotel, and now have a flight in an hour.

It went by very fast,t hose last days in Jordan.  We had a final exam, which I got a B on.  We went out for a fancy dinner, and shopped for last minute souvenirs.  I got to hang out with my Jordanian friends Basma and Motaz one last time.  Their uncle is the Jordanian equivalent of Condi Rice.  They helped arrange a sit down between a few of us and his Excellency.

The University of Jordan hosted us as well as the host families and friends of the program for a mini graduation.  The teacher who I am not very fond of, gave a poem.  this was translated into english by another teacher.  I assume it was a very beautiful poem, in arabic.  In english it got a lot of laughs because it was so different than all the other speeches.  There was definitely an over the top fluff aspect to it, but it got more and more entertaining as the poem progressed.  Earlier in the week, he asked me for chill/soft american songs.  I burned him two cds, which he apparently listens to nonstop.  halfway through the poem he breaks into english with the following: 

“ Listen to your heart, when he’s calling for you.  Listen to your heart, there’s nothing else you can do.  I don’t know where your going and I don’t know why, but listen to your heart, before you tell him good bye.”

The place erupted in laughter.  I don’t know if he fully understands the song, but any excuse to throw american pop songs into arab poetry is damn good.  

I will post final reflections when things finally calm down. Yesterday we left Amman at 8, ended up making a stop in Ireland-which we were told about upon getting to the gate.  that stop made us miss our DC connection at JFK, which meant heading to a hotel for a nap.  Turns out hotels computers were down.  So we waited for 2 hours and finally got to bed at 1:30.  When Patrick and I got into our room, it appeared as if someone just left, or was still living there.  So ended up sleeping on the floor.  All in all a fantastic trip, haven’t lost my bags yet, and managed to bring some sweet stuff back.  Hope y’all are well.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tourist bulldog




We had an amazing weekend.  In 3 days we managed to hit all the major tourist spots in Jordan.  On top of that all our accommodations were high class.  On Saturday we went to Karak Castle, and then on to Petra.  It was amazing to see Petra again.  Before I came I was sitting on the couch watching Indian Jones and the Last Crusade.  One of the very last scenes is him going into what is known as the treasury in Petra.  There he goes to find the Holy Grail.  WHen I saw that on the couch I was overcome with emotion.  I knew that soon, I would be seeing that again for real.  Seeing this marvelous structure again last weekend was my holy grail.  We were there in the late afternoon so the colors really came out with the setting sun. 

Then we made our way to Wadi Rum, which is an amazing desert, as shown in the movie Lawrence o Arabia.  This is one of my favorite spots on earth.  The sunset there is easily one of the best in the world.  The rock formations are absolutely massive.  Scrambling all over them made for some interesting pictures.

After camping in the desert, and hearing groups find the large spiders in the early hours before dawn, we headed to Aqaba.  This time I got less sunburn and still managed to see amazing snorkeling.  I have been to Hawaii, and the Caribbean, and the Red Sea, particularly in Aqaba, has the worlds best snorkeling.  

All in all it was an amazing weekend, which hopfully some of the pics will show.  I just found out one of the best diplomats the US has ever had will be speaking at Drake while I am there.  One of things I would suggest in looking for colleges, is to make sure they can bring in speakers.  Also, I hope to get a chance to have a personal sit down with him.  tomorrow morning I will finally get to meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Jordan.  This is their version of Condi Rice, and I am STOAKED!!!!!!

5 days until I am home, then heading off to college 9 days later.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Keep off the grass

One of the things being abroad does, is makes you really appreciate your own country. Right now I am spacing out to American music enjoying the weather. We just got done with class, and people are taking naps. I am in the courtyard of our hotel where I can see down onto the main road. There are some things that get to me after awhile about Jordan. The biggest is the amount of litter. It is everywhere. I just saw a guy who works at the hotel, finish a bottle of water. Then he walked tot he door of the hotel, and just launched the empty bottle out into the street and vacant lot below. Someone once said all monarchies are like this. People do not feel as if they own their country, and therefore they can litter all over it. However, once you get inside their homes, they are perfectly spotless, because it is one of the few things they do own. I am thankful, that our country, is fairly clean. (Also for those little details, like actually taking a part in the ownership of the country via voting-yanno?)

Monday, July 28, 2008

These are a few of my Favorite things

I miss a lot of my friends, family, and other important people.  in terms of materialistic things though, heres the list:


Good Chocolate Shakes-For whatever reason, the McDonalds and Burger king machines are perpetually broken.  The ones made in blenders at coffee shops, are not up to par.


Root Beer-I finally found there is some in the country but it is way too expensive, and every wisconsinite knows A&W does not even come close to Sprecher’s


Cheese Curds-There is something close here called a Sambousa.  It suffices and I have found a good restaurant close by.


Driving-survived my first accident in a taxi the other day.  It is nearly guaranteed to get in at least one accident if you spend amount of time here.  The driving is insane.


Free Refills


Tap Water


Jokes in English-when translating, not that funny, go figure.


Good Internet Connection-sorry for the weird times this comes up


Cheap phone calls, texting is cheaper but less personal


A good cell phone


Laundromat-not the bath tub


Bon Fires







Sunday, July 27, 2008

Floating and Mika


Had a really good weekend.  On wednesday I went out to dinner with my favorite Jordanian family.  then on Thursday we went, in luxury, to the Dead Sea, courtesy of His Majesty King Abdullah 2nd’s Fund for Economic Development.  Floating in the Dead Sea is an amazing experience, and is one everyone should try before they die.  (The picture will come soon)  On our way back we were given tickets to Mika, who is a pop star for Friday.  This was a  pretty cool concert, even though I knew very few songs.  The concert took place at the Dead Sea.  It was organized as part of the same festival that I saw Diana Krall at, although in a different venue.  The next morning, we met with students who had just sent a year in the US.  This helped ease their reverse culture shock.  We also went and saw Batman The Dark Knight.  This was a really intense movie, and Heath Ledger gave an amazing performance.  One more normal week of classes, then heading south for the tourism places.  Only 6 more classes left.  I got my room mate, who seems pretty chill.  I also got my student advisor, so Drake is seeming very close.  I am very excited.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It is always in the back of my mind.  Did I make the right decision?  The answer is an obvious yes, if only because there is no way to change it.  I am having a decent time.  Bumming around here beats bumming around Wisconsin.  I  have been listening to The Graduation Song by Vitamin C.  “As our lives change, come whatever, we will still be friends forever.   Will that be the case? Time will tell.

I finally had a really good day.  It started a good Fusa class, followed by the cancellation of my dreaded amia class.  We went to cheer on the Iranians for 3rd place, and they won.  They are so thankful, and we hang out with them at night at the hotel.  I don’t know how much impact we had, but I think it was a ton.  They ended up playing Bahrain again, who managed to muster a cheering section complete with drums.  We had 20 screaming american teenagers, and once again prevailed.  Then I went out to dinner, taking special time to read a letter I received from one of my most favorite girls in the world.  Earlier that day, I received a video message from other friends.  It is really nice to know I am missed. I was prepping, and tomorrow will deliver a briefing to Jordanian high school studnets, and more importantly, their parents about life as a an american high school student.  They will be exchange students in American high schools for the upcoming school year.  Then on Thursday, the Dead Sea, whooot whoot!  If you couldn't tell things are starting to swing for the better.

The thought of college life is always present.  Yesterday we were supposed to find out our room mates, but internet has been really crappy at the hotel.  Oh well it keeps me from being too homesick.  Hope you all are well, and thanks again for the well wishes.  

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vacation


I was in much need of a vacation.  The alums, Opal, and I headed down to Aqaba, Jordan’s only port and beach town.  There we beach bummed at the beach camp patrick and I came to know from last years weekend from hell.  I gave a personal salute of disrespect to the town where last year, a knife wielding little punk came after us after we suffered major car trouble.  The whole reason for going down was because I wanted to snorkel.  Sean and I hopped on with a scuba dive boat, and stayed around the coral reefs off shore while they went below.  The entire boat was Jews from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  this made for some rather enlightening conversations, as we only get the Palestinian perspective from any arab we meet in Jordan.  It was some of the best snorkeling I have ever seen.  If it weren't for the waves and the wind, it would have topped Hawaii.  The fish and coral were spectacular, and we could get very close.  There is an issue that has developed, in terms of personal appearance.  Living in a conservative society means polo shirts, if not full sleeves and long pants-no shorts.  This has done absolute wonders for the rainbow of colors my body has become due to tan lines.  All of this has manage to be undone by the wonderful sun of Aqaba, which when combined with the insane amounts of humidity there, leads to the worse sunburn I have had.  Mother, I assure you next time I will wear sunscreen.  The internet is down at the hotel, which is a major pain. The embassy has decided to not advice americans to go to the downtown part of the city due to the recent shooting.  This really sucks, as it is the best shopping area in town, and the only way to see what real Jordanians do in their daily life.  As of now we are only allowed to go to the places where americans hangout, namely huge malls and craft areas.  (I wonder what the thinking was for that one, only allow americans to congregate in areas known as hangouts for westerners?)  Oh well, we will find more creative ways to talk to the other side of Jordanians.  Hope everyone is well.  

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Security Update

I am alive, along with the rest of my team.  None of us were at the shooting, as everyone is living snugly with their families.  The embassy today said it was a tourist shooting because apparently there were a few lebanese killed, and the event took place at a symphony concert.  This is the second time shots have been fired in the amphitheater area.  The previous time a German tourist was killed.  We are all safe.  The city air is not even tense.

I will be incommunicado as I am doing some traveling for the next few days.  Hope everyone has a good weekend.  


http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=9386 


http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2008/07/200871620575598198.html

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cheerleading Diplomacy...Bring it on Again

Before I expand upon this tale, I want to state that we are completely safe here.  The worse thing that could happen is something nasty with traffic.  In terms of terrorism, Jordan, and especially our team are very safe....

Turns out there was a reporter in the stands at the Iranian handball game.  He did his duty and gave what would have been a very boring sports recap a personal twist.  He managed to send his report back that included the highlights of the game as well as our presence.  Screaming cheering american kids supporting the arch enemy of their government to a win in handball.  Apparently we managed to make not just the print media, but radio, and television as well.  The commentary that came with it went something along the lines of this...

“The Iranian Handball team beat Bahrain in the Asia cup for youth with no small help from their cheering fans.  These fans consisted entirely of American students.  As George Bush prepares to make war on Iran, his children (Hey, that’s us!) cheer on the team.”

Normally making the news is something I prefer to never happen if we are abroad, but this is a diplomatic exception.  I honestly do not know what military, if any, action will be taken against Iran.  The fact is though, there is now a small portion of Iranians who know that not all Americans are bad.  This is real grass roots diplomacy.  We now spend our evenings talking to the coaches at night.  Zainab translates, which is also quite a sight to behold.  She picked up her farsi skills, which from what I could tell are damn near fluent, after living there for just one year.  This once again backs up my plan of if I ever find myself dictator of a country; I am forcing every student upon completion of the 11th grade to go live abroad in areas where America might not be the best anymore.  Get out of town, and head to the Middle East, or South America.  By the time that generation attains power, all foreign policy issues would be taken care of.  Imagine the influence spending a few hours cheering on Iran has had on their team, their families and their compatriots.  The possibilities are endless.  

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cheerleader diplomacy




I finally accomplished my last goal in Jordan, with a little less than a month to spare.  For 2 months last year I went without root beer.  Last night, it was rumored that Mecca Mall, (there’s an oxymoron for you) which is a mall more american than the Embassy, had a 50s diner that served root beer.  Sean Zainab and I hoped in the cab, avoiding being converted to Islam, though Zainab received explicit instructions by our cab driver to do just that, and finally found root beer.  Straight up, A&W, out of the can root beer.  Al Hhmdilallah-Thanks be to God. 


The next day we went to Ajloun for a relaxing weekend in nature, under the stars in little bungalows.  This was pretty cool.  The idea was to get the students, who had just survived a week of host families to completely relax and chill.  

When we got back one of the most entertaining, yet awkward things got to take place.  In our hotel arrived Iran’s national young adult handball team.  (Handball is a cross between basketball and ultimate.)  We decided upon arriving back in our hotel, to watch them play Bahrain.  Thats right our sworn enemies, the state which supposedly harbors terrorist, was playing one of our best friends in the region.  Due to the Iranians staying in the same hotel as us, we were cheering for them.  I spoke with them the day we left for Ajloun and they were very nice, but seemed to speak almost soviet style english.  The handball finals for asia are taking place in Jordan at what resembles a small small old school gym in Jordan's sports complex.  needless to say, we were the only fans there.  when you get 20 screaming high school american students into an empty gym cheering on their sworn enemies...the Bahrainis did not stand a chance!  Iran loved that we were there supporting them, and ended up winning by 5 points.  At the end when we passed by the locker rooms there were high fives all around from the Iranians to the students, and then the Bahrainis even thanked us for watching.  The Jordanian security forces who probably assumed they would have an easy day were holding people back to let the americans get through.  It was all a very weird day, but I am very glad we went, and that Iran won.  Chalk up another way to do diplomacy, cheering for peace.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Night to Di for

It was an amazing night.  Diana Krall, the Jazz singer came to perform at the Citadel in Amman.  Something like 2000 years ago the Roman empire constructed a bunch of columns on the highest hill they could find.  The standing columns and the church thats left were the backdrop to Diana’s 2 hour performance.  I have decided this is the best location of any concert I have ever been to.  It was all outside and the stage was a bare bones speakers and light trusses.  this meant the glow of the green minarets could be seen for miles out behind her.  Being in the center of the city was majestic when she stopped playing, turned off the lights, and the call to evening prayer rang out over the hills.  A slight breeze was blowing in the warm air, which prompted to band to start playing “Windy” without missing a beat somewhere in the second song.  It was amazing jazz music, and the crowd roared for the encore of Get Your Kicks on Route 66.  

The security was amazing.  The citadel is still a city on top of heavy walls.  Everyone 25 feet was another soldier making perimeters around the festival grounds.  I imagine this was the first time there was such security at the place since the time of Caesar.  

It was just a perfect night.  Ended up seeing a bunch of people form the embassy, and met some young jordanian professionals to share the evening with.  We were talking about the plight of refugees shortly before the show started when I saw something that made me long for certain people back home...

The big dipper was pouring its magic right onto the stage.  In between the stars of the jazz world, and the stars of the constellations a shooting star streaked across the entire sky.  I have never seen one last a full 6 seconds before.   THe timing was perfect, the place was perfect, and only having certain people here would have made it any more perfect.  

All Drake bloggers are compensated for their time. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Drake University.