Archive for July, 2009

Still looking for a place to stay in Ramallah

July 30, 2009

I’m hopeful about the results of contacting Friends International Center in Ramallah, on Sadie’s suggestion, but haven’t yet heard back. I leave in a few short hours! First landing: Amman. Interesting to see how Quakers are mentioned in the Wikipedia entry on Ramallah.


Arts and Education Organizations in Palestine

July 30, 2009

I’ve had suggestions for organizations to connect with in Palestine, and wanted to share the list from a friend through MCC:
Lajee: invests much time and energy in creative expression among the youth in the Aida refugee camp. I would highly recommend a visit to this organization and it should have been first on my list.
The International Center of Bethlehem/Dar Annadwa
Zochrot : Their art exhibits educate the Israeli audience about the Palestinian Nakba and they now have a Nakba curriculum which is available to Israeli public school educators and is already being used in several institutions.
The Palestinian Center for Rapproachment


July 29, 2009

It seems things are about the details, and I have no broad perspective. The important thoughts seem to be: will the flowers be like these on my dress from Oaxaca? It’s desert…but I won’t be surrounded by sand in the city. Should I bring high heels? I have never experienced heat like this—why don’t I have more loose-fitting, long-sleeved, floor-length linen and cotton dresses and skirts? This is perhaps telling: the place of preparation is my body and adornments. That’s all I know for certain: this—me—is going to be in Jordan in just over two days. The rest I can’t be sure of.

So long salon

July 29, 2009

Last night I had about sixteen people visit over the period of the evening (including Marty and Jenn’s new baby Niko!!! He slept soundly as we sipped passionfruit soda). It was so wonderful to see old friends and new: from Kristin who I’ve known since I was in grade one, to Meghan who I met at the Faculty of Education just last year. Kelly and Tom (who came with his Lucy) from Quakers; Lina who I write with and we worked on a movie together, and her boyfriend Tyler, an artist; Lucy who I’ve loved since high school; Jason (who just finished this video for and Graham who were both drama majors with me at Etobicoke School for the Arts where I attended in grade 9; Jess and Christian from HotDocs documentary film festival and Sharon the nymphette from Australia. The lovely Rachel came early for the last few errands; she can always make me sane no matter how silly I get about primping and planning. We stood around in the kitchen till we got industrious and brought the table from the mud in the back yard to the patio, where recent construction left a huge pile of dirt. Sharon sat queen on a table atop the dirt pile, and we drew portraits of each other with pencil crayons and markers, which then hung in the tree. It was a magical goodbye, reassuring to see the way Toronto is full of webbed connections from my life’s alighting points. I so love to bring people together—I used to imagine having a salon, where people would just come together for revelry and be inspired and connect with people across the divides of science and art, business and charity, dance and thunder.

Quran and Olive

July 29, 2009

On Sunday I watched “Let The Quran Speak” on VisionTV and they were interviewing someone from the Olive Tree Foundation. I was curious about what this Toronto-based show, and the endowment, might have in the way of recommendations for organizations in Jordan, Ramallah and Lebanon. Surely I could have had similar lists from those who’ve been helping me prepare for this travel, but it felt good to speak to people not in my immediate circle.
Ottawa-based Human Concern International has been working in Gaza, West bank, as well as Refugee camps in Jordan; Toronto based International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy; Islamic Relief Canada; Imran: International Development Relief Foundation (IDRF), they have done work in Lebanon.

Books for Muslim students

July 24, 2009

My mother shared with me “My name is Bilal”, a book for children about Bilal and his sister Ayesha’s experience at a new school. It’s shocking to me that it’s so rare to find depictions of children in traditional dress, especially being in Toronto which at one point was designated by the UN as the most ethnically diverse city in the world.
cover of the book

Sadie helps me prepare

July 24, 2009

I’ve had several phone and instant-messenger conversations in preparation for my travel to the Middle East. Today I finally got to talk to Sadie, who was in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Jordan and several other places in January 2008 with Christian Peacemaker Teams. It was great to be able to talk to someone about some of my anxieties about talking about the trip both before and after. I want both acquaintances and my close friends to know what I’m doing there but am not sure how to represent it. It’s a peace-building workshop, but I wonder how many people feel this might be mission work. Mennonite Central Committee, for those unfamiliar with peace churches, may only mean more opacity, more questions and assumptions. For my friends with whom I rarely talk about my faith and religious life, trying to describe how prayer and faith are part of this can be alienating. With open heart.

Feet landing. New wings.

July 21, 2009

The last five weeks have flown. In reverse order: 2 weeks in NYC (from which I returned at 2AM this morning via Craig’s List rideshare. That’s another story altogether); 10 days at FGC at which I co-ordinated ten eleven year-olds’ evening program and supported a morning program; 2 days in Philly; 2 days in Toronto; 3 days at Siren Lake, Wisconsin via Minneapolis, Minnesota; 2 days in Toronto…and that brings us to my last day at Olney Friends School: Monday June 14. Remember to breathe. My good friend Matt Perry told me to do this, and I am trying to take note.

Be a f*ing HUMAN!

July 18, 2009

I am overhearing a radio show playing in which the interviewer is asking the filmmaker, “Can you envision a Hollywood film where the central action is preoccupied with environmental themes?” I’m pretty sure he’s talking to John Long who wrote and directed “Sacred Planet”, but seriously people, how can we still be asking questions like this? Can you imagine a Hollywood so inhuman that environmental themes are systematically ignored? I guess so. How about a film in which the protagonist makes the environment a priority? A corporate bigwig who ACTUALLY gives a crap. Not because his tree-hugging daughter (the heart-warming tale) or attractive house-cleaner (the romance) suggest it to him but because he, autonomously and in full control of all faculties, actually cares. I’m reminded of Jon Stewart’s “Be a f*ing human” shtick…which I am apparently unable to locate online.

White girl’s tabula rasa, not carte blanche

July 13, 2009

In trying to prepare for my upcoming travel to Amman, Jordan (and possibly to Ramallah, Palestine) I am trying to look more closely at the vast ignorance I know that I have about the politics and reality of this part of the world. I will try to be as honest as I can about where I’m coming from. At this point I feel like my exposure to life in the Middle East comes from a handful of comments from friends, and a few literary pieces like Persepolis, the graphic novel about Marjane Satrapi’s coming of age in Iran and her life in Paris. I don’t know how to piece together a sense, an opinion, or even a general competence in knowing the situation “over there.” In some ways, I hope this naivety will be a tool to understanding—I feel like I come with a blank slate—but I plan at least to learn some basic Arabic and read articles about Quaker and Mennonite activity (the former being my religion, and the latter being the host group to my travels) in the area.