Voices of a Changing Middle East: Part 2

The second installment of the Voices of a Changing Middle East Theatre Series was entitled I Shall Not Hate.

This serious has continued to blow my mind and months late, I still find myself thinking back to these shows.

I shall not hate centers around a Palestinian male doctor who traveled between Israel and Palestine serving as a medical doctor. He grew up in a refugee camp and trained at Harvard,, leaving behind his wife and his children. He came back and was the first Palestinian to serve in an Israeli hospital, helping Israelis and Palestinians alike.

*Spoiler Alert*

The play centers around the many struggles that he has to go through- crossing borders, suffering abuse and discrimination, and dealing with the pains of war. Throughout all of the injustice that he faces, he does not harbor any anger or hate. He continues to advocate for peace and to work against prejudice on both sides.

At the end, an attack on his house kills three of his daughters and a niece. He witnesses the tragic and graphic destruction and wails in agony. One daughter survived, her eye hanging out of her face and her fingers split from her hand. Despite this extreme pain and loss, he still amazingly forgave the Israeli war power.

Theatrically, it was absolutely beautiful. The actor himself switched between Hebrew and Arabic (English subtitles were projected onto a screen) which gave the minimalistic one man show an authentic feel. The simple artistic elements powerfully illustrated the emotional turmoil he experienced. In one memorable scene, while the doctor was trying to cross borders to get to his dying wife, he carried a suitcase across the stage with him. The suitcase leaked sand through a hole in the bottom like sand falling from an hour glass. As he was sent from place to place trying to get clearance, the sand left trails all across the stage, lines here, piles there. The sound echoed on the ground, cutting through time and powerfully illustrating the urgency of the incredibly frustrating situation. The piece was a very acute reminder of the horrors happening right now in the world, but also of the incredible humanity. His power to forgive was astounding and resonated deeply with me. Peace in the face of violence, love in the face of hatred. It’s impressive and admirable and honorable — it is something I will carry with me and aspire to in my life. I was incredibly impressed with the production, with the story, and with the power of live theater.

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Voices of a Changing Middle East: Part 1

This weekend I am attending the Film Series, Voices of a Changing Middle East. The event is being hosted by the OU Helmerich School of Drama and presented by the Mosaic Theater Company from Washington DC. The company focuses on producing socially relevant works that address and challenge the major conflicts of our modern world.

Voices of a Changing Middle East focuses on the conflict in Israel, Jerusalem, and the surrounding areas. This past evening, I saw the first installation, Wrestling Jerusalem. This one was show was written and performed by Aaron Davidman, a Jewish man who traveled to places throughout the Middle East, speaking with over 30 Jewish, Islamic, and Christian people, Israelis and Palestinians alike. The show was recorded and screened for students and faculty in Meacham auditorium.

This was one of the most powerful pieces of art I have ever seen. Each new character that Aaron created showcased a new and different perspective. The depth of the problems and points of view really illuminated how complicated the issue over there is. Many people are filled with stubborn pride for their people or resentment for those who have hurt them or their families. These two things are the primary reason that peace has been so incredibly difficult to achieve. All sides have committed atrocities against the others and exhibited oppressive behavior. All sides have significant religious ties to the area. Some citizens are striving for peace and acceptance of all nations. Some soldiers have been ingrained with the idea that the other side is inhuman and evil. Some citizens don’t care, they just want to feed their families. Many people have different definitions of what it means to be a Jew or a Muslim.

Aaron skillfully combined all of these different stories and personas into a beautiful and compelling climactic structure. Each new character had a different demeanor, a different carriage, accent, and speech pattern. And each of them had a history. He layered so many different arguments and points of view on top of each other until you couldn’t tell what was right and wrong anymore. He challenged every preconceived notion of the conflict in the middle east and made it human. He made it human. Accessible to people who have only heard about it in political settings in the news.

The climactic moment was told from the perspective of a Jewish speaking about what God means to him. He spoke about how God is a spirit inside everyone, connecting all living things. His God is a God of love and inclusion. There is no hate. All things are connected in these spirit of the world, in this loving life and energy. His God is not there for the destruction of peoples of nations or segregation and oppression. His God, His Judaism is about a resilient people who believe in their God and seek to learn and teach and grow with all of humanity.

I was incredibly moved and I immediately shared the experience and the stories with everyone I knew. It was so great to see and feel the impact that art can have on other people. The audience was asking questions and was compelled to take action for the promotion of peace in the area. A dialogue was started. More people have awareness of the intimate lives of people across the sea. This valuable production really gave insight into the issues underlying the Israel conflict and highlighted the depth and humanity of the people living in the region. I am looking forward to the next installments in the series.

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College of International Studies’ Student Advisory Committee

I am extremely excited to be a part of the Student Advisory Committee this semester. The organization focuses on promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion throughout our campus. I discovered this organization through a film screening of 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days that I attending earlier this semester. I am extremely passionate about the goals of this organization.
This semester, the organization was very small, but applications for new positions were recently opened so I’m hopeful that it will grow and we can continue to raise awareness for global issues. I think this is a great platform on which to start conversations and educate our community. I cannot wait to see what new people bring to the table.
Personally, I am focused on issues of women’s rights around the world and have been particularly involved in the issue of sex trafficking. Next semester I hoping to host a bra drive for women who have escaped sex trafficking and need to regain a place in society. The company, Free the Girls, gives women the opportunity to become entrepreneurs by helping them sell bras to their community. This is one small way people can help. This issue is global and effects many people in the United States. I am looking forward to developing more ideas for upcoming events and projects.

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College of International Studies’ Student Advisory Committee

I am extremely excited to be a part of the Student Advisory Committee this semester. The organization focuses on promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion throughout our campus. I discovered this organization through a film screening of 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days that I attending earlier this semester. I am extremely passionate about the goals of this organization.
This semester, the organization was very small, but applications for new positions were recently opened so I’m hopeful that it will grow and we can continue to raise awareness for global issues. I think this is a great platform on which to start conversations and educate our community. I cannot wait to see what new people bring to the table.
Personally, I am focused on issues of women’s rights around the world and have been particularly involved in the issue of sex trafficking. Next semester I hoping to host a bra drive for women who have escaped sex trafficking and need to regain a place in society. The company, Free the Girls, gives women the opportunity to become entrepreneurs by helping them sell bras to their community. This is one small way people can help. This issue is global and effects many people in the United States. I am looking forward to developing more ideas for upcoming events and projects.

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4 months 3 weeks 2 days

Today I attended a screening of the Romanian film 4 months 3 weeks and 2 days. The story follows a young college woman and her pregnant friend as they endeavor to get an illegal abortion. The secrecy, the paranoia, and the obstacles were extreme. They met in dark alleyways, they gathered up hundreds of dollars, and both girls were raped in order to make sure the procedure went through. The film was excellent and brilliantly made. The minimalism used in the cinematography and dialogue emphasized the gravity and the reality of the situation.
I think the most sobering fact for me was that there are women who have gone through this- or worse- to avoid the consequences of pregnancy. So many countries, including the United States, do have a culture that is supportive of pregnancy outside of marriage. They are usually shamed or disgraced and rarely receive the support they need during and after the pregnancy.
The cost of having a child, monetarily, physically, and socially, is enormous. Most countries have few programs to aid single mothers (i.e. paid maternity leave, affordable childcare, etc.). I think it is extremely interesting that both sides of the abortion debate used this film as a reference for their argument. On one hand, the film shows how horrific the process of an abortion is. The obstacles these women had to face were psychologically damaging and the long shot of the dead baby on the bathroom floor is gruesome at best. On the other hand, people argue that this is why women need access to safe and legal abortion. Both sides agree that women do not have access to the resources they need. Hopefully we can continue to be an advocate for women across the globe who are facing these issues in an unforgiving society.

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4 months 3 weeks 2 days

Today I attended a screening of the Romanian film 4 months 3 weeks and 2 days. The story follows a young college woman and her pregnant friend as they endeavor to get an illegal abortion. The secrecy, the paranoia, and the obstacles were extreme. They met in dark alleyways, they gathered up hundreds of dollars, and both girls were raped in order to make sure the procedure went through. The film was excellent and brilliantly made. The minimalism used in the cinematography and dialogue emphasized the gravity and the reality of the situation.
I think the most sobering fact for me was that there are women who have gone through this- or worse- to avoid the consequences of pregnancy. So many countries, including the United States, do have a culture that is supportive of pregnancy outside of marriage. They are usually shamed or disgraced and rarely receive the support they need during and after the pregnancy.
The cost of having a child, monetarily, physically, and socially, is enormous. Most countries have few programs to aid single mothers (i.e. paid maternity leave, affordable childcare, etc.). I think it is extremely interesting that both sides of the abortion debate used this film as a reference for their argument. On one hand, the film shows how horrific the process of an abortion is. The obstacles these women had to face were psychologically damaging and the long shot of the dead baby on the bathroom floor is gruesome at best. On the other hand, people argue that this is why women need access to safe and legal abortion. Both sides agree that women do not have access to the resources they need. Hopefully we can continue to be an advocate for women across the globe who are facing these issues in an unforgiving society.

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Día de los Muertes

One of the highlights of my Halloween weekend was the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertes)
festival at the Lloyd Noble Center. I did not realize how much of a community celebration this was. There were little children in Halloween costumes, and families walking around. I think it was great to see how much the University engages with the Norman community.
The music was extremely festive and there were bright colors everywhere. My friend and I rode a few rides and I got a flower painted on my hand! The food was excellent! I tried chicken flautas (Flautas pollo y res) and it was amazing.
The artwork is what stood out to me the most. There were a lot of pieces that had beautifully vibrant colors. The jewelry was exquisite and elegantly made. There were so many different styles, but it was clear that they all came for this distinct culture.
I really enjoyed experience the culture surrounding the Day of the Dead. In Hispanic culture, there is much more respect and reverence regarding our ancestors. In my family, we don’t have any way to honor our dead. We have a lovely funeral and we occasionally visit graves, but this is an annual celebration of all those who came before us and those who we loved and loved us. I really think it’s beautiful and I would like to investigate more of the my German heritage to see if we have any significant ways of honoring our dead.

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Día de los Muertes

One of the highlights of my Halloween weekend was the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertes)
festival at the Lloyd Noble Center. I did not realize how much of a community celebration this was. There were little children in Halloween costumes, and families walking around. I think it was great to see how much the University engages with the Norman community.
The music was extremely festive and there were bright colors everywhere. My friend and I rode a few rides and I got a flower painted on my hand! The food was excellent! I tried chicken flautas (Flautas pollo y res) and it was amazing.
The artwork is what stood out to me the most. There were a lot of pieces that had beautifully vibrant colors. The jewelry was exquisite and elegantly made. There were so many different styles, but it was clear that they all came for this distinct culture.
I really enjoyed experience the culture surrounding the Day of the Dead. In Hispanic culture, there is much more respect and reverence regarding our ancestors. In my family, we don’t have any way to honor our dead. We have a lovely funeral and we occasionally visit graves, but this is an annual celebration of all those who came before us and those who we loved and loved us. I really think it’s beautiful and I would like to investigate more of the my German heritage to see if we have any significant ways of honoring our dead.

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The Global Effects of Fast Fashion

The Fast Fashion industry has significant detrimental effects on the rest of the world. The environmental and humanitarian impacts are astounding and only increasing.
The United States alone throws out about 14 million tons of clothing a YEAR. Clothing — especially polyester– is not biodegradable and will end up sitting in landfills for years. Department stores cycle through clothes every few weeks, always trying to bring in the latest styles. It is becoming a global environmental crisis.

Polyester is made from petroleum which is non-renewable. The cotton industry needs a significant amount of water for production and requires many pesticides. The land used for cotton growth can usually only be used for cotton and can destroy surrounding landscapes with excess wash off or resource depletion.

The global clothing industry is also infamous for inhumane labor conditions. Approximately 170 million children work in child labor around the world and the majority of them work in the clothing and textiles industry. They work in every step of the process across the country. The majority of clothing is produced in China, followed by India, Bangladesh, and Taiwan. The conditions are usually terrible with long hours, low pay, and a terrible work environment.

We need to understand how our consumer society effects the rest of the world. There are many organizations that focus on producing fair trade or organic clothing and there are numerous ways to recycle clothing now. Thrift stores have become increasingly popular, and online thrift stores like threadUP allow people to easily share their clothing with people all around the world. There are also many industries that will recycle used textiles into new article of clothing. Many industries focus on no waste and use recycled filaments in production. They are out there– the problem is that they require more effort to find. You’re average teenager cannot walk into a mall and find a fair trade, no-waste clothing store. It is also typically not as cheap which can make it inconvenient or even inaccessible for some people.

My friend, Sophia Anderson, is igniting a business that helps new designers launch their product using all environmental friendly methods. It is a fashion incubator that requires the designers to ensure that their products are made with eco-friendly material in fair working conditions. Hopefully the growth of this industry will inspire change or at least consciousness regarding the impact that every article of clothing has. Because 14 million tons a year is outrageous and unsustainable. We, as a society, must find a way to change the fast fashion industry because cheap and quick cannot last and impacts lives all around the globe.

Uncategorized

The Global Effects of Fast Fashion

The Fast Fashion industry has significant detrimental effects on the rest of the world. The environmental and humanitarian impacts are astounding and only increasing.
The United States alone throws out about 14 million tons of clothing a YEAR. Clothing — especially polyester– is not biodegradable and will end up sitting in landfills for years. Department stores cycle through clothes every few weeks, always trying to bring in the latest styles. It is becoming a global environmental crisis.

Polyester is made from petroleum which is non-renewable. The cotton industry needs a significant amount of water for production and requires many pesticides. The land used for cotton growth can usually only be used for cotton and can destroy surrounding landscapes with excess wash off or resource depletion.

The global clothing industry is also infamous for inhumane labor conditions. Approximately 170 million children work in child labor around the world and the majority of them work in the clothing and textiles industry. They work in every step of the process across the country. The majority of clothing is produced in China, followed by India, Bangladesh, and Taiwan. The conditions are usually terrible with long hours, low pay, and a terrible work environment.

We need to understand how our consumer society effects the rest of the world. There are many organizations that focus on producing fair trade or organic clothing and there are numerous ways to recycle clothing now. Thrift stores have become increasingly popular, and online thrift stores like threadUP allow people to easily share their clothing with people all around the world. There are also many industries that will recycle used textiles into new article of clothing. Many industries focus on no waste and use recycled filaments in production. They are out there– the problem is that they require more effort to find. You’re average teenager cannot walk into a mall and find a fair trade, no-waste clothing store. It is also typically not as cheap which can make it inconvenient or even inaccessible for some people.

My friend, Sophia Anderson, is igniting a business that helps new designers launch their product using all environmental friendly methods. It is a fashion incubator that requires the designers to ensure that their products are made with eco-friendly material in fair working conditions. Hopefully the growth of this industry will inspire change or at least consciousness regarding the impact that every article of clothing has. Because 14 million tons a year is outrageous and unsustainable. We, as a society, must find a way to change the fast fashion industry because cheap and quick cannot last and impacts lives all around the globe.

Uncategorized