21 November 2009
Alhamdulillah. Praise be to God.
I am now in Bangkok, Thailand for a 5-day Young Asian Muslim Women Leadership Training Workshop. I got here last night and it feels good to be back here after all these years. I am excited about the Workshop, especially after meeting some of the participants (some haven't arrived yet). It's always nice and interesting to meet young Muslim women who are, in their own way, empowered. We are all so different, yet so much the same.
So far, there are 10 (2 from Iran, 2 from Burma, 2 from Thailand, 1 from Pakistan, 1 from Bangladesh, 1 from Cambodia, and myself) of us who are now here. We are still expecting more. At breakfast, we casually discussed some issues concerning some Asian countries and the West. It was nice and I could see that we are all united in wanting the region to prosper and reach its full potential. There were some sensitive issues that were mentioned and made two of our co-participants a little emotional. I could feel how much both love their respective countries. Actually, I could feel how much each one of us cares for her respective country and people, and Islam, which is the very thing that binds us all as one.
With this kind of passion from people, I am sure that we can come up with some good action plan for the improvement or betterment in the status of Muslim women in our respective communities and Asia as a whole, and eventually the whole world. It has always been the way with many countries that women are considered second class citizens. Many things are deprived of a woman just because of her gender. This does not happen only in Muslim countries. This is something that can be seen all over the world. And, it is high time that we change this. In whatever field we are in, we must show and prove that we can do and achieve things, that we are capable, that we have a very important role. We are women; and, yes, there are some things in which we can never be men's equal, but we are not lesser beings. We are all put here so we can work together, hand in hand.
Another thing that I think we could and should work on is to change the wrong notion or connotation that most of the world assign to the words Muslim and Islam. It's very sad that there are many who claim to be Muslims don't really know what Islam truly is and what's sadder is that some of these people are the only ones seen and heard throughout the world. Their actions, which are, most of the time, un-Islamic, are the ones highlighted by the world media. Thus, making it worse for many of us.
Time and again, a lot of people and organizations have tried and tried to erase the negative connotations of Islam and Muslim or how both words are often wrongly equated with terrorism. Being part of a program which hopes to contribute in this struggle is a great and important opportunity, as well as a big challenge for us. And, knowing that, I will work and do my best to give and get the most out of this program and share everything I will learn from it in every way I can. May God help me and use me as an instrument for peace and understanding. These are but little steps towards the goal. And, with these tiny little steps, we will get there. Insha-Allah.
07 November 2009
The new semester officially starts on Monday. Just this afternoon, I had my class masterlists printed. I'm ready to roll!!! :)
I'm hoping my classes will be as interesting, if not more interesting, both for me and my students as the previous semesters. I am handling a major subject for the first time and, while I am a little bit nervous, I can't wait to start. English 150, whose course description is Survey of World Literature, was one of my favorite subjects back in my undergraduate years. I remember how exciting it was for me. We discussed Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey, Virgil's Aeneid, Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy (I remember our reporter almost fainting when she found out that we were to discuss all three books: Paradiso, Purgatorio, and Inferno!), Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote and some other famous literary classics of world renown. And, of course, how can I forget my report-- One Thousand and One Nights, or The Arabian Nights as it is known in the English-speaking world.
I remember looking forward to every meeting in that course. There were around 15 of us in class and each one was assigned one work to do a report on. And, I remember having so much fun reading all those works, albeit having headaches caused by some passages I just couldn't get or some situations I just couldn't imagine at the time. It was a wonderful experience for me to be in that class and, now that I'm handling the course, I sure hope I'd be able to give my students the same exciting and wonderful experience I had as a student.
There's one little glitch, though. Back when I took the course, it was relatively easier for us to understand what concept or "ism" the other was talking about because we were all English or Literature majors. There were three Philosophy majors enrolled in that class, too, I remember. They were also quite familiar with the concepts and "isms" discussed. The classes I will be handling, though, will be composed of students taking up Bachelor of Elementary Education, majoring General Education. Their background in Literature, I am told, is lacking compared to their English major colleagues. The only other Literature course they have in their curriculum is English 4, Introduction to Literature.
So, the challenge is to be able to cater to these students. I have to come up with a new reading list, as well as a new course syllabus that is more suitable for them and their needs. In fact, I'm instructed to "simplify" the course. This is not, of course, to underestimate the students, but if they lack the background, adjustment has to be done. Extra effort, too, should be given so as to make the students interested in the literary works. I remember that, as a student, my teacher's excitement in discussing the works would always do wonders in keeping me excited and interested in the discussions. So, I'm thinking, I hope that my own excitement about all the works I can't wait to discuss will also boost my students' interest in our class.
I can do this! My students can do this! Hell, yeah, we can do this!!! :)