Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The End...

The Jerusalem Project

          Throughout this class, there have been many things I have learned about myself and the world. Not only was I able to gain a lot through engaging in the class material, but most of what I learned about came from engaging with other students in the classroom. This class effectively used a critical pedagogical approach to rethinking our education. While normally, classes follow a regimented syllabus with regular paper assignments and exams at the end of a section; this class was able to defy the norm effectively. Through the use of our blogs, I particularly was able to engage in class material more in-depth without worrying about the formalities of a written paper. Looking for peace in a conflict deeply rooted with many issues at times can be difficult, but this class made each of us want to look for solutions. Instead of being inactive members of our society, we were able to critically engage personal experience and knowledge with that of the conflict. Unlike any other class I have taken before, videoconferencing influential figures in the conflict was not only totally awesome but extremely beneficial to our learning experience.
       On a more formal note this class was able to defy the norms of regular assignments and readings. We, of course, still has readings that were to be done before every class. The readings at time were extremely long, and reading 60 pages between classes is a little unfathomable for someone taking 19 credit hours. The book that we read by Karen Armstrong, to me, was not only extremely bland, but very tedious. It required much attention when reading the text and it felt like we had too much information to indulge in. However, because our assignments were in a blog post and not a formal writing prompt, it gave us more room to only look at some of the massive amount of information in one night, and pick out what was most appealing to us. The coolest part was that after reading all of the blogs after one of these assignments was that everyone picked different notches from the reading. This way I was able to understand what I could through the text and then read my classmates blogs to unpack more of the reading. Therefore, I was unable to comprehend it more fully. Another benefit of being able to write in a public forum is the fact that it is public. Anyone can get online and find my blog, and if they think it sound interesting they can learn and read it. This way my particular message of peace has more chance of moving around to others. Not only are our personal blogs important as a public forum where other students and people can engage, even though some people made their blog private, but our blog homepage as a whole was particularly useful. Sometimes I would spend hours just browsing throughout our home blog and listening to the music on the side. It was during this time, I started to use more critical thought.
       Because there were so many people in our class that had a much deeper connection with the conflict, I felt like our class was able to confront issues that most other classes, even like this, are unable to do. To be in a class in Bloomington, Indiana and be studying a conflict surrounding mostly Israelis and Palestinians, and actually having Israelis and a Palestinian girl in the class made it particularly intriguing. It’s not every day you get to sit by a girl that actually knows what it’s like to be a part of the occupied West Bank… Or a boy that has wandered the streets of Jerusalem since he was a kid. It’s especially not every day that you get to work and be in a small group with both of these people. Here in our Living Jerusalem class, I can say that I did that. I learned so much from these people and the others with extremely prominent Jewish/ Israeli backgrounds. However, hearing a personal account of what it was like to be Palestinian from someone I would now identify as a friend is beyond cool to me.
       Before taking this class I had a pretty good idea about what I thought about the conflict and that was that the Israelis were clearly oppressing the Palestinians and the United States was only helping innocent lives be taken. I still agree for the most part with my personal theories, but I have also been able to open up and see more of the Israeli point of view. It has nothing to do with the fact that I don’t like Jewish people or believe they do not have right to any land, because I know their religion has been through much tribulation. But, it is my thought that because of things like the Holocaust, Israelis and Jewish people would be more caring for people and religions that are being oppressed. I’m not saying that what they are doing to Palestinians is the same as the Holocaust. I just wish that they would remember the pain of oppression and find ways to not force their own oppression on other people. Now that I know more about the history of the conflict and the constant back and forth game between the three religions, it makes more sense to why Israel has taken so much control over the “sacred land”. However, I am still extremely confused about humans believing they are inherently right to all land. Land should be a place where we live healthily together through our ecosystems, not somewhere where we kill it and all the people living on it. Although, if people do feel an inherent right to land, it should be open to different types of people and not exclude one type. Because of groups of people like Hamas, the American and other foreign visions of Palestine are particularly narrow. Most ignorant Americans hear Arab and think “terrorist”, let alone hearing that Hamas is a political party in Palestine. Through this class I think we were able to remove most of the ignorance and set forth to try really listening and finding a solution to the conflict.
            Videoconferencing Miriam Said was most definitely one of the coolest opportunities that I have had this far in college. While Edward Said is not only a huge benefactor to finding peace in the conflict, he is a scholar I have read about in many classes with much insight to share about the world.  After the conference I got to tweet (on Twitter) about my chance to ask her questions and had many envious friends. How many classes get the opportunity to videoconference Miriam Said and other extremely influential Arabs and Israelis?
            Not only was the videoconferencing a strong addition to the class, but the types of people we got to videoconference were definitely not what I had been expecting. I expected to talk to more formal groups or individuals. Instead we got to talk to artists, members of the LGBT community, and individuals that have shown that peace is not only made through government power, but through the power of people and the bond we each have with each other. I think one extremely important idea to take away from this class is the importance that music and art have in finding similarities among very different groups of people. Today in school we are taught to become consuming subjects that don’t appreciate the value of the arts, but even in an issue where bombs are being sent of almost every day, arts have an importance. If more teachers could envelop the critical pedagogy we have learned in this class, I think people would be more intellectual in general. Instead of learning and educating one particular way, we can find the strength of changing techniques and trying different approaches to learning. This is the type of learning that I benefit most from, learning where I am not only consuming the information from a textbook, but engaging with my classmates and scholars on the topic. Also not being taught at by a teacher, but having the experience of turning around the teacher-educator roles so that I can express my own knowledge on the topic to my peers.
            There are very few things that I would change about this class. The first is just technical, and that would be to eliminate the importance of commenting on other people’s blogs. I think it is more important to engage in this discussion personally then through a measly comment on a post. The other thing I would maybe change is for the final project and it would be having smaller groups to work in. While I loved everyone in my group, working with six others on one individual topic is challenging. I feel like working with groups of three or four on more specific ideas would be more beneficial.
            Overall, this is one of my favorite classes that I have the opportunity to take at IU. It should be a model for how all classes are taught here in the university due to its innovative and critical learning. It would be a shame not to see the Jerusalem project carry on because by the end of class you could most definitely tell that people cared more about the conflict in general, and most people were able to open to up to side they previously were unaware or weary of. It was more than a pleasure getting to be a part of such a fantastic class.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

late but hopefully not too late

well, somehow I got caught up on projects for other classes this week and didn't even look to see if we had posts due this week... so whether or not I get the credit for this blog, I don't really care because I am excited to reflect on everything I have learned in this class. I have said it in the last post, but this is the way I LOVE to learn, I have benefited so much from engaging in this class and reading my classmates blog posts.

Coming into this class, I had a very strong opinion on what I thought about the conflict. When I first started studying this conflict, I had no position on whether or not which side of the conflict I agreed with  more. However, once the decision to make the wall was made, I started to lean more towards support for the Palestinian communities that were being destroyed. It's so hard for me, because I don't have a personal stake in any part of the conflict, especially because I don't really have religious affiliation any more. However, human rights are important to me. All human lives are important to me.

When it comes to the Holocaust, I can't even imagine having family attached to this horrific event in history. The Jewish population, in my opinion deserves a place, a home, somewhere to claim. However, I think they should use their knowledge of being oppressed to realize that while they can have a home, they shouldn't keep other people from coming to that home and making a place there too. I don't wanna talk to much about it, because it is a touchy subject... But, you should come talk to me more about it, if you don't agree or understand.

It's important to have different views, and I think people forget the value in it... We are so worried about fighting the people different from us, and my most general view is that people need to learn to accept difference. We are all different in some way, and there is no reason we shouldn't live peacefully together. My opinion, take it or leave it

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Couple of Small Changes

Overall, I am obsessed with this class. I love the way it's set up. It helps to show that the education system doesn't have to work the way the institution make us think it does. Meaning, writing stupid systemic papers with no-expression and taking tests over information you cram to learn a couple days before a multiple choice test... So I could go on forever about how I hate the education system, but the point is I really enjoy this class and have benefited more from the assignments and interactions here than in most of my other classes.

There are a few small changes I would make to the class. One would be to at the beginning of the class have room for discussion so people can talk about their blogs, or someone else's blog. Allowing for question and discussion on a more personal level. I fell short often of commenting on other people's posts, not because I wasn't loving reading all of the posts. But I have trouble writing in a way that I didn't want to offend people or sound rude. This part of the class I think could use some changing...

The other thing I would recommend is a space to carry on after we have speakers so we have more of a chance to talk with each other about what was raised in class. I feel like there was little time devoted to after speakers talked, and too much time devoted to before they talked. So maybe have blogs due the day of the speaker, instead of the day before. I don't know just an idea.

Again, I'm not saying any of these things have to happen, they just might help the overall understanding of the material.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

An Open Place

I cannot wait to watch the documentary, City of Borders. I'm sure you will learn later but this is what I am extremely interested. This idea of both the Israelis and Palestinians coming together in a community like LGBTQ is so eye opening. In a world that is shut off by so many religious groups all over the world, they use their differences to come together. If learning anything in this class it's that both groups of people are very attached to their history and heritage, but when you are able to overcome those huge differences and look for similarities, you are able to live together.

I think that the Jerusalem Open House is incredible as well. Giving people a place to come in such a strong ability in such a violent community. Not only do I have strong ties to this problem for a love of people in general, but the LGBTQ is very much a part of. Growing up, my family was extremely open and always taught me to love all the people around you, no matter what they look like or believe in. It has always been a part of my life.

These are the type of people that understand the bond between each other, not the separation.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Gas Masks and Puppies

I can't imagine a situation I would be put in here that would require use of a gas mask. However, for Suad, it was imperative. It was imperative that she get a gas mask, she was told to have one, and yet she couldn't get one?

Here in the US, curfew is designed for kids, so that they aren't out late doing "bad things", but here a curfew is imposed for everyone, and getting caught has much more implication then if you were 15 in the States.

So when a gas mask is imperative, but you are under a strict curfew,  what are you supposed to do? The fact that Suad and her friends used their sarcastic humor to analyze the situation they were in is interesting, but what else ? They had to obey these ridiculous rules and enforcement from people that mocked them, so why not mock the situation? It should not be that an entire city or state of people with regard to only that category are mashed together like potatoes.

Im sure puppies like potatoes, but they don't get mashed up because they are just too freaking cute.

 I mean who can seriously deny a puppy? Maybe heartless pricks....

It is my belief that puppies, cats, bears, plants, sealife, or you law every other living organism that has a right to the earth be given equal opportunity to share what the earth provides for us. However, I guess that's just not how it goes. A 19 year old Arab is obviously not as important as a 5 week puppy, unless maybe they have a pug shaped nose...

I know it seems like I'm jus rambling. But seriously, with the dominance that humans have taken in the world, you think that they would use priority for those others that can help them DOMINATE THE WORLD. But instead we choose to take arms against people that are different from us.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Music is the Answer

Music is everything to me.
I can change my mood through music,
I can channel thoughts and messages through music
I can find answers in music.
I can DANCE to music.
 I can do everything through music.

I wish I could play music better, but I can't. I have attempted guitar countless times, I played the flute in middle school, and I played the piano from Kindergarten through the 2nd grade. All were pretty unsuccessful. However I come from a family of musicians, both of my sisters are singers and performers. Seeing them sing brings me a lot of happiness.

Anytime I am having a bad day, the first thing I look for is the probability of live music in the area. When I hear good, live music; my heart beats a little faster. It's almost as if my mood changes in an instant.

Music is key to communication because it is the universal language. Almost everyone can hear or play music, and once it is performed, everyone hears it the same way. It doesn't matter if you know the language or the context behind the song, what matters is that you are hearing the exact same thing as someone else, the exact same way. Music allows people to express what they cannot in words or conversations.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Channel of Rage

"Let's continue living, our lives are in front of us. It's not too late because tomorrow is a new day. If we lose our hope our dream will perish. So reach out a hand in love." Subliminal and The Shadow (Kobi Shimoni and Yoav Eliasi)
I was interested in actually hearing one of the songs that we had to read about in the articles about the movie,  Channel of Rage. The part that I have highlighted is the chorus of the song, not rapped, but sang. As the show continues, you can see the adoration and the meaning that comes from both the rappers and the audience. While, these words seem so simple, it's easy to find a solution to this awful problem. They can continue living every day, without violence, but living a life just as everyone is trying to do. While so many people say this problem is so deep- rooted and it's too late to change anything, they are giving hope saying that there is always time to make a change. Without this forward looking attitude, they will all continue to suffer through this awful life, so now is the time to open your hearts and show love. Love for your heritage, but love for all with a hand reaching out.

At the height of the second intifada, a Zionist spreading the word of no-violence through what most people would consider a violent industry is huge. While most people contribute hip hop to drugs and violence, here he is able to try and change that, and make the conflict more peaceful through means of such a powerful media outlet. Music has the power to make many changes by introducing ideas to youth, who are the future of the conflict. I know that he is mainly aiming at peace among all in Israel, and especially his Jewish counterparts. But regardless, the message stretches farther.

If you then watch the Palestinian rap group, DAM- Born Here. He speaks of the oppression he feels from the Israelis as the Palestinians. He fights for his equal right to the land that is kept from them, while he expresses anger, it seems he just is also fighting for what he believes. He isn't saying Israelis have to leave too, but he wants to be a part of what is his home.  "The separation wall mutes her hope".