Thursday, July 12, 2007

What's with the fifth degree from Saudi? - and other questions


It's going to be a looooong weekend.
I'm riding down to my parents' birthplace with my Aunt C. inshaAllah. I actually don't anticipate drama. I think Allah is testing me with this one. I think patience and love will be key. I also plan to enjoy my time with my cousins, especially the one whose birthday is Monday. She's also the youngest and smartest and most sensitive of the bunch, and I miss her. The rest of the time I'll be reading or sleeping- I doubt Aunt C. would unbend enough for me to help them drive, and it's between 9 and 12 hours driving. Which means I'm headed out of here soon. Praying for mercy the entire way.

D. moved to Syracuse, to start his master's studies bootcamp for journalists. I'm definitely going to miss D's presence. I think what confused me so about him is the fact that he's a one in a million friend; one that makes me feel confident, smart, and safe at the same time. I finally figured out that while he's not my future husband, the one for me will have those same qualities times about a hundred and BE MUSLIM. So there. Question resolved. He's enjoying his time in bootcamp and I'm glad; that's something he's wanted to do for a very long time, and I'm glad he's happy with that choice. I also know that that's the end of an era, since I most likely won't be in DC by the time he finishes his studies.

Speaking of DC, yesterday I took my accent seminar students for a field trip to the Capitol and the House Gallery. I think the trip itself went pretty well; But I've got some serious questions. If the congresspeople and the Capitol are supposed to be freely accessible to the people, then why do you have to have separate passes to get to the House galleries, Senate galleries, and the Rotunda? Why do you have to have a Capitol staffer with you to see all three at the same time? One red-shirted guide nearly ticked me off by quite loudly explaining that I didn't have the right pass for the rotunda. I let my students see it anyway (this is MY government, too!), and they snapped photos before the red-shirt controlfreak used a walkie talkie to call a Capitol guard to escort us away. Humph.
And, oh, yeah, we got to see the vote on the bill to support education and decrease in student loan debt. Steve Chabot, I am severely disappointed in you! How dare you vote no on a bill that would help so many of your constituents in Cincinnati to excape from the burdens placed in front of higher ed in this country! One of only 5 who did so as well. I'll be writing a formal letter. So yeah, it was def cool to see my past and present representatives on the floor. When the vote was first called, the floor was empty. My students asked, "Is this it?" and wondered exactly how many people would get to vote... and then they started trickling in. I personally found it fun to see how they were dressed, who they talked to, and how they made the vote- they took these little cards and placed them into a slot, then pushed the button to make their choice; at the end they were asked if they wanted to change their vote, I guess to prevent mistakes. One rep was awesome- she wore a white jacket, black skirt, had her hair elaborately braded into a crown, and a long flowing red scarf over her shoulder. I remember thinking that'd be a killer hijab. It was a thrill to see John Conyers and Charlie Dingel as well as Ambassador Wilson, too. Very cool. I hadn't seen that scene since I left my lobby position my sophomore year.

And then I returned to the school to teach my night class. I met two very nice sisters named Samiya and Fatema, from Jubeid (sp?) in Saudi. They proceeded to ask me fiftyleven questions: Oh, you're Muslim? Where are you from? And your family? No, I mean, are your whole family Muslim? Do you speak Arabic? Oh, so that's what you know? How did you come to Islam?

That last one... geesh. I answer that question so much, yo, after the impromptu interview It was a bit much. But when I gave a general answer "Oh, I took shahada at college, when I was 18", she was all, "But, HOW?!".

Okay. Que rude. Luckily the bell rang and I went to teach my class. My student Ishmael had seen them crowd me in the lobby and said, "I know, they interviewed me, too." It's hilarious, but at the same time, makes me kinda mad. What's up with that?!

Anyhow, I'm off on a journey. Please make dua'a for my grandmother, and for me, and for my family. InshaAllah I'll talk to you all after I get back.



  1. Sounds like an interesting time. Gotta love nosy people.
    Despite having lived in the area almost my entire life, I've never seen a bill voted on.

    Have a safe and fantastic trip!

  2. Assalamu `alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    Very interesting articles you have here on your blog. I have had such strange encounters like the one you have described above. May I ask what class(es) do you teach? Are you a professor or a lecturer?

    Khalil Al-Puerto Rikani