Greeeeeeetings of peace, world!
I had a wonderful day today! Finally, this semester began -- my final :D:D:D! (Na, not that I'm excited about leaving this place, though; I'm going to miss my teachers and some classmates like CRAZY! But as a teacher of mine told moi, now that I'm in Islamic Studies, we're going to be connected very closely for the rest of our lives. I told him I felt sorry for him, and I'm sure he is sorry for himself, too. I can be quite a pest when it comes to expressing extreme shock over stuff I didn't know before (like what some hadiths say about women), or asking questions, or just explaining my own theories about stuff, you know? Even I feel like I'm being a nuisance when I'm talking, so imagine how they must be feeling! God preserve their patience with me!)
Anyway, so, yeah, first day of the Spring semester was only today (January 18th) when it was really supposed to be January 12th, but since we folks down here in the South don't really know how to respond to snow or how to handle it ('cause we don't get it often, I guess), we, like, TOTALLY freaked out. Sorta had a blizzard, you can say, and so all universities were closed. I even heard that there were no eggs and milk in grocery stores.
But that's not my point. My point was to tell you about my day. You can consider it bragging, but I swear it's just my excitement and love for education and learning--and for my teachers--nothing less, nothing more. Lemme tell you my schedule for today (Tuesday) and how things went and what we did/discussed
10:00-11:15: Seminar course with one of the most beautiful humans ever. I will write a long post describing his personality and intelligence and patience with me another time, but for now, just know that he's one of the most amazing personalities ever. Very brilliant as well. We discussed the way information is transmitted today, the way we learn things, how knowledge is shared. The article we had to read is "Jumping through the Computer Screen" by Anthony Grafton. (I have the full article if anyone's interested in it.) The teacher also explained to us what it means to read actively, to read critically, to evaluate critically, to understand a text while skimming it, and so on. I'll write a separate blog post on this some day, for those who don't know how to skim... like my sister.
11:30-12:45: "The Great Books of Islam" course with my favorite teacher. Since I am taking too many courses and am not to overload in my last semester (some crazy policy, I tell you, but they know better, I guess), I am just attending this class because 1) I love the teacher. Spend one minute with him, and you learn so, SO much you feel like you've just been re-born. 2) It's a fascinating class, and the books assigned seem very interesting. Will dedicate a blog post to the books another time, don't you worry none.
1:00-2:15: Another wonderful class with another incredible teacher. I won't give the title of the course, BUT its objectives include developing a deep understanding of South Asian and Middle Eastern cultures, histories, and civilizations, how they overlap, and the influence they had and still have on each other. It also covers topics like geography, borders, and maps and how we draw these borders or understand them and what they mean (hence a required text called The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography by Martin Lewis and Karen Wigen. Isn't it so cool that we're actually allowed to be critical of established concepts of geography, too? :) It feels really good! Like my thoughts on it actually matter! And I don't get told, "Stop it. Not everything needs to be questioned, okay?"); how to critique things intellectually, acknowledging both its negative and positive elements; and so on. You get the idea. Oh, and, in continuation of last semester's course (which was called "Interpreting the Middle East" and offered by the same teacher), we learn how to detect the media's biases from an academic and intellectual point of view, realizing that it tells the truth sometimes but often tells more lies than truth. We get taught how to approach these kinds of things... without getting fired up over them.
2:30-3:45: Persian! Heck, who said I remember all the Persian I learned last semester?! Are we REALLY expected to review over the break? :S Well, the teacher's rrrreally cool, totally knows how to teach a language, so he was understanding that I didn't remember how to say "I wrote" :)
4:00-5:15: FINALLY a course on Afghanistan and Central Asia!!! I'd been waiting for this class since about 2 years now, when I told the department how disappointing it is that, considering the success and strength of our department and the expertise of our faculty, we don't have anything on Afghanistan, which is surprising as well, considering America's interest in the region. The teacher who teaches it now (I'll write a separate long blog post about his highness one day, inshaAllah) willingly offered it, and you won't believe, world: The class filled up within a week of registration! Again, I can't register for the class officially because I'd have to go beyond the limit, so I'm auditing it. Plus, you can't really expect to teach a class on Afghans/Pashtuns (most of the class is on Afghanistan), and not have sweet innocent Pashtun Qrratu to tell you ALL about her life as a Pashtana. (I'm kidding, of course.) In this class, too, we talked about being critical and impartial in what we see and read--and how to do that. The teacher told us, for example, that he was trying to find a video on Youtube that would give us a general overview of Afghanistan, of the many cultures there (Afghanistan is a multicultural society, though not a pluralistic one, since the different ethnicities don't get along so well with each other all the time), but he couldn't find ANY that were not biased. He said that, in particular, the videos made by Pashtuns were attacking Tajiks by calling them homosexuals (very true, mind you, in many videos I've seen as well) and other Afghan ethnic groups, and the Tajiks were attacking Pashtuns (also very true!), and so on. Every group blames the others, every group denies the others the title of "Afghan," every group wants to take over Afghanistan, every group complains about the way it's treated by the others .. .and the blames never end. This doesn't help when you wanna try to understand a society, since you know that all of them have good and bad in them, and you can't take at face value everything they give you about themselves. Even academics often take side, depending on which group they study. For instance, someone studying the Hazaras in Afghanistan might ceaselessly present the Hazaras as "the most oppressed people in all of humanity" (example, not necessarily a fact); someone doing the Pashtuns might ceaselessly present them as the most hospitable people on earth -- or someone who doesn't like Pashtuns so much might portray them as the rulers of Afghanistan, the oppressors of the minorities, and perhaps go as far into stupidity as to claim them all Taliban. This is why we need to be very mindful about who the speaker is, what her/his agenda may be, why she/he is saying what's being said, and so forth.
I'll give a list of the assigned books for this class in another blog post, ka khair wee.
After the last class, I had an awesome discussion with a grad student who's serving as our TA for the Afghanistan class. I think we talked for a good 1.5 hour or so . . . it was sooo good!
So! That was my day! Such a beautiful one! There's nothing like being surrounded by a group of people who are leading scholars in their fields! I am blessed, alhamdulillah!
Feel free to envy me :) ... though I don't suggest it, because I'm gonna miss them like CUH RAY ZEE when I leave!