Posted: 02 Oct 2013 09:55 AM PDT
Having traveled to Jordan twice in my life, spending at least six weeks in this predominantly Muslim country, I always return home with great stories to share and answers to questions.
Some questions are about my personal experience, others about the country itself, and a whole lot about the religion — Islam. I always enjoy the questions and curiosity. However, the serious misconceptions people have about Jordan are mind-boggling.
Jordan is an attractive country for many reasons. With the continuation of the two-year civil war to its north, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict to its west, and the painful history of American military intervention to its northeast, Jordan, in the midst of all the chaos, is an extremely peaceful and safe country. And that's not to mention its jaw-dropping view of white stone houses stacked upon rolling hills, and its Grecco-Roman history and artifacts left from the Neolithic period, all of which can be peacefully enjoyed without worry about the occurrence of causalities.
One question I've been asked several times is, "So, you had to wear that thing on your head and cover yourself, right?" Wrong — and that thing is called a jibab. Jordan is one of the most liberal countries in the Middle East, next to Kuwait, Lebanon and a couple others.
There is no legal dress code for women in Jordan. There is a dress code in the Quran, but the Jordanian government is secular and does not force the women to abide by that code.
Out of respect to the culture and customs, tourists ought to cover their chest, knees, and shoulders. However, if they don't, this won't be the end for them. Stares will come their way, but rarely do the local men harass women. This isn't Saudi Arabia, where in some cities, women are forbidden to leave their homes without the jibab and even sometimes the abay (cloak).
Another fun question is, "Weren't you scared? I would have been freaking out." While I was freaking out over how awesome the Roman ruins are, I've never felt safer anywhere than Jordan. The crime rate is certainly lower than it is here in the US. I never feared a break-in, public shootings, or an armed gunman holding up a gas station. These things are not common in Jordan.
A misconception that is rather troublesome is the idea of abuse toward women being a cultural norm. Yes, Jordan is a male-dominant country. No, not all men abuse their wives. I'm sure some do, but that happens here in America, too.
I have never been forced to do anything against my will, nor did I fear so at any point during my visits. Nor did I worry about bombings occurring on every corner I turned. These common misconceptions are the outcome of pure ignorance and poisoned conceptions from the consistently xenophobic media.
To avoid this hive think, it's important to do your research about a foreign country before forming an opinion.
Posted: 01 Oct 2013 08:24 PM PDT
Nancy Sommers, co-author of A Writers Reference, gave a speech about her academic essay, 'I Stand Here Writing,' and spoke about the required college handbook for College Writing Program courses on Friday at the Warren Enters Theatre in Upton Hall.
Sommers shared her passion for writing and the difficulty that comes with it. She introduced something to the campus that could be used not only throughout a college student's career, but also throughout future endeavors after college. A Writers Reference was adopted by the campus last year, and it's also the most widely used textbook in America, Sommers said.
Sommer, who has taught at Harvard University since 1987, wanted a way to unify her life and write an essay to "show that it's possible to be both personal and academic." This was an experiment not just for herself, but for her students, too.
Sommers went into depth about the difficulty of making connections between what's known as your 'personal life' and 'academic life.' Through 'I Stand Here Writing,' she showed what making personal connections to your writing looks like. She is a firm believer of writing toward your interest and that writing in college is an exciting time for students.
"You have to believe when you choose what you're writing about in college you can learn something about yourself," Sommers said.
Dr. Michele Ninacs, assistant professor of English and director of the college writing program, has been touched by Sommers essay, 'I Stand Here Writing,' which is a common reading assignment for students.
"Every text you create in your life is a representation of who you are as a human being," Ninacs said.
She wants her students to know that they don't have to write by formula anymore and leave their ideas out of a paper, a similar message the article from Sommers is communicating to students.
At the beginning of each semester, students are often faced with the difficulties of buying textbooks. A lot of them are expensive and students have to make the decision to buy it while wondering if it'll be used or not throughout the semester.
Ninacs shared the lengthy process of making these decisions. Ninacs, and members of the CWP, felt that Sommers' book was the best fit for the institution. After an extensive year of reviewing dozens of books, Sommers' handbook was the winner. Eventually, the committee made the choice of what they thought was the best fit for students.
"Once we narrowed it down to two, we actually did focus groups with students, we did focus groups with faculty, we had the publishers and the authors of the book come in and did extensive interviewing," Ninacs said.
Financial benefits were kept in mind in the decision-making process. Ninacs shared that instead of students having to purchase three different books for three CWP courses, this would be the only book needed for all three classes.
"We wanted to make sure that students had one book that would serve them for all of these courses and when they go on to writing intensive courses, as well," Ninacs said. "When I hear feedback from students, they love the book. This is a book that will go on your bookshelf next to your dictionary."
Ninacs believes that having one book was also helpful for faculty. With faculty obtaining knowledge and becoming engaged on how to properly use the handbook, it became frequently used in the classroom. In turn, this helped students get the most use out of their money.
Sommers has given speeches at many universities and hosted several workshops that help professors respond to student writers or how to use the handbook. She is a Braddock Award Winner, nonfiction writer, blogger, and has made three educational films in addition to leading to Harvard's Expository Writing Program for 20 years.
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