Monday, August 14, 2006

End of summer session, any ideas?

The summer session ended this friday and I am a bit frustrated because I couldnt plan properly for summer vacations in the states or elsewhere. I wanted to go to Canada but the guy who is supposed to sign my form (to allow me to leave USA and come back) is on vacation himself. Also I have this interview for an inetrnship next week so I pretty much can't travel for long periods.

Je lance tout de même ma petite bouteille à la mer! Y aurait il des Tunisiens (ou autre) aux états unies qui voudraient être mes compagnons de voyage à une ville qu'on choisrait ou quelqu'un qui se proposerait de m'acceullir quelques jours, en retour j'offrirai un hébergement à New York.?

Anyway, to tell you about the last period, exams were fine, just got too tired and need so much outdoor activities beacuse I spent most of the time at the library(ies).

Yesterday I volunteered some hours at the woodstock senior center where they 'offer' (for a dollar and a half) lunches to senior poor New Yorkers. The work was quite hard as we had to work very quickly to serve hungry old people on time. They were seated long ahead of time and were following our movements installing the food and getting ready to serve. We first had to pack bread and butter, clean fruits, etc. Then two of the volunteers refused to serve the hot meals beacause of the steam and the heat, they said it was like a sauna so I accepted gladely to do it. All in all, we had about 250 people that we served in one hour and a half. I felt myself working at some Mc Donalds as I didnt had time to think or do anything else but putting my portion of vegies and a portion of mashed potatoes in every plate bareing the choice of the person, handing the plate to another volunteer who handed the whole thing to the old person warning him/her to stand behind the yellow line (I finally asked, what are you afraid of, that these oldies jump at us and agress us? They can bearly move, why do we have this yellow line? They said some have attitudes and complain about the food...was quite disappointed because probably of the way we treat old people in Tunisia. I mean my grand ma complaigns all the time and nobody would dare tell her to stop it or contradicts her:).
So I didnt like very much the way these old people were treated or considered but they had a descent meal and they had the opportunity to talk to their counterparts. It was like a feast for them, as many of them are homeless or live by themselves, some can't move that much and I can't see them cooking so I am wondering what kind of food they normally eat.

Next tuesday, will be my second time volunteering at the Horse therapy center. I love the horses although after some hours I smell just like them and I feel uncomfortable smelling like that in the subway. As last week, it was too hot and kids didnt show up, I had a phone call from the manager saying they needed as many volunteers as possible this tuesday because all the kids will want to come this week. I love horses and I love kids so I really enjoy this project although I would have loved not to smell like a stable and not to be sweating all over the place:)

My school matched me with some alumni for social/cultural and career networking. He's a lawyer in New Jersey. I met him and his wife yesterday at a café that specialises in Chocolate. Everything was made out of chocolate, even Pizza but tried no wierd combinations, just a venezualian kind of drink (just spicy chocolat fondu) and a cake with strawberries, choclate of course and crème frèche. Was delicious. The couple were extremely freindly et sympathiques!
We stayed there for about three houres, walked a bit in Union square where groups of youngsters were dancing hip hop and headed back home. I had a delicious evening and I am eager to further share stuff with them!

I read some comment in Tarek's blog that there were people who write their diaries and show off beacause they had some kind of scholarship and made it somewhere without having to spend their own money. I just hope that I am not percieved like that:) Not that I really care but I am really like a kid discovering some new toys and new environment for my experiences and wanted to share them with some of you at least.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Alors à présent ça chante en unisson tout en clapant des mains en rythme! Moi naze de fatigue même dans ce boucan je me suis endormie.
Plus tard, je m'en vais regarder un film en bas avec les autres: Lolita, si il tient toujours.


les choses commencaient à devenir intéréssantes. Des motos impressionanntes commencaient à s'agglomérer sous ma fenêtre mais les cops y ont mis fin makheureusement. Pourquoi malheureusement, car les conducteurs, conductrices et accompagnateurs sont habillés aussi étrangement qu'on puisse l'imaginer et sont construit comme des pompiers et poupées barbies (noirs biensur)
Malheureusement aussi, j'ai pas de pile dans lmon apreil photo alors voici des photos trés faible réolution de ma web cam.
En tout cas, la fête est bien partie pour durer, plus ça va, plus il y a du monde, assez bizarrement à part le concert et la bouffe y a pas grand chose qui se passe, mais les Harlèmois savent faire la fête alors il suffit de peu pour les allumer, leur activité favorite est de "hang around with sista's and bro's", de reliquer les mecs et les minettes d'un côté de se montrer de l'autre, c'est le concours de celle qui montrera le plus de jambe ou de poitrine et celui qui exibera le plus de muscles, torse nus! (oui je sais les filles! j'en ai de la chance!)

Vue sur Sakura park

Au moment où j'écris ces quelques mots, une horde d'afro-américain a envahI sakura park, juste en face de ma fenêtre. Le parc normalement assailli par la communauté hispanique avoisinnante avec leur BBQ et leur musique latino en sourdine a laissé place aujourd'hui à du regea, à du jazz et autre rap (muique black quoi). Ce qui se passe? La semaine de Harlem! rien de moins!
Pour commencer par le début, après une soirée avec d'autres fulbrighters pour la plus part étudiant à Columbia, j'ai dormi vers les 2 heures du matin pour me réveiller à 7 heure: durection Abyssinian Baptist church à l'est de Harlem. J'ai toujours adoré leGospel et je me suis dite que j'irais bien en entendre de la 'source'. Entrainant dans mon sillages deux japonais qui sont dans ma classe (il parait que le Gospel fait fureur au près des jeunes femmes japonaises, allez savoir pourquoi). On s'est trompé dans l'approximation de l'adresse de l'église et on est y arrivé à peine quelques minutes avant l'office. Mais on y a trouvé (à l'extérieur) une horde de touristes faisant la queue comme pour entrer au cinema. Ils étaient mal fringués, avec leurs bouteilles d'eau et leur sacs à dos. On a fait la queue et on a v passé les bons habitant de Harlem sur leur 31 tout droit sortis d'un film des années 30. Magnifique! Un bonhomme en charge de la quiétude des paroissiens faisait la police au près des touristes importunistes pour enfin nous annoncer que l'église était pleine et qu'il fallait attendre l'office de 12 heures. Mes amis japonais et moi avons alors 'attrapé' un yellow cab back to Columbia University. Typiquement à l'américaine, on a eu un beakfast au strabucks du coin. Les bibliohtèques de Columbia étaient fermée jusqu'à midi (ne le savant pas, on les as presque toutes faites). De retour dans ma chambre, j'entends ce boucan venant du parc, j'y laisse mes livres et je me dirige vers le parc. Stand vendant de la musique afro, vêtements et bijoux afro et un cancert géant se préparant. Les Harlémois (si j'ose ainsi les franciser) avaient apporté leurs chaises pliantes, leurs parapluis servant de parasole et leur évantails en papier pour s'intaller de bonheur devant la scène.
Après y avoir fait un tour, fait connaissance de quelques associations oevrant à Harlem, parlé à quelques vendeurs, je me suis dirigée avec un autre classamte de Jamique que j'y avait rencontré vers la bibliothèque principale. Là j'ai retrouvé un autre classamte (encore un autre) avec qui j'ai passé 4 heures à réviser de maths appliqués à l'économie. Hyper boring, hyper freezing (plus il fait chaud dehors, plus ils augmentent la clim, jeportais carrément une veste). Au retour, il y avait encore plus de monde dans la parc, des voitures partout dans les rues avoisinnantes, eds rues fermées à la circulation, le concert a débuté, des groupes de jeunes rappent sur un autre musique dans un coin du parc, des petits vieux dansent en se dandinant, des jeunes noir ébène magnifiquement habillées se dandinent pour qui veut admirer et l'ambiance est au beau fixe!
je n'ai pourtant nulle énergie pour y retourner, j'observe tout ça de ma fenêtre en pensant aux engins hyper bruyant qui vont se pointer la nuit pour netoyer l'endroit et me réveiller du même coup!
Des communautés qu'il y a ici, l'afro américaine est celle que j'aime le mieux, les hispaniques sont assez renfermés sur eux même, les blancs on dirait de la bouffe sans harissa (donc sans gout), les chinoix sont trop rigides des articulations mais les noirs (et excusez moi du terme) savent vraiment mettre l'ambaince,tu passes à côté de quelqu'un qui danse et il t'entraine avec lui, ils sont extravertis et énergétiques, ils ont une attitude et se sentent porteurs d'une grande culture musicale et communautaire. A approfondir..mais pour l'heure de je vais m'allonger sur mon lit en hauteur avec une vue plogeante sur tout ça!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Last week was....

OK, so here is what happened in my somewhat eventful last week: I sat for two mideterms in micro and macro economics. Micro went much better than macro but the beauty of the American system of grading made me get a good mark out of a bad exam. How is that possible? It's simply that everybody else (my classmates) did as bad as me, some even worse so there it is! This is defintely something i'm gonna like here, it's not how good you do by yourself but how better you do comparing to your mates or collegues which looks more like the real world indeed.
So yesterday after mideterms were over, I went to an orientation held by New York Cares organization that is a wonderful opportunity because I can volunteer for the local community without really committing myself on the long run or having strict obligations.
The idea is to commit to one small project at a time, say it tutoring kids from poor neighberhoods, working in a shelter, kitchen soups or things like that. After that I grabbed some junk food and run to a concert by some "Sri Chinmoy" in the Riverside Church. Wether I have no sens whatsoever of music whether this guy was fooling us. They first projected a documentary on him with the main explicit idea that he was a simple guy( doesn't ask money for concerts, helds meditation workshops for free) but what they showed was him with celebrities (Mandela, Desmund Tutu, Mother Theresa, Pope, Gorbatchev, etc and facts on the millions of poems he wrote, thousands of books in English, thousands in Bangali and some other thousands in Hindi, hundreds of thousands of musical compositions and finally he plays about 20 instruments) so I said ok, I though this was rather a concert than a Circus!
Anyway the 75 years young guy pops up and starts playing instruments one after the other, and at some points I really needed to cover my ears because it was quite awful....it felt like when I was playing piano at 7 years old and where I was making up melodies that have no consistency and no real art. That was a bit his case, although like Cubism, I was wondering if it was me not understanding the genious of this guy or if he really sucks. About 4 instruments later, I headed out back home.
Today, I attended a very intresting class held for free by the main library "Butler" on how to use the software endnote to create bibliographies and as a comp science engineer and former student at ENSI, I felt really ashamed of myself (of course deep down my heart) because I recalled how pitiful we were back then (and still) when we were writing one by one our bibliographies and almost sometimes inventing books just to show that we have read something, I mean the course was so easy and I think that if engineers don't know these basics, I don't know what to think of our education....
Then, I was heading to my professional development class when I heard some Jazz band somewhere on the campus. Loving Jazz, I fellowed the music which led me to some BBQ party on campus to welcome some unedrgraduates (I think), there was plenty of food, drinks and everything needed and people were having a pic nic on the grass while a live Jazz band with a gorgious singer was playing some songs. So had a great lunch with a great music and left for my class. We basically had somebody from the organization of career service of our school explaining to us the many opportunities available, how to look for jobs, where, how to write a resume, career trends, emplyers' demands, etc. Was very intresting to me because as a career changer, I need very much some customised advice and some in depth perspective to make the best of my dual studies.
Anyway, this was my day and after spending some time on readings at the library I am back to my room probably going to study for my math exam next week and finals the week after...Time is going so fast here and hope i'll always keep myself busy because on a social relations point of view, it's still very limited...
to be continued, so don't get bored:)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Updates from my life in New York

Tomorrow my first exam (mid term) in quatitative methods for economic analysis, should be an easy one especially that i did 'prepa', let's hope for the best.

In the entrance to the International house where I am staying, a whole huge pile of books was on a tale, saying donation from 'forgot the name' foundation, PLEASE TAKE. Books in different languages, grapped one in French and another one in English from the same auhor, thrilles, not excatly what I like most but 'que demande le peuple'....isn't life smooth:)

Tormorrow afternoon, NY Philarmonic concert in central park, going with the International house residents but also planning to meet some other Fulbrightes in NYC...will defintely enjoy the music and the socializing!

I have two huge (and expensive) text books of macro and micro economics to go through, and the wierd thing about that is that I am excited about reading them!


and that's it I guess, gong back to my readings now:)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Alien in New York

Contrairement au titre du blog et depuis seulement une semaine que je suis à New York, je n’ai pas tellement le sentiment d’être une étrangère ici, car à New York tout le monde est plus ou moins étrange, tout le monde est ethnique et unique dans sa façon de s’habiller, de se comporter mais aussi de parler un anglais avec un accent particulier, mais on épouse peu à peu quelques caractéristiques qui te rendent invisible dans la foule et dans intégré en tant que New Yorkais.

Columbia university couvre plusieurs blocs et les petits commerces avoisinants lui sont plus ou moins dédiés, « Columbia houseware », « columbia bookstore », « ivy league pub », et j’en passe. Les études se passent bien et déjà une semaine après la rentrée, les tests commencent et bien entendu les ‘assignements’ qui font qu’on n’a pas tellement le temps de socialiser et de visiter en profondeur ou même en largeur Manhatan, mais on aura le temps (enfin j’espère).

Chaque école a tout pour faire le bonheur de ses étudiants, bibliothèques, ressources diverses, conseillers en toute sorte, matériel à gogo (computer labs, wireless network, photocopieuses, imprimantes, etc etc) de quoi rendre vert de jalousie nos pauvres profs back home qui se battent pour photocopier quelques exemplaires du cours. N’empêche je trouve qu’il y a une consommation excessive et exagérée pour ne pas dire irréfléchie. Les profs sont sympas, pour la session d’été tous sont jeunes, hyper décontractés et très disponibles comme la plus part du staff de l’université.

Entre les activités socioculturelles organisée par Columbia, celles organisées spécifiquement pour les étudiants étrangers, celles organisées par l’International house où je réside et les possibilités offertes par Fulbright (à NYC, il y a possibilité d’avoir des billets gratuits pour des opéra, ballets, et autres représentations) et puis tout ce que NYC offre comme concert et activités pour ses résidents, il n’y a que l’embarra du choix pour rester occupé et profiter au max de chaque minute. Le tout est de garder la tête sur les épaules et de ne pas perdre le cap.

D’après la session d’orientation conduite par amideast à Tunis, sur l’échelon du ‘culture shock’ j’en suis à l’étape ‘honeymoon’ où tout me semble être au mieux. C’est peut être un peu vrai, je ne suis pas encore mortellement homesick et je trouve que tout se passe smoothly. Le truc c’est que je ne trouve pas tout forcément magnifique et génial, c’est simplement qu’il y a plus d’opportunités et plus de challenges pour ma petite personne et que j’entends bien tirer avantage de cette situation. Je me rends aussi compte des différents avantages de ma bourse surtout en la comparant à d’autres (gouvernementales, world bank, etc). c’est tout pour l’instant. A la prochaine !

Saturday, June 24, 2006

the END... or is the start?

well, here I am again, just about to live in the big apple or almost. Supposedly I was to be in California since last sunday but a regrettable mistake of my sponsor, sending my visa paper to some other country made me miss the pre-academic course that I was supposed to take. So here I am heading straight forwards to my real classes at columbia university. I was accepted at the International house in NYC and i'm very excited about living there, not much for the tiny, simply furnished,far too expensive room there (more than 800$) but for the vibrant community and the incredible amount of activities and social/cultural/career networks provided by the institution. I just hope i'll like it there, but I really wish it to be a life chaging experience!

Silly enough, I have this scary scene that I sometimes dream about (it looks more like a nightmare) where I am attending my first lecture or so, and where some brilliant and eloquent professor goes on with some economic jargon to which I understand nothing, I turn around and I see students interacting with him and taking notes. The issue is that I am just facing a new career, a new learning environment, a new culture and what is called an 'ivy league' kind of schools (term that I came to know only few days ago) and so I am wondering if i'm capable of making it there. All that I know is that I will do my best and that this is what i've been dreaming of as a teenager and wishing for as I matured so it's now up to me to make the best of it.

On the 5th of July, classes start for an intensive 14months of economic policy management course (I still need to know why on earth did they gave me an intensive program) . Every day I go on the website of the university and every day I discover new things, incredible opportunities that make me understand why are these universities so famous worldwide and why their students are so well paid.

As for this blog, I am thinking of closing it and starting a brand new one. New major experience, new blog, don't you think so?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Beyond understanding, I am just expressing a feeling!

And here is the email i've sent to the group :

Dear **** and all,

I have attended some international events before, some were summits with thousands of delegates, some forums with hundreds and some seminars with tens of delegates but each and everytime there was a mailing list created with all the emails to further discuss the issues we gatherd for. During the united nations world summit on the information society thousands of delegates were added to a mailing list recieving about a hundred emails a day. Some were reading them and contributing, some others just preferred to unsuscribe.

While I perfectly understand that some of us are too busy and judging that they are recieving too many emails, I though want to express a concern here.
A mailing list is a connectivity tool as much as a web site can be and if some feel it's easier to get information directly in their email inboxes, it's also their right to do so. I rather would suggest that those who feel overloaded by emails just unsuscribe from the mailing list and join exclusively the web site plateform. Judging of the relevance of an email is also quite personal and what is not intresting for one might be intresting for someone else and I hope each and everyone will respect that.

We are different people with different concerns and intrests and I hope that we will see through our diffences and create a solid group working toward the same objective of making a change.

From a personal point of view now, getting "upset" about recieving too many emails is a bit a harsh for me, probably something to do with my culture (as we don't express being upset about a visitor coming home too often or somebody calling too often or sending irrelevant emails ) and I am sorry about reacting to this but I felt like I needed to and I hope this will help us better understand the Global world we live in and the Global impact we wish to have.

Best wishes,

malla 7keya hethi, ejjme3a gens bien, ma 3Andhomch wa9T yethay3ouh!

Am I missing the point? just enlight me please....

Well this definitely a post I would like you guys to comment on because it went a bit beyond my understanding. Here is part of an email received today by the "organizer" of the youth event held prior to the Bali conference.

H e says “The email addresses that I gave on the last day were NOT supposed to be for us to stay connected as a big group - that is what the website is for. It was for you to keep in contact with each other on a one to one basis. People are getting upset that they are getting many emails everyday from people that are just email blasting the email list about this and that. Lets direct any news, updates, funny stories, etc. to our NEW WEBSITE, which ***** so brilliantly put together, at www.globalyouthinaction.org. It should only be on very rare cirumstances that you should email all 80 of us, like when the earthquake happened in Yogyakarta.”

I felt somehow concerned by it as I did create the mailing list that made people upset about receiving too many emails. My feeling before this email is that this was the least active mailing list ever seen in my life. Very few people were answering back important issues (or at least what seemed to me as important) and others- very few- were saying hi to each others.

So far and since about three weeks 44 emails have been exchanged in a group of 86 people, only 40 of them are subscribed to the list, the rest are whether simply missing or are pasting 86 emails each and every time they want to email the group. 13 ‘members’ of the mailing list are receiving a daily digest and two subscribed to receive no email at all(so why subscribing to the mailing list then?).

These are the facts. Now what I would like you to help me understand what is so upsetting about receiving emails from a mailing list that was formed after what I believed and I felt everybody believed the same, an extraordinary gathering of 86 young people that claimed to be willing to act and move the initiative forward. Now these folks ain’t no activists at all.

Many heard for the very first time about the word civil society but the Americans they are did hear about community service and some have been involved in some activity during their short lives. So here they come claiming that it is a “Global Youth in Action” conference. Well my feeling is that they are just youth. Neither they are global nor are they in action.

I have to admit that I have also committed this disrespectful mistake of subscribing them to the Global Young Greens mailing list which sends about 10 other emails per week. Well I was mislead because while in group sessions and sitting in a beautiful powerful circle I saw some of my fellow delegates standing up, going to the middle of that circle and say that they were not aware before, that there is so much to do and that those who know about initiatives please inform the others. Also as one of the sessions that lasted a whole morning was conducted by the “Pachamama alliance” was on rain forests cutting and the disasters that are happening and will happen due to that. Another remarked speaker and workshop leader during the main conference was Lynn twist which was a writer as well as the fundraiser of the “Pachamama alliance” and in which workshop I’ve seen many of my fellow delegates which seemed like really appreciating it. So I stupidly told myself that these folks seemed touched and somehow inspired by environmental sustainability/disasters/activism whatever way you see it and that it would be a good idea to involve them in this Global initiative of Young greens from all over the world. But I am seeing people sending emails to the list saying the magical word of “please unsubscribe me”. So now I am completely lost. Who are the folks that were with me in Bali, what were their respective motivations while attending the conference (a very important point and part of every conference that we simply missed during this one), what is it that they gained form this conference (another point that we missed discussing) and what changed in their lives if anything ever changed!

What we did during the last day was to write down our commitments and read them loudly to the group. What amazed me is that some committed to “stay in touch with the rest of the group”! How inspiring! The conference costs each young person 2000$, add the air fare and the airport taxes, add dinners and transport, add extra activities. Three Nobel peace price winners were there full time to inspire delegates, Balinese danced the whole day long, sang and put flowers wherever our feet were supposed to walk. An organising team worked the whole year long, invited writers, famous and less famous activists and people committed to “keep in touch with the rest of the group”, Did I dream attending a conference while attending a holiday youth camp?

Those of you who are busy working and studying and are under 30 (so are supposed to be more open minded), please tell me what is so upsetting about receiving emails from “interesting” people met at a conference, upsetting enough not to write it directly to the mailing list, not to unsubscribe from the mailing list but to send emails to the “organizer” of the event (which job ended at the minute the conference ended, at least in youth led and youth oriented events, that’s the way it goes) complaining about the many emails received from the group. What is it that they take in their breakfast that makes them think that too many emails get into their private space and overload their open minded capacities to accept each and everyone freedom to send or not emails, and opinion to effectively “share” information, updates and ‘funny stories?’ among the group. Here is a hint folks!: if you don’t like an email, don’t read it, with a high speed connexion that I am pretty sure everyone has it takes a second to delete an email. If a mailing list is causing you trouble unsubscribe from it! If you don’t plan to get involved in anything, don’t attend 3000 worth conferences to get inspired!?

So Tunisian friends, how do you see things, what am I missing here?