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Posts tagged ‘eduventure’

Neophyte in Beirut Ep. 2

It has been a long time since I have written and I don’t have much of an excuse other than starting my internship, getting used to every day living and barking down serveeces (group taxis) on the side of the street.

Saturday night stroll. I guess, the shoes show my Leba-morphosis

Saturday night stroll. I guess, the shoes show my Leba-morphosis

Although I have already been here two months, I still make small snafus and have not assimilated as I had hoped (except for the amount of times I order take-out delivery per week). Even though I understand a lot of Arabic, my Lebanese is still sketchy; I get by in rolling my r’s and extending my s’s in a Leban-ized accent while speaking English.Even though it is extremely frustrating not being able to speak a language fluently (not to brag, but I usually pick up languages in a synch) I have come to terms with the fact that I may just not get this one.  In Lebanon, I’m not forced to speak Arabic and so have gotten, one could say, lazy with the language. Here, if one doesn’t speak English, usually they speak French, which is no problem to me as I switch into French Lebanese: ‘merci’ with a strong rolling r sound. So, I live with little barrier of language.

Well, that is most of the time. While ordering food on the phone there are still a few mishaps. First, the tricky part is describing where I live! Here, there are no strict house addresses, so when I order delivery I have to explain my location perfectly in reference to land marks: across from the government building, up the street from the Thai restaurant and next to that one gas station. I cannot tell you how many times the delivery boys have gotten lost. When I am too tired of describing, I call one of the places that saves your telephone number so my address is already in their delivery system.

Then there was the time I ordered chicken. I wanted grilled chicken skewers (‘taouk’ as they call it here) and the call center woman asked me if I wanted it ‘fresh’. Of course, I want my chicken fresh! What type of a question is that. The end result was a pack of chicken pieces that were raw. I should have known she meant uncooked by using the word fresh. I definitely learned a lesson there. Next time, I’m told, I must specify that I want the chicken ‘ready.’

Other than a few mini delivery disasters, I have settled in without much of a fuss. For any of you worried about my sleep patterns, I am happy to announce that I have now moved apartments and so am not woken up by the bulldozers on Saturdays.

We have had odd weather here, including rain in May, and so I still haven’t gotten to the beach. Soon, hopefully, because someone is craving summer.

On assignment for my job at a Lebanese cooking class

On assignment for my job at a Lebanese cooking class (I’m back center)

What if Humanistic Education = Scientific Education ?

If you ask someone what they would do if they could change any one thing in the world the responses usually range from world peace to ending hunger and stopping wars. So, imagine my surprise when, amongst a room-full of recent Lebanese engineer graduates, I hear repeatedly: If I were a dictator…. I would give more money to art education and make it so the humanities were as respected as the sciences and creative jobs would be just as well paid as those in the scientific arena.

If only this group of friends knew that education reform is one of my greatest passions!

I than had a conversation with one friend who could have been my mirror: she remarked on how she feels that university made her into a robot. For four years, her brain served as a hard drive and was forced full with theory, which she would have to regurgitate onto exams. Basically, she toiled for four years of intense study of formulae to achieve a piece of paper. And now what? She needs to get a job as soon as possible to pay off her loans.

Does this story sound familiar anyone? For some reason, stories like this keep following me wherever I go and they continue to push me to reevaluate my educational path.

Yet To Come: The Best Years of My Life

It hadn’t hit me until a friend said to me, giggling with that vacation glow, “I am on summer break but you are just beginning everything.”  Now I understand why being on summer break has felt so anti-climactic. In college, I would continuously remark how my every day life felt like summer camp (No, I never went to sleep away camp but this was how I imagined it). My friends would agree and chime in, “Yes, I was thinking the same thing earlier today.” I have left that campy bubble and entered another: that of the “real world.”

I keep recalling the relief I felt one year ago when I graduated high school. My IB exams were done and I was off to college– “the best years of my life.” Now, I feel relieved but for a different reason: I will be 20 and in charge of my life. I will be 20 and living the life I create and want. I will be 20 and out of the machine I was put in and, it will be my choice if I want to go back. Curiously, I will be studying this summer out of desire to gain a valuable skill while dissecting cultural complexities–my greatest hobby.

I have only been out of school for four days but my to-do list has grown with my many scattered plans, which I have begun to act on. In fact, I will be attending my first skillshare class this Wednesday evening!  Some may say I am all over the place but I truly feel that I need to try out as my different things as I can in order to find my focus. And so my journey, which many do not understand, scorn and become defensive about (I am not saying you should change YOUR path) has begun.

Skills, skills, skills

As an article in the Atlantic magazine said today: “For an education to be worth anything these days, it needs to impart skills.” Reading these words solidified the WHY I am leaving higher education for an alternative path where my goal is to become a skill-gainer. I fear that after four years, although I would have a diploma in my hands, I will not have learned any tool that I can use in the “real world.” No wonder 53% of all newly graduated college students are unemployed or are working jobs which are way under their supposed skill level as BA holders.

Language fluency is a skill. That is why I have embarked on the journey to learn Arabic. (Yes, I think the language is beautiful as well!). Painting and art are other activities that, in my mind, are tools. In the fall, I am planning on taking an EMT course in hopes of getting certified. Who wouldn’t want a person who is qualified in saving lives in their vicinity? And I hope one day to be able to code, among other aspirations. Now, let’s see how this all unfolds…

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