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Religion Archives - Away She Goes
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Varadero

Picture this: you’ve spent three weeks living in a beautiful foreign country but have barely seen the beaches.  You only have two showers and they’re both always cold, and you’ve been eating arrozcompollo morning noon and night since you’ve been here.  Your mattress is thin, the pillows are stuffed with rags and old cotton batting. But then you get the best news: you’re headed to an all-inclusive resort on the longest uninterrupted beach in the world.  All you can eat food, much of which comes from la Yuma.  All you can drink liquor, but the only one that matters is rum.  The showers are hot, and there’s one for every pair of people. Okay, this place creeped me out. Also among the amenities?  Cubans are bussed in and out every evening, and only if they have proper identification proving that they work on a resort.  This way, there are no pesky hungry people ruining your beach view.  Bingo is conducted in English, French, Spanish and German.  At every meal beef–no matter that outside of these tourist traps is like winning the lottery to find beef from a cow in a Cuban restaurant. “I can’t even say ho-laaa!” the tourists cackle, mostly Canadians and British.  People stumble around at all hours, never leaving the specified resort area.  Never removing their precious plastic bracelets that separate them from the rabble that is Cuba. We only stayed for three days, but for most, this is all they will ever see of Cuba. We stuff our faces, we shower several times a day.  We drink all day long, accomplishing little else.  We cook...

Joy is More Sustainable than Duty

“If you feel like it’s a duty or hard work to help the poor, don’t do it.” It was the first time I had ever heard someone say that many people who help the world’s poor do so because they find it fun, interesting and challenging. I smiled in spite of myself, and felt like I was looking up to see an old friend for the first time in years. Whenever people ask why I wan to do this, I’m at a loss. Yes, I do feel some sort of moral obligation to humanity, but there are a lot of ways to fulfill that obligation. I think my neighbors who deliver meals and spend time with isolated friends in nursing homes are also doing good work that improves us all as a species. I view those who lead campaigns to pick up trash at local parks in much the same way. So I could easily help people in a different manner, and in the past I have, from teaching CCD to leading free tours at the State House to being a good granddaughter. And yet, I feel compelled to do this, to do more. Or, more accurately, to do different. Hearing Professor Shaugnessy say that the people who do the best job helping the world’s poor at the people who love it, thrive on it, are good at it has, in a way, let me out of the closet as someone who is happily, selfishly trying to save the world.  Or at least some small corner of it. So here’s the thing: I’m good at this stuff, and it...

Concerns About Egypt Going Forward

The new constitution needs to come hastily but be respectful of human rights State of Emergency needs to be lifted.  Now. The police force (or a police force, for those not thrilled with the last one) needs to be instated, for everyone’s sake Economically, it is critical that Egypt be seen as stable and inviting asap, in order to bring the tourism industry back up to speed.  Without it, Egypt cannot function The military council–of which I am not particularly afraid despite the fact that it is military–must usher in a quick transition to a civilian government To that end, we need real elections with real parties and discourse on policy.  My understanding is that is already happening, with candidates already taking out papers to be on the ballot The US needs to maintain th 1.3 billion in foreign aid from the Mubarak era, but perhaps it could be better spent once it gets there The heightened sense of unity and tolerance needs to continue; it is the only way forward for Egypt.  It was shown so beautifully for Christmas services a few months ago, when Muslim Egyptians became human shields so their Christian countrymen could go to services without threat of another suicide bomber, and kicked into high gear when non-Muslim Egyptians started taking the blows of water cannons so that their Muslim friends and neighbors could pray in peace.  The great mix of men and women, young and old, Muslim and Christian and all things in between needs to continue and become a force within civil society, not just within the protests.  anyone who tells you this was...
I Love the Egyptian Revolution

I Love the Egyptian Revolution

The Egyptian Revolution has captivated the world, and it seems every few minutes someone is calling, texting, or emailing to ask me what I think. Between my political science and Middle East Studies background, my travel to Egypt, and the friends I have living there, the Egyptian Revolution has been consuming every spare moment I have. How can you not love a revolution wherein a human chain forms to protect its museums and priceless antiquities?  A mob that thinks to maintain its history and culture, even in their anger and confusion? How do you not love revolutionaries who form a citizen police force, because they don’t want looters or violence and their government has abandoned them and their safety? How is it possible for your heart not to ache for the Christians who are human shields to protect their Muslim countrymen while in prayer, repaying a favor from Christmas Eve of this past year? I think the Egyptian Revolution is beautiful.  People keep asking me, who are the good guys?  Isn’t Mubarak better than the Muslim Brotherhood?  Is it safe over there?  These people are the good guys; the people who protect their countrymen, their history, and their homes.  These people who want real democracy because their “president” has not left office in 30 years. Mubarak isn’t better than the Ikhwan, or Muslim Brotherhood.  But that’s irrelevant (for now), because MB didn’t organize this.  The Egyptian Revolution was organized in what was once a small facebook group, by students on twitter, by men smoking hookah in cafes, and by women bringing their children to school. Contrary to what you...

Learning the Language Matters

I’m sick of reading posts by bloggers who assure you it’s okay, they had a magical and revelatory experience in a foreign country wherein they knew basically none of the language.  Good for you.  Do you know how we treat people in America who don’t learn the language?  Like dirt.  Even if someone knows the language but has a little trouble, or a bit of an accent, we give them a hard time.  We insinuate that they’re clueless or stupid, and make jokes about their lack of credentials.  We say, “It’s AMERICA, learn ENGLISH!” Do people even understand the phrase doesn’t work that way? At least, “We’re in England, learn English,” works rhetorically, but the America one just makes you sound ignorant.    Every time someone goes abroad and doesn’t even have to try the language, they’re demonstrating a tiny bit of why people hate America.  We get whatever we want, and no, we’re not working hard for it.  We just collectively have so much money and pull, and other countries have so little, that they have to accept our 2.5 gpa English-only students.  Don’t pat yourself on the back for getting by with gestures.  Try moving away from the backpacker code or the study abroad rut and learn something real about the place you’re going to.  Something that doesn’t involve alcohol, hooking up or a beach.  Maybe it will involve a local meal for more than just the one token time, which inevitably will become a blog post or oft-repeated story.  Or try spending time with people who are not also fellow travelers, people who are not expats...

Something Worth Celebrating: National Coming Out Day

Instead of some long-dead jerk who didn’t really discover America (he DID land in Cuba though!) and even if he had, was clearly second-best to the vikings, let’s celebrate something real, something American. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That’s really what this is all about.  I don’t care what your politics or your religion are, everyone deserves to be happy.  They deserve to get promoted or hired based on their skills, to adopt if they’re fit parents and so choose.  To go on dates in public and not feel glares or hear slurs.  To go to school and learn, not hide from bullies.  If you have a problem with that, I think you’ve misunderstood America and what we’re doing here, and I’d kindly direct you to re-read some of our most important documents.  Or might I interest you in a stint in North Korea?  I hear Kim Jong-il isn’t a big fan of tolerance or civil liberties either. For National Coming Out Day, I encourage you to post on facebook, twitter or your blog encouraging our friends, families and neighbors to be comfortable in their own skin, whatever that may mean to them.  You should also look at the It Gets Better Project over on youtube.  Far too many kids have been bullied and lives have been lost.  Show people you Give a Damn. And finally, a plea: if you’re cruel to people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, questioning, trans, intersex, in transition, or a myriad of other things that simply don’t fit the standard view of normal, you’re only hurting yourself.  Inevitably, there are people in...

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