Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mail for Me

We have quite a lot of time to hang around campus before our classes start. Julia and I have taken to walking into buildings that allow us to. We take it as a challenge to explore every surface of Peabody, which is the college of Vanderbilt that we take classes on. This was our second day of exploration, and we have a ritual of going to the admissions building and using a drop of their fantastic green tea smelling hand sanitizer. It may sound strange, but if you had a whiff of this hand sanitizer, you would be hooked as well. We wandered to another building that had an indentation that was sort of like a brick window. We decided that it was a great platform to take posing pictures. We also found some interesting statues to pose with as well.

The most interesting thing we did in class today was read a speech by Osama bin-Ladin. He spoke about how the United States has been “plundering its [Islam’s] riches” and “humiliating its people”, trying to “annihilate what is left of this people”. He says that through the U.S.’s help towards Jews in Palestine, that Americans is encouraging murder of Muslims there and is eager to destroy Iraq. He then quotes lines of the Qur’an like “fight the pagans all together” to rally up the Islamic people everywhere to fight in the name of Allah. He calls to “comply with Allah’s orders to kill the Americans” and to fight against “Satan’s U.S. troops” and “the devil’s supporters.”

This is interesting because bin-Ladin says that killing Americans is an act of jihad to defend their religion and Allah. But it also says in the Qur’an that Jews and Christians (which many Americans fall into the category of) are People of the Book, and are not to be hated, since they do believe in God. So these are two conflicting ideas that Osama bin-Ladin is preaching. He is advocating one saying of Allah over the other.

When we asked how this could possibly rally up followers, our professor asked us to look at all this in the eyes of citizens of Iraq. The United States used to drop bombs across the area like there was no tomorrow. There are few people that have not been negatively affected by American action in Iraq. Many are angry, and really, who wouldn’t be? Others believe that the bombing of Iraq is an attack against Islam, and an attack on one is an attack on all. Islam is more than a religion, it’s a way of life, and members are connected through the Islamic lifestyle, and all are brothers and sisters under Allah (not in a literal sense of brother and sister, but you know what I mean).

We wrote essays afterwards, comparing, contrasting, and explain the three Abrahamic faiths.

Step and Stomp was really fun today. My weird spots have not disappeared, and I realized that they’ll probably just get steadily worse as the week goes on, and as we keep practicing. It’s difficult to follow and memorize the steps, but today’s pattern was much easier for me than yesterday’s was. It’s not easy to describe what we’re learning, but hopefully someone can record the dance on Friday, and I can post it!

Our activity tonight was sign-out night. A large group of us walked a whiles away just to eat at this marvelous cupcake shop that we had heard so much about. It was only until we reached the store that we found out that the shop closed early. We changed course and headed to Starbucks instead, where I had a delicious Mocha Frappuccino. I had some nice chats with some of the workers there, explaining why there were so many kids swarming the shop, and what we’re doing here at Vanderbilt. They congratulated us on being so proactive and taking summer classes at the school. They also complemented my name, which I thought was very nice. Is this an example of that sweet ol’ Southern hospitality I’ve heard of? Or maybe they were just being polite and making conversation… either way, they were really nice.

The best part of my day was getting mail from two of my friends back home. Shout out to Erin Miller, a best friend and super cool bud of mine, and Jannette Sandoval, one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Thank you for bringing me reminders of back home! I’m not homesick yet, but it’s always nice to hear from friends back home.

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