Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Life Lessons From the Streets of Georgetown

Orignially I titled this post "Life Lessons From the Street" but I realized it might give off the wrong impression :) I admire people from all different backgrounds and experiences while realizing that I am a girl from suburbia and I'm proud of it; my experiences and upbringing have made me who I am.

My friend Khadijeh recently sent me the below list; commuters everywhere will definately appreciate her thoughts :)

Everything I Need to Know I Learned Parking on the Street at Georgetown

10. Take the first spot you come across; you might not have another chance.

9. Park in the sun, on a hill, or on the cable car tracks if you have to. Beggars can't be choosers.

8. Don't let a horn-happy driver rush you when parallel-parking, it usually results in a fender-bender.

7. Don't assume the other driver has seen your signal. Some things have to be made more obvious if you want someone to understand.

6. Everyone else on the road is going to be myopic and short-tempered- a little sense of humor goes a long way.

5. When you're walking to class, remember what it's like to be a driver on a street full of students who think they own the road.

4. Just because you're in a car doesn't mean people can't see you belting your heart out to Faith Hill (or Counting Crows). And you never know who's watching (like fellow MSA Board members)

3. You may think you're doing a charitable service to passersby by blasting your favorite music out your open windows, but 95% of them wouldn't agree.

2. A good conversation over a good cup of coffee is always worth the risk of a $50 ticket. You can't put a price on that kind of thing.

1. Keep spare change handy for the homeless people on Key Bridge. A grateful smile and a "God bless you" will make your morning. And you just may have made theirs.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Rollercoaster Ramadan

Its incredible how much and how little things change from Ramadan to Ramadan.

For me Ramadan invokes the memories of last year, what I was doing and what life I was leading only one year before. Its a yearly reminder of how much I've changed and how much more I want to grow.

This Ramadan was a stark contrast from last year. One year ago I was a consultant eating cereal bars and instant oatmeal made with my coffee maker for sahur in my hotel room. This year I'm back to being a student and experiencing Ramadan on campus.

Every time I experience Ramadan on campus my admiration grows for the thousands of Muslim students and their MSAs. Holding regular iftars and programs while keeping up with school and doing extra worship is no easy task. Yet somehow our students manage to do all that while using this opportunity to reach out to students, hold Fast-A-Thons and get published in their school newspapers.

Personally, this was the busiest Ramadan of my life. I attended meeting after meeting, iftar after iftar hoping and praying my words will benefit the Muslim Community. From Congressional meetings to events at the State Department, my mantra was the same: we need to improve policy and show our government will not tolerate hate speech against Muslims.

Yes, I will continue to condemn terrorism; yes, I will show you our Muslim Students believe in reaching out to people of all faiths and backgrounds. We are doing our part; don't tolerate hate, and give our Muslim professors and students their freedom of speech.

My late nights got even later with the addition of Taraweeh and dozens of conference calls to help students deal with anti-Islamic sentiments on their campus.

Media experts, organizational leaders and speakers all told me the same things. These individuals will show how ridiculous their message is. Do your part - reach out to people, write editorials, respond immediately to hate crimes, talk to all the major organizations but let them show how untrue their message is.

So we will. While others attempt to spark controversy we will work to unify our campuses by dispelling stereotypes. While Muslim students continue to choose peace over prejudice, I will continue to meet with students, officials and organizational leaders to get the support and resources we as students need.

This year, like years past, Ramadan has given me a true sense of calmness and Peace. I believe in my fellow Muslim students, I believe in Allah and my faith, I believe in my fellow Americans and pluralism, and I believe that we can overcome the challenges we face.