Getting involved on campus

“When there is injustice to one people and there is no way of receiving justice and when several generations live under the poverty line and there is no hope for the improvement of their lives, they may forget their sanity because of hopelessness. And thus they may resort to violence.”

– Shirin Ebaddi

I mentioned in my previous post that Shirin Ebaddi was giving a lecture here at FSU followed by a question answer session and a book signing. She spoke about women’s rights in Iran in particular and human rights elsewhere in the world. She also talked about the current pan-Arab revolutions that are taking place.  Speaking of Iran she said, “…Revolution came about and said a woman could no longer be a judge, I changed my job, and became a lawyer. It was the same feeling that encouraged me to become active in defending human rights.” Currently she has been exiled from Iran, even though her husband still resides there. Her speech was very passionate and I think she is truly an inspiration for a lot of us.

The event was promoted by Peacejam an initiative undertaken by the Florida State University Center for Leadership and Civic education.

The Center for Leadership and Civic education states that its mission is to educate students and to promote effective leadership by further promoting Holistic Learning, Social Justice, Family and Unity and by Respect of and Commitment to Achieving Shared Visions. In practice they aim to work on a variety of levels starting from the individual through courses and independent study, to forming and working through partnerships in the form of providing internships and training workshops, through groups and for the community by student organizations, mentor projects and change initiatives.

Okay, so Shirin Ebaddi came to FSU sponsored by Peacejam which is one of the initiatives undertaken. Peacejam is a platform which brings Nobel laureates like Shirin Ebaddi and young people together and gives them a chance to talk about the issues that our planet faces today, which included, namely, basic needs such as water to basic human rights like social justice and human security. I think that it is an awesome initiative and that more schools and colleges around the world should take part in it and form local clubs or chapters to promote awareness.

There are a lot of Student Organization here on campus which are invested completely in justice initiatives. There are program initiatives like Habitat for Humanity which strive to eliminate substandard housing, Invisible Children at FSU which aims to improve the quality of Life for war-affected children by providing access to education and better learning environments and the Human Rights Awareness Center (which I am planning to join) which aims for raising awareness of human rights issues within the University environment.

All over there are many ways to get involved on campus for issues that might be important to you. Ever Wednesday on Market Wednesdays at the union student organizations in particular set up booths in which they tell other students their aims and discuss and present their initiatives with others, I have already mentioned how great I think Market Wednesday is for buying stuff, but there is another side to Market Wednesday; a platform for exchange of ideas. A few months back FSU won an award for being one of the most engaged campuses and I think it lives up to it 🙂

Happy reading…

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“Wish I Was There” Disease

When you’re studying in the US and home is somewhere else, you’re bound to miss so many things that happen in your home country. Sometimes all you can think about is how much you wish you were there when they happened. It can be a dangerous way to lose motivation to work. You must deal with it carefully and try to get your mind off of it, which is harder than you might think. So much has happened in Kuwait since I left and every time something new happens I think to myself “I wish I was there”. I had to somehow deal with this weak mental state in order to focus on school. The best way that I have found to deal with it which seems to work quite well, is this. First of all, you must communicate with your family, more than just on Facebook or MSN. It has to be a video call or at the very least, phone calls. You need to hear from someone briefly about what happened and get all the details that allow you to envision yourself being there. This envisage gives you the comfort of mind and you feel the joy of the event. It’s the closest thing to actually being there. Pictures of the event also help greatly.

                Some of the things that happened that I wish I was there for are: my cousin’s wedding and my sister-in-law’s delivery of her second son.  Then there are other things that normally, you would be happy to have missed. Someone like me however, would much rather be there and experience. In saying this I am referring to the sandstorm that hit Kuwait a few days ago. It was the biggest sand storm to ever hit Kuwait and it was actually very interesting as it looked like nothing I have ever seen before. It started as an enormous cloud of sand hovering above of the ground coming from a distance. It got closer and closer and eventually, you would be inside that cloud. While there, you can barely see the anything! You’re range of vision goes down to about 2 yards in darker areas where there is little light, and about 15 yards in brighter areas. It would have been interesting to be an eye witness of that phenomenon.

                I mentioned one way to try to deal with this “wish I was there” problem. Another way is to keep busy. Classes themselves do a pretty good job at that, but there are always some weeks that just aren’t as busy as usual. So to keep busy, you must start a new habit, hopefully a good one. I for instance, took up a new sport, tennis. It is so much fun, it takes your mind off of those things that happened back home, and its good exercise. You kill not only 2, but 3 birds in one stone.

Cricket mania

I have never been a really big cricket fan…but a match between Pakistan & India requires even the non-followers to convert into die hard supporters. I don’t promote any rifts, most of my friends are Indians but when I saw myself screaming for Pakistan when the bowled Yuvraj for zero runs and my Indian friends shouted taunts back a weird rivalry rose, I’m sorry but some occasions require this. None of my American friends understood this obsession but cricket for us is like the super bowl or the orange bowl, or probably like the UF and FSU football match…. I don’t know how to describe this.

However such occasions also happen to be the part where you end up missing home the most. Especially when your friends message you with repeated updates of everything you are missing…and you have to instead stream and watch the match on a small screen…yeah not so fun. Despite the inconveniences the desi crowd is living up to its name and religiously gathered at 5am in the morning to watch the match…

As the rain pours on Tallahassee today and as the thunder rolls I am keeping my fingers crossed…

I hate changing the topic, well I hate taking my eyes off the screen to write this entry for today too but anyway the Center for Global Engagement organized an International Bazaar. I mentioned the bazaar in my last post but the significance of the event other than the fact that it was the first event this semester that I attended which was organized by the CGE was that it’s an excellent way for international students to come together and show their culture and talents to everyone. The highlight was that I got to eat a samosa and vegetable rolls with tamarind sauce for only a dollar and after almost a year. A lot of student organizations had set up their booths as had a lot of countries. The best booth according to me was by the Buddhist Students association. They gave free samples of ‘unconscious drawings’ i.e. drawings done when the person is in a state of meditation. The cool thing about is that whatever angle you view them from a different image is perceived.  I think that it was cool+ they had yummy chocolate cupcakes which were free.

                We have Shirin Ebadi a Nobel laureate giving a public talk this Friday. Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts for democracy, peace, and women’s rights in the Middle East. There will also be a book signing for her book “Iran Awakening” and the most recent one so I am super excited about it…

Spring Break!

I mentioned in my last post that I will be going down to Miami for spring break and to Key West, and then back up north to Panama City, all over the course of 5 days. Well, it didn’t go exactly as planned but it was definitely a spring break to remember! Here’s what happened…

We drove down to Miami as planned Friday night; or should I say Saturday morning since it was past midnight when we left Tallahassee, around 3am. I don’t know if that was such a great idea but it was the earliest we could go based on my friends’ and my schedules. We were headed to Miami Airport first to drop a friend off there. I must say it was not the safest of rides as my friend who was driving was a little drowsy. Half way down to Miami we stopped at a resting area and got something to eat/drink. The driver took a quick 20 minute nap to restore some energy, but that did not really help. Only one other person was eligible to drive so she took the helm. Our new driver was not as drowsy but she was only going to get us to Miami airport because she was the one we were dropping off there. The original driver took a long nap till we got close to the airport so he was good to drive after that. However, the anticipated 8 hour drive turned into a 11ish hour drive as the closer we got to the airport, the worse the traffic was. After being stuck in traffic for about an hour and barely moving, we decided to take another, longer route. We eventually got there and were finally headed towards a friend from FILC’s house. Who would have thought we would be close enough to the people we met at FILC that we ended up spending spring break with them. We met many of them down in Miami and we had such a great time! Miami Beach is such a beautiful beach and the road that runs along it, Ocean’s Drive is filled with great restaurants and hotels. The beach is always packed and there are many beach volleyball courts and other casual sports going on everywhere. Just being there has this positive, happy feeling in the air. That is basically what happened in Miami, a few great days spent on the beach, swimming, tanning, etc. I however, was bitten by some sort of creature in the shallow water; or probably a little crab pinched me. It wasn’t too bad though, just a little shocking at the moment. One restaurant in particular I must mention is called Shake Shack. The single best burger I have ever had. Sadly, Shake Shack is only located in Miami and New York City. That was the end of our Miami trip and we ended up not going to Key West just because we decided the beach was just as fun and we were tired of long drives; Key West was about 3 hours away from Miami.

 So we went back to Tallahassee, and again, the drive was exhausting. Instead of going to Panama City the next day, we

Panama City Beach. As you can see, very few people are in the freezing water.

stayed in Tally for 2 quiet days to rest up and then went to Panama City Friday morning and got back that same day at night. Panama City turned out to be such a beautiful city. The beach there was extremely tempting so despite the freezing water and windy weather, we could not resist the temptation of the water. It was begging us to jump in. We did, but did not stay in the water for long, as it was just way too cold. The beach was more crammed than in Miami, and more action packed, with sponsored events going on throughout the day. We spent the day on the beach, just like we did in Miami but it was a whole different experience, equally fun. That was pretty much the end of spring break as Saturday and Sunday were transition days where you try to set your mind set back to school mode. What better way is there to spend your spring break than chilling on the beach all break long? None! But now it’s time to focus on school as there is just a little more than a month before summer!!

Procrastination…

I was going over my previous posts for inspiration and I realized that through most of them I complained of excess workload. Well I seem to be having the same thing again, but this time due to my incurable laziness. I spent the whole weekend talking to my friends from back home and just lazing around and listening to music. My immense phase of procrastination ended at 5pm on Sunday, when I realized that I had missed an assignment deadline and even the extension deadline :/ not very smart of me…

Even though procrastination is extremely satisfying, I now have two 3000 word research papers due on Thursday along with a journal entry. To add salt to my wounds my Calc 3 professor announced that he had just put a 40 question homework assignment online due for this Friday.

My motto on the weekend was ‘Why do now, what you can do later-or perhaps-never’ and to make myself feel better I actually googled it…

Turns out procrastination is almost a necessity and even though it has a bad reputation it could be the answer of some of life’s complex problems…trust me I became aware of how life really is when I came to college. Some of the best reasons I read were:

1)      Procrastination helps to reduce stress: “Have a deadline looming in a week or so? Why worry about it now and cause yourself  unnecessary stress? ….You are going to worry about it the night before anyway, so wait until then to tackle the project. Look at that – you reduced seven days  of stress down to one night”

2)      It increases your confidence as it is- for all those nerds like me out there- like living on the edge. Doesn’t it make you feel like such a rebel?

3)      Improves health because sleep is good for you. And then having a stress free sleep prolongs your life.

4)      I didn’t realize until yesterday during a presentation about being green in one of my class that I actually save energy and thus the world….because I turn of the lights and my laptop before falling asleep+ almost all my assignments are due online so I conserve by not doing them

By now I am sure that my father might be debating the wisdom in actually sending me to college and spending all that money….

However I do not advocate procrastination…now…that I have all my homework piled up. It always starts by a little procrastination, which doesn’t seem like a big deal, but then it leads to a little more and then a little even more and finally you have a huge period of time you just wasted. In college it hurts with bad grades, in real life it pinches bad especially as one of my friend told me last night that she delayed paying her electricity bills for her apartment and kept putting it off till they finally cut off her supply :/…Imagine a whole night without the electricity.

Procrastination might even hurt the whole dependability factor because it might lead to you letting down a friend and it damages a person’s credibility.

Then, as in my case a whole weekend of, procrastination (however much I try to convince myself that I was justified…) actually leads to a whole week or even more of rushing for things. So there rises an argument of having a day of peace of mind followed by 6 days and nights of rushing Vs taking it gradually and easing it over the whole space time of the week.

An unnamed author/blogger on a website called the experience project wrote a short paragraph about procrastination and said,

“Maybe I procrastinate not because I’m lazy, but because I’m afraid of confronting things that make me uncomfortable or upset.”

I think that she is right.



Events and updates

I like Google. Especially when it has a new theme for its homepage every time some random or important event in history occurs. However it did not have a page for pi-day/Einstein’s Birthday on Monday. How shocking 😛 especially because the significance of pi in Science and Engineering is enormous.

An interesting fact about the letter pi, throughout history there has been much effort to determine the actual nature of π accurately. According to Wikipedia, “the simplicity of its definition, the concept of π has become entrenched in popular culture to a degree far greater than almost any other mathematical construct… The current record for the decimal expansion of π, if verified, stands at 5 trillion digits!” I think that that’s amazing but maybe it’s just the nerd in me that’s fascinated. WIMSE (the LLC that I am a part of) joined in the celebrations of pi day and we actually had a social event in which we all ate….pies, and did trivia of course 😀

So coming back to FSU news more precisely College of Engineering news. The top news which is the talk of all research hopefuls is that two of our professors, Dr. Anant K. Paravastu in Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and Dr. William S. Oates in Mechanical Engineering, were recently awarded very competitive grants by the National Science Foundation for their research. For those who don’t know what this means, it basically, for a freshman like me means that they have lots of funding for their projects and those that sign up to research with them get a bonus in their pay. And yes freshman can research with Professors, even if they have no previous lab exposure, you get to learn about everything and how it is done+ get to mention that in the experience part of your resume. You would in most cases not get to handle all the groundbreaking experiments but you get a front row seat to how the experiments were done and learn how to make decisions and find solutions to problems that might arise, so it’s all very cool.

On another note, FSU Center of Global Engagement is going to host an International Bazaar on Saturday 26th of March. From what I have heard from people it is an excellent way to share the culture and traditions with other individuals. It celebrates cuisine as organizations/groups set up sample tables, it gives groups a chance to represent or highlight their communities by displaying their culture and there are cultural performances like dances and poetry reading and plays. I look forward to attend this especially because it is on a Saturday and I have heard that the food is always good 😀

Another piece of Information I ran into was regarding the Undergraduate tuition waivers. The waivers however are not based on your high school GPA but on the FSU GPA, therefore you need to spend a semester at FSU and then get evaluated. The waiver is awarded on a semester by semester basis and the minimum GPA requirement is a 3.3. More information is on the CGE website.

Thoughts during spring break

I have been very random with my postings…my apologies.

I woke up today to the news of the earthquake-cum-tsunami in Japan. The 8.9 magnitude earthquake was one of the largest recorded anywhere in the last century. The death toll reported till now is 400 but it is expected to rise. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are recently affected by the major earthquakes and tsunami flooding in Japan within the past couple of hours. Those in the United States of America can donate to help with the disaster relief by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

This week also saw the celebration of women’s day. No, I am not going to make this a blog about the complexity and trials that women face world over. I just wanted to share a video that I had run into. It is a 2 minute, specially commissioned for women’s day video in which we see Daniel Craig and hear Dame Judi Dench.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkp4t5NYzVM

I read a blog today by Earl the butcher on having his dad on Facebook and being friends with him on it and I remembered how my brother had called me a few months back complaining that my father had ‘friend-ed’ him on Facebook. The blog was hilarious and was titled “DAD: I’m on MyFace! EARL: It’s Facebook, Dad”. I remembered how I had felt when my father had added me on Facebook, I had laughed a lot at that and though I scanned my whole profile for any things I might not have wanted him to see, I ended up leaving my profile as is, not just because I happen to be a saint of a daughter and have nothing to hide. I figured if there was something on my profile I didn’t want my father to see, I probably shouldn’t be doing that thing, also I probably wouldn’t want anyone else to see that thing either. Turns out, my dad is cool enough for me and does not comment on my statuses and pictures.

There are only two more days left for spring break to end and I am trying my best to make the most out of my time left…48 more hours later I will be once again heading back to Tallahassee and into the humdrum of what is called college life.

So I have decided to finally work on my term papers and the assignments that are due as soon as I get back. I know I should have worked on these earlier but instead I spent a whole week shopping and exploring Houston. No regrets about that. Even though the downtown has nothing going on, there are many tiny interesting crevices and nooks that escape attention. I found myself in many tiny interesting vintage shops. I discovered that I am not that much of a mall person; I like personalized singular shops instead. Rice village, the small shopping district for Rice University students located behind Rice University, was like a heaven for me because it was full of small shops with interesting collective items (which were overpriced for college students).

As interesting as Houston has been and as much as I loved living alone, cooking alone for myself and doing whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to, I miss Tallahassee and my dorm room a lot. I can’t wait to get back to my room and sleep in my own bed and gossip with my roommates. I miss my roomies a lot too 🙂 I surprisingly miss studying in the library, which is exactly what I would be doing as soon as I get back, given that I slacked off so much and avoided doing all my homework.

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