Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tunisia and a New Title!

Dear Readers,

Three years has passed since I've posted on this blog, and now that I'm on the cusp of a new international adventure--Tunisia!--I decided to come back online to post again. The blog looks pretty different from before; the most obvious change being the new title. Adventures of a Muscat-teer was a brilliantly punny title, but it doesn't fit with my future travels. On This Earth (على هذه الأرض) is taken from the brilliant poem by Mahmoud Darwish, "We Have on This Earth What Makes Life Worth Living." I've included the Arabic and English (translated by Darryl Li) versions below.
على هذه الأرض ما يستحق الحياة: تردد إبريل، رائحة الخبزِ
في الفجر، آراء امرأة في الرجال، كتابات أسخيليوس ، أول
الحب، عشب على حجرٍ، أمهاتٌ تقفن على خيط ناي، وخوف
الغزاة من الذكرياتْ.
على هذه الأرض ما يستحق الحياةْ: نهايةُ أيلولَ، سيّدةٌ تترُكُ
الأربعين بكامل مشمشها، ساعة الشمس في السجن، غيمٌ يُقلّدُ
سِرباً من الكائنات، هتافاتُ شعب لمن يصعدون إلى حتفهم
باسمين، وخوفُ الطغاة من الأغنياتْ.
على هذه الأرض ما يستحقّ الحياةْ: على هذه الأرض سيدةُ
الأرض، أم البدايات أم النهايات. كانت تسمى فلسطين. صارتْ
تسمى فلسطين. سيدتي: أستحق، لأنك سيدتي، أستحق الحياة
We have on this earth what makes life worth living
the aroma of bread at dawn
a woman’s opinion of men
the works of Aeschylus
the beginnings of love
grass on a stone
mothers who live on a flute’s sigh
and the invaders’ fear of memories
we have on this earth what makes life worth living
the waning days of dawn
a woman leaving forty in full blossom
the hour of sunlight in prison
a cloud resembling a pack of creatures
the applause of a people for those who face their end with a smile
and the tyrants’ fear of songs
we have on this earth what makes life worth living
on this earth, the lady of earth
the mother of all beginnings
the mother of all endings
she was called Palestine
she came to be called Palestine
o lady, because you are my lady
I am worthy of life
Darwish is an incredible poet and I have found so much meaning in his works both in their original Arabic and in translations over the past few years. 

I will be spending this fall semester on a study abroad program run by SIT in Tunis studying the Arab Spring and its impact on Tunisian society. My goals for this program are significant--I hope to improve my knowledge of Arabic, both in terms of continuing my study of Modern Standard and in terms of picking up a new dialect. I plan to increase my practical and empathetic knowledge of contemporary Arab history, particularly as relating to the Arab Spring. I remember reading about the events in Tunisia, hearing the anger and frustration people had toward their government. Four years after the revolution, I want to learn about the deep effects which the Jasmine Revolution had on the people of Tunisia. Through my program, I will be able to partake in a one-month Independent Study Project exploring in depth this question. During my first two years of college, I have been lucky to study, from an academic perspective, much of what I learned about Islam practically in Oman. I'm hoping that my time in Tunisia will be an experience for me to continue adding to my multi-layered understanding of Islam historically and contemporarily. Tunisia is also of particular interest to me for its position in the Mediterranean, as the home of the ancient city of Carthage, of its place in global politics. A combination of practical, hands-on education and the incredibly complex recent history of Tunisia makes me excited for this next chapter. 

These academic goals for my Tunisia are overshadowed by my continuing desire to form relationships internationally. The friendships and family relationships I formed while in Oman still are with me in so many ways. Tunisia will present me with many opportunities to meet the wonderful human beings of the world. It is my firm belief that through relationships with people from a wide variety of backgrounds we are strengthened and built into better, more complex people.

Thanks for coming with me on this next adventure!


  1. Good post....thanks for sharing.. very useful for me i will bookmark this for my future needs. Thanks.!
    Katni Yellow Sandstone