HAPPY 2014

As this year comes to an end I find myself reflecting on what an incredible year it has been, 2013 has been a great year for me.

I believe it was an old English professor who shared this definition of time: “Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love — time is eternity”.

Sharing volunteerism…

There are number of things which make the US so different from the rest of the world, and for me personally one of these things is the idea, understanding and actually volunteering.

Never before in any other country I have travelled and stayed I have seen people additing in their to-do list volunteering for this or that organization. People are so ready, eager and willing to contribute to the others’ work in any way they can! Most importantly, there shouldn’t be any emergency situation or extreme need…no, regular days, holidays, as a part of life!

Back to the Basics

It doesn’t surprise me that a U.S. company is prototyping an anti-rape underwear for women, in the same way that it doesn’t surprise me when a rape survivor’s clothes and reason for being where she was is questioned more than the rapist’s identity and the horrific act of violence itself. It is one of the dumbest things I’ve read (for reasons correctly elucidated in this Think Progress article) but that isn’t saying much given the volume of ridiculous comments, arguments, and suggestions that constantly emerge around the topic.

Happy Holidays!

I don’t celebrate Xmas but it’s the most wonderful time of the year! I love everything about it: the decorated and brightly lit houses, the endless Xmas songs on the radio, the sales, Starbucks peppermint mocha, the thrill of unwrapping presents on Xmas morning. This year, I was lucky enough to celebrate Christmas with people that are very dear to my heart. I took Caltrain from San Francisco to Morgan Hill to stay with the family of my oldest friend, Patrick D. Patrick and I met in grade 6, on first day of school at Ozel Bilim Koleji in Ankara, Turkey and I didn’t speak a word (!) of Turkish. Patrick translated every single class for me for about 3 months until I picked up enough Turkish, a language that I eventually became fluent in and still love and use to this day. We sat together in class for 3 years and as we each went our separate ways in high school we remained friends, studied for SAT together and both went off to college in the States. He went to University of Hartford and I wound up in upstate New York.

New Year’s Resolutions

As I prepare to graduate from the fellowship, I have been working on my capstone project which has been getting me to think more deeply about the past year. While thinking and considering, I started to ponder what I would like to improve on and change in the future. With the new year looming, I figured a couple of resolutions might be in order.

To be honest, I’ve never been too bothered to make new year’s resolutions. I’ve kind of made some off handedly in the past, but only because it seemed like I should and I was very non-commital. This year I would like to write and share my resolutions down here, so that I feel more ownership over them. I plan to actually follow through.

Does that make sense?!

This is a phrase that I find annoying in general-and particularly in professional correspondences. The most interesting part is that it often concludes an elaborate explanation or a lengthy email.

Does that make sense?!

For me, it implies one of two things. Either the speaker knows that he/she is incoherent and have been rambling nonsense hence he/she is not expecting people to understand what they just said, and in that case the more appropriate thing to say would be: I apologize for being a complete buffoon. Or! The speaker is imposing that the audience are a bunch of apes that are unable to comprehend his/her words, and in that case the more appropriate thing to say would be: I apologize for being a condescending fool.

Bahnas died


Sharing this blog/eulogy about the death of a Sudanese artist. I have never known him before. Reading this made me feel very sad and indeed led me to think twice about how harsh life can be.

May God have Mercy on your soul Mohamed Bahnas. May you forgive us and all humanity for letting you down.


Christmas with a heavy heart

This Christmas season South Sudan is making me and many others panic. Too startled by the news we’re hearing and reading and unable to prevent the creeping sadness at the familiarly of the consequences of what is unfolding.

This morning, I arrived to the El Fashir office and found the article “South Sudan: The State that Fell Apart in a Week” in my inbox.

I’ve been following the events closely and bitterly. Amidst many things, I’m angry at the international media-fest, angry that we’ll never really know the real story because there are the all-too-familiar “ethnic divides” and looming “ethnic cleansing” narratives pushed full throttle by governments, media and ignorant people alike.

Winter is my least favorite season, but I do like the festive feel and the decorations that I see in my office and in the city of DC.  I’m not a Christian so I don’t celebrate Christmas (anymore), but I like looking at decorated trees, listening to carols, and watching various christmas movies.

I did celebrate Christmas – when I was a child.  In Japan, Christmas is celebrated in a totally different way, and I’d like to share some fun facts.

1. You eat roasted chicken (or KFC)