My thoughts on the reluctant fundamentalist so far

The reluctant fundamentalist is a book written by Mohsin Hamid and published in 2007, and follows an anonymous American, the one we see the story through.

The entirety of the story happens in a café in Lahore, Pakistan. In the beginning of the story, we, through the American, meet Changez, a native who invites the mysterious figure to a cup of tea, and to tell his lives story. Thus, the setting of the story changes as the book progresses, from Pakistan, to America, to the Philippines.

The book is written in a very unusual style, we hear what Changez says, while it is implied the American speaks, but we never know exactly what is said. I usually don’t like this way of telling a story, as it often becomes disorganized and hard to follow, but here, it`s done very well.

As of chapter five, it is not clear exactly how the title relates to Changez life, but I`m exited to get to know the character.

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A comparison of “my son the fanatic” and “free for all”

When comparing the two short stories in terms of father-son relationships, there are several similarities, but also some differences. Both stories revolve around a father and a son, one of whom has problems with integrating into western culture, and one who embraces it. The difference lays in who fills what role. In “my son the fanatic”, the son stands stanchly against western ideals, favouring a more conservative Islamic doctrine. As the story advances, it becomes more and more clear that he does not accept his father’s “lifestyle”.

In “free for all”, the roles are reversed. Here, the father demands his son to conform to his somewhat sold school idea of civility, wanting his son to cut his hair short, and stop playing guitar. The son, refusing to obey his father, sets him up to look abusive to the court.

The stories seem to comment on how easily teenagers can change or be manipulated, while trying to assert their own identity.

Thoughts on the film Grand Torino

  1.      How does culture influence one’s belief systems and how can getting to know different cultures change your own belief system? Use the film and your own experiences in your answer.

 

How a culture influences one’s belief system entirely depends on how the culture enforces certain morals. For example, someone living in a western country that encourages critical thinking may evaluate the ideas they are presented with based on their merits. Someone that have been raised in a more authoritarian country however, may react in a somewhat more hostile way to ideas that differ from those they have been indoctrinated into viewing as the ultimate truth.

 

  1.      What experiences does Walt have with living in a multicultural neighbourhood? Use examples from the film and discuss to what extent Walt develops/changes through the movie.

 

The movies main character, Walt Kowalski, lives in a very multicultural neighbourhood. Because of this, he encounters many new ideas he is unfamiliar with. This is most clearly shown when Walt is invited to dinner by one of his new neighbours. It`s made clear that he has never encountered any of the traditions practiced by his Hmong neighbours. In the beginning, Walt prefers to simply ridicule the family, but as the story progresses, he sees that they aren’t as weird as he thought.

Report from international day

The goal of the international day was to raise awareness about the different living standards people around the world experience. The goal of operation days’ work was in a similar vein, but took a more direct approach. Every year, students in different levels of school, have the option to earn money to donate to the operation, which uses the money to help a certain group of people. This year the money goes to support the education programs in oil-contaminated areas of Nigeria.

So, what did I do to prepare myself for the international day?

 

As every other international English-student, I was obligated to assist in the preparation of two programs. Deciding which to sign up for was a quick process. The lab was an obvious choice right from the get-go, and apart from that, the room where a policeman would talk about his time in the Mediterranean on the ship Siem Pilot seemed the appealing.

As I was the only one in my class to sign up for the lab program, work on a poster started right away. This was the result:

benzen plakat

The basic idea I kept in mind while making the poster, was to keep the points short to build interest. For example, on the poster it says “Kreftfremkallende”. To be more precise, benzene can cause blood cancer, but in the goal of grabbing people’s attention, writing that wouldn`t be as effective.

To prepare for the room where the officer was going to speak about his time on Siem Pilot, I did some research to plan a basic outline of the poster. This poster was a group project though, and as such, we sat down together to design it. In the beginning we were unsure whether we should use a computer, but in the end, we decided against it.

The work process became somewhat disorganized after I was moved away from the lab as I had done too little to prepare for the dodgeball managing that I was moved to, even though it didn`t become too much of an issue. Apart from that, the process went quite smoothly.

All things considered, I`d say the international day was a huge success. Despite the somewhat disorderly handling of the labs management, there didn`t seem to be any missteps, all rooms that needed an extra pair of hands, got it. What I should have done better though, was to look more into the dodgeball that I was set to help manage.

 

Western Saharas development

Western Sahara is a country located in the north-west part of Africa. It borders Morocco and Algeria to the north, and Mauritania to the south. To the west lays the Atlantic Ocean.

Before the occupation, the majority of the people living in Western Sahara were the Sahrawis, but when Morocco invaded, they brought a large number of settlers with them. This in junction with the 120 000 to 170 000 people fleeing the country, shifted the majority-status to the Moroccan settlers.

Until the middle of the 1970s, Western Sahara was a Spanish colony (known as Spanish Sahara), but when Spain left in 1975, both Morocco and Algeria demanded the country, claiming that it had belonged to them before Spain took over. The two states sent military forces, and quickly occupied Western Sahara. The liberation-movement Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) simultaneously declared Western Sahara as independent.

In 1975 the international court in Haag rejected Mauritania and Morocco’s demands. As time went on, Mauritania gave up, but Morocco kept going. In 1991, after 16 years of guerrilla warfare, Morocco and SADR signed a truce where the two sides would share the country. Since then, Morocco has seized control of the coast and western parts of Western Sahara, equating to ¾ of the country’s total area. This leaves SADR with the country’s remaining quarter, the infertile dessert area, called The Free Zone. In 1991, the UN created the peacekeeping force MINURSO. Their mission was to ensure the truce was kept, and to implement the referendum. The truce was kept, but all attempts in a vote, were delayed. The last time this happened was in 2002.

Western Sahara is economically important for Morocco, as it is rich with natural recourses. Among other things, it has one of the world’s richest fish stocks, and large phosphate mines. It is also assumed that there are large oil and gas reserves beneath the seabed outside the area. This may help maintain the occupation, as private companies started cooperating with the Moroccan government to preform seismic exploration for oil, something that violates international law.

In recent years, international awareness of the ethical problems associated with investing in occupied territories has increased. Several foreign companies have withdrawn as a result of the negative media coverage or pressures from ethically conscious shareholders. Norway’s foreign ministry has also discouraged Norwegian companies from operating in Western Sahara.

The reason Morocco has been able to occupy Western Sahara for so long, is because they’re allied with France, who has a lot of power within the UN. Thus, they are able to influence what chases are assessed concerning Western Sahara. The UN has condemned Morocco’s occupation of the country, but Morocco refuses to withdraw. As long as the international community does not pressure the Moroccan authorities to conduct a referendum, there is little hope for a solution. The government is deliberately delaying the process, and has also stated that they will not accept any deal where they do not keep control over the occupied areas.

According Freedom House, Western Sahara is comparable to North Korea when it comes to economic and political rights. The MINURSO is not able to report on human rights violations, only violations on the truce. There have been several attempts in changing this, but France has prevented this from happening. This is another example of France using their veto-rights in the UN to promote Moroccan interests. By letting MINURSO report human rights violations, more pressure can be placed on France. Western Sahara has been occupied for more than 40 years, yet we hear very little about it. Because of this, it’s often called a forgotten conflict.

One solution may be that countries such as Norway spread information about the conflict so that people are conscious. An informed public can put a lot of pressure on a government. Thus, Morocco can be pushed out of the country and West Sahara can become a free state.

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A review of Girl Rising

Throughout the developing world, many cultures propagate sexist ideas of how society ought to function. This manifest itself in several different ways. A common idea in parts of the world is that a woman’s duty is to obey their husband. As a reaction, many organizations strive to help these unfortunate individuals with everything from preventing pregnancy and STDs, to getting a complete education.

One of these organizations is Girl rising. In addition to broadcasting television in Kongo and educating girls, they are also well known for their documentary, also named Girl Rising. In Girl rising, we meet nine women/girls from different parts of the developing world.

The movies goal is a clear and noble one, raise awareness about the poor and oppressive conditions many people live in.

The one that really stuck with me, was Sumas chapter. Having been raised as a slave, moving from master to master, she eventually got her freedom thanks to people daring to stand up to the status quo.

Even though it’s a torching tale of a girl getting to taste freedom after a youth lost to a primitive mindset, we see how it took a group to make her freedom possible, no one can do it alone . This made me appreciate all the groups fighting for people like Suma, even more. Thanks to them, a cultural shift is occurring.

Making people truly empathize with people they’ve never met, and most likely will never meet, is a tough job. This is something Richard Robbins does masterfully. The sharp contrast between Wadley’s dream scene and reality is a good example of this. Her chapter starts in a field so lush it seemed like an advertisement for a high-class luxury resort. While we take in the landscape, the narrator tells us about the hope Wadley feels here.

Suddenly she is woken up. It was just a dream. Shortly after, her day-to-day life. Shooting the scenes like this, lets us see into the minds of the people depicted, is truly fascinating, and an ingenious way of making us relate to them.

 

The message people will take away from this movie will most likely depend on their views on gender-equality. Someone supporting it, might simply say “look at these poor girls, how could anyone support this?”.

Where I see the potential for progress, is for those who are more critical to gender-equality. The personal storytelling makes it much easier to empathize with the women and girls in this movie, and by extension everyone who is forced to live like they do. Therefore, I would recommend this movie to anyone who does not support gender-equality. I would also recommend it to those who are not as familiar with other parts of the world, and are not as familiar with the oppression women face still in some parts of the world.

“One girl with courage is a revolution” might mean that if one, or a small number of women and girls standing up to the oppressive societies they live in, they might be able to change it. This a nice thought that has the potential to inspire countless people, but that’s simply not enough.

We see time and time again that even if individuals like Suma stand up against the system, nothing will change. I’d say a better catchphrase would be “One girl with courage is a start, but a hounded may spark a revolution”, and that is what all these bold organizations can be a representation of. They show that with conviction and cooperation, true progress can be made.

In conclusion, the movie brings the issues of poverty and sexism closer to the watcher by showing the terrible conditions many people live in, and that this often is linked to discrimination. Everything from gender roles, to being sold off to afford a car, demonstrates that equality still has a long way to go in some parts of the world.

 

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