The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a monologue-based novel written by Mohsin Hamid. He grew up in Lahore, Pakistan – but also spent part of his childhood in California. Hamid studied at Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

In my opinion, the plot seemed quite direct and strange in the beginning, which starts with the protagonist, Changez, who randomly stops, and starts talking to a stranger, asking him to accompany him drinking tea at a nearby café in the streets of Lahore. At first glance, Changez observe that the stranger is an American, because he himself has lived in the US and is therefore able to recognize them easier. Not only that, but he is also quite observant, analytical and intelligent. Because the book is a monologue, we barely get to know the American. The protagonist is the only person we get to know really well. He tells “us” about his life, especially from the time he studied at Princeton University in New York, in addition to getting a job at Underwood Samson & Company. During the plot, we also get to know some other characters. Jim makes the first “appearance” who is Changez’ boss. He is known for being a direct, professional, judgmental and an action-oriented person: “We’re a small firm … We don’t waste time. Besides, I’m in charge of analyst recruiting. I don’t need another opinion.” Another character that appear early in the story is Changez’ first love, Erica. She is, in his eyes, shy, polite, and extremely attractive, “an uncommon magnetism”. Erica reveals to Changez that her boyfriend, Chris, died from lung cancer, and his death is something that affect her greatly through the plot. For her, it is like a puzzle missing in her life, which she often expresses.

These characters I have mentioned, are probably the most important. There are also other minor characters; Changez’ classmates, (especially Wainwright) for instance.

Because the novel is a monologue, the author primarily makes us believe the protagonist is speaking directly to the American. In my point of view; the more I have read the book, the more I realize that Changez is actually talking directly to us. This element is what I think makes the novel special, because the tone becomes more personal.

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My Son the Fanatic & Free for All

The two short stories My son the Fanatic and Free for All are different, simultaneously similar. What makes these two stories similar are how the lives of an immigrant change, and about how it is raising a family in a new culture.

We live in a world filled with diverse cultures, and whenever we travel or move to another country, it is somewhat our duty to integrate into the community in order to have something in common with the rest of the inhabitants. Although, we still do have a choice to still keep our cultures, even though we are in a different country.

In the short story My Son the Fanatic, we meet a similar situation. The son in the story (Ali), transition into a sudden change. His father (Parvez) becomes worried, starting to think if his son has become a drug-dealer, because he sells all his possessions and belongings. With lots of inspections and conversations with his son, Parvez finds out that Ali is going back into the faith and cultures of his ancestors from Pakistan. Since they moved to London, Parvez is trying to become as English as possible – in order to achieve freedom. Ali is struggling to adapt into this new culture, and therefore change radically.

In the other story, Free for All, the plot is set in the US. It is quite similar to the other story, but this time, the son has a “western attitude”, and doesn’t really have an awareness of the behaviours from his origin. His father, a strict but gentle being, tells his son to behave properly. When the son didn’t do as his father told, the father gave him a slap. With his “western attitude”, knowing that “abuse” is a crime, the son calls the police to report the event. The father had to attend the court, where he became charged by his own son. After this incident, the father decides to take the family to his hometown – only to show how different these cultures are. When at the airport in the hometown, the father starts hitting his son by teaching him a lesson. Being startled, the son reacts quickly by running towards the police, asking for help – but they wouldn’t.

These two stories show us how different cultures are, as well as how a other culture crash while living in a country different from your origin.

Thoughts on the film Gran Torino

Questions

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

  • Walt face, in his own point of view, uncomfortable situations which are quite unusual to him. It is difficult for him to open up towards a new multicultural neighborhood such as in the movie. Especially in the beginning in the plot, where he threatens and is really racist toward the neighbors, and others, but that cannot be compared as to how he behaves with the neighbors. During the movie, he is seen as a “hero” because he, in some way, saves the boy (Thao) next door when he is being forced by his gang-membered cousin to do criminal actions. After that, Walt receives gifts from the Hmong people – which is so unusual and almost unacceptable for Walt that he shush them away from his property. A little while into the movie, the Hmong people again show their honor for Walt. This time, he doesn’t want them to go away, although he seems a bit bitter when they arrive. Instead, he choose to let them in to his home. As Walt more and more get to know his neighbors, he softens, and become more open to discover the Hmong people’s culture.

 

5. Do you agree with this summary of the film? Why/why not? Use examples from the film in your answer.

Gran Torino’s rich portrayal of cultural diversity and genuine dialogue combine to tell a noble story of how human relationships can evolve across cultural boundaries and lead to valuable personal realizations and fulfillment – even in the most trying circumstances.

  • I agree with this summary. It is natural to feel skeptical about new things, such as getting to experience encountering new cultural boundaries, which this movie portrays well. But once we are able to open up towards this, we might become positively surprised, and develop friendships – maybe other types of relationships. If we for example use the protagonist in the movie, he goes through a clear transition during the movie. He is cold and mean towards other cultures in the beginning, and eventually he turns out to be a more open-hearted, less skeptical person.

Two Dozen African Girls Dead at Sea

According to the article “Two Dozen African Girls Dead at Sea” from The New York Times: ‘Since the 1980s, tens of thousands of girls from the area around Benin City, in southern Nigeria, have been taken to Italy, where they are forced into prostitution. Over the past three years, according to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration, Italy has seen a nearly 600 percent increase in the number of potential sex-trafficking victims arriving by sea. Last year, 11,000 Nigerian girls made the trip; some 80 percent of them are thought to be trafficking victims.’

This was extremely shocking to find out, because I have never heard about this.  How can some people bear so much evil that they force girls into prostitution? The worst part is that they usually travel alone, so if they’re found dead at sea or somewhere else, it is quite a difficult task to identify them, compared to those travelling with their families. What really makes me upset/angry is that there has been nearly a 600% increase in the number of potential sex-trafficking victims. What’s so bitter about this, is that these women try to escape horrible conditions in their home countries, but then they only will face something potentially worse then what they got away from. It’s unthinkable to see that this case is a reality in the world today. I cannot express how terrible I think this is.

Source:

Mzezewa, Tariro. “Two Dozen African Girls Dead at Sea”. The New York Times. Published: November 13, 2017.

Importance of Education

Today, I will address the importance of education. The reason why, is that I believe many of us often don’t take time to reflect and appreciate the effect and the benefits education brings to us along our lives. We don’t see or think about the real necessities about the aspects of getting an education. There’s an enormous contrast between us, and children who don’t have the chance to get an education; we often complain about school, about how much work it is, while those without an education are desperately eager to learn.

The more knowledge we gain, the more we grow and develop as human beings. It’s not all about absorbing facts, but rather to think properly for ourselves; how to tell the differences between right and wrong, and to know our rights, for instance. Education aims at producing our ideal selves. Public-spirited, wise and cultured people. Simultaneously, we develop interests that might follow us along the path. There will be doors opening, leading us to a purpose in life.

Education teach us to appreciate other cultures in the world. By knowing global religions, philosophies and histories we have the chance to realize that there are many ways to see the world. We achieve the ability to understand, not disagreeing by being destructive. We do not only learn to appreaciate the world as a whole, but we also learn how to appreciate each other; to be able to accept others’ boundaries, for example.

Today, we face many social and- global related issues only because people lack a proper education. Inequality, conflicts, global warming, and poverty are only a few mentioned. As of living in such a complex, competative world today, it is important for everyone to get an education in order to communicate with the rest of the world. According to the UN statistics division in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, an estimated 58 million primary-aged children are out of school, 31 million of them being girls. This does not only tell us that there are critically many children not getting an education, but also about how unequal we are. The same statistic show that two-third’s of world illiterate adults are women. In numerous areas in the world, women are not even allowed to get an education. This must end!

Words cannot express the importance of education. It is extremely essential for everyone, and it is the path to end global poverty. In the future, I wish to see a world full of well-educated people. I wish to see a world of equality. I wish to witness a world in peace.

Thank you.

 

Sources

  • Chamaria, Vikash. “Short Essay on Education and its Advantages”. Published: July 24, 2015

https://www.importantindia.com/19774/short-essay-on-education-and-its-advantages/

  • “28 Reasons why Education is Important”. Published: July 13, 2016

https://www.importantindia.com/23102/reasons-why-education-is-important/

  • Tripathi, Sanjay. “Importance of Education”. Published: August 7, 2014.

https://www.importantindia.com/10509/importance-of-education/

  • Ford, Liz. “Two-thirds of world’s illiterate adults are women, report finds”. Published: October 20, 2015.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/oct/20/two-thirds-of-worlds-illiterate-adults-are-women-report-finds

 

 

Project Report: International Day & ODW

Last week, our class arranged International Day at our school. The goal of the event was to create awareness on global issues, as well as informing others about ODW (Operation Day’s work). On both international day and ODW (which is the day after), we “abandon” our regular school curriculum to focus on global issues. The purpose of Operation Day’s Work, is for students to volunteer a “day’s work” and donate their salary to the project (400 NOK). The reason why is that the students participating want, for those in need, to get an education. My task on international day was to encourage other students to join in and listen to speakers from around the world which were conveying knowledgeable, useful and important information.

I was in charge of the room “Zimbabwe”, where two speakers came in from the organization SAIH (Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fond), to talk about the social and political situation in the country. In addition, I was one of some other students who lead the program of the “reflection room” – a room where you had time to reflect on all the impressions that was given to you this day.

The project of International Day required planning, and everyone had to contribute equally in order for the event to turn out successful. In the beginning of the preparation process, each student had to choose what topic to work and focus on, and which room they were going to be in charge of. There were 2-3 people assigned on each theme/room.

At the start of the project, our group primarily made posters for each room we signed up for – one for “Zimbabwe” and one for “Refleksjonsrommet” (the reflection room). The main purpose of making these was to inform and appeal; to make other students interested in participating. My group, and myself, contributed by sharing well-thought ideas, which made the process of making the posters, and in general, both easier and better. We decided to make our header large and understandable to read from a distance, as well as writing some short facts, drawing Africa and where Zimbabwe is located in order to catch people’s attention. Too much information would’ve been overwhelming, so we tried to keep things short. Secondly, our task was to create awareness throughout our school community. Our teacher encouraged us to talk to other students, but I came up with another idea: I decided to hang up post-it notes all around the school with mind-wandering questions and eye-opening facts about the ODW’s theme this year: the effect of oilspills in the Niger-delta. The reason why I chose to do this instead, was because I knew people would have been “reminded” each time they saw the post-it notes; they would’ve had something to think about. Lastly, I made a recording of my voice reading a text called “Virkeligheten bak Tallene” – a text about this year’s theme. This text was actually supposed to be read out loud for students coming into the reflection-room, but I figured making a recording and repeatedly playing it in the background each session instead of reading the same text all day would have been a better solution.

I felt the process of this project was often rushed, and that we did not have a lot of time completing the different tasks. Despite this, I had a good experience with my group. We cooperated well, and helped each other whenever needed. I somewhat wish that our class was more involved with each other and the other English classes. It would have been fun to spread awareness together as one class instead of being split up in groups. We would have been able to know each other a bit more, and learned to work together.

International day was both fun and a bit stressful. The good thing about this day was that the volunteers (the international English classes) also were able to discover the “human library”. In addition, the themes of each room seemed to interest most students. It was a bit stressful because I felt like I was in a rush, especially in the morning. The reason why was that we, the volunteers, had to prepare each room a bit extra for those coming in to speak to us. The technological part, for instance. I wish that our preparation process started some days earlier.

Despite all this, I feel like I learned something both during the preparation period and on international day. In the process, I learned to cooperate in an effective way with those in my group. On international day, I discovered almost all of the “human library” rooms. The one I found the most interesting was the one about “FN-sambandet”. During their presentation I, for example, learned that South America is the continent with most inequality; that women’s rights are barely present there, and that many women are and have been assaulted and abused. Or worse; killed!

For my own effort, I tried my best in every task given, and I additionally worked on this project outside of school. For the day itself, I wanted the students to have a good learning-experience and I felt like I was able to spread encouragement and happiness.

 

 

November 3rd

Stream of consciousness

It was shocking. I became somewhat traumatized about what she told us. She is bold. She is tough to be able to do something as she does. She was quite inspiring – I felt proud because she grew up in my hometown. The situation was even more worse than I thought, and my thoughts were even bad on beforehand. We need more people. We need more support. The support we give to these countries such as Syria is not enough. But what can we do in order to bring enough people, enough support? It seems impossible, even though it shouldn’t be. We are priviledged people – support is the least we can give. But how?

The Niger-Delta Situation

Task 1

Through the song Niger Delta Blues by the group Bantu, we learn about the situation in the Niger delta. We get to know that there is an environmental disaster caused by the oil industry which is leading to poor living conditions for the inhabitants. On top of that, there are no schools, medical clinics, social services, electricity or clean water. In addition there are life-threatening diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever and cholera. Many worthy resources are taken away from their country, but no one still seem to care. Nigeria has petitioned the African Union, United Nations and many other organizations – but none have reacted. Nigeria has been living in decades in dictatorships. Human rights are not present in the country, and wars come and go.

Asria Mohamed – a speaker from Western Sahara

On September 27th, we were so fortunate to have Asria Mohamed come to our class to talk about Western Sahara. Mohamed is herself grown up in the country, and she shared some of the difficulties she and other faced and are currently facing in the country today. She explained and described the history of Western Sahara, the Moroccan and Mauritanian occupation, people emigrating from the country living in refugee camps, the support received from Norway, and so many other things. I found the information about the refugee camps most interesting, so this is what this blog-post will inform you about.

The saharawi (the inhabitants of Western Sahara) emigrated to the east in 1975, after Morocco and Mauritania invaded their country. Mauritania withdrew their claim in 1979, and left – while Morocco stayed. Most people were forcefully expelled from their homes during this period, but some stayed. Those who remained in their homeland experienced and are experiencing severe harassment from Moroccan occupiers. The In the past, Moroccan military were constantly faced by the Saharawi Liberation Movement, known as Polisario, which claimed a small section of their occupied country. As a response to their request, Morocco built a wall, dividing the Saharawi refugees from those still living in occupied territories. After 16 years of weaponed conflict, the countries decided to take part in a ceasefire agreement – in 1991. According to the agreement, there was going to be held a referendum in 1992 about Western Sahara independence. Morocco refused and still are refusing to agree to a referendum plan, and over 20 years later, people are still waiting for the vote to take place.

There are over 165 000 saharawis living in refugee camps near the Algerian town Tindouf, by the Western Sahara border. The refugees have been living in these camps since the Moroccan occupation in 1975. Altogether, there are five camps, named after specific locations from the occupied territory. The climate conditions in the camps areas are usually harsh – in the summer, temperatures vary from 45-50 degrees celcius, and below freezing-point (zero degrees celcius) in the winter. Floods also occur in the camps, destroying large areas. These conditions make refugees dependent on international aid. Every year, Norway donates 5 million NOK to these camps, in order for people to survive. All kids have the chance of getting an education until secondary school; the refugee camps can no longer support younger generations with futher education. A few international aid agencies show their support by bringing food, water and clothes. Even though the camps receive support from some organizations, many people are malnutritious; meaning the lack of having necessary nutrients. Around 4 out of 10 children under the age of five are chronically malnutrious. Only a few camps have the access to water, but the drinking sources are not clean, nor sufficient for the entire refugee population. Lack of resources make people at the camps very vulnerable.

Women’s role play a major part of the saharawi society. In the refugee camps, they are in charge of the administration. The role of the women was already central in pre- and colonial life, but was further strengthened during the years of war (1975-1991). This produced major advantages in the women’s rights of the saharawi society, and they are still dominating in this area today.

Girl Rising

“I will read. I will study. I will learn. If you try to stop me, I will just try harder.” This quote originates from the documentary Girl Rising. The release date was March 7th, 2013. It tells the story of nine different girls from around the world. Specifically, from Egypt, Afghanistan, Peru, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Haiti and India. The main characters are Sokha, Wadley, Suma, Yasmin, Azmera, Ruksana, Senna, Mariama, and lastly Amina. These girls face different types of well-known injustices such as arranged marriage, child slavery, abuse, and so on. Despite this, the girls still break through with hope and courage of getting an education, because they have the opportunity to change the world and to live a better life if they do so. So therefore, the theme of this documentary is the power of education. While it exists as a documentary, it is also a global movement that fights for gender equality. The movie has a beautiful mix of fiction, animation, re-enactments, as well as real life-footage. Each story of every girl has a unique approach to their life-experiences. The movie was produced by Kayce Freed, Tom Yellin and Holly Gordon, in partnership with Paul G. Allen and Jody Allen. It was directed by Academy Award nominee Richard E. Robbins, and features narration by famous actors/actresses such as Anne Hathaway, Selena Gomez, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, and many more.

 

The movie was made in order to make each story seem as realistic as possible. The element of realism was clear all throughout the “fictional” documentary. This was what made it so interesting. The actresses fit nicely into their acts, as well as the settings and sceneries – it all seemed to be put together perfectly. The girl’s story that made the greatest impression on me was about Ruksana from India. She gets in trouble at school for drawing in her notebooks. She had told her father “no more trouble” multiple times before, but she can’t resist expressing her creative fantasy. Surprisingly, after telling her father why she got in trouble, he takes her to get art supplies rather than getting mad. Throughout these scenes, you don’t only see a “stereotypical” world – the girl’s fantasy takes us with her; small animations of thoughts and fictional characters are shown, and this is what makes her story happier, and not as serious as the others. Although she seems to be living a good life, it isn’t always like that; boys from the streets attack her when they observe her talent, and her family loses their home after groups of policemen rage and destroy everything when they go through the streets of slum. After this event, her parents can’t afford to pay for her education. Through all the negativity she experiences, her courageous spirit keeps on living, and she continues doing what she loves the most; painting and drawing pictures in addition to going back to school and learning new things. This was really inspiring, and that’s the reason why her story made the greatest impression on me. “One girl with courage is a revolution” is a well-known quote from the movie. Ruksana’s story is a great example of what this phrase implies; for girls with unequal rights who struggle with a lot of negativity in their life, perseverance can take them far, and they can have the ability to change the world.

 

Girl Rising made me more aware of how poorly so many girls live in different parts of the world today. Because of its engaging narration, fact-based statistics, and real-life experiences, I often found myself fascinated, shocked, sad and definitely lost in most of the stories. They left me with wanting to fight for girls’ and women’s rights, which is probably one of the main purposes of the film. However, it can be hard empathizing rather than sympathizing. What the girls experience, isn’t what other people, like me, experience on a daily basis. What could be eye-opening though, is to put ourselves in their shoes. At most times, it is quite difficult to relate to the girls’ lives, because, the injustices and issues they go through are so unknown for a large quatity of the world.

 

Throughout the film, there are many clear messages based around the idea of equality and girls’ education. Some are easier to catch than others, and some might stick to your mind for a very long time. What message I think people who are not familiar with this issue would remember the best, is most likely all the concrete statistics that are shown regularly through the documentary, because it constantly reminds us of how badly some girls live and are being treated. Statistics are something most of us rely on, and at most times come from trustworthy sources. At the same time, many or mostly all of the stories also make an impact on you as well.

 

In conclusion, I would recommend this movie to anyone who isn’t familiar with this issue. It is very important to emphasise it and inform people about the issue of gender inequality, which has been ongoing for so many decades. The film is most suitable for a bit older viewers, specifically from the age of 13 and up, because it might be a bit tricky for youngsters to understand the seriousness and mature meanings of different elements through the movie. The movie is not pure documentation, neither pure fiction; it is rather somewhere in between. Due to this, it makes it seem more interesting and likeable. This documentary is highly recommended for those who find interest in global issues, as well as themes such as feminism, equality and education.

 

 

Sources:

“Girl Rising”. Wikipedia, last edited August 10th, 2017.

 

“Girl Rising Quotes”. IMDb, 2013.

 

Sage, Amanda. “Girl Rising hits new high for documentary filmmaking”. IMDb, published April 14th, 2014.

 

Seventeen Magazine. “Girl Rising plot (2013)”. IMDb.

 

Aunaas, Lars. “How to write a film review”. NDLA, Published August 9th, 2012. Updated March 4th, 2017.