Saturday, August 22, 2009
It is hot already, and its only 9am, we will be having a hot day, so the weather man said and there is going to be rain/thunder/ something storm later in the day I am happy about that so far as nobody gets hurt or if it happens after I have returned from the WCSH 6 side walk art show . The art shows covered almost 9 blocks of Portland's congress street. There er artist from as far as Philly. But the one artist that made me feel like I am part of the art not just an observer is a gentleman who have travel through Africa taking pictures of everyday people from the country side. I saw beautiful black and white pictures from many African Countries. The event attracted many artists including many street performers whose presence added another artistic touch to the beautiful day.
Friday, August 21, 2009
For the next 30 days starting from tomorrow as a Muslim, I will be fasting from dawn to sunset which means i have to give up coffee or bagel or my favorite el grey tea at the north Star cafe or any where for that matter. It is also a time for those that have a lot to feel how the most vulnerable members of our society feel when they cant afford to have three square meals. Islam teaches us to be very giving to take care of the poor amongst us
Fasting is one of the pillars of Islam. It has been an integral part of all major religions. The Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) fasted for forty days before he was called to prophethood (Matthew 4:2). Similarly Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) fasted for forty days and nights before he was given the Law (Exodus 24:18).
For more information on this topic please check the following websites.
Quote of the day:
O who believe, fasting is decreed for you
as it was decreed for those before you;
perchance you will guard yourselves.
The month of Ramadan is the month
in which the Koran was sent down,
a guidance for the people,
and clear verses of guidance and
[Quran: Chapter 2, 183]
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
My good friend Jenna Vendil invited me to the launching of her campaign for the school committee. Jenna is a community activist, she has a long list of working on many issues in Maine that had led to change. She has the kind of values we need in our school committee. The gathering have a sample of Portland's diverse community and there were other people collecting signatures for either upcoming issues or other people who will be standing for election in November. I wonder how many issues will be on this year's midterm elections and how many times I am going be asked to sign a petition. Its a long way to November and a long way for my friend hopefully she is going to win.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
In the middle of a sunny day, on East end's North street in the middle of the dog park a group of people are creating their own world, a reel world at least for the next 48 hours, they are a part of a group of independent movie makers who are competing to make short movies within the next 48 hours. I think this is one of many arts oriented events taking place this weekend.
The Museum of African Culture is a land mark in Portland It was started eleven years ago by Oscar Mokeme a Nigerian from the Igbo tribe , to day he is having a party to celebrate the community that have supported the museum all this while. Even though it was supposed to be an African event, the line up of the performance include a Balkan belly dancing duo that entertained the group and get some members of the audience to join them. There African art and craft food . I had a lot of fan watching all the performances in a hot sunny summer day... along side Portland's diversity crowd.
Friday, August 14, 2009
I have received a couple of emails from some friends asking for my opinion on the on going law suit filed by the Maine Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Afghan Muslim community against the City of Portland. After reading some of the comments on Portland Press herald's website I decided to share my opinion.
Almost a year or more ago the the MCLU and the greater Portland's faith community came out in numbers to support Rabbi Moshe Wilinsky when he was forced into the lime light over same zoning issues. The City of Portland prides itself to the most diverse in the State of Maine and one of the most diverse in the country. I think some of the challenges that comes with diversity or growth is Change, which is difficult to do. I have heard some people say 'when in Rome do what Romans do' .I totally agree with that on certain issues but when it comes to a person's freedom to worship , irrespective of what faith it is we need to look at it. I don't know how city hall operates but my suggestion will be for the city's zoning board to amend some of its rules and meet the demand of the growing city, It doesn't have to change all the rules. From what I read in Portland press Herald, some members of the Afghan Community went around the neighborhood to meet their neighbors and one of the residents actually said she doesn't think it s a problem having the mosque there. the city of Portland's spokes person was also quoted as saying that they are still having dialogue with the Afghan community I think that is great they should continue on that path. It is possible to come to some sort of compromise on both sides....
Quote of he day:
"They are very nice people. We have no troubles with a mosque," . "I'd rather have them than a bar." Amelia Waterhouse Resident of Washington Ave neighborhood for more than 20 years.
* photo courtesy of Fox23 Portland. online.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
At 1 am I herd the bell rung a couple of times, and I was wondering what was going on, why is Wil Smith ringing the bell at this hour?(some campers were trying to be ridiculous) . I thought everyone is supposed to be sleeping? I was wrong, I am awake and so are others, We might be thinking of the same thing how are we going to transition back into our everyday life.. for me an adult it might be easy to adjust but for the young campers who just went through vigorous co-existence, respect, team work and what have you in three weeks, might be harder. Across from where I was sitting are two friends one a delegation leader and the other a Seeds Of Peace employee from the region, the employee shook my hand and said she was leaving she was catching an early morning flight , we said the normal 'its nice meting you' blah blah blah as she was leaving to go get ready it dawned on me I will be going through this process all day as the campers and some staff members start leaving in about 4 hours, It was 4 am....
The first bus drove through the camp grounds and parked between where we always line up and the 'filed' people were all over the place hugging, kissing, taking pictures and sharing memorable and priceless moments that happened within the past three weeks, the same spot was busting with music and drumming when the campers were arriving three weeks ago and now its a different story because we have to say good bye..
by the time the last bus left the camp grounds it was around noon and I have tried over and over to hold back my tears either because I saw two campers crying or I got hugged by a camper. I was hugged by this camper who I think is the youngest camper. He came to my notice one day at line up when he was trying to jump over the head rest of a bench he was sitting on, his counselor was asking him to stop and he was smiling . I was sitting right behind him and in my head I was thinking ' gee this kid looks like trouble' as if he was reading my mind he smiled and said ' what is your name' ? I said I will only tell you my name if we will become friends, he agreed and I mentioned my name .. he responded by saying 'my name is 'Z'. since then we have been friends at camp. Today I was avoiding walking into him, but its a camp ground not New York City, it was only a matter of minutes before he came to me with that same infectious smile and gave me hug, I saw his eyes tweaking trying to hold back his tears then my heart gave in, I tried hard to hold back my tears, but the moment was too powerful than me, too meaningful so I let it go, I cried and walked away from the crowd whiles I was processing the moment.
I decided to stay and go home the next day, so that I can come up with my own transitioning plan, back to my everyday life. After dinner I did engaged in bits of chit chats with other staff members before I went to bed early and fell asleep right away.I woke up in the morning and packed all my staff , took a shower and joined others at the same spot we said good bye to the campers the day before, our bus pulled up five of us going to five different places jumped in as the others were hugging us and saying good byes. On our way i started thinking what it means going home for me and for the four others in the bus . One person was going to India, another to western New York, the third to Connecticut the fourth Amman Jordan and the fifth guy I think was going to Boston Mass. I think we are following the steps of the campers as we taking the very first step towards the change we each want to see in our communities, schools and our countries.
Today's quote :
' To be the change you want to see in the world, you don't have to be loud. You don't have to be eloquent. You don't have to be elected. You don't even have to be particularly smart or well educated. You do, however, have to be committed.'
~ author unknown'
Monday, August 10, 2009
Monday August 10Th
I don't like good byes,but some times you have to embrace reality no matter how difficult it may be. Today is the last time we will have the Maine Seeds in the dialogue hut as a group.Its the wrap up session, the 'dream is coming to an end'
As I walk down the dialogue alley on my way to our hut I can tell from the looks on the faces of my fellow facilitators that , they wish they have the power to freeze time..
What happens in dialogue stays in dialogue
We have taking a solemn 'oath' to not share a single word of what happens in dialogue, so I cant share what happened during our session, but it was so great that I wish I can share with you, because if you are reading this chances are you might have been following my entries since three weeks ago and have never had the chance to read about what happens inside the 'deer hut'. I think its okay to shed light on some things without being very specific. The Maine Seeds have come a long way this session. Our dialogue came to a stand still a couple of days before camp ends, we were worried of what will happen or how to get the group to move forward.Then out of no where they came back strong not only in dialogue but with other camp activities such as group challenge. In my line of work whether as a mentor or a staff in any program ,I have always believe in any youth I work with, in their capability to do all they can to get to where they are supposed to be. I believe that every young person have the resiliency to redirect their energy towards a good cause if they are giving the right tools and that is what this camp is about. Seeds of Peace have all the tools and support that makes young people believe in themselves and what hey can do as a group or individuals irrespective of who they are or where they come from. Yes its okay for a few of them to not be part of the energy now but I hope that they will re-connect with their peers once they go home and realized how much their lives and perception about everything have changed. Seeds of Peace have layers of support for this young leaders to effect change in their communities, and the world.
Dialogue was heavy today, we did touch on transitioning back to their everyday lives and how to deal with the response they will get from their friends once they start talking about their experiences here. It was difficult having that conversation some were holding back tears as they talk about what the relationships they have built this past three weeks means to them. When I heard the bell for the end of each of the sessions I tried had to hold back my tears.....
The fact that camp officially ends today is hitting us all (campers and staff ) hard, even though we know it was coming from the first day we arrived, but I guess we are just human and we can only control certain things, unfortunately time is not one of those and it does not wait for no one.
After dinner we went to the big hall and watched about an hour long slide of photographs of everything that happened on camp thanks to Bobbie the co-founder of Seeds of Peace and 3 other staff members who were on top of that. Most of the seeds of peace pictures on this blog is coming from Bobbie. I couldn't sleep so I spent time updating this blog. and I am wondering if I will be crying when I saw the last bus drive past the FIELD, or when I start walking back to my cabin and pack to go back home to my every day life...
Below is a quote we share with the group hope you will like it:
Forgive me, God, for remaining aloof when others are in need of my assistance.
Wake me up, God; ignite my passion, fill me with outrage. Remind me that I am responsible for Your world. Don't allow me to stand idly by. Inspire me to act. Teach me to believe that I can repair some corner of this world.
When I despair, fill me with hope. When I doubt my strength, fill me with faith. When I am weary, renew my spirit. When I lose direction, show me the way back to meaning, back to compassion, back to You. Amen.
~2002 Naomi Levy~
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Sunday Aug 9 Th
After the dawn prayer I decided to take a short nap since there is no line up . A bout an hour or so I started hearing this roaring noise ., ROW ! ROW! ROW! from the back of my cabin, not knowing what it was I woke up ,check on my phone to see what time it was and to make sure I wasn't dreaming, I ran out to the lake front and watched the canoe rowing competition coming to an end and some of the campers running to go take part in another activity. It was 8' o clock in the morning and this dedicated campers are already up and going. Today is the last day of the color games and the competition is getting very hectic. I came back to the cabin and prepared for breakfast. The weather looks great and its going to be a long day. We are going to know which color is the winner of the 3day long mini Olympic (Color Games).
MESSAGE TO 'HAJIMI'
The last part of the competition will be memorizing and delivering a message. the message is a short speech by a historical figure dead or alive, to be memorized by a representative of each color and reciting it to a member of he white team. The time(how fast), and accuracy of delivering this speech determines who is the winner of this part of the games.
The two team started this part of the game by taking part in many chain or relay of activities which ends with the last person being the one that delivers the message. The other non participating members were waiting outside the big hall until the two representatives emerge from the hall and each group run and picked their representatives up high and were singing towards the lake to wait for the official result. After an inspiring speech by Wil and Leslie......... the official result was released and the winner of the 2009 sessions 2 color games is the
The prize for this three day games is they get to go into the pleasant lake first , follow by the Blue team and then the white team and other visitors. The purpose of this game is not for a prize , its part of the leadership training that seeds of peace does to emphasis team work and the campers always get it. During the games the most important thing is the team work .
The rest of us walk into the lake and form a big circle with our hands on top of each others shoulders and started singing the Seeds of Peace theme song.
I am a seed of peace,
seed of peace, a seed of peace
I am a seed, a seed of peace
I am a seed, I am a seed of peace
Peace, peace, peace, peace
People of peace, rejoice, rejoice,
For we have united into one voice
A voice of peace and hate of war
United hands have built a bridge between two shores
We on the shores have torn down the wall
We stand hand in hand as we watch the bricks fall
We've learned from the past and fear not what is ahead
I know I'll not walk alone, but with a friend instead
I am a seed of peace, seed of peace, a seed of peace
I am a seed, a seed of peace
I am a seed, I am a seed of peace
Peace, peace, peace, peace
For me , I think the importance of the games is not about who won or who had more points ,its about the team building and leadership skills gained during the games. The campers did fully participated with the support of their coaches and they all gave it their all and at the end we are all members of one big Seeds of Peace family and one big part of humanity. But together we can make the world a better place.
Since the Seeds of Peace family is growing over the years, naturally it will also have tragedy along the growth ti night is the memorial service for all the seeds families that have passed and Its always a special memorial for a young Palestinian and a former member of the SOP family, Aseel Asleh , he was shot by the Israel police during the 2000 intifada, he was an innocent bystander. Bobbie shared his legacy of bringing people together and how he started a new serve call Seeds net where former campers will continue dialogue online. Wil Smith also shared some of Aseel's stories and encouraged the campers to live by the principles that they learn the camp. There is a face book in his honor http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6065701331
The DL are having a farewell dinner so we joined the party and had a taste of Middle Eastern : Jordan, Egypt Israel, Palestine and American food all under one roof.
Live your beliefs
And you can turn the world around.
~Henry David Thoreau~
Friday Aug 7Th
Today is my 'day off' , I decided to accompany a fellow staff member to drop a camper at the Portland Jetport. We left camp after the morning prayer and drove to the airport. I have to escort the camper because he is a minor. The Jet blue airline front desk staff have to do a back ground check on me before she will give me security clearance to escort the young man.So she started asking all sorts of personal questions, she ask young man if he speaks English, she ask me where i live , what I do for living, then she touched the wrong nerve by asking me 'How long have I been in this country ? I responded by saying long enough to be a citizen, then she repeated the question again with some sort of stress in her voice, that was when I ask her if it was part of the security clearing procedure, and if its not I will not answer the question. She handed me a slip with my name on it. I thanked her and escorted the young man to his flight.
Rahmat came to visit
I have arranged to pick up my daughter and bring her to the camp . She was excited to see me and my friend Walid whom she had met before I left for camp. Rahmat is a natural people person, she was all over the place asked a lot of questions . Rahmat made friends and engaged the DLs. She joined us for lunch and I brought Rahmat to the Friday Muslim service with me. she fell asleep during the service. Rahmat spent about 4 hours here before I brought her back home when I went to Portland with my fellow facilitators for sight seeing. We spent about 3 hours in Portland before returning to camp. When I got to camp, there was a preparation for a 'bucket' drumming performance at the delegation leader lounge. I met the drummer and another old friend before i went to my cabin. I fell asleep and wake up at 4 am, waiting for the my old radio/ alarm to go off ,then I heard a knock on the door it is time to pray. and my friend Walid is making sure every one is awake the three of us said our prayers and I went back to sleep.
Saturday August 8Th
There is no line up during color games, I laid in bed and listen to my radio for a while before taking a shower and headed towards the dinning hall for breakfast. There was too many things going on at the same time. I spent most part of the day reading a book titled ' A long way gone' by Ishmael Beah the former child soldier from Sierra Leon and I wonder how it will be like having a program like Seeds of Peace in Ghana(since it is one of the most stable countries in Africa). and then bring kids from waring African countries to spend summer there . I got carried away with this idea and I even started planning which part of Ghana will be ideal and which Government department I will have to lobby, when My cell phone vibrated and I suddenly realized that I was day - dreaming. I continue day dreaming about almost everything for the most part of the day.
In the evening there was the variety show part of the color games... I went and saw many talents on display, (Seeds got talent).The production was perfect, the team work was great. The best part of tonight is that all the campers were here as campers in different colors, no one is referred to by delegation or any other identity except their team colors blue or green. I went to bed feeling great and blessed to be a member of the Seeds family.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
The Maine Seeds had a guest speaker , who was a seed , she shared her experience on making a change in her community, This young woman raised about 20.000 dollars in one school year when she was in high school and initiated a lot of community action project in the Dexter Maine region. she is one of the many resources available to the current Seeds once they go home.
Tonight is the talent show night which will usher in the Color Games (CG). The color games is a three day intensive Olympic like competition in almost anything you can think of . From sports through intellectual and the arts. The camp is divided into three colors namely: Blue, green and White .The campers and their coaches(counselors) are either blue or green and the rest of the camp is white including visitor.. from Thursday through Sunday we try as much as possible not to wear the green shirts.
Dialogue was intense the campers have started realising how it is going to be over soon and we are all going to go back to our everyday life as before , having gone through this powerful transformation process.....
Color Games Coaches
The process of selecting the coaches is shrouded in secrecy and the counselors look forward to it with hopes that they will be the ones to be picked .No one knows how they get to be selected but every one hopes too be the ones that get to be selected. The rest that don't get selected automatically fall behind the coaches and all hand is on deck for a successful Color games experiences to the campers.The coaches are introduced to the whole camp in a very spectacular, colorful and dramatic way. Leslie and Wil , the two camp directors will mention a coach's name and their short bios, and then the coach will show or appear in a very creative way. Each coach comes with a style of their own and tonight's is as unique as the coaches. The line up shows how much competition lies ahead in the next three days based on how all the coaches entered the stage with style and creativity.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
is the fire that fuels lasting love.
The Seeds of Peace have a long tradition of going to the 'game' or to see the local base ball team (Portland Sea Dogs). There is an old story of a camper who was wondering when the game was going to start and to the camper's surprise the game was about to come to an end when she ask that question. Today is Sea dogs day.. on Sea Dogs day , we are all excited to go to Portland Maine to cheer for the local team The Sea Dogs,, which is a good relationship building with the teams. Unfortunately because most of the campers are not Americans we end up cheering after every score irrespective of who is winning. So today we spent a couple of hours at the sea dogs game. We had a lot of fun , ate a lot of food cheered for both teams all night. And drove back to the camp. As I laid on my bed the sea dogs song kept playing in my head repeatedly Until I fell Asleep.
Sea D-o-g-s, clap x2 !! clap x 2!!. Sea Dogs!! Sea Dogs!!..
quote of the Day
' 'If you dont know what you are searching for,
how will you know when you have found it.
Decide what it is you truly desire.
Then work whole-heartedly for it.
No half stepping. You can get it if you really want to''.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Monday Aug 3rd
The whole camp is excited about today . It is the international dinner event, there will be food from almost all the countries that are represented here. The campers will be looking their best.....
We had two dialogues one in the morning and the second in the afternoon after which we had a meeting. The day went by fast. During the dinner event , most of the campers are dressed in the most colorful outfits you can ever imagine. the food is good, and very diverse from Jordan through Israel, Somalia, Thai and America. Music was blurring and people were dancing all over the place I cant help it but go around asking both staff members and campers to take pictures with me whether they have cameras or not. After dinner I went to the Delegation leaders lounge to take part in the educator's night.Its an event where invited educators from different aspects of 'education' tradition or otherwise from communities here and far meet , make friends and network with the delegation leaders. Teachers try to established 'sister and brother classroom relationships with their counterparts across the globe , through the delegation leaders who are themselves educators. The whole event is like a spectacular 'speed date' service. After Daniel, Seeds of Peace Delegation Leader (DL) program director
guests introduce themselves and what they do, yo will have to go and speak with someone you want to network with. At the first round I met a gentleman, he is a Christian minister from Harvard collage, and when I told him that I have a long time dream of meeting a writer ,Diana, L Eck, (A new religious America) He said she is a member of his congregation and that if I get in touch with him he can arrange for me to meet her .
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek
~BARACK OBAMA, ~
I was schedule to do a presentation to a group of students from the Middle East and North Africa who are here in the US to meet everyday people... and explore how we the people run our lives. They came to the US through a program that is funded by the State Department's Middle Eastern Partnership Initiative which was started by President Bush 43, I spoke to the young group on some of the work I do in the community to empower young people and how I foster relationship with them, and the young people I co-presented with shared how they approach adult allies, when they need support or guidance as youth leaders in their communities. The presentation went well, we had lunch, hugs, hand shakes and said good bye.
On my way to Otisfield Maine, I started toying with the idea of moving out of Portland to some where out there in the woods just for its quite and peaceful environment. The state trooper at the entrance to the camp waived at me as i was about to stop and check in I felt the same feeling of being at a unique place. That evening we had our first guest speaker from , another seeds of peace facilitator who came to do a presentation on Hate crimes, it was a great and the campers enjoyed and I learn a lot from it.
Wednesday July - 29Th
Wednesday was normal a little bit of sunshine and some scattered thunderstorms. I went through a couple of hard moments , I was late for almost 15 minutes to dialogue.,( evening session), my boss Leslie, picked me up in a golf cart on my way to Dialogue, because she was worried about me(thanks boss).
Thursday July 30Th
Being worried, I went to bed early and had a very deep and sound sleep. I woke up early enough to say my morning prayer on time and also listen to the BBC radio world service from an old GE radio which also serves as my alarm clock.. I went to dialogue feeling the same way I was feeling the day before, I bet my co-facilitator might had picked on it , she asked me if I was okay (people really care about each other here). Our two sessions was good. Tomorrow is Maine Seeds Parents'. The parents of the Maine campers came to visit and also met with their kid's new friends.
Friday July 21st
Friday morning was nice the sun was out and we had a lot of visitors. It started raining around noon and the boys' soccer game was cancel. It rained for the rest of the day.
Saturday Aug 1st
Today is moustache competition day where staff members and some campers will compete for the best moustache around this part of town. There was so many kinds of moustache , some real ,some not. The competitors were asked to and stand facing the campers who will determined the winner by a loud applause any time the referee points at one of them. The procedure was very competitive until we settle for a male and female competitors it was fun to see how all the females rooting for the lady and the males were for the gentleman.
The Maine Seeds had a 'date' with Tim Wilson , he did a presentation on why they are here and how they leadership skills. He informed them of how much support they have in the Seeds of peace family and how they can effectively take advantage of it.He also pointed it out to them how they are the agents for change in their various communities.
In the evening I followed the delegation leaders to the town of Bath for a two hour sailing trip and guess what, I get to sail (drove) a boat for 45 minutes and I loved it.After sailing we joined our hosts for a BBQ and socializing for an hour or so before we headed back to camp. I fell asleep on our way back for most part of the two our drive. We arrived 'home' at around 9:30pm and I was fast asleep by 11:pm. I woke up in at 2 am tossed on my bed for about half and hour went back to sleep again.
Sunday August 2ND
Its beautiful day, sunny and not very hot. The christian service will be this morning and then there will be photo taking session and then dialogue. After the Church service the bell was rang for pictures to be taking first by delegation groups (countries) then dialogue group, then bunk , then table. Then just the facilitators then the the delegation leaders and on and forth. It was such an amazing co-ordination. Seeds of peace have a very perfect way of making sure that each camper at least gets to do something with more than just one kid. Today is the most exciting dialogue sessions for me ever. The group did an excellent job in sharing and being honest with it. I am privilege to be with them all.