Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Muslim Women Leaders in Madison - 6/23

Saideh Jamshidi

Twenty women from eleven countries in the Middle East gathered this month in Madison to share their experiences and challenges they face to bring broader political and social rights for women in their home countries. They are a selected group of women to participate in the Women Leaders Academy Retreat created by the National Democratic Institute in Washington DC.

In our show yesterday, we talked with two of these powerful women and asked about the next steps they may take to apply what they learned at this retreat within their home countries.

Chantal Souaid is from Lebanon. She is in charge of the transparency and accountability Grants Projects at American-Middle East Educational and Training Services known as AMIDEAST. She is eager to go back to Lebanon and create a similar organization to AMIDEAST. See my interview with Chantal below:

Batool Al Khalaf is from Saudi Arabia. Batool has created women-only public speaking groups in Saudi Arabia in order to boost women’s confidence to take a stand in public speaking arena. Batool is currently working with the Toastmaster International group to expand its program in Saudi Arabia by starting Arabic-language public speaking clubs for women-only groups. See my interview with Batool below:

What are your experiences with standing for women's rights? Do they compare to the experience described by Middle Eastern women? Leave your comments below!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vahdat's Art Work Is Both Harsh and Beautiful

Saideh Jamshidi

Last April, Fahimeh Vahdat, a Milwaukee artist who uses her experience and background in her paintings to raise awareness about women’s rights and freedom, talked to a group of students at the University of Wisconsin. At this event, sponsored by Project Nur, the student-led initiative of the American Islamic Congress, at the University of Wisconsin, Vahdat stated that she views her paintings as “an instrument to uncover painful issues and bring about positive changes by recognizing the suffering.”

As a teenage girl growing up in Iran, Vahdat observed first hand, the turmoil of revolution. She experienced also experienced the execution of her family members for being of the Bahaii minority religion. Vahdat had to flee the country with her husband and infant girl. They came to the United States in 1981.

At the time, aggravated by the hostage crisis, the US and Iran’s relationship was at its worst. In Vahdat’s words: “The US wasn’t fun. There were a lot of prejudices against Iranians. As soon as you open your mouth and you say you were from Iran, you became one dimensional. All of the other human aspects of you were diminished immediately.” But Vahdat fought back. Only a few years into her immigration, she had learned English and could blend in comfortably with the American culture. “I refused to be treated differently by people, Vahdat said. “I said, I am equal to everybody else, man or woman. I have a different ethnicity which I am proud of.” Eventually, Vahdat enrolled in a community college in Dallas, Texas; then transferred her credits to an MFA program in painting and printmaking at Southern Methodist University.

As a young artist, she became increasingly sensitive to the discrimination against women she observed in Dallas. Vahdat decided to show this pain and suffering in her painting, but her outspokenness did not come without a cost. In one of her public solo shows, in Mountain View College, four of her paintings were knifed by an angry man. “I bet if I was there, I would have been attacked,” she said.

Due to the strong messages expressed in her paintings, some of her works have been censored in Dallas as well as in other places. Julie Shapiro, Vahdat’s professor in SMU commented on the public response: “What I have told her very recently is that her work has a powerful combination of the visual and theoretical,” Shapiro said “I know some people almost feel the work is too powerful. They do not want to deal with that kind of imagery.”

In her private gallery at home, she hung a giant painting of a naked woman bend over, bloody and beaten. A transparent dark fabric hangs over the figure. Vahdat has placed a pile of stone below the paining for a crime of adultery for women in Iran.

there is also another giant painting laid out on the floor titled: “Am I To Be Wed?” In it, we see a naked young girl in the center of the painting standing on a pile of lilies wearing nothing b a ring around her neck. Persian poetry is written behind the girl. There is no color other than black and white. “Color can evoke emotions,” Vahdat said. “I wanted to strip my work from all of these deductive elements.”

Vahdat’s devotion to bringing awareness to injustice is unbreakable. Currently, she is working on a body of printmaking dealing with the recent upheaval in Iran. In June 2009, the Iranian government opened fire on angry demonstrators who were asking for a revote after President Ahmadinejad claimed his victory. In one of her unfinished works, Vahdat has written Persian poetry on a long red canvas. She is planning to attach pictures of those killed in the demonstrations including Neda Aghasoltan, the young and famous girl murdered by a stranger in one of the street protests whose death was caught on a camera-phone and distributed in the Internet. Vahdat also dedicated a piece of long canvas, 4 to 6 feet, the same size of the cells in the Kahrizak prison, where many people were murdered and tortured after June 2009. Although the canvas is painted in a dark color, there is light coming through a small window in the painting. “The light of hope shining through all of these events,” Vahdat says.

Although criticized for the harsh reality she demonstrates in her art works, Vahdat sees beauty in all of these works. “There are lots of flowers that symbolize different themes, or there are poems that I have chosen for my paintings,” she said, “One cannot help but to see beauty in all of these.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

Global Nomads, Global Dinners - 6/18

Dominique Haller

A few weeks back, we had Rita Golden Gelman as a guest on our program to talk about her nomadic lifestyle and her new book, Female Nomad and Friends. Rita certainly is a dynamic lady, and she has initiated her fair share of projects that are aimed at making people more open-minded and curious about the world.

One of these initiatives is happening today! Her Global Dinner Party will be celebrated by people all over the world. You can find easy instructions on how to participate here and her Facebook page with more information on the event here.

And let us know how your dinner went!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Life of Language - 6/14

Dominique Haller

On today's show, we'll be talking to world renowned language specialist David Crystal. In his latest book called A Little Book of Language, he discusses the volatility of language in all its variations - from regional slangs to new forms of language that emerge with new forms of technology. Today's show is part of our World of Language Series. You can find more information on the series here.

What changes have you noticed in your own use of language with the rise of communication technology? Are you a stickler for perfect language use? Or are you tolerant to uses of language that don't comply with the standard? Leave us your comments below!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Official Here on Earth Summer Reading Without Borders Reading List! 6/7

Carly Yuenger

On today's show we talk with Chad Post of Open Letter Books, publisher of works in translation extraordinaire, about his top picks for summer reading in translation. Here they are, in no particular order...

Be sure to add your favorites by leaving a comment below. Then, check out the rest of our "World of Language Series".

  • Martin Solares: The Black Minutes, noir crime fiction set in Mexico
  • Alejandro Zambra: Private Lives of Trees, near-novella telling story of one night, narrator tells stepdaughter a bedtime story about trees while worrying whether his wife will return home from an art class
  • Mohamed El-Bisatie: Drumbeat: A Modern Arabic Novel, a fictional Gulf country sends all native Emeratis to the World Cup leaving the country to its migrant workers
  • Albert Cossery: A Splendid Conspiracy, an Egyptian student returns home from Paris and continues a celebration of idleness with friends
  • Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud: A Life on Paper: Stories, scary short stories about death and the dead, with humor
  • Christian Oster: In the Train, a (very French) love story
  • Dubravka Ugresic: Baba Yaga Laid An Egg, a new twist on an old Slavic folktale about a scary old lady, told in three parts
  • Sofi Oksanen: Purge, a story of two women and their interconnected and tragic lives in the aftermath of the Soviet occupation in Estonia

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cakewalk - 6/4

Dominique Haller

Recipe for Kate Moses' Chewy Fudge Brownies:

1½ cups walnut halves
1½ cups unsalted butter
9 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2¾ cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • Preheat the oven to 350ยบ. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Toast the walnuts on a baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes, watching carefully and removing from the oven once they start to smell nutty and are lightly browned. Let cool.
  • Meanwhile melt the butter over a low heat in a medium-sized saucepan, then remove from heat. Add the chocolate, broken into pieces, and cover the pan for 5 to 10 minutes, until the chocolate is melted. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, sugar and vanilla until beginning to get a little thick, creamy and lightened in color. Whisk the butter and chocolate until smooth, then add to the sugar-egg mixture, mixing just until well combined. Add the flour and fold in with a spatula, using as few strokes as possible just until the flour disappears. Fold in the walnuts and turn into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, checking after 22 or 23 minutes: You do not want to overbake these brownies! The brownies will be ready to take out of the oven when the tip of a knife inserted in the center has moist crumbs attached (not liquid, but moist). When done, remove from the oven and let cool undisturbed in the pan for several hours or overnight before cutting into squares.
  • Makes 24 generous-sized brownies.
Enjoy! And let us know how they tasted by leaving comments below.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Parker Palmer on Jim Brandenburg - 6/8

Dominique Haller

Parker Palmer was our guest on today's show. Together with photographer Jim Brandenburg, he talked about how we can find our way out of a professional or creative burn-out.

With Jim having shot wonderful photographs of wolves, we ended up talking about "Brother Wolf" quite a bit on the program. In the video below, Parker shares an experience he had when he accompanied Jim to go "talk to the wolves".

Burnout, Renewal and Reward - 6/3

Dominique Haller

On today's show we'll talk to Jim Brandenburg and to Parker Palmer. Jim is a photographer who has worked for decades for the National Geographic Magazine. At some point in his career, after taking hundreds of pictures every day for years, he experienced a burn-out. He'll tell us how he found his way back to creativity and professional renewal.

These four photographs by Jim Brandenburg have just been chosen for inclusion in a unique collection that represents the 40 most important nature photographs of all time. The images were chosen by members of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP,) a fellowship of the world's top professional conservation photographers.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Saving the mother tongue 6/2

Carly Yuenger

On today's show we speak with linguist Daniel Kaufman and Ho-Chunk Nation Language Division Manager Richard Mann about the growing interest among researchers and native speakers in preserving endangered languages.

For some, it's about identity, for others it's about the human story and the idea that linguistic diversity is as important as biodiversity or cultural diversity. For still others, preserving languages that are on the brink of extinction is essential to the scientific study of language and the human mind. No matter which was you look at it, there's something magical in hearing a language you've never heard or in speaking with someone in their native tongue for the first time, telling us that the preservation effort is worth it.

Check out the video below for an after-show conversation between Jean and Richard Mann:

Take a listen to the program, or help fill in the conversation by leaving a comment below with your thoughts and experiences of "the mother tongue." Then, check out the rest of our "World of Language Series."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A World of Language Series

Carly Yuenger

We are working on a series of shows around the topic of language. It's a topic that comes up often on the show--language can separate us and also bring us together; it helps us express who we are and feel like a member of a community. It is also a medium of art, bringing us poetry and literature. So what's in a language? That's what we're hoping to explore.

Wednesday, June 2nd: "Endangered Languages"

Monday, June 7th: "Summer Reading Without Borders"

Monday, June 14th: "The Little Book of Language"

Check out these shows (some will have individual posts here at the blog) , and leave your own thoughts on the world's diverse collection of languages and literatures.

Tales of Nomads - 6/1

Dominique Haller

On today's show, we'll be talking with Rita Golden Gelman, probably best-known as the author of the book Tales of a Female Nomad, in which she described how she sold all her belongings at age 48 to travel the world as a perpetual nomad. She joins us to talk about the stories that were sent to her after she had put her personal email address in the book. She just published an anthology, Female Nomad and Friends, to share some of the stories that were sent to her.

You can find links to some of her initiatives here:
Let's Get Global Initiative, promoting a Gap Year for students to travel the world
Global Dinner Party on June 18th, celebrating food and travel around the world

Have you ever given up all that was known to you to break free and travel the world? If you had the means to travel right now, where would you go? Or do you belong to those who find adventure in their own backyard? Share your comments below or call in during the show at 1-877-GLOBE-07.