October 2010


This was just mentioned briefly in my class on educational technology, and we didn’t delve into it. I think it’s partially because the social networking thing just became huge relatively recently.

Perhaps I’m uncreative, but I’m struggling to see how something like Twitter or Facebook could really enhance education beyond small administrative things, like informing students that school is canceled via Twitter. Any ideas?

One of my goals this year was to make myself more active in the Middle Eastern dance community. It meant not only perform but also pitch in. I can’t think of a single dancer I personally know who couldn’t use the free help. The Middle Eastern dance community, at least the ones I’ve been a part of, isn’t at a point where we can have hired help. Even if someone can afford to pay people for the actual event, there are a lot of tasks a long the way; a former teacher of mine told me that you never truly break even for events, because they involve so much planning, advertising, organizing, etc. They’re labors of love, and although it is not required to help out, I think it’s nice because I benefit on some level from their work.

Helping out has taught me a bit about how dance events are run and given me the chance to meet new people; being in a position where I am not establishing a core group of people to hang out with, extra opportunities to meet and connect with people are more than welcome. Things do get stressful at times with volunteering, but so far, things have overall worked out well. We can’t all dance at everything, but you know what? I don’t know if that’s such a bad thing. At Raks Spooki, a Gothic belly dance event, this past Sunday, I felt an immense joy from seeing the scared performers enter the stage and leave feeling accomplished. The feeling isn’t the same as performing, but it is just as good and worthwhile. I highly recommend volunteering to help out, even in a small way, at a dance event in your community.

When selling my fan veils (I concluded that they were too big), I realized that photographing the fine silk is difficult. The woman I sold them to was slightly disappointed, because they appeared brighter in some of the photos I had given, a cross between ones I had taken outside on a slightly sunny day and ones taken of me during the Baraka performance. I pointed her to the Fairy Cove website as well, but that made the silk have a THIRD look; it isn’t the dye job, either, since someone else has similar fan veils to my old ones.

Are there are any good tips on photographing silk so it looks true? Part of the issue is that the silk is a fairly light weight, so it’s transparent. I really tried photographing the silk well, and I don’t know what to do in the future is I sell something silk of that weight.

Meiver is holding a fan veil workshop at Green Street Studios on October 30th from 2:30-4 PM. Please email her at arabiyya@gmail.com for more info. Reserve your spot today, since the workshop has a 14 person capacity. Over half the spots are taken!

My Bharatanatyam class performed a dance yesterday; to your left is a photo of me all decked out my costume. The show was lovely; it’s nice to see such talented dancers. I have a lot of work to catch up on, due the extra rehearsals and losing Sunday to the show, but here are some important things I learned:

– Plan at least an hour to get ready. The photo doesn’t show it, but I also had a fake hair braid down the back. Everything had to be pinned (hair pins or safety pins) or tied with string; if you look at my left arm, you can see the string on the arm pieces. There are a lot of components to that costume.

– Try to break in the costume. My costume was brand new, and I think that contributed to my fan (the piece on the middle) not spreading beautifully. The fan was very stiff, albeit beautiful. I noticed most people had silk fans, rather than the stiffer gold brocade. I think wearing it more will soften the fabric a bit.

-The rhinestone jewelry does look stunning on stage. Some of the dancers had especially sparkly jewelry and it shimmered and sparkled when they were barely doing anything. Beautiful!

-Get better cases for big jewelry. I had separated out some of the smaller pieces using plastic food containers, but I need something bigger for the belt and head piece. I think it would make finding pieces a lot easier when I need them.

All in all, I learned a lot from participating and am glad I finally had the opportunity to perform something I learned in classical Indian dance.

Brief background info on me: I grew up in an urban school district in PA. I never feared for my life while at school, but things there were not good. The state, while I was a student, threatened to take over the district, due to low test scores. People were and still are poor, family life isn’t what it should be, fights aplenty (though I don’t think, at least then, they were gang-related), etc. I also was identified via an IQ test that I am considered gifted; the term “gifted” is poorly defined and gifted programs don’t necessarily contain the brightest students, due to the testing methods, parental involvement (I’ve seen very pushy, influential parents badger schools into letting non-gifted students into the gifted classes), teacher bias, etc. However, I’m not going to debate the issues of gifted education or whether it is important (I think it is, for what it’s worth). This is just explaining where I’m coming from.

We were assigned a book called “And Still We Rise” by Miles Corwin for one of my classes. It is truly an amazing book that documents the senior year of twelve gifted students, the coordinator of the program, and two teachers. This non-fiction book is very honest, and it reminded me of a much worse version of my high school/school district.

The book presents the complexity of the issues that the students face; it isn’t enough just be intelligent when it comes to succeeding in school. A lot has to do with outside factors, such as family, home life, etc. Most of the students in this program have had horrific childhoods and continue to have horrific daily lives. They are not just trying to survive but are trying rise above their circumstances and learn. The book also delves into the issues of affirmative action, what the teachers and administrators deal with on a daily basis, the race issues, the gang issues. There’s really too much information in there to really summarize well.

What was interesting to me, which was not my experience, was how many of the students were intellectually engaged people. They were not simply there to earn grades to go college to get a better job; these students were highly intelligent people who actually cared about learning. They didn’t take their educations or intellect for granted.

I recommend this book to really anyone who is interested in education and the issues students are facing. While these students were in exceptionally bad situations, these issues arise in other parts of the country and in districts not quite as bad. When people talk about why US students are not as competitive against the rest of the world, books like these show how many issues there are.

I think some people were surprised when I talked about my new incentive to cook well for one person. Here is what I typically eat during a week.

  • Stir fry
  • Pasta with some kind of sauce and veggies
  • Something instant (like frozen pierogi)
  • Lentils and rice

There are other things that I randomly fill out the week with, but these are pretty much weekly staples. They’re cheap and fast. I think the next move to fast (for me) and easy cooking will be a crock pot. I’m starting to investigate what one can do with them; it turns out they are pretty versatile.

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