Thursday, December 1, 2011

What if there was no more school?

Before writing this I had to ask myself, “what does college really mean to me?” After some thought on my experience in college thus far, going to college means to go to a place where you get your degree so you can be so much more successful in life. When I first began my college career, college, to me, was just getting out of bed getting dressed, and going to college. I had to realize the importance of a college education and how seriously you have to take your education.

I never realized how quickly college was approaching and “starting my life” seemed far away. I would contemplate what I really wanted to do with my life and about going away to school, carrying around heavy text books, making something of myself, but didn’t realize how much planning and funding I needed.
Well here I am, anticipating my graduation with my Bachelors degree in the near future, and instead of worrying about what I am going to do once I graduate, I have my foot in the door at a news station and I am actually working in my field of study! That is almost unheard of these days. .

The idea of not going to school next semester has actually gone through my mind several times. Although I know the importance of obtaining a college degree, it is hard to stay motivated so close to the end. If I didn’t attend college this next semester I would be working full time. I also work part time at Arden Mall and work nights at News 10; there would be plenty for me to fill my time with, if I choose not to go back to school. Consequently, I am aware that not finishing my degree would be a waste of all the money, time and hard work I have put in these past 2 years.

It is encouraging to think back to the times when everything used to be so easy. Elementary school, middle school and high school was a breeze, I never had to study, or struggle to do homework. I didn’t have to worry about what I would get on a test, it was as if getting an ‘A’ was always guaranteed.  Until I started turning in assignments for college level courses, and that’s when I realized everything was changing. I was so used to succeeding academically that I had no idea what to do.

During my first term, I used the strategy I had been using my whole life to get good grades: take notes in class and study those notes for five minutes, maybe ten each day. I learned the hard way that that method wasn’t going to cut it at that school. I felt out of my comfort zone and confused. I didn’t understand how I had gotten to this point where an ‘A’ was impossible and receiving a ‘C’ was a miracle.

Maintaining this routine is a main reason why I know that skipping my last semester of college would be a huge mistake. As hard as it is to stay motivated, I know that if I do not go back next semester I never will. School is enjoyable for some and torture for others. I am one of those people who do not enjoy school, but succeed at it although it may not be happily.

Friday, November 25, 2011

More than a Vacation...

From what I can remember, Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a fascinating city filled with culture and history. It is a unique blend of old and new, ideally situated on a hilly area between the desert and the Jordan Valley.
In the center of the city, ultra-modern buildings, hotels, smart restaurants, art galleries and boutiques rub shoulders comfortably with traditional coffee shops and tiny artisans' workshops. Everywhere there is evidence of the city’s much older past.

Due to the city’s modern-day appeal and difficult climate, almost half of Jordan’s population is concentrated in the Amman area, the main city. The suburbs and housing consist of mainly tree-lined streets and concrete and dirt roadways.

The downtown area is much older and more traditional with smaller businesses producing and selling everything from fabulous jewelry to everyday household items, and gifts to intrigue the tourists. The people of Amman are multi-cultural, multi-denominational, well-educated and extremely hospitable. They welcome visitors and take pride in showing them around their city.
Amman, Jordan is where most of my family is from and have lived at sometime. My grandparents on my mother’s side still reside there.
The last time I visited was when I was 15, I hope to travel there and maybe study in Jordan in the near future. Because I seldom visited there it became difficult to assimilate to the lifestyle there, compared to the simple luxuries I enjoy every day here in the United States.  I learned a lot visiting there each summer; I especially learned how it felt to be independent and responsible by flying overseas alone. I enjoyed feeling the confidence I gained from doing well outside the comforts of my life in America.

Over time, I realized the importance of understanding my heritage and experiencing the lifestyle people in Jordan experience every day.  Living in the Middle East over the summer and noticing how life is and the discipline people have learned and assimilating to the culture and lifestyle, I took that opportunity to grow and learn in any way that I could. I became more aware of life, more familiar with both Jordanian and American cultures, as well as with those of who surrounded me.

Those who have never traveled to the middle east will be surprised to see that Amman is a very diverse city. Palestinian, Iraqi, Circassian, Armenian, and many other ethnic groups reside in Amman. The city went from 20,000 inhabitants to more than 2 million people in less than a century partly because of massive influxes of refugees from Palestine and Iraq.
Despite the common misconception that most Jordanians do not understand English, that is certainly untrue. Tthe most commonly known language is English, and French is the next known language, Arabic being the main spoken language of course.   It never hurts to know a few useful phrases and come prepared with a translation book, or to have the names and addresses of places you are going written in Arabic for use with a taxi driver.  I can not wait to visit again and enjoy the beautiful heritage that I will never stop appreciating.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Restaurant Review-Chicago Fire in Folsom

Chicago Fire is Sacramento and Folsom California's most popular place to taste authentic Chicago Pizza. It opened its first location in Folsom in February of 2003. The main theme of Chicago Fire is to serve unique and authentic Chicago-style pizza. The most popular orders of their Chicago Pizza favorite is a flaky deep dish, gourmet stuffed, or the popular choice of Chicagoan’s, crispy wafer thin crust, which is served in sliced squares. They have a simple menu and sometimes a long wait, but it has always been worth the wait every time I have gone there. They offer a full table service, a full bar, a great selection of wines to choose from, and a more upscale environment to enjoy pizza at a reasonable price.

When I first went to Chicago Fire, I intended to try their thin crust pizza by recommendation of my friends. It is rated the best thin crust pizza in the area. Not only was it the best in the entire Sacramento area, but it was just as good as thin crust pizza I had in Chicago two summers ago. In Chicago, we've found the pizzerias tend to use a corn flour dough, which gives the pie a grainy consistency. The owner told us that Chicago Fire uses wheat flour which produces a smooth texture.
My friends ordered random appetizers that were equally as delicious such as, artichoke, chicken wings, spinach salad, and their signature Margherita pizza, which of course had to be enjoyed with a pitcher of margaritas. The salad was awesome and the artichoke was a perfect starter for the group. The margaritas were a bit on the sweet side but the fact that we could get them in pitcher form made up for it.

Their menu claims that, "The crust is wafer thin and has no rolled edge. The toppings are placed under the cheese and the pizza is cooked on the stone deck of a very hot pizza oven, resulting in a crust that is thin, light and crispy. The browning of the cheese and areas of chocolate brown/black crust is a sign of the authenticity of this pizza" .We had the "Traditional" and the crust was a delicious flavored crunchy with fresh chopped tomato, basil, garlic, olive oil, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. We also had the spinach salad which had fresh spinach, crumbled bacon, crumbled egg, red onion, homemade spinach dressing & homemade croutons. Everything was delicious even the mojitos we ordered, from their 15-year experienced bar tender.

When we first arrived, we did have to wait for our table, so they gave us a hand held "beeper' that lit up with red dots when our table was ready and it took about a half hour. There are many places within walking distance to pass the time so we decided to go directly across the street and do some wine tasting there. We had some fabulous wine and the owner had just bought the store, surrounding art galleries are also a must see.

 We expected that there would be a wait for the restaurant. There is both indoor and outdoor seating. We were seated in a very large booth surrounded by glass in an open and light part of the restaurant. The great food and drinks made up for the lacking service, we repeatedly had to find our server and ask for water, and to be refilled or for a second order of drinks. Most people seem to overlook the sometimes poor service experience, because the food is worth it. I would say that this is definitely a place worth visiting!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Journalists in Jordan Gather to Show Solidarity with Al Ghad reporter

A recent story regarding a Middle Eastern Journalist caught my attention and prompted me to further read into the incident.   Hundreds of Journalists came together at the Jordan Press Association to show their solidarity with Al Ghad journalist Yousef Damra. Damra was threatened after publishing an article exposing a major fraud case. The demonstration was joined by Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications who worked in efforts to recent government acts of intimidation against journalists.

Damra started his investigative story in April when he started writing about victims of fraud. As a Journalists many confided their stories in him, and knew that he was capable of reaching contacts that local victims could not. His articles and columns exposed $3 million (Jordanian dollars) in real estate fraud.

After receiving many phone calls threatening that if he did not stop coverage of these cases, his life would be in danger. Damra reached out to the Jordan Times, revealing to Times editors that he is reaching out to the police. In an email I received from a Jordan Times editor,” Damra told The Jordan Times yesterday, adding that he informed Al Ghad’s management who in turn complained to the police.” I have been consistently intrigued by this story, and the capability of this writer. I was also very excited to receive an email response from the editor, considering he is in the Middle East.
This is also intriguing to me as a writer because it shows me the limitations I have as a writer, yet, I am able to see how far I can go to get answers, and how far journalists will go to maintain credibility.
Damra's main goal in this investigative story was to uncover corruption and follow through with a service toward his readers that turned to him as a Journalist. He also talked about his duties as a part of the media.  He expressed that it is part of a journalists’ social and professional responsibility to report on any violation of the law. He also sets an example for other investigative journalists that they have rights as long as they do not cross the line or over their boundaries.

In addition to journalists, several citizens who claimed to be victims of fraud took part in the demonstration and urged authorities to take action to protect the journalists that arrived in support of Damra. According to the Damra’s previous article, “JPA President Tareq Momani yesterday said that press intimidation is damaging to society, describing the threat against Damra as “thuggery.”
I believe that as journalists, we should be aware of the challenges we face while doing our job, yet at the same time, never be deterred from our responsibilities in exposing any violation of the law, or other parts of society. Every Journalist should know their rights, and also their boundaries when covering any story, and be aware of their surroundings.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Death of Gaddafi and its affect on the Middle East

For more than 40 years, Moammar Gaddafi was the unusual, unpredictable and brutal face of Libya, the oil-rich country, that became his international gem. He was killed Thursday in Sirte, his home town, eight months after he vowed to die rather than be defeated in the uprising. He became the first Arab ruler to be executed by his people during the revolt that is known, as the Arab Spring, thousands of citizen demonstrators against the dictator inevitably resulted in his long awaited death. His downfall followed the downfall of the leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, who were taken down by their own people, before protesters took to the streets of eastern Libya in February. According to the Jordan Times, an international newspaper that I subscribe to, Gaddafi was believed to be 69 when he died, at his death, had been one of the world’s longest serving dictators.  His death will ultimately affect the rest of the Arab world, and Middle Eastern ties with America as well. American relations with the Arab world have been strained for decades; Israel’s relations with the Arab world just as strained. The opposers enemies of Israel portions of the Middle East is predominately the West. This shows that Western views dominate most of the media, and the one sided approach that is shown. Most of their victims, indeed, are themselves Syrians and Iranians, followed by Lebanese and Palestinians. Furthermore, Palestinians are fighting for peace themselves. The main media portrayal of Egypt is a chaotic and overly religious county, that was smothered by the now deceased dictator. Egypt, and now more specifically Libya is labeled as predominately Islamic and is constantly being compared with other Arab countries, such as Jordan and Palestine. Although Egypt is more liberal compared with Saudi Arabia, Egypt is still the most conservative Muslim country in the media, and will continue to be shown that way despite the death of the dictator, who enforced not only the religion, but his own set of laws as well. The demonstrations and the efforts by Libyan freedom fighters, led to the downfall of Gadaffi, and will have its effect for Palestinians as well. The support of Egyptian political groups has been based on the image that the protesters were strong, as well as their ability to reach surrounding cities and counties with their efforts. Yemen, Palestine and Syria have been fighting for the same cause, and are sending the same message to Palestinians. That message is essentially that Israel’s forces are just as susceptible to failure and removal by the people just as Gadaffi was removed. The peace process in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict has taken shape over the years, despite the ongoing violence in the Middle East and protesters attitudes about a lasting peace is what is driving the peace process for those countries as well. There has been various efforts made to find peace and political agreements that need to be made in both the Arab–Israeli conflict and in the Palestinian–Israeli conflict. Libya’s new found freedom is just a stepping stone for these countries to keep fighting and achieving the same goals.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, and its Similarities to the Arab Spring

In this blog I wanted to connect the issues regarding Occupy Wall Street with the middle
eastern issues of inequality I have been discussing the in past. To begin with, Occupy
Wall Street is an ongoing series of demonstrations in New York City based mainly in
Zuccotti Park, in the core of the city. The protest was originally called for by the
Canadian activist  group Adbusters, as reported in the Wall Street Journal; this is similar
to the Arab Spring movement we discussed in class and that I will be elaborating on in a
future column, more specifically the Tahrir Square protests in Cairo, which initiated the
2011 Egyptian Rebellions .
People who take part in the event are mainly protesting against social and economic
inequality, corporate greed, and the influence of corporate money and lobbyists on
government, among other concerns. They usually go on through October, and similar
demonstrations have been held in over 70 cities in the United States and have also
spread globally, collectively to the Middle East.
This leaves liberals and democrats to contemplate their next move and reactions toward
the Occupy Wall Street movement. The main conflict among liberals is the fact that
democrats and liberal organizations have begun to support the protests. Occupy Wall
Street is an major symbolic movement, and many of its current members are very
driven, but the harsh fact remains that it may go nowhere. But liberals and mainstream
organizations can help shape the movement into a positive result. A conflict remains
that many protesters are involving themselves, but to not necessarily know what they
are fighting for in the first place, nevertheless, I believe that this movement will go down
in history.
As reflected in the Wall Street Journal, Republicans are in a high point now in the sense
that these radical movements benefit Republicans more than Democrats. In the United
States, conservatives are not as dedicated and active as other parties. Mainstream
Liberals are feeding into what is being shown in the media and what technology has
brought to the movement, although most of what is being protested contradicts the use
of mainstream media and its hold on consumers, no matter what party you are affiliated
It appears that the Democratic Party is suffering the most with the economy. Voters see
them as enemies on the same level as those in Wall Street, and Wall Street sees them
as hostile and potential threats to their motives. Republicans have successfully directed
their economic intentions  away from those who challenge it, this gives more power to
politicians and where Wall Street will end up in the eyes of both parties.
If the protests are to play a positive role, it will either refocus the public attention on Wall
Street, and re center political views in general. The Occupy Wall Street movement will
essentially  organize itself around  progressive ideas, although they may lack political
support.  If people stick to their cause, and protesters fight for what they truly believe in
and dismiss popular ideas, there will truly be change.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ray Hanania-Columnist or Comedian?

Ray Hanania, a former Creators columnist and is now a self-published  Palestinian-American writer married to a Jewish woman. He writes about Mideast issues in an evenhanded way that makes him seem like a radical with some of his topics compared to other columnists who back Israel almost unconditionally. Hanania's approach to writing has caused him to become un-popular with much of the mainstream media. By the way, Hanania is also a stand-up comedian who has developed just as large of an audience to his hilarious comedy as to his humorous writing.
Hanania's parents are Christian immigrants from Palestine. His mother is from Bethlehem; his father, George John Hanania, from a prominent Christian family in Jerusalem, served with the U.S. Army during World War II and with the Office of Strategic Services and later the CIA. He himself served with the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War and in the Illinois Air National Guard. Hanania's wife, Alison, is Jewish; and they currently reside in Orland Park, Illinois
Hanania is a University of Chicago graduate and a longtime, veteran Chicago political reporter, Hanania now writes an award winning column analyzing political and social issues that is now a part of several Chicago area newspapers. He also writes a weekly column for the Jerusalem Post Newspaper on Middle East issues.
As a parttime, freelance media and political analyst, Hanania also provides media support for web pages and internal communications projects as well as providing media consulting to governments and businesses.
Hanania is also a recognized Arab American historian and author of several books including "Arabs of Chicagoland" which was published in 2005. To add to his list of commitments, he is an activist for peace between Palestinians and Israelis speaking out against terrorism, violence, extremism, and religious fanaticism. He strongly supports and advocates for peace based on non-violence and compromise between Israel and Palestine.
Hanania has become internationally known as a standup comedian using humor performing for Christian, Muslim and Jewish audiences around the world to confront hatred and animosity. His Arab American-Jewish comedy routine lampoons his life and unique marriage to his wife, Alison, who is Jewish, at clubs, universities and Arab, Muslim, Jewish and American events around the country.
Some of his college credentials and awards include: Sigma Delta Chi National Award for Column Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists for his columns on the alleged discrimination against an Arab grocer in a suburb of Chicago. MT. Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award 2009 by the Mehdi Family. Winner of the First National Ethnic Media Award for Commentary/Editorial Writing (which was translated into English) in 2006 by the New America Media Association for his three-part series: "Shedding Moonlight on Conflict," "A new Language of Peace" and "Things Palestinians and Israelis share." Society of Professional Journalists Lisagor Award for column writing in 1985, 2003, 2007, 2009. Also, he won an award for a Chicago Newspaper Guild Column among many others.
I enjoy his comedy and stand up humor considering that I can directly relate to the Arab-American issues he must deal with, as well as the Arab-Jewish relations that I have written about and followed throughout my college years. His humor somehow creates more of an understanding of these very serious issues while raising awareness to anti-war efforts and racial tolerance in America. I appreciate his writing and the efforts behind them and will continue to read and follow his work.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Arab Americans in the Media

Arabs Americans, and Muslim Arab Americans by association and by direct action have
been increasingly racialized and targeted and discriminated against. These prejudices
have been fueled by the "war on terrorism" media influence. Mainstream media
continues the repetition of the urgent threat of Islam and of the Arabs and Muslims who
represent it. There are many ways for the media to deliver such a message to the
public through respected print, radio and various other news mediums. These
organizations increasingly reflect and reproduce the same global images and incidences
of Arab and Muslim Americans and Islam globally.
Although these media outlets cannot decide for the public and their readers and
Consumers consider race, they are representational of something larger that can
change mainstream beliefs, or main belief about Arab Americans.  It becomes an easy
outlet to discriminate when an American tragedy such as Pearl Harbor, 9-11 and many
others, are tied to a specific nationality or race of people. Arab Americans and Muslim
Americans are represented as highly religious, and strictly more religious than most
Americans. Arab Americans and Muslim Americans are represented as religious devout
Muslims. This assumption leads most Americans to believe that the attacks of 9-11 to
be religiously motivated. Although this may be true for the few men who committed the
act of terrorism, it does not represent the majority of Muslims or Arabs in America.
Arab Americans and Muslim Americans are represented as linked to international
Muslims and Muslim movements, which are themselves are categorized as people of
color, dark and dangerous; this also associates all people of Arab descent as Muslims
which is untrue. Many Arab Americans, like myself, are Christian. Although Arab culture
is widespread the religion has nothing to do with the actions that were committed. The
idea that Muslims and Arabs are against the United States became an ongoing theme in
most media coverage, this made Arab Americans and Muslim Americans target citizens
for discrimination and an ongoing struggle for acceptance and equality and their civil

By Renee Sweis

Friday, September 9, 2011

Whats it all for?

College can prepare us for our leisure time just as much, than it can prepare us
for our working lives. College educated people are able to appreciate and enjoy
literature, art, music, essays, movies, and other products of the culture. College
graduates have a sort of appreciation and enjoyment that is deeper because of
their education: those with a liberal arts education see things in movies and
music and literature that those without the education don’t. And, as a
consequence, their experience is richer.
College students often worry about what they will do after graduating as an
English major, or a Sociology majors. Most people believe and would argue that
the only thing valuable about a college education is what sort of job, and income
you can get with that college education. So, since you’re spending all that time
and money and effort on college, you should get yourself the sort of education
that is useful for getting a good job. Choosing a major in the commonly chosen
field of ‘business’ or ‘marketing’ is a broad subject matter and has a vast
opportunity for success in the work force.
I would further engage you by asking that you broaden your image of what a
college student wants, and should want; and what a college student actually gets
out of an education vs. what they should get out of an education. Most students
who land an office or medical assisting job feel as though they have hit the
highlight of their career. Furthermore I would continue by saying it doesn’t
matter what college you choose, but what you do in college, and after college
that matters. It is important to choose something that you enjoy doing rather
than what will bring in the most income after college, because now is the time to
pave the way for your future in a non regrettable way.
Back to my college student-office-worker analogy, this topic regarding the
benefits of a college education and its enjoyments along the way can be
extended without end, as it can definitely be debated, but what no one can
debate is the importance of taking action to pave your way to the future you
hope to have for yourself in the end. You can’t hope that the piece of paper that
says “Diploma” will be your meal ticket into the dream life, it just means that you
have a better chance while competing for better career opportunities. If your
focus is more on status and status alone, you might end up being Andy Bernard. 
times. From his small desk on the office floor of the Dunder Mifflin paper
company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Be more than a bachelors degree, or a
diploma, be what you’ve always dreamed of…..
He went to Cornell University. (Ever heard of it?) He will tell you this. Many

Friday, September 2, 2011

From Summertime to Crunch Time

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bumper to bumper traffic, angry students jogging from class to class, endless lines at Starbucks and Java City... Yes, it must be the first day of the semester.
Waking up at the crack of dawn to go to work is bad enough on its own, but now the added joy of 5 back to back classes in one day, is not as tolerable.  To add to the list of joys, a 30-hour-a week Summer internship at ABC News Ten, takes up any other "free" time I may have.

Despite the endless work and stress, it was very motivating to get back into a strict and steady routine. Although the next four months of my life are planned down to the minute, it will all be worth it in the end come graduation time; or getting hired through the internship I have invested so much of my time.

It was either out of sheer luck, or the grace of God that I did not struggle with tickets or finding parking these first few days. Although the parking problem continues to plague the campus, from students to the faculty members.

My first class went smoothly,and of course was let out early as expected on the first day. Of course, the only thing on my mind was finding a cup of coffee during the 11 minutes I had before my next class started.
"Why would you enroll in 5 classes in two days, back to back?"... You might ask, well thanks to the decisions of our state congress men, and members of our school board, there are not a variety of classes to choose from, so you take what you can get.
Another "joy" of first day, is that you have to re-train your mind into focusing on what your professor is saying, and remembering to write EVERYTHING down to avoid missing an assignment. After being detatched from the classroom scene for several weeks, sitting for a long period of time is easily described as torture. 

Although my earliest class begins at 10 a.m. it can become easy to procrastinate and under-estimate timing with completing assignments. Leaving at the exact right time, and leaving time for parking becomes second nature. A 10 a.m. class is not that early, but overestimating the "extra" morning time can be very dangerous in meeting deadlines.
It seems as though I can never time things correctly, either im extremely early or three minutes late. Even though professors will wait and give you the benefit of the doubt, you still have to fight thru 345 people to get to a seat in a class that you are enrolled in; only to find out that later on 300 of those students are hoping to add or on a waitlist.
After spending 35 minutes taking roll and then another 45 minutes explaining the same syllabus that was explained in the previous class, its on to the next journey of finding Del Norte hall, which I just discovered this semester, actually exists.

Although having back to back classes is extremley stressful, it is convienient not to have to find a way to fill up a one or two hour gap in between classes, which I had to do last semester. I no longer have to akwardly sleep in my car, or in the library until my next class started.
With all of that said, I feel that over these passed few semesters, there have been many lessons learned, and many more to come. I can't wait until graduation time when I look back on these days, or re read this blog and be ecstatic that its all over, and I can now embark on a new journey and start my future.

So I am filling my head with good thoughts, and wishing my peers good luck. I am hoping to stay focused, and ending this last semester with pride and excellent grades.
Here comes a new semester!!