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I’ve been following this website called GOOD for a while. I now get ‘one good thing a day’ straight to my inbox after subscribing, and I must say I was a little pessimistic about them actually sending good stuff..but they won the bet.

What got my attention lately is their “30 days of GOOD” challenges they do every month. Last month was on “Financial Fitness”, the one before it was on “Microphilanthropy”. February is on “GOOD Citizenship”. The idea is that if you register for any monthly challenge you get daily tasks in your inbox with regards to that specific subject.

The tasks so far (It’s still the middle of the month) vary from things you can do with a little research or in the comfort of your own home like “Learn the history of your neighborhood” or “Read two opposing opinion pieces on the same topic” or even “Make a list of issues you’re passionate about.” From simple things as “Get a library card” to “Register to vote” or “Register to volunteer”. They even included the all too famous “Help someone today.”

I am not sure if the “ten commandments” are the best criteria for being ‘good’ or a good citizen nowadays l but I have no clue what else applies. I don’t think I’ve ever sat down to think about who the good citizen is. Most things that pop into my head and that might circulate and be heard around are things that a good citizen ‘would not’ do, passive sentences. Do not throw trash out on the street. Do not put on loud music in the middle of the night. Do not park in 2 parking spots. Do not hit a fellow human being in the head if you disagree on something. Do not.. do not.

The list GOOD is working on is made up of DO’s that are truly simple things one should work on to become a better citizen.

If I’m to make a mini list it would include the above mentioned things from GOOD with an addition of: Do correct peoples’ mistakes if they will have bad consequences (Even if it’s not your job). Do remind people to constantly be GOOD. Do stand up to evil/wrong doing. Do consider all things/spaces to be your own. Do look at things the way they’re supposed to be and not the way they are. Do interact. Do get our of your bubble. Do constantly redefine and reassess your thoughts and your actions. What are your thoughts on this? Also, can one be a good citizen but not necessarily ‘good’? A few questions to sleep on.

Being a strong believer in the importance of education (both formal and informal) in the rise -and fall- of communities and nations, I can’t say that I wasn’t totally excited that the theme for TEDxYouth@Amman will be ‘Educativity‘.

Educativity = Education + Creativity. I will write a more detailed post about my thoughts later but for now I want to bring attention to an interesting new concept that TEDxYouth@Amman is bringing to the table. Other than all the youth who will be sharing their thoughts on Educativity on stage, there’s this competition that revolves around hearing your thoughts on Educativity, what it means and how it can be applied.

Read about it and do participate if you have something to share about the subject and about education in Jordan and in the world as a whole.

Youth Award: What is EDUCATIVITY?

Do you have your personal definition of EDUCATIVITY? Do you have a vision for how “education” and “creativity” can be put together? And do you want to be an official speaker at TEDxYouth@Amman?

As you may aready know, “Educativity” is the theme we have chosen for the TEDxYouth@Amman event taking place this coming November 19th 2011 at the Cultural Palace – Hussein Sports City. We created a competition to get you engaged and to hear from you.

What you have to do is pretty simple:

1. Take a 3 minute video of yourself telling us your vision for Educativity. A video using your personal camera or even your webcam would be good.
2. Send us the video to dina@tedxyouthamman.com before November 15th.
3. Wait for us to review all sent videos and pick the winner.

Three easy steps, all you need is a good vision or an idea to share about Educativity and a video camera.

The Prize:

If you are the lucky winner, your prize will be a 3 minute talk on stage on the day of the event in front of 1500 Jordanian audience! Get your cameras rolling!

Original Post.

They had apparently met before or something. They were all taking pictures and I just stood there not really knowing how to interact. A beautiful female then looked at me from far and asked if I was with them – it appears that I looked lost; or shy- I answered with a yes and joined them. Taking pictures with people you don’t know isn’t really something I was comfortable with, but she would tell me to come closer or raise myself so that I appear in the picture. Good people.

That was my very first interaction, and from then on it got easier, strange faces all over are to become faces I’m accustomed to and will later miss. An unveiled female Bahraini face will teach me that I know nothing about other Arab countries. A Moroccan face will make me laugh and love. A Tunisian face will make me miss the intimacy of an intelligent close girl friend. A Syrian one will be the first to make me cry. A familiar Palestinian face will remind me to go back to my basics, to strengthen whatever ideology I carry. Faces, faces everywhere, each with a story, a different background, a different dialect, a different everything, an incredible amount of data to process that you can only control through one on one conversations (they were my favorite).

* I found out later that they had met and gone out the day before. The very next day, while standing with that same group taking pictures, I realized how one day can make a difference in your wanting to take a picture with someone. The very next day, we were all bundled together smiling, this time they weren’t strangers. *

We talked culture, heritage, religion, politics, even a tiny bit of personal philosophy with some. We walked the streets of Jericho, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron. We laughed, some fought, and most of us shed a tear or two.

My first trip to Palestine last year was different. It was a discovery and I was focused on the physicality of the place, on buildings, walls, streets. Even the limited interactions with Jews I would define them as physical things, as if their faces were part of the space now, not faces of human beings. This time it felt more like I was home, I don’t know any of the places that we went to other than those in Bethlehem and Hebron but I felt like I knew it all. It was all too new to the Tunisians, Moroccans, Algerians, Bahraini and the rest, so I somehow convinced myself that I knew it the most.

My attention shifted to the people this time, both from Palestine itself and from the rest of the Arab world. Even the Jordanians themselves seemed much more interesting under the Palestinian sun. I tried to shed away all my preconceived convictions of people, getting to know them in Palestine meant that there was some sort of aura around their faces, every topic was infused, washed, rinsed and rewashed with something Palestinian.

I was getting close to interesting personalities, each with different content to share and remodel, all with a more than wonderful homey background of Palestine. At times the background would fade and the faces would be more focused, maybe because of the amount of time spent in buses and hotel lobbies, maybe because Palestine is a humane cause to me, maybe because I am simply interested in my own idea of human interaction (which I was fully in control of because I knew no one).

Amna, Mirna, Ons, Mola, Abdelbarie, Younes, Abdel Majeed, Riyad, Yazan, Tareq, Hamza, Alaa, Shaden, Maram, Ahmed, Maryam, Ragheb, Fatiha, Rana, Raneen, Hamed and many many others. I know that if I don’t see you again, in a couple of years I will be left with a few framed memories and a few first names. So I write this to remember you, to trigger whatever is needed to keep as many images in my head as possible. To remember discussions, camps, 5 different bedrooms, endless walks, newspapers, old souks, breakfasts, lunches and dinners, plans, complaints, and crossing the country in a bus that carried our love around for a week.

May we meet again..

I haven’t held a newspaper in my hands and read one in quite a long time now. Today in the morning I saw it on the table and decided to flip through it, see if there’s anything new or different. It felt like the news are a repeat of sad and unfortunate events lately that I would get in a bad mood whenever I read one, hence me ignoring reading any for a while now.

Anyway, while flipping the newspaper 2 pieces caught my attention.

The first..

It says that 21 garbage men/collectors in the city of Salt haven’t received their paychecks in 5 months now. We’re talking about a municipality that is not paying the people who need their salaries the most. It’s as if these men take thousands of Dinars that the municipality can’t afford!!

What is even more surprising is that the men refused to give out their names to the newspaper for fear of being punished one way or another. I guess being afraid to ask for such an obvious right of getting paid for your work for 5 months is an alarm for a huge problem. Of course all attempts at contacting the municipality have failed according to them. Reform much?

The second was this

The Applied Science University has been winning in national and international championships and cups for as long as I can remember. I paused for a minute after reading the headline and thought about the players. I was wondering who’s still in that team after a few years of not following basketball news at all.

To my surprise, all the names were familiar. Anver Soobzokov, Zaid Abbas, Osama Douglas, Abdullah Abo Qura. Seriously? Are you kidding me? These guys were playing for the applied science university while I was in 10th grade, if not even before that. We’re talking about 6 years. Can you explain to me how you have students stay in university for 6 years? Let’s assume that one keeps failing and taking courses, but is it really a coincidence that ALL these big names have been playing for that university for years and years?

I wonder how much they’re paid to keep those one or two courses hanging and pay their fees every semester just to be able to play in the team and win! I am trying to find another explanation but I can’t. If this is the case then our reform is needed on basketball courts as well as in governmental offices, and that is a shame!

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