The GoGlobal Blog

Month: July 2011

Rock Climbing, Catapults, Roman Bragging Rights, Artistic Expression, Flowers and A Windmill

Rock Climbing, Catapults, Roman Bragging Rights, Artistic Expression, Flowers and A Windmill

All in one day.

We climed the chateau des Baux de Provence.


We watched medieval catapults as they launched balls across fields.

We learned that the Romans really liked to brag about their victories.

We admired the view Van Gogh displayed in his various works at Saint Remy de Provence.

We inhaled the famous scents of the land and enjoyed the power of nature.

And, we saw a windmill that was called: Moulin Alphonse Daudet.

It was a long day.

Château Virant, Lançon De Provence

Château Virant, Lançon De Provence

Last week on 12 Julliet 2011, our group visited the flourishing family run Château Virant for a local wine and olive oil tasting!

The traditional family, Cheylan, named their business after the ancient rock château that was built into the nearby mountain side.

 Of course, the olive products and wine are grown and processed on site!


What an enchanting environment to display the hard work of one multigenerational family!

C’est Magnifique!

July Protests in Amman, Part I

July Protests in Amman, Part I

20 hours after the July 15 protests in Amman, there is a calm over the city.

At 11am, only about half of the regular street vendors have set up shop along the main roads. Traffic has lessened; the drivers are silent. Even my house, on weekends always filled to the brim with family who spend the night to enjoy the next day’s lunch together, is empty.

But what has been neglected in American news coverage of the protests in Amman is that yesterday morning, everyone knew what was coming.

Since the first uprisings of the past year, Jordan has largely abstained from making front-page news as a hotbed of revolution and change. This is because Jordan–unlike Tunisia or Egypt or Libya–has it pretty good.

Jordanians are allowed to protest freely as long as they are peaceful. The homeless population doesn’t seem to be extensive. They have some of the best medical facilities currently operating in the so-called “third world.” Jordan, arguably, boasts a better public school system than America.

But as always, there are problems that can’t be ignored. In the Middle East and throughout most of the world, food prices are skyrocketing. The (lack of) water situation in Jordan, while surrounded by many projects to

Peaceful protests have been held every Friday since March

boost it’s capacity, seems dire. The Jordanian government–which was dissolved and remade two months ago–has achieved from it’s outset a blanket of ill-repute.

Which is what these protests are mostly about. But let’s be clear: most Jordanians love the King. Of course this doesn’t account for everyone, but the vast majority of Jordanians will bow to King Abdullah but spit at his new parliament, which seems to have become a mere “reorganizing” of the old parliament.

Every Friday groups of peaceful protesters–usually about 15-20 people–gather downtown. This has been ritual since the so-called “Arab Spring.” They call for reform of parliament and the lowering of food prices. With Ramadan right around the corner, this is particularly sensitive.

This past week, a group of pro-government protesters told the press they would assemble on Friday after noon prayer–the same time as the anti-government protesters.

Word spread through the people as early as Wednesday that violence may occur during yesterday’s protests. By Thursday night, the Jordanian government issued a statement saying peaceful protests were acceptable as always, but they would not tolerate violence in the protests.

Friday morning, the government struck a deal with the Gendamerie (the civilian military) to protect the protesters that afternoon. At 2:45, the anti-government protesters were merely 15-20 people with signs wandering around downtown.

Over the hours, that number grew dramatically but not exponentially. When the Gendamerie intervened, people were hurt, one possibly killed–the numbers vary in every outlet. But since a major protest that left 100 injured in March–which many Jordanians brush off and all but deny–there have been no real clashes with police.

The calm felt today is an unsure indicator whether violence from the government’s payroll will prompt a resurgence in protest numbers. Whether there is a real and substantial push for change in Jordan is hard to grasp. So far, no coverage of the protests has been shown on Jordanian news and only minimal reporting in The Jordan Times and other newspaper outlets.

If things begin to escalate, I will post as soon as possible.

Why it’s kind of unfair to judge private-sector life in the Middle East

Why it’s kind of unfair to judge private-sector life in the Middle East

In short: it’s too complicated, and it’s too cultural.

There is a lot of harping and speculation in the U.S. about women’s rights in the Middle East. Unfortunately, we tend to categorize the private sector (female) Muslim life as an equality issue and not as a cultural divide.*

For me–an American-born 21-year-old college student with one half-brother; a gym-employee who goes to work in shorts and a t-shirt, has a boyfriend, enjoys hobbies such as jogging outside, exploring large cities, meeting new people and an occasional glass of wine–private sector life can be very difficult.

And everything I read in preparation for the life-style here went out the window as soon as I started living it.

In Jordan, women operate largely inside the home. But that’s not necessarily because they have to. Here, women can run errands, go to coffee with friends, shop around in the mall–it’s just better, from a cultural standpoint, if they’re not alone.

“Not alone” means being accompanied by a man or a woman. In Jordan, women travel mostly in groups, and aren’t required to be accompanied by a brother or husband.

Group travel, for women, is not a religious construction: it’s a cultural difference. Privacy is just not valued in Arab societies. In the house, everyone eats together, sits together; there’s no assumption that a closed door is closed for privacy. In four weeks of living here, I haven’t seen one person walking around Jordan with earphones in. It’s a very social culture with a huge emphasis on hospitality and the familial network.

Jordanian culture sometimes lends itself to America’s idea of subservience. But in Jordan, the negative connotation of “subservience” is absent: it’s respect. You give your chair up for your older brother the way children should for their grandparents.

Women are not supposed to look men in the eyes for extended periods of time. Likewise, men aren’t supposed to stare at women in the eyes. The reason? It’s impolite to stare.

The public space is male-dominated, but public space only means so much. Walking around alone, being a street vendor, taxi driver, etc. are all public-arena jobs, but they are surrounded by the women who utilize and aid them in the work-force. women have jobs in the public space, it’s just not as prevalent.

In the private space of the house, women relax. It’s nowhere near the dim abyss of lonely housecleaning and cooking some tend to think of as the private sector. This is the space for women to take off their hijab, gossip about their day, spend time with their relatives after a day of work.

The size of the family here keeps the internal space very busy. The women (as well as the men, when they’re present) are constantly shifting between sitting and drinking tea or coffee, playing with the children (who are raised by everyone in the family), talking with family members, watching the news or Turkish soap operas, and just enjoying themselves in the company of relatives.

For me, however, this lifestyle means giving up many of my hobbies (which are largely of western creation) to sit with the women, gorge myself on tea–snack, talk, play. But after four weeks of being surrounded by the company of my host-family, more than five minutes of alone-time is beginning to feel largely unnecessary and strange.

And I think I’m starting to get it.

*This is not to say that there’s never an issue with women’s rights. Please note that I am writing this from the urban center of a largely forward-moving levantine nation.

A Few Hours In: Marseille, France

A Few Hours In: Marseille, France

  There are a lot of places in France that you can enjoy. But one city that is a particular point of interest to visit is: Marseille!

Keeping in mind the meandering gypsies and multitudes of people, I quickly shot images of some of my favorite sites.



Only in contemporary Marseille would you find new art mixed with the old!

 After a long walk back to the Gare de Marseille Saint Charles I boarded my train and snapped one last photo of my simple yet splendid souvenirs!

A Day Trip to Arles

A Day Trip to Arles

We awoke bright and early so that we could depart at 8am sharp; away from Aix we traveled!  

We walked by many different sights

From historical to modern

We wandered through the Roman Amphitheatre where gladiators and bull fights historically took place…then it was off to the Ancient Roman Theater for plays, musicals and modern concerts.

Though the Roman Amphitheatre in particular provided great opportunities for photos!

Yet the Roman Theater provided an awesome obstacle course of architectural relics!

Taking a much needed break from the heat, we descended into the earth to visit un cryptoportique; which is basically an ancient Roman cellar. But boy was I freaked out by the different shadows!

And at the very last minute, after souvenir shopping and eating my way through the never-ending market, I quickly shot an adorable photo for Desalina!

…but before we could leave Arles entirely, we had to make one more stop: To the Musée départemental Arles antique! 

Petanque et la Plage de Ste Croix

Petanque et la Plage de Ste Croix

Apres cours (after class) on Mardi and Mercredi our class took a few field trips…

The first mini adventure was to the Parc Jourdan in Aix, where we played a traditional french game called petanque:

In a very simple explanation of the game of petanque, a small “jack” (a small wooden ball usually) is thrown away from three players. The players, with two metal boules each, then take turns to try and throw their boule closest to the jack.

 The boule closest to the jack receives the most points and after a few rounds the individual who has the most points, wins the game!  

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The second adventure on Wednesday started with a 30+ minute bus ride…

Where we saw the lovely french country side

and random homes, on the drive to…

La Plage!



Happy Belated 4th

Happy Belated 4th

Im still catching up on sleep and electrolytes from Americas birthday party. I can neither confirm nor deny that I started a “USA!!USA!!USA!!” chant at the hardrock Beirut. My original plan to go the US embassy party failed due to a lack of planning and time. Shwey embassy. Irregardless me and the rest of the crew represented America right at all you can drink and eat chicken wings at the hardrock. I seriously think hardrock is going to rethink that promotion.

Heres an interesting link to a bunch of pictures and stories of embassy parties worldwide.

Heres a video about tabbouleh

Heres a link to some useful background reading of the Hariri investigation

What To Read On the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Heres a picture of a Beirut sunset

Une Promenade Du Soir

Une Promenade Du Soir

 Desalina and I have been walking around the Cours Mirabeau these past few nights, and these are some of the lovely sights we get to see on each promenade!

C’est moi!

Regardez closely!

Another lovely benefit about being in France:

Harry Potter comes out on the 13 of Juillet!

 C’est belle non? 


Marhaba from Beirut

Marhaba from Beirut

There are several things one should consider when asked to write a blog about their travels/studying. First, your not going to have access to the internet as much as you think. Second, your not going to have time to sit down and mess around on the computer. Thirdly, your not going to want to deal with the horrible internet and you just dont want to sit on a computer. Alas, I took time out from my busy schedule of 4 hours a day of classroom arabic and then subsequent cafe studying to write.

Im moved into a flat in Hamra Beirut just south of campus, directly in between LAU and AUB. Beirut is gorgeous both in climate, architecture, and people. I think this is the southern California of the middle-east. Fellow students are from all over the world including England, Germany, Slovakia, and an array of kids from the states. We even have one famous student, I will not write his name, but all I can say is Narnia.

Im a little tense, being a security student with all of this Hezbollah unrest. Fireworks were going off two nights ago and I literally sprinted out of bed to see what was exploding. For those who have not been following, the Shia political/social/religious/military/terrorist organization? was indicted for the assassination of former president Rafiki Hariri. Nothing has happened so far, but this region of the world tends to be rather unpredictable.

I have no pictures to upload becauseeeeee, surprise the internet here cant handle the upload. I have however taken pictures of the literally hundreds of cats that sleep/eat/fornicate outside of my apartment at all hours of the night.