Choosing Love Over Fear: U2 in Paris

 

Now that the Fall Semester is over, I finally got a chance to watch the return of U2 to Paris after their concerts were cancelled in the aftermath of the terrible, November terrorist attacks.

All…I…can…say…is…WOW!

 

Peace4Paris.svgAs you know, I earlier took issue with the boys from Dublin because of the automatic Songs of Innocence music download that went onto everyone’s Apple devices and  their apology.

After watching this concert, I admit “mea culpa”. This may be the best concert I have seen. Ever.

Bono summed it up perfectly at the beginning of the HBO broadcast: “Every night we go on stage there is a feeling of anticipation. But, this night, this night is different. There’s a time to cry. There’s a time to pray. There’s a time to shout. This night we choose love over fear.” In the following 2 sets and an encore completed in over 2+ hours, U2 illustrated what love over fear really looks like. Continue reading

Thankful for My Travels in India

Thanksgiving will be here in a couple of days. At this time of year I like to reflect on what I am thankful for. When it comes to my international experiences, I am grateful for the various opportunities that I have had over the years to visit India for academic conferences and travel. Of all of the places I have been, India is one of the few places that still affects all of my senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. Why? Because India is an amazing land of adventure, architecture, and artistry.

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When experiencing adventure, probably one of the greatest adventures that my husband and I embarked upon was our camel safari in the Great Thar Desert in northwestern India. For 5 days we traveled through the parts of the desert in the Indian state of Rajasthan. We visited the ancient cities of Bikaner, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, and Jodhpur. We camped out in the desert as well. My camel and I became fast friends. I nicknamed him “Pokey” because he plodded along slowly while my husband’s camel thought he was running a race to the finish line every day. Riding a camel is not for the faint of heart. It takes some skill to get in the saddle and stay on it as your camel gets up on four legs. They also do not have a uniform gate like a horse. And…they like to spit at you when they are upset.

color negative: KODAK GOLD 200 Gen 4. SBA settings neutral SBA on, color SBA on

India has amazing architecture as well. The most iconic building is, of course, the Taj Mahal. This white marble mausoleum was built in Agra from 1632-1648 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. It is decorated with flowers and leaves made of inlaid precious and semiprecious stones. When viewed in just the right sunlight, they look almost like live plants. There is also an outer courtyard with gardens and reflection pools. (You’ve probably seen the famous photo of Princess
Diana sitting on a bench in this area.) The Taj Mahal is a UNESCO Heritage Site as it is considered the best architectural achievement in Indo-Islamic culture.

color negative: KODAK GOLD 200 Gen 4. SBA settings neutral SBA on, color SBA on

And then there is the artistry of the people of India. Their artistic works have stood the test of time. Amazing paintings and carvings are everywhere you look. Exquisite fabrics and beautiful pottery can all be found. Of course there are traditional dance schools and music venues as well. One of my favorite things to do is go to recitals at these schools when the students graduate. India has a long history in the arts that stretches back to the third millennium BC. It is a multicultural mélange of the various groups that have inhabited the country for thousands of years.

In conclusion, I challenge you my dear readers, to reflect on your own experiences this Thanksgiving. Which ones are you the most grateful to have had?

The Infamous Harvard vs. New York Prisoners Debate

debate graphicI know you have heard about it on the television networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC). You may have even heard about it on NPR of all places!

Yes, I am talking about the debate between a group of Harvard students and a group of prisoners from the Eastern New York Correctional Facility in Napanoch, New York.

This event was tailor-made for a great news story in the mainstream media as it sensationalizes one of our democracy’s most esteemed institutions: public debate. This is not surprising in the run up to a presidential election where words like “loser”, “stupid”, and “big boy pants” are thrown out into the public sphere by the current candidates.

I must confess up front that I have been a policy debater, coach, judge, and teacher at the high school, university, and graduate school levels. I have written about these experiences in previous posts: A. Craig Baird Debate Forum: Going Home For The NDT and In “Debate Mode” . I have also coached parliamentary debate in Singapore and help coach the HBU mock trial team. I teach a class in Argumentation and Advocacy here at HBU as well.

Because I have been hearing about this debate event nonstop, I really just want to set the record straight. Continue reading

Back to Kansas from the Land of Oz

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OK ya’ll. I’m going to travel back in time and to another culture.

The place is Kansas where Dorothy and Toto originally made their way to the magical Land of Oz via a tornado. Imagine that I am Dorothy, but I don’t have Toto the dog (I do have a cat, however, as my colleagues and students know). I clicked my heels and went back home for a high school class reunion and the annual Labor Day Celebration in Hoisington, Kansas.

Certainly a different cultural scene than Houston, Texas.

This, my friends, is a big deal. Hoisington, Kansas has had a Labor Day Celebration and parade for 119 years.

Yes, 119 years! Continue reading