Love, Hope, Strength, Faith: Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

By: Rhonda Nemri

It was last May of 2015, I signed up to do the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I decided to join because most of my coworkers/friends had joined, and I thought to myself it’s for a good cause. I didn’t know anyone with breast cancer, but I still felt connected to it because cancer had affected my family. My father was diagnosed with bladder cancer in November of 2012, and had lost his battle in June of 2013. So the connection was highly there, as I related this race to the loss of my father from cancer. It was my first 5k for a cancer event. Even though it was an unrelated cancer it still pushed me to participate, and feel the pain those felt fighting breast cancer, and losing to it. 

This year as the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure approached it was different for me. I wanted to join not only because it was for cancer, but because my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in January of 2016, and is currently seeking treatment for it. I don’t share this with many people, but this event has prompted me to share my thoughts.

Signing up for this race I thought to myself I’m going to participate in this and experience it in a different light. I was supposed to meet my coworkers/friends for a pre race photo at our company office the morning of the race, which is only a few blocks away. I was running late, and thought I will just walk to this event alone and wait for them there since I was running a bit behind for the photo.

When I actually got to the event, I noticed so many people there dressed in full support for the cause. Women and even men all dressed in pink, children running around with supportive gear, and different booths set up for free items for supporting.

When I got closer to the main stage, they began their announcements, and upbeat music to get us in preparation for the race/walk. They announced that they would have a survivors parade, which entailed breast cancer survivors walking and cheering with signs that stated Faith, Hope, Strength, and Love. At that moment I felt very connected and tears rushing down my face. I wanted the tears to stop to avoid people staring, but it didn’t work. It was an overwhelming feeling I couldn’t control. After a few minutes I felt this positive vibe, and  then realized how many women and even men suffer with breast cancer. These survivors allowed me to see the strength in these women who have fought with it, but also those who have lost their battle. It did however give me hope and faith.

I’ve connected with these women and they didn’t even know it. I thought about my mother through this all, and remembered how strong she is. She doesn’t have an easy life, but she manages to wake up and get through her day fighting. Something I believe I may not be able to do if I were in her shoes.

I was alone for the most part of the beginning, and wondered if my coworkers/friends should be with me so I wouldn’t cry or break down. But I am glad I had that moment to myself. 

I was doing the 5k run, and most of them signed up for the 10k so I even ran alone. I kept thinking I don’t care about what time I would finish this race, I just wanted to finish it regardless of time. 

The race started at 8 am and run start time began at 8:03 am. As I was running I noticed all the different types of runners. The ones that were survivors, the ones that were running for the cause, and the ones that were running on behalf of those who lost their battle. I was the runner that was running on behalf of my mother who is currently living with this cancer and fighting it each day. It inspired me to keep running.
I passed my first mile, and felt I’m not going to stop. I did eventually stop for a moment to walk, but I kept going. As I was approaching the finish line I noticed those cheering me and the others near me to finish. I sprinted to the finish line and the tears came down. I was again alone and just noticed all those around me celebrating their finish. I was happy and proud for them, even though I didn’t know them. I grabbed my banana and water and sat on the cool grass watching those finishing the race.

When I finally met with my coworkers/friends I was happy to see them and high fived them for finishing the 10k. We took plenty of picture and danced a little. It was beautiful and an experience I won’t forget. I have done plenty of 5k races for different diseases, but this one in particular will always be one I won’t forget. 

Participating in these races allows you to give to the cause, as well as running for those who have fought and/or lost their battle. It actually pushes you to keep going. 

Ever since losing my father to cancer, and watching my mother fighting breast cancer, life has been seen in a different perspective. Cancer is a scary word, and we automatically think of loss. But we must continue to be there and fight with those battling it. Your world may be turned upside down, but eventually you will learn to see the beauty of life and how fragile it is. 

It’s a cliché thing to say “you never know when it is your last day”, but this is a true statement. I never knew I would lose my father at such a young age, and I never thought my mother would get breast cancer. But it has helped me to want to help those who may have experienced a loss, and going through grief. It isn’t easy to live with so much grief, but it shapes you to be a stronger and better person in such an unfortunate way. 

I’m thankful to know I am not in this alone, and there are many supportive people. I thank them for their existence in my life, they know who they are 😊

Check out the few pics from the event!

   

   

  

    

    
 

Don’t Let the “Good” Fool You

By Rhonda Nemri

I have come to realize over and over that the people you deal with will not always portray who you are as a person. That just because you are nice and considerate, does not mean they will be too. I have this conversation with people many times about genuine good people versus people who do good things, but are not always genuinely good. It is very irritating when meeting people, and always wondering are they really who they say they are. We can ask them what are some of your pet peeves, and they may respond…”rude people”, “mean people”, “liars”, “cheaters”, “inconsiderate people”, so on and so forth. Yet, they portray these types of negative characteristics on a daily basis. I’m nowhere near a perfect person, but I do believe I have a decent approach to how to treat people, even when they do not deserve to be treated well. Being a good person means not expecting people to constantly say you are good, and not constantly trying to convince others you are a good person. You can say you are nice and considerate person, but can you show for it?

I’ve met many people who tried to convince me of the person they are, yet they don’t truly fit the description they have set out for themselves. It is just a cover up to fully be accepted. Bad people exist in this world. Some know it, some don’t. I’ve come to write about this topic because it is becoming more apparent to me that people are self-centered, and tend to do things for themselves only. Now, doing something for yourself is not bad, but you have to stop and think to yourself, that there are people in your lives that deserve to be treated well.
Do not ever tell an inconsiderate person your feelings, or what hurts you in life. They do not listen to these words. They hear it, but they do not truly grasp it. This just makes you get emotionally hurt when you tell someone your feelings, when really they were not listening. You expect them to treat you differently when you tell them what you do not like. A considerate person would take what you say, and use it to their advantage to be a good person to you instead of turning things around on you.

Overall, the point is that life is not always pleasant, and it is not always on your side. We will meet people who belong in our lives, and we will meet people who will be in our lives for a short time and leave. Learning to let go the grudge of a bad person is hard, but what I always say is if you treat me bad, I won’t treat you bad, this is your ultimate choice to do so. But if you do treat me bad, I will make sure you know that I do not belong in your life, whether at all, or barely.

How The Middle Eastern Culture Can Be Toxic

By: Rhonda Nemri

Now I know some people will take this to offense, and say “how could you say this?” Or that I am not prideful of my culture. If that’s your first instinct about this, then you’ve already proven my title. However, there are many ways in the Arab culture that people depend on because it is “safe”, and a better excuse for getting away with their hostile behavior. I will explain what “culture” does to people, and how it affects our society; mainly the Arab community. The list will predominately focus on the Arab/Middle Eastern Culture, but can relate to the general idea of culture.

1. Culture is established by a group of people’s norms, and their own perceptions of life, and something that usually sticks with them for a lifetime.
2. Culture brings people together, and creates traditions that can be passed on to generations.
3. Culture allows you to identify with a group/race.
4. Culture is something good, but when taken too far, it can actually create toxicity among family, friends, co-workers, etc.
5. Saying “this is how it is supposed to be” is based off of what someone created to be the norm. Therefore basing everything you do in your life a norm that you only live by because someone else told you this is how it is supposed to be.
6. Culture makes people become hostile towards those who do not fully abide or engage in cultural norms.
7. Culture puts a timeframe for when to be married, when to have children, and requirements on whom you should be with/shouldn’t be with.
8. Culture creates an identity crisis. Arab/Middle Eastern culture versus other cultures can cause one to conflict between being authentic versus being what someone else wants.
9. Culture creates a sense of fear for living authentically. The constant thought that people are monitoring your behavior, and being worried of what other people think of you.
10. Culture makes people believe that because specific norms have been around for so long, that they are correct or acceptable.
11. Culture has created strict tendencies and traditions that have been the cause for separating family units, or has hindered the quality of life.
12. Culture has repeatedly made women to be the lesser equal. Invoking certain lifestyles, do this and don’t do that, limiting career opportunities, etc. As well as creating standards for men to be and act a certain way to appear masculine.
13. Culture for Middle Easterners has been a reciprocated understanding between several religious faiths. (Examples: Christians/Catholics and Muslims). Thus prohibiting many ideas, and new values from different men and women.
14. Culture does not allow mistakes, because your reputation is a representation of your family, and is always accounted for. If you make mistakes, then the people in your family also live through repercussions. People then bad mouth, or speak badly about each other.
15. Culture makes religious people focus more on cultural values, than religious values. This can be detrimental for those who try to live through their religion as Godly-like beings.
16. Lastly, Culture would be something great if people allowed each other to live freely, and not have to live for other people.

Final thoughts:

If we would see the negativity of our culture and become more positive we would be happy individuals. Stop paying attention to other people, and grow as an individual. Making someone suffer because of what you think is right, does not make you right. It’s bad enough we have to live to see the Middle East falling apart because of control, power, and greed. So why do this to the people who you call your family, friend, acquaintance, or someone you vaguely know. Give each other a chance to live life, and a chance to know them before you let culture dictate your every move in your life. Culture is important to have, but not to make you hostile towards humans.

A Writers Intent

By: Rhonda Nemri

A writers intent is to provide a different perspective to others. To let the reader experience another persons experiences whether fiction or non fiction. A writers need is to fully express themselves, and most times it’s done creatively. A writer hopes for many readers and commentaries on their writings. But whether one reader or a thousand readers, the writer is at ease because they have released all internal thoughts out. It helps a writer release their thought process out on paper or typed in their computer.

When writers express themselves, they are risking a part of them. Their vulnerability, sensitivity, rage, and passions are exposed, and can be ridiculed by those not agreeing with statements of the writers beliefs, attitudes, and values. But that doesn’t stop them.

A writer may not care for the amount of readers, however a writer surely hopes to reach out and be a helping hand for those who may be internally struggling. For those who may not have the courage to speak up, but to feel connected and not alone in any issues in their lives.

A writers intent is to inspire those who need inspiring, help those that need help, and create another world for those who choose to be lost in words.

A writers intent is to help themselves understand their own voice, and realize the wretchedness of their own oppressions.

I dedicate this to all the writers who inspired me to write, and allowed me to express myself with no regrets.

Destructive Power

By : Rhonda Nemri

They cut you. They cut you so deep, you bleed. But you don’t bleed to death. Just a bunch of cuts that become scars. You don’t walk away, you forgive them. Each time you forgive them, you think to yourself it will be better. When really, you’re handing them that power.

Now this power is so destructive that every time you legitimately have the right to be hurt and upset at them, they make you feel it’s your fault. Each time this happens, another scar is added. You try to walk away, but it’s that power thing that just can’t seem to go away. Whether you are with them or without them, they seem to have this power over you. You lose sleep, you don’t eat, you overly think, you lose yourself in all of this.

Each time you come back you hand them that power again. The sad thing is they know it, and they feed off of it. They need it to survive. And they will survive because you are feeding them your precious soul. You are feeding them your life that used to be yours. But something keeps you around them. Something makes you whole again when they are good. It’s this drug feeling that numbs you, that you can’t even see what’s wrong. But you enjoy it, because with it, it keeps you alive.

They say they need you and want you, but what they need is that power that someone else may not give them the way you give them. That’s real abuse. Not the physical kind, but the emotional and psychological abuse. That abuse will stay forever with you if you keep handing your self control over to the person who thrives over having you by their side only for the sole purpose to control you. This is toxic, and you know it. But you’re afraid that if you walk away, no one will want you the way you’ve laid out your life to the last person. So you stay and forever have lost yourself.

*NOTE*
It isn’t just our intimate relationships that this applies to. Power is a necessity for some in your family, friendships, colleagues, superiors, etc. we all struggle through powerlessness in our lives. But to let someone take over our lives for their sake, we should reconsider them in our lives. Emotional and psychological abuse hurts more than physical. All abuse is harmful, but it is the words that affects us coming from the ones that say they love us.

The Fools Will Chatter

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By: Rhonda Nemri
Photograph painted and photo edited By: Rhonda Nemri

I mustn’t show my tears. Or else the fools will chatter.

I mustn’t show my smile. Or else the fools will chatter.

I mustn’t grief out loud. Or else the fools will chatter.

I must show my tears. Or else the fools will chatter.

I must show my smile. Or else the fools will chatter.

I must grief out loud. Or else the fools will chatter.

Yes the fools will always chatter. With chatter they speak as fools, and fool you to believe they stand beside you as if you’re a fool. But indeed the fool will always be a fool, full of ignorance.

Visionaries

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By: Rhonda Nemri
Photograph taken by Rhonda Nemri

Lying there with your eyes closed and your cold delicate skin, I see you but can’t feel your touch. Throwing myself at you with tears rushing down my face, dripping to the cold ground.

Catching the last moment of your presence as I press my warm face against yours and sing you a song that once was heard.

Revealing my story to you in the last moment before the doors shut. Staring in the eyes of the lost souls, feeling their pain, but nothing can be done.

Consoling one as I feel the wind knocking me down. Creating visionaries in ones mind as we lose the branch off the tree of life.

Whispering voices, crying eyes.
Look around, touch the ground. Fall in hurt, reach for support. Crazy scenes, loud full screams. Stop the ride, feeling to confide.

Moved away quick as they give one last look. Running back to just hold you in that split moment I’m shook.

Soil is moved for your rest. Feeling this urge to fall apart, as the dirt shall fall, and the grass will sprout.

Digging with my bare hands, as I visit your long stay. Feeling this pain that won’t go away. Dig, dig ,dig, but I don’t go far. As I stop the dreaming and walk to my car.

I look one last moment before I leave, and pass through the gates as I weep.

Your memory is in my mind throughout the day. As I place my hand to my broken heart, and hum this way.

As the sun shines I feel your smile. I hope this feeling will stay for a while. I rest my eyes through the night. As I wake things don’t feel right.

The final thoughts are of this life, without a moment of you things don’t feel right.

Painted Silhouettes

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By: Rhonda Nemri
Photograph Taken By: Rhonda Nemri

Colors changing into the mood.
Loud as the fire bursts with creation of realism.

Layered in black cloth as it resembles the feelings of mourn.

Stripping the darkness from its root, and bringing back life.

Shameful appearances of the painted silhouettes.

Once again it shall appear to be solid, but soft as the inner core of the bodies falls to the ground in grief.

Surrounded by the cold and warm structures that create no absolute.

But to signify once again the wretchedness of this long gone chapter.

Communication Strategies for Equality: A Discussion on Middle Eastern Women Lacking Education and Career Paths

By: Rhonda Nemri

When it comes to education, some of us are sure with what we want to do after receiving a college degree; others are left wondering what the future holds. Even though most of our destiny is not fully understood, we still have some sort of direction of where we would like to be. However, some women are put in a place where education comes easy to them, but the aftermath of receiving the degree becomes a complicating matter. In many parts of the world, many people lack educational backgrounds due to societal roles, or not having the ability to afford such opportunities.

Women who hold some type of familial values tend to cater to the needs of their conditioned beliefs, and expected destiny. The women I speak of are Middle Eastern women, who tend to include themselves in educational experiences, yet find it hard to include themselves in a career path based off of many cultural norms that do not allow them to explore, and work in such industries such as math, science, medical, communication, and other fields. While being an educator and a Middle Eastern woman, I too found it hard to choose a career path, based off of family, and cultural expectations for me. I will discuss (1) The issues Middle Eastern women experience when it comes to education, and career paths, (2) my experiences highlighted through my lens as a Middle Eastern woman, (3) strategies for women to take part in education, and careers, and finally (4) offer some conclusions about this topic.

The Issues Middle Eastern Women Experience with Education and Career Paths

The question that I tend to ask myself is why are there many Middle Eastern women in the classrooms at universities, yet not many in the field they choose to study? There are many reasoning’s behind why a person chooses certain things for their lives. However, the main answer I can accumulate for this specific question is the cultural influence, and strict traditions the Middle Eastern culture tends to have on women versus men. The idea of women in this culture comes down to specific roles that she must acquire throughout her life. The main ones are marriage, children, and house duties. Her duties as a young lady are to learn these basic norms, and use it as a reminder of how to be successful as a woman. Even though there are many women who choose to have careers over this type of lifestyle, they are still eventually expected to fulfill these main roles as a woman in their life.

Women’s status in the Middle East has been one of those controversial matters that one cannot seem to understand what is essential to fix. In the Middle East there are different laws that are posed that show more leniency for men to do whatever they want. Nevertheless, for women this does not come easy for them, because she is to maintain a flawless image. Very few Middle Eastern Women get jobs once they receive their cap and gown. “In Lebanon 54 percent of university students are women, but only 26 percent of the labor force and 8 percent of legislators, senior officials, and managers are female” (Baker, 2012). “Sixty-three percent of Qatar’s university population is comprised of women, but ladies make up just 12 percent of the labor force and only 17 percent of legislators, senior officials and managers” (Baker, 2012). “But in Jordan, enrolment is excellent at 86 percent – however, girls drop out in secondary school because of early marriage” (Faisal, 2003).

Women in the United States who come from different countries become International Students, and have similar ways from the Middle East. Most of them come to the United States to receive a different atmosphere of education, however these women move back to their country, and get married once receiving their degree. Some women are already married, and attend a university with their spouse, and are expected to have a similar major as their spouse; taking similar classes together. Once their degree is received she is more socialized in the home, than in a career path.

As the influence of culture begins to rein on options, women in different parts of the Middle East have been given privileges to work in specific fields, or take part in political action. “Egypt has recently granted women the right to divorce their husband, in Tunisia abortion is legal, and polygamy is prohibited” (bakerl, 2012). “Women have served as ministers in the Syrian, Jordanian, Egyptian, Iraqi, and Tunisian governments and as Vice President in Iran” (Baker, 2012). With all of these different opportunities given to women in the Middle East, there are still conservative, and extremist interpretations of religious laws, that have kept women from even stepping foot into the workforce (AbuKhalil, 2005). These laws and prohibitions on women, have led women to believe there is no purpose for her to fight for her right to achieve such goals and aspirations, because religious laws, and governmental laws perpetuates the stereotypical notion that women stay home, and men are the breadwinners of the family. “While women do have a luxury of attending college, men who are traditionally expected to be family breadwinners can’t afford to devote time to their studies” (Jezebel, 2012).

The problem arising in these situations, are that women are negating their true identities, and becoming the stereotypical weak-minded individual that is expected from them. They fear exploring their own lives and finding different paths that will benefit their social skills, and opportunities to be in the workforce. Philip Rushworth (2013) states:

Feminist activism in the Middle East is prey to two shared ideological discourses. On the one hand, scholars in the West have in the past denied the possibility of an indigenous feminism in the Middle East. At the same time, conservatives and others in the Middle East argue that feminism is anathema to the region, considering it an importation of Western and colonial ideas. These two discourses feed on another, denying women in the Middle East their agency while simultaneously asserting that feminism belongs solely to the West. (p. 8)

According to the Population Reference Bureau (2000) 42 percent of women in the Middle East and North Africa are illiterate, compared to 22 percent of men who are illiterate. About 73 percent of men enter the labor force, and 20 percent of women who are in the labor force (Population Reference Bureau, 2000). As we can see there are women who are educated, but the idea of working is a problem for women. There is gender discrimination that comes into place against women. Family laws, or civil codes usually requires women to get “permission from their male relatives, usually a husband or father, before seeking employment, requesting loans, starting a business, or traveling” (Population Reference Bureau, 2000).

“Even in the 1990s there was a big gender gap in education. However there’s a paradox that we have a lot of women getting higher education and they are still too absent from the workforce and politics” (as stated in Davies, 2012). So why do women go to school, and do not work afterwards? As education is an important factor for growth, it has becomes a reason for socialization, and friendships to be made. They meet their girlfriends there, or future husband. It allows them to explore opportunities, but at a minimum.

In Iraq, women have been forced to leave their jobs, and dismiss ever being involved in academics, or careers. “Women have also been prohibited by Shia militias from teaching other women. The threat has become real after two teachers – one in the mostly Shia Sadr City district and one in Kadhmiyah neighborhood – were killed after giving lessons to illiterate women near their homes” (Humanitarian News and Analysis, 2007). Khalid Hassan (2007), a Mahdi Army officer in Muthana Governorate quoted, “girls and women don’t need to read. They should be good mothers and housewives. The schools are just imbuing them with new and modern ideas that are inconsistent with Muslim women’s duties”. There are pressures that Jordanian women go through that keep them in a small social environment. “While growing number of Jordanian families—even low income ones—are buying cars, usually it’s the husbands who takes the car to work, leaving women stranded at home. When a woman dares to take a bus, she faces sexual harassment…which then restricts her movement” (Guarnieri, 2013, p. 3). So the thought of being educated, or career oriented for these women begin to be questioned, and becomes impossible in their mind. “Family matters in countries as diverse as Iran, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia are governed by religion-based personal status codes. Many of these laws treat women essentially as legal minors under the eternal guardianship of their male family members” (ListVerse, 2008). Family and citizenship laws throughout the region demote women to an inferior rank paralleled to their male counterparts. This is something that is apparent overseas, and currently in the U.S. Middle Eastern families. “This legal discrimination undermines women’s full personhood and equal participation in society and puts women at an increased risk for violence” (ListVerse, 2008).

Middle Eastern women create these boundaries for themselves as well. They do not engage in dialogue with other cultures, do not speak up in the classrooms, and are not aggressive in social situations with their peers, or professors when it comes to academic and career opportunities. These reasoning’s are quite understandable, given the idea that they have been conditioned to feel, and act this way. Then there are young women, who are born and raised in the United States, which really are different than women from the country side. Women in the U.S. are free to choose what they want; however, there are still restrictions and expectations from them.

A lot more young Arab women are expected to be in various fields which predominately deal with the medical field, or mathematics fields. It is hardly perceived that young Middle Eastern women engage themselves in a college career dealing with communication or creative arts. Perhaps the reasoning behind this is the idea that women are taught to not be very expressive, or speak up. This brings me to discuss my own experiences in the classroom, and as an educator in the communication field.

Experiences Highlighted as a Student and Educator in the Communication Field.

Being in a field that allows one to explore new ideas and enhance my social skills, has been one of the most pleasant experiences. However, before becoming an educator, I had my previous perceptions of how to act in the classroom as a young Middle Eastern woman. A few years ago in 2004, when I first entered a college classroom, I still had my notions that I should not really speak up during class discussions, or be the social type. This is mainly due to the way I was brought up, and how a young lady should carry herself in public. I definitely had to hold my comments, and bite my tongue, because I was trying to avoid saying something inappropriate. This method of social skills still stood with me through most of my college experience.

Firstly, being in the communication field was questioned by others. They had no idea what field that was, and they didn’t know what kind of job I would be working in. Most of the time fields such as biology, math, or medical fields were accepted among Arabs. I chose a different route, and engaged more and more in the communication field. I was able to understand how much more interaction I needed to have, in order to succeed. What the communication field did for me is something I probably wouldn’t have learned in any other field. It taught me to speak up, and to rationalize my thoughts, and voice my opinions the way I wanted. This is something that many young women like me do not experience, because they are afraid of reaching out, and learning something such as communication studies. It isn’t that they can’t do it; it is because they are afraid to do it.

Speaking in front of large crowds, or even small crowds becomes a hassle, because women like me should be more reserved in my language choices, and seem more passive aggressive in situations. I have learned to still be reserved in certain situations, and I have not let loose completely. However, indulging into rhetorical theories, and interpersonal theories, has taught me how to be ambitious, and speak up in times I wouldn’t have spoken up.

Being an educator in this field is a bit different than being a student. I am a different person when I stand in front of the classroom, compared to family, and certain friends. I feel this sense of empowerment, and allowing my students to see who I have longed to be. However, I have experienced some Middle Eastern women in the classroom, who are very compassionate, and reserved. It has been apparent to me that these Middle Eastern women come from the Middle East, and are extremely timid in the classroom, but have very good writing skills. Their ability to express themselves is more on paper, rather than in person. They are reserved because of cultural reasoning’s, which really limits their interaction with people they do not know, or male counterparts.

Taking an introductory level speech course, and being new to the United States is a challenging experience for many international students. However, when women are in these groups, they are usually distant, and when they speak it is hard to hear them because they are afraid of saying something wrong. This method of communication that these women use remove them from decision making methods during group projects, deny authoritative roles, or do not give any input or suggestions to others. This will then affect their behavior in the work industry, if they do not allow themselves to integrate in a working environment. I have never dealt with an Arab woman who wasn’t international, however, I am sure that more (not all) do not like to be engaged in more communication, and creative arts sects. The Arab men that I have dealt with are opposite, and become more dominant with education, and sharing comments. However, this isn’t always the case given the fact that having English as a second language is a barrier for some. But there is definitely a difference between the way men socialize, and the way women socialize.

Experiencing the communication and creative arts department more in-depth has helped in many aspects. It has helped me tremendously when interviewing others, job interviews, professional portfolios that highlight my work experience such as, teaching, public relations, writing and editing, and public speaking. Being an Arab woman, has been a struggle to try to be all this because there are set traditions I must fulfill such as marriage, and family. However, I have been able to move past that to make me a better person. So since I have done this, and have gained success, I will now offer some strategies and solutions to how women like me, whether from the Middle East or from the United States.

Strategies to Help Middle Eastern Women Progress in Education and Career

The point of these strategies is not for women to rebel their culture, but to slowly integrate themselves in courses that will allow them to have a different perspective on education and careers. There are many Middle Eastern feminist groups that fight for these women’s rights; however the conspiracy of silence has left women in a position to not speak up when they see something wrong. Middle East versus the U.S. should be given different strategies, because the Middle East population has stricter policies, and prohibit womenfeminism_definition from engaging in social settings, even if it is education. The improvement of certain areas in the Middle East that deal with women and education has changed. But there are still women who are left alone, and not given any attention. Women first need to accept the fact that they are useful in academia, and labor force.

If women continue to believe they are useless in these types of situations, then they will have their mind set on the stereotypical ways women should be treated. Middle Eastern women’s liberation is quite harder than most liberation movements, because the government holds these strict laws and codes that prohibit women from working, and being more socialized in the labor force. This should not just be a Middle East problem. Feminist Movements and Human Rights Organizations need to consider this specific issue as a human issue, rather than a cultural issue. As an Arab American feminist I find it difficult to reach out to certain Arab women, who deny or resist taking action to become educated because they are afraid of the consequences of speaking up. From a financial standpoint, women who are educated and work, allow for a second income in the household, which could be a benefit for them.

Women who reside in the United States find it a bit easier to take on different roles, and become independent. However, their voice is not fully heard. These young Arab women need to include themselves in more communication, and creative arts. This will enhance their social skills, become more determined to be successful, engage in public speaking with confidence, and articulate better in more oral and written situations. This is not to say they are not intelligent, it is to allow them to be more open-minded about making a difference in their lives, and to help other Arab women, who find it a struggle to be educated.

I am beginning to notice a lot of women who participate in social movements, such as protesting for their right to achieve and be successful, similarly to a man. These ways will help women become more liberated. The following strategies listed are suggestions women can take, in order to find better ways to be successful, rather than see success as just marriage and family.

Strategies

1. Women need to start a dialogue with other women in their position, to begin to feel more comfortable stating their issues, so that they can hear it at loud, instead of holding it in. They need to come to terms with their issues such as gender inequalities, and not deny that there is a problem.

2. Arab families need to be exposed to more educational and career opportunities for women. They need to understand that these opportunities create a quality of life for women, and not the exaggerated assumption, that they will be more Westernized, and lose their values in the process of educating themselves.

3. Women need to get more involved in politics, whether local or national. The more they understand what is happening in their country and other countries, the more they will communicate to others about the issues happening. This opens a lot of doors for them to be educated in various issues that matter to them.

4. If women are in educational settings, they need to take more communication, history, and cultural courses that help them become more diverse in their thinking skills. They shouldn’t drop their field of choice, but to explore different departments, and have a broad perception of different studies.

5. If women are in educational settings, they need to join or attend university meetings for various organizations. This could be their student government organization, women organizations, religious organizations, or department organizations. This will help them network better with people similar to them, and allows them to have a broader perspective on communication. Along with university meetings, they can attend community meetings about the economic and political standings of their community. They can be more active, and approach situations differently.

6. Young Arab women, who do engage themselves in the communication and creative arts programs at their universities, need to pave the way, and inform women in their family, friends, and other peers about the benefits of these programs to their lives. We need to be able to make an awareness of the different opportunities for success, rather than hold it in to ourselves.

7. Married individuals who are having trouble accepting new traditions need to begin to dialogue about different needs, and wants. If couples are able to discuss future plans dealing with education, and careers, this will open the door for them to understand what needs to be done. Women need to talk to their husbands about their future in education, and have a set plan about what they want to gain from being educated. If women continue to see themselves as weak, and uneducated, then they will not have any confidence in speaking up.

8. Women should remove themselves from any situation that brings their value down. They need to surround themselves around positive people, who do not consistently tell them how to act and who to be. The more they are around successful women, the more they will want to strive to be successful.

9. If women find it hard to find ways to do all of these, perhaps using technology such as computers, smartphones, or local newspapers to find out more about current issues. If having technology is accessible, then they can allow themselves to read, and write more frequently. This will also help them become more open-minded to being successful the right way.

10. If women are having trouble finding ways to explore, then Feminist movements, and educators from all over the world need to see this as a problem that needs to be taken care of step by step. Using educational tools and techniques can help these women better themselves. Women like me should teach them, and get more involved, by exposing them to a better lifestyle, rather than see themselves as invaluable.

11. Middle Eastern men need to understand the value of women in this culture. There also needs to be educational tools to help men accept the idea of women becoming educated, and working in a field of their choice. Men need to learn to dismiss the idea, that women are inferior to them. Even though not all men behave this way, they can be the ones who support women rights movements, and create a positive outcome for women in education, and the labor force. They too, are part of the issue, and can be part of the solution as well.

Conclusions

This discussion on the issues of women who are from the Middle East, or are Middle Eastern is an issue that needs to be solved. There are many different social movements who bring up the question of women who are not educated. Even though many countries, including the United States deal with gender discrimination within universities, and workplace, there are women who are not given the same opportunity at all to even become educated or work. This does not mean their issues are more prominent, but it does mean that we cannot ignore the rights of these human beings, who deserve a chance at success. There is also the issue that people think because it is “cultural” norms, that we as Americans do not have the right to help alter the perceptions of these individuals, because it is none of our business. However, these should be natural human rights that women should attain. Let us not look at this issue, and count it off as an irrelevance to us. There are many global issues that arise in many different parts of the world; however, I find education to be something very valuable, that it would be a shame to dismiss it as important.

I have met many women in my life, who tell me they can’t because they have kids, or they can’t because they have marriage duties, or they can’t because their father does not accept it. I have come across many instances in my life where I was told I could not do something because I am a woman. As a Master’s degree recipient from the communication and creative department, I realized that it is definitely not impossible to achieve, because I have built a plan for myself, and did not allow others to intrude on my educational background, and work experience. It was hard for me at first to accept diversity, because I always assumed my culture is the only thing I can go by. Meeting people and networking with others who are different than me, has taught me a great value. It has also allowed me to articulate, and write well about subjects that I am interested in. It allowed me to be a more socialized person in different settings.

Being an Arab feminist is also not an easy thing for people to see. Conversely, because of education, and working with others, it has allowed me to verify myself as a feminist with no doubts. Being a feminist, has also allowed me to venture out, and find ways to give the voiceless a voice. I am glad to say that my academic ventures and career choices have influences my younger sisters, and various female cousins to want to be successful in either academia, or career wise. I hope to make a difference in something so dear to me, by allowing myself to engage with other women, and become an advocate for their well-being. This is something I have been working on, and doing for the past year, and will continue.

References

AbuKhalil, A. (2005). Women in the Middle East. Retrieved fromhttp://www.fpif.org/reports/women_in_the_middle_east

Baker, K. (2012). Why aren’t educated Middle Eastern women joining the workforce? JEZEBEL. Retrieved from http://jezebel.com/5914988/why-arent-educated-middle-eastern-women-joining-the-workforce

Davies, C. (2012). Mideast women beat men in education, lose out at work. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/01/world/meast/middle-east-women-education

Faisal, S. (2003). Muslim girls struggle for education. BBC News. Retrieved from

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3130234.stm

Guarneieri, M. (2013). Women and the Middle East part II: Jordan- on gender education and the limits of the western imagination. Retrieved from http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.php?id=1329&fulltext=1

Hassan, K. (2007). Iraq: Women forced to give up their jobs, marriages.Retrieved from http://www.irinnews.org/Report/72451/IRAQ-Women-forced-to-give-up-their-jobs-marriages

Humanitarian News and Analysis. (2007). Iraq: Women forced to give up their jobs, marriages. Retrieved from http://www.irinnews.org/Report/72451/IRAQ-Women-forced-to-give-up-their-jobs-marriages

ListVerse. (2008). 10 extreme examples of gender inequality. Retrieved fromhttp://listverse.com/2008/11/20/10-extreme-examples-of-gender-inequality/

Population Reference Bureau. (2003). Empowering women, developing society: Female education in the Middle East and North Africa. Retrieved from

http://www.prb.org/Publications/PolicyBriefs/EmpoweringWomenDevelopingSocietyFemaleEducationintheMiddleEastandNorthAfrica.aspx

Rushworth, P. (2013). Women in the Middle East. Retrieved from http://www.al-bab.com/arab/articles/text/women_studies.htm

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Happy International Women’s Day 2013

International Women's Day 2013

International Women’s Day 2013

Happy Women’s International Day! This is an important day for us women!. Each one of you have an ability to make a change, and inspire others. You have a voice, and you can be empowering. Do not let anyone tell you, you can’t be something, or do something, because you are a woman. Show that you are more than a pretty face, or a sexual entity. You are more than this, and you have a wonderful mind to share. I am glad to have read some of the most inspirational posts on WordPress. We have a wonderful opportunity to capture an audience that knows nothing, or a little about feminism, and women’s rights. Remember that even if someone disagrees with what you are saying, and is being irrational when debating with you about women’s issues, or anything else, just know you at least pushed them to think about the topic, and feminism. I dedicate this blog to the women, and mentors in my life that pushed me to be the best that I can be. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given, even when I had a bit of doubt in myself.

Enjoy your day,

Rhonda Nemri ❤

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