martes, 27 de abril de 2010


When I began my search for a place to help me continue my education beyond an undergraduate degree, I wanted a program that met my specific needs as a Spanish teacher. I am going to begin the three-year UNISSIST program this summer in Santiago de Compostela, Spain because I discovered that this program is an ideal fit for me, both personally and professionally. The study abroad component will only further establish my belief that study abroad can change a person.
This program is primarily fulfilling on a personal level. I was able to study abroad for a month during college by traveling to Costa Rica; it was one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable experiences I have ever had. While the process of traveling can be a headache, the experiences I had once I arrived in Costa Rica will never be forgotten. I can only anticipate the same will happen in Spain, perhaps even to a greater degree than my previous experience, because my experience will be twice as long. One of my greatest passions is speaking Spanish and learning about those who live in cultures where Spanish is a major language, and this program promises to benefit me in many ways. My previous experience with Spanish speakers and Spanish-speaking cultures has been limited to those from Mexico, Central America, and South America. After my experience in Spain, I know I will possess more knowledge of the varieties of Spanish, will become familiar with Galician-Spanish culture, will gain even more confidence in communicating in my second language, and of course, I will feel an increased amount of empathy and understanding of other cultures after living for two months within somewhere foreign to me.
Furthermore, UNISSIST promises to meet my academic and professional requirements. I possess an undergraduate degree in Spanish, but wish to obtain a graduate one in the subject as well. When I think of graduate level coursework, I anticipate extending and deepening my understanding of vocabulary, grammar, and culture. The fact that I will discover this academic knowledge in a target language culture will bring extra significance for me, as I will have a more immediate and real-world opportunity to apply my knowledge. This is especially meaningful for me as a Spanish teacher, whose task is to impart knowledge of the language using real-world applications. Possessing a Master's in Spanish will enable me to teach upper levels of high school spanish for double credit, my ideal position as an educator.
Ultimately, my participation in this program will further my present belief that study abroad is an invaluable way to build language and cultural skills, and I would promote study abroad in my personal beliefs and relationships even if I had never had this opportunity to experience it again. I consider myself a positive, encouraging person, and would love to be there for my fellow participants in the experience. In my personal life, I encourage anyone who considers study abroad as an option, as short or as long as an experience as a person is able to have. I would do anything formally required of me with enthusiasm to share my experiences.
As the weeks fly by taking me closer to my departure for Spain, I anticipate the new knowledge and experiences that I will be able to share after my first summer. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to attend this unique program, and would gladly share my experiences in order to promote study abroad.

viernes, 23 de abril de 2010

Muslim Beliefs / Tolerance is possible....

We now come to probably the most misunderstood of the four religions I have summarized. Islam. Buddhism I knew about, and I am a Christian so Christan and Jewish beliefs are familiar to me, but I have been particularly interested in the interaction of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in Spain during the Middle Ages. I am reading a book ( called Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain by Maria Rosa Menocal.

Really, it is possible for 3 distinctly different cultures and religions to coexist. What this book has helped me to see is they made a common culture while still maintaining their identities as religious groups. It is quite the read. Check it out!

On to the beliefs!


7 Pillars of Islam
1. Profession of faith (the shahadah): lâ ilâha illallâh, Muḥammadur rasûlullâh "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God (Want to hear it?)

2. Ritual worship (salah)
5 daily prayers, dawn, midday, afternoon, evening, night, facing East, Mecca (Muhammad's birthplace and Islam's holy city)
Accompanied by action -- raise their hands at "Allahu Akbar" = "God is the greatest," bend with hands on knees, kneel with their hands on their thighs, then bow heads to floor.

3. Fasting during holy month of Ramadan (sawm)
While the sun is up, no eating, drinking, smoking, or sex

4. Giving to charity (zakah)
Unlike Christians who feel led to tithe (10%), this amount is usually 2.5%. It is to help the poor and sick not to support the leaders of the religion. In some countries the government makes sure that their country's Muslims pay this.

5. Hajj -- Pilgrimage to Mecca
If you are capable of visiting Mecca during your lifetime, you should.

Additionally, in Menocal's book I learned about the idea of dhimma/dhimmi. Dhimma was the idea that "people of the book" (that is, Jews or Christians....Muslims do recognize The Torah and the Bible as good books, though the Qu'ran is their "Good Book.) deserved the protection of as in, letting no harm come to them!

If Christians or Jews lived in a Muslim country, they didn't have as many rights as Muslims, but the Muslims were to protect them. Quite the opposite of what you hear racists spurting.

(I've read the Qu'ran and NOWHERE in it does it say that Muslims are to murder infidels. Extremism exists in many religions, and it is dangerous. But even as dangerous is the idea that because just a few people believe something, to generalize and stereotype a whole lot of people!)

I have not had extensive experiences knowing Muslims but those who I do know are perfectly nice people and not at all what the racist stereotypes of terrorists. That makes me so sad that people can be so ignorant that they completely write off anyone who is different.

I do believe that my beliefs are what is right. That's why I believe them. But

Jewish Beliefs

1. Only one God; man created in the image of God
2. Jews are connected in a unique community no matter where they live.
3. The Torah/10 commandments
4. Israel has some connection with Judaism

Did you know where are 613 other commandments, called mitzvot? (Orthodox Jews, I assume, follow more than just the 10 commandments.)

The Ten Commandments:

I am the Lord your God
You shall not recognize the gods of others in My presence
You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain
Remember the day of shabbat (Sabbath) to keep it holy
Honor your father and your mother
You shall not murder
You shall not commit adultery
You shall not steal
Do not give false testimony against your neighbor
You shall not covet your fellow's possessions

Buddhist Beliefs


Four Noble Truths
1. Life means suffering.
2. The origin of suffering is attachment.
3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
4. The path to the cessation of suffering.
The Noble Eightfold Path

1. Right View Wisdom
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech Ethical Conduct
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort Mental Development
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

Claims to end suffering.
Guideline for being ethical and freeing oneself from attachment.

Not a step by step guide, but 8 parts of life that when all used, can remove oneself from attachment to worldly things.

1. Right View
See things as they are.

2. Right Intention
Resist wordly desires
Resist feelings of anger or hate
Resist feeling cruelty and violence....develop compassion

3. Right Speech
"Words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace."
Don't tell lies or be deceitful
Don't use words to hurt others
Don't speak unless it has a purpose

4. Right Action
Do things that are right. Don't hurt other beings, don't take what is not given, don't do things that are wrong sexually.

5. Right Livelihood
Earn your living in a way that is right. no weapons, slavery, meat production or butchering, or drug dealing. also don't do any job that would make you speak or act in a wrong way.

6. Right Effort

You must want to give up the endeavors that are wrong, prevent "unwholesome states" to arise, to undertake endeavors that are wholesome, and keep them and improve upon them.

7. Right Mindfulness -- one I knew I had heard of but couldn't remember
"Clear perception" -- without letting your impressions carry you away. be aware of how you are thinking about things, how you feel about them.

8. Right Concentration
Direction your concentration towards one, worthwhile thing.

Christian Beliefs

Virtue Post 1
Virtue and virtuous people are valued in all religions, but is the idea of virtue the same for all of them? Why is a virtuous woman so valued?

The basic beliefs...of course these are just basics, there are different sects which differ somewhat, but these are Religion 101.


1. God is triune, while still 1 God - Father, Son, Holy Spirit are three persons in one.
2. Jesus was the son of God and without sin. Gave his life in sacrifice for the sins of the world.
3. If you believe in Jesus as your savior you will be saved.

(something I learned from Club 121 in high school)
God created us to be with him
Our sins separate us from God
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again
Everyone who trusts in him has eternal life.
Life eternal means we will spend eternity with God in heaven

Bible was written by men through inspiration from God

Jesus will return again on the Day of Judgement

There is only one way to Heaven -- belief in Jesus Christ.

Virtue Post 1

I am just going to define what I think these quotes are saying to me, and then in another post talk about what virtue is defined as in various religions.

Plato's quote seems to say that the virtuous live their lives guided by what they believe is right but don't look to get credit. They don't make a big deal of it, hooting and hollering out the good things they do. They are content to live quiet lives doing what is right. They may never be recognized, but they are ok with that. I try to do this but I know I have a lot to improve on.

Martin Luther, my homeboy (ha ha ok I am a Lutheran), explains that virtue begins with our beliefs. If we believe something, and believe it sincerely, surely it will move us to actions that are in line with what we believe.

Buddha's quote is especially comforting. Faith keeps us going. Doing things that are right help us to live out our faith and help us to feel comforted. Wisdom, that oh so important part of life, helps us know where the path leads. Right mindfulness is something I remember learning about but I will look into it before I post Virtue Blog Post 2.

If we do what is right, inside us we will have inner peace and nothing can ruin that. People may say what they will, but we know and have proof that our consciences are clear.

Proverbs 31 is one of the parts of the Bible I especially like because it shows a strong, powerful woman. So much of the Bible (just like in real life I suppose) shows either prostitutes/women of ill character or wives and mothers. Males are generally the stars of the show. But we women need our time in the spotlight because some women really do great things!

A woman (yes a wife, but that was generally the role of a woman back then) who is virtuous has a husband who really appreciates her and knows what she is capable of. She knows the same of him and does her best to make his life better, not worse. She's in it for the long haul....all the days of her life.

She works hard and isn't lazy. She gives of herself. She's a businesswoman! She is a loving, kind person. She takes care of those who depend on her. Others beside her husband know of her great character and praise it. She is strong and distinguished and doesn't worry about the future. She's a smart cookie and a teacher (I like that)! She has a good relationship with God and lets inner beauty and virtue shine rather than depending on flirting and manipulation to get what she wants.

I may not live the same sort of life (servant girls? definitely a Biblical reference) as this woman, but I want to be more like her. I want to be a good person and let that be my best quality. Not that I want to ignore my appearance, but that has never been my top priority.

Next post I will go through 4 main religions and what their ideas of virtue are. Yippee, right?!

Being myself pt 2

You can live your whole life doing what others want of you and die unhappy. Or you can care about being yourself, in spite of how hard the world might make it to be so, and die at least knowing you lived a genuine life. The world may not make it easy, but really, it is well worth the effort finding who we are and always staying true to that person.

(He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away. ~Raymond Hull)
We must maintain our own selves. Just like whittling, after you've taken out chunks here and there that someone sometime felt were wrong...there's nothing left.

I am aware that I have been innocent and naïve most of my life. Obedience is a good thing in moderation. I have been obedient to whatever authority figures be, and sometimes I feel that it has been at the cost of me.

The only person I can be is me. Who is that person? Well I know who to go to --- me!

I can't just live a life like Oscar Wilde spoke about...copying others or just adapting who other people are in a false way. that is not the way to happiness.

I also really like the Judy Garland quote. If I am me, it is always going to be better than pretending to be someone else.

Being oneself is being honest. Recognizing what I'm good at, what I am not, and acting accordingly.

I am more than what I do, what I wear, what I look like.
I have desires, wishes, dreams. I am flawed. I am complicated I am delicate. But I deserve to be myself and be around people who accept me, and vice versa.

God wants us to be true to ourselves. That is who he made us to be! He wants us to strive to be better and better at being ourselves, not becoming stagnant. How can you be a better version of you? How can I be a better version of me?

who am I?
good traits
smart, kind, funny, good singer, great heart, accepting

overly emotional, try to solve all the world's problems, too hard on myself, too dependent

desires wishes dreams
To love and be loved.
To travel.
To have a happy life.
To be accepted for who I am.