Friday, January 28, 2011

Sociology and Empathy

Hello to everyone. I recently watched this great presentation on Sociology and Empathy. When I was in college and studying in the University, I always LOVED Sociology classes. I know they were a heavy part of my study, even though my degree is Nursing. I always have been able to understand people and understand the 'other' point of view better than most. I suppose a lot of that has to do with the courses I've taken, or this ability has led me to enjoy these classes.

I remember one class in particular. We learned all semester about countries and their culture around the world. Our last class was about a country and culture that seemed so strange, as many did. The conclusion was that the chapter was actually written about the USA (our home) and all its 'strange culture' it has from an outsiders point of view. It reminded me/taught me that what we precieve to be completely normal may not be so completely normal to the person across the room, across the country, across the world-we become accustom to our customs and it is difficult to see them as anything other than normal. Many times we also see other customs to be so different that we see them as wrong, and this is many times not the case-many times they are just that, different.

I have had friends from all walks of life, literally, all walks of life: The very rich and the desperately poor. Those from incredibly successful families and those whose homes broken from drug and other substance abuse. I have hung out with people from all corners of the city (this side of the bridge and that side of the bridge). I have really good friends who are from all around the world: USA, Jordan, Malaysia, Canada, West Bank/Palestine, Israel, Turkey, Nicaragua, Mexico, Philippines, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Bolivia, England, Switzerland, Holland, Australia, and more. I have good friends who are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and those who don't believe at all . I love them all and have learned from them all. -Thank you all of you!

When I saw the below video, I thought it was worth sharing. In life, I always hope that people can understand each other at a human level, so that we can get past and see past the political agendas. I find this video gives a human touch to the other side of each story that many of us have heard, but have not tried to understand. I hope you take the time to watch, listen, and think about your reactions as you watch and listen. I hope that no one finds it offensive. Rather I hope it brings everyone a bit closer to empathizing with and understanding the 'other' side of the story, what ever side of the story you originally come from.

I hope you enjoy!

Friday, January 14, 2011


Life. Isn't life interesting?! You are born into a loving family and follow along with the rules, not knowing they are being made up as they go. We are young, and we think our parents are experts who know exactly what they are doing. We love them for everything they are doing. Then we become teenagers and rebel. Rebel against every rule they impose and every thought of what they tell us to be. We think they just don't get me. Then on to our college and early marriage years. We become friends. We learn to understand that they are human. We are able to discuss different thoughts and yet see the similarities. We are now parents ourselves. We think to ourselves - How wonderful they were. How much they sacrificed for me. How difficult I was. How much they taught me. How great they are.

As you know, I live about 7,000 miles from home. I am raising two small people, ages 3 1/2 and nearly 2 years of age. Living so far, gives me a unique experience. An unique perspecitve. An unique thought about parenting. I don't live the same life as I did; therefore, my children are living a different life from my own up bringing. I grew up amongst the lakes, plains, and forests of Minnesota. They are growing up amongst the desert sands and mountains of Jordan. I am surrounded by a different culture, with a different thought of child raising norms. I struggle with the differences at times and at others I embrace the new ideas.

I don't know if I would do so much if I were near, but I am far, and I often find myself thinking: What would my parents have done? How did they make their point clear of what is expected of us? How did my parents handle such a situation? What did they do to raise three young girls, who are sucessful and respectful young women of today? And how can I be more like my parents? I am trying to be creative in my children's learning experience. To give them similar memories to those that I have.

My Dad was always the one who influenced and pushed my thoughts. To 'think outside of the box', he used to tell me. He use to also teach me about the natural world - the trees, the weather, and the world that surrounds us. I have fond memories of walking through the woods with him as he would teach me about the different types of trees, cloud patterns, northern lights, calls of the birds, shrubs, bushes, and flowers in the forest. Until this day I love the natural world more than the city.

Amman, for those who don't know, has little nature. The nature is there, but you have to really search for it. My husband, as I, so much enjoy the nature, the trees, and the earth - so we search to find the nature that is hidden amongst the stone and concrete of Amman. We walk the olive groves, spend time at his Dad's farm, walk underneath the pine and oak trees with our children. I spend time teaching my little people about the pine cones and acorns-how they are food for the squirrels and are seeds to be watered to spout as new trees. We teach them about listening quietly, to hear the birds sing to each other and watch as they bounce in flight above the trees. Teaching them about the clouds, the sun, the moon, the rain, the snow, and the natural world to the limit a 3 year old can understand. I love watching them learn!

My Mother is also an inspiration. She was always patient - or at least appeared to be. She never really yelled or lost her temper. I have fond memories of her crafty ideas. She not only had crafts to keep us busy and out of trouble, but she also sat down and did the projects with us. She taught us how to sew, cross stitch, paper machet, paint, stencil. We made ghosts for Halloween, Santa for Christmas, treasure hunts for birthdays, sewed stuffed animals for the fun of making something, and made dresses for the new school year. She always welcomed us in the kitchen and taught us how to bake and cook as her Mom taught her.

I now spend time with my kids making simple art projects and crafts. My daughter and I enjoy going to the 'bookstore' as they call them in Jordan, which are where one goes to get markers, paints, colored paper, etc. and I ask my Mom to send the Grandkids fun crafty gifts or learning gifts from the USA....(because those who know, there are not many in Jordan and if you find them you will definately pay extra for them!) Both my kids love to cook and bake with Mommy...and they love to tell Daddy that they helped Mommy make the dinner!

I hope to live up to the parenting of my parents. To raise good, intellegent, thoughtful, respectful children. To carry on with those special times I had with my parents to my children. To give my children what I had, and to also let them have what my husband had. I hope to shape these little people into two adults who can take the best from both worlds and make the world their own.

As I watched my two little people riding on the back of a donkey in my Father-in-laws farm the other day - the beautiful, rocky, brown mountains were the background and the glow from the setting sun warmed the setting - I thought to myself how completely different the life is for them here in Jordan than it was for me in Brainerd, MN -but it isn't a bad different, it is okay and it was so beautiful as they giggled and laughed on the back of the donkey. I want them to be happy, to enjoy life, and to learn from the world around us. I also want to ensure I am giving them what I had, what I learned, a part of me, and a part of my parents!

I love you Mom and Dad for everything you taught me and for everything you sacrificed for me and my sisters! We are looking forward to this summer when we can ride on the boat, warm ourselves by the evening campfire, run in the grass barefoot, and watch the birds sing in your backyard! We love and We miss you!