Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Computing Committee Meeting

I made a rare Wednesday visit to Old College today to sit as the postgraduate taught representative on the School of Law's Computing Committtee. Debating virtual learning environments, printer problems, etc. All grand fun.
Perhaps more interestingly, I got to meet my landlady's husband, who runs the website for the School. Grand fellow. I will be having both of them over for dinner in a few weeks - always interesting to host people who lived in your home for 17 years once upon a time!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Spencer Visits the Rooms of Requirement

A mate from undergrad came to visit this weekend. Spencer is currently studying in Budapest. Cheap flights to be had - thank you, Europe!
On Saturday, one of my Norwich mates who drove me up to Edinburgh when I moved was in town. We toured about the Royal Mile a bit with her, showed off my law school and favourite coffee shop, and went up Calton Hill - the home of several really cool monuments and observatories.
Sunday, we had a grand time trekking up Arthur's Seat in some fairly insane wind and rain. We were thoroughly soaked by the time we came down, but the sky managed some clear views while we were at the top, and it was well worth it. We also went to karaoke at Frankenstein's Bar - great ambiance. Spencer sang in the "State of Fifths" a capella group with was so lovely to hear him sing again. The DJ was seriously impressed by his "Walking in Memphis".

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fare thee well, Norwich!

I have completed a lovely four days in Norwich and Cambridge. While I did not manage to give a lecture on the hydro cycle on Monday thanks to the train drama, I did manage to have several dinners and breakfasts with close friends, a really good meeting around the Marshall service project, and great conversation and feedback on my virtual hydro-hegemony work from my dissertation. 
Now, heading back to Edinburgh. I'm sitting in the Peterborough rail station once again...though this time, we are this far (mostly) on time. Known on wood!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

DRD Communities Map

As part of getting to know each other, my Dorm Room Diplomacy Group has created a communities map. Stars symbolize our citizenship. Places our families come from are indicated by diamonds, and our extended families and friends are shown with circles.

When we "unveiled" this map in one of our hangouts, there was a lot of excitement. We found shared circles of friends we never would have expected, learned about holidays and roommates, and heard stories of family histories.

Together, all these relationships create a picture that is "freakishly global". And, thanks to the friendships we are building in our weekly Google+ Hangouts (which have already included lovingly teasing blond jokes, debates on whether "Harry Potter" or "Lord of the Rings" is better, and discussions on the unavailability of Kindles in Malaysia), it is clear these ten differently colored communities are quickly becoming one giant network.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Train Update

The bad news: I am currently stranded on a train without electricity north of Peterborough, almost certainly missing the lecture I'm supposed to be giving at UEA.
The good news: It is significantly less of a very bad thing when this happens to trains than to planes.

The bad news: We don't have running water in the toilets.
The good news: This Girl Scout is prepared! My first aid kit, including hand sanitiser, has made me popular in my coach.

The bad news: We are clearly going to be stuck for a while, because they've started giving out free bottles of water.
The good news: We have water!

The bad news: We are stuck until the "recovery locomotive" arrives, and even when it gets here, there will need to be a lot of assessment work and time-consuming maneuvering to actually make something happen.
The good news: There's a recovery locomotive on its way! (A recovery locomotive! I feel like I'm in an episode of "Thomas the Tank Engine"...)

The bad news: Our recovery locomotive has apparently become lost. 
The good news: Such things lead to really great statements from British transport officials. "We sent an engineer out fifteen minutes ago to walk the locomotive in; however, it hasn't shown up yet. We're not sure where it is."

Reading Week

It's reading week for the University of Edinburgh - no classes for a week midterm. Many courses have essays and assignments due just after. Since I only have one essay per term per course, it's basically just a week off as far as I'm concerned.
So, naturally, I scheduled more classes for myself...
I'm currently on a train heading to Norwich to give a few lectures at UEA this week on my work on the hydro cycle and virtual hydro-hegemony. Nothing says vacation like a Power Point with trade relationship data!! :)
I'm also going to have a few days in Cambridge to meet with Marshalls on service project, a joint paper, and Thanksgiving planning. 
And, of course, lots of reuniting with Norwich mates. 

This is all dependent on actually getting there. At the moment, it does not look like I'm actually going to make the first of my scheduled lectures...the train I'm on is currently at a standstill with no electricry because the lines are down...and it seems we are the ones who fried the lines. Stranded north of Peterborough and missing the connection to Norwich I was supposed to make. The presentation was co with our artist, so hopefully she'll happily go on without me. I will sit here with a dying phone and no electricity! Grand fun. (The public transit system in the UK really is fantastic, and this does not usually happen. Only, apparently, when I'm supposed to be giving lectures and have tight timing turnarounds...)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Oh, what a day...

Things that happened today in the life of Rebecca:
  • I got to see Malala Yousafzai in action - and also two of her friends from Pakistan, Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan, who were on the bus with her and now go to school in south Wales. (By the way, my university gave Malala an honorary Master of Arts...)
  • I sat directly behind Sir Tim O'Shea, the Principal of my university, and an alumnus of ours...Gordon Brown.
  • The former President of Ghana, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, chastised me for not spending more time in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • I took Zainab Bangura, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, to the airport.
  • I also had lunch with all of the above people.
Don't ever let anyone tell you grad school can't be epic.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Saturday's Events

Two cool things happening this weekend I get to take part of:

The Global Justice Academy is delighted to welcome the Global Citizenship Commission to the University of Edinburgh on 19 October 2013.
The Global Citizenship Commission – a body of global leaders representing politics, religious institutions, law and philanthropy – will be led by former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.
The Commission will re-examine the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and discuss the many global developments since its passing over 60 years ago. Malala Yousafzai, the teenage girl who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban, will be guest of honour at the event and will deliver a keynote address.
The Global Justice Academy has been working with students, through its Human Rights Courses, to encourage greater understanding of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The Academy hopes to support students, staff and the wider public to make submissions to the Global Citizenship Commission.
Voices in Conflict: Rights, Realism, and Moral Outrage. A conference from the Edinburgh Peace Initiative, including an interview with Zainab Bangura, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

We'll see how these go! Excited to get to know the Edinburgh peace and justice community a bit.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Eid Mubarak!

Happy Eid!

Today marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha, the Greater Festival for Muslims. My episode of "Ramblings" chats about the purpose and common practices of the Festival...though obviously it's understood and celebrated in a wide variety of ways around the world!

For more on Eid:
Two quick glances via internet sources:
For a visual look into what Eid is like around the world:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Welcome, Brits, to..."The Potluck"

In one of the longest titled Facebook events ever: "Decadent dinner party..? Well why not?! (Apparently in America this is called a 'Pot Luck'. Who knew!)"

The Global Environmental and Climate Change Law programme had a social last night. Thanks to my presence in their core course and my role as rep in the uni, I've become a GECC adoptee.

International night in postgrad programmes are grand fun: Indian, Bulgarian, and Thai curries; noodles and fried rice; roasted vegetables; tiramisu; homemade pretzels; mulled wine; exquisite cheeses; various salads...

It was a grand time.

And I may or may not have just had leftover tiramisu for breakfast...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oh, Knee

Several years ago, I had a knee injury.
Couldn't run for years. That's actually why my biking began - recommended as physical therapy, and then became the only exercise I could really keep up without problems.
I managed to start running again freshman year of college, and finally got to the point where the knee wasn't too bad.
Then the concussion happened, and I was back to not running.

As I mentioned, I've been trying to get back into it here in Edinburgh.

And I've clearly cleared a hurdle, in terms of encouraging consistent running...
Because my knee now hurts if I *don't* run.

Ha. A built-in mechanism for discouraging sleep-ins.

Look at that. Useful!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cold Moon Farm

On the list of really cool things my family does I didn't know about:

Cold Moon Farm.

An "agritoursimo" resort - Bed and Breakfast, boutique, working farm, and event venue. Sustainable agribusiness, eco-tourism, etc. In gorgeous Jamaica...Vermont. :)

And, also in the world of cool things: They're up to win a commercial in the Superbowl. No log-in required, just a quick click: Your vote would be highly appreciated! :)

Check them out at And go visit, if you're looking for wedding, honeymoon, retreat, etc. location.

Dorm Room Diplomacy

A few years ago, one of my mates (also a Marshall Scholar) started "Dorm Room Diplomacy" at his undergraduate university.
From their website: "Dorm Room Diplomacy uses twenty-first century virtual exchanges to connect university students around the world. With a focus on dialogue between the West and the Middle East, Dorm Room Diplomacy is based on the belief that dialogue can humanize cultures, helping students to see the individuals behind reductionist cultural stereotypes."
The format has changed over the years, but this semester, groups of ~10 undergrads from around the world have an 1.5 hour conversation at the same time every week - about family, community, religion, politics, favourite movies, culture, food and recipes, should the US intervene in Syria, the best kind of vacuum, you name it.
I've been asked to facilitate a group this term...and I have a totally awesome gang. We have origins and family in the US, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, Palestine, Lebanon, India, and the UAE. We're scheduling across 5-6 time zones every's quite exciting from a logistical perspective. lol.
Our first group conversation was yesterday. I met one-on-one with everyone last week to make sure the tech worked and they were comfortable with me. Yesterday, we did intensive introductions focused around family and community. We shared stories about our names (including fascinating accounts of legal name changes, family histories, absurd friends, and language lessons) and then played a guessing game with everyone's introductions. I gave a different question for each person to make a total guess at. Everyone typed out their answer and pressed "enter" in the group chat window at the same time. I asked them to guess my mother's name. (No one guessed it. I know, shocking. "Kendall" is sweeping the nation...) For others, we guessed number of siblings, favourite thing to do with friends, how well they get on with their parents, etc. It was a really fun conversation, and the friendly banter is already beginning...I bode lots of really fascinating and meaningful dialogue to come.
I'm currently working on a map illustrating where all of us have families and close friends. I know we're going to hit all of the continents except Antarctica. I don't think we'll quite hit every country, but we're going to be impressively close.

Read more about the work of Dorm Room Diplomacy on their newly launched website!
Check out

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Becca's been Social

There is now no doubt remaining that the Rooms of Requirement have been properly broken in. Thursday night, I hosted a course social. We had 20-30 people over during the course of 7pm-midnight. A grand time of bruschetta, caprese, cheese, crisps, chips, and sweet potato fries was had by all.
Because the LLM in International Law programme doesn't have any core courses, there are people enrolled in my programme who I literally will never see in lecture. It was nice to get to know them a bit and what they're interested in!

Today, I went to the City of Edinburgh Methodist was nice to get back to the Methodist connection! Still debating also hanging out with the Unitarians a good deal, but awfully tempting to go sing with the adorable choir. The church is super close to the College of Law...both a bad and good thing.
At that church happens to be a mate who attended the 2008 General Conference to which I was a delegate. It was really lovely to catch back up with David!
I also randomly met a student who was at UEA doing her master's last year, is now in Edinburgh for her PhD, and is an American Methodist pastor's daughter. Cue the "It's a Small World" music!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Computing Committee

And, in the span of 3 emails, I'm on the School of Law's Computing Committee.

I know very little about it other than that.

Woohoo! Scottish academic administration. Interested to compare/contrast with UEA and MSU.

The convener is a lecturer in climate change law, so it will be good to see him a bit outside of class. And heaven only knows what world I'll be introduced to. Higher education IT for the win.