Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Burn

Every year, the Marshall Scholars take a weekend retreat in the low Scottish Highlands. After a truly gorgeous 6.5-hour-train ride through northern England, Edinburgh, and the Forth of Fife (including views of the world's best bridge), we end up at this beautiful country estate, where we proceed to enjoy ourselves pretending to be the British aristocracy at a house party for several days.

This year's delights included swimming in the North Sea (the weather was warm enough that I wasn't the only one to go in!), hiking the cliffs between a fishing village and Dunnotar Castle, and a staged murder mystery roleplay. (I am happy to report that I was neither murderer nor murderee.)

This year was especially fun since Hamza, my best friend from Jordan, was still in the country after the AMENDS Conference - as was his mother, since he's just had his graduation ceremony from the University of Manchester. So we brought along Jordanian mama, the educational entrepreneur, and a handful of miscellaneous international mates to join the American postgraduates in Scotland. It was quite the intercultural hoot, to say the least.

Hilariously, the blond boy pictured below in the University of Manchester t-shirt is not the Jordanian who graduated from the University of Manchester last week. We're just a very mobile bunch.

A grand time was had by all. And now...back to real life.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The growth of AMENDS

Many of you have heard me talk about AMENDS, the American Middle Eastern Network for Dialogue at Stanford. Being selected as a delegate for the 2013 AMENDS Summit was the proper launch of my PhD, as the people I've met through this network are directly responsible for all three of the organisations I partnered with to build knowledge around environmental peacebuilding.

I've just gotten back to London from an amazing several days in Oxford with a reunion conference for AMENDS Fellows - alumni of the Launch Summits the Stanford team host every year with new delegates. I'm very, very happy to announce some big news for the AMENDS Global Fellows:
  1. We are now a registered 501c3 non-profit in the US, giving us legal status independent of Stanford University, and the ability to receive tax-deductible donations (as well as applying for a multitude of grants)
  2. We have a brand new flashy website! Check out more at amendsfellows.org.

More about AMENDS:

The AMENDS Global Fellows are a network of young leaders from the Middle East, North Africa, and the United States who are working to build a more equal, sustainable, and prosperous world.
AMENDS began in 2011, when Arab youth led a wave of popular protests across the MENA region. Two Stanford University students, Khalid Shawi from Bahrain and Elliot Stoller from Chicago, imagined a platform and space for MENA and US youth to gather, collaborate, and share their stories of working for change. AMENDS welcomed its first class of 36 delegates to Stanford in 2012 for a week-long Summit.
Since then, AMENDS has welcomed 177 fellows from 26 countries to annual gatherings at Stanford University, KoƧ University, and the University of Oxford. These alumni form an active network committed to transformative work in the areas of arts and culture, business and technology, education and empowerment, health and environment, and human rights and political activism.
To better serve this growing network, AMENDS Global Fellows became an independent non-profit organization in 2017. We aim to support our fellows by:
  • providing a platform for fellows’ ideas and initiatives;
  • facilitating active engagement and communication among fellows and with the public;
  • providing resources and opportunities for capacity building, mentorship, networking, and project implementation.
The AMENDS student team at Stanford continues to lead a core part of our programming, selecting new delegates annually to participate in a launch summit and join the AMENDS Global Fellows network.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Family in London!

Thanks to the process of applying for a long-term work visa in the UK, I wasn't able to travel to the US and Canada at the end of June as originally planned to attend a conference and be present for my niece's graduation from high school.

But fear not! I somehow suckered my sister and brother-in-law into bringing everyone to visit me here instead. Mwahaha.

So there I was for my birthday yesterday, with my brother, sister and brother-in-law, and three adorable youngsters. Utterly miserable, of course, especially as we went to the Harry Potter Studios Tour in the evening. And since it was my birthday, Izzy and I got to open the doors into the Great Hall!

Their visit came immediately upon the heels of the Ellis Clan - my parents' best friends and the woman I was named after, plus various of their family members I grew up with. We frolicked about Greenwich, the London Zoo, and boat tours to the great enjoyment of all and sundry.

This is all to say: I have been rather spoiled by visitors of late. Are you going to be the next one?? :)