Burqa Ban – For the Greater Good?

With the surge of asylum seeker in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a ban on full-faced vein’s “wherever possible.”Based on the Statista poll below, more than half of the Germans polled voted in favor the ban, while more than half of the Americans poll voted for people having the choice to choose their clothing.

Infographic: Strong Support For A Burqa Ban In Germany | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

From an American perspective who is not surprised by the American results, my thought is that dressing a certain way does not mean you are going to act a certain way; actions define us more than our clothing. Likewise, wearing a burqa won’t mean that you are a terrorist or are affiliated with them.

As attitudes change towards immigration both in the United States and abroad, I wonder how this ban will affect the country’s security. Will immigration-related crimes go down? Will this bill inspire more anti-Muslim sentiments?

A Reminder that it is OK to Protest

“Why don’t these people stop protesting?”

After the election of Donald Trump by the people/the electoral college, there have been a number of Trump supporters who do not understand why people are protesting. If you lean left politically and are surrounded by like-minded individuals, you may not understand this. However, for those of us who know, or share DNA with, people who are Trump supporters, it won’t be unheard of for those people to be complaining about protesters.

A few things come across when I hear these statements. First of which is that as Americans, we have a First Amendment right to protest. It can be confusing for our country to so strictly interpret the Second Amendment right to bear arms and not hold freedom of speech to the same standard, especially when gun crimes take so many lives, and freedom of speech does not. The First Amendment is the pillar of our democracy and protesting is exercising this important right.

For those right-wingers thinking “duh,” I wanted to give you this reminder as a segway into the meaty reasons as to why people are protesting.*

  1. He does not come across as presidential in the vain sense. It is true he has no political experience so it can be understood that his speeches won’t sound as rehearsed, but all too many people believe that he looks like a “cheeto.” This is a far cry from the days of JFK. If you think this sounds stupid, remember that Nixon lost to JFK due to his appearance on the their last debate. Appearance aside, he has sounded belligerent during debates – not something you even want to look at for 4 years.
  2. He has bragged about sexually assaulting women and has had numerous women claiming that he has acted inappropriately towards them. Sure, they may be allegations but when they come in massive numbers, at least some of them statistically have to be true. Look at Bill Cosby. Also, studies have shown that 95% and upwards of sexual assault allegations are proven to be true.
  3. Having the KKK on your side is never a good sign. Republicans can say all they want that Trump did not want this support but if the KKK supports your ideal, then there is a problem.

Unfortunately, if I were to list out all of the reasons, this would no longer be a blog post but a book. I think it is important to remember that even if you voted for Trump, you CAN still be a good person, but more than half of the election voters (get it, because Clinton won the popular vote?) is simply upset because you voted for a person who represents racist, misogynistic, xenophobic ideals. If you supported him, even for reasons that you think are the “right reasons,” you encouraged a way of thinking towards our fellow humans that may set us back 50 years. If you believe this, then being angry and ready to protest is the most natural reaction!

*Note: This is a post about Donald Trump and not about Hilary Clinton. For those who may think that this post is intended to place Clinton on a pedestal, this is not my intention. This post is an explanation of why people have felt compelled to protest against Trump.

 

 

7 Things that Surprised Me About Germany and German Culture

My 10 days abroad  in Germany were a success. Sometimes my days were dauntingly long but nonetheless, I came out learning a lot more than I thought I would. This is mainly because I spent 6 days of my vacation volunteering at a small village called Laubach (app. 1 hour away from Frankfurt). However, my first impression of Germany continued until the end of the program…

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Where I stayed in Laubach. It reminded me of home so much!
  1. The landscape of the northern part of Germany (and perhaps all of Germany), is very much the landscape that we see in New England. You will find lush, green forests and after spending many hours walking with German students in them, it felt at times as though I was in my own backyard.
  2. Frankfurt itself reminds me of my city, Boston. This observation was apparent as soon as my taxi from the airport approached my hotel. In Frankfurt, there is an older section of the city with more traditional German buildings, as well as some of the tallest skyscrapers in Europe. Though Boston doesn’t boast the tallest buildings in the U.S., the buildings were comparable to ours and the city felt just like home.
  3. Germans are extremely organized and punctual. This is not a bad thing and doesn’t seem like such a surprise but after spending time living in Spain where everyone is 15 minutes late, it was a difference experience to be where everyone is 5 minutes EARLY.
  4. Germany isn’t perfect. You hear that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and it’s true. Even with socialized medicine and education, people still still worry about the same things that are worried about here in America like mortgages, juggling work and home life, etc.
  5. There are good German songs. Here’s proof.
  6. Germany is more of a melting pot than I imagined. You may have heard that there are a lot of Syrians going into Germany and as whole, lots of people have been flooding into the country. To an outsider, Germany would seem like a favorable place to move to. Education and healthcare aside, Germany has the top employment rate in the Europe next to Sweden (based on a Statistica finding). The government has also been vocal about allowing migrants into the country. Whether that is a good thing or not is its own debate.
  7. As a whole, Germans tend to value staying in one place and not moving to other parts of Europe. As some Germans explained to me, if a person finds a steady job, they are not too keen to jump from job to job. When I asked about how they felt about Americans, I was told that their was an idea that Americans move around a lot changing jobs, but that we must easily move to different states for work. This is ironic because I would have thought that with European citizenship, a European would be keen on moving to different countries!

Visiting and moving to a foreign country will always be an eye-opening experience for me but what I was not expecting on this trip was that I would connect so well with the German people. The language was so different but the people and lifestyle reminded me of American culture which was surprising. However, I look forward to going back someday and visiting some of my new German friends. Despite what you might think about the “rough” German language and any stereotypes you may hear, Germans are as lovely as the country.

Debate Night Recovery

It’s been a few days after the election debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and it seems I am still recovering. Hours prior to the debate, I acquired anxiety, and for good reason. The debate was exactly as expected. I think what was simultaneously surprising and unsurprising was that the whole event reminded me of two children bickering. However, there were two things that struck a chord with me.

Firstly, the presenter Lester Holt could have asked Hillary Clinton more difficult questions. He could have pressed her about her ethics in regard to the email scandal and with the Benghazi attack in 2012. Though the email scandal was mentioned, it wasn’t as large as an issue to Holt, and even Trump did not press Clinton about the issue.

What I disliked the most coming from Trump is that he seems to completely disregard the Constitution, or has no idea what Constitutional means. For someone who kept talking about “law and order,” he ironically spent time at length discussing at lengths why he likes the “stop and frisk” method used by cops, which has been deemed unconstitutional. When those 90 minutes could be spent on other important issues such as climate change, Trump chose to spend his time discussing how stop and frisk was effective (so he claimed). He also kept interrupting Clinton when she was the one forming fully coherent statements, which was bothersome.

Overall, I feel like you didn’t learn much more than what was spoken at the Democratic and Republican conventions, but it proved even further who has the most polished speech skills. Though some might think that Trump is new to politics and we should empathize more for his speech skills, with his amount of money he should be able to afford a professional who could teach him proper speech delivery and etiquette.

I’m looking forward to the next debate! What else did you dislike or approve of?

What’s Up Next…Volunteering Abroad!

As a person who has lived abroad in Spain and had the opportunity to travel to lots of different places, people have frequently have said to me, “You must have been to Germany.” The answer has always been “no” with a sigh. When I was studying and later working in Spain, I went to a lot of the surrounding countries – except for a number of countries in northern Europe – but never have been to Germany. So, I am excited to announce that come next week I will be in Germany volunteering!

So, in case you are wondering how this all started…

While I was trying to get to bed at 2 AM one morning and failing, I was on Google randomly looking at volunteer opportunities and stumbled upon a company called Diverbo which places native English speakers in a villa in Spain or Germany for 5-7 days with meals and accommodations, in exchange for speaking in English to English learners. It sounds easy and it is, if you are fine with speaking up to 12 hours a day! I am fine with this and it is perfect because longer placements would be impossible, since I work full-time.

If anyone is interested in doing something similar, you should check out their website and stay tuned because I am hoping to come back with lots of anecdotes and some insight about German culture since I will be speaking to Germans for 12 hours a day for 5 days. 🙂

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Me holding my most prized possession.

Female Empowerment: A Subjective Subject

Take a look at a music videos by any famous pop star and 9 times out of 10, they will be wearing little to no clothing. Should we be offended? Probably not–especially since it is their bodies and they are free to do as they wish (or the record labels are free to make whatever decision they see fit *cough cough*). A famous pop star group that sought to embody female empowerment was The Pussy Cat Dolls, a group of talented female singers and dancers whose personas were built on being sexually provocative. Though they claimed their platform was one of female empowerment, many would say that being empowered has nothing to do with wearing booty shorts and singing songs about teasing men. Though on one hand, these things should have NOTHING to do with female empowerment, their message was that by a woman owning her sexuality, she can take charge of her life–or can exude more confidence at the least.

If a woman does not have the kind of aesthetic of a Pussycat Doll, can’t dance nor sing, she can still have her own kind of beauty and need not act like a sexy pop star. A woman can own her own sexiness or choose to embrace other traits, such as intelligence. The main idea is that what empowers one woman may not empower another. Some people feel powerful in suits while others feel powerful in the nude and we should not judge people based on what makes them feel the most confident.

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Photo courtesy of Vevo

A few months ago, there was a huge online debacle between reality TV star Kim Kardashian and a young, accomplished actress named named Chloe Grace Moretz. Moretz wrote a post to Kardashian about how she should set a better example for women after posted an all nude photo in a bathroom with her private parts blacked out. This is how she responded.

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Courtesy of Twitter account @kimkardashian

Though it seemed as though Moretz was voicing a valid concern, Kardashian sought to put her down. I know what you’re thinking–isn’t this contradictory!? Can’t Kim K be naked if she wants!? Well, of course she can. Moretz’ concern seemed more focused on the fact that Kim K has such a large following and her whole business is based off her body (her celebrity status took off after a porn tape release), it was received as an attack.

The bottom line: Women should help one another. If you want to be naked in a photo, that’s great. However, not all people may understand and it’s not our jobs to make them understand what makes you feel your best. All women should acknowledge that there are so many ways to feel confident and there is no one is one size fits all!

 

Get to Work “Write” Away

I know I haven’t been up-to-date with blogging lately but I will start to turn that around soon! I work full-time and have been studying Italian after work, but that doesn’t mean I have not been reading the news, listening to the radio, and unfortunately, getting into a number of heated debates.

Amongst the things on my mind are the Orlando shootings, the many bombings that are occurring in beautiful lands not too far away, and ever-present sense of racial profiling that is occurring in this country. With each story I would ask myself, “Why so much hate?”

There are a number of contributing factors as to why people seek to hurt others but the most important thing to remember is that if you want to see change, you need to create it.

You can locate your local legislator by clicking here. I do not thinking a call or email to a legislator will lead to nothing. Perhaps not immediate answers or change but in the long run, there can be a visible impact.