Education

#1090 They stand firm against the terror of Muslim fundamentalistm

Karima Bennoune

Karima Bennoune at TEDxExeter; photo clip from video below

Karima Bennoune, professor of international law at the University of California-Davis School of Law, is telling the stories of women and men risking their lives to counter right-wing fundamentalistm. She asks us to do the same.

Always in her mind is the bravery of her father. In the 1990s the University of Algiers professor faced death threats for his vocal opposition to fundamentalism and terrorism. Although he was forced from his university position and had to flee his apartment, he remained in Algeria, publishing denunciations that kept him in the crosshairs of those he saw as the destroyers of true Islam.

In the TEDxExeter talk she gave in March 2014, she introduced four of the people she interviewed in writing her book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Until his death of a heart attack in 2012, Faizan Peerzada and the Rafi Peer Theatre brought children’s theatre to Pakistani audiences in spite of terrorist attacks. Maria Bashir, Afghanistan’s only woman prosecutor, fights for the rights of women in spite of threats to her life. Abdirizak Bihi works tirelessly in the Somali-American community of Minneapolis to counter the recruitment efforts of the militant Al Shabaab. The 22-year-old Algerian law student, Amel Zenoune-Zouani, refused the fundamentalists’ order for women to halt their studies and was murdered as an example to other young women. That was in 1997. Today Amel’s sister Lamia practices law in Algiers.

When she spoke to CBC’s Michael Enright in December 2013, Bennoune said the people she interviewed for her book have been abandoned by the west. Their stories are virtually unknown. She wants to change that, with our help.

If we are serious about supporting the struggle for social justice, we need to know and share the stories of these courageous people. They are putting their lives on the line. They give me hope.

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#1048 Teen writes climate-saving cookbook

Emily Abrams

Emily Abrams; photo clip from video below

Seriously, think back to your teen years. Were you trying to save the world? This young woman is not waiting for anyone else. She is starting now.

High school-senior Emily Abrams understands the dangers of climate change and the link between what we choose to eat and our impact on the planet. So she contacted some of the best chefs in America and asked for their climate-friendly recipes.

The result is a cookbook whose title is a plea, “Don’t Cook the Planet.”

Abrams grew up in an environmentally savvy family. They must be incredibly proud.


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#1042 Feisty and funny, Stella Young shatters stereotypes

Stella Young

Stella Young refuses to be anyone’s inspiration just because she is in a wheelchair. However, the funny, talented Australian can’t avoid being inspirational. She is funny, smart, articulate and a powerhouse advocate for disability rights. When Young debuted her show,…

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#1020 Americans and Brazilians connect in one of the sweetest exchanges ever

CNA student and senior exchanging hugs; photo clip from below

CNA student and senior exchanging hugs; photo clip from video below

Hang on a second. I have to dry my eyes before typing this. I have just watched the YouTube video below, and I’m smiling through tears.

Two Brazilian companies, FCB Brasil (a marketing agency) and CNA (a network of language schools) have collaborated on a Speaking Exchange that connects seniors in American retirement homes with English-language students in Brazil. Thanks to video chat technology, the pairs connect in real time. The young people improve their fluency in English. Their surrogate grandparents connect with young people in a far-off country. Both broaden their perspectives, and the program offers solid educational value for students learning English.

I have no idea how many of the conversations are as touching as those recorded for the popular video, but I hope the idea goes global. Imagine what could happen if young people around the world connected with elders in other countries. They just might grow up rejecting cultural and political stereotypes. And given what we know about the impacts of isolation, we could expect seniors to enjoy better physical and emotional health in spite of mobility issues and distance from families.

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