It was a long semester for me, new experience in a new university. I moved to the United States in July, to pursuit my Master degree in Educational Technology at Arizona State University (ASU). After my first semester as a Fulbright scholar at ASU, I decided to spend my holiday in Texas and Florida. I visited Texas to attend a Fulbright Seminar Enrichment in Austin on United States Democracy, Political and Elections System. Then I visited Lebanese friends in San Antonio. After that I visited an Arab friend family from my home country in Dallas, and together we visited Panama City in Florida for the rest of the holiday.
Attending the seminar enrichment gave the opportunity to connect with other Fulbright scholars from different countries, majors and universities. The diversity of the group made me learn a lot about their research work, exciting stories and the challenges we all faced after moving to study in the United States. The enrichment helped me to learn a lot about the culture of Austin (where weird things happen, like having barbecue of orange! And weirder stuff of course), and it was great that we were invited by Austin locals for a dinner.
Right after visiting Austin, I took a bus to San Antonio, where I was hosted for the first time in my life by a Lebanese family. It made me feel home, finally I got to speak and listen to Arabic, and be around my own culture. Also in San Antonio I was able to learn about the history of the place, to see graffiti artwork, visit the river walk, and visit parks in the city. It was interesting for me to learn about Hispanic culture and food in SA. I had the opportunity to stop by Esperanza Peace & Justice Center in San Antonio, “Esperanza works to preserve and promote artistic and cultural expression of and among diverse communities”. In Esperanza, I was able to see Mexican handmade artcraft of women who sell their work through the organization. While going around the work exhibition, I surprisingly found an Arabic-Spanish CD of a collaborative work of May Nasr, Lourdes Perez, and Ahmad Kaabour (I have to say, that when the manager knew I am an Arab, she gave me the CD as a gift).
I left San Antonio, and took the bus to Dallas. This time, I was hosted by friends from back home. A family of four, parents and genius 10 years old brother and sister (Jonah and Sally). First week of my visit, the kids have been working really hard not only for their finals, but also for their Taekwondo black belt exam and performance at the NBA Mavericks game in Dallas. I joined their Taekwondo training, and I was impressed by the determination of the team members, the way they support one another, the way they get empowered through their training and how disciplined they are, thanks to their Master Greg Tubbs the head coach of AAU National Team. The performance of GT-Sport Taekwondo team during the Mavericks game on Dec 18 was amazing, the team members from all ages made their best during the performance, and hopefully they will be performing again in the future.
The last station of my trip in Dallas, was visiting Dallas Museum of Art, where I got the opportunity to explore the International Pop art exhibition, in addition to other art work of well known artists such as: Picasso, Mondrian, Manet and more.
For Christmas holiday, I visited Florida, and spent most of the time in Panama City area. Traveling to Florida was a great experience for me, I loved the beaches nature, the ocean and enjoyed taking photographs of the areas I have visited there. I celebrated the New Year Eve, at Pier Park in Panama City.
Me in Panama City