Poetic Illustrations on YouTube

Poetic Illustrations on YouTube
Poetic Illustrations on YouTube

Ramadan: More than just fasting

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Picture source: https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/life-style/happy-ramadan-2019-ramzan-mubarak-wishes-images-quotes-status-wallpaper-messages-greetings-photos-sms-and-pics-5711270/

Today is May 26, 2019.  I am writing during the month of Ramadan.  A holy month for Muslims (followers of Islam) to fast, pray and reflect.  Ramadan falls on the lunar calendar (instead of using solar calendar--the sun; the moon is used to measure the passage of time).  Therefor, each year Ramadan starts and ends on different days.  This year the starting date was May 5, 2019 and ends on June 4, 2019. In order to be able to fast, you must hit the age of puberty!  You cannot fast if you are pregnant, medically ill, or on medication.  You must be healthy, since the process can take a lot of your energy.  I wanted to walk you through my day of fasting.  First, Ramadan is not just about fasting, it is more about self reflection. Introspective, of how to be a better human being in our community; locally and globally.

Last night I was up until 2 AM, drinking water and snacking on fruit.  It is really difficult to have a meal at 2 AM, especially when you are half asleep.  The latest that I could eat a meal last night was 3:58 AM, which means that my fasting begins at 3:58 AM (when the sun is rising).  How do I know this?  I'll be honest, my brother helps me out with this part.  He emails us the schedule with the dates and times of when to break fast, prayer times, and when the sun rises.  He obtains a copy of the schedule from a local mosque (which can be obtained online).  So usually my last meal of some sort, is about midnight.  I do not wake up until 6 AM.  When I wake up, I am not allowed to drink my hot tea, or eat my bagel, or even put chap-stick on my lips.

Image result for dates and tea for ramadan
Pic source: https://www.timesnownews.com/health/article/ramazan-special-health-benefits-of-eating-khajoor-or-dates-popular-ramadan-food/413091

I head out to work, to see my patients throughout the day.  The first week was very difficult.  I could not focus or concentrate, so I had to pace myself a bit.  But as time passed, it became easier.  The entire day is without food or water.  No drinks of any sorts.  Not even gum, or hard candy.  This is to reflect on what we have and be appreciative.  This is to reflect on the many people in this world that do not have clean water to drink, or food to eat.  This is to reflect on not wasting food, and to eat the small portion that our body needs.  In the time of fasting, it is not just about the food and water, as I mentioned before.  You reflect on how to be a better person.  For example, no lying, cheating, or engaging in verbal or physical acts that are harmful to yourself and others.

Image result for inside a mosque
Pic source: https://mvslim.com/iranian-mosque-will-amaze-beautiful-islamic-architecture/

It is a time to be kind.  Love others and give back to your community.  It is a time to appreciate the goodness in your life.  To send peace to all mankind; friends and foe.  So today, on May 26, 2019 Sunday at 11:05 AM I am working on running errands, then I will do my prayer.  The fast breaks at 8:46 PM (each day the time moves later in the night).  I plan to go to my mother's home to break fast with some yummy food.  We typically start off with either hot water, hot tea and a date.   The Prophet Mohammad would break his fast with dates, and water.  Before eating, you do a prayer.  A prayer for the living (to be healthy, strong and have inner peace) and for the dead (to rest in peace and watch over us).  Then at 8:46 PM, we eat.  Tonight, on the menu, Ghorme Sabzi!  My favorite :)

The picture below of a traditional meal in any Iranian household that is about to break fast. To all, Ramadan Mobarak!!

Image result for ghormeh sabzi iranian sofreh
pic source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/509891989054612118/

May: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

(Image Source: drectionasia.com)
(Image Source: web.kma.go.kr)

Addressing Stereotypes in Celebration of Culture
May: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

In our household we talk often about the many cultures represented throughout the United States and the impact they've made on us personally as a family, and within the history of this country. We have a diverse family. We are from:  South Korea, India, Switzerland, Haiti, different parts of the UK, and many other countries. We are a mixed bag around here. We lovingly embrace our unique ethnic roots. We assign ourselves the responsibility to honor the customs associated with the cultures who make us who we are, though we know that our versions are a mere adaptation of the true fashion likely celebrated in the mother or father lands of our fore-mothers and fathers.

One of our sons is part South Korean, and his father is adopted. I am part Swiss, so this gives our son pale skin and freckles, while also granting him Asian features. He has always naturally taken to Asian culture and has long had a taste for flavors of the Orient. As a baby he loved raw Tofu. As a young man he is quite adept at using chop sticks and longs to learn more about his culture and who might have been his family in South Korea had his dad been raised overseas. He often questions why Asian culture is ridiculed and mocked so heavily in American culture and is regularly frustrated by how The United States and our culture here in the states utilizes stereotyping normalities to depict Asians and Asian culture. He has experienced a shift in how he is treated or how others address him once they realize that he is Asian. Our eldest daughter has similar experiences, which she laughs at and shirks off the surprise over, when friends learn that her dad is Asian though she is caucasian. She has gotten somewhat use to the bewildered look of an attempt to seek recognition of Asian traits within her features. They won't be found! She describes herself as, "painfully pale" and explains that she is half adopted. Further confusion carries on, which allows for an entirely different form of humor to be enjoyed. But alas, I digress. Our son actually looks a great deal like his sister, and together they are rarely mistaken for anything other than siblings. 

We contradict Ernie from Sesame Street quite often. Though as the lyrics say "One of these things is not like the other" in lieu of the intention of the song which points out that different things don't belong together, we are more along the lines of the Randy Newman melody from Toy Story, "We Belong Together". We have a wide cultural dynamic. We stick out from a mile away. Wen turn heads pretty much wherever we go. We are definitely not like one another, but we absolutely do belong together. Given that we are so different from one another, we do engage in discussions about the variety of cultures we come from regularly. In a recent conversation with my son Leo we discussed some common misinterpretations regarding Asians that he would like to address.

Some of the examples that came up in conversation are the following: 

The perception that all Asian people are good at math. For some reason this is seen as a code of honor or a badge of cultural requirement for all Asians. There are, however, just like any other culture, people of Asian descent who struggle with this subject just as they might struggle with any other subject they are being taught in school. If you are Asian and you struggle in math, welcome to the club! You’re not alone!

Take a look at the following article: You're Asian, How Could you Fail Math?! You're not Alone! By Wayne Au and Benji Chang

Another stereotype discussed is that of the almond shaped eye, which is referred to in the tackiest of ways with fairly degrading words which I’ll refrain from using. As his mother, with absolutely no Asian heritage in my background, I too have almond shaped eyes. Yet I have never once had the unfortunate experience of having someone refer to my eyes in such an appalling manner. So let’s all consider abandoning the use of degrading and pejorative terms, and stick with something more appropriate such as, “You have your father’s eyes!”. 
(Image Source: vetorstock.com)

The concept that all Asians are small is a bit interesting. Similarly to any continent, Asia is not one country, but 48 countries. Countries like Russia, Turkey, Siberia, and Southern India are just a few that are located on the continent of Asia. So perhaps this misconception should be reconsidered. Researching the average height of the Northern Chinese population should turn those assumptions around quickly! 

(Image Source: thinglink.com)
The idea that a country’s population is represented by its government! This is a BIG one. For instance, orth-K orea-K’s (use of Pig Latin is totally applicable here because we don’t want to boost the tag’s) population continues to needlessly suffer under the tyranny of a dictator. They languish in a post-war era, just over the border from a free South Korea where family members of loved ones torn apart by the division of the war must carry on with life with little to no knowledge of what has become of their loved ones in the north. The perception that those in the North agree with the political leanings of the Dictator who suppress them is nothing shy of absurd. It would be just as flagrant to assume that our entire country follows the political decisions of each president we elect. We know that is certainly not true based on how partisan and divided our political system tends to be. Based on who we elect our country shifts wildly from left to right like a teeter totter with one side or the other winding up in arms over the decisions made while a president holds power.

(Image Source: worldofbronze.com)
Among the many cultures represented in our home we have notes of Asian decor from tapestries to antiques, tea kettles and his and hers tables, coins and carvings, a blanket handmade and given to my husband with the South Korean flag adorned on it. We don’t attend formal ceremonies, and neither my husband nor my son speak the language, but we are proud of their heritage and are happy to learn more when we come in contact with those who have traveled to or have lived in South Korea. 

(Image Source: governor.pa.gov)
It is important for not only those who come from Asia to celebrate the heritage of Asian culture, but for our country to embrace and honor the history of our cultures. The celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage month began with Representative Frank Horton from New York, and Representative Norman Y. Mineta from California. These representatives initially brought forth a 1977 House resolution that Asian Pacific Heritage should be celebrated. Their resolution suggested a celebration during the first ten days of May.

May was chosen as a significant month of choice for a few reasons: In observation of the first Japanese immigrants to come to the United States on May 7, 1843. Additionally in celebration of the work done by Chinese immigrants who laid tracks in the transcontinental railroad system, which was completed on May 10, 1869. 

Following their House resolution, during the month of June 1977 Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Spark Matsunaga of Hawaii brought forth a Senate bill, later passed by President Carter. In October, 1978 the joint resolutions passed and the tradition was upheld.

After a 1990 bill was signed into law in 1992 by President George H. W. Bush, and the month of May became the official month we dedicated to celebrate on behalf of Asian and Pacific Island Americans. 

(Image Source: imdiversity.com)
Asia has played a significant contributory role in our nation’s history. It should not be underestimated that our allies from the Orient have long been undervalued and mistreated in our society. We are right to honor the relationship we have with this region filled with ancient wisdom. Perhaps as we grow, and with time, we will understand how lucky we are in having had such a beautiful mentor in this cherished jewel filled with a myriad of splendor and vibrant culture.

This piece was a collaboration between my son Leo and I.

Information Sources:

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Ramadan: More than just fasting

Picture source:  https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/life-style/happy-ramadan-2019-ramzan-mubarak-wishes-images-quotes-status-wallp...