Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bermuda, Here we Come!

I just wrapped up a busy placement season for my high school foreign exchange students. I've placed fourteen students in the Boise area all from various countries--Spain, South Korea, Italy, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Australia, and China! It has been so much fun to meet all of the host families and to watch the students arrive and get settled. So far, they are all great kids and no problems as of yet. I am learning a lot about each country and gaining a lot of insight into the commonalities of teenagers no matter what part of the globe they are from. I have some fun activities planned for the upcoming year. This Saturday we're floating the Boise River and the kids are all really excited. This little job has not only helped pay the bills but I also earned a bonus trip to Bermuda at a five star resort with all expenses paid! We are so excited to go in November! With all of the challenges we've met with this year, we feel like we deserve a nice vacation.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Summer Reading

I picked up this book at the local Deseret Industries for only two bucks and with no preconceived notions of what is was about. I remembered watching an interview with Cormac McCarthy on Oprah and it was an intriguing interview. I decided to buy it thinking, "Well, I can start it and if it's lame then I'm only out two bucks." I started reading and I could not put it down. Amazing! Loved it! The writing is excellent and McCarthy's poetic language flows like water. The book incorporates the elements of suspense, fear, sympathy, and above all love. At a superficial level, this book is a great thriller, not knowing what is going to happen next. However, the real focus of the story is the unconditional love a father has for his child, even going to the extreme to protect and care for his son. I have not enjoyed a work of fiction this much in a very long time. I thoroughly drank it in and couldn't get enough. It's one of those books that you hate to see it end.

This week I have been reading The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Sierstad. I have enjoyed reading this book although at times I have been shocked, disgusted and outraged. I can honestly say that life in Afghanistan has never interested me despite our recent history with that country. However, I was immediately drawn in to this book from the first page. Set against the backdrop of a stark and war torn country, the book is about a real family living in Kabul. The family illustrates well the long-lasting effects of extremist Islamic tradition and culture. Although Afghanistan is no longer plagued by the dictatorship of the Taliban, it's influence is still felt and is long-lasting. While reading this book, I have never felt so grateful to have been born in the United States and, even more importantly, to have been born a woman in the U.S. Although women in the U.S. still suffer to some degree from discrimination and sexism, it is incomparable to the way women are treated in Afghanistan. I'm thankful that I was not bartered away as an 11 year old bride, that I am not a slave to the men in my family, that I can wear what I want, go where I want and do whatever I want with whomever I choose. I have a voice and I have choices and I am thankful for that freedom.