Shame, shame

The weather today is lovely. Sunny, warm, birds chirping. I love it. Although it’s really hard to breathe in the city on such days because of the pollution. At least it’s not that bad up in the mountains where I live, although even here urbanization (and hence pollution) is becoming inescapable. I am enjoying my job, although the real thing has not started yet. Yesterday I went to my ethnic conflict and peace-building class; it was really interesting; the class was a weird mix though, relatively quiet, although I know that there are quite a few “geniuses”! The rest are either clueless or just too shy. The former more than the latter, actually. As for me, I decided I will be really talkative this semester, although not to the extent that I would blurt out anything on my mind, because that would make me look stupid. Quite a few people like that in the class too. The other day I stayed on-campus the whole day because there was supposed to be a semi-formal meeting / workshop for an independent leftist group, but only five people showed up. The rest are hopeless cases. I am just curious though, what on earth do these people do in their spare time??? I’m sure as hell that they don’t read or do something productive for that matter. Stupidity is the norm when it comes to university students. Young people here are very sleepy, unproductive, and their faces only lighten up when you mention partying or watching TV. What I hate the most, however, is when people keep on saying that they’re going to do something and never end up doing that. To adapt the “like father, like son” phrase, “like [Lebanese] politicians, like [Lebanese] youth.”

I am currently editing a paper for one of the professors in the department. It’s sad actually because as much as I like doing editing work, I was hoping he would give me research work; in fact, that is what I asked him for, but I suppose he thinks I am not a good researcher. Whatever rocks his boat, I suppose. As long as I’m getting paid, it’s not like I am going to hold a gun to his head to give me something to research or a paper to review! All the better if he doesn’t; the reason I am annoyed is that it has hurt my ego. Today I bought the course kit (the first of the four, the rest will be ready as we go along) from Malik’s bookstore (outside the campus, but takes printing orders from the university) for the ethnic conflict and peace-building course. It made me want to cry. I mean, not the content exactly, but the cover of the kit: “Ethnic Conflect and Peace Building”. I quickly took out my white-out and turned the ‘e’ into an ‘i’. How embarrassing. Moving on, I think I have a fairly good idea as to what I will be doing my research paper on. I don’t want to do it on the Arab-Israeli conflict because that is already covered in the Palestine course I am taking. I will instead work on Azerbaijan, although admittedly I need to do a lot of readings on that because it is not exactly one of my chief interests. I feel like I am focusing too much on the Middle East (and in particular Palestine/Israel) in my coursework and I want to avoid that if possible. I was just looking at the readings in the course kit, and they cover many conflicts/(re)solutions, including Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Moldova, Scotland, Canada. The rest are theoretical pieces, which are even more interesting. At last a course that is worthy of being called “graduate course”! It’s sad that a lot of people refrained from taking this course because they prefered taking courses with professors they had previously taken courses with (and received good grades from). I would understand the point if the professor is really charismatic and just too knowledgeable to miss out on his classes, but if there’s nothing special about him I fail to see what’s so attractive about taking his course. Is there no spirit of challenge left in academia or what! Everyone seems more concerned with taking the easy way out, just take a couple of courses, write some thesis, smile a lot to your professors, and get your M.A.? Is that it?

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