Travel

Cordoba Photo Journal

For those of you who prefer to slowly savor each image, here’s an alternative to the video journal.

Cordoba, Spain is known as the city of three cultures. At the height of its power, Cordoba was a great center of commerce and education and was the largest city in Western Europe. The population was made up of people from many regions who practiced Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Read More

Performing Arts

Video Short: Flamenco!

 

The Andalusian region of southern Spain is home to one of the world’s most passionate styles of music and dance–flamenco! Though it’s specific origins are still being debated, musicologists trace its roots to eighteenth century Andalusia, a region whose culture by this time had been colored by diverse migrations of Castilian, Gypsy, Jewish and Muslim peoples. Today, flamenco can be heard, seen in clubs and on street corners in every major city of Andalusia.
I could write more about my love for this fascinating art form, but in this case words are insufficient in expressing emotions. Flamenco is best experienced by our hearts and souls. It gets under your skin and makes your spine tingle, and before you realize it your body is moving to the beat of the music. So, turn up the volume and maximize the view, or just close your eyes and listen to the hypnotic rhythms and feel the passion of one of our planet’s most culturally rich areas!

Enjoy and peace~henry

Politics

The Kurd’s Destiny

Iraq in the summer is a true broiler, although not necessarily more so than what I’d left behind in Oman. Here however, the lack of a reliable supply of electricity meant daily intermittent power cuts while the university electricians transferred to an alternate grid provided by immense electrical generators that sat just inside the blast walls behind the main university administration building. During these transition periods, we would all—teachers and students alike–perspire profusely inside the suffocating space created by the sheet-metal walls of our prefab classrooms. These blackouts were random and could come at any time in any part of the city and eventually became just another routine part of daily life in Iraq.

Read More

Culture

Amazing Students of Kurdistan

The American University of Iraq-Sulaimaniyah (AUIS) was located on a temporary campus in a fairly upscale neighborhood a few miles southeast of the city center. It was a mix of existing cement block and mortar buildings and (prefab) portable classroom ‘cabins’, all surrounded by high concrete blast walls. There were always heavily-armed Kurdish peshmerga guards stationed just outside the front gate which could only be used by faculty and administration. There was a second entrance at the opposite end of the campus where the students were thoroughly searched each morning before being allowed to enter the main campus.

Read More

Culture

Welcome to Iraqi Kurdistan

June 2010: Arriving at the airport in Irbil (also spelled Arbil or Erbil), the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, I was struck by the diversity of the people buzzing around the small, crowded terminal. I had been equally surprised by the large number of Chinese workers on my flight from Dubai, most wearing a company shirt that identified their purpose for the trip.
I was aware that the regional government of Kurdistan was ramping up production of their oil reserves, but flying in foreign workers in such large numbers was surely a sign of the kind of new-found prosperity I’d become accustomed to in the Arabian Gulf countries. From the online research I’d done, I had expected this experience to be very different from my previous 3 years spent in the Gulf, both in cultural and standard of living. For a moment, I felt my heart move toward disappointment, but that emotion was quickly replaced by my need to focus as I entered a new culture, one that would turn out to be more proudly rooted in tradition than any I’d experienced before.

Read More