Thursday, November 17, 2011

A day in New Freedom

The following are some pictures from a beautiful day I got to spend in New Freedom in York County, Pennsylvania.

One of my best friends from school is from PA and her sister who lives in DC let me hitch a ride to spend the day with their family! We watched the Penn State game, gossiped over cookies and chex mix, visited the amish market, saw some gorgeous country side, cuddled with the dogs and had a fabulous family dinner.

What a beautiful chance to escape from the concrete jungle.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A perfect fall

Pictures from a day exploring Arlington National Cemetery with Rachel and Chris. Perfect weather, gorgeous changing leaves, beautiful company!
Pictures were taken by me (except one obviously) and are property of me, yadda yadda.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dear Mom:

I promise I'm taking a ton of pictures! Please accept my apologies about not posting =) Here are some highlights and I promise to write more... one day!

Here are the three CLU girls =) Rachel, Nancy and Kj

The Newseum: an incredible interactive museum about journalism in America. It has really awesome exhibits ranging from the powerful September 11th exhibit to a hallway of pictures taken by the presidents' photographers capturing intimate moments like the one above where Barry lets an employee's son touch his hair to see if it felt like his.

Chris had his appendix taken out at GW, quite fun. Don't tell him I posted this =)

One wednesday after a field trip I was walking with a group of friends and we ran into a group of about 400 Egyptians protesting the death of 24 Coptic Christians in Cairo that week. It was completely coincidental and I felt so lucky to have witnessed it! It really reminded me of the spirit many Egyptian people have. We asked them how they all came together from around the country and a woman told us "oh yanni my friend just called me from Tennessee and yanni I came you know." Arab loyalty, not a myth.

Maira and I getting our two cents in while we visited protestors with Occupy DC and Stop the Machine

"Money for people, not wars" at Stop the Machine 2011 where protestors had organized food drives, first aid and overnight accommodations.

Myself and two fellows channeling Lady Gaga at DC's famous Drag Race a few days before Halloween

Sound Tribe on stage in Virginia

Rachel and I made pumpkins!! Their names are Bruce and Monica =D They go to Georgetown, they're very hip.

Unfortunately you can't really tell by this picture but IT SNOWED!!! All day last on saturday October 20th!! Happy happy haaappy day!!! (this was taken behind our building, not the best view, but that's the ABC head quarters up ahead)

Chris and I in front of the White House after our tour on the 2nd.

Chris, Kj, Leah and Tony at the World War II memorial with good ol' GW's Monument behind us

Leah and I in front of the Lincoln on our way our briefing by White House staffers in the Eisenhower Building.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Les Miserables

Our dean bought us all balcony seats to see the incredible musical "Les Miserables" in the Kennedy Center.

The entire production was unbelievable. Everything was perfect from the stage to the performers. I was really impressed by the company, especially the man who played the protagonist, Jean Valjean. He had an incredible voice.

It was really fun going out with everyone from the program and getting glammed up as well. And we all know, I looove a good musical <3

My darling roommate Rachel and I on our balcony

My wonderful Chris Scali

Our Brazillian beauty- Maira and I in front of the Kennedy Center

My roommate Ariel and I by the fountains behind the center before the show!

Maira, me and Kazi inside before the show started

The Turkish Festival!

On October 1st, Maira, Rachel and I headed into the city for the anual Turkish festival! It's an amazing event where they block off the streets to celebrate Turkish culture. There was food, jewelry, crafts, information booths, live music and turkish folk dancers! We had a wonderful wonderful day and I was so happy just to remember the amazing week I had in Istanbul last November!! Here are some pictures:

A windy day with the Skellys

On the last weekend in September I was fortunate enough to meet up with the family of one of my closest friends from school.

I met Mr. and Mrs. Skelly and Sara and Todd for lunch at a historic tavern near the White House and then we strolled over to the new MLK memorial.

I was really excited to be able to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial so shortly after it had opened- before it's dedication even!
The memorial is in a gorgeous location, right across the pond from the Jefferson Memorial (some might call it the Jameson....)

And I was really impressed by the design and organization of the whole thing. Dr. King's figure emerges from a large stone with a quote

"Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope"

The symbolism is incredible, I found it really beautiful.

Then all around the site are some of his best quotes. It was awesome.

And although everyone here talks about this weather with disdain, I LOVE IT!

I love some good rain and some crisp wind.

And of course, it was amazing seeing the Skelly family! Just to catch up and wander around and have some familiar faces around was really nice for me.

This family has a really special place in my heart, they've always been so supportive and kind and I really appreciate our friendship!

State Department Briefing

This is just a short paper I wrote for class that I wanted to share: 

 Jane Moshbacher briefed the LCWS students about her work in the Office of Counterterrorism Coordination in the State Department building. Moshbacher spoke about today’s terror threats and the ways in which the Office of Counterterrorism Coordination is combating them while working with the Departments of Defense, Treasury, and Justice within the State Department.  

Moshbacher opened by talking about the Counterterrorism Coordination’s new strategy more narrowly targets the threat of Al-Qaeda, specifically its senior leadership, most of whom are in Pakistan. She noted that Pakistan anti-terrorism efforts have been of major help over the last ten years and Al-Qaeda has lost a lot of influence and many resources. She also mentioned, however, that as Al-Qaeda has lost resources it has grown more geographically and ethnically diverse.  

She then spoke about Al-Qaeda’s affiliates like Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula who were responsible for the “underwear bomber” attack on the United States in 2009 and were the first of Al-Qaeda’s affiliates to attack the U.S. Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was weakened, said Moshbacher, by the death of Anwar al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki was an American and effectively influenced many other Americans with his radical ideas.  

Moshbacher noted that many terrorist organizations thrive because of leaders like al-Awlaki who are able to relate to their audiences. Just as Rischard said that terrorism has “sought refuge in failed states” terrorism also seeks refuge in disheartened persons who feel they have no other choice (Rischard 96). For recruitment, terrorism plays on people when they are feeling weakest and without hope. In this sense, one might say our speaker would take an anti-cosmopolitan view as she seemed to believe that “reason is a product of particular cultures and circumstances” (Shapcott 56) especially when she expressed that terrorists are generally not crazy and they are just people like everyone else who become caught up in what they think is the only ration approach left. 

One of the Counterterrorism Coordination’s best weapons is combating this way of thinking by presenting potential members with other lines for thinking. The State Department has a special team specifically designed to combat this process online through social networking. For example, there are now officials on Twitter and Youtube that can immediately counterstrike terrorist recruiters online by exposing their lies and giving readers other options. If readers are getting both sides of the story they are less likely to be entrapped by charismatic anti-American bloggers, video posters or tweeters. Our speaker believes our generation has the potential to transform counterterrorism with the use of the technology that makes our world so much smaller and more accessible. She stated that it is important to disprove terrorist claims that “change only comes from violence.”  

Moshbacher told the group that one of “the primary pillars in counter terrorism is trying to diminish the drivers of terrorism.” Their goal at the Counterterrorism Coordination Office is to “de-legitimize the violent narrative, present alternatives and build partner capacity to help.” This is where she tied in the United State’s ambitions for democracy in other countries. She said we have much to gain in our engagements abroad because “democracy increases the space for peaceful descent and helps fight violence.” If people have a safe place to criticize their government they feel more empowered to fix things in a diplomatic way rather than a violent one.  

The brief ended with a question and answer session in which our speaker took questions from the students. Many led to the elaboration of the aforementioned topic. A key part of the last section was when Moshbacher clarified the difference between radicalism and religiosity. She was firm in the notion that although throughout the Middle East there are a handful of radical madrasas (or schools) they are not the way of every madrasa and a radical Islamist is not every Islamist. She said “we would never want to eradicate the role religion plays in the lives of others, it’s a matter of educating people out of radicalism.”