Friday, July 20, 2012

From Ramadan to a Pool Party

Today was definitely one of the best days at VSA for me. It was a non-stop, productive day.
Anna in her hijab
The first couple of hours of class was in preperation ourselves for our site visit to the Islamic Center of Nashville. We watched a short movie called Wam, Bam, Islam. It was basically about a man who wished to publish comic book hero magazines in the Muslim world. The controversy about this, however, was the fact that the comic series was called The 99; the "99" represents all the 99 characteristics of Allah (God) to Muslims. Muslims are very strict about saying anybody except for God is a divine being. This video made me learn that there are people for a change in the Muslim culture, and there are people who aren't. Whatever the case, The 99 is becoming more well-known around the world, and I hope it keeps growing for the childrens' sake. 
Me in my hijab
We also wrote a mini-reflection to help us more in preparation for our site visit to the mosque. I was feeling very curious and excited to see what was in store for me there. I knew it was going to be a very different experience for me, because I've never set foot in a mosque, nor have I ever seen one.
Outside the Islamic Center of Nashville

Well, my curiosity and excitement definitely did not go to waste. I'm not sure where to start about my visit there. To be honest, probably 3/4 of the service had me clueless on what was going on. Most of the service was in Arabic, and even the sermon wasn't fully in English, which made it a bit difficult to understand.

It was so interesting to have no seats and to take off one's shoes. I felt like I was in a Sikh temple--just smaller and more modest-looking. There was also something very different about who were and who weren't in the room. Only men were in my area of the mosque. One reason for this is so that the men don't get distracted, and I actually can understand that, because women can be pretty distracting--even if they're being so modest still in public.

But there was something odd I was feeling inside after the service. It's very hard to describe, but it's as if I felt really close to God. It was a great feeling, yet I felt weird but calm all at the same time. I just can't explain what I felt. I believe I felt this because of the communal prayers that they do after the sermon. I never prayed in such unison with so many others before--bowing, kneeling, standing, and etc. I felt this personal connection with God, yet I felt one with the community as well. There was also something about just being with males that made it a more powerful service, too. After experiencing an Islamic service, I'd like to define their way of praying as a mixture of Catholicism and Judaism. People pray individually, before and after mass in Catholic churches; people pray together aloud in Jewish services.

The best part, however, about our site visit was meeting Imam (the Muslim form of a pastor, rabbi, etc.) Mohamed. He's definitely one of the most friendliest people I've ever met. There's something about him that gives him so much charisma, and he is, by far, the "coolest" and friendliest religious leader I've ever met. I could tell he wanted to talk with us so much more, and he even asked if we should have dinner. Of course, we couldn't because we had things to do at VSA. He also mentioned something very interesting about prayer. Muslims believe praying and submitting yourself to God is talking to God, and reading the Koran is when God is talking to you. I found this to be an interesting concept.
The Lived Religion Class and a few of our helpful "presenters"

Today was also Arete Showcase! Since I visited the synagogue last week, I wasn't able to perform nor see the showcase, so I was very excited--and slightly nervous (a good nervous of course). I performed my stage combat scene, and it seemed that everyone really liked it and thought it was very "realistic". That made me happy, and I felt accomplished. The other classes' showcases were amazing too. I couldn't believe that the Glee class was able to make a whole music video in four days; I was impressed.
Oh, by the way, I ate a tasty dinner.

Good vibes and good food

Later in the evening, VSA held a pool party at the Recreation Center! I honestly thought it was going to be outside and earlier, but this was still very nice. I had a blast hanging and partying with all my lovely VSA friends. Sadly, the pouring rain and bright lightning brought the pool party to an earlier close (just 30 minutes). Still, it was alright, because I was pretty tired anyway, and I also had the chance to take a lot of pictures with my friends!
Alexa and Anna
Avery, Elizabeth, and Alexa

The One and Only, Will--my roommate

All the Chinese people at VSA--no, seriously

I'm making so many memories at VSA. I can't imagine myself saying goodbye to all my new friends in just a week. It seems that the good things always end so fast. Well, let's make it worthwhile!
A wet end to a bright day

1 comment:

  1. Chris, I loved reading about your adventure and experiences today. I'm really glad you enjoyed your early introduction to the Muslim faith, and it sounds like your really enjoying your course as a whole! I'm glad your having a lot of fun Chris. Make every minute count, because these are days you will never forget. I'll try and keep up with your blog until you guys return, I loved reading everyone's posts. The impressions you had today were truly fascinating to read.