Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's Pouring In Providence

I presented my Newsworthy article to the class today, and realized as I did so that I have largely gotten over my fear of public speaking. Although I was slightly nervous beforehand, I was nowhere near as terrified as I would have been a year ago, and I was able to use the bullet points on my index cards to form coherent sentences. For me, short notes and bullet points work much better than actually writing out a whole speech and memorizing it, because I speak much more naturally when the words flow from my head to mouth in the moment.

The article that I read addressed Saudi Arabia's resistance to sending female athletes to the 2012 Olympics. This particular article is from March 23, 2012, so I read some follow-up articles as well to learn the outcome of the situation, and how Saudi Arabia responded to worldwide pressure to send women athletes. It turns out that Saudi Arabia will send two female athletes to the Olympics this year, a runner and a judoka, making this the first Olympic games where all participating countries send female athletes to represent them.

I found this article interesting because it shows that an international sporting event can have political and social influence over a country. Saudi Arabia changed its views due to pressure from other countries and worldwide organizations, but this was done so diplomatically, which is important. I do think that sending female athletes to the Olympics is a step forward for Saudi Arabia, though how big of a step depends on how much awareness is spread as a result of this move. I read a related article that said that none of this news is being covered in Saudi Arabian media, which means that most of the citizens of the kingdom may not even know that this has happened. Another interesting point this article made is that neither of the Saudi Arabian women who are going to the Olympics actually lives in the kingdom. I think that letting the Saudi Arabian people know what is happening is key to actually making progress in the kingdom in terms of the status of women. I will be interested to follow this story as the Olympics progress, and see what happens.

After the rest of the class had presented their articles, we had a guest speaker: Angela Romans. Ms. Romans currently works for the State Department of Rhode Island, and deals with issues surrounding education in the state. She told us how she originally planned to become an engineer in college, but eventually had an epiphany and realized that she wanted to work in education. She became a high school teacher, and later an admissions officer at Brown. We had an interesting discussion with her about schools, including how to assess the performance of the school and the teachers in it. I enjoyed talking to her because she listened to our ideas and seemed to genuinely value them.

Providence had a thunderstorm this afternoon! The rain began just as everyone stepped outside after class at 3:30. Fortunately, the Science Library (SciLi) is just next door to the building where my class is, so many of my classmates and I took refuge in there and did classwork while we listened to the booming and waited for the storm to pass.

The Watson CIT, where my class is held

After the rain

Tonight, I am going to write a paper about my Action Plan and begin to prepare the presentation that I will be giving on Friday about my plan. I will describe my Action Plan in more detail in tomorrow's blog post. I am nervous but excited to share my ideas with people, and can't wait to be able to implement my plan once I get back home!

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