Sunday, December 6, 2009

What is normal?

Living in a different culture has made me to wonder around the word normal. There are things in our lives that we just consider normal and we are so used to things being according to the norm that we don’t even question if this is actually the way we like or enjoy things. We just live normal. According to the norm.

For the first two months I have being struggling of getting into the new normal. And this is something that I believe goes deeper from the cultural shocks. Its not any more understanding the cultural differences like eating, working, praying or living habits. It is about understanding the way of living and expressing emotions. Things that living in your own culture you just consider as part of human nature and would not necessarily attach a cultural factor to it. And even explaining them to people back home, they will try to convince you that you are just trying to justify things for your self: “ There s parts of human nature that is the same in every culture” is the sentence I have heard many times. But only living here and being challenge the norm of human behavior makes it possible to say “No, its not like that”.

The fascinating thing about that is the fact that after a while you reach to the stage of being between the two norms. Like the area between the borders of two countries where you have no rules but you can just decide which country to go to. That s exactly the stage I am at. I still remember very fresh the norms I have grown up with, but I am also starting to get the norms here. And I haven’t really moved out of one nor in to the other one yet.

It’s a strange situation that actually enables you to find out the real you. Your are released from the social norms and pressure and can just see what’s really you. Adjusting to behaviors that used to depress me so much at home. Behaviors that usually would be a source of a good depression. Because they were not normal! And after being able to see that this can actually be normal and not a big thing has made me even to enjoy things that would make me depressed in my norm. this has made me wonder if it ever was my norm or just a social standard. Now I am exploring what are the standards that I actually like and care about and what are not. Feeling the freedom of having no social norms.

At the end the only thing that should ground you are your values. That’s also part of the reason why I think you need some maturity to get maximum out of your cultural experience. And once you have it on the right time of your life it really grows you even more as a person. It grounds you to who you really, while shaping you more adaptable to changes and situations that challenge your norm.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cultural experience vs Love

Cultural experience is a wonderful journey. I can easily be compared to being in love.
You enter the relationship being so excited. Everything is perfect, even the mistakes you notice seem to be just part of the fun. They are just things that make the experience interesting and new. Also you will hear some people trying to warn you for the possible future risks, but you are so in love that you don’t really care. That’s what the experience so far has been. The honeymoon stage.
But, as it is in relationships, it is in the cultural experience, at one stage you get back to earth. You start noticing small things, that piss you off. You get tired of being nice. You get tired of trying to convince yourself that everything is perfect. You don’t want to change. You feel like you are doing so much but not getting back as much as you would like.
That’s when the reality hits. No matter how hard you try, you still make mistakes. You put on the nicest mode you have, but people still think that you are rude. You sacrifice your own conceptions by justifying them with cultural differences. But you never see other people trying to understand your view of things.
So you reach the stage you feel like you are trying too hard. In love there’s normally two paths to succeed from this point. You break up or you start building trust and compromises to enter to a long term relationship and from that point things can only get better. What’s the next step in cultural experience? Can it only get better now or is this the time to realize that you don’t fit in?
PS. Even if this post might sound depressive…I can ensure you I am not depressed …still enjoying the journey…just analyzing the feelings of the moment .

Monday, September 28, 2009

Leadership and democracy

In last 2 weeks I have been visiting university lectures. I have heard 3 lectures about Middle-East history. Being around educated people and hearing eye opening stories from a lecturer, who is so into the subject, that she sometimes gets lost in story telling, has been wonderful.

And there is one specific thing that I liked about the lecturer, which I have seen only in one of my history teachers before. She is not describing the wars and the happenings, but the leadership styles, leadership strategies and mistakes of the rulers.
I found it funny and engaging how she stresses that some rulers were “strategical geniuses”. She described us Umar ( 2nd Kalif in Arab world, who ruled after Mohamed in 6st century), who so obviously was her favorite leader and was called strategically genius many times.
The brightest thing that Umar did: He set up the administration system to a democratic society, copying it from monarh ruled societies. Which at the end meant that it was not democratic any more. But people loved him and the leadership was working and in fact he was the last Kalif, who was not killed by people. And what made him genius? He ruled like a monarch, but never positioned himself like one. He never tried to show others that he has all the power nor he never showed off the better life he lived. Which left the impression that people have the power! The system worked. People were happy.
But after he died, the new Kalif Uthman was all about showing that he has the power(Lecturer words:biggest strategically mistake of his leadership), like many Monarchs did. And soon he was killed by the people.

In Youth leadership conference I attended also few weeks ago the similar topic was discussed. How much democracy should the leader allow?
Looking at the history it made me wonder. Is the best leader still the one that gives a lot of freedom or the one who just makes people feel like they have a lot of freedom?

In my few years of leadership I have learned one thing. As a leader you need to have very clear vision and opinion about how things need to be done (think like a monarch). But, the best tool that the leader has, to achieve this goal, is to make your team happy. Make them satisfied with them self, give them self confidence and they will bring you the highest results (act like democracy).

So is there really such a thing as democracy in leadership or is it just the mather of how well the leader can make people feel like they have democracy?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Kite Runner

About a month ago I found a book on my friend`s bookshelf. She told me that she just got it, haven’t had time to read it, but supposedly it should be a very good book.
Then for weeks I tried to move on with the book and it didn’t go at all. I already told my friend that I will bring it back, I cannot read it. The way of writing makes me irritated- I give you a bit till it gets interesting and then I change to another side of the story – style.
And then one day the book took me into it and I couldn’t put it down until it was finished!
And I am thinking of what to say about the book now. I liked it. It is probably one of these books that sucks in your head for a long time. But its hard to find ways to describe it. I will try.
It is so well written that it makes you sick, in love and disgusted at the same time

It is an incredible to write a book, where a main character is actually not the main character. Where the deepest fares of every person is built in with a childish story together with world politics and economics.

And this book made me wonder – doesn’t every one of us have the bad and ugly in us? Although the story was to an extreme I felt connected with the character. There are things in your life where you know which way would be right way to act, but something inside of you makes you do things the wrong way. And the worst thing about it is that for the rest of your life you know that you did it wrong and you live in guilt. But maybe that is normal. And maybe then the main thing that differentiates the good from bad is that one has the feeling of guilt and the other doesn’t. Which means that the good just suffer more.

The other side of the book was about terrorist and Taliban. And yesterday I saw a movie “Paradise now”, which was also about suicide terrorists and what they feel like. And every time I see these things I wonder – do these people really justify everything with God´s will to them self so well, that they really don’t have any feeling of guilt? Or do they actually also know what would be the good way, but consciously decide to take the other and live in guilt for the rest of the life?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

When did the humans flip?

Few weeks ago I saw a movie, that started some thought processes in my head. It´s 10 years old movie, shown in the middle of the night from TV, as something that wouldn’t sell on prime time. After seeing it, for a second I thought – how come I haven’t seen it earlier? But then I realized, that would I´d seen it 10 years ago, it probably wouldn’t start the thought process it did now. So things do come when they are meant to come.

The key point was, that the one thing that differs human behavior from gorillas and is causing most of the problems in today’s world is the attitude of TAKERS. Humans have become TAKERS. They believe they can take anything they want – animals, food, lives etc. But they don’t realize that the world has a limit and if we keep TAKING more than we need or should, we will be out of resources. And this meaning not only water, food etc, but also human values and development.
If we look at gorillas, then after centuries, they still live life, based on the nature values. Something that the humans seemed to have stepped over while developing. Gorillas grow food and other stuff for their own and their family needs. Owning stuff don’t give a right for one animal to rule over another. Actually anything dosent give the right for one animal to take away pride, dreams and illusions from others.
Humans, after discovering their skills to do almost anything in the world, started the waste. We started creating more than we needed, take over more than was necessary. And we decided that the ones who were the best in creating/taking as much as possible, where the ones who could rule over others and start taking even more.

Later on that night I went to my bedroom and discovered my cat sleeping in the middle of my bed, leaving no room for me to fit under the blanket anymore and making the face like he is not even considering that he should move.
Then, when I was almost to get mad at him: you are an animal you should sleep on the floor, it flipped in my head. Who am I to tell that I can sleep here, but you cant since you don’t decide here, but I am the owner of you. What gives me the right to be the TAKER?
Often people describe cats as the stupid animals who don’t understand the orders from the owner and don’t run in the way the owner says, as dogs do(and I am definitely the dag person myself!). I think this is the best example to show how people feel the need to rule over someone. And this ruling gives us pleasure and feeling of belonging to the society.
But where did things go wrong? Since when did we develop this need in ourselves? How much easier would it be to live when we wouldnt have the need? When we would understand our limits available for every single person in the planet world?
And there was one line in the movie that said: “You never had the power, you only thought you had!” So can we actually rule over someone or it is just our imagination, which is creating waste, over consumption and discrimination and nothing more.

It is a long story. And my point of view is probably the most mixed one capturing in one breath many different conclusions you can make from the movie. But that’s how my brain works :).

Mõtete Läbu – The Party of Thoughts

Today this blog is getting a new look! I finally have had the time to figure out my way to the blogging world. From now I will have 2 blogs.
One (which will be public from next week) is about my everyday life and adventures, which this time is going to be a travel/living blog of Jordan. This blog will hopefully be in 2 languages with the help of Google translator.
The second blog is going to be this one. And as the heading says it, this is going to be the party place :). Meaning this blog is the most random place an organized person can have :). There is no key subject, no order, no logical flow, maybe even no is just things that pop-up in my head once in a while. And if you know me, they can be very random, switching from "the meaning of life" to " a cow on the field". Feel free to state your opinions if you feel connected with any topic here.
There are already couple of post waiting in line to be written. Will try to make this blog active with new ideas in next couple of days!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Women´s World Banking

Finishing off my MCP term in less than 2 months I have now started to identify my next step more clearly.
There are still couple of options that I am exploring, but one of them is working in microfinance area.

With doing my research on different opportunities around the world on this area I found organisation called Women´s World Banking. It is a network that connect different organizations around the world which aim for empowering women for enterpreneurship as a tool for fight against powerty.

If you are intersted in this issue see this: