Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"My home abroad"

March, 20th 1956 was when my ancestors' hard efforts brought the independence from France.
March, 20th 2015 was the date where I decided to share with the whole world my pride and ego to be a Tunisian who made her way to the United States, as an Irex scholar.

I decided with a couple of friends of mine to organize an event that will gather all Irex students on campus, and call the event: "My Home Abroad".

My home abroad was the event that is supposed to be not only cultural, but also educational and informative for students of the University of New Mexico.
When proposing for our fund request, we made sure to make our event a great opportunity to be the best representatives of our countries. We agreed that this challenge has to be accepted, in order to make people from the whole world know about our not-quite famous countries.
 It may sound bad to be the only one from Tunisia. People thought that it would be hard to gather more than 40 people in a Friday evening, on campus. But with our hard work and effective advertisement strategies, we succeeded to attract more than 100 students and staff of the UNM. With the help of my friend Irex student Jakhonguir Azimov from Global UGRAD Uzbekistan, we concentrated on designing a catchy colorful flyer as you may see.
The next step then, is to be launching a small teaser, in which we called all locals and internationals to come and share with us our traditions and customs, to simply, GET KNOW US.      
What helped us the most is sharing the video on all of our social media profiles, and reminding people about how many days are left to the event.
Preparing for the event was a great way the four of us to get closer and work in order to make out of our event, a memorable one.
                                                                                   I would never forget the days we spent preparing for our presentations and planning our food menus. I would never forget Susi, our beloved adviser and how she's always right about how to be smart and save money, without losing quality. 
Like a small family, we had our late-day meetings and endless e-mails about every single detail.
Like a life-long friends, we've been shopping at 10 p.m and visited every single place, checking item by item from our lists.
We drove everywhere, from big supermarkets to small Delhi shops, to Mediterranean food restaurants. 


The day of the event was so stressful. a day that started at 7 p.m and ended around 10 p.m.
with the help of friends and volunteers, we had an amazing setting of the ballrooms, in which everyone was gathered, listening to music and going from this table to the other, tasting the traditional dishes that we made.
Food and music were not all. after one hour of serving food, Mohamed and Attaullah started their presentation about Pakistan, in which they included a lot of general facts and information about their beautiful country.

My turn was just after their presentation. I started it by making sure that everyone knows where is Tunisia and what are the historical events that our country has been famous for, for these centuries. 
Celebrating the independence day, I couldn't not inform people about what happened the day before. "As much as I am proud to be here in front of you representing Tunisia, the spark of the revolution, as much I am sad about what happened yesterday at one of the most beautiful historical museums that North Africa has. I am here today to say that I, and every single Tunisian, will never be afraid of such terrorist acts. We will go back and we will build the country that we love and will always love. Wait for me. Wait for the youth-led Tunisia."
I showed all of the beautiful places that Tunisia have, from Sidi Bou Said, to El Medina, to the the beautiful deserts of Tozeur. 
Everyone was amazed and didn't stop clapping for every word I say. I knew then, that this whole event came at the right time for everyone to take off all of the misconceptions they have about us, and dare to go out from their shell, to discover a whole new culture without being afraid of being judged or stereotyped. 

Jakhonguir, the Uzbek representative also shared with the audience a lot of fun facts and beautiful photos that he took in a lot of his country's towns.
It was amazing how people were so interested about what each one of us said.

To make sure that everyone was paying attention, we wrapped up the event by a Q/A competition, in which I got in the middle of the crowd and started to ask questions about Tunisia, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan, and each time someone answers right, we gave him a souvenir from our countries.

What made "My home abroad" successful is the willingness to change and the hard work that we gave for the sake of exchanging knowledge.
However, this is not the end. I promised myself that I will give my best to promote my country and show people the real face of Tunisians.
The whole team :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

woMAN ... It's THE SAME.

  When talking about sexism, homophobia or discrimination, most people would raise their voices against the gender discrimination that women are suffering from. They, I mean most of us, would shout and ask from the society to stop considering women as sex machines, slaves or “men’s puppy”.
Yet, going away from all of these “mainstream” topics, I chose to bring on a topic that the majority of the society is ignoring most of the time. Today, I am talking about gender discrimination against men and the horrible false definition of manhood and masculinity worldwide. Today, I am not going to go deep into detailed examples of false misconceptions about all men. I am actually going to talk about a percentage of men, who are suffering from the hardest judgment concerning their “masculinity”.
Thank you Javi.
Masculinity square is the issue that every guy is suffering from nowadays. It is the social standard that controls men’s attitude, look and strength. Society is simply putting all of the men in the masculinity square that disregards the fact that men are being raped, called “faggots” and domestically abused every single minute.  Boys, no matter what age they are commonly considered as sex-monsters who won’t feel bad or offended if raped. Instead the myth says that they would rather enjoy it and take advantage of it.
Andrew Bailey is actually the best example about what’s happening to men every day. As a British writer and a comedian, Andrew was raped and all what he got from the society was sarcasm and bigotry. As an answer he wrote a monologue called: “Why rape is sincerely hilarious to dudes”. His monologue was sarcastically criticizing the mental and physical oppression that the society is enforcing upon what is means to be a man.
It’s commonly believed that women are the only victims of domestic violence. However, statistics have shown that in 2010, the CDC stated that 40% of domestic violence victims were men. This is not the central problem, the issue is that men are likely to be ridiculed by both of the society and law. Due to the belief, men have the higher power when it comes to relationships. That’s why men will not report their case that will question their masculinity and bring them shame for the rest of their life. In the words of ANN ARNETT FERGUSON[1] who discusses the society’s misconceptions saying that “Boys will be boys: they are mischievous, they get into trouble, they can stand for themselves.’

“That’s so gay.” Said 1,579,050 times on twitter the last month.
“Look at her, she’s such a dyke.” Said 134,760 times on twitter the last month.
“Stop being a Fag.” Said 389,170 times on twitter this month[2].
How many of us have ever heard this??? I am sure that the majority of us have ever heard at least one of these homophobic terms.  All of the numbers listed above actually are still increasing day by day. People are sadly not caring about their language anymore.
Last year, 9 out of 10 LGBTQ students reported being a victim of verbal harassment. And over 1/3 were physically assaulted. We live in a society in which we have accepted the use of derogatory terms as a joke. It’s simply allowed to make fun of someone because of his sexual orientation and/or sexual identity. The use of facilities is also one of the other difficulty for transgender men for example.         
Two weeks ago I watched an important documentary called “Toilet Training” initiated by Tara Mateik who succeeded to show  how a small silly symbol on a toilet front door can define people’s genders and leads them to be in the wrong place. Which can sometimes, be harmful and unsafe for them physically and psychologically.

That’s exactly why I wanted to share with you this picture. WoMAN are the same in suffering, in oppression, in discrimination and in social misconceptions. By speaking for our rights as women, we should never neglect the fact that our there, there are billions of men who are in a permanent pain caused by their society. We should all learn how to accept each other in terms of identities and sexual orientation because at the end of the day, who you are is what really matters. Just like RAEWN W.CONNEL[3] examined, the fact of globally defining masculinity cannot be completed without the interaction with femininity. CONNEL argues that the globalized definition of manhood by the muscled body shape and the ability to do hard work. 

To wrap up I would like from everyone reading this, starting from myself, to sign a personal pledge to be a supportive ally to anyone no matter what identity he chose to embrace. My pledge is to never oppress anyone and say homophobic words. And to take it further, let’s all pledge to EDUCATE people who are still unaware of the danger of their homophobic acts.
“In other words, it is the responsibility of the oppressed to teach the oppressors their mistakes.” The great AUDRE LORDE.

[1] Naughty by Nature. P 435.
[2] WWW.thinkb4youspeak.com
[3] Chap4. Masculinity and Globalization. From Men and Masculinities, Volume 1/1999.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Global Education experience.

  Hello everyone,I hope you all are having a great warm autumn. It has been a long time since I wrote in here. Today, I am coming back with a new vision, new spirit, and new memories. Today, my article will be from the United States, with love.
In this article, I am going to let you walk in my shoes, take you back in time and tell you how it all started. I, Ghada Zribi, was one of the most fortunate scholars who went through a competitive opportunity that the US department of state and the American people have provided for young undergraduate students in Tunisia. By the way, I highly encourage you all to go for it and apply for one of the great opportunities that the U.S. embassy is providing for prominent Tunisian youth.

My trip was the first and the longest trip ever. In the airport, saying goodbye to my parents and to the country that I spent 21 years in, wasn't quite easy, I admit. Yet, I was positive that something better is waiting for me. After more than 15 hours of being alone, looking from a plane's window or  waiting for my flight, I finally landed in NEW MEXICO's land. After sleeping for hours, I finally got to know my friendship-family who warmly welcomed me. And from then on, my journey started.
The first place that I had the chance to visit was ISI Albuqueraque center that provided me with everything I needed for my dorm. People were so welcoming and nice. We ate, laughed and got to know each other. In the same week, I got to know my beautiful smiley adviser Susanne Knoblauch. 

Me, Susi ♥ and AJ from Uzbekistan (Global UGRAD)
In Susi's office, I met another 2 Irex students from Uzbekistan and Pakistan. That day, we went to our first trip to the World's longest tramway in Sandia peak. 
Going to that trip, the trip after, the event after and the celebration after continued and the more I visit places, the more I get to know people. My network started from an Arab friend, to 2 Mexican buddies, to 10 American sweethearts, to a hilarious Bolivian, a French best friend, a Uzbek photographer , and a lot of other people that stamped my memory with their kindness, humor and craziness.  To be honest, during my first weeks, I got upset whenever someone misspells Tunisia's name, or thought that it was Indonisia.
Yet, with all of those misconceptions about Arabs and Africans continue, I, started to be convinced that my mission in here as an ambassador of Tunisia, is to spot the light on my country in every map and teach people how to pronounce my name right.
With every information I add, people's curiosity grows and asks for more traditions for more Tunisian facts, customs and words. You have no idea how pleasing it is, to have people who greet you saying "Salam", or showing their gratitude saying "shokran", "ayshek". 

  5 years ago, I've never believed that my dream of visiting the U.S. will be realized. 3 months ago, I've never thought that I'm going to be surrounded by such amazing people who keep making me feel home. People who celebrated my birthday, cooked for me and listened to me. Yes, I am the only Tunisian in here but I am thankful that I succeeded to make people from the whole world know about my country and put it on their travel list.
In this week, I wanted to share with all of you people my experience as an International Irex student who is proudly exchanging knowledge and cultures.  I am not going to talk a lot but the only thing that I can tell you is: 

GO OUT OF YOUR SHELL PEOPLE. Don't let the boundaries stop you.
Work hard and DARE to dream. 
Don't let anyone tells you that you can't do it. If it is worth it, go for it and make out of the impossible reachable. 

    Last but not least, I want to take advantage of this opportunity to thank everyone who made out of me the strong, self-confident person I am today.
Thank you all, I will make you proud,

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

El Chebba: my new discovery.

  When it comes to having fun, most people would seek crossing seas to spend a fortune in a whole new country. But when it comes to me, I recently discovered that the real voyage is the fact of discovering my own neighborhood, my own country and why-not my own continent .
Thus, few weeks before leaving Tunisia as an exchange student, I decided to go crazy and enjoy my last days in places I didn't know in my own country. My decision was to go on a really long trip. A trip to a city that I've never thought I would visit. The city I am talking about is called: El Chebba ( in Tunisian Arabic; The beautiful).

  El Chebba is a small yet gorgeous city in Mahdia Governorate of Tunisia on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The first thing that caught my eyes while staring from the dusty window of the bus, is the magically mixed colors of the harvested lands glowing under the sun's rays. Along the crooked road, there were the green grape, palm, almond trees and sunflowers. They were all together bounded, blossoming in harmony like a caring family welcoming you to the city of unexpected wonders.                 

As soon as I arrived, There was an unusual thing I noticed. Riding motorcycles was the ultimate means of transportation in the city. Not like I got used in the capital, seeing girls, mothers and even grandmas riding bikes and motorcycles is more than normal in here.

And here is me, riding "vespa" for the first time in my life. That wasn't pretty easy with that skirt though haha.

  Although it will not take you so long to make a tour in the city, you will be amazed by the rich sites and the old monuments from which you will feel the antique vibes of a history that will never be buried.
Here I am talking about:
  Lakes with its warm water and busy fisherman on their boats throwing the tiny fish back to the water as a gift for the hungry shear-waters after a long day of waiting.

And as if you owned everything, you will feel free to walk over any land, grab your camera and take a picture and no one will wait to be paid or ask you to leave their property. Instead, if needed, anyone will be there for you. Especially if there are some hidden places in the city that won't be easily seen by the new comers. UNLESS IF THERE WILL BE A DOG GUARDING THE LAND, TRUST ME YOU WILL HAVE TO RUN THE HELL OUT OF YOU TO LIVE. :D
I mean; seriously if you have ever been to Tunisia, don't hesitate to hit the road toward El Chebba. It's a recommendation.
Now I will leave you with a couple of pictures that I took during my vacation there.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The dark price of Freedom - Tunisia.

"I will surely make myself killed because of the revelations I am releasing and others that I am planning to publish.  But I know that I have good people to rely on. Now, I'm only afraid for my family and my children ... Report, share but I want you to support me. «March 2014.
This was the last post published on Anis Azizi’s Facebook page, before getting stabbed by a screw-diver in front of his house on Friday, May 30th 2014.

Anis was an employee of the regional areas of the State and Land Affairs, who took action against the corruption he exposed since the first day he joined his job. They started warning him by putting his his car on fire.  Things got serious with the 8 stabs that led to his death, leaving 2 children and a widowed wife. And here we are today, months after the incident, still have no idea who is behind all of this chaos.
Years after the revolution of democracy, dignity and freedom, we find ourselves in front a mysterious system that keeps eliminating anyone who dares to expose the corruption that is currently happening in Tunisia’s public and private sector. Aziz is not the first, and he surely will not be the last.

Four years ago when everyone saw Mohamed Bouazizi and hundreds of other martyrs sacrificing themselves for the sake of social justness and government’s corruption, the whole world bowed in front of the persistence and the audacity of Tunisian youth. More than 340 martyrs and 2,147 injuries were the result of the civil resistance and spontaneous uprisings against the RCD and Zine-El-Abidine-Ben-Ali’s system.
We saw people in the cold nights of December, quitting their job, leaving their families and setting bun fires in the corner of every neighborhood in order to protect the whole city from BEN Ali’s militia. We saw beauties offering the love of their lives to the country. We saw the mother burying the son that she saw him growing day by day and planned for his wedding, her whole life. We saw the poor with his empty stomach, shouting; “Eating Bread and water are still better than Ben Ali” (
خبز و ماء و بن علي لا).

They, are us. Us, are Tunisians who didn’t let differences based on backgrounds, religions or even gender, keep us away from achieving the revolution that we spent years waiting for.
YET, was kicking Ben Ali enough for Tunisia to start a brand new era of democracy, employment and most importantly, FREEDOM?

 It’s sad to admit that the answer to the previous question, is NO.  And whether we admit it or not, Tunisia is still under the control of an unknown organism that will not let us know the truth. And we now are sure that ending 23 years of dictatorship is nothing but the first step toward a complete democratic country.
Nowadays, we’re still hearing about leaders being assassinated and brave soldiers being slaughtered. Activists and bloggers also took their share by being imprisoned because of something they said on the radio or even a status they posted on their Facebook page.
People are out now, protesting and hunger-striking for criminals being released for “lack of evidences”. These cases later on will be forgotten, put on the shelf just next to hundreds of other cases that need to be reviewed. By cases, I mean cases of terrorism, government corruption, human rights violations and so on and so forth are still under investigation?
The question is, is catching someone smoking weed, more threatening than the death of  soldiers in Kasserine, Kef, Sidi Bouzid and Gafsa? 
It's a Crystal-clear message that needs to be submitted to the actual and future government. It's time to wake up and work for the sake of the country. It's now or never! 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Aya, the 13 years old girl who got burned by her father.

Once again, Tunisia encounters an other heart-shattering story where women are again, victims of a narrow minded society.
 Aya is the 13 years old girl who got burned ALIVE by her father who felt free to punish her for walking home with her male classmate... Yes, walking with a boy costs a girl nowadays, a Fourth degree burn that made her struggle to survive for more than 10 days in the Trauma and Burn Center in Ben Arous, Tunisia.

 After serious investigations,  Aya's neighbors added an other version to this story, saying that her father lost control when Aya came home late. By late, I do mean few hours after finishing school. Without listening to her, his barbarian madness made him douse his daughter with gasoline and set fire to her young innocent body and burn with her all of the dreams she used to build, in a glance.
  The Tunisian police has immediately arrested Aya's father and now we have nothing to do but waiting for the diagnosis of this tragedy to continue. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Closing Ceremony of the American Corner Leadership Club.

                                       PUBLISHED ALSO IN YoungLeadersEntrepreneurs

 The American Corner Leadership Club gathered us on 30/05/2014 in the American Embassy in Tunis  to celebrate the end of the first chapter of this one year program that  allowed 20 participants to be ACLC alumni through improving their skills and unleashing their thoughts by taking part in different projects and trainings.


  This club was launched in October 2013 as a first step toward initiating a young Tunisian network of entrepreneurial leaders to build a promising future beyond beliefs and borders.
As leaders of our community, we were gathered under the roof of democracy to strengthen ties and partnerships which led to a quick implementation through organizing several events such as the Global Entrepreneurial week.

  The celebration started by giving our speeches and recommendations as alumni to the other members in order to maximize their chances to get accepted in exchange programs offered by the embassy.
  With the presence of  Mr. Sami Saied, Mrs. Kate, Mrs. Rachel, Mrs. Refka Nsiri and Mrs Najla Abbes , we enjoyed exchanging experiences and funny memories of our previous projects. We carelessly danced on the rhythms of "Break the chain",  then Mr. Stevens Christian joined us to show support and congratulate us of the consecutive success stories we are achieving.

  Everyone was impressed by our rich differences that gathered us all, for one single reason. We all were eager to learn and to be the change that we want to see in this country. We all were there, to prove our prominent potentials and how creative we contributed to this society. And we  succeed thanks to our efforts and persistence.
And like we always say, this is not the end yet .
 As we are going to write the second chapter of the ACLC book, don't hesitate to fill the application form that will soon be released on the Facebook page

Once an ACLCer, always an ACLCer.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Women of my country.

  We Tunisian women are proud to come from varied backgrounds. Regardless of our history, we share the same dream. We imagine being treated as the tangible power behind this society, not as objects who only serve to please men.       
    Let me start by framing the situation for you by giving you some examples of people who you might meet here. And trust me, I am neither exaggerating, nor generalizing. 

In this society, you will find the girl who rebelled against the rules of her conservative family to live with the one she loves as soon as she reached her 20th birthday.  She calls her mother every night to tell her how much she misses her, informing her about the place of their next secret meeting, which cannot last more than two hours, before her father comes home.
 In this society, you will meet the 16 year-old girl who left her widowed mom grieving and went to the capital city. For only a couple of dinars a day, she will take a spot on the sidewalk of the “Habib Borguiba Avenue” and start begging people for money, promising that she will mention them in her prayers. Her next destination after begging will be heading to her second job in a fancy house where she works under the constant threat of abuse. Then, out of jealousy, as soon as the wife notices that the girl is growing prettier, she will kick her out of the house.
Then we meet the veiled girl who challenged the modern mind-set and chose to cover herself because Allah said so.  She took advantage of her right to choose who gets to see the best of her.
 Her life will seem perfect until people start calling her names, asking her about the “tent” she is putting on her head. They mock her asking how on earth she bears the heat of summer? They ask her when will she join her sisterhood in Syria. 
Hurt enough by all of the comments, she will end up taking her hijab off, light a cigarette and in doing so please the society that will in turn judge her for her irreverence…
Speaking for myself, I see women of Tunisia as victims of the mentality passed down over many generations suggesting that men are the rescuers of society and, in fact, of the whole world.  I will not deny that or over-appreciate women. At the same time, I believe that no one has the right to be dealt with as sex-machines whose main role is to live for the sake of being a dutiful housewife, easily bribed with a golden necklace.
However, and with all of these misconceptions about women’s rights, we should never allow ourselves to remain hidden.
It is important for you to know that passion is indeed the secret behind the success of the exhausted mother, the liable minister, the bold soldier, the restless doctor, the sensitive artist and even the fearless volunteer who is ready to cross seven seas in order to restore faith in humanity.  All of these people, whether from Tunisia or not, are driven by passion and the desire to survive and thrive.
I would like to wrap up by quoting Tupac Shakur, Since we all came from a woman, got our name from a woman and our game from a woman, I wonder why we take from our women. Why we rape our women? Do we hate our women?
I think it's time to kill for our women, time to heal our women, be real to our women. And if we don't we'll have a race of babies that will hate the ladies that make the babies. And since a man can't make one, he has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one.
So will the real men get up?
I know you're fed up ladies, but keep your head up.”

From Tunisia, with Love.