Archive for March 14, 2008

Saudi Students Survive Miami Culture Shock

Rahmah Ali Al Shamrani leaned over a life-size mannequin, which was eerily breathing and blinking like a person, and sheepishly adjusted her head scarf in front of several other nursing students at Miami Dade College.While working at a hospital in her native Saudi Arabia, Shamrani wears outfits that cover her entire body except her face. For her classes at MDC, she wears a lab coat — but also covers her hair as a sign of respect to her Saudi peers and her culture.

The biggest cultural shock that she experienced in Miami: women studying with men.

”There, we are not allowed to have male friends — only female,” said Shamrani, who wore a diamond nose stud“We cannot shake hands with men. Here, we study together. It was unusual at the beginning. Here, we have more freedom.”

Shamrani is part of the first class of students from the Saudi Institute for Health Services to come to Miami as part of a six-week exchange program with MDC to learn in health-related fields. This week, the students learned about monitoring patients using MDC’s human patient simulator laboratory.

The program represents a new chapter for MDC and illustrates the swelling number of Saudi Arabian students coming to the United States to study.

Last year, the number of Saudi students studying in the United States shot up 128 percent to 7,886 from 3,448 the year before. Saudi enrollment in U.S. universities, second only to Turkey among Middle Eastern countries, spiked last year after the Saudi government started the Saudi Scholarship Program, according to the Institute of International Education. Florida is second only to Virginia in the number of Saudi students that have studied in the United States under that program.

MDC Professor Carol Miller, who taught the group, said the students spent months going through a lengthy visa application process, where they had to fly to another city in Saudi Arabia to interview with several American and Saudi officials. The year after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Saudi enrollment in American universities plunged 25 percent and continued to decline until 2005, when participants in the scholarship program began flowing in, according to IIE.

The six female nurses and four male opticians who studied at MDC will complete the program during a ceremony Friday.

It marks an unusual relationship in which young people from one of the most religiously conservative societies on Earth are sent to study in one of the world’s most famous party towns.

”I wanted to experience a different way to do things, the way you teach here, the way hospitals are set up,” said nursing student Shatha Salem, 21, who has studied English since kindergarten.

Read the rest HERE:

The rest of the article is moderately interesting, particularly if you enjoy reading about how Saudi women are treated like Queens, etc.

I think something must have gone wrong in translation and that the wrong word was used.  Instead of “Queens”, I believe “infants” would be the more proper term.

THE ROLE OF WOMEN

The battle of the sexes, Saudi-style, surfaced during Miami Herald interviews with the Saudi students, if only in flashes.

Yousef Saleh Ghous, 24, left his 16-year-old fiancée in Saudi Arabia to come study in Miami. Ghous, the youngest of 13 siblings, was excited about his time in the United States, although he steered clear of nightclubs and booze.

”The difference [between the United States and Saudi Arabia] is the relations between a woman and a man,” he said, adding that men can marry up to four women in Saudi Arabia, as long as they have the means to care for each of them. “There, it’s wonderful. [Women] respect their bodies. Here, they don’t cover up.”

He said he didn’t see any reason for Saudi women to complain.

”The women, they live there like queens,” he said. “We do everything for them. Over there, we’re not scared of the government, we are scared of God.”

Abdulaziz Olayam decided he didn’t want his 19-year-old daughter, Somaiah Olayam, to come study in Miami alone. So he booked a flight and chaperoned the whole group for six weeks.

”For us, the most important thing is religion,” he said. “They have to wear head scarves and respect their religion, to be good Muslims.”

The female students said that in Saudi Arabia, women can’t drive, dance in front of strangers, or date or befriend men. In Miami, they have chosen to adhere to the custom of wearing head scarves in public. Once they get back to their Brickell Avenue apartment, they explained, they let their hair down — literally — by removing their scarves.

Maybe it’s just me, but I would rather be a free vagabond than a captive Queen.

Life in Miami is hardly representative of life in the United States as a whole.  People in Wisconsin, for example,  probably don’t go grocery shopping in a swimming suit in March.

Comments (1) »

Compound Removes Radioactive Material from Power Plant Waste

ARGONNE, Ill. (March 13, 2008) — Strontium 90 is a common radioactive by-product of fission in nuclear power plants. When extracted from the reactor along with other isotopes, a mixture is created made up of the radioactive material and inert ions like sodium and calcium.

Scientists at U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University have developed a compound that captures the radioactive ions so they can be siphoned off and separated from inert material.

“The layered sulfides used work quite well,” scientist Mercouri Kanatzidis said. “We even surprised ourselves.”

This mixture is often incredibly acidic or alkaline, making it difficult to find a compound that can survive long enough to extract the strontium and not react with the sodium, which is harmless.

Kanatzidis and colleague Manolis Manos created a synthetic compound made up of sulfides that can survive in the harsh acidic or alkaline climate of the mixture and strip away 99 percent of the strontium 90.

“The material is remarkably simple and can be created in large quantities at a relatively low cost,” Kanatzidis said.

The synthetic compound trades its own potassium ions for strontium and can almost completely replace the radioactive element within a few hours.

The next step is to experiment with the compound’s ability to siphon away other common radioactive elements like cesium and uranium.

Funding for the project was through Northwestern University and the National Science Foundation.

The research has been published in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: Argonne National Laboratory

That should certainly help with reducing the volume of radioactive waste to be sequestered for the next several thousand years, although I remain optimistic that a way will be found to neutralize that, as well.

Leave a comment »

Democrats Say Mail-In Re-Vote in Florida Unlikely

TALLAHASSEE – Looking for a do-over vote to resolve Florida’s disputed Democratic presidential primary? Don’t count on it.

Florida’s Democratic leaders Thursday all but pulled the plug on the day-old idea of a mail-in mulligan election to ensure the state gets a say in the historic battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. State party officials said they have just a few days to get fighting factions to embrace a new round of voting that would end on June 3.

“I know that it won’t happen,” said U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, a Boca Raton Democrat and Obama supporter. All nine of Florida’s Democrats in the U.S. House reiterated their strong opposition to the re-vote plan on Thursday.

TALLAHASSEE – Looking for a do-over vote to resolve Florida’s disputed Democratic presidential primary? Don’t count on it.

Florida’s Democratic leaders Thursday all but pulled the plug on the day-old idea of a mail-in mulligan election to ensure the state gets a say in the historic battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. State party officials said they have just a few days to get fighting factions to embrace a new round of voting that would end on June 3.

“I know that it won’t happen,” said U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, a Boca Raton Democrat and Obama supporter. All nine of Florida’s Democrats in the U.S. House reiterated their strong opposition to the re-vote plan on Thursday.

Read the rest HERE:

The candidates are worried about possibly “disenfranchising” voters who are back up north for the summer; i.e., people that are registered in their home states as well.

Comments (2) »

A Month After Explosion at Sugar Refinery, 13th Victim Dies

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Officials said another burn patient has died of injuries suffered in an explosion and fire at a sugar refinery, bringing the death toll to 13. A little more than a month after the Feb. 7 blast at the Imperial Sugar plant in Port Wentworth, six other patients remained Friday in critical condition at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta.Four are in serious condition.

Source:  News4Jax

How heartbreaking for the family members to have their loved ones go through so much fighting to survive and then, after all that they have been through, to die.  My deepest sympathies to you all.

Leave a comment »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.