Post Graduate Studies…Whats the big deal?

I cant believe how summer semester has flown by. I feel like I’m learning a lot. From sex offender umbrella terms…impoverished folks…harm reduction…to letting go. These are not only life lessons for me as a therapist but also concepts that can help me grow everyday. This program is trickling into my soul each and everyday. 

Through first year of graduate school, I’ve swung through a ton of emotions. From hopelessness to dedication, worry to contentment, despair to goal-setting. It was a roller coaster first semester. I thought I wouldn’t finish gracefully. 

The constant reoccurring complaint I had was the amount of reading each class gave us. I realized quickly I was overworrying. That it’s impossible to read everything and that I was setting myself up for failure if I thought that was possible. That graduate school isn’t trying to drain you but actually help us grasp the knowledge and apply it to our clients and our current selves.

Case studies helped me see my biases and helped my classmates see their biases. To know I had a “white bias” was embarrassing to realize. For so long I chose to believe all white people are to blame for the racism in this world. I blamed that community for our new president (vomit). 

I quickly learned I was wrong to judge the whole race for the ignorance of a few. I am still learning.

For example, we talked about homeless people today in class. Why do we blame them for their state? When in reality this is all related to institutional racism. The jails are filled with a majority of black people for petty crimes (marijuana use, etc) and then the homeless are also a majority black or latinx. This saddens me, how I used to judge them. I would never give money to a homeless person because of the fear they would use it for drugs, alcohol, or worse. My teacher today said “Give money if you can without using your privelege to control how they use it. Everyone has a story”. 

I still have a lot to learn and each day is eye-opening. 

In terms of money, if you’re wondering if its worth the money, I’d say it is. I got accepted to other schools that gave more money, but I would have a lack of cultural diversity if I had gone there. I didn’t want to be the token so I chose to stay in a big city. If money is the issue, well think of the big picture and look at the need for your career in society. Is it high demand or low demand? That should help make the decision of going or not going to graduate school a lot clearer. 


I Stand Up Against Islamaphobia

Being of ethnic minority has always been a struggle, but especially in recent years where Islamaphobia is at peak.

This speech today brought tears to my eyes as I sat by my father watching it on CNN. As a minority and of Muslim background, I have always felt I needed to fight for the rights of Muslims and all minorities to live in justice and peace. I do not feel the need to do that as much anymore as we have a strong leader already doing that for us. I think Obama is a great president regardless of what anyone says. I am so happy this speech was made even if it was so late in his presidency. Islamaphobia is a “trend”, that doesn’t mean it is just.

I am blessed to live in Chicago because if it wasn’t for this city, I know I would be facing much more acts of hate, bigotry and high ignorance. I will continue to fight for the rights of us all as I am an advocate for equal rights and peace. I am blessed to live in America where even Muslims have a voice. Ask before you assume that we are all the same because your Muslim friend may even be your best friend if you give them a chance. We are all brothers and sisters in a world with so many ideas and faiths. We must learn to live together and not apart.

“We can’t be bystanders to bigotry,” Obama said. “Together we’ve got to show that America truly protects all faiths. As we protect our country from terrorism, we should not reinforce the ideas and the rhetoric of the terrorists themselves.

St Joe Channel


Going to racial justice seminars and advocating for minorities and Muslims has recently been the best thing I could do to let the word out that we are not all the same. Just because recent terrorist attacks have occurred against so many countries, it doesn’t mean all Muslims, Indians, Pakistani, Arab or anyone else that looks like this standard are horrific people.

Personally, I am not religious, but I am spiritual. I grew up in a Muslim community and till this day I keep in touch with many of them. There are aspects of my culture that didn’t sit well with me growing up, but I grew to learn to love it. The people of the community are like my sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles whom I have known all my life. I will never let someone judge them, mistreat them, or hurt them.

Culture has always been a great motivation for me to learn about others. I say I’m a Globalized citizen because I have left a footprint in many places and countries of the world. Each minority is whom I stand up for. Racism is real whether we choose to admit it or not.

“If we’re serious about freedom of religion – I’m talking to my fellow Christians who are the majority in this country – we have to understand that the attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths”

New York Times

Given the fear these recent events has brought into this world, we cannot justify our actions solely because of this. We must ask before assuming.

That person sitting next to you may not fit into that category you assume. We are not a stereotype. Each person is different. Some may be more traditional than others.

I know that we all have the tendency to box people up into categories because that is how we have been trained all our lives. Through preschool and infancy, we learned to set aside all the shapes on one side, all the colors separately, yet we were never born this way with all these biases.

“There are voices who are constantly claiming you have to choose between your identities..Do not believe them..You fit in here. Right here. You’re right where you belong. You’re part of America, too,” Obama said, his volume rising as he said he was speaking in particular at that moment to young Muslim Americans. “You’re not Muslim or American, you’re Muslim and American. And don’t grow cynical.”

Washington Post

Media, our parents, our upbringing shaped us. So let us find a way to reshape ourselves based on fact and evidence, based on personal experiences. Let us not use terrible new broadcasting to stop us from having friends or partners of racial minority.

Fear will take over us if we let it. So please, don’t let it.

What is this JOY that everyone talks about?

Pure happiness. What is it? Does anyone know? Can we get it only when traveling across seas and to different countries or does it reside within us? I believe in the latter.

My experience in returning to the States a few months ago was an adjustment none like any other. Living in another country and having the happy-go-lucky nature of people around me and random socializing in the streets was a daily routine in Galicia. I thought to myself, how will I be happy going back to the states?

I didn’t realize till much later that happiness isn’t where you are or the novelty of the experiences you are having but it is in the mere experience itself. If you are mindful of what is going on…noticing each movement…each scent…each word that someone is saying, you will find joy in what ever you do.

I also set out on a mini-expedition to visit another state on my own, where I stayed in a hostel like any other time in Europe. It was my second hosteling experience in the states and my first by myself.

It was interesting, how I got to realize quickly that the luxuries of living in a 4 star hotel were not prevalent, but the amount of open-mindedness of the people exceeded anything that was lacking there.

The experience was pretty amazing. I met people from Japan, Brazil, and even Canada… I was surprised these people actually came out to Ohio of all states for their traveling. 😛

Though there was differences in this hosteling experience, I chose to embrace these differences.

I set out on my first day on the Buckeye campus on a bike. I got to see the city from another perspective, the eyes of a bicyclist.

Keep your eyes on the road. Watch for cars…don’t drive too slowly…watch for pedestrians and most of all enjoy the breeze that flows through your hair.

The bike ride through a city I have never been to was pretty amazing. I did get tired quickly, but nevertheless I kept going and I enjoyed every moment of it.

This moment was a moment like those I mentioned before, a mindful moment. Nothing really different than what I normally do, but I enjoyed the special perfect imperfections.

So this new quest I’m on is being mindful in everything I do and I encourage you all to try. Whether it may be at work or when taking your kids to school. Being in the moment is absolutely necessary for joy and contentment in life. I don’t have all the answers yet, but I know slowly they will come to me.

This week at my weekend meditation practice I recently started attending, I received this zen card. It said:

Joy is INSIDE you. Not in attainment of things desired, nor in thphotoe achievement of goals made, but in the simple feeling that lies within you. Know that this JOY is unaffected by outer circumstance, and joy will be yours forever.

I think this card speaks to me in many ways. It relates to me in knowing that I can be happy even when I am not doing anything new or obtaining any reward. That sometimes the process is merely more important than your actual goal.

Sometimes I get so caught up in the goal that I forget about the process…like instead of getting the good grade, focus on the studying. So for my week I am challenging myself to be mindful of every moment. No matter the situation. Whether it is at work, at home while cleaning, or anything pretty much.

I also challenge you all to take a moment to see if you are in the moment when doing your daily life activities, or are we always looking to see when you are done with work, or are going on your next trip, or whatever the next event may be on your to-do list.

Mindful Meditation is a great tool. You can find it on youtube, books about it in libraries, and even in Meetup groups.

Let me know what you think if you do try it and leave your comments below! 🙂

Love and Light ॐ

Are We TOO Tech-Friendly?

I see myself go on Instagram everyday and post something to show to the world I’m still alive. I post to show that I’m happy. I post to show that my experiences are better than theirs. I post because I want to brag. I post becaus I’m bored. I post because I’m sad.

There are countless reasons we use social media and many times I fight with this battle myself. But what are we doing when we post our pictures to the world? Are we seeking social acceptance? Are we relying on the opinions and ‘likes’ of other beings to say that we are enjoying our lives? To seek confirmation that our lives are as good as they are in front of our eyes?

Why do we need Instagram? Why do we need Facebook? I for one, can’t delete my Facebook because I will lose contact with great friends around the world. But Instagram??? Can you live without it? If the answer is no, that is a very tricky slope you are gliding on. Take a step back and think…why are you so addicted to that app. And then take a break from it…see what it does to you… Don’t upload pics on any social media for a week…or even two weeks. What is it that you feel?

May it be that you feel self-gratification? That you don’t feel the need to post pics anymore to make your life seem great because it is already immensely gratifying? Well, that was my experience with it. And I want us all to ask ourselves this. How much time do we spend on social media rather than in the moment?

These topics are hard to admit to yourself especially when the world is gearing to a high-usage, social media society. But if your sense of quality-of-life is less enriching than it was before, I ask you to reevaluate it.

Just because you fall into a group of minorities that listens to this sense of doubt coming from your heart, doesn’t mean your ‘uncool’ or weird…it means your worth it because you have learned to step away from a normative behavior that is no good for you.

So take a break and step a way… And let me know if this approach has helped you in anyway! 😊



How has my year as an Auxiliare been, you may ask?

    To be honest this year has been a mixture of feelings including but not limited to the bothersome racism that I have sometimes faced in this country. Maybe it was due to ignorance but nevertheless, my students this year for Carneval dressed up as Arabic terrorists. I was dumbfounded by this idea and was appalled my director allowed this to happen. They literally reenacted a skit of the killings that happened in Iraq it seemed. This offended me although I’m not Arabic, but I have a lot of family that lives there and also friends from there. These types of things are “ok” in Spain and that is what makes me look for a different school and yet also a different country to work in.

    I have seen teachers hit their students in class. I have seen teachers not make lesson plans and assume that its okay and have me take over the class. I have seen the inability for the teachers to even speak proper English and I think, how on earth will they learn good english, if their teachers are not even able to differentiate things like “he” and “she”.
    Being in these classrooms, I feel like I am a North American Language and Culture Assistant…those words are a 100% correct, don’t get me wrong…but I just feel like we aren’t used properly. There is no proper training given to the actual teachers on what we should be doing in the class.
    Many times I go to class and I may say a few sentences in English and then ya esta! Thats it! It would make more sense to make some sort of training manual not only for us Auxiliares but also for main teachers. Many times I have felt “inútil“…more so useless in these classes. I haven’t studied bilingual teaching so it also makes me think, am I even properly trained to be giving these classes?
    I have found myself asking teachers…”Well do you mind if I teach a lesson next week?” because they may think I come to school to just hand out papers or watch them… You know, it gets really boring sometimes. And the worst thing is when your students don’t know how to do presentations.
    They copy and paste things straight off the internet onto their PowerPoint. They also sit and read off the computer as they are giving the presentation. I have literally stopped them and been like…”well, can you please explain to me what those words mean?” and they respond with a wide-mouthed stare and are flabbergasted because they themselves, don’t know how to respond.
    I believe Plagiarism is something normal here…and here I am still in shock as to why on Earth would that be okay. I have taught my students on how to properly give a speech. I told them what I learned in college Speech class and how the phrase “less is more” really does help you in this context.
    Nevertheless, I don’t downgrade the importance of my job…but I just wish it was more organized. This experience has been more rewarding than any other job experience I have taken on. Receiving hugs, food, and thanks, are normal responses from my students.
    I have taught my students through Arts and Crafts projects like The Hungry Caterpillar and The Rainbow Fish where we made these beautiful creatures and then read the book aloud together (never knew how hard it would be to translate these simple books into Spanish with me as their translator!). I have given exams on present simple and led discussions on the topic of Love for Valentine’s Day (not my idea). I have explained our American traditions such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Halloween.
      But, the fact that I don’t really have my own class and am unable to make my own lectures, has been unsettling. I also wish to further my education in this field so I really feel like I am making a real impact on my students and not just an impact in terms of teaching cultural differences and enlightening my students with the proper usage of the “American” accent. I wish to be able to say what is “present perfect” and explain why to my students regarding grammatical questions. Like why does this word have an “o” but sound like an “u” sound?  Or why does the word “environmental” sound like it doesn’t have the “-on” and what types of words are these? And to be able to individuate American English and British English without hesitation.
    Therefore, I’m looking into furthering my education…whether it be licensing…getting a masters… or whatever the case may be. I may be here again next year, but I may not. The clouds are fuzzy and my decisions are obscure but we will see or Vamos a ver!


I agree with this a lot. Being in a foreign country where the language isn’t your mother tongue is very tough especially when surrounded by dozens of native Spanish speakers or Europeans who seem to have it easier to learn another language other than their own. They look at you like ‘wow she’s dumb I said the simplest of things’ but it isn’t as easy as it seems. Hearing this one language in a multitude of accents from several Spanish speaking countries as well as other Eastern and Western European Countries can also make it extremely difficult to comprehend what many people are saying.

Kaley...& Más

Sometimes I’m the only one who doesn’t get the joke. Some days I smile, reassuring everyone that I’m not on the outside. Some days I even laugh a little. At other times I just keep my face blank … After all, is there any shame in not getting it? I can’t decide.

I speak fluently, even rapidly. My brother, upon hearing my conversation with my mother-in-law, rolls his eyes and tells me to slow down. I don’t. But when I’m here, I can never speak fast enough. Every error stays in my mind, reminding me that what I thought about myself was wrong. Is wrong. Most do not correct me, but some take it upon themselves—without my permission—to remind me of my errors. When I speak, the words tumble out, seemingly unstoppable in their urgency. I say things I know are wrong in the heat of the moment, just to…

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Salima Lalani: To Lisboa, Sinatra and Back (attending Lisbon Jamatkhana)

Will be going here soon, am nervous!


Day 1: Lisboa, Portugal

– I had the opportunity to attend Friday Jamatkhana (religious services) at the Lisbon Ismaili Center.

Salima Lalani: To Lisboa, Sinatra and Back (attending Lisbon Jamatkhana)This last bullet deserves a little more detailed explanation. I took the metro from our hostel (all alone!) to the stop closest to Jamatkhana and then asked randoms on the street to point me in the right direction. I would say the words Muslim, Ismaili, Mosque and right away their eyes would light up. “It’s big with lots of trees and flowers” “Oh yes, I know that beautiful building” were some of the responses I received from the Portuguese as I made my way to the Center. I literally let out the biggest sigh of relief when I saw an Ismaili lady in her Shalwar Kamiz (traditional Indian clothing) sitting outside of the parking lot with what looked like Chai for the volunteers (I could be totally off though). She…

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