Yemenity2010's Blog

Welcome to Wherever. Oh Wait, Not Really?

Posted in Blog Entry in English by yemenity2010 on 21/06/2013

welcome-xicotencatlTeaching. Learning. Moving. That’s been my life recently. Just occasionally writing and publishing something. I’ve spent most working hours this last year as a substitute teacher, predominantly working with teenagers, which lately meant deciding about their grades – admittedly, my least favourite part of that job. Simultaneously, I tried to improve my Spanish in the academic sense at least, through part time studies. And yes, being married to a native Spanish speaker is not a disadvantage in this situation. Although I’m still not 100 percent sure I passed all the exams yet, mostly designed as essays to be written about a range of topics – not least literature, which I might be commenting on more extensively later on.

And as a bonus, me and my wife moved to a slightly bigger apartment. Simply because we needed more space. And to rearrange things a little. The actual moving is done, but the work has just begun…

Reading? Well, now and then I’ve had time to read stuff not related to work or studies. Such as the story of an American reporter spending a year in Yemen; The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Jennifer Steil, published a few years ago. As a whole, it was entertaining and reminded me of my own experiences there, even if I didn’t spend that much time in the capital Sana’a, where most of the action in the book takes place. Anyway, I plan to be back with a more thorough review of the book soon enough. Hopefully. Insha’allah.

Other Yemen-related things I’ve come across during the last months:

A satirical piece was published in Yemen Times a couple of weeks ago, titled ”Yemen’s ‘Ministry of Corruption’”, written by freelance journalist Afrah Nasser. According to the article, explicitly labelled as Humour by the editors to avoid too much trouble, I guess, the message still has a resonance and universal appeal, since corruption is a huge problem in many places,  not just Yemen. A few highlights: ”The process of establishing the ministry was not easy. There were many applicants… Politicians poured in their requests…” Or the explanation that politicians ”were becoming stressed because there were increasing matters to corrupt and they were tired of running from one ministry to another.” Not to mention the punchline, which is almost too good to spoil, but deals with the fact that the ministry might face problems surviving for a longer period, since some people already seem to be stealing the funds needed to run the office…

On a more uplifting note, international surveys appear to reveal that Yemen is among the countries most welcoming to foreigners. The results apparently can be found deep inside a World Economic Forum report and were discovered there by Washington Post a few months ago. As I remember it, a friend recommended on FaceBook then but I didn’t take the time to really delve into the article at the time. But it’s worth checking out! On a map where blue means basically welcoming and red more or less hostile, Yemen is one of the clearest blue along with Canada, Iceland, Thailand, Morocco and a handful of other nations. My home country Sweden gets a lighter blue shade, which seems OK under the circumstances, whereas Yemen’s northern neighbour Saudi Arabia seems to be among the most menacingly reddish territories on earth, in the company of Russia, Bolivia, Venezuela and China. Now, I lived for a couple of years in Ecuador, which is presented as a pale red colour, which surprised me somewhat. Or a lot. Mexico on the other hand, is kind o’ blue. In a good way.

The findings are commented on by the Post writer Max Fisher, noting the growing nationalism in Latin America, ”a region generally friendly to foreigners”. But their governments are seemingly considered too nationalistic to fare well in the report. Or is that the explanation? Fisher seems puzzled and intrigued at the same time – as do I.

The same newspaper (and author) more recently published a similar map of the most and least racially tolerant countries in the world. Reportedly, two Swedish economists are responsible for this investigation. They asked people in some 80 countries what kind of people they wouldn’t want as neighbours. Their conclusion was that economic freedom didn’t necessarily mean more racial tolerance. But in brief, people in Anglo and Latin countries are more ”likely to embrace a racially diverse neighbor” than, most obviously, citizens of India and Jordan. In Europe, there was a variety of attitudes in that respect. This map also uses blue as an indicator of being more ‘friendly’ or tolerant and red as the opposite. Interestingly, France comes off as less accepting, together with for example Turkey. Scandinavia, North America and Australia seem more colourblind according to the map. As does Pakistan, by the way. Fascinating world we live in, right?




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