Posts Tagged ‘Education’

New Blog & FOSIS Video Competition

// June 24th, 2010 // No Comments » // Announcements, Video

Salam blog. It's been a while. I have something to tell you. I think you may want to sit down.

I've been playing away from home.

No, no… don't cry, blog. I still love you. You'll always be my first. No, wait second… Actually, more like my third.

Anyway, stop blubbing foo, and listen up.

Sisters' Film Club has officially launched! We have produced our first videos, and have a
sparkly new blog to match, māshā’Allāh.

The videos are part of a submission to the FOSIS video competition – an annual contest open to all UK Islamic Societies. As this is our first production, we would really appreciate your support. Please watch, vote for, and share our videos via the SFC blog. Feedback welcome!

JazakumAllah khair.

They Asked Me to Draw Muhammad… So I Did.

// May 21st, 2010 // 8 Comments » // Announcements, Blog

My submission to Draw Muhammad Day.


Click to enlarge

The hand-drawn illustration is a combination of Arabic & English, spelling the name “Muhammad”. The text are quotes from several authentic narrations describing the physical attributes of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him [props to the Chill Yo Islam Yo blog].

Who speaks better than someone who calls people to God, does what is right, and says, “I am of those devoted to God”? Good and evil cannot be equal. [Prophet], repel evil with what is better and your enemy will become as close as an old and valued friend. But only those who are steadfast in patience, only those who are blessed with great righteousness, will attain such goodness.

Qur'an, 41:33-35

Panto Time

// March 12th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Blog

This post is partly an extension of a message I left on TweetBook recently. Imperial College ISoc is sending off Islam Awareness Week by hosting two plays/pantos: each of which was written and shall be performed by the guys and gals of the ISoc, respectively.

Both plays take place on the evening of Friday, 12th March (i.e., in less than 24 hours!), in the SAF building (no. 33 on the map), at the South Kensington campus.

The sisters' play starts at 6.15pm (female-only audience), and the brothers' (all welcome) is straight after at 7pm, inshā’Allāh. I pray that the show runs by GMT, and not MST!

I'm not performing, but I have made three short videos for the sisters' play, and as of yesterday night, will be taking care of 'tech' (which basically means playing a list of odd, a capella sound effects on cue!).

Regarding the vids, this was my first time filming 'fictional' pieces, as opposed to conducting interviews or covering events, so I'm quite interested to see how well they're received, especially by the non-Muslim attendees. The ideas and scripts were written by other sisters; I was roped into filming and editing at the last minute, i.e., making their crazy ideas a reality!

At first, I was reluctant to help, mainly because the publicity team hadn't yet finished making the IAW trailer, I only had a week left to make the videos the girls wanted, and tbh, I kinda hate editing these days.

But when it actually came time to film, I had such a blast, I actually felt a bit guilty for not being more keen initially. And even better, going through the 100+ clips that we had amassed over two afternoons of filming was a joy in and of itself. I was often creasing with laughter during playback – which made me realize: it's not that I find editing a chore; it's that I find editing boring stuff a chore.

Anyone who regular goes through the process knows what I mean: you're sat alone in a room for hours on end, your backside getting progressively more numb whilst you traverse backwards and forwards through hours of footage, in order to find the best five minutes worth. Then you have to decide on the cuts and transitions between scenes, where mere microseconds can mean the difference between glory or disaster.

If you're lucky, you'll have a good soundtrack (music-free, if you swing that way) to work with – it really makes the job of editing 1000 times easier. But the 'No Musical Instruments' (and sometimes, no musically stuff whatsoever) barrier presents a real challenge. And frankly, I am getting pretty tired of the same five anasheed that every Muslim video-maker seems to use these days. Please people, we need some new material already!

Anyway. This whole experience has served as a nice prelude to the 'women-only film club' idea, that I recently proposed. At first I was umm-ing and ahh-ing about whether women-only would work, but māshā’Allāh, it really does. Especially when you have access to bright young minds. The results speak for themselves – which you can judge for yourself, if you're around tomorrow night, inshā’Allāh. :)

Do Not Push

// January 22nd, 2010 // 4 Comments » // Blog, Photos

I snapped this while changing the tapes on my HV20 camcorder. I thought it was a good message.

Anyhoo, I have been discussing the possibility of setting up a film club within my ISoc. I am tempted towards making it a sisters-only gig – mainly cuz I've been wanting to recruit a talented woman to help me edit all the footage I have sat on my external hard drive for a while now. Inshā’Allāh, a fruitful legacy will be born out of my selfish needs.

The good news is that everyone I have spoken to thus far seems keen. The challenges include: a lack of equipment (I seem to be the only one with a camera, and decent editing software), and most of the people with the necessary skills and experience have a Y-chromosome.

The answers to both problems shouldn't be too difficult to solve, inshā’Allāh. I think the university TV station is still going; we may be able to tap their resources. And we can always hold training sessions for sisters to pick up basic film-making skills. You mainly learn through doing, anyway; the only formal training I've had thus far is a crash course on Final Cut at the Apple Store.

The women-only suggestion is more about pragmatism than anything else. I want it to be a safe-space to learn, and channel creative energy; like a women-only book club, or an art class. I do not believe that men are the 'enemy' (though I admit to going through phases in that regard).

I won't be restricting membership to Imperial students; it's just easier to establish this kind of thing within the framework of an existing community, such as an ISoc. So if you're based in London, and are interested in joining in, then stay tuned to this blog. I'll let you guys know if/when we have our first meeting, inshā’Allāh.

Your suggestions are welcome.

Do You Have It?

// January 9th, 2010 // No Comments » // Photos

Confidence

Extreme close-up of instructions on how to compute confidence intervals when estimating parameters of a normal distribution. Zzzzz…

The Surprising Science of Motivation

// November 17th, 2009 // 2 Comments » // Blog

I've been quickly getting through my pile of unwatched TED videos, during my daily one hour commute to and from uni. Everyday I say to myself: “Wow! I must post this on the blog!”, only to forget… which is probably a good thing, considering the number of “wow” moments I have recently experienced which would lead to the blog becoming a TED mirror site.

Anyway, the following video evoked a much larger 'wow' than the rest, because of the extent that the advice contained therein is so contrary to widespread public opinion. The engaging speaker, Dan Pink, proves that when it comes to motivation, the carrot and stick approach doesn't always work. Who knew?

Consider the impact that such research has on the city's 'bonus culture', which has been dominating the headlines of late? And of greater import: the nature of mainstream education. I feel like I've been bred to only perform in the presence of pressure, which means I'm always leaving things to the last minute. If only I could work effectively without threats of failure looming over my head!

Therefore, I urge you to watch the video… but I won't offer you any extra incentives to do so. ;)

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.

And She Gets Back Up

// October 7th, 2009 // 5 Comments » // Blog

Oh, happy day! Alhamdulillah, today rocked. The lecture itself wasn't exactly super-stimulating; it was just a basic introduction to the various programming languages that we'll be trained in over the next three months: Perl, Python and… erm, Java, I think. It's what happened afterwards that made me grin ear-to-ear!

I asked the lecturer what his background was, expecting him to say Computer Science. But he's actually a Biologist-turned-Comp nerd, like I wanna be! I confessed to him that I had trouble with yesterday's lecture, which contained a lot of Maths; whereupon he confessed to me that his Maths is quite bad, too. And then, he said that the Bioinformatics service centre where he works, (i.e., the folks who help all the scientists on campus with their research projects), actually has a shortage of people with a good understanding of Biology, and skills in computing.

Yey! I may actually have a job at the end of this, inshā’Allāh. I am so sucking up to this guy; he might be my future boss! ;)

Seriously, I feel sooo much better today. I understood 99% of what he spoke about. In fact, only one slide didn't make sense, and it turns out there was a typo: so I wasn't going crazy, after all.

Day 3 of my course, we haven't actually touched a computer yet, and I pretty much already know what kind of Bioinformatician I want to be: the kind who doesn't have to deal with Maths! :))

She Stumbles

// October 6th, 2009 // 1 Comment » // Blog

Day 2 did not go as smoothly as Day 1. Maybe I should have brought my MacBook in with me? Though I doubt it would have done much to help, other than give me access to Twitter, so I could complain in 'real time'.

Basically, we had our first proper Bioinformatics lecture today. It started off well, as the Apple-loving professor covered the basics of genetics, evolution (wahey…) and population biology; the kind of thing one learns in first year BSc Biology.

But then, for the next 80 minutes… Slide after slide of algebra, quadratic equations, and crazy graphs. Ah! I had no idea what he was talking about! Suddenly familiar concepts were converted into single letters, and jumbled up with random symbols. What did he dooo?!

I looked at the person next to me: she sits silently, staring intensely at the screen. Was she really getting all this? Seriously? Where did I leave my brain today?

Then about half way through, the prof says: “Oh, btw, we don't expect you learn all of these equations. You won't be examined on this. If you don't know this Maths, don't waste your time with it”.

Eh?!! But… Why?!?! Gah!

I guess I was relieved, but still… Why did he spend 90% of the lecture on these crazy mathematical models? I think there should have been more explanation of their practical application to research, rather than confusing dumb people like me with endless equations. Sniffle.

Anyway, exams or no, I still feel compelled to open up my A-level Maths notes (yes, they're buried somewhere in the loft), and try to relearn some of the basics. Just because I won't be examined on it, doesn't mean it won't come up in project work, or even later on in my career. And how bad will it be then, when I'm truly old and stuck in my ways!

I think that's part of the mature student experience: you understand that there is life after exams, and you need to learn how to become a well-rounded, capable indiviudual who can function in a challenging work environment, inshā’Allāh; not just someone who crams to get good grades, but is generally clueless.

I am praying that my first computer lab tomorrow will go much better. Āmīn! That's the main reason I took this course, so I really can't afford to be confused, like I was today… Subhanallah!

First Steps

// October 5th, 2009 // 4 Comments » // Blog

Today was Day 1 of my shiny, new Masters course, marking my first step towards a career shift into Bioinformatics, inshā’Allāh. For those currently scratching their heads in confusion: read my earlier confession.

I want to be all clever, and write some amazing account of the myriad of emotions that I've experienced over the past two months, culminating in the pinnacle of nerves that was my afternoon commute into the familiar territory of what was once my undergraduate campus. But frankly, I cannae be bothered. I can barely put a sentence together right now; I don't think mornings agree with me. Most of my day was quite “meh”, tbh. I only had two lectures, one of which was a safety induction. Yawnsville!

There are about 20 of us, maybe less, on the course. 1:1 ratio of guys to gals, with the majority of gals being bionerds, and a smattering of various other disciplines amongst the guys. One of the women was actually more research experienced than me. Not only did she have a PhD in Endocrinology (she worked on growth hormone, whereas I worked on progesterone signalling), she also spent a year as a postdoc afterwards. Isn't that a poke in the eye for the people hating on me for taking this course? Okay, maybe not 'hating'… I've just heard a lot of “Haven't you studied enough, Mehzabeen, har har”. Yeah, hilarious. Hrm…

Though, the absolute highlight of my day was when I asked the computing lecturer if having a Mac would be problematic for the programming aspect of the course. I have spent the last fortnight worrying that I'd have to buy a regular laptop, or figure out how to install Windows/ Linux on my MacBook. The head professor – the one I refer to as the 'bad cop', from my initial interview – gives me a half smile and says: “You have great taste!”. Then a few moments later, speaking over the computing guy, “We all use Macs in the lab”. And then, the cherry on the double chocolate sundae: “You know what? You've already passed!“.

Talk about making an amazing first (or more accurately, second) impression! Alhamdulillah – thank you God! Much happiness. And thanks to Apple too! Let's pray that it only gets better from here on in, inshā’Allāh. :)

An Inspirational, Must-See TED Video

// September 23rd, 2009 // No Comments » // Blog

I've been watching a few of the latest-release TED videos the past few days, mainly because I know once I download them, it'll be a while until I actually get round to viewing them. I posted links to a couple on my Twitter stream yesterday, but I decided this video deserved its own blog post, to become a part of my permanent archives, inshā’Allāh.

It's only six minutes long, and you must watch it now!

At age 14, in poverty and famine, a Malawian boy built a windmill to power his family's home. Now at 22, William Kamkwamba, who speaks at TED, here, for the second time, shares in his own words the moving tale of invention that changed his life.

Don't you feel inspired? And also, flippin' grateful for every, little thing? I am so amazed my his initiative. Bravo, young man! Māshā’Allāh.

I love Science even more now.

Don't waste the good feeling: donate to Muslim Hands education fund, so more young people can have access to the basic materials they need to succeed, inshā’Allāh.

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