Time for an angry blog post. Well maybe not super angry… but apparently I am unqualified in all areas except for passion and love in terms of my application to grad school. I scored a 470 and a 390 respectively on the Verbal and Math sections of the GRE. I’m sure my two essays were stellar but man, I fucking hate standardized testing. And that is not an expression I use often. The combination of the word ‘hate’ with a curse word. It’s the most demoralizing business. And that’s just what it is. It’s all about money. I remember a good friend of mine from high school vowed one day to take down the College Board, which I believe administers the SAT for the same reason that they are a bunch of cheap, self-agrandizing bastards. I hope he takes it down some day. Same thing needs to be done with ETS, the private company that administers the GRE. I’m going to add another word to the list of words I don’t use very often, to add to ‘fucking hate’ and that is ‘terrorists.’ I honestly think that Al-Qeada in Mesopotamia or Yemen or wherever acronym they’re going by these days would be doing a great service to the world by targeting these institutions which are doing nothing less that demoralizing passionate students all around the world. These fat-cats in charge of ETS are the scum beneath the scum of the lobbyists that undermine our democracy every day! I mean God! It’s ridiculous. Standardized testing should have ended 4 years ago. And it’s funny – for someone like me who has passed the written examination of the Foreign Service and is now partially qualified for a position to work for Hillary Clinton in the State Department  – and is thus clearly qualified to be a Civil Servant, I can’t even “pass” the fucking GRE, whatever that means. I mean it seriously doesn’t make sense! I found the Foreign Service Exam to be easy both times I took it and was very happy indeed to have passed it the second time around. But the way the GRE is designed, especially the Verbal section – they purposely pick words or analogies to confuse you! It’s all deliberate! Deliberate screwing over of impassioned young people with hopes and dreams!

But I’m not going to let it get me down. Honestly, I am more than qualified for a position with the Center for Arab and Middle East Studies at the American University of Beirut. I submitted two essays over 25-pages a piece along with a 3-page Arabic writing sample in my application. Both of my essays are specifically written about Lebanon, one examining the political nature of the media and the other focusing on the Islamic ideology behind Hezbollah. I may not be numerically qualified in terms of GPA or GRE scores, but in terms of passion and interest (and hopefully recommendations) I am more than qualified. One would think that a university which only recently reconstituted its Middle East Studies programs after a 15-year long civil war would be glad to take candidates who have a genuine passion and interest in Lebanon, which I do. I don’t know… I’m gonna need some serious ‘wasta’ to get accepted haha. It’ll be a miracle.

It’s just so damn frustrating. I hate feeling like I’m unqualified. But I’m clearly not in terms of the genuine passion and love I have for that country and the people in it. I remember one of my first memories in Lebanon that I will never forget was down in the South at the opening of a rehabilitated prison in Tibnen where I stood out in the open rain with nothing but a T-Shirt of the Lebanese NGO I had traveled with and a large Lebanese flag I was holding wrapped over my head and upper body sheilding me from the rain. I stood there freezing and shaking with cold but I couldn’t have been happier waiting there to see the Interior Minister Ziad Baroud come to inspect the prison. I’ll never forget that moment and the people who I shared it with. I remember being filled with pride for a particular young Lebanese man who had devoted a whole summer to the reconstruction of this prison in order to improve the living conditions of the inmates in it and ultimately serving his country.

I love Lebanon.


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