Sunday, February 8, 2009

Visit to Walnut Canyon, Flagstaff, AZ

In densely-wooded country southeast of Flagstaff, the small seasonal stream Walnut Creek has carved a 600 foot deep canyon into the local Kaibab limestone as it flows east, eventually joining the Little Colorado River en route to the Grand Canyon. The exposed rocks in the canyon walls occur in various layers, of slightly differing hardness, some of which have eroded more rapidly forming shallow caves; during the 12th to 13th centuries they were used by the local Sinagua Indians who constructed many cave-dwellings along the steep well-protected ledges, high above the canyon floor. Today, the appearance of the canyon and ruins is quite reminiscent of the more well known Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.

My classmate Lisa Danley and I experienced walking to the bottom of this deep canyon. It was a great break for the academic workload. I am glad to be standing in one of the oldest cave that serves as shelter to Sinagua Indians.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

YouTube - Fati Niger

YouTube - Fati Niger

This is a song by one of Niger's talented Hausa female artists. Fati Niger from her real name Binta Labaran preaches love, patience, imitation of good behavior, and faith between not only actual marriage partners, but also among potential spouses and friends. Keeping our promises is one of the strongest themes she develops throughout her song. In a well balanced voice, eye, and body movements, she thanks her fans for the love they have for her and her music; emphasizes that modern love needs modern lovers. Fati Niger calls for unity of all Nigerien women so that they could shine and be envied throughout the world inviting her fans to imitate the prophet of Islam in their dealings with one another. This is the essential message she is conveying in this cool song.

Happy listening!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A visit to a Hopi Reservation

As an international student from a very dry sub-Saharan country, I miss seeing the desert and flat land here in Flagstaff. To break up with this monotony, Dahamane from Mali, Mansour from Yemen and I decided to drive 2 1/2 hours Northeast of Flagstaff to visit a Hopi reservation. I was curious to learn about the Hopi and Navajo (pronounced as navaho) people's life style. I wanted to see how similar they are to the Fulani or Tuareg people in Niger. Unlike the Niger nomads the Navajo are sedentary herdsmen. They breed sheep and goats. They prefer a rural life style to city life.
In fact our visit was more than pure curiosity. We wanted fresh meat and thought we could buy and butcher sheep at the reservation, and then bring the fresh meat to our houses. I have never skinned a ship in my life, but here I have to because it's expensive to hire somebody to do it for you. So, we all skinned and cut our own sheep with the help of Colleen, the owner of the ranch. Colleen is a hospitable person and a hard worker. Although the sheep cost $150 each, she only charged us $280 for all the three animals. We were more than happy about this discount gesture. Colleen lives in her reservation with her mother, brother, and her sister Lydia. They were very happy to see us. The second picture on the top right of this page is Colleen's mother's room. It is very warm inside.
Besides helping us, Colleen also taught us slaughtering and skinning techniques both of which we found very effective because we finished our job in less than 3 hours. I did not know that sheep feel "honored" when you slaughter them to eat the meat.
We promise to go back during Tabaski (a Muslim Holiday during which sheep are slaughtered for sacrifice) for more slaughtering. I did not upload any pictures of the butchery because I don't want to hurt your feelings.

Sedona, AZ

Sedona is a beautiful small tourist town South west of Flagstaff, Arizona. It is located in a low elevation area compared to Flagstaff. Its red rock mountains and great vegetation attract many a tourist every year. I visit this awesome town every other Wednesday during the fall semester in fulfillment of my GA ship duties. My supervisor (Dr. Foley, Jean Ann) and I take 13 NAU Interns to the Sedona Red Rock High School for classroom observations, lesson planning, and teaching. The most exciting part of this cool adventure is the Wednesday morning staff meeting. In fact, every time we go there, the school's principal and the entire staff welcome us with open arms and spoil us by serving decaf coffee and snacks.
The picture on the right: Me, my supervisor, and Rong Wei Zhang (a visiting scholar to NAU from China). The pic on the left is the road to Sedona.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The city of Flagstaff and NAU

Flagstaff is a very beautiful city on a 7000 foot elevation. Its mountains and tall aspen and pine tress surrounding its landscape add more joy to its beauty. The city of Flagstaff is also known for its hospitality towards foreign visitors or students. The weather is very nice throughout the summer, spring, and beginning of winter. Temperatures are mostly around 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Concerning Northern Arizona University, it is a very big institution with more than 16,000 students all programs considered. The campus is also modern and and host more than 500 international students every year. The facilities at NAU are among the most modernized and envied in the entire state and even throughout the country. The great thing about studying and living in Flagstaff is the opportunity to encounter a diverse and open minded population as well as being able to experience the most exciting outdoor activities such as mountain hiking, biking, camping, and the like. Its proximity to the Grand Canyon (only 2 1/2 hours drive) makes Flagstaff a model and a dream place for vacation.