Category Archives: Travel

Answer me this #15

How do you tell the difference between acculturated and brainwashed?

Consider your answer before you read my reason for the question.



I usually don’t editorialize on AnswerMeThis posts, but I’ll explain where I’m coming from on this one.

While on a college campus the other day, I noticed a woman covered in full hijab — hair and face, with only a slit for her eyes.

My first thought was, “How sad for her, that her culture requires her to hide herself. I’m glad I’M not indoctrinated like that.”

My next thought was a conversation I had with an Muslim friend during the time I lived in Syria, where covering is not mandatory.

“Why did I choose to cover?” Mouna replied as I broached the subject. “First, you must know that it was my choice to cover my hair. Not my father’s and not my husband’s. I cover because I realize my value. My body is a treasure, given by Allah, so special that I prefer to share my full self with only women and with the men in my family.”

“YOUR ways seem strange to US. You western women have lost sight of your own value,” Mouna continued. “You devalue yourselves by overexposure. You have been brainwashed into sharing yourselves for the gratification of others — even strangers. Of course, I’m not just talking about covering one’s head, but about exposing so much of your body that nothing is special anymore. Look at what goes on in movies, on TV, on magazine covers. You think you’re more free, but you’re not.”

So I ask: how do you tell the difference between acculturated and brainwashed? Not necessarily with the hijab, but with whatever the question brings to mind for you.

Show & Tell: Senior moment

Maybe it’s the influence of my last post that triggered me to share this photo I took of a scene in Budapest many years ago.

Budapest was the consolation prize I mentioned here, which includes the bridge that first bonded me to Cassandra.

I wonder what the man is waiting for? What kind of life has he had? What has he seen? Has he loved and been loved?

The photo has been hanging on our wall for a dozen years, and the light has not been good to it. Still, I hope you can see the haunting quality in the image that I do.

See the cool stuff my classmates are showing and telling over at Mel’s Show & Tell.

Show & Tell: Wild Dala Horses

If you’ve spent any time in a Swedish community, you may be familiar with the Dala Horse:

Dala horsesadorn homes, Christmas trees, mailboxes, tableclothes, wrapping paper, etc — all year long.

I spent last week in my college town. Lindsborg, KS has taken the Dala concept one step further — a herd of wild dala horses has taken up residence in various locations!

I photographed some (and also borrowed other photos from to show you my beloved Lindsborg’s whimsicality. The titles of these 11 wild dalas are as clever as the paint jobs.

See what my classmates are showing and telling over at Mel’s Show & Tell. And show something yourself — everyone is welcome.