Category Archives: San Francisco Bay Area

vote. Vote. VOTE!

Today is November 6th, midterm election day! ☑️ Have you voted yet?

I finally got my vote by mail ballot a few days ago, so took out my fancy pen and voted. Every time I vote, I think of the sacrifices of the suffragettes, the civil rights leaders, and my immigrant family who have made voting for many of us possible.

As Oprah said last week, honor our ancestors and GO VOTE!

Photo of the Day

The Castro Theatre is one of the oldest and historical theatres here in San Francisco. In one of the most vibrant and colorful districts of the city, it only makes sense that this iconic theatre showcases colorful, thoughtful and beautiful works from local to global film makers.

I’ve come here many times to check out foreign films and film festivals over the years before moving abroad. Since moving back, I’ve been anxious to watch a screening here again. Most recently, I’ve watched movies during the Arab Film Festival and have not left disappointed.

I can’t imagine a more beautiful theatre for a movie buff to appreciate here in the city than I have at the Castro Theatre. I can’t wait to go back!

Picture of the Day

Throwback Thursday to accidentally on purpose finding sweetness at a classic spot in Burlingame. Royal Donut has been around longer than many of the eateries on famed Burlingame Avenue. Grab yourself a chocolate old-fashioned today!

Living the Confused Expatriate Life

Note: After writing this difficult rant, I was hesitant to publish it publically. I decided to keep this rant private and only after four years, to share it publically.

Living the Confused Expatriate Life
Part 4 of a Few… The In Between
By: Ms. Hala

Ever have a feeling you couldn’t figure out, understand or map out? And when you do, a bit of guilt creeps up on you? This is the feeling I have right now as I fly back to Doha from San Francisco.

My two weeks home after a year away had brought up a lot of mixed feelings and emotions I’m having a hard time figuring out. I couldn’t wait to go home, my happy place. I purchased my tickets so in advance just to be sure I was going to be home in time for Eid ElFitr.

It was absolutely amazing to once again break my fast with my family after two and a half Ramadans spent either in Egypt or Qatar. Eid was a spectacular holiday weekend, from the prayers to the nice get-togethers allowing me to see family and friends I hadn’t seen since I moved to Qatar.

However, this trip made me realize that I’m now in the in between.

I was back in my city, my town, my home yet felt odd and a bit out of place. A lot of things changed in the last year and being that I wasn’t part of that change brought upon this odd feeling within me. Every day I heard a story or two about this and that happening during my time away.

I was received at the airport by my sleepy nephew whom smiled the entire time. Didn’t cry once when I held him for the first time and kept him in my arms for hours. I swear, this child’s presence made it easy on me when I found out that I no longer had two happy cats waiting for me at home.

My boys got sick a while after I moved and it was decided that they should be given to a vet for better care. I was upset, even wept because a part of me had hoped that I’d come to find everything as I had left it, the normality of coming home to kitties greeting me at the door like I had never left.

Some found my hurt over my lost kitties amusing while others sympathized with me. Those that found it amusing didn’t understand how I expected things to stay the same for a year.  Those that sympathized were once in my shoes, came back home to find that things had changed too. Based on the illness my family described to me, I now have a sinking feeling that one or both my kitties may have passed away. I just don’t have the heart to call the vet and find out.

Aside from this sad news, I did having a good break. I stayed home the first few days with a lot of mixed emotions to deal with but happy to be home, nonetheless. I watched everyone sleep, go to work and go about their day. I cared for my nephew and watched him laugh, cry, enjoy his bottle and sleep like an angel. This child is such a blessing to our family, especially to me. With little Salem around, my mother had officially stopped asking me to make her a grandmother (that year at least).

Two weeks flew by like a mere few minutes. A long happy flight brought me to San Francisco and a longer somber flight is bringing me back to Doha. Before my departure, everyone felt the need to ask when I was moving back home. I had already survived a year as a confused expatriate and I’ve committed to another year when my contract either ends or is renewed.

A part of me wants to stay longer as there is more to discover in this part of the world. A part of me wants to go home

I’m now in the in between.

Confused yet focused. Lost yet in place. Determined yet unmotivated. Strong yet weak.

Alice Nashashibi… an Arab American Icon

Today, I read one of the most saddest emails I could’ve read… Ms. Alice Nashashibi of San Francisco had passed away.

Ms. Nashashibi is one of the main pillars of existence for the Arab Cultural and Community Center (ACCC). Since it’s doors first opened, she had been an active and supportive community member. She never missed an event, no matter how big or small. In my years working and volunteering at the ACCC, she was always there! Every meeting, every get together, every banquet, ever festival… I simply couldn’t imagine the image of an event without the presence and contributions of Ms. Nashashibi. 

She supported every community member, made an effort to always greet everyone in the room and had a contagious, beautiful smile. She had a wonderful presence that will surely be deeply missed.

In my eyes, Ms. Nashashibi is an icon of what we Arab Americans aspire to be in our communities across the country.

Thank you Alice… as always, for everything!

 

If you are in the Bay Area, services for Alice Nashashibi will be held this weekend as follows:

Sunday, March 3rd: Viewing at Duggans in Daly City from 3 to 9 pm with an open forum starting at 7pm for community members to share their thoughts.

Monday, March 4th: Funeral Mass starting at 12pm at the St. Thomas Moore Church in San Francisco. There will be an evening reception from 6-9pm at her home.

May she rest in God’s eternal peace… Ameen.

Closer To The Dream

When I was a young girl, a part of me always wished there was a place where I could be with other young Muslims. Please don’t get me wrong, I loved most of my time in school with extremely diverse surroundings, but I always found myself to be the only Muslim in the room. There was a handful of occasions where I was bullied for being the only Muslim, looking weird and being just plain different.

Thus a part of that young girl always yearned to be in a place where people prayed like her, understood her love for Hijab and helped her learn the Holy Quran. A place where a Muslim girl who looked weird and was just plain different was embraced. That place did not exist in this young girls time.

some of my silly students!
some of my silly students!

I was finishing up grad school when I first came across the San Francisco Islamic School (SFIS) a few years ago. That’s when the young girl within me smiled from ear to ear! It wasn’t long before I joined as a volunteer teacher myself and having one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I looked forward to planning my lesson plans every week, waking up early Sunday mornings and seeing my students gather at Mercy High School where SFIS was welcomed.

This non-profit educational initiative, started by a handful of community members, meet every Sunday in San Francisco where a diverse group of students from all parts of the Bay Area gathered to learn the Arabic Language, the Holy Quran and Islamic studies. From a handful of students to the creation of a waiting list, the demand has grown bigger than ever imagined.

The SFIS Family

As of today, SFIS has become more than a Sunday school with…

  • A weekly structured coursework of the above mentioned areas
  • Multiple field-trips and activities on a regular basis
  • Daily tutoring and mentoring programs for all subjects
  • Adult education courses and seminars focusing on Islam, health and family well-being

Realizing the need for a full-time Islamic faith based school in San Francisco, board members worked tirelessly for years to develop a successful strategic plan. From becoming accredited by the education department to finding a suitable place to call home, the plan is now in motion.

We are now closer to the dream!

An offer on a beautiful facility on the borders of San Francisco and Daly City has been made. This is a prime location making it accessible to students from both within and outside San Francisco. It houses eight decent sized classrooms, offices, a full functioning kitchen, an auditorium, a cafeteria… the works! SFIS’ offer has been accepted and now a down payment is to be made to secure this home for SFIS.

Support the First Full-Time Islamic School in San Francisco TODAY!

Seeing SFIS be closer to the dream while being so far away has been difficult for me on a personal level. What can I do to support the cause aside from catching a glimpse via social media of the amazing work the volunteers have been doing towards this campaign? The best thing I can do to contribute is to reach out to you as I’ve done in the past. Your contribution of any size is not only tax-deductible but counts towards your zakat. Your contributions of both funds and time to help support this campaign and SFIS as an organization makes all the difference in one person’s educational experience!

I urge you to not only donate, but to visit SFIS, talk to the volunteers and see for yourself the work that’s being done. Visit SFIS’ Indiegogo’s page today to  learn more, view pictures, stay informed of the latest announcements of the campaign and of course, to donate. =)

I promise you, your contribution of any form to SFIS will make at least one young girl smile from ear to ear.

San Francisco Elections – My Who, What & Why Votes!

I always get excited when I receive my absentee ballot in the mail! This years ballot for the City of San Francisco is quite intersting that I can’t pick just one or two initiatives to write about as I usually do. From the intense mayoral race to some of these propositions, it’s certainly an interesting election this year for San Francisco! This year is also the first year San Francisco is going on a ranking voting system similar to what Oakland used during it’s last election. You don’t have to vote for a 2nd or 3rd choice but it is recommended when we have so many candidates running in the same race.

Regardless of your thoughts, political party or voting decision, I urge you to go out and VOTE this November!! Seriously, if you aren’t going to vote, keep your mouth shut! Don’t complain, don’t whine and don’t wish for things to happen in your local community if you are not going to take the most basic initiative towards making a change! We need to remind ourselves of how many people have struggled and died for us to have this right today and those who are continuing the fight for this same right everywhere else across the globe.

San Francisco Mayor
1st Choice: Leland Yee
2nd Choice: David Chiu
3rd Choice: John Avalos

Since Gavin Newsom has left his mayoral seat, things have changed. A new leadership is needed to not only bring this city back up but to help usher in some major improvements. With that said, I’m confident in Leland Yee‘s expertise and commitment to the city he has served for over 20 years. I know he doesn’t have the most perfect political history but it takes a strong candidate to admit when he’s made bad calls and good calls. Yee is one of those candidates. Its also very rare to have someone who has been raised in San Francisco and serve it politically for as long as Yee has.

I’m also choosing David Chiu and John Avalos as my 2nd and 3rd choice respectively based on their work in the city in the last few years as well as their clean and positive campaigning. All three candidates support the Occupy San Francisco movement unlike Mayor Ed Lee who’s response isn’t helping his mayoral bid one bit.

San Francisco Sheriff
1st Choice: Ross Mirkarimi
2nd Choice: Paul Miyamota
3rd Choice: Chris Cunnie

Ross Mirkarimi gets my vote with his experience and decent work history as a San Francisco supervisor. Miyamota and Cunnie have my 2nd and 3rd choice respectively for their experience as well.

San Francisco District Attorney
1st Choice: Sharmin Bock

Does George Gascon really think he has a chance after his failed SFPD Chief tenure? I don’t know much about the other candidates to decide on a 2nd and 3rd choice but Sharmin Bock‘s work in Alameda is what’s encouraging my vote.

Proposition A – School Bonds

As someone who has attended San Francisco public schools from kindergarten through high school, I know what it is like to be in a good functioning campus and to be in one that isn’t. By the time I graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School, the renovations that took place throughout my time there was complete. The campus looked and felt beautiful that I was actually envious of those enjoying it. Public schools are losing students in large part due to low enrollment, budget cuts to programs, large classrooms and parents taking their children out of what they feel is a failing public school system.

With that said, I vote NO on this proposition because  this is the third time this proposition has been put forth after it was passed the first two times in 2003 and 2006! I’m assuming little was done with it those funds thus finding this proposition unnecessary. Funds can be brought forth through the rental of the many empty facilities currently in the city. I believe there is at least five to ten facilities available for rent, not including those for sale, including two right here in my district. Plus, the ridiculous salaries some of these administrators get versus what the teachers who are barely making it could use a revision.

Proposition B – Road Repaving and Street Safety Bonds

This proposition is decently drafted to help bring continued improvement throughout the city. It’s a long term investment in city improvements and local job creation without raising taxes. My neighborhood was recently repaved, alongside new medians, pothole fixes and greenery which has made it simply beautiful. I feel a YES will help bring these same improvements to all of San Francisco.

Proposition C – City Pension and Health Care Benefits
Proposition D – City Pension Benefits

Personally, the unions have drained many cities across this nation including San Francisco with some of these ridiculously drafted pension plans. Many of these city employees are making a lot of money and being paid almost as much after they’ve left or retired from their jobs with very little contribution towards their pensions. Remember Bell City a couple years back? I’m all for a good pension and health care plan for our hard working employees but it shouldn’t continuously raise my taxes to cover these costs and put my city in debt.

Proposition C was drafted poorly by Mayor Ed Lee and approved to be on the ballot unanimously by the Board of Supervisors… bad move! While Proposition D was being drafted by Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Lee went ahead and made a deal with a few unions to exempt them from these changes should Proposition D pass over C… terrible move!

In my opinion, Proposition D is better drafted, better suited and will save the city a good $70-$80 million in the next fiscal year versus Proposition C which would only save the city approximately$40-$50 million. Proposition C gets a NO and Proposition D gets a YES from me.

Proposition E – Amending or Repealing Legislative Initiative Ordinances and Declarations of Policy

Dear Board of Supervisors, Don’t amend my vote! Should think twice about any initiative before you place it on the ballot just like the citizens do before they go out gathering signatures for theirs. Voting NO!

Proposition F – Campaign Consultant Ordinance

This law is not only stupid to begin with but this proposition doesn’t help make it any better… NO.

Proposition G – Sales Tax

Ummm… NO! The city already pays an arm and a leg for many of these community policing and safety programs to feel the need to increase my taxes to continue funding for them!

Proposition H – School District Student Assignment

When I was in middle school, my family moved from the Mission district to the Sunset district. I ended up going to three different middle schools because of SFUSD’s odd placement policies. It’s completely absurd and messed up to this day. My younger siblings didn’t get to go to the same high school as I did due to those same ridiculous placement and waiting list policies. I think the whole thing needs to be rewritten but I’m voting YES so that in the mean time, this will help the students in the next school year.

Absentee ballot sealed and sent! Your thoughts are welcomed.