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SoulPancake: Making Entertainment That Matters

Uncategorized, Writing

While taking Berkeley’s Science of Happiness course, I was introduced to SoulPancake- my new favorite YouTube channel. I became even more drawn to it after finding out, as any fan of The Office would,  that Rainn Wilson, who plays the hilarious, sometimes annoying, certainly one of a kind character, Dwight Schrute, is the Co-Founder.

According to its website, “SoulPancake is the world’s most recognized positive and inspiring media and entertainment company. [They] create smart, uplifting, meaningful, shareable content targeted to the Optimistic Millennial.” And that’s the kind of media I love!

SoulPancake’s shows include Science of Happiness, short documentary videos that explore happiness through fun social experiments. Another unique show is My Last Days which introduces viewers to the inspiring stories of people with terminal illnesses. To prove just how positive SoulPancake is and how contagious positivity can be, one episode drew over 14 million views, many celebrities, and helped raise over $750,000 for Osteosarcoma. Then there’s Have a Little Faith– one of my favorites. Zach Anner, the show’s host, is funny, open-minded and hearted, and is on a mission to find out about different religions, a topic he says he doesn’t know much about. He started the first episode with learning about Islam from nineteen-year-old Marwa. I’m sure we all could learn a bit more about many religions. Watch the show to learn about Quakers, Jews, and Baha’is from those who practice the religions themselves and you’ll discover just how much our beliefs and the principles they teach share in common.

Yallah! Go watch an episode or two, you won’t regret it! Plus, don’t you just love the name? SoulPancake. Fluffy and yummy comfort food for the the soul.

For more information, visit SoulPancake’s website and YouTube Channel.


Germans are Working Longer, More Frequntly, and Later

Articles, Translations, Uncategorized

Arbeit: Länger, öfter, später

© iStock

© iStock

Die Deutschen haben immer weniger Freizeit. 1,7 Millionen Menschen arbeiten mehr als 48 Stunden pro Woche. Im Jahr 1995 waren es noch 1,3 Millionen. Auch ist Arbeit an den Wochenenden und an Feiertagen für viele kein Tabu mehr. Jeder Vierte in Deutschland – das sind 8,8 Millionen Menschen – ist samstags und sonntags im Job aktiv (1995: sechs Millionen). Außerdem arbeiten 5,6 Millionen Deutsche im Schichtdienst(1995: 3,8 Millionen).
German have less and less free time. 1.7 million people work more than 48 hours a week. In 1995, they were 1.3 million people. Working on weekends and holidays, for many, is no longer taboo. One in every four people in Germany- 8.8 million people- are active in their jobs on Saturdays and Sundays (1995: 6 million). Also, 5.6 million people in Germany work in shifts (1995:3.8 million).
This is an English translation of a German post. Read this article and find out much more about German culture on deutsch-perfekt.

Palestinian-Icelandic Author Mazen Maarouf Wins AlMultaqa Short Story Prize

Articles, Translations, Uncategorized

الفلسطيني مازن معروف يفوز بجائزة (الملتقى) للقصة القصيرة في الكويت


من محمود حربي


الكويت (رويترز) – فاز الفلسطيني مازن معروف يوم الاثنين بجائزة (الملتقى) للقصة القصيرة العربية في الكويت في دورتها الأولى عن مجموعته (نكات للمسلحين) وقيمتها 20 ألف دولار.


وتتضمن المجموعة الفائزة 14 قصة قصيرة تسرد الواقع غير المنطقي من وجهة نظر طفل يعيش حياته اليومية في ظل حرب لا تتصدر موضوع القصص إنما تعتبره واقعا فانتازيا يعيشه الطفل ومن خلاله يقص المؤلف الرؤى الإنسانية والمفارقات والدعابات الساخرة.


والمجموعة الصادرة عن دار رياض الريس للكتب والنشر في بيروت هي الأولى للمؤلف الفلسطيني/الأيسلندي الذي ولد في لبنان عام 1978 لعائلة فلسطينية. وحصل معروف على بكالوريوس في الكيمياء من كلية العلوم بالجامعة اللبنانية وعمل لعدة سنوات بتدريس الكيمياء قبل أن يبدأ مشواره الأدبي في 2008 وصدرت له سابقا ثلاث مجموعات شعرية.


وقال معروف لرويتز بعد تسلمه الجائزة “لهذه الجائزة رمزية كبيرة لأنها ترد الاعتبار لأدب القصة القصيرة وهي تعزز المشهد الثقافي الفلسطيني وتكرم الكاتب الفلسطيني فأنا مولود في الشتات ولم أزر فلسطين إلا مؤخرا.”



Palestinian Mazen Maarouf Al Multaqa Arabic Short Story Prize in Kuwait

Kuwait (Reuters)- Palestinian Mazen Maarouf won on Monday, 5 December, the Al-Multaqa Arabic Short Story Prize of $20,000 in Kuwait. Maarouf received the first edition of the Prize for his collection “Jokes of the Gunmen”.

The winning collection includes 14 short stories that narrate the senseless reality from the point of view of a child living his everyday life amidst a war that is not the subject of the stories, but is rather seen as a fantasy reality the child lives and through which the author illustrates human visions, paradoxes, and sarcastic jokes.

The collection published by Riad El-Rayyes for Books and Publishing in Beirut is the Palestinian-Icelandic author’s first. Maarouf was born in Lebanon in 1978 to a Palestinian family. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the School of Sciences at the Lebanese University and worked as a chemistry teacher for a few years before starting his journey in literature and writing in 2008. He has three poetry collections published previously.

Upon receiving the Prize, Maarouf told Reuters that “this Prize has a major symbolic meaning as it brings back esteem to the short story, strengthens the Palestinian cultural scene, and honors the Palestinian writer; I was born in the diaspora and did not visit Palestine until recently.”

Read the full Reuters article by Mahmoud Harbi.

Egyptian Globe-Trotter: “The most dangerous and difficult journey I embarked on was the journey of discovering myself, my inner journey.”

Articles, Translations, Uncategorized

Egyptian globe-trotter Islam Kamel embarked on many adventures. He climbed the world’s most famous mountains, swam with white sharks in the Atlantic, walked alongside lions in the jungles of Zambia, befriended the gorillas of the Congo mountains, and crossed the world’s most turbulent rivers in a rubber boat. He is also the first Arab to dive under the Antarctic ice sheet, among many other adventures. But when we asked him about the most difficult adventure he has had, his answer is unexpected: “The most dangerous and difficult journey I embarked on was the journey of discovering myself, my inner journey.”

Islam finds that travel gives him the chance to rediscover himself. He says, “I find that during travel, no matter how strange the destination is, it’s another journey to the inside, to discover the self, challenge it, test the limits of its skill; it is a chance to develop and grow into a better human being on several levels. I used to fear, water, dogs, and even cats! Then, in one moment, I decided to face all these fears, to push past their limits. For example, if I feared sharks, then I would have to swim with them and so in constantly pushing the limits of what I thought were my maximum abilities. I started testing myself in different situations when I found that only when we give ourselves the chance to try are we really surprised with what we can do. That is the basis of my philosophy in life now.”

To view more of Islam Kamel’s adventures visit The Adrenaline Blog’s Facebook page and website.

Read the full Arabic article by Mustafa Fathi.

The Simpsons Predicted Trump’s Presidency 16 Years Ago

Articles, Translations, Uncategorized

The cartoon television series, The Simpsons, showed Donald Trump as president of the United States 16 years before winning the elections and holding the highest position in the country in an episode the writer says shows “the vision of America going insane”.

Writer Dan Greany says that his episode “Bart to the Future” from the year 2000 “was a warning to America”.

Greany had previously this year told Hollywood Reporter, “And that just seemed like the logical last stop before hitting bottom. It was pitched because it was consistent with the vision of America going insane.”

 The creator of The Simpsons, Matt Groening, told The Guardian last month that if Trump is elected, he expects that people will leave the United States, adding that he does not intend to leave “because I actually think it will be amazing in all its horror”.
Trump and Hillary Clinton appeared in another episode of The Simpsons in July this year that showed Clinton becoming president.
Read the original Arabic Al Ghad article.
Note: Quotes were adapted from English sources
Emil und die detektive cover

Emil and the Detectives Book Summary

Translations, Uncategorized

“Zum erstenmal darf Emil allein nach Berlin fahren. Seine Großmutter und die Kusine Pony Hütchen erwarten ihn am Blumenstand im Bahnhof Friedrichstraße. Aber Emil kommt nicht, auch nicht mit dem nächsten Zug. Während die Großmutter und Pony Hütchen noch überlegen, was sie tun sollen, hat Emil sich schon in eine aufregende Verfolgungsjagd gestürzt. Quer durch die große fremde Stadt, immer hinter dem Dieb her, der ihm im Zug sein ganzes Geld gestohlen hat. Zum Glück bekommt Emil bald Unterstützung: von Gustav mit der Hupe und seinen Jungs.”


“For the first time, Emil is allowed to travel to Berlin on his own. His grandmother and cousin, Pony Hütchen , expect him at the flower stand in the Friedrich Street train station. But Emil doesn’t come, and not on the next train either. While the grandmother and Pony Hütchen were still wondering what to do, Emil was already caught up in a thrilling chase. Across the big, strange city, he follows the thief who stole all his money on the train. Luckily, Emil soon gets help: from Gustav with the horn and his boys.”

Wadi Aya

The Adventure of Hiking Wadi Aya

Uncategorized, Writing

Jordan is home to beautiful scenery that those living in the concrete jungle of the capital Amman usually don’t know about- Wadi Aya, a valley between Madaba and Karak which rests beneath a winding, rugged and narrow mountain roadway full of rocks and that can only be reached by a 4WD (or in our case, a run-down green pick-up truck). After about 15 minutes of driving down to the valley in the back of pick-up truck, we reached Wadi Aya, and with our first splash into its waters, our adventure began.


The trip with our group, Adventure PROS, included guided jumps and an abseil followed by a slide down the many waterbodies of the valley, which are also home to small leaping frogs (saw them live for the first time here!).

After the tiring but adrenaline-filled adventure, we sat on an area of smooth white rock and enjoyed a local cooked meal of Maqloobeh as we dried in the sun.

I would very much recommend Wadi Aya for adventure lovers and for anyone anywhere to get to know the place they live in, wherever that may be, a little better. Go somewhere new, meet new people, see new things, learn and enjoy the adventure of life!