Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My Students in Doha

I Love Them to Pieces

I am wrapping up my third semester as a Clinical Professor of Law teaching at the Qatar University College of Law in Doha, Qatar.

I did not anticipate the challenge of teaching undergraduate law students while also addressing the language and cultural gaps between us. Those challenges have made me a better and more supportive teacher. I am so impressed with the students here and their effort to complete my demanding Legal Research and Writing course.

Last week, I shared with them four Facebook posts I had made about them over the second half of the semester. I don't think they 
get much praise like this. It really lit them up.

During Week 11 of the semester, I wrote:
This is the moment in the semester when all the work of the professor and the students begins to pay off in very clear ways. Students become self-sufficient learners. I love it.  
My students are showing up at office hours to work on the drafts of their memorandum of law. They are so sweet. Increasingly more playful with me. And, my gosh, strikingly smart.  I love them so. They really are the future of Qatar. I hope I live another 20 years to see what they accomplish.
Starting Week 13 in my 15 week semester. Students are working hard to meet my expectations. They are surprising themselves with their progress. Time to bring them safely to the end of the semester and ready to take on Legal Writing 2 with confidence.
During Week 13 again:
About 40 percent of my students are coming to my extended office hours to work on their legal memos. They are such a joy. Some plan to come on Saturday, even though it is a holiday week-end. Guess who is showing a growth mindset? 
Just love them to pieces.
And finally: 
Bringing the semester to an end. One more class, a legal research quiz, then two final exams next week. These lovely Arab ladies have mastered the CREAC in a second language. Go, them.

Living the Life My Mom Couldn't

Marking Time with A Marble a Week

My Mom, Jo Ann Young, died of colon cancer in October 1997.  I was 43 years old.  She was 61. This photo of us together was taken shortly before her diagnosis.

Shortly after her death, I filled a round glass vase with glass marbles.  Each marble represented one week of my life if I lived only to the age of 61.  I started with about 220 marbles. Each week, I would throw one of the marbles into my garden.

I was making a symbolic promise to myself to live my life at a run and with purpose, in loving memory of my Mom.  

When, I celebrated my 60th birthday, I was down to about 10 marbles.  I got my job offer for the Doha gig and threw the last of the marbles into the garden as an act of making way, moving on, and living larger.

I was now living longer than my Mom had lived.  

I remember Mom sitting at the kitchen table, just months away from her final days. She said she wanted to visit Hong Kong. My head snapped around to look at her.  What a surprise! I'd never heard this before.  But, for some reason, I did not ask her why. 

But, travel to Asia is high on my bucket list. This summer, I had a lovely two weeks in Thailand. In mid-January, I am off to Malaysia and Taiwan. Hong Kong is on the list, as is Cambodia, India, and Japan. 

By moving to Doha, I am doing things I never would have done had I stayed in the U.S. More importantly, I am meeting people from all over the world who teach me things daily.

I work with students whom I deeply love. More about that in my next post.

In a bittersweet way, my Mom's death was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Even so, I miss her everyday. I wish we were taking those Asian trips together. Instead, I travel with a young woman who lost her mom too soon, too.  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Words that Made the Cut: Not Even Afraid

Goal Setting Words for 2017

When I announced that I planned to move to Qatar, I got one or the other responses.  Nothing in between.  The first response reflected fear: " I could never do that."  The second response looked beyond fear: "What a great adventure!"

In truth, how many 61-year old women sell all their stuff and move to an Arab country?  Admittedly, not many. But, never in that process -- something I blogged about in my 2015 "Countdown to Qatar" series -- was I afraid of the choice I was making.  In fact, I was running towards that new life.  Running.

At one point -- in the selling, moving, packing, storing, and pitching process -- I looked at my personal assistant, Brenda, and said: " All I have to do is just get there!"  Just get through the chaos of transition. Get there.  Everything would be fine. Better, in fact. Much better.

And, I was right.

The theme of this post is finding three words that remind me of my goals for 2017. My introduction has hinted at them.

Here they are.  French.  Defiantly so.  Defiantly post-terrorist attack on the Battaclan Theater and the promenade in Nice. Defiantly post-US election.

Meme pas peur.  The first "e" has a mark over it that I cannot reproduce on my English/Arabic keyboard.  But, here is what the phrase means: "Not even afraid."  Basically, a big French FU. They teach this concept to their kids!  Can you imagine how that influences a culture?

So, how will I apply these words this year?  

First, I am a member of a group of U.S. lawyers that has organized to hold the line on the values I hold dear,  Over 135,000 strong, we plan to face the new administration without fear and with collective smarts.  I will be fearless in the face of whatever the new administration throws our way.   I plan to use my lawyer super powers to protect folks who do not have power or privilege, especially women and people of color.

What other meaning do these three French words hold for me? Not even afraid of travel to interesting places, to write in a stronger voice, to teach with great love and passion, to create a legacy, to lead my tribes, to speak loudly about what is important to me, to push my physical limits, and to test myself against ambitious goals. -- All without fear. 

What do I have to lose?

In one way, I am living on borrowed time.  I will make the most of it.  More about that in a future post.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

In Search of Goal Setting Words for 2017

Starting in 2014, I began picking three words to remind me of my goals for the year.  Chris Brogan gave me the idea.  Here is his post on the topic. 

In 2014, I picked:  Robin, launch, and wealth.

In 2015, I picked:  Well-being, manifestation, and love. 

Last year, I must have completely forgotten about the goal-setting exercise in the midst of my hectic transition to Qatar.

But, now that I am settled and content in my new location, it is time to find three new words for 2017.

I first though about fierce, physical, and fire.  

These words reflected my response to the Trump election, but also recognized my commitment to health and well-being. 

This week, I started my 19th consecutive week of fitness training. My friend, Heidi, and I meet at 6:30 a.m. four times a week. I swim for 20 or 30 minutes in a 16 meter pool.  She runs.  Then, we lift for another 45 minutes.  

This emphasis on fitness came after a very good health report in July during my medical tourism experience in Thailand with my friend, Jessica.  

Looks like I will follow the path of the Drinkwater women (my maternal line) and live well into my 80s.  So, I better take care of myself!  I have always figured that if you can survive your 60s without dying of cancer, you will live into your 80s.  

Accordingly, any word I choose for 2017 has to reflect this dedication to my health.  Frankly, I've always been a little hard on myself about my fitness level.  This trip to Thailand made me realize that I have taken care of myself in many ways that pay off now. In other words, from now on, I give myself permission to enjoy more of the process of supporting good health.  The outcome does follow.  

Today, on Facebook, someone circulated a goal generator. You could take a screen shot as it flipped through a bunch of words to find the goal for you.  My screenshot words were: Strength. Balance. A cute body.

I like them.  

"Strength" covers many realms, including ethical, emotional, intellectual, relational, spiritual, physical . . . .   

"Balance" will remind me to work less and play more.  It also reminds me that I am looking at more bone fusion surgery some time soon, this time in my left foot.  Keeping physical balance after my life-changing leg break in 2005 has been an ongoing challenge. 

"A cute body" will help me reach Week 54 in my exercise program even if "cute" is way beyond the reach of a 62-year old woman.
But, in the end, these words did not make the cut.  In my next post, I'll tell you the three words that did.  You may be surprised. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

My Second Academic Year In Qatar Starts on Sunday!

My Facebook feed keeps showing me photos from a year ago:

My first day in Qatar on August 15, 2015, jet lag clearly present.

My shopping trips with friends as I began housekeeping in my Porto Arabia Tower apartment.

Delicious meals at the restaurants featuring a wide variety of international foods.

The onboarding process at Qatar University for new faculty.

Steamy nights exploring the souk.

Some sight-seeing trips in the blistering evening heat.

Exploring fancy spas.

Morning walks on the harbor with West Bay skyscrapers visible in the distance.

Dressing up for the law school's reception at the Ritz Carlton.

I am happy and curious in all these photos. 

I look at those photos and feel grateful that I am through that demanding transition process.  Doha is now thoroughly my home. 

I have a new apartment in Qanat Quatier, an apartment complex designed to imitate Venice.  I live in a one bedroom apartment I decorated to look like a Nantucket beach house.  

I am only a block from the beach on the Arabian Gulf. 

These days, I swim there most mornings.  I prefer the pools in the Towers.  Recently, I set some personal bests wearing my version of a birkini.  I can swim 30 lengths in a 16 meter pool in about 25 minutes.  I can also swim 40 lengths without too many breaks.  I ordered a swim watch just so I get a bit more obsessive about it.  

What is absent from these photos that are taking me down memory lane are photos of my early classes and my lovely female students. 

Perhaps I was too overwhelmed to remember to snap any photos.  At the same time, I quickly learned that you do not take photos of women without permission.  If you look carefully, you will notice that any photos I post on Facebook show female students from behind.

I talked about the course I teach and my students in this post.  A year later, I remind myself to stay open-hearted towards my students.  They typically share my sense of overwhelm.  I tell them to "do it scared."  I tell them that growth happens outside their comfort zones. I tell them to just put their heads down and do the work.  I tell them to be brave.  They've got this. 

And, most of them do.

This summer, I ran into several students in local malls or the Ikea store.  They are always with their lovely mothers.  We talk.  They say such nice things about me.  I am proud of them and let their mothers know that.  They blush a little.  These are the moments teachers wait to have.   Quick affirmations that student and teachers work in partnership to create love and success.

I am excited about the new semester.   I can't wait to meet my new students.  I hope one, like last semester, will tell me at the final exam that she is planning to "dazzle me."  Please do.  Shine brightly. 

Peace, Justice, and Fairness in the Muslim Tradition

Peace Be With Us All

This article, Principles and Practices of Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam, provides a very interesting synthesis of the role peace plays in the Muslim community.  It also discusses the role of conflict resolution in Muslim cultures, with a focus on Morocco.

The author, Claudia Maffettone is a conflict resolution practitioner and a certified mediator. She trained the New York Peace Institute, Harvard Law School, the New York City Bar, Soliya and the International Institute for Restorative Practices.

I have suggested that she present this synthesis at the next conference of the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution.  I think my colleagues would find it valuable. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Another New Tribe: Attendees at the Global Legal Skills Conference

Part of my transition as a new resident of the Arabian Gulf region involves finding new tribes to join and help lead.   In March 2016, I talked about the ADR tribes that I’ve found in Dubai and Doha.  I found another tribe that reflects my new place in the world.

At the end of May, I attended the Global Legal Skills Conference in Verona, Italy at the University of Verona's Facolta Giurisprudenza.  Last year, I attended this conference for the first time.  I came back for the reason that the folks organizing and attending this conference are highly dedicated professors of law from all over the world who want to learn how better to teach law across cultures and across languages.

In other words, they are process people – my type of people.  Mediators often say that if the process is good, the outcome will be just fine, too.   So, if we continue to explore skillful ways of teaching students for whom English is not their first language, then those students are likely to respond with higher engagement, greater feelings of success, and a deeper sense of connection. 

Attendees included people running and teaching in U.S.-based LL.M. programs.  Many law schools have started these programs to fill the gap created by declining enrollments of U.S. law students.  I suspect many law schools start these programs without having sufficient support systems in place for students arriving from many parts of the globe. 

Other attendees, like myself, teach courses in law schools located in countries other than the U.S.  Many of us are trying to describe the common law legal system to students embedded in a civil law culture.  We talked about the challenges of teaching the value, weight, and use of case law in a system reliant on precedent.

Still other attendees teach English as a Second Language (ESL).  They are often not lawyers, and they bring a completely different perspective to the conversation.

The conference is designed to give us all exposure to innovative ways to teach these students.  These colleagues have experimented with different teaching approaches and resources in an effort to find the best way to support student learning. Many of these teachers must create the handouts, readings, and other teaching tools they use because so few resources exist for each course topic.

I spoke on a panel about delivering high-quality online legal education.  My co-panelists explained a very sophisticated online program in Canada offered at the Osgoode Hall School of Law and the hybrid legal education (the first one approved by the ABA) at Mitchell Hamline School of Law.  These educational programs are supported by sophisticated (and expensive) technology, video, and teaching platforms.  

I was there to talk about my cheap work-around using a Google application called WebinarJam Studio, a Yeti microphone, a tri-fold screen as a backdrop, Thinkstock licensed images, and a Logitech webcam. 

I have to mention the fabulous location of the conference in Verona, Italy.  This city is designated as a World Heritage Site.  People were friendly and helpful.  

My centrally located hotel gave me easy access to the Roman stadium, Juliet’s balcony, the old city wall and arches, the medieval fort, the Justinian Gardens, Basilica San Zeno, and the medieval bell-tower.  After three days logging over 10,000 steps a day, I finally used the hop-on, hop-off bus tour for a day to cover more territory. 

I also discovered a cocktail that found its way to cafe tables at lunch and sunset -- the Spritz Apperol (or Spritz).

On my last day in Italy, Profs. Mark Wojcik and David Austin, the energy behind the whole event, organized a day-trip to Padua.  In many ways, I enjoyed this little college town more than Verona.  

Located here is the first independent university in Europe, which
offered its scholars and students greater intellectual freedom from the influence of the Vatican and the Italian government.  Founded in 1222, it educated Dante and Copernicus. Among other treasures, we saw the wooden lectern of Galileo, who taught there for many years.  It struck me how one teacher could so vastly influence the world and how we thought about it. Sorry, I could not take any photos once we entered the university buildings.

Our guide also showed us a work of art that commemorates the resistance of many university professors to Nazi politics and repression.  I keep that art in mind during this U.S. presidential election cycle. 

The 1594 Anatomical Theater in the medical school was an extraordinary example of advances in teaching.  During classes, a small chamber -- lit by candlelight -- held the cadaver, the professor, and the person doing the dissection. Above this chamber was a several story room that was shaped like a steeply-sided funnel. In the levels above, students would stand to watch the lesson.  Each level had a carved wooden railing high enough to prevent fainting students from falling over the railing and onto the dissection table several floors below.  Here, in the 17th century, scholars and students first understood blood circulation. 

I wish I had a photo.  In any event, a photo would not have captured this awe-inspiring place.  What a dedication to a whole new way of teaching!  Not quite active learning -- where students would later do their own dissections -- but a step away from pure lecture.

On our way out, we saw a fresco of a student.  As the image climbed the stairs, it showed the young man gaining age and wisdom.  

A sculpture paid tribute to Elena Cornaro Piscopia, the first woman to earn a degree at the university and the first woman in the world to earn a Ph.D.  She did that in 1678. 

This university tour had a profound affect on all of us.  We carry so much responsibility for teaching our students. It was the perfect ending to a conference focused on becoming better teachers. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Back in the Middle with You: 
Re-Joining my U.S. ADR Tribe

In early April 2016, after a gap of several years, I finally joined an old tribe of ADR scholars, trainers, and practitioners at the annual conference, this year in New York, sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Section of Dispute Resolution. This ABA tribe claims my heart. These are great folks doing interesting and world-altering work. I love being among them.

In my last post, I talked about several new tribes that reflect my transition to a new life in Doha, Qatar as a law professor. My new Arabian Gulf ADR tribes are important to my desire to scale-up my ADR practice and training.

Yet, the anchor for my work has always been my old ABA tribe. I have tried to serve it in several ways:

  • Member, Standing Committee on Ethical Guidance for Mediators (2006-2011).
  • Co-Chair, Mediator Ethical Opinions Database Sub-Committee of the Standing Committee on Ethical Guidance for Mediators (2006-2008). 
  • Chair of Bar Exam Committee of the Am. Bar Ass’n Taskforce on Legal Education, ADR, and Problem-Solving (2010-2011).
  • National Co-Chair, Am. Bar Ass’n Section of Dispute Resolution Representation in Mediation Competition (2003-2004).
But, when my little law school in Appalachia responded to declining student enrollments by cutting back, and then eliminating, money for conference travel by professors, my ability to play a role at the national ADR level diminished quickly. It made me very sad.

This spring, I was invited to join a conference panel discussing the topic of Teaching Conflict in the Midst of Conflict. Doha remains a very safe place, but countries dealing with civil war, terrorism, and other civil unrest encircle Qatar. 

I provided some information about my experience teaching in Qatar (so far, an excellent experience). I talked about teaching gender-segregated classes and the aspirations of my male and female students. Finally, I shared the information about the state of ADR in the region, which my new Arabian Gulf ADR tribe helped me assemble and understand better. See my last post for more on that topic. 

One question -- from Nancy A. Welsh, a distinguished ADR scholar and law professor at Penn State Dickenson Law School -- really sparked my thinking. I had emphasized the cultural expectation for “justice” in the Arab world. But, I could not tell her the true source of that expectation, what it meant in this cultural context, and how it would affect expectations about procedural justice in arbitration or mediation. Sounds like a future law review article.

On the last morning of each ABA conference, a mini-tribe assembles. It consists of law professors teaching ADR in what is called the Legal Educators Colloquium. Our closing question concerned the future of ADR.  Several folks talked about the role technology would play. 

As it happened, I had the final word. I said that in a world described by Daniel Pink and Richard Susskind, value would still involve high-touch and high-empathy services. We, as ADR professors, were perfectly positioned to teach law students what that means and how lawyers and ADR professionals offer those types of services to clients. I described it as heart-centered practice. Many heads nodded.