For Brad Pitt and orangutans in zoos

I believe quite firmly that the day the digital camera was invented, somewhere a whole continent of fairies died. Digital photography gives people the ability to snap pictures instantly and continuously, as if their cameras are an extension of their lungs and images are oxygen. The problem is, images are not oxygen; oxygen is oxygen.…

To Jilbab or Not to Jilbab: Two ETAs’ choice to wear a headscarf for nine months

“You look much more beautiful with headscarf.” Every day along the halls of the Islamic high schools where we teach, teachers and students alike express admiration for our headscarves (henceforth referred to as jilbabs, the Indonesian word). Under our program’s rules, schools cannot require us to use the jilbab, but anyone can understand subtle encouragement, even if…

Joining an Idul Adha Celebration

The mooing cow was already on its side, more or less securely fastened to a few stakes, its neck suspended over a deep hole. Behind it was another cow, still feisty and resistant, kicking at the men trying to restrain it. My host grandfather approached the subdued cow with a knife and prayed before he…