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Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher StaplesUnder the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples is a significant book to read to help promote a global society. Due to the war in the Middle East and much of the media coverage done on it there has been a great misconception created about Islam and the majority of Muslims. News and media has a tendency to focus only on the very worst. Media can even exaggerate news in order to suit a specific agenda. Due to this, unfortunately, many Muslims and middle easterners have been misrepresented. Under the Persimmon Tree breaks down many of these façades with which so many middle-easterners and Muslims have been wrongfully disguised by.
Under the Persimmon Tree has inclusion of minorities for a purpose. One of the main characters, Nusrat, is a minority. Nusrat’s birth name is Elaine, a name given by her parents who still live in Watershed, New York. Nusrat is Elaine’s Islam name given to her by her husband from Afghanistan, Faiz; Nusrat translates to “help” in Islam. Nusrat met her husband, while getting her masters at Columbia and teaching in Manhattan. Faiz, a doctor in New York, becomes distraught by the turmoil and disruption being caused by the Taliban and knows he must go home to Afghanistan to help. Nusrat not wanting to stay without her husband, and also desperate to help in any way possible, accompanies Faiz to Peshawar, Pakistan where his family is seeking refuge in the affluent University Town district. Nusrat chooses to live closer to the refugee camp so that she can help even though it is more dangerous than living with Faiz’s family. At their home in Peshawar Elaine provides schooling for children at the refugee camp in Peshawar. During this time, Faiz has gone across the border, all the way to North Afghanistan to run a clinic for the mujahedeen (Afghans fighting against the Taliban) in Mazar-i-sharif. It is much more dangerous in Mazar-i-sharif and Nusrat worries somberly for her beloved husband.
Under the Persimmon Tree does exceptional work of using unique language. Fisher-Staples uses Dari in her work and often. Dari is a language very similar to the Persian spoken in Iran. Many languages have influenced Dari including Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, and English. Many of these words are also used in India, Pakistan, and other countries of the Middle East. The Dari flows off the page in a way that the reader can likely figure out what the word means without having to look it up. However, if they do, there is a glossary provided in the back of the book. Below is a list of some of the most commonly used words in the book and their English translations:
• Baba - father
• Mullah – a spiritual leader
• Naan – unleavened bread baked in a mud oven
• Pattu – woolen shawl worn by mean and women
• Saheba – term of respect
According to Tunnel et al multicultural books should, “Present a positive and reassuring representation of a reader’s own cultural group.” (Tunnel et al, 193) Under the Persimmon Tree definitely has had a profound effect on me. As a Christian there was a part at the end of the book that was very meaningful to me. One morning Nusrat and Najmah are drinking tea when Nusrat tells Najmah that God will help them find out about her father and brother. At this Najmah asks her, “What is the difference between Allah and the God of her childhood?” Nusrat replies, “They are the same. I don’t believe God cares by which language we name him.” I thought this was profound because I have often struggled with the same thought but have never been able to put it into words.
Tunnel et al also states that multicultural books should “Foster awareness, understanding, and appreciation of people who seem at first glance different from the reader.” I have learned a lot about the Middle East and Muslims after reading Under the Persimmon Tree. Due to the war in the Middle East, 9/11, and much of the media coverage done on it there has been a great misconception created about Islam and the majority of Muslims. News and media has a tendency to focus only on the very worst. Media can even exaggerate news in order to suit a specific agenda. Due to the fact that media only focuses on the Muslim fundamentalists or extremists much of the western world has been guilty of generalizing all Muslims in that negative light. Under the Persimmon Tree has taught me so much more about the Muslims who are staying to fight for their country, their family, and their tradition.
Under the Persimmon Tree is a very appealing in format. It is a mostly picture less chapter book. The one picture on the inside of the book is of a map of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and surrounding areas. This map is located at the beginning of the book and I found it to be very helpful. Under the Persimmon Tree talks about many different towns in Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially when Najmah was traveling from her home village of Golestan in the Kunduz province. The map served as a very visual representation to better understand how far Najmah traveled, and how far away Nusrat’s husband, Faiz, was.
One of my favorite things about this book is the glossary in the back. This could be a great tool to use for the classroom.
The illustration on the cover of the book was not very meaningful to me until after reading it. On the front there is a woman holding a persimmon, gazing up at the stars. The stars were very meaningful in this novel and were discussed a lot. Najmah’s name even means star. There is also a shooting star on the back. In the Middle East, many people believe that to see a shooting star is a bad omen. Nusrat taught Najmah that this was just a myth spread by evil people to strike fear in others in order to gain control over them.
After, Nusrat discovers that her husband has died she decides that she must go back to her family in America. While this makes her sad she is able to cope. While telling Asma, Faiz’s sister, that she is her family and culture of choice she says, “The culture in which I grew up doesn’t make me so unhappy now that I know what I believe in and what I value. I know who I love and why. My culture will always be with me wherever I go.” I believe this statement here is the essence of what makes this book a Notable Book for a Global Society
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Imagine being born into a family bound by the worship of evil spirits and the occult Fast forward to the streets of New York City, where bing the leader of one of America's most violent gangs was a badge of honor Share the miracle of a transformed life -- a life changed from bondage to drugs, violence and crime to a life serving Jesus Christ! This historic video presents the touching, true story of Nicky Cruz's life. You will marvel at the human drama of Nicky's story that gained worldwide attention in The Cross and the Switchblad e book and movie. You will share the former gang leader's spiritual experiences as you witness how God gave him the call to take the message of Jesus Christ to teen gangs throughout America and the world. Nicky Cruz has preached to more than 34 million worldwide in over 35 years of ministry and has been the guest of political figures and heads of state from around the world.
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