2021 October 24 – MA – male age 15 – Week 7

Today was my 7th week at GISLA and my homework was to write my essay, prepare for the test and research the story that Teacher O asked me to research. I completed these tasks and got to class around 9:30 this morning. I left my stuff in the classroom and headed to the prayer room for the 2 cycles of prayer and meditation. I’m really liking this routine where we start with the meditation;it helps me take all the stress of school and extracurriculars off my mind so I can just focus on the task at hand. Today I used “Alhamdulillah” as my word for meditation. The prayer room was absolutely silent and I could hear the clock ticking and my mind automatically synchronized my words with the ticking of the clock and for some reason that really helped me focus because I was only thinking about the meditation and nothing else.

Once we went into class, we almost immediately started testing. There was a new TA in class so Teacher Ji had me test out with him first so he could see how the testing process works in class. After that, I tested with teacher ji and almost immediately failed. I continued doing the test even though I had failed already and I learned the format in which the test had to be in. I also learned that I had to completely master the topic that we are being tested on. Mastery of a topic was also one of the major points teacher Ji highlighted in this class. Even though I only have 2 more testing opportunities left this year, I’m glad I tested today because now I have an idea of what I need to work on and improve.

Teacher Ji sent me to Teacher A after I had tested so I could revise the things that I needed to work on. Luckily, he gave me a small booklet that had all the aya’s of the surahs and their english translation written under them. That was the part I needed the most help with. I tested each aya singularly with teacher A for a few minutes but we did stray away from the main topic of conversation for a little while.

Teacher A and I talked about things that help with muscle recovery after a workout and how massage guns are really useful for nerve recovery. We also had a very in depth conversation about cameras. I told him how the aperture controls the depth of field in a camera but also how it changes the amount of light that goes into the camera. For a little while we talked about cameras and how phone cameras are becoming more revolutionized.

Then, teacher Ji told me and student S that we can take a practice test again and it wouldn’t count whether we failed or passed. So I took a few minutes to prepare for the practice test and went up to take it. If the practice test was real then it would have been a fail but I did get through the entirety of my 2 cycles and in the correct order and teacher Ji told me what corrections I needed to make. So it was really beneficial in terms of being more prepared for my next actual test.

Teacher Ji then told me to go to teacher O and have my prayer posture corrected but before that, student S did a demonstration of Qirat. She recited a surah really well and teacher ji recalled the time when turkish reciters came to the mosque and their recitation drove teacher ji to tears and that he had no control over the tears. It somewhat gave a representation of how powerful a recitation could be. This also reminded me of a man named Yahya Buisir because his recitations make me feel a very similar way.

Then I went through the prayer with teacher O to fix my posture. I learned that I had been making so many minor mistakes over the years and I probably would never have gotten the chance to know if I hadn’t come to this class at some point. It also amazed me how easy it is to elevate the quality of our prayer in such simple ways. Even the positioning of our feet when we sit or the words we say between sajdah can make such a large difference in the legitimacy/quality of our prayer.

After that, Teacher O took me, student S and student J to test our wudhu. Before heading in, I was thinking that “wudhu” is such a basic procedure and I shouldn’t have any trouble demonstrating it. I couldn’t have been more incorrect. I had messed up before I had even started. Today really felt like a development day from failing my test, to not having the correct posture and then not being completely informed of the procedures of wudhu. I could easily do the basic wudhu but I learned that, just like the posture, there are ways to elevate the wudhu to a much higher level. Teacher O taught us the complete correct ways to perform wudu and how to correctly perform each step of it. Then teacher Ji taught us what we should be saying/thinking when we are performing each step. Just like the lesson on posture, this lesson also highlighted how simple changes could drastically elevate the quality of wudhu.

We went back into class and transitioned into doing the presentations that we had been told about a few weeks ago. First, student S presented about the topic of origami and I can’t really say much about it because it was somewhat incoherent. I was interested in some of the things student S was saying but I wish there had been more of an elaboration on the topics that he spoke about. After that I presented and I didn’t do much better. Although this class has improved my presentation skills, I still rushed myself because I feel extremely under pressure while presenting. Now thinking back to it, I wish I had slowed down more and elaborated on each of the things I was talking about because I know I can do a better presentation on a topic that I am so passionate about (cameras/photography). After we had both sat down the rest of the class gave us some feedback and things to improve on. Most of them were things that I had noticed myself doing incorrectly when I was presenting. Some of the tips we got were, to take advantage of our surroundings (whiteboard), being more precise on our topic of conversation, not rushing, and adding a conclusion.

Teacher ji had most of the remainder of the class also do presentations on random topics of their choice after this. The presentation that caught my attention the most was student H’s presentation. He talked about a topic that was very personal to him. He told us about a clothing brand he started and how his grandfather had told him to continue his work in clothing after he had passed. Student H presented really confidently and I think everyone can use that presentation as a way to improve their own a little more.

Teacher Ji asked everyone how they would steal his 2021 model car if there was no way that the thief had gotten his keys or even talked to him. We all made random guesses and they all turned out to be incorrect. The answer was “RFID.” A radio frequency identification. It has a radio receiver and a transmitter and you can manipulate those frequencies that are sent to the receiver to make the door unlock itself. This transitioned us over to our conversation about scams. We talked about IRS scams and how immigrants are most susceptible to those types of scams because they get scared the most easily, whether it be due to the language barrier or fear of deportation or trouble with the government etc. Immigrants and older people are also targeted the most by these scam artists because they are the easiest to swindle. We also talked about how the most scams were happening through Tel Aviv in Israel.

After this class had basically come to an end. Before leaving, I was assigned to be responsible for student Y who is a new student to the class. My homework for this week is to write this essay, a summary of the story that teacher O told me to read about and strengthen my memorization of the surahs I have learned up until this point.

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