Alexis Santi . Photographer . Writer . Publisher . No Order .
I am quite early in my career as a photographer, however, I have a great deal of enthusiasm and love for the craft. My background and training is in the world of writing. I have always been highly observant, sensitive and aware of all around me. I believe life is told in a series of single moments that tell the world around us who we are, what we stand for. I have a Masters in Fine Arts in creative writing and am an accomplished writer with numerous publications. I publish the literary journal Our Stories, the only literary journal with a humanist business model. This world of writing, to me, is one where the vision and beauty reside in our collective imaginations, the unconscious and conscious minds. I have always been highly observant, sensitive and aware of all around me. I believe life is told in a series of single moments that tell the world around us who we are, what we stand for.I tell you in words what to see, to hear, to smell till it is a lapping lake of water, on sharp rocks, in May, before it is warm enough to wade into the lake. You are shivering but happy to be alive enough to know cold, to know that it makes you appreciate warmth. We may envision the words on the page but they do not come alive with an image outside of our imagination. I decided to start taking photographs because I wanted my friends to see the world as I saw it. Thank you.Read more
LGBTQ student travel in Africa
Published by OSAC
For lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) students, traveling or studying abroad in Sub-Saharan Africa can present unique safety and security concerns. LGBT students face challenges ranging from verbal harassment, stalking, intimidation, and sometimes even violence. Simply disclosing alternative gender and sexual identities can have dangerous consequences, and some African countries threaten jail sentences for homosexual activity.
Many African countries have pending or implemented anti-gay legislation that limits the rights of gay men and women and criminalizes same-sex relationships. Of the 53 African countries, 38 have criminalized consensual gay relationships, and many colonial sodomy laws remain on the books. South Africa is the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa that has legalized same-sex marriage, though anti-gay violence remains high, and crimes such as “corrective rape” continue to occur. Over 30 lesbian women have been murdered in South Africa in the last 10 years. Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Ghana criminalize homosexuality and have pursued prosecution against suspected homosexuals.
OSAC constituents are likely to encounter anti-gay campaigns or cultural attitudes that may be different from Western standards. Being informed about local laws, customs, and cultural attitudes is important for successfully transitioning into a new culture. In addition, U.S. citizens are subject to the laws and judicial process of host nation governments, and understanding legal issues–such as the legality of same-sex partnerships or specific laws pertaining to gender and sexual identity–will help keep LGBT travelers safe.
Best Practices from OSAC Constituents in Academia
Addressing issues of LGBT safety and security abroad helps prepare students’ expectations and helps them avoid potential unsafe situations. Some academic OSAC constituents have incorporated LGBT issues into their orientation programs for study abroad. Others have hosted workshops, distributed written materials, or conducted pre- and post- trip interviews with LGBT students to both inform them and record their experiences to help inform future LGBT-identifying students. OSAC academic constituents with programs in Africa contributed to the below summary of best practices for preparing LGBT students for life abroad, which may be useful to all OSAC constituents, regardless of industry:
Provide a forum or a space for travelers to ask questions or voice their concerns about LGBT living in Africa.
Outline the LGBT resources or support organizations available in the U.S., on campus, or in the destination country, if available.
Educate travelers on host nation restrictions surrounding freedom of expression and association as it pertains to LGBT communities.
Collect, document, and share past LGBT student experiences traveling, living, or studying in Africa.
Discuss local laws prohibiting homosexuality.
Provide suggestions to travelers on how to deescalate confrontations or remove themselves from potentially unsafe situations.
Advise students to travel and go out in groups.
Recommend travelers consider how their LGBT identity may impact their relationships with host nationals, local students, and faculty.
Advise against excessive displays of affection in public.
Be wary of “new-found friends” who could be criminals trying to exploit LGBT travelers.
Suggest LGBT students establish a support structure in the U.S., amongst fellow students or administrators.
Discuss how cultural perceptions and behavioral signals around LGBT people can be different in Africa than they are in the U.S. For example, men and women holding hands with friends of the same gender may be common, while certain types of dress, hairstyles, and jewelry may be associated with homosexuality.
Advise students that being “open and out” can invite harassment.
Educate travelers on local cultural attitudes, such as the belief that homosexuality is “un-African,” that it is imported from developed nations, that it does not exist in Africa, or that it is “immoral.”
Though travel in Africa will likely continue to have its challenges for LGBT students in the near-term, most travelers have positive and fulfilling experiences. Being cognizant of local laws, perceptions, and the general security environment is important to mitigating risks associated with LGBT study, work, or travel in Africa. The wave of anti-gay legislation and campaigns in the last five years in Africa could be a reaction to homosexuality being more openly discussed, the growing visibility of the LGBT community, or a reaction to international pressure by donor countries to improve gay rights.
To provide feedback on this report or for further information on West and Central Africa, please contact OSAC’s Regional Coordinator for West and Central Africa.
 “The Love that Still Dare not Speak its Name,” The Independent. 11 January 2010.
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Day 4 – Hebrew University
We left early in the morning for Hebrew University.
The first thing we did was see the University dorms for our students. The dorms are swank. We found out there is a bomb shelter in every room, a concrete enforced room. We had a long discussion about the University’s work in sharing information with students and the uprising in November. The student services office did excellent work in communicating with study abroad offices and parents.
We then met with a group of the security members of the University. Essentially the campus security team.
The campus sits between two Arab villages on a hillside. The entire campus is surrounded by a fence. That fence has a sensor on it so that if anyone touches the fence the camera that zooms in. In addition there are 140 student guards that patrol the perimeter. Only student guards. All Israeli students have to be part or the army and only students are the guards.
In July of 2003 9 people died in a terrorist attack of a pack of explosives.
Since then security has increased and the fences went up completely around the campus and patrols increased. The chief of security shared that there response time is 5 minutes maximum.
Students are allowed to have firearms in campus but they are required to have them registered. The campus takes their orders and makes rules based in the local police and IDF (Israeli Defense Foundation). The chief of security mentioned a telling point that he saw his role as not running security but mitigating risk. That his job was to minimize the impact that security had learning, in the same way that housing or food would not impact their academic prospects.
After our security tour we met with the Rothberg Institute, which is the English speaking wing of the Hebrew University. The courses taught are a variety of what are the needs of the students, they have a very diverse amount of work from law, history to film. All income comes from tuition no income from government or additional support. Their prices are about 12k a year.Read more
Day 2 – Old City & Wailing wall
We walked around the old city through the Jaffa gate and walked our way through the old city.
We went through the city and wound our way through the maze into the the area known as the western wall.Read more