Jan 29,2008

A unique Ismaili Business Conference is to be held in Houston, Texas on Saturday February 16th and Sunday February 17th, 2008. All Ismaili business owners, professionals, and those interested in joining the dynamic and exciting business world are encouraged to attend this event.  This conference will encompass a wide range of topics including important keynote sessions, sessions on traditional businesses such as convenience stores and fast food restaurants to real estate investments, hotel management, and sessions on emerging businesses. There will also be parallel sessions on financing, marketing and how to get the next generation engaged in family business.

The objectives of this conference are to introduce to the participants:

Methods of improving and enhancing the performance and value of their businesses by means of technology, professionalism, diversification and other innovative strategies.
To introduce to the attendees the spectrum of opportunities in the business world; in both traditional and emerging businesses.
Provide an exceptional opportunity for networking with other Ismaili entrepreneurs and professionals.

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  Posted in         Islamic Articles
Jan 14,2008

Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) has evolved into a global industry. Teaching English abroad has become a great way to spend a few years overseas and experience the world before returning home. From Japan to Bulgaria, from Swaziland to Brazil, you will find a market for ESL almost anywhere.For workers in many countries, fluency in English is a ticket into the best high schools and universities, as well as into the global economy. Which helps explain why every day, with classes starting as early as 6 a.m. and continuing through to 10 p.m., millions and millions of students all over the world attend English classes. And they all need teachers to help them do it.

^ So, what does “teaching English” mean? The job can cover a wide variety of tasks and situations. You may find yourself chatting with students in a “conversation class,” teaching grammar and writing, or helping students prep for high school exams, the TOEFL and the SAT. A common situation is teaching at a “language institute” set up solely for the purpose of teaching English. Students come to these institutes for an hour or two every day, taking courses lasting from a few weeks to several months. As a teacher at one of these institutes, you might be teaching up to eight classes a day, often split between early morning classes and late afternoon/evening classes.

In addition, English teachers can be found working in private kindergartens, elementary and high schools, in the public education system, in government- run programs, in company training programs, volunteering in remote villages, working at prestigious universities and on remote oil rigs. Some of these positions require more teaching qualifications and experience than others. The fact that a teacher is a native speaker of English is the most important qualification for the job.

Because of the diversity of experiences, the flexibility of requirements and the low barriers to entry, teaching English attracts a wide variety of people, from career professional ESL teachers with Master’s degrees, to (more commonly) younger teachers in their 20s and 30s.

The two most common areas of the world to teach English in are currently North Asia (Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan) and Eastern Europe (the Czech Republic, Poland, and countries like Bulgaria and Hungary). As it prepares for E.U. admission, Turkey has also seen increased demand for English teachers. Latin America also offers some opportunities, though here the demand for “native speakers” is not as high and many language courses rely on locals with good language skills.

So, where should you go? It depends on your motivation for wanting to teach English in the first place. Is it lifestyle or money that is motivating you? Are you interested in a certain part of the world?

If you’re interested in money, there are places where teaching can be quite lucrative. North Asia is still your best bet if making and saving money is your goal. Private tutoring (teaching private or small group lessons on the side) provides ample opportunities to make extra money. Hourly rates can range up to $50/hour, though the best gigs are often monopolized by teachers who have been in the country for a long time. China currently does not offer salaries that match with those offered in Japan, Korea or Taiwan, though demand for private lessons and English teachers is increasing as the economy there expands. Teaching English in certain Middle Eastern countries, such as Dubai and Saudi Arabia, can also be lucrative, though these positions are typically limited to men for cultural reasons.

In other areas of the world, the attraction of teaching English is less about the money. As the director of an ESL institute in Prague says: “We provide accommodation assistance, pay work permit and residency visa fees, pay for health insurance and teacher bonuses. However, if you are hoping to put aside money to pay off student or housing loans in your home country, you should consider teaching elsewhere. Above all else, you should come to Prague for the experience.”

Source: Vault.com

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  Posted in         Islamic Articles
Jan 12,2008

Kelvin Browne, National Post Published: Saturday, January 12, 2008





By Philip Jodidio

“This book is not about architecture,” says Philip Jodidio, author of Under the Eaves of Architecture, the Aga Khan: Builder and Patron. He explains that, “It’s about a man and his commitment to bettering the life of many through improvements to the physical environment.”

The man is Prince Karim Aga Khan. He’s the 49th hereditary iman, or spiritual leader, of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. He succeeded his grandfather in this role in 1957 at the age of 20. Approximately 15 million Ismailis live in more than 25 countries, including Canada and the United States.

Among other things, the book documents the winners of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture that began in 1977, illustrates the successes of the Aga Khan Historic Cities Program, and describes four fascinating new projects in Canada. These include the delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa, the Ismaili Centre and Jamatkhana, the Aga Khan Museum, and the gardens that unite these two projects on a single site in Toronto. What’s unexpected is not the architecture the book showcases, which is mostly excellent, but the philosophy of the Aga Khan that maintains good architecture is a foundation for a better life.

This belief is beyond a narrow sense of architecture contributing to a spiritual life via religious buildings as you might as sume the Aga Khan’s focus might be. In an interview in the book from March, 2007, His Highness says, “In much of Islamic architecture you find a sense of spirituality. You find that spirituality not only in religious building. If you think of the history of landscape architecture and you relate that to references to heaven in the Koran, you find very strong statements about the value of the environment, the responses to the senses, to scent, to noise, music or water. You do not treat these spaces as theological spaces, you treat them as spaces that aim to give you a sense of spiritual happiness.”

The environment, built and natural, is intrinsic to our quality of life. This isn’t just rhetoric or someone getting on a trendy bandwagon. The Aga Khan was a pioneer environmentalist. One of his first projects in the early 1960s was on the beautiful but largely undeveloped Costa Smeralda. He gave himself the dual mandate of raising the standard of living of people there and, at the same time, protecting the remarkable landscape. Only recently have other developers tried to do both.

The Aga Khan says that when he first assumed his role and began to travel the world, he came into contact with poverty that was indescribable. Because of this, it’s understandable his interest in architecture was initially driven by how it could help improve the quality of life of the really poor. Ahead of his time again, he then realizes that, “Whereas in the consumer societies of the West you can build and then pull things down, in these ultra-poor societies you cannot afford to do that. What you have to do is to modify buildings or adjust them; therefore, the flexibility of the plan that you put into place has to be conceived with a different view of time than it would be in other parts of the world.”

He goes on to explain the difficulties of a western conception of architecture in poor countries and how important it is not impose this approach in terms of what is needed from a programmatic perspective or how a building should look. With the overwhelming influence of the modern (and western) approach to building in the 1960s and ’70s, literally using the local vernacular or the lessons it could give vis-a-vis sustainability seldom happened. While it seems obvious now, this insight was truly enlightened 40 years ago.

When Mr. Jodidio asks why the Aga Khan created an award for architecture, the notion of sustainability is implicit in his response. “One of the factors leading to the award was what I would call the deconstruction of the cultural inheritance … We worried about the loss of cultural continuity in the physical environment … there was no serious analysis of traditions and how they came into place, or how they could be revived and used in modern buildings.”

At the conclusion of the interview, the Aga Khan reiterates his holistic notion of the place of architecture in life. He says, “You cannot conceive of quality of life change without integrating the physical environment. Everyday you live under a roof.”

Source: http://www.nationalpost.com/life/homes/story.html?id=232191&p=2

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  Posted in         Ismaili News