The Love Notes from Tunis series is the true story of a young man's recent experience teaching American culture and politics at a Tunisian university, and the year's struggle for empathy and intimacy between clashing individuals, lovers and cultures. Developing the inside perspective of a professor employed by the Tunisian government--a corrupt and repressive dictatorship--the unlikely teacher finds the strength to reach out to his students yet hold true to his ideals. The memoir is particularly timely considering recent political turmoil and revolutions fueled by young people throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Candid discussions on sexuality, racism, globalization and issues of democracy and justice allow young Tunisian Muslims to speak in their own voices to confront and explore mutual prejudices, misconceptions and stereotypes. Challenging dialogue unfolds, such as deconstructing American gangster rap and transgender identity with classrooms of women in hijabs and men hostile to authority--resentful of, yet fascinated by, American culture. But building trust and affection comes at a price. What emerges is the story of differing individuals struggling to overcome suspicion and miscommunication, find compassion and common humanity and simply endure in a country ruled by fear, intimidation and arbitrary abuses of power. Ultimately it is an uplifting account of relationships--the painful yet rewarding search for understanding, friendship and romance between people chancing a crossroad of Tunisia and America, Islam and the West.
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