Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein

Marjane Satrapi Talks Writing & Freedom

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein November 2, 2014

“The world can go to hell if you have at least one person to lean on.”  — Marjane Satrapi This past Friday, writer and filmmaker Marjane Satrapi spoke about her life to a room full of high school students at the First Methodist Church in downtown Chicago. As part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, Marjane […]

Read the full article →

Review: Curse of an Addict — Zanzibar

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein July 23, 2014

Curse of An Addict—Zanzibar Director: Lovinsa Kavuma UK/Uganda, 2014 It’s been a month since I was first introduced to Seif and I can’t get him out of mind. Seif was a heroin addict who lived in Stone Town, Zanzibar, and I ‘met’ him through a harrowing short documentary about his life called Curse of an […]

Read the full article →

Jesus for Jews — A Love Story

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein April 15, 2014

I got my first period when I was thirteen years old — on the morning of my Bat Mitzvah. I was feeling chosen.  There was no time to spare. My older sister Nina taught me how to insert a tampon, and off I went to get my hair braided at a salon located in a […]

Read the full article →

Changing Stories, Stories for Change

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein April 7, 2014

  We know a good story can change us. But can our stories really change society? Writers, poets, journalists, arts educators, and cultural activists based in and around Dar es Salaam, Tanzania convened on Saturday March 8 at Soma Book Cafe to explore the link between art and social change in a one-day workshop organized […]

Read the full article →

Flying Paper: a film review

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein December 9, 2013
flying paper

I recently watched a screening of the feature-length documentary film Flying Paper, directed by Nitin Sawhney and Roger Hill, at the Downtown Islamic Center in Chicago. Today I’m thinking about people around the world trapped in political nightmares and ideological wars waged beyond anyone’s reach. I’m also thinking about what the arts can do to […]

Read the full article →

How to break up with an island

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein October 6, 2013
2013-03-21 18.31.06

Step #1 — Unfairly blame all your unhappiness on the island. And then realize the island is YOU. Many of us spent our days trying to explain the inexplicable of Zanzibar. A vortex, a magnet, a spell. It’s the tiny island with an epic history, whose trade winds speak the language of spirits. It’s a […]

Read the full article →

One [billion] rising, Zanzibar

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein March 1, 2013

Violence against girls and women is the world’s most disturbing open secret.  One out of three women in the world will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.  Many girls’ first sexual experiences are unwanted. She was raped by someone she knew. He beat me, but I love him. Story after story of violence against […]

Read the full article →

Speaking truth to power

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein February 13, 2013
sauti za busara

When we listen to our favorite musicians, click on a Youtube video, share a link, float on a sound cloud from one good song to the next, we don’t usually think about what it took to make that song available to us. If we’re at all connected to the music world, we might sympathize with the woes […]

Read the full article →

PO KO MO — the (Swahili) grammar of being

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein January 12, 2013

Wherever I am/I am what is missing. – Mark Strand Uko wapi? Where are you? It’s how most conversations begin on mobile phones in Zanzibar. The question seems simple enough. But it unleashes a litany of other existential and crucial concerns beneath the surface: What’s your state and who is there with you? How far […]

Read the full article →

A morning with “Mr. Hurricane” – Haji Gora Haji, Zanzibar’s most beloved poet

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein October 12, 2012

Just when I think that Zanzibar and I are at complete odds with each other, I have a morning like this one, where a beloved poet walks into my office and speaks to me in poetry. Never mind that he is approximately 80 years-old and speaks a kind of Swahili that is so deep and […]

Read the full article →

Suicide, local. Suicide, global. (And it was already too much).

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein April 24, 2012

Last month, a Zanzibari teenage girl jumped from the second floor of her school building to her death. It happened on a Thursday in the Hurumzi neighbourhood of Stone Town, Zanzibar. Some say she was the victim of mashetani — spirits – who had descended upon the school building, sparking mass hysteria on Tuesday and Wednesday, […]

Read the full article →

Confessions of an American freak out

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein March 11, 2012

I should have seen it coming – every time I fly from Zanzibar to the United States, a wild range of cravings start roaming my mind and body, eventually holding me hostage with desire. Thoughts of various kinds of cheese keep me up at night. I spend my afternoons on Google researching varieties of maple […]

Read the full article →

Dreams and visions: A visit to Mohammed’s underground wedding chapels of southern Ethiopia

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein February 5, 2012

When is the last time you remembered a dream? Saw images in your mind as palpable points of light, saw roadmaps and systems, heard the word of god? I barely remember my dreams let alone follow any distinguishable directions given by friends, presidents, or gods there within. I find it nearly impossible to remember my […]

Read the full article →

Come for the cultural dissonance, stay for the chai: Ten ways to best make it through your study abroad days

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein January 23, 2012

If you went to a liberal arts college in the United States, it’s very likely that you turned twenty-one in a foreign (to you) city, trying to find yourself and meanwhile getting lost in a new language. I turned twenty-one in Nairobi, Kenya – and not the one we think of today, packed with coffee […]

Read the full article →

This must be the place. (Home is where the sea turtles are).

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein November 25, 2011

I kept thinking about home on the way to a sea turtle conservation center located at the northern most tip of Zanzibar, in the village of Nungwi. It was an early, rain-soaked Saturday morning, and as we wound up Zanzibar’s roads lined with lush green banana leaves and bursting coconut palms, I was thinking a […]

Read the full article →