Monthly Archives: August 2014



Doroud from Persia
Doroud is hello in Persian, although the word Salam, which is the Arabic word for “peace”, is more widely used today. I am Marzieh; I was born in Isfahan, Iran. I lived in the UK for around 4 years during my childhood. I studied my Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Language in Isfahan and my Master’s in English Literature in Sheffield, UK. I am currently a translator and editor of medical texts. I live in Isfahan, which you might have heard of in the news concerning its nuclear reactors, but it is actually famous for much more than just that. We call Isfahan ‘nesfe jahan’ meaning ‘half of the world’. Isfahan was the capital of old Persia, so it has many beautiful, old buildings and palaces. It is also famous for its bridges and Islamic architecture. The heart of the city is the Zayandeh Rood river (life-giving river), which is currently dry and lifeless and the cause of much sadness and anger for its residents. Iran is a multicultural country and home to many different linguistic, ethnic, and religious groups of people; Turks, Baloch, Kurds, Armenians, Zoroastrians, Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, and Jews just to name a few. The variety and collaboration has always intrigued me. I hope I can provide a more realistic image of life in Iran in this blog than that you might have seen through the media.
I agree with David on the need for “more communication across borders” and the opportunity the internet provides. The fact that those in power, like in Iran, fear this medium of communication and try to control and limit it as much as possible is in itself proof of its power and ability to create change. So, I am excited about this blog and look forward to hearing more about you all.


Howdy Y’all


This is what I thought it would be like to be a freelance writer. It isn’t. But it’s fun to pretend.

For starters, this is not the way I speak. At all. Ever. I am not a “y’all” kind of gal. But “Howdy y’all” is about as American (or at least as Texan) as it gets when it comes to greeting an audience (and no, I am not a Texan). “Y’all” (short for “you all”) comes from the southern portion of the United States, a country so big and vast and diverse in culture, cuisine and landscape that it’s really not that surprising to learn that most of the population never leaves (over 70% do not even have passports). And “howdy”? Well, howdy is a term we Americans have come to associate with cowboys and southern folk. It isn’t something you’ll hear in New York City or Boston or Chicago, and certainly not in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is the part of this country that I currently call home. But “Howdy y’all” does encompass the one thing that I feel Americans (or at least Midwesterners) have going for themselves, and that is this shameless and indiscriminate offering of hospitality. It is a friendliness that is assumed rather than earned, and though much of the business world may function without it (hospitality not being terribly efficient and all), many Americans pride themselves on it.

But lest I fall into the dangerous position of speaking for all Americans of all kinds, let me tell you a little (or more than a little) about myself. I’m originally from the cornfields of Nebraska, a state smack dab in the middle of the U.S. I did my undergrad in a small town the northwestern corner of Iowa (also in the Midwest) and spent 2-3 years living in Kansas and Missouri before leaving the center of the country to move out west to the great land of California. (More on that later.)

Growing up, I was never overly proud about being an American. But I was never ashamed of it either. Not until I studied in Oxford in 2007 and then lived in the midlands of England in 2009. I also traveled to Barcelona and Amsterdam in 2009, to Paris and Zurich in 2011, and many parts of Italy in 2012. I had to grapple with my nationality. To confess my ignorance of global issues and apologize for atrocities committed by the hands of fellow citizens. I went through phases of denying my origins and longing for an EU passport that would get me out of the “American” line (that is, unless I was returning to the States, in which case I was happy to bypass the heightened security). Through experience and education and a lot of cross-cultural conversation I have learned to embrace my roots without being bound to them. To accept the privilege of growing up in such a place and the duty of sharing myself and my resources with a bigger broader world.

This is SF's famous Golden Gate Bridge. I am a fan.

This is SF’s famous Golden Gate Bridge. I am a fan.

I am currently a graduate student in the middle of a two-year program. I’m earning a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative NonFiction Writing (the only genre that is defined by what it is not, rather than what it is). I have a background in journalism and blogging and am finding that my favorite things to write are personal essays that attempt to make sense of the messiness of life and profile pieces that shine light on the neglected and/or tell the stories of people who are hunting down their dreams. I write for a local paper, tutor at a nearby high school and visit the beach as often as I can. (This is a huge luxury for a girl who grew up thousands of miles from a shoreline).

IMG_0244I also love cooking and eating and trying new things. I learned to make cookies from my mother, chili from a cookbook, curry from a Pakistani immigrant, rice from an Iranian immigrant and soup from a friend who could make a go at running a catering business. I started food writing this past January and have thoroughly enjoyed all that this has entailed. Food is something that brings us together, across times and cultures and languages and boundaries. We all need physical food and human connection, no matter where we come from or what our dietary restrictions. The pairing of the two is nearly irresistible.

I prefer this look. It is the best.

I prefer this look. It is the best.

As an emerging writer, I am super excited about participating in these blog posts and conversations. I am happy to be rooting myself in the Bay Area, in a land of innovation and diversity, a place that welcomes new ideas. But I am always also seeking to reach a broader audience at an extended radius, to make the world a little smaller, as it were, and I think that blogging is one way of doing that.

So greetings from California, and “howdy” from the United States. This will be a great adventure, and one that I am eager to come along on.

– A.K. Carroll

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G’day From DownUnder.

2014 Kyoto-1-8

G’day” is an old fashioned Aussie greeting but some of still use it with no sense of irony. (It would seem I might be a little old fashioned.)

An introduction is a strange beastie, it is a thoroughly inaccurate sketch of ourselves that we offer people who don’t know us so that we can then pretend we are no longer strangers.

Perhaps it is our chance to establish the lens through which we HOPE other people will see us, some kind of meagre attempt to control how we are seen, inviting people to interpret us in a particular way, a way we might be comfortable with.

Well, as I think I just demonstrated, I am a bit of thinker, I have been told more than once that I think “too much” (Not quite sure if that is possible.) and I have been told that I would benefit from more DOING and less thinking. I agree with that second suggestion for a bunch of reasons (Which might appear in a post at some point.).

Hi, I’m Mikel Ocean Azure.

Blues are my favourite colour, the ocean calms my soul and teaches me wisdom.

My first name is an invitation to humility. Mikel (Michael) in Hebrew is actually a question. The question – “Who is like God?”.

In biblical Hebrew a question can be asked in such a way that everyone knows the answer must be “no”. That is my name – best way to describe in English would be “Who is like God? No-one.” I like that, none of us are higher, none of us are special, set apart. In this framework we are the same – all of us are not like Divinity. We are here on our beautiful mudball of a planet with only each other to help us create something good.

OK, so it seems I am also a bit of a closet philosopher and theologian, also have a tendency to get preachy from time to time. 🙂 Philosophically I tend towards Existentialism, theologically I couldn’t tell you any accurate label to slap on me – maybe “in the flow” and leave it at that.

I am a somewhat solitary soul, a moderate introvert who loves people, enjoys community and aspires to contribute something sweet to any relationship or community I am part of. I hope I can contribute to THIS brand new community along the way.

Oh! I am an Australian by birth and have lived here all my life. I don’t think there is a “typical” Australian but there may be a few qualities or values that we particularly focus on in ways different from other nations. Let those emerge in the conversations to come.

I am a sensualist, you may observe that I often use adjectives and adverbs related to food and taste ..(Sweet…for example.)… I delight in having a body and in soaking up all the fantastic sensations my body sings and trembles and thunders with. The whole spectrum of sensation sources – from sexual touch to the breeze on my cheek, from chilli heat on my tongue to the way muscles slide against each other every minute of the day. Sensations and all the truths they whisper…love them.  

So, I’m all up in my head and I’m all down in my body and I’m an explorer and traveller so I’m all up in the world as well.   And the best part of this old world?  The people, I never stop being amazed, delighted, challenged, grieved and enriched by the people I meet all over the planet.

David has set the purpose of this blogging experiment very clearly and I share his fundamental belief that we all need more connections with each other and that the planet, the human race, needs more positive connections across boundaries and borders.

I am excited to be part of Its A Small Word (ISW?), really looking forward to hearing, learning, receiving from all over the planet.

MMM and….I’m an explorer, a poet, storyteller, counsellor, traveller, photographer, single person and I think Stitch is simply THE coolest dude ever.

Nice to meet you, I hope the time we travel together is good for both of us.


It’s small wor…ld


I’m Abner, my name is Hebrew (from the Bible), I was made in Colombia (my mum is originally from there) and I was born in a remote town in the Ecuadorian Amazon region. However, my family moved to the capital, Quito, just before I started school. Then, when I was 21, I moved to the UK where I spent 10 years of my life. I’ve traveled about 51 countries and now I’m back in Ecuador for a little while. When people ask me: where am I from? I usually hesitate about my answer…

The truth is I don’t feel like I am from anywhere in particular. I like to think of myself as a universal citizen. I think borders are just imaginary lines that help us, among other things, to divide ourselves. More or less like the line that a dog draws when he pees in the garden and wants us to think that he owns that piece of it.

Indeed, borders are historical accidents. If I was born 500 hundred years ago in the same place, I would have been from one of the 17 tribes that populated that region all the way down to what is now North Peru. If I was born 300 years ago, I would have been Spanish (if I was born from a Spanish family) or an aborigine slave with no rights or nationality, the king’s property. If the political ideals keep growing the way they are going in this region and I am born in 200 years, I think I won’t be Ecuadorian anymore, I will probably be a citizen of the Great South-American Republic. Therefore, nationalities are also volatile.

So, I see the world as one, rich, diverse, complex, beautiful, etc… but one. And, since it is one, I’m very happy to be part of this project. It’s a small world… with a colossal heart.

What The World Needs Now…

David Fee

Well hello.

I am David, from Campbeltown in Scotland, on the continent of Europe, planet Earth.  And this is the very first blog for  “It’s A Small Word”. The plan over the coming weeks and months,  perhaps years and decades, is for myself and six other people from around the world to have an ongoing blog based conversation. This will be a conversation inspired and fed by our geographical distance, and by our cultural and personal differences. Hopefully it will be a conversation that helps us to establish and develop intercontinental friendships, as well as encouraging us to learn from, to laugh, and to grow with each other.  I hope that, in addition, it entertains and inspires it’s readers and perhaps encourages you to try something similar.

Because let’s face it, what the world needs now, as well as “love, sweet love”, is simply a greater amount of getting to know each other. Across borders and boundaries. It’s easy (sometimes!) talking with family, friends, and members of our own tribe. A much greater challenge comes when we step out of our comfort zones. But it is clear, just from watching the news, that all the bad stuff taking place on our planet occurs when people fail to talk, really talk, with other people who happen to be different from them. The internet has been a great boon in helping us to break down some of those divides. But Facebook can only take us so far.

It was Facebook though, with all it’s faults, that helped spark the idea for this blog. I realised that I had managed to pick up FB Friends from every corner of the globe. Some I had met in person, some I hardly even knew at a Facebook level. And having failed miserably to keep up with an earlier blog I had started, which was supposed to be a daily affair, it occurred to me how great it would be to share the burden with people from different regions of the world. And not just that. I realised that it would be cool to blog in a more communal, conversational way,  making it less of the lonely, occasionally narcistic business it can be.

So I approached six  likely looking Facebook buddy suspects. And each of them came back to me with an enthusiastically warm response to the idea. Which was all the encouragement I needed. Unfortunately two of them are unable to participate right now (which is maybe where you could come in) but we’re still kicking off this week with five willing victi…ahem…volunteers. As well as myself we have Abner, from Ecuador, Mikel, from Australia, Marzieh, from Iran, and Neale from South Africa. We are still on the look out for bloggers from somewhere, anywhere, in N. America and E. Asia (and it would be nice to have more women as Marzieh is our only female representative right now).

This blog, like the sun, will be travelling west around the globe. (OK, you pedants, I know the sun isn’t the one moving. Doh!) This week is a time for introductions, but we’re probably  going to be suggesting topics as a kind of focus for each month. Hopefully, over time, there will be a nice mixture of the serious and the sublime, the hilarious and the ridiculous, the personal and the profound. Bear with us as we go through the gears and get things moving. And I hope you can join us in this journey by adding your comments. Constructive and uplifting ones of course.

So, for now, from Scotland, goodbye. And on to Ecuador. Hola Abner!

David Fee

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