This class was INCREDIBLE. If you only know a little about the Palestinian/Israeli issue, you will leave this class knowing more than you could possibly imagine, as happened to me. If you know much about the issue, this class will provide you with incredible insight and resources to further cultivate your understanding and knowledge of the political and social background to the conflict. You will learn A LOT, regardless of how well versed you were in the issue before you took the class. Professor Massad touches on all of the most important details of the conflict from its historical beginnings to our current day. He assigns readings that are super interesting and extremely informative. We were assigned readings written by Israeli, Arab, Jewish and Muslim scholars, and even read two novellas. Though Massad has come under scrutiny from Zionists for being biased in teaching this course, that is quite untrue. Just because he is a Palestinian professor does not mean he is incapable of teaching us material that puts the Palestinians in an unfavorable position when history points to that. We talked a lot about the incompetence of Palestinian leadership and a lot about Arab powers and their fluctuations in their attitudes towards the Palestinian question. Regardless of this, it is ignorant to call this class biased and illegitimate simply because Massad tells the truth about the atrocities committed on the Palestinian people. Though professor Massad is GENIUS and eloquent, he does tends to jump around during lectures in terms of dates, so try and keep a mental timeline of what events are taking place when. It might even be helpful to write one out. I highly recommend this class to anyone!! I took it to fulfill a gen.ed. but have become quite invested in the issue, and this class has also helped me shape my thesis for one of my majors. Though it was a lot of work it was really worth it.
Cheryl is likely the best TA you will ever have. This class was very challenging with tons of readings and I definitely would not have gotten through it without her. The weekly assignments she gives forces you to analyze the text and think more critically, and she uses a variety of methods to get you to engage with the material while making it a lot more enjoyable. Yes, there is a fair amount of work but when exams arrive you will find that it was all worth it. She is extremely dedicated, passionate and very helpful. She has a high standard but she gives you the best chance of reaching it. You will be a stronger student after a semester with Cheryl.
Cheryl is a great indication of why the lecture system (and some of the Global Core) is broken...because she demonstrates how these classes should actually function. This section is a lot of work, but you learn a ton and get very, very good at completing long form assignments. Even just taking this class as a junior, I probably learned the most about good work, thinking, and writing habits in this class. Her weekly assignments can be excruciating in a packed week, but she gives you a full week to complete them, which seems fair. She also provides video (Youtube) content and a paper assignment to get the class thinking deeper about the material, while also giving an actual CONTEMPORARY account of Islamic cultures (a major failing of Professor Saliba's curriculum). A major theme of the course is the portrayal of Muslims in the media, and Cheryl's supplements help to show the progress that has been made since 1970 in giving the "Muslim world" (itself a challenged term) some kind of voice and agency. The larger paper assignment is, again, more work, but she gives a solid variety of options so a) she doesn't read the same paper over and over again (a testament to her passion) and b) the writer can choose a topic that suits his/her interests. Too bad she will not be TAing this class anymore, but you would be lucky to have her in another class (if you are up to the challenge)!
Cheryl expects dedication and hard work from her students but in return for this she will treat you with great baked goodies and wonderful handouts and review sessions for the midterm and final. Be prepared to work hard but you will be prepared for the midterm and final better than those in other sections. I recommend taking a discussion section with her if you want to learn as much as possible and get a good grade. Just be ready to work, don't expect an assignment-free discussion section.
Do everything you can to land Cheryl as your TA. She will prepare you for the exam better than anyone, and bake you delicious treats better than anyone. She will also learn your name and write nice things on the top of your homework. Most importantly, she will make the required weekly recitations worth your time. You. Need. Cheryl. If you do the required readings, it is more than enough for you to be able to participate in recitation (and that counts for 20% of your grade in the course).
Cheryl is a wonderful TA who puts in a lot of effort to make sure that you are getting the most out of the course. The homework assignments are more time-consuming in her section but they ensure that you will be prepared for the exam. She goes over the material thoroughly and provides the tools (videos, hw, etc) that allow you to get a strong grip on all the topics covered in class. She is also really fast at responding to e-mails which is really useful.
Cheryl is by far the most dedicated and energetic TA I've encountered at Columbia. It's true that her section has a much heavier workload than any of the others, but if youâ€™re looking to really get something out of the class then I think itâ€™s worth it. She is also a stickler for attendance and being on time, but she only has 50 minutes a week and manages to thoroughly go over all the readings and make time for discussion and student presentations in that short amount of time. The reading list for this class is very long, but Cheryl kept us on track so that we wouldnâ€™t fall behind when it came time for the midterm and final. She also organizes 2 hour review sessions for the midterm and final on her own time, which I found extremely helpful in preparing for the exams. (She also brings home-made cakes and cookies to class, which is a nice reward for the extra work!) If youâ€™re not afraid of a heavy workload, can get to class on time, and really want to take something away from the class, then try to get into Cherylâ€™s section!
One of the best TAs I've had at Columbia. You want to be in her section. Although she does make you do more work than the other sections, this is a huge bonus for the exams. She makes sure that you know what you need to know to do well on Saliba's exams. She responds quickly to emails and goes the extra mile to make sure her students are prepared. A wonderful TA, she's the reason I got an A in the class. There are weekly papers to write for her section, but if you're attending her section and doing her work, you almost don't need to attend the lectures by Saliba.
We had a ton of work for her section (3-5 page responses due every week) but it was well worth it - we were really prepared for both the midterm and final. I kind of wish she taught the course instead of Saliba - she made the info seem less random and more cohesive instead of just a bunch of random readings. Definitely aim to get into her section if you can. Still confused about the curve, because Saliba said that every recitation is curved individually so we all freaked out that if we all do well a 90 will be a B but in the end most people did fine.
If you have the chance, take Cheryl's recitation group. You won't find a better and more knowledgeable TA for Islamic Civ. She will demand a lot of you but the work will most definitively reflect in your exam performance. She prepares her group members very thoroughly for the exams. Be on time and submit your assignments by the deadline and you will have no issues. Remember, the recitation performance counts toward the final grade. She knows about Saliba's randomness and will protect you from some of it by giving context and trying to predict his irregularities. She definitively works overtime to make sure that her group has all the information required to get an A.
Cheryl is definitely one of the best, most helpful TAs I've had at Columbia. She's such a cool person too- a graduate student studying Middle Eastern rap! She knows the information taught by Saliba really well and even finds great YouTube videos that complement your weekly readings. She's there for her students and checks her email often, so if you need to ask a question, you'll have your answer soon. Unlike other TAs, Cheryl actually cares and wants you to do well too, so she's easy to work with. In the end though, it's not about how well you do in her section- she makes you want to know anything and everything in the subject.