Seaport Report, Oct. 17, 2012

BY JANEL BLADOW  | Summer breezed by much too fast again this year. Am I the only one who still hasn’t broken out her winter wear?

Goblin-gook… The end of the month is looming! All of you who love treats, scary stuff and dressing up should gather around again for the 23rd annual trick-or-treat event in the South Street Seaport. As in the past, young tricksters sporting all types of ware — from ballerinas to firemen costumes — will gather with their adult companions at FishBridge Park (at Water and Dover Streets) at 6 p.m. on Wed., Oct. 31 (Halloween night). From there, the parade will circle around the neighborhood, stopping at all of the treaters’ doors.

Flyers will be posted in buildings and around the ‘hood with the important details. Neighbors are encouraged to sign up to help decorate FishBridge Park the day before, stringing lights, hanging skeletons and spreading cobwebs. If you have decorated jack o’lanterns, bring them along! Volunteers are also needed to distribute flyers and posters, sign up treat-givers, serve as route directors and kid-wranglers and clean up the park the day after. If you sign up to hand out treats, come downstairs with your goodies. You won’t be disappointed — rest assured there will be sugar and smiles all around!

This longstanding tradition has been a huge neighborhood hit. Last year, the number of tricksters swelled to more than 100. The parade travels down Water Street to Beekman Street and back up along Front Street, stopping at all registered residential buildings, restaurants and shops along the way. The kids score big with candy, cupcakes and all sorts of treats. So get your ghoulish on! It promises to be a spook-tacular night!
Flower power… For those who want to get a little grubby to make our part of Manhattan a more colorful place, join the Downtown Alliance in planting thousands of tulips in Bowling Green Park at Whitehall Street on Sat., Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to noon. Gloves, tools and bulbs are supplied by the city Department of Parks and Recreation. There will be refreshments and activities for the kids.
Saving our scholars… The Institute of International Education celebrated the 10th Anniversary of its Scholar Rescue Fund (S.R.F.) on Tues., Sept. 18 with a gala dinner at Cipriani Wall Street. The fund’s founders, Henry G. Jarecki, Henry Kaufman, Thomas A. Russo and George Soros, received a humanitarian award from Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy and Princess Ghida Talal of Jordon. Ernestina Naadu Mills accepted a posthumous award for her husband, former Ghana president John Atta Mills, from Ann Stock, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

While those are all big names in the sphere of movers and shakers, the stand-out scholar that I met and had a chance to speak with was a very humble, peaceful man named Abdul Sattar Jawad. Born in Iraq, Prof. Jawad received a Ph.D. in English literature and journalism from City University London. He is an expert on the works of William Shakespeare and T.S. Eliot (he translated Eliot’s “Waste Land” into Arabic). Also an expert on Iraqi media and academia, he has written 14 books and edited newspapers and literary journals in English and Arabic. He was dean of the College of Arts at Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad and edited that city’s only English-language newspaper, the Baghdad Mirror. After three attempts by the Mahdi Army to kill him, Prof. Jawad fled through the back door of his university as protesters chanted, “Death to Dean Sattar!” Only a month earlier, he had escaped his newspaper office five minutes before it was bombed by Islamic militants. In April 2005, he and his family fled their homeland. The S.R.F. helped them escape and since then, Prof. Jawad has taught at Harvard University, the University of Mississippi and Duke University, where he is currently professor of comparative literature and Asian and Middle Eastern studies.

Prof. Jawad talked to me about peace, love and understanding, and the importance of poetry and beauty in our lives. As he spoke, I quickly realized why this international organization is so important.  There were 30 great reasons present that night: 30 of the 450 scholars rescued from 48 countries since the S.R.F.’s inception in 2002 were on hand. The scholars now represent nearly 300 institutions in 40 countries around the world, working as professors and attending classes as students.

Prof. Jawad says the S.R.F. is not only a lifeboat for scholars but an honorable way of life for academics. “I would be dead if I had stayed in Iraq,” he said.