Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Also, on a side note, just because I won't be in Jordan anymore doesn't mean I won't be posting things on this blog! I have a lot of stories and experiences that I have yet to put up here, and I will continue to post about my experiences while at school and my interpretations or thoughts on the news and my research on the Middle East. This summer has really changed me, it has opened my eyes to some of the inequalities of the world and especially the arrogance and the ignorance that we as Americas exhibit on a daily basis. Hopefully this blog has helped you question some of your ideals, and what you think about the Middle East and Arabs in general. Hopefully my experiences and the things that I have learned have helped you learn as well.
What was my favorite part of Jordan? That is a hard question I must say. I would probably have to say on a general note I enjoyed the foreigness (Do you like me making up words?) of the entire experience coupled with the amazing hospitality of the Arab people that I was confronted with every day. On a smaller note, my absolutely favorite THING in Jordan was the Ahdan or call to prayer. I had several chances to hear it from on top of one of the 7 hills of Jordan and it is spectacular. As I sit there listening to it I feel like I am transported back to a time before computers, electricity and modern conveniences. Especially during Ramadan when I know that so many people are breathing a sigh of relief, eating some dates and drinking their first drink of the day it is almost ethereal. There is also something amazingly beautiful for me to see an entire culture that embraces religion so intimately and so homogeneously. As an American, it is completely different for me to be in a society that embraces religion openly, is homogenous in race and background and so many other aspects. Back to the ahdan, however, I honestly do not know if I have ever heard anything as beautiful as the simple chant calling people to prayer and in praise of their God. The closest thing that you might recognize is Gregorian Chant, it's basically Gregorian Chant with an Islamic twist, and you get to hear it 5 times a day. Wonderful.
I have a lot to write, a lot of thinking to do, and a lot to tell people about. This experience has helped me to take a step back and appreciate the idiosyncrasies of culture, and the differences that make the world such a beautiful place. We as Americans are too insulated and too comfortable in our world view. We are so different from the rest of the world, and it really shows in our foreign relations and our personal relations with foreigners. I have realized, this summer, just how much I do not understand simply because I grew up in a culture that is so completely different. I will probably write again about this later, but just think about it. How many things about another individual's culture is it hard for you to understand?
On a closing note, I love Jordan. I love the country, the people, the language and the religion. I love the foreigness (there's that word again) and awkward situation it places me in. I love the hospitality, the beauty and the many amazing places to see. I love that these people have definitely been handed lemons and they are making lemonade. I appreciate my comforts in America and I appreciate my country for the wonderful institution it is. Before I close this I would like to do a few thank yous. First of all, thank you to the BYU International Studies Program and Ralph Brown for making this internship a reality, thanks to the Kennedy Center and Phi Kappa Phi for providing me grants so that I could afford this trip to the Middle East. A special thanks to the Ministry of Social Development and my boss Ms. Rasha for her patience and help. Thanks to all of my awesome Arab friends and co-workers who put up with a constant stream of atrocious Arabic. Thanks to everyone who came on the program for putting up with my craziness and my constant desire to go exploring, especially Annie, thanks for dealing with me so many times. Finally thank you to my Grandparents who gave me savings bonds for every birthday and Christmas growing up which I thought was stupid but paid for my trip here, my parents for being supportive, living vicariously through me and also helping me pay for this trip and finally my wonderful fiance Jade who although I left her only a week after getting engaged has supported me the entire time and understand why I was here although it was hard to be so far away I think I love her more now than when I left. Thanks everyone, it has been amazing! I can not wait to go home, but at the same time I can not wait to return to this amazing place next year. Ma Salaam, Insha Allah.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
|This is how shwarma meet is cooked, it is shaved off in small |
chunks and then put in a pita with french fries, sauces,
tomatoes, and all sorts of other delicious things.
|This is a lamb or lahma shwarma and is one of my favorite foods|
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
The next morning at about 3:45 I woke up bright and early and jumped into the shower so that I would be clean before going to the mosque (something that is absolutely necessary). I went over and woke up my neighbors and then took a trek over to the mosque. Let me just say that is was surreal to be out in a Middle Eastern City at 4:00 AM listening to a prayer call of a mosque that I was going to. It was awesome. When we got to the mosque we sat in the main prayer hall and saw a number of older gentlemen who obviously did this everyday at 4:00 AM because they were all extremely comfortable and knew everyone that was there. I got a couple odd looks, but everyone just accepted my presence with a nod. Because it was a morning prayer it only lasted about an hour with a short 'reading' of the Quran (it is really an Islamic version of Gregorian Chant which is seriously one of the most beautiful things that I have ever heard in my short little life), a short sermon by the Imam and of course the prayer themselves. It was amazing to go through the motions of billions of people the whole world over and feel united to them for a small moment as I showed my devotion to the God of each one of us, no matter what you call him. After the prayers I was greeted by a few of the gentlemen who loved the fact that I was there and then I walked home marveling at my life as I collapsed into bed.
Since then I have gotten to pray one more time in the mosque, and this time it was this past Friday which is the main prayer service for all Muslims, basically like a Christians Sunday worship service. This time my experience was quite a bit different at the sermon was much longer (about 45 minutes) we were in the basement of the mosque which was absolutely packed and I was with my friend Austin. Still it was no less cool, and it was best of all to see how devoted these people are to their religion. Many of the people had to sit outside in the intense heat and sun because there was no room in the mosque for them. It is very different to be in a mosque and be with this misunderstood religion face to face. I felt their peace and their devotion, and knew of their love and kindness to others. I'm extremely grateful I have had this wonderful experience and hope to return someday when I know more arabic and can better understand the sermon. Everyone should try going to another faith's worship service, especially a faith you don't understand, and seeing what it's life. After all, ignorance is really boring... we just don't know it.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Many Americans say that there are no moderate muslims speaking out about terrorism, but here is direct proof of efforts to fight against it. At the same time, we are asked the extremely difficult task of defining what terrorism is. So the question is, what is terrorism? Does it revolve around violence? Violence for political purposes, is based on a religion is is perpetrated by an ethnic group? Does it matter who or what that targets are, or why they were targeted how do we decide? What about states, can they be terrorists and how do we decide that? At first it seems like simple answer, but what divides a terrorist, a rebel, and a freedom fighter?
I think these are fundamental questions that more and more of us have to ask ourselves and think about, we can't just let someone tell us a group is a terrorist group. For instance, one of the things I hear a lot here in Jordan is that people do not agree that Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations, like the United States has listed them. To them, Hamas and Hezbollah are freedom fighters seeking what is best for Islam and fighting a superior enemy (Israel and the West) with what they have at their disposal. In addition, these groups have legitimacy in the eyes of the people because they offer much needed services to the community that are not offered by the state or aid organizations. In the case of Hamas, they were even elected democratically and Hezbollah members have been elected to government positions in Lebanon. Now, I do not know if I completely agree with these statements, I know that both of these groups attempt to use terror to accomplish their tasks and use violence against non-military subjects to accomplish their tasks. So the question is, what is a terrorist? Are Hezbollah and Hamas simply organizations of a people who have no other way to voice their opinion than violence? Are they people who have been pushed into a corner and are now fighting like a cornered rat, or are they groups simply working on terror, violence and fear? Would they stop their attacks if their people were given basic services from Israel and the United States instead of isolated and sidelined? Would Israel gain legitimacy if it helped it's neighbors rather than fight them?
These are not easy issues, or simple answers. They are complex, and the answer is not clean or black and white. This past semester, while attending classes at Brigham Young University, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with George Selim of the Department of Homeland Security. He spoke in my introduction to the Middle East class and was asked the question, "What is terrorism." He said, that the United States Government can not and will not ever monitor ideals. It does not matter why a violent crime was committed, just that it was. This was eye-opening for me because I thought that an integral part of terrorism was the political purpose behind it. Again, it adds another dimension to the question that really helped me think about the problem.
The purpose of this post is simply to make each of us think about what seems like such a simple thing and to increase dialog about this subject. I am not saying I support terrorist groups or that I do not think violent crimes are wrong, in fact, I have specifically sought to keep my opinions from this post. I am simply saying that there are two sides to every issue and it is extremely important for us to look at both sides. I hope you agree.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
|Woot, Fireworks and men dancing while holding hands,|
it must be an Arab wedding!
Ever Since I have arrived in Jordan I have wanted to see a Jordanian wedding. When a month or two ago, my facilitator stated that this was wedding season and we would hear a lot of fireworks, I had no idea how true that statement would be. Up until this past week, all I knew about weddings in Jordan could be summed up in a few words, loud, long, and expensive. Every night we hear fireworks going off late into the night and processions of cars with people hanging out of them, yelling, and honking their horns non-stop. It seems like that’s simply what you do at a wedding, and I thought I wouldn’t know anything more about it until a friend at work invited us to his nephew’s wedding party.
|Arab Wedding Cake, not sweet at all!|
|Henna and that wonderful Parasol!|
|This was where we all had to stand next to each other and clap.|
The old my next to me is wearing a shamech traditionally denoting
someone of palestinian descent (It's white & black not red).
After this aspect of the wedding was over, we were taken with the close family friends and family up to the house at about 11 o’clock (at this point we had been here for about two and a half hours). With the smaller group of about forty men we went to the grooms new home and ate mansaf which was amazing. It is probably the only time that man cook in this country but it was fantastic. There were probably a dozen seperate plates of mansaf with about 5 kilos of lamb meet on each. The men from the groom's family were the servers as all of the men devoured the mansaf and enjoyed themselves. After a very short time, less than 15 minutes, all of the non-family members were miraculously done (except for us) which we thought was extremely interesting. We found out, after everyone else left, that the family had not eaten and that everyone left so that they could eat. One the men had had their fill, the food would be delivered to the women in the family and finally to the bride's family. Nothing is put to waste here ever!
|Mansaf partay ...woot!|
Monday, July 11, 2011
I feel like sometimes, even though I am here
in Jordan, that I am living a pretty normal life. Alright, every day
is actually a really cool experience but I have grown used to it. It
is going to be really weird to come back to the US just because it
will probably be reverse culture shock with everyone going so quickly,
speaking so much English, and being able to understand all that I say as well! Also, to have everyone understand my culture will be another
interesting thing. Today a new man showed up at work who will be
apparently teaching english to the kids after we leave, he majored in
English Translation in college and I must say that his English is
quite......... simple. Haha, what's more is that he doesn't really
understand out culture at all. Today, we barely met him, and he
admitted to us that the main reason he wanted to be friends was so
that we could get him to the United States to get his Masters Degree
in 6 months haha. He also then said that he wanted my phone number to
talk to him in English, my email so that when I go home he can email
me, and my facebook so we could chat in English. He sat in my classes
and second guessed my teaching style, which was a little annoying, and
then invited himself to our house so that he could see what we do.
All of those things are ridiculously forward in America but here it's
all normal. However, I too know how to work the system. In Jordan,
no one wants to say 'No' it is considered sort of a dishonor. So
instead, Jordanians will simply talk around the subject and not give
you a straight answer. That is exactly what I did with this
gentleman, he asked me when he come to see our house and I simply said
Mumkin and Inshallah which means 'maybe' and 'If God wills it'.
Basically I didn't give a straight answer because that would be
extremely rude so it all worked out. The culture here is definitely
something interesting to adjust to and just like all cultures there
are things that I like and don't like but that doesn't make it right
or wrong. I think that is something that each one of us needs to
learn, especially us westerners who travel and see societies that we
think are backward and illogical. By looking at their society and
trying to see the good in it and where they come from, we are able to
gain a new outlook on the work and expand our horizons. Really,
there's no such thing as a 'bad' or 'wrong' culture right? One isn't
better than the other, they are all just different!
Sunday, July 10, 2011
In Jordan, relationships are everything. With the Atmehs it started the day we all first moved into the apartment and immediately invited us over for food, shia (tea), and watching movies. For the first few weeks we would go to their home 2-4 times a week and spend hours there. I learned a lot about the culture, the Arabic language and just having fun. Unfortunately this utopia could not last and soon their 16 year-old son Mahmoud was coming to our home every day. He would barely be in the door and he would whisper in our ear, “Laptop” and “Internet.” While on the internet he would watch videos on YouTube (very expensive when you’re paying for all data) and other things, and if we went out he would beg the person incessantly to buy him food and other things. He was like any other 16 year-old slightly annoying and full of himself, but was also unaware of how many social lines he was crossing by constantly touching things that weren’t his. He was a good kid, it was just ridiculous to have him come over everyday right when we would return from work and were very tired. Eventually things came to a head and one of the interns kicked Mahmoud out of the apartment because he wasn’t listening and then we didn’t see the Atmehs very much after that even though they have helped us with everything including food, water problems, and good company.
This week, however, I determined to go over to their home and ensure they knew I didn’t hate their family. Austin came with me and we had a wonderful time talking to them. They of course asked where we had been for so long and why we hadn’t seen them and then immediately asked us to have lunch with them the next day of chicken and potatoes. Of course we agreed and the next day we had an amazing meal with them and a great conversation. Like always, they told us that we were their sons and that we were welcome anytime. On Friday, the holy day and all that, I was laying in my room when I heard the doorbell ring twice. Usually this meant that Mahmoud was at the door and so I ignored it for a second but thought better of it and went to go check. It was the Atmehs, but it wasn’t Ahmed. It was their 24 year-old daughter, Ameera, from the United Arab Emirates. She asked if she could use my computer and Internet to check her plane ticket, which I said ok too, and then they invited me in the home.
Of course, once I was in the home I was there for a few hours and I really knew that I was accepted into the family for a number of reasons. First of all, they allowed me to sit in the kitchen and talk to the mother and Ameera. Secondly Ameera was in her pajamas and the mother was not in a hijab. Thirdly I talked to them about personal subjects such as why they do or do not wear the hijab, marriage, tensions between religions and other things such as that. It was amazing to be in such a familiar atmosphere and to once again experience a new cultural experience, this time what it is like to be part of an Arab family and experience the familiarity that is there. Of course, they had to invite me for dinner so I hate an amazing meal (with both women, again something that is not allowed unless you are a member of the family) of meat and rice rolled up and cooked in grape leaves. It was amazing and I joked with the mother that when I return next year she would have to teach my wife how to make some wonderful Jordanian dishes.
Overall, it is an amazingly different experience to have Arab neighbors. It is completely different than in America and at times can be extremely tiring. However, it is also amazingly enjoyable at the same time because of the new experiences I have, the glorious home-cooked meals, and nice people who although we speak very little of the same language, I know care about me and would help me in any circumstance.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
|This is where I get to learn to Scuba Dive|
|All suited up and ready to go for my first dive!|
|I have conquered the first dive!|
However, plans never withstand meeting with the enemy and when I got to the dive center they said that I could start the certification process and they would apply the money I paid the day before to the overall price of the certification. I went back and forth for a while but then I decided that I was gonna go ahead and get certified, which is not something I regret yet and hopefully never will. This time there was a lot more training and I had to learn a lot more about the gear, how to work my inflatable vest that controls buoyancy under water and a few other things. When we got to the water I had to intentionally fill my mask with salt water and then clear it while underwater (it is actually a great skill for those with facial hair, as I found out, because my mask kept filling up while I was diving). I also had to intentionally take out my re-breather throw it away and then find it again, clear it of water and begin breathing again. I learned how to communicate using signs about how much air I had and also how to communicate that I was out of air to a partner and that I needed to use their air tank until we got to the surface. It was scary but really fun.
The second dive was much better than the first one. This time I was much more relaxed and willing and able to go more slowly and take in the wonderful sites. The place where we were diving is a huge reef right along the shore that quickly plunges about 20 meters from the floor and you get a great wall of reef and water life. We swam along that wall, this time going down to a depth of 12 meters, and I saw all manners of amazing things once again. I saw some ginormous fish that I don’t know the name of and chased a couple schools of fish that hopefully aren’t poisonous. The most amazing fish I saw, however, was simply chilling under a fish and it was a beautiful lionfish that I think are rare to see even in an aquarium.
The reason I say it was like Petra is how I felt as we surfaced and saw all the people a long the shore. There they were enjoying the surface, the waves and the sand. They were having a beautiful and wonderful time, completely unaware of the beauty that was only a few feet below the surface. Just like when you finally walk around the corner at Petra and see the giant treasury, as you don you diving equipment and submerge you are immediately greeted with amazing and breathtaking beauty (although, breathtaking probably isn’t what you want under water so be careful about this one!). Also, in addition to all of these positives you feel like a total bad-a donning all the gear and simply strolling into the ocean and disappearing. It is quite awesome and you feel cool doing it. Anyway, Aqaba was amazing and I can’t wait to return and finish my training and maybe even go on a few dives with a digital camera (you can rent them for not a ridiculous amount). I’ll keep you updated!
|i think it looks pretty darn cool don't you?|
|Some of my amazing and awesomely cute little girls from my class on our walk down the hill to the bus.|
|My classroom, it ate much by American standards but it's adequate|
The boys are pretty terrifying. I really do not look forward to teaching them because they never pay attention, yell your name out randomly and never do what you ask. What is more, as a whole they know much less English than the girls do. My first day of class our boss brought a broom stick into my room and told me to hit any of the kids that didn't pay attention with it. Austin and I have found a much less, abrasive approach and now simply kick out any kids who are exceedingly loud and disruptive. Today we actually kicked out brothers, he kicked out the older one from his class and I the younger from mine. Well, the older brother didn't leave and kept coming into my class and goading on the kids. I kept telling him to leave and he wouldn't so I tried to simply ignore him which of course didn't work. Then, the next time I saw him I told him every way I could think of in English that I wanted him to leave at which he called me "dumb-ass" in Arabic and then spit at me. I took one step towards him, I don't feel like letting little kids talk like that to me, and he ran away and I didn't see him or his brother again. Finally, I got so sick of them not doing anything that I simply let them go about 40 minutes early after I saw that Austin had done the same thing.
|One of two giant spiders I slaughtered today|
in class. I think this spider can get as large as 6
inches across but we are having trouble
identifying it from the mass of guts on the floor
Besides the teaching English, we will hopefully be doing the survey for the Iraq Al-Ameer area every Thursday although I doubt it will actually get off the ground. It is extremely likely that everyone will be very busy and then when Ramadan comes in August and Austin leaves, they'll probably just drop it for awhile. I do hope it actually happens, however, because I think it would really help the Marqez know what they must do to help the people in this area. Also, we have been progressing on the 3 million dollar proposal to the worldbank. The work on it is progressing, although slowly because translation is a lengthy process. At the end of July we will travel to the Angwhar area, which consists of all the regions along the border with Israel, and will set up workshops for them on project management as well as conduct secondary surveys to help us understand the other work we are proposing to do in those regions. It also is going well and adds a bit of professionalism to our internship here.
|The "Sanitary Amenities" this toilet as a diameter|
of about 3 to 4 inches and is probably 11 inches tall
I imagine watching me try to use this would probably
be one of the funniest things an Arab could see
Things are going well, and for the first time in two months I actually feel like I'm making some sort of small difference. Actually, as I write this blog post, Austin is in the other room with our boss who wants him to write down all the words to a song sung by Celine Dion. They do love her here!
Monday, July 4, 2011
One of the reasons I loved it, is because it helped me see the necessity of free-speech and freedom of the press. For instance, at one point in the movie the people being filmed, members of an illegal political party, went to Gaza to cross the border that Egypt said had just been opened by Israel and themselves. They went, bearing supplies, and banners and sat for over 24 hours at the border but were finally refused. They said, "It's not forbidden to enter Gaza, it's just not allowed." They said that Egypt was curtailing itself to Israel's wishes and did basically whatever Israel wanted and had surrendered their sovereignty and what made them Egypt. Now, if a free press had existed, this direct contradiction of an official declaration would have been splashed all over the news and the public would have been outraged. However, with a news force controlled by the state, they could do whatever they wanted without worrying about public opinion. I finally had my eyes opened to the need for a free and open news group that can act as a balance between the government and the people. I have always known it was important, but it just helps me to see some of the 'unofficial' mechanisms of democracy that we have in place and must protect in America.
Censorship is a sticky subject. We must decide if something is grossly indecent, a concern for national security, or simply garbage that shouldn't be put on Television but at the same time we can not worry so much that opinions and beliefs are squandered. How do we decide what insights to violence and what is a push for democratic institutions? Who is the judge when all of us our biased? A man came to BYU, where I am a student, this winter semester from the Department of Defense. When asked to define terrorism he said it was only based on actions. At the time I disagreed with him because I felt like the motivation behind the actions mattered but he said, "We are America. We don't police ideas." I didn't understand it at the time, but I better understand it now. Of course, I am not saying that everything should just be given free reign, but I am saying that if we silence every person that disagrees with us, even if it is presumed to be radical disagreement, we go against one of our basic beliefs of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The wonderful thing about democracy, is that it protects even those we disagree with.
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," Was written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall and I think that today, the American Day of Independence, we should remember this and embrace the differences that make our culture and country so great, diversity and free speaking.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
|The Church of St. George|
Next on the stop was Mt. Nebo, the sight where Moses saw the Holy Land and passed his mantel to Joshua. Although it wasn't an amazingly spectacular PLACE it was amazing to be in such a place and to see the Holy Land. To know that Moses traveled for so long and to be halted at the gates of the promised land must have been horrible, and seeing the lushness of the Jordan valley below me I could definitely understand how wonderful it would have been to see that place after 40 years wandering in the desert. Definitely a sight for sore eyes. It was a beautiful view and only created a longing to see and experience more of what I saw before me.
|What Moses saw from Mt. Nebo|
|The baptismal sight and me in all of my|
glorious American touristness
|The Jordan River|
Here is where I go on a bit of a brain adventure, if you'd like to see what about please read my post entitled "Natives, who the Heck are they?".
Overall, the baptismal site was awesomeness squared and everyone who visits Jordan should go there and enjoy themselves while there. Like I said, it's been westernized (including the price of 12 JD) but is very nice.
|Just Chilling in the sea!|
|Random huge stone at Mt. Nebo|
|This was an actual sign on the way into the|
Mt. Nebo site
|A serpent wrapped around a cross... epic|
|Yeah, I was that close!|
|This is how women swim while still in Hijjab|
|That's a lot of Mud!|
|I promise, I'm actually floating here!|
|Salt deposits on the Dead Sea|
To get to Umm Qais was actually not very difficult, we took three buses to get there from Amman and one of them was an hour long drive in an air conditioned touring bus (like we have in the United States) and only cost about $3.00. All together, for both of, we spent about $14 to get from our house to the city and back. When we got the ruins we were both pretty hungry and so we went right up to the local restaurant which was overlooking the valley in front of us and was shaded and breezy. I had delicious chicken and Austin had hummus as we sat and thought about the many historical things that happened within our view. It was especially cool to think about the religious significance of that area and to look at the hill where Christ is supposed to have cast the devils out of the people and into the swine who then ran off the hill into the Sea of Galilee (or Lake Tiberius as it is called in Jordan).
The city was really fun to explore. It is not typical looking ruined city because instead of brown sandstone or white granite being the building blocks, they used black basalt which brings an interesting new color to the mix. There was a beautiful museum that was extremely detailed and comprehensive where we got to see a number of mosaics that were being protected as well as a sarcophagus that we both laid in (a little weird to lay down where you know someone who was dead was and then they decomposed into it). Probably the coolest thing was an ancient 10in thick door made of solid rock that you could still open and close because it was perfectly balanced on a giant stone hinge. It was awesome. Also, the sight still has a lot of excavation yet to be done and so as you walk around you see many old arches and passageways just sitting around. You think they are nothing until you explore them a little bit and are then quite amazed at the things that are under your feet all the time in this beautiful country.
As we were walking to the edge of the cliff we saw this little house made of rock balancing precariously on the edge. I thought it would be cool to go have a look and also to see what the view is like from the promontory. Well, as we approached, two amazingly relieved Jordanian Soldiers appeared outside of the little hut and proceeded to greet us enthusiastically and then proceed to tell us what everything in the distance was including the Golan Heights, the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberius), the Jordanian/Israeli Border, and the Syrian Border. It was amazing to see the Golan Heights especially and then to release why Israeli needed to take them and the strategic position it places Syria in if they receive them again with the creation of a Palestinian State. The other interesting thing I noticed was the technological divide between Israel and Jordan. The forward observation post for Jordan was very rustic, the soldiers had a single set of binoculars and were simply asked to look for signs of movement or advance. I'm sure that on the Israeli side they employ high technology such as radar and other devices, as well as many more soldiers to watch the border. It was very interesting and again, seeing how close they are to one another, it makes me grateful their is peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors. The other cool thing, was that the defenses from the 1967 6 Day war were still in place on the hill. There were extensive concrete and rock trenches, supply trenches and pill-boxes. It was amazing to be standing to something that was so important in such a modern time and to see the front-lines firsthand.
The last thing we did was head back to the city up to the ruins of the Byzantine Basilica which had a number of intact and ruined pillars. Of course, we were up for a challenge and so we were decided to scramble up a number of the pillars and take cool pictures on top of them and around them which I will include here. It was a lot of fun, and helped us be entertained for another hour or so.
Over all, Umm Qais was extremely awesome. I'm grateful that I was able to find a less-visited tourist destination and to finally see the area surrounding the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberius) and the Golan Heights. It helps understand the strategic advantage of this area and the reasons behind some of Israel's policies and procedures. Also, sitting in Umm Qais I wondered if Palestinians actually came there and looked at their homeland that they were unable to visit and the families they wouldn't know. I thought about what it would be like to be in Canada, away from my family, and refused entry into my homeland, the United States of America. I will not comment on the political situation here, but it simply made it more real for me and helped me have empathy instead of simply sympathy. I think this is one of the greatest things I have gained here in Jordan, a better understanding of the Arab people, especially Palestinians and a better understanding of some of the situations in the Middle East according to other people's eyes.
|Look, I know Karate!|
|That's a weird center pillar!|
|This is the flat Chameleon I found while walking down the road,|
pretty cool eh?
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
On Mondays and Wednesdays we will report to the Mudireea in Wadi Il-Seer where we will begin work on a comprehensive survey in the Iraq Al-Ameer area. The survey will have a demographic aspect and also focus on needs, and solutions for the community and what programs the Ministry of Social Development can implement in order to help the people of Iraq Al-Ameer. It should be a pretty fun survey, although I believe it will take quite awhile to get the answers we need from individuals in the community mainly because I'm sure that every family we talk to will take a minimum of an hour since we will be drinking tea and offered lunch at every home. It should be fun and will hopefully improve my arabic comprehension and conversation skills. Over all I am excited for the progress we are making and excited, if a little nervous, for what this internship will entail next week. Below I have included some pictures to add a little flare and show you a little of what we have done at the center. I hope you enjoy!
This is the room where I will be teaching English to between 10 and 20 girls age 5-15:
|These are the kids that we met on Monday.|
It should be pretty interesting!