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Bed·ou·in (noun or adj.) ˈbe-də-wən, ˈbed-wən 1. Desert dweller, nomadic Arab of the desert. 2. A wanderer or rover.

Posts tagged fulbright

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I’m leaving this home for two years and it is truly bittersweet. I could write a post about all that I’ve learned, but probably it wouldn’t fit. Thank you all for following this journey, a large part of it is here — in the photos, in the posts, in the random book excerpts and videos. At some point I will move all of this to a personal website, but for now it sits here as a snapshot of the two years I spent after college stumbling my way through everything.

Next stop: Washington DC. Goodbye, Jordan. You’ve been sweet and difficult and kind and spectacular, and I can’t wait to be back.

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May has been rowdy, y’all. I took a more or less impromptu flight to London to meet my beautiful best friend for five days of fun in the United Kingdom.  I started a new internship at IOM-Iraq. We had our Fulbright farewell dinner (!). AND I visited Petra for the first time during this particular stint in Jordan. Pictures to come, incha’allah.

This is a short post, because we can now tack on blogging to the list of things I’m terrible at. Sorry to my five regular readers. To everyone else, you have a lot to scroll through from my overzealous days (ah, youth) so I don’t even feel bad.

I’m impressed by all my friends, most all of the time. They are smart, informed and they care about things that impact the world. Once in a while, though, one of them does something so spectacular and innovative that it even catches me off guard.

With the help of some fellow Fulbrighters (Maya, Biff, Mike, and Vicki), my friend Ryan–as a part of his Fulbright research–has launched a blog called bayan, which translates opinion articles from Jordanian newspapers into English.

I encourage you to check it out and hit “follow” here

The new semester has begun at AUM! Classes are in full swing and our English Resource Center is up and running. I only have one English 101 class this semester, and the rest of my duties will be related to the ERC. Today, I taught my first full 101 class – the lesson was on haikus. Nearly 40 students, and no one knew what a syllable was. At any rate, we had a great time crafting haikus about money and having a poetry reading at the end, complete with finger snapping. This was my example:

Money in the bank

Living life so fun and free

Will it ever end?

Anyways, the winning haiku will get published and posted in the ERC. Soon, I hope the walls will be adorned with stellar student work. Also, this one made me giggle:

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Hehehe. Hilaaaarious.

1. School has started again. Woooooo. Finally. Maya and I are planning to start an English Resource Center, which hopefully students will begin to frequent this semester. Stay tuned!

2. The Fulbright Conference (I think it’s titled “Enrichment Seminar,” or something like that) is about to happen, which is exciting and cool. I can’t wait to mingle with other students from the MidEast/North Africa. This also means that my grant period is more over than it is begun.

3. I finished Mad Men, and, quite frankly, I’m heartsick.

4. I swear once things actually start happening in my life I’ll write more frequently. What do I even tell you? The weather has started to improve in Amman. That’s been nice.

5. I’ve made several resolutions for March. They include: buckling down on Arabic language learning, going to more spinning classes, starting and actually finishing a book, trying to improve the dry texture of my hair, and finishing a mini-documentary piece. This list, to be continued and amended.

This is Big News. It is snowing in Jordan. And everything has shut down–I mean everything. We were supposed to have final semester exams at school: cancelled, and postponed until next week. I wanted to work out: the gym is closed. It’s been over 24 hours and the snow has continued to fall steadily, a stop and go rhythm that has pushed us all indoors for the past two days. Here, an intimate portrait of our lives during the thunder-snow (yesterday, the snow was falling and it was thundering outside), as captured by my iPhone.

The morning of–waking up to see a not-so-light dusting of white. Promptly have a dance party in the kitchen, then we get out our laptops and books in preparation for a day inside.

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Note: Biff and Maya have stayed the night, and are stranded at our apartment. Our couch has become a landing point for the wretched refuse from Jebel Webdeh…we’ve all but printed “The New Colossus”  and hung it on our door.

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It is now 6 pm. There is no food in the house, we’ve used up the last remaining cup of lentils to make just enough mjadara for the four of us. We are starving. The decision is made to brave the snow and walk to the store. Another note: we are all from the midwest/east coast…and yet.

We begin the walk, it is light out.

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It takes us a bit of time to figure out what we want to make for dinner. Once we leave the store, it’s dark. But we’re laden with groceries and still happy. I am completely without decorum, and still in my pajamas.

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We make soup for dinner, and play cards before bed. Julie busies herself with memorizing the words to the seminal Fairuz classic Yalla Tnem–which, loosely translated, means “hurry up and sleep.”

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The next morning, we wake up to even more snow. Driven by the lack of good internet in my apartment, we venture outside. Boots and hats on, trying desperately (unsuccessfully) to keep our footing, we roam the snowy streets in search of a taxi.

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We find one and promptly jump in–and so ends the snow day(s) thus far. I’m currently in a cafe surrounded by quite literally everyone in my Fulbright group. It seems we’ve all ran away from the cold of our homes to the same place (oh, yeah, most apartments in Amman are not insulated, and don’t have heat). Word is that the snow will stop today and begin clearing up tomorrow.

This feels like the perfect bookend to the first half of my year in Jordan. Who would have thought I’d ever see it snow here? And so much? Monday morning, I’m off to the United States to see some beloved friends and family. Then, I go to Istanbul with my sister, before coming back to Amman in February to start the second semester. I’m thrilled with what’s happened so far–there have been ups and downs, headaches and heartaches, stresses and joys, but even still, I am anxious for the rest of the year to unfold. For now, though, I’ll just join the countless snowball fights happening all over the streets of Amman.

Thanks to every single person who helped out–from my awesome roommate Julie who kept me sane while I edited, to Maya who after many pre-screenings reassured me that people would enjoy this, to Ryan who basically kept me from nervously weeping into my mjadara in fear of people’s judgement…and finally to ALL the Fulbrighters who so graciously went on camera to talk about their hopes for the upcoming year. I’m excited to start this journey!

For those of you who know me well, I spent my college career being pretty busy. I didn’t go out much, and between my academics and the speech team, it often felt like free moments were hard to come by. This is not uncommon, I’m sure many people can identify with this feeling during undergraduate. However, the contrast between my life just a few short months ago and now is pretty stark. The culture here doesn’t prioritize work nearly as much as the United States, and I am trying to navigate this abundance of free time in a healthy way. I joined a gym. I filmed interviews of all the Fulbrighters to make a video of our goals for the year. Now, I’m sitting at the Starbucks down the street while they play Etta James songs on loop—I’m attempting to download computer updates here because the connection at my apartment is too temperamental for that sort of thing. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it is strange not to always have somewhere to be, and something to accomplish. I just feel like I should be doing more. I should have a host of tangible goals on the horizon—some project to work on, a test to study for, a speech to write, a news story to shoot, an application to fill out. I’m sure this will all get better once the semester begins in two weeks, but still. It’s weird.

Anyways, this is all very vague and emotional, and I did make it a priority to be more specific. So, here’s a tidbit about life in Jordan—water is a very scarce resource here (I think my favorite thing to talk about is the dry weather); so, every household has a water tank that usually goes on the roof. It gets filled once a week—and if you use it up before the week is done, well, then you are a charity case for your friends. But, they have their own water business to worry about, so actually you become an unwanted water leech stealing this precious gift. It’s a rock and a hard place. A guilty conscience or dusty, unwashed hair…the choice is yours.

I’ve been truly blessed to be among an amazing group of Fulbrighters here in Amman. I thought it would be a cool project to interview everyone about their goals and feelings before the grant period, and again at the end. This is just the beginning of the video…it might be a while, because combing through 30 interviews is harder than I anticipated.

Special thanks to the two Marias, Biff, Sadaf, Thawab, Ryan, Mike, and Maya who allowed me to get up close and personal with their beautiful faces. You guys are the best.