Friday, April 1, 2011

A Major Development in the Quest for New Things: It's Jordan, Baby

So, it's not every day that a form letter has the power to rock your world.  But that's what happened to me Monday when I finally got the answer I've been waiting for since I sent in an application back in late July of 2010.  On Monday I found out that I've been selected for a Fulbright award to teach for the 2011-12 school year at the University of Jordan.  For those who might need a slight refresher on their Middle East geography, here's a little map for reference.  The University of Jordan is in the capital city of Amman, so that is obviously where I'll be as well.
As you can see, Jordan has some neighbors who have made the news quite a bit in recent years.  It shares borders with Israel and the West Bank, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Although I will miss people here terribly, it will of course be a win-win situation for everyone when as many of my family, friends and past and current students as possible take up my call to visit me and explore the wonderful country of Jordan and the surrounding area.  Chris and I have already started to think about all kinds of interesting possibilities for him to spend part of the year there, and Katrinka, Brian, Siham, Leah and Jamila are cooking up itineraries as well.
Everyone who knows me knows that I am, to put it mildly, directionally challenged.  Here I am at  a major University of Jordan landmark with our incredibly gracious host, Inas.  I think I'll be orienting myself with the tower a LOT next year.

So, a couple of this year's challenges just took center stage -- like trying to learn a bit of Arabic -- and at this time next year I'm expecting to be posting new things left and right. But for now I just wanted to do a wee bit of recap about a few of the reasons I am one very lucky person to have been given this opportunity to go to Jordan.  Here are three from among the many I might have chosen.

Hospitality I wrote a whole blog post about this last year.  Siham, Connor and I were blown away by the amazing hospitality we encountered absolutely everywhere -- from the Omrans, who knew only that we were friends of friends and made us at home in their house, to Inas who showed us all over U of Jordan and treated us to the biggest lunch of our lives, to  Mazen who not only set up our visit to the Baqaa refugee camp, but accompanied us inside, to Khaled who quickly became our favorite new friend because of his sense of fun and willingness to introduce us to so much of Amman.  I've been to some astoundingly hospitable parts of the world, but Jordan really is in a class by itself.

Here are Connor, Siham and Inas in the U of Jordan faculty dining room trying to eat a bit more of the biggest lunch in the world that Inas treated us to.  I am going to need to limit my time there next year or I may come back to SMC as the biggest person in the world.

Our amazing friend Khaled took us to yet another fabulous dinner right before our trip was coming to an end.

So much left undone  Siham, Connor and I all agreed that last summer's trip to Jordan was a major highlight of our lives so far.  There was so much there that we loved, from the big (like Petra) to the everyday (like hanging out at Books Cafe watching the night descend upon the hills of Amman).  But there was so much that we couldn't get to in two weeks: the desert of Wadi Rum, the mosaics of Madaba, snorkeling in the Red Sea, the Roman ruins of Jerash, or seeing any museums at all, actually. And then there is so much travelling to the fabulous surrounding countries to be done (We did pop over to Jerusalem and I got in a viewing of Cairo, but Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, the entire Gulf Peninsula, and more of Israel and the Palestinian Territories as well as Egypt, are just begging to be explored.)

Here are Siham and I taking a breather from playing tourist in Jerusalem.

It's easy to see why Siham, Connor and I became semi-permanent fixtures at Books cafe in Amman.  The open air, the fabulous view, the friendly people (and Green Mountain Coffee to boot) -- what more could you want?

Petra Wrote a whole bunch about this last year too, since it was only probably the most unexpected adventure of my life.  But even if Ibrahim and Khaled aren't on hand the next time I return to show me and whoever I'm with a bit about life among the Bedouins, Petra will still probably be the most breathtakingly visual experience I've ever had. Can't wait to see it again, and to share it with people who come over to visit me.
Look at how tiny Connor and Siham look.  Everything about Petra is truly amazing.

There's lot more to do with this semester, and with some ongoing projects, especially the MDG book, before it will be time to focus on the Fulbright.  And besides, there's lots of details I still don't know.  I'm pretty sure I'll be teaching from September to June, and that I'll be teaching both graduate and undergraduate students in the American Studies program there. I'm headed to Washington DC in June for a few days of orientation with other Fulbrighters going to Middle East, and should learn lots more details then  So now it's back to work, and trying not to think too far in the future about the what life will be like in Amman.  But one thing I know for sure is that it will be an amazing adventure, and I hope many of the people in my life will want to come share a bit of it with me.


  1. Go Trish!! Mazel tov on the Fulbright!

  2. but you like my itinerary the best because it came with an illustration, right? actually it was more illustration than itinerary, therein lies the problem.