I was invited through a friend of a friend (of a friend of a friend – Amman is small!) to represent Jordan at a training course on recycling in Murcia, Spain, on behalf of the East and West Center for Human Resource Development. It covers all accommodation, food, program cost, and 70% of travel costs. The training course goes by the philosophy of learning by doing, so we will be making soaps, creating bags out of jeans, and making toys out of trash, among other useful skills. We will be staying at the gorgeous environmental education center CEMACAM Torre Guil and during our free time explore the Old Arab city of Murcia. There are no words for how excited I am!
2. I’M STOPPING BY GERMANY ON THE WAY TO SPAIN!
I have a good friend I haven’t seen for almost three years living and studying in Karlsruhe, Germany, who I have been promising to visit. With some clever manipulation of Air Berlin and Ryan Air flight times, I will finally see him again!
3. I MAY HAVE FOUND MY DREAM JOB OF WORKING WITH INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE IN THE MIDDLE EAST!
The organization I will be representing in Spain does exactly what I dream of doing with my degree in international affairs, anthropology, and Arabic after I graduate. After I come back from the training course they want my help in developing a project related to environmental issues and their vision of intercultural communication – my help!
4. OBAMA IS AMERICA’S NEW PRESIDENT!
My mother and grandmother worked on the campaign, I volunteered in the White House, and my sister and dad went to the democratic rally in Virginia last week. It feels almost like a personal victory and I am so relieved that disaster was averted and that the USA is giving Obama another chance. Even Jordanians were deeply moved by his victory speech!
5. I GOT CONFIRMED TO BE IRAN AT THE MODEL UN CONFERENCE AT PRINCESS SUMAYA UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY THIS WEEKEND!
This weekend I will be engaging in diplomatic discussions with intelligent young Jordanians on these three topics:
• The role of youth in political parties regarding political life.
• Preparations for the Next Global Economic Meltdown; The Aftermath.
• The Jobless Generation: Regional crisis in youth employment.
I will be meeting Jordanians from universities all over Amman and argue with them about current political issues from the standpoint of Iran, in my first time ever as delegate (rather than staffer) at a MUN conference. On top of that I will get to see Princess Sumaya of Jordan, and maybe Queen Rania.
6. I GOT A HAIRCUT FOR FREE (KIND OF)!
I had a 3-month membership at Aspire Ladies Gym but realized that I wouldn’t use up the membership, so I reduced it to one month and got the refund as credit for the spa. I promptly used this credit to get a much-needed haircut and now my hair looks better than it has in months!
7. I DIDN’T HAVE A QUIZ IN MY "MIDDLE EAST: ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES" CLASS!
My professor cut us some slack today because he figured we were all sleep-deprived thanks to the election and it had been difficult for many of us (including me!) to find the movie we had to watch for today’s class, Cairo 678, which is a very powerful main-stream Egyptian movie on sexual harassment. About 93% of foreign women report cases of sexual harassment in Egypt, but this movie focused on how local women are taking a stand against this completely unacceptable social norm that exists in the land that its citizens call "the mother of the world". We also discussed Nawal El Saddawi’s controversial literature on female circumcision and honor killings. I recommend all of you to read her seminal work “The Hidden Face of Eve”, especially the very moving introduction.
8. I WENT TO A JORDANIAN BIRTHDAY PARTY TODAY!
My friend (who I went to the wedding with) called me up in the afternoon and told me I was invited to his 8-year old cousin’s birthday party that very evening. The food that my friend’s aunt had made was delicious, and for dessert we had crème caramel, strawberry jello, strawberry cake, and chocolate cake, which was all delicious. Afterwards we drank tea and smoked shisha, and the women bonded over the complexities of studying Arabic grammar while the men played cards and smoked on the patio upstairs. There was an adorable baby bumbling around that just about made my night! Thanks to the wedding, I feel like I have two Jordanian families now – my host family and this family.