Friday, May 3, 2013

Happiness has found me

"Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you."
― حافظ

Since I have gone to study abroad, I've had the happiest time of my life. I feel like I have been inspired to be a better person and that has inspired the world to be better to me, if that makes any sense (I've been warming up to the idea of karma lately). Before I went to Jordan I felt uncertain of myself. I lacked confidence and the energy that contentment gives you, and I felt a bit lost about where I was going in life. Now I have managed to excel academically in six classes, fulfill my duties at a part-time job and an internship, develop my star babysitting skills, volunteer at homeless shelters and soup kitchens on the weekends, maintain an incredibly strong and loving long-distance relationship , and spend quality time with family and friends. I don't think that would have been possible without the confidence that my time in Jordan inspired in me, and that confidence shaped the actions that generated the contentment that provided this immense energy that made all of this possible! Thanks to all my accomplishments, I am able to fuel that happiness with more travel, and I am so excited and grateful to spend this summer in five different countries, two of which are Israel and Jordan.

I was recently awarded the Rogers Excavation and Survey Scholarship from the Capital Archaeological Institute at the George Washington University and a Fellowship from the American Schools for Oriental Research, making it possible for me to make this dream come true and return to the region. This time I will be discovering the region not through the lens of the tourist, as I did as a child, or as an American college student, as I did this past fall, but as an archaeologist. I will be volunteering on the excavation at Tel Kabri in Western Galilee, to unearth a 3,500 years-old Canaanite Palace. I expect that this experience will reveal new and exciting sides to the political and cultural dynamics in the Middle East. Over the next month I will be blogging about my upcoming preparations for the excavation so that this blog can be a resource for future aspiring archaeologists as well.

When I left Jordan I felt like I had gotten what I wanted out of my study abroad experience: I had befriended locals, familiarized myself with the local dialect, and been immersed in Jordanian culture. I had experienced the country from an internal and subjective rather than external and objective perspective. However, during my time there I had also noticed the problems that exist in the country, and by the time I left, my head was already brimming with possible solutions. That is why I am so grateful to have a chance to go back, and look into some of those solutions - to give back to the society that changed my life.

Therefore, following the excavation I will be traveling to Jordan for a few days, and hopefully the West Bank, to do some research for my potential senior thesis, which will focus on the obstacles to environmental advocacy in the Middle East. I am so excited to go back and I doubt it will be the last time I return! I hope you continue to follow me on this journey and learn along with me about archaeology, environmental advocacy, and traveling in the irresistibly alluring (at least in my opinion) Middle East. 

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