We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
The following is a guest post from AUA Mosaic Fellowship recipient Brent Mullen. Brent has just departed for Jordan to teach English through Geovisions. To find an amazing volunteer opportunity like this one, search the AUA Directory of Recommended Organizations© today.
Any trip away from home for an extended time comes with many tasks and lots of excitement. This one in particular came with a lot of responsibilities, but I know it will bring many rewards. I will be volunteering with GeoVisions for two months in Amman, Jordan teaching English. I have been assisting international students, mainly from Saudi Arabia, with their studies in English for several years but this opportunity will be a more complex challenge that I have been preparing for. For one, international students in America have been living in the United States for a while so they have been immersed in the language. The Jordanians I will be working with have never been to the United States and did not learn English as a second language growing up. They are adults who took the challenge upon themselves for multiple reasons. We will both benefit from such a unique experience.
I haven’t had the opportunity to meet them through the Internet but have read profiles about their life and age. GeoVisions has been really great about providing me information on how to prepare lesson plans and connecting me to past volunteers. Along with volunteering with GeoVisions, I have been looking for volunteer opportunities in Amman in the dental public health sector. Paul Markovs, an American working with USAID Jordan in Amman has been very helpful in assisting me and I look forward to meeting him.
I have also been working on another project. About two months ago, I was brainstorming with a college classmate about how I could put a project together to travel to Iraq and help.
I spent a year in Iraq in 2004-2005 while in the US Army and saw far too many people struggling for life’s basic needs. My desire in life is to work on global public health issues in the dental field. After talking to a few people, I decided to coordinate a fundraiser and project in As Sulaymaniyah, Iraq. Nawras Mahmood, a student from As Sulaymaniyah, has helped me tremendously and put me in contact with dentists in Iraq. Over a week ago, nearly a hundred donation letters were sent out asking for dental supplies or a financial donation. People were very generous and enthusiastic about my project.
I have spent the last week driving around collecting boxes of toothpaste, toothbrushes, and money. One of the big ticket items that the dentists in Iraq needed was a dental papoose, and I am proud to state enough money has been raised to purchase one which will help Iraqi children receive oral care.
I do believe through interactions and goodwill, the misunderstandings between America and the Middle East can be diminished. It does not take much to make the world a smaller place. I have welcomed into my home people from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Palestine, Iraq, Bahrain, and Lebanon. I now look forward to be welcomed into the home of a Jordanian family.