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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.
After a long flight, including three connector flights before I even left the United States, I was greeted at the Queen Ali International Airport by my host family and a taxi cab driver. As the taxi cab left the airport and navigated the streets of Amman, the sights brought back good memories of the Middle East: the familiar tan, dusty landscape, people hanging out in the streets, and cars honking everywhere and driving seemingly without rules. The taxi cab ride through the city was like a roller coaster. All of these things brought a smile to my face and I thought, “it feels good to be back!
At my host family’s house, I was introduced to a traditional Jordanian dish, mansaf, which is lamb in a sauce of fermented-dry yogurt with rice. Middle Eastern food is one of the many reasons I have been excited about coming to Jordan. Since arriving, I have learned the importance of this national dish. While we sat around the dinner table, I quickly learned that my comprehension of conversational Arabic language is, to say the least, in the beginning stages. On the other hand, I discovered my host family’s English is at about the same level as my Arabic. However, the challenge is welcome because I came here to improve my Arabic, and there is no better way to improve than by having to speak it and listen to it all the time!
I have now been in Jordan for almost a week, and it has been a busy one. My house is near the main street of the neighborhood, and walking down the street, lined by little shops, is like walking through a bustling string of classrooms. Jordanians always stop to talk to me and are curious about where I am from. Through these interactions we each learn new words and how to use them in conversation. On multiple occasions, these meet-and-greets have turned into an hour-long conversation over a “sandweesh” falafel and a Pepsi. Jordanians are curious about my homeland, and I am excited to tell them about where I’m from. A common topic of interest is the presidential race currently going on in America. The question I’m most often asked is “Who is good, Romney or Obama?” As for me, I am curious about their lives and have heard some interesting stories that are helping me understand Jordanian culture and way of life. The best phrase in any conversation – and I hear it often – is “Jordan welcomes you, my friend,” which is always followed by a hearty handshake.