One of the largest adjustments that I’ve had to make here in Senegal has been in the manner of interaction with others in a variety of contexts. Different food and styles of houses and dress are easy to adjust to with time – having to constantly second-guess how you relate to others even as continue to fumble with a second language. Some interactions have become much easier. I know to find and greet all my family members when I re-enter the house, I know how to politely tell the talibes that I can’t give money or food today, and I know how to behave around the bowl at meal times.
And yet, there is a one genre of interactions that continues to be confusing and very frustrating, and that is the myriad of interactions between genders. ...continue reading "Impressions of Americans vs the Patriarchy"
There were protests planned for Jordan. Now nothing dramatic or horrifying had happened here, such as in next-door Egypt or Libya, but there was a nervous feeling in the air as Friday approached. Emails were sent to our parents, the State Department gave us a debriefing, and we all waited to see what would come out of it. Some students claimed they wouldn’t tell people they were American, others planned to stay out of the downtown area; each had their own plan to deal with the seemingly impending chaos.
Friday came and went, and some small protests materialized in front of the American Embassy, mosques and a gym. The police had come out in full force to quell any potential riots, but those riots never appeared.
I am an American, but I do not visibly look like one. Because I am a Muslim, I wear Islamic dress which has give me a “pass” to blend in with the local Jordanian culture. This has its pros and its cons. It’s great to have people automatically speak to you in Arabic and give you the local price for things, but it can be a little confusing trying to explain to them why you have no idea what they just said. As a Muslim American, I have two identities, which are often in conflict with one another. In America, Muslims are the “other”. We are not welcomed in politics or mainstream society. Ours mosques are targeted and infiltrated; some do not even consider us American. I have walked in the streets of DC to have people tell me “Go back to your own country”, even though I am in it. On the other hand, Muslims view America as the big bad monster in the room. Due to American foreign policy abroad, America is often seen as an antithesis to Islam and our Prophet. The recent film uploaded on YouTube did nothing to help that reputation.
...continue reading "Lessons from Amman: How to Love One Another"