Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I'll try and do this more consistently.

The day was a success.
I woke up at 5:45 this morning and after turning off the alarm and a few more minutes I was fast asleep again.
Try number 2. I woke up at 7:30 am to a text that was sent 5 hours earlier from America. Just in time to throw some clothes on and run out the door with a left over falafel sandwich in hand and a bandana over my bedhead. Thank you delayed texts.
This was the first time I’d actually ran to the institute (a walk which takes about 3 minutes) because a few mornings out of the week I have writing appointments with a teacher from the institute. Come prepared with a short essay on that days topic and watch as red ink floods your paper with corrections (at least mine come back like that) I don’t expect myself to become exceptional in writing essays. Today’s topic was to write a short biography on the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. I indirectly learn so much about Middle Eastern politics through my studies here.

Translate some more news columns about recent German elections. Eat my falafel. Make plans to go play bumper cars at a local mall. Oh! Time for class. The next two hours was spent with Ibrahim, our native teacher, in what is called “Issues class”. This is where we discuss contemporary issues of the area in Arabic. Today we split the class into two sides and debated the topic of religion and government. After the first half hour I think we finally understood each other’s points and began arguing about the right things as opposed to just spitting out opinions. One girl on my side, Jessica (who had come back from a mission in Thailand just over 6 months ago), reverted back into Thai at one point when she got flustered. It was AWESOME. After another hour or so classes are done and we separate into our respective routines of homework. A few days out of the week I have an hour and half speaking appointment with one of the teachers. Tasneem is a 24 year old woman who is engaged (wedding end of October) and her fiancée was just offered a job in Qatar with Al Jazeera. We talk about clothes, politics, friends, strange things about the East, photography. Recently I’ve taken a new aim in my time spent with her.
If we can rewind the clocks for a while and go back to early Spring late Winter of 2012. I’m taking Family Processes and Electrical Engineering Intro Seminar (along with some other classes) at BYU. I’ve decided the EE is really not for me and one day happened upon a book. Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson. A book explaining applied Attachment theory in therapy under the name of Emotionally Focused Therapy. After catching my eye I decided to sit and thumb through it. An hour later I bought the book and it has since been that click which led me to change my major.
My principal major is Marriage and Family therapy with a focus in Emotionally Focused Therapy(EFT) (sounds cool doesn’t it!?) but you might ask how Arabic plays into all of this.
Well it didn’t, at first. I came up with a reason to learn Arabic specifically in this field of study after I finished my first semester in the language.
Attachment theory says that we form attachments, or emotional connections, with those around us. This comes in greater or lesser degrees depending on the person. In my opinion it’s one of those things that we all do and have done and will always do that it doesn’t readily come to the mind as, “Oh yeah, I know exactly what you’re talking about” but after a short conversation you begin seeing the water that you’re swimming in and recognize it for what it is.
The ideas coming from this theory have helped me learn ways to better cope with depression in my own life and in how to better form healthy emotional connections with those around me. It’s helped put into perspective past failures in relationships not only with women in a romantic context but also with friends of the same (or opposite) gender.
It’s given me a great deal and I’ve fallen in love with this theory on love. (I will for the rest of my life use this pun because it’s fantastic.)
How does this fit into the whole Middle East adventure and learning one of the harder languages of the world?
Arabs are very different from Westerners. No brainwork on that one. More specifically they differ in their perspective on relationships and its priority in their personal lives. More of life revolves around making and keeping relationships among people of the East when compared to people of the West (I have my own ideas on the basis behind this difference.) I suspected from what little I read and heard about the place friendship has in their culture that these people knew how to effectively make and keep quality friendships. Do they do something differently? Coming here to Jordan has given me an opportunity to see this interaction and come up with more ideas.
Now I’m in no obvious position of influence to have clout in spreading my ideas. This has a reach far into my future, potentially as a doctorate study. Between now and then I expect myself to achieve the education and training necessary to become a practicing therapist in EFT. But within that doctorate study I would observe the processes used to form and maintain emotional connections within both a family of the United States and a family of the East (most likely Jordan). Comparing the two I suspect that because of culture there will be obvious differences. But, I believe that because the family is a basic unit of all societies and cultures the processes within will be more similar than different across varying demographics. My goal is to show that we are more similar as Westerners with those of the East than we are different. My hope is that by this we will have more opportunity to respect and appreciate one another.

There’s a nutshell for you to chew on.

As time goes on I will hopefully record more of my observations and inshallah come back to the West with something of substance within these goals.
On other notes I went down to the markets in downtown Amman and spent 4 hours with my good friend Zach just wandering the streets of Amman, talking with people and enjoying the company. We went to a café and ate delicious shwarema, walked around looking for a wicked sweet light tan leather jacket for Zach (He’s got a fantastic yet specific look he’s going for, I’m committed to helping him get this) and also just meandering. In consequence I bought myself a brown leather jacket (relatively cheap, though I didn’t haggle well enough. After his initial offer and my rebuttal he accepted quickly…showing that I could have gone cheaper) Zach found it and it really is a nice jacket. I’m one Christmas present down out of 6 for the family after a visit to a couple shops.
Yes. It was a good day.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Hope I Can Remember All...

Day 20
I'm still alive and doing fantastically. Besides the hot weather I have no qualms about this place. Of course hot weather will always happen so no use in complaining about that. Today is the holy day and so a few of us took the bus up to Al-Husn to meet with the Arab branch in Northern Jordan. It's about an hour trip. Then it's 2.5-3 hours of church in Arabic! It's exciting how much more I understand from week to week. Last Friday I'd made it known I could play some church hymns when after the first hour I got to that piano and played some music in between Sacrament and Sunday School. One of the branch members was prompt in asking if I'd accompany for the following week. That's exactly what I did. And it was fantastic. A couple of the other students that come to the branch with me gave talks in Arabic. Today during Sunday School I got to know the youngest man in the branch, Haadi, 16. We chatted in Jordanian for awhile. I told him how I joined the church and he talked a little about getting his patriarchal blessing yesterday. Great kid.
As for my other adventures here? I found what will be my guilty pleasure whenever I want to treat myself. There's a mall called City Mall and some of the clothing stores there sell clothes well beyond any price range I'd ever consider. But I don't go to buy them, just to touch the nice fabrics and admire well made stuff. I did find a pair of yellow pants for what would be $10 in the states. It was on sale.
Taking taxis around here is always an adventure. More often than not you find a nice driver who doesn't try to overcharge you and the ones who do, you just get right back out and find another, there are plenty. I've eaten lots of different local food (well mostly just falafel and shwarma, well also some kebab).
Let's talk about my typical day, since I'm confident Mom wants to know what happens in my life here. I wake up anywhere between 5-7 am depending on the day and eat some flatbread with cheese and honey for breakfast. Long showers are a luxury here and so when a shower does happen it's quick in and out. Some time is spent studying for class and by 8 I'm on my way to the institute, which is a short 5 minute walk down the road. Speaking appts, writing appts, then class for 2 hours with Ibrahim. This guy is SO much fun! He's short and full of life and laughter. We never go a day without laughing in his class. We take a break at about an hour and I sometimes chance the time and run down 4-5 floors to grab some falafel from a little place just outside the institute. Mmmmmm falafel. It's my taco bell of the Middle East, and if you know me, I'm all about those chicken burritos at T-bell. After class with Ibrahim it's an hour of class with our program director Dil. We spend some time griping about what's bothering us and part of the time is spent working on whatever news article we were assigned for that day. The rest of my day I usually spend in homework, going out on the town for shwarma or some new restaurant and talking with whatever random citizen I seem to pass by. Some of my favorite places here in Amman so far include :Wast ilBalad, a downtown market place. Rainbow st, the most hip/happening spot of Amman for young people (also the place to which I'll go for a sing-a-long screening of Across the Universe in a local cinema tomorrow night) Always I enjoy malls and being around clothes.
I really ought to spend more time documenting the individual adventures. That will happen more as my life has settled here.
Not my most eloquent of posts but I hope you get some small idea as to what is happening over here in my life.