Greetings from Amman

Greetings from Amman, Jordan. This weekend was Eid al-Fitr which is the Muslim holiday to end the month of Ramadan. In the days before Eid, the streets swell with parents out shopping for clothes and gifts to give their children to celebrate the end of Ramadan. I spent the weekend camping in the canyons of “Dana Biosphere Reserve” (see pictures) and doing some great hiking. We camped with local bedouins and had a wonderful celebration. The bedouins give new meaning to the word hospitality – serving us mint tea and “zarb,” a famous dish of lamb or goat cooked with rice, carrots, onions, and potatoes in a specially-constructed hole in the ground that is filled with olive wood for cooking.

I have completed two weeks of classes now and I am very grateful for this SLA grant because these classes are exactly what I need for my journey with the Arabic language. I am doing one-on-one reading tutorials with a professor here at the same school I studied at last summer with the CLS program. I work through the text at home and then we read together and work through the parts that I don’t understand. Aside from the obvious differences in script, grammar and so forth, understanding and interpreting well-written Arabic is very different from English. Sentences in Arabic can be very very long, and there are very often symbolic or poetic parts of the text, so it is essentially learning how to interpret the style of written Arabic. The most difficult part so far has been interpreting the poetry. Arabs have a rich poetic tradition and the poetry, especially from long ago in history, can be tremendously difficult to understand. So once again I have to express my gratitude for the SLA grant to provide me the opportunity to have these one-on-one lessons, which are serving as a springboard for me to launch into my dissertation research.