Every month I need to renew my visa. Renewing my visa requires taking a cab to the Fulbright House. I have no idea where anything is in Jordan, including the Fulbright House. Luckily, some of the cab drivers do, and even luckier for me, some of them speak English.
Arriving at the Fulbright House is similar to homing pigeons returning home. I get to see my proxy guardians: Alain McNamara (Executive Director), Iman Abdul-Wahid (Program Director), Mohammad Al Ahmad (Accountant) and Sayel Asakreh (Driver).
Alain, the all-aware protector of all the Fulbrighters, keeps us all on track and in one piece.
Iman makes sure we all have a decent place to live, and once we’re situated that our needs are met.
Mohammad makes sure we get our stipends so we can pay our taxi fares and buy food.
And Sayel makes sure we don’t get kicked out of Jordan by taking us to the Police Station to renew our visas.
On one occasion during a visit to the Fulbright House Abdalrahem Alarjan, a well known photographer, met with Alain to discuss the application procedure for a Fulbright Scholar Award. Abdalrahem Alarjan is one of the seven artists who will be showing their work in the Seven Women’s House Keys show.
Once a year Dr. Nidal Younes and Dr. Abla Al-Bsoul host a dinner to honor the Fulbright scholars in their beautiful home in Shafa Badran, an area outside of the city. (The only glitch in the entire evening was that the photographs I took of Nidal, our host, were too blurry to use on this blog).
Abla prepared a spectacular feast.
Their home is gorgeous and the conversation with the scholars, faculty and administrators of universities and guests was stimulating and enjoyable.
Soon after this wonderful evening, Nehal Abu-Lail (a Fulbright Scholar from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington) hosted a dinner for the scholars in her home in Irbid, located near the Syrian border. Nehal and her mother cooked the feast, which was delicious, and it was a very enjoyable afternoon. We had the opportunity to meet her wonderful family. (The only glitch was that the battery in my camera needed recharging; therefore, I only have one blurry picture of the event).
Christina Gordon, a Fulbright Student from Washington D.C., and I shared a cab when renewing our visas.
She’s teaching English at the Modern Educational Academy, a private school, located in the seventh circle. I volunteered to teach a class in lettering to her junior high students. I demonstrated printing their names (in English and Arabic) and creating bubble letters.
(The only glitch was that the cab driver was late picking me up, which made me arrive ten minutes late and the class was only forty minutes long). I absolutely do not like being late to anything, so I eliminated that cab driver and hope to have better luck with another one.
The other night Christina, Ibraheem and I went downtown to see the Roman Steps and eat dinner nearby. It’s a gorgeous area in the day time but it is even more gorgeous at night. (The only glitch in the evening was that I lost my trusty Guatemalan carry-all bag that I’ve used during my travels for twenty years. Nothing was in it except a bottle of hair conditioner I bought before going out, but I will most certainly miss my bag)!
A couple shop spaces from Ibraheem’s flower shop is Khaled Homsi’s Young Eye Gallery. Shortly after arriving in Jordan I met Khaled Homsi. Until a few months ago Khaled had a design business in Syria. After his place of business there was bombed, he moved to Jordan and opened an art gallery in Paris Circle. When I first saw Khaled’s gallery in September it was a gutted portion of a building. He told me he had great plans for the space and the renovation would be completed in October. It is absolutely magnificent.
I am considering adopting him, not that he needs it. He is 27 years old and has wonderful parents. My thoughts are that if I adopted him I could have him design my house as payment for being my son.
Khaled’s passion is working with recycled materials and cleaning up the environment. When he lived in Syria he formed a volunteer organization that cleaned up waterways, lakes and rivers. Ultimately over a thousand people took part in the cleanup, men, women and children.
Khaled and I are putting together a workshop for children during the Christmas season. The workshop will involve creating a Christmas tree comprised of painted recycled materials: bottles and other discarded items. The tree will be displayed in Paris Circle on Christmas day in conjunction with a children’s party. The theme of the tree is not religious, rather it will reflect the concept that “everyone is a star.”