Friday, July 5, 2013

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The Last Blog (...for now)

What a perfect six weeks. I would like to open this last blog with saying that inshallah, it's not actually the last blog. With my entire being, I want to return to this country as well as others in the Middle East. However, this is indeed one end. An end to the most enriching, inspirational, beneficial, beautiful, loving six weeks of my life. I am extremely aware that I most likely will never get to have an opportunity quite like this again. There is no replicating learning a foreign language abroad with your professors and nine of your classmates for a month and a half. We have absolutely become a family (moomkin a tad dysfunctional, but that's why we work) and I just could not be more grateful. I truly never thought I would make it outside of the borders of America. And this entire time in Jordan has been an absolute dream. To be able to live it out? I've never felt so whole. And now...having left...I can honestly confirm that I have left my heart locked away in apartment B2-A7. The large, very dirty, very loved apartment where we laughed until it hurt, had several different mental breakdowns, stayed up talking 'till the call of prayer, fixed some toilets, didn't fix some sinks, killed bugs we weren't aware existed and cooked some truly awful rice. Rare, true friends were discovered. 

All of this became that much more clear to me in our last day of walking through Irbid. It was obvious to my heart that something was different. We were all walking along the streets per usual, laughing at the small things and having a wonderful time...but there was a heaviness making it known that this might be the very last time we would all be trekking down the sidewalks of Irbid together. As a group. And so we all soaked up those last hours. We went to our cafe B-12 and enjoyed our usuals. Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You serenaded us as we walked out the door. We walked up to a store to get flags and were, as always, watched very closely by all of the young men on the streets. I must say, I actually quite enjoyed being 'shabab'ed' this last time. It forced me to remember how real and different of a thing it is for Americans to visit such a small section of Jordan. How they may or may not be able to guess at how much we love their country and culture. How much respect is given to the women of the Middle East. And how simply impressive of a presence we seemed to have in Irbid. I hope we inspired a little bit of a something in these people that we shocked with our strange clothes and foreign looks. Because they sure as hell inspired me. 

After getting our last of souvenirs, we headed back to the apartments with a cake and some extreme candles also in hand. Before our mini celebration though, most of us went up to the roof for one last sunset together. The sadness was setting in. But, it was the most beautiful sunset yet. Because it brought with it an invitation to return (which I will certainly be taking up). After enjoying the sun setting on our trip, we had a little hafla. Reshma and my's birthday were both on the first and Kaitlyn's was on the third, so we were sung to and entertained with dynamite candles that absolutely completed our last night. Laughter and happiness filled the air. 

My time in Jordan was perfect. I have never felt so in love with everything. I'm not sure what it is about the Middle East that makes you live and breathe with it, but it does. Everything is intensely intertwined and intellectually outstanding. I have absorbed so much happiness here and it is not something that I will ever be able to forget. 

So, shukran to everyone in my life who made this possible for me. Not one moment of this trip has gone unappreciated by my heart and mind and words cannot describe how this has changed me as a person. As humans, we change every day. I have gone through many a hard time in my meager nineteen years and have become a certain person because of it. Change has never been a surprise. However, things in Jordan have been different. Magnified. It was like I was starting over with everything. I didn't have to live up to any expectation and I was in a culture that I felt the intense desire to not only understand, but be a part of. I was welcomed. I have never been so at peace and moments to myself have granted me access to parts of my personality and own outlooks on the world that had been locked away by time and circumstance. Al hamdulilah. I have grown. And I have confirmed in me the need to do good and to see more of the world. I have reminded myself of how important it is to please my own heart and how equally important it is to remain true to myself, no matter the time or place. I have the right to speak up. And I have everyone on that trip with me, along with the country itself, to thank for this perfect time abroad. I already, with my whole heart, miss living with the most intelligent and kind people I have ever met. Our daily routines, laughs in and out of class, wajib struggles, fights over nothing because we were essentially all brothers and sisters for six weeks and just having understanding and support. A mutual knowing that we were all changing together. No one else could have made this trip what it was. And it is a time none of us will ever be able to get off our minds. 


Through everything that happened, the up's and the down's, I have had the absolute most beautiful time of my life in Jordan and I could not be more grateful. I learned more than I imagined possible and more than that, I will continue to carry the lessons I now have with me into my future. Every day. I will continue to watch the world from my own quiet corner and work as hard as I possibly can to return to the Middle East to do my part. Inshallah, with Doctors without Borders. A dream I had nearly tossed aside which is now once again my burning passion. Thanks to Jordan. 

And of course, to Waed and Muhammed, thank you for making all of this possible. For giving us the best. Every day. And for instilling in each one of us a renewed belief in ourselves. I don't think anyone imagined that your effect on us and faith in us would be so grand and inshallah, so permanent. Nothing on this trip was what I thought it would be. Every second of it was more emotional and forged more of an unbreakable connection with my heart with each passing day. The people of Jordan are truly beautiful. They welcome you without question into their homes. They have a very different, very rare kind of appreciation for the world around them. And they live with love. There is no traveling to the Middle East, experiencing its natural perfection and not living. Every moment there, you feel. It is beautiful. And, though of course not for all people, you become a part of it. Or rather, it becomes a part of you. 


So, remember to live your lives with passion...find what makes the world beautiful to you...feel every day...and never underestimate yourself. Thank you so, so much for reading. :) And of course, have a wonderful day.

حقا الحياة جميلة 



PhotoJourney of the Dead Sea Because Vanessa is Lazy!

My deepest apologies for not having had the time to blog about the Dead Sea! But, pictures are worth thousands of words, so please enjoy this photo tour of our last weekend excursion...






Our first stop was Madaba, a town in Jordan famous for its beautiful mosaics. 





We continued along the yellow line painted onto the sidewalks and roads to be led to several historic religious sites, such as the beautiful church above. Next was the church where Saint John the Baptist was beheaded!!...










We also climbed the bell tower successfully, which was an extreme accomplishment and only a little horrifying!! Conquering fears, very exciting stuff. Once we all made it back to the ground alive, we headed to Mount Nebo, where Moses looked out over Israel and placed his staff beside a tree (or something along those general lines...there was some controversy over the details of Moses' staff holding).




After Mount Nebo, we headed to the Kempinski Hotel on the Dead Sea! Certainly the fanciest hotel we have stayed at...cold towels and free juice greeted us at the door. Complimentary baklava was in our hotel rooms. Slippers and the nicest robe yet made for an extremely peaceful stay. Not to mention the room service of more baklava and ice cream...living the life. It was perfect.


















Once we returned from the Dead Sea, it was absolutely time to start studying for our final exams. This period of time consisted of several mental breakdowns, some self discovery and sure-fire bonding between the lot of us as we were all on the same inner descent into insanity. We also went to Waed's family home again, which was of course lovely. And despite us all thinking we failed our necessarily intense finals, we did grrrreat! And with exams over, we were forced to see that our time in Jordan was truly coming to an end.