This week's update is in the form of a short video...
Bonus: check out Thendup Sherpa and I rehearsing his song "Puppy Love" in India.
It is midday here in Oman and the temperature is hovering around 101 degrees fahrenheit. It’s hot. Too hot. It’s Friday, but the weekend has already begun here. Like most countries in the Muslim world, we get Friday and Saturday off, not Saturday and Sunday. It will be a little strange going into work on Easter this year.
Someone asked me about how developed Oman is, so here's what I think. Before I came to Oman, I knew it would be relatively developed here, but I had no idea how Westernized this area of the world has become. For better or worse, there is just about every fast food chain available all over the place. There are a couple big malls with all the big brand names. The malls seem to be the place to hang out on the weekends (nothing compared to Dubai though, people keep telling me). This makes sense, as it is way to hot out to do anything outside from about 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. The malls are not too different from back home in the US at first glance, except the majority of shoppers are dressed in relatively conservative Islamic clothing.
I have one more thought for this post. As Americans, the impression that we get from this part of the world through the media is not exactly the most positive. Most of the Arabic language I have heard in my life up to this point has been related to terrorism and war. I’m pretty certain that is true. Oman is a peaceful country, but I can’t help but think about the kids in Syria and Afghanistan etc. that look and talk a lot like my students here. They are just trying to go to school and grow up too, which sucks, because they are caught between some nonsense that they can’t control. It’s easy to get numb to seeing the same images over and over again in the news, but it get’s more difficult to not feel anything when the kid on TV looks just like Mohamed in class 2A.
I still have about three weeks left here. Then I will take a trip to Armenia for a week. My school in Ethiopia doesn’t need me until the 19th of May, so I have a week to spare, and Armenia is close enough that it is worth it to take a trip up there and see some friends.
Thanks for following along on this journey of mine. I appreciate all of your feedback. Keep it coming! Feel free to let me know what else you would like to hear about or if you have any suggestions.
For this post, I was prepared to blog about all the things that are different here in the Middle East. The traditional dress, the desert landscapes, the call to prayer, the gender norms, the censorship, the friendly people, the nice cars, Islam, oil, etc... But a student today made me stop and think.
I was getting to know some the 11th graders at my school here in Oman (there are only 10 of them) and I was asking them about the music they like to listen to. Eminem, Taylor Swift, One Direction. They told me they like pop, rock, country, r&b. Then I asked them a little bit about life in Oman. I said something like, "what are some things that make you different from kids in other parts of the world?" After a long pause, one girl said, "Nothing makes us different, really. We are just normal teenagers." And that was interesting to me. Because here I was, making all these assumptions as an outsider, but, despite the differences that I see between these guys and other kids are the world, they really are just like students anywhere else.
And I think that is the major lesson I am starting to learn on this trip. You can go into a school anywhere, and no matter how foreign a place may seem on the surface, people are pretty much the same anywhere. The human condition. It's a wonderful thing.
No more to say right now, but please check out these videos of the senior students in Darjeeling. Stay tuned.