Oh yeah, I have a job

I have been working for an American NGO in the Middle East that teaches English to Arab speaking people.  It has been wonderful for me in so many ways.  My 6 week course is actually almost over and I'm quite sad about it.  But here is a bit from an email I sent to a friend telling her about it.

I am teaching an ESL class to 8 Palestinian Adults in East Jerusalem also. It has brought me more joy than I could have hoped for. I thought it would be more stressfull than it was rewarding or enjoyable for me, but I am finding it easier and easier the more I do it and I absolutely love my students. I have two High School boys that I want to kidnap and take home because they are so smiley and adorable. I also have one 40 something man and 5 middle aged women. Two of them wear the headscarf and the other three exhibit varying degrees of conservatism.  

I have made particular friends with 23 year old Ala’. She has been married for just over a year and has a little baby girl named Malek. She has actually started bringing me treats, which I have to figure out how to curtail without insulting her honor. I’ve decided to really try learning Arabic in earnest and after this class is over we are going to meet up once a week so she can help me with Arabic and I will help her with English. 

I feel like I’m actually doing something tangible to help the Palestinian people. Having a voice matters so greatly in this debate and the more people I can help express themselves to their leaders and the world in a language better accepted by the world, the more their voices will be heard.  Voices are ultimately the antidote to violence.  The “you love who you serve” bit couldn’t be more true. I am even getting paid, but when I ride out of Beit Hanina every Sunday and Wednesday I just want to wrap my arms around it and make the future’s of these people easier and more hopeful.

I also want to add a small note about the terrible tragedy at Fort Hood.  I have seen a disturbing development in the media as some try to make the connection between this troubled and deeply errant Muslim to the entire Islamic faith.  Some have suggested, with a wink and a nod, that Islam was the catalyst for this tragedy.  Violence of this nature is always senseless and to suggest that it represents a truth about the effects or intent of Islam is simply untrue.  People suffered greatly and their families will continue to suffer, but we would be wise to avoid making ill conceived assumptions about Muslims throughout the world.


  1. You hit on a subject that's near and dear to my heart...

    Our first posting was in Muscat, Oman - the heart of the Middle East. While I went with some trepidation, it turned out to be an amazing 2 years there! I never felt so safe... despite being Jewish in an Arab country where I had to dress modestly less I stand out (which of course I did as a light skinned woman).

    Then we went to Israel for 3 years where again, I felt very safe in all areas... this time blending in as a light skinned Jew.

    And yet, for whatever reason, so many "outsiders" feel that all Muslims are terrorists, not to be trusted, are bad people... I didn't feel that way in Oman or Israel, nor do I feel it here in India - where there is still a large population.

    It drives me nuts... batty, nutty, insane.

    Just wait until you start with the foreign service and you see all these muslim countries on your bid list... and listen to how many people say they'd NEVER go there. Trust me - they're AWESOME tours. :)

  2. Brookie - will they ante up with another course? love you both - Meeba.

  3. Meeba - they will probably give me another class. It just depends on when they have enough people to sign up...which I hope is soon. Love you too!