I have been back in the states for a little over a week already and am starting to process the entire trip and put it into context. I have been getting together with friends and colleagues who have been asking what I learned on the trip; so I decided to put it in my blog. One of the first things that sticks out about this trip was the power of technology. The number count on the blog was pretty low, so I was surprised to learn that many people were following the blog. I would start talking about my trip and friends say, “you mean like in your blog?” or “I found the Turkish Bath entry fascinating….what exactly didn’t you like about it.” I was able to upload pictures so that interested parties were able to follow my travels through social networking sites. I had problems uploading pictures to this blog because of slow Internet connections. Here is a link to some images I uploaded to Snapfish:

Snapfish

In many ways, coming back to the states felt like I never left. I had so many jobs lined up and went to work as soon as my feet touched Detroit. I worked on my PhD homework in Jordan, but the trip put me really behind on the paper I am writing. People I have been talking to have been asking what was the best experience you had in Jordan which is really impossible to answer. Another question is what did you learn in Jordan? Here are some of my thoughts:

Best Experiences in Jordan (in no particular order):

Searching for the best falafel sandwich

Hiking through wadis, streams, and waterfalls

Two Days in Petra (and camping in the site)

Our guides and Jordanian hospitality

Roman Ruins (Jerash, Um Quais, Pella,…….)

The Queen Rania Educational Technology Center

Visiting both Hussien University and the University of Jordan campuses

The Dead and Red Seas

Hot air ballooning in Wadi Rum

Our two visits to the US Embassy

The variety of activities we did and the variety of interests our group had (made for a rich learning experience)

Riding a horse in Petra and a camel (really a dromedary) in Wadi Rum

The list goes on……and changes as I remember different aspects….but this is a start

Now the tougher question…..what did you learn in Jordan….. (in no particular order)

I really want to learn another language, but languages do not come easy to me….I am going to work on Spanish first. I want to learn arabic as well, but I have more background in Spanish and am planning on visiting Mexico and Cuba next summer.

My knowledge of religion; both Islam and Christianity, increased dramatically. Visiting sites such as Jesus’ baptism site, John the Baptist’s beheading site, and Mount Nebo taught me a lot about religion I did not previously know. Realizing that Islam recognizes the Bible and that Jesus was a prophet was eye opening. The way I now understand it, the biggest difference is that Islam does not believe Jesus was the son of God and they have added Mohammed as a prophet and the Koran as a religious text.

How strong the concept of family is in the Islamic world….and how strong the separation between men and women is. The concept of family honor and its strength in society. The expectations that children will get married and have children and that both males and females are looked down upon if they have not been married and had children.

The importance of having meat at every meal. Chicken and rice was served daily. The pressure of the world economy that made lamb to expensive to serve very often and forced the Jordanians to import Chinese chicken.

The worldwide image that teachers should not be paid decently. When we were there, there was a teacher strike starting in Karak. All of the education ministries and education reforms were adding technology to the curriculum and building new schools; but none of them were helping teachers. The fact that this omission was so glaringly obvious to us, but unknown to both Jordanian education officials and US funded organizations. It is easy to quantify progress by counting new schools, but quantifying increased learning is much more difficult.

The problems with Israel are not going to go away any time soon. I learned an amazing amount about the history of the conflict, but still feel like there is much more to learn. The plight of the Palestinians and how that shapes their current worldview.

The importance of global cooperation to protect the environment. In Ohio, we take water for granted. We water our lawns and wash our cars. In Jordan, they do not have enough water for farmers to raise crops. Their natural water resources are being depleted. The Dead Sea may disappear from the Earth in the next 40 years! The emergence of an oil leak, similar to the BP disaster, off the coast of Egypt in the Red Sea.

The complexities of US involvement in Iraq and how that impacts the entire region. Iraqi immigration and the complexities of rebuilding Iraq.

This post will be continued…….

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