Sunday, May 29, 2011

Passport, electrical adapters, head coverings, and long dresses

My students will tell you that I am a fan of discomfort.  I believe that discomfort leads to a person's growth.  Discomfort tells us that our current paradigms are being challenged.  I am taking a trip to Jordan because I needed growth.  My life had become too routine.  And, boy, am I feeling the discomfort.  The raw, nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach discomfort.

Preparing for a trip to Amman has been a challenge.  The CIEE has been great to communicate expectations, agendas, suggested readings, packing lists, etc. to conference attendees, but it is overwhelming.  There is so much uncertainty.  I bought an electrical adapter at Best Buy, and the salesperson told me NOT to plug a hairdryer or a flat iron into it.  Huh?  Am I supposed to spend a week with wet, stringy hair??  The suggested packing list said to bring a head covering and long dresses with sleeves.  I'm so conflicted about that.  I'd rather wear capris, short sleeve shirts, and no head covering.  I want to show respect within this culture, but will I also be taking a part in oppression of women by taking part in local customs?  I'm teaching an online class during the 8-week summer session, but will I be able to get (and afford) internet during the trip?  Will I be able to blog?  Will I be able to communicate with family and friend?  What will it be like to be in foreign airports and go through that process?  Will my suitcase get searched?  Will my suitcase even make it?  How in the heck do I get everything in one bag anyway???

It's all very scary to me, but it's also very necessary.  I will be a better teacher after this trip.  I will also be a better global citizen.

A note for my current and former students reading this:  I am doing this for you.  Many of you have taken some big, scary risks because I asked you to trust me.  Now it's my turn.