I just wanted to make a quick post to share a few photos and talk about my actual classes this week, since they’re why I’m here!
Would you be surprised that I haven’t seen a single paper napkin the entire time I’ve been here? Everyone just uses tissues as napkins…
My classes in Arabic are structured as follows. We have two separate classes with different teachers. First, from 8:00 AM to 10:00 we have Media Arabic class, then from 10:30 to 12:30 we have Grammar class. We have discussions and activities in both, and we usually have a set topic for the week in the Media class. For example, we talked about human rights this week and made posters for specific rights today. My group’s was the right to peaceful protests. We discussed the differences between rights in Oman and rights in the United States as well as the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Twice a week in the evenings, we meet with our conversation partners. I can definitely tell that my Arabic is improving – even if I’m not learning new vocabulary at the rate that I’d like, I’m much more comfortable now with the words that I already knew. I went for a walk with Ibrahim, my conversation partner, and was able to talk for a few hours only in Arabic. I explained the NSA, the differences between Democrats and Republicans, the next election, and other things.
We also had sports night Sunday with our conversation partners. I played volleyball and soccer; I was pretty bad, but I still had fun.
Tonight we had a very cool lecture about the Royal Opera House in Muscat that I visited last weekend. Dr. Nasser al-Taee, a former professor at the University of Tennessee talked about the mission of the Opera House as well as his theories about the relationship between East and West, citing Edward Said and Orientalism. The mission of the Opera House aside from entertainment is Cultural Diplomacy – to foster cooperation and understanding internationally and specifically between the West and the Middle East by presenting Middle Eastern culture in forms comfortable to the West. He mentioned Gandhi as a good example of the understanding the Opera House hopes to achieve. Gandhi learned English and spoke in English when he was communicating the British but his end goal was still sovereignty for India and its culture. I’m not sure if what I’m saying makes sense, but I’m writing this more so that I can remember what happened than to give a detailed account.
Also, it looks like I might have a new roommate. I found a lizard on the ceiling in my room that I’m not really sure what to do with – I’m concerned that I might hurt him if I try to catch him, but on the other hand I don’t want him to be stuck in there unable to find food. I think I’ll go try to find a solution now…