He’d been saying for weeks that he would come and visit me in Jordan if he could find an affordable ticket, and for weeks I’d been thinking, ‘Yeah, right!’ And then, on Sunday, I get a message on Facebook: “I’m coming on Wednesday!” I thought, ‘Which Wednesday? This Wednesday? In February? He couldn’t mean this week!‘ But he did. Still, I didn’t believe it until I ran upstairs on my break for my last class of Block One, saw Philip step out of the cab, and had given him a great big hug.
As Philip’s mother said, “I can never tell where in the world you and Maryah will end up next!” In fact, Philip’s coming to Jordan from a rather interesting corner of the earth: South Korea! Clarian University, where he’s studying at the moment, is piloting a new study abroad program to study Korean language in South Korea. Someone in the International Studies office must have known Philip, because they offered him a full scholarship to be their guinea pig, and of course he couldn’t say no! Learn a new language? Of course! For free? Even better! And because he’s enrolled in classes, he’s also receiving a stipend from our friend Sec. Hilary Clinton under the G.I. Bill, which is how he can afford to come practice his Arabic in Jordan for ten days!
Those of us who flit about the globe in search of new languages and new adventures frequently have the problem of communicating those experiences to others. When we go back home, people tend to say, “How was it?” and all they expect in reply is, “Excellent!” When you start to extol the virtues of your host community, or tell the little anecdotes that so amuse you about the trip, their eyes glaze over and they become intensely interested in some spot on the opposite wall…. I’m lucky to have an extended family and a few friends, notably Phredd and my brother’s late best friend Nathan, who truly are fascinated by every little story. So it’s great when Philip comes to visit, because we can swap culture shock anecdotes and enjoy the telling as much as the hearing! Most of my expat friends here are like Phredd and Nate, though, so I knew they would love Philip, and he them. So I took Philip and my new roommate, Kitty, to one of my favorite expat hangouts, Books@Cafe, where we had a wonderful evening with Heba, Abby, some of Abby’s friends, and eventually my third roommate Ryan and our mutual friend Lowen.
I only wish Meli had been able to come with the other Peace Corps Volunteers who are in town for a conference, or Emily, who’s soaking up the high life in Geneva this weekend!