One Friday afternoon, less than a month after I moved to Faiha’, Umm Anis had pulled the fershaat out on the cool tile of the side porch, where she preferred to spend her time during spring and summer. It was south-facing and roofless, with the prevailing easterly wind usually blowing across the porch end-to-end. The side porch was a perfect venue for relaxing and chatting over a pot of strong, sweet black tea, poured into little gold-rimmed glasses over sprigs of fresh sage or thyme from the garden at the tile’s edge.
Silk Road Co-Editor-in-Chief Keya Mitra calls it “a brilliant glimpse into the narrator’s experience with the Peace Corps in Jordan and her attempt to create a community beyond labels.”
Cultural integration is the cornerstone of Peace Corps. Wherever you go, whatever community they drop you into, you have to find a few local people you trust to show you what it is to be one of them, and how to live in such a way that builds the trust that allows you to be of service to that community. Peace Corps staff plays a part in facilitating introductions.
The relationship that helped me the most, though, is one I mostly found my own way into.
This is the story of Umm Anis, the woman who was my neighbor, my mother, my teacher, my sister and my friend in Jordan. She made me bint al-bedu – a daughter of the Bedouin.