We've lived here in the Middle East for over five years. It's hard to imagine being anywhere else. I often don't really think about the fact that I'm a foreigner - a guest in the country. I've learned the language (to an extent), love the food, and two of my children were born here. Our oldest is in a local, private school where Arabic is the primary language. It's adorable to watch him practice for his upcoming assembly, sharing "ana ilmalfuuf" (I am the cabbage), a presentation on vegetables.
When I meet new people, they often ask, "where is home?" I usually answer, "home is here". This is my home. Of course I miss family and friends who are back in the states, and there are certainly days I yearn for certain characteristics of my passport culture, but I'm proud to say we really have made our life here.
I realized my friends understood this during a recent choir rehearsal. The choir I sing with is an eclectic mix of locals and foreigners. We've been learning some Arabic folkloric music, and it is just fascinating. At one point, the director asked for the Arabs to sing a section once through, and then for the others to sing once through. This was for her to listen to us sing and check to make sure we were getting the pronunciation and nuances of Arabic music. Quarter tones are amazing, but a challenge for us Western singers. An Arab friend turned to me and asked, "inti ma3na 'aw mahum?" (are with you us or them?) . I smiled. Both? She had given me the ultimate compliment.
So, thank you Jordan, for accepting me into your country. Your friendship, hospitality, food, music, and grace are in abundance.
~ Um Tulip