It’s always been a joy to my heart to hear from my friends from around the world; keeping such connections makes me feel that I indeed crossed all physical, cultural, mental, and belief borders. I feel that I excelled past the differences between humans all over the world. It’s been almost six years since I left West Liberty University and the friends that I made while there. However, we celebrate the changes in our lives, careers, and growing families even now at a distance, so I’m very happy to share some of what’s going on in my life now in 2016.

I am from Amman, Jordan. It’s a small country in the Middle East very well known in the region with its amazing weather, ancient and cultural history, and beautiful sightseeing. I currently work as an internal auditor at Societe Generale de Banque Jordanie. I’ve been there for three years, being a polyvalent auditor which has exposed me to a diversity of best practices for all functions in the bank. The job has provided the opportunity to learn a great deal about the banking sector which has always been my interest.

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Map of the Middle East, showing Jordan in gold to the northwest of Saudi Arabia. Map courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense.

As I write this, Ramadan has just come to a close, and yes, Ramadan in Jordan is different. It is indeed an amazing spirit out there on the streets and homes of my country. If you come to Jordan at Ramadan, you’ll find lights all over the streets in different colours, mainly with the hilal and star. One good unique experience will be at Iftar time (breaking the fast); you’ll be amazed how in the blink of an eye all the streets get empty; if you go out this time of the day, you feel that you own the entire city.

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Treats of Ramadan.



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Almost an hour and a half after Iftar there come Al Taraweeh prayers that last for nearly two hours. At the end of prayers you can hear all the mosques reciting dua’ alwiter (the alwiter prayer). It is recited with an amazing spirituality. I love the month of Ramadan. It is a month-long therapy for both my mind and my heart. As you may know, we fast from dawn (around 4a.m.) till sunset (around 8 p.m.). “No water of course.” On a physical level such a diet helps the body in getting rid of extra toxins. On the spiritual side, to forbid food and water makes you feel for the poor in this world and commands you to cherish every single piece of bread and drop of water. This feeling is accompanied by the Ataraweeh prayers, which is when I pray for all the poor in this world and thank God for all the blessings bestowed upon me. I ask God for the strength to continue this journey of life with peace and prosperity.

I highly recommend trying a fasting diet; it will be hard the first three days, especially if you’re a coffee person like me! However, your body will adapt to the time it expects food.

So how did living in West Liberty add to my life experience and skills? My answer: differences can only be good if we want them to be! A learning exchange is indeed beneficial for all those involved.

It widened my mind to accept all the differences around me, in my work life, my social life, and even in my family life. I learned that truth in this world must be sought, you yourself must dig after it so you can know what exists in this world first-hand. The news that is seeking you is mostly there to control the limits of your knowledge, so my exchange taught me to question any information presented to me and to look behind the presentation.

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Banan and husband celebrating the first birthday of their daughter.

Before living in West Liberty, I thought of America as a bad country with arrogant, selfish people who want to to take over all the world no matter what damage it left behind. Far from the politics, when I got to live with Americans, I learned they are helpful, nice, and friendly. I am sure you would learn the same of Jordanians if you were to live among us for a few weeks or months.

What amazed me most of America was how rarely I found someone who spoke a language other than English. I was also astounded that most people I met knew nothing about Jordan. Most people knew little about Islam, that it was strictly stereotyped and connected to terrorism. Terrorism has nothing to do with real Islam or the culture of Arab nations.

During my exchange to West Liberty I was nominated as a vice president to the International Students Club. This provided me the opportunity to speak on campus about Islam, about Jordan, our history and traditions. The International Club held many presentations introducing our cultures from different countries. It was indeed a unique experience to learn about cultures from around the world through my friendships with other students.

It is has been almost six years since I left West Liberty, and here I am writing again about about Jordanian life, helping bridge cultures from thousands of miles away; how amazing is that?

 

Publisher’s Note: Global Wheeling is an occasional Weelunk series that demonstrates Wheeling’s connections to the world. How Wheeling residents touch the lives of those around the world and in turn how the world influences life here in our community. Guest authors share their experiences of living, working, and studying around the globe. If you would like to share your story of immigration or living abroad please contact jeremy.morris@weelunk.com



2 Responses

  1. Earl Nicodemus

    Banan, – Thank you for writing this. Thanks to the student exchange program at West Liberty University, I have been blessed to meet and become friends with talented young people from 13 countries and representing five different religions. You were and continue to be a great ambassador for Jordan and for Islam. Hopefully, this publication will help folks to understand that people from different cultures and religions can love each other as friends and can work together in peace. Have a great day!

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