Wednesday, October 2, 2013


When the windows of the Ethics, Philosophy, and Religion department office are open, it's easy to hear the noise coming from the very not-soundproof practice room in the building across the way. Someone was just playing that song from the end credits of Spirited Away, and I wish they hadn't stopped. (I also wish they hadn't been playing it so fast, but let's take things one step at a time).

The first two-and-a-half days of this week, as well as the last day of the weekend, were so busy that I feel like I had fallen into one of those torrential jungle rivers that leads to a giant waterfall. I was working like a maniac just to keep my head afloat, and suddenly, just like that: emptiness.

Not that it's actually empty, of course; I still had class today and I still have class tomorrow. But a lot of the major work is all done. I submitted my 31 midterm comments (which really is nothing compared to some of my fellow EPR teachers, who had to write 70 or even 80); I succeeded with the Challenging Lesson of the week (a formal debate in class which produced reasonably impressive results); and now I'm getting a head start on next week because this weekend is not going to leave much time for work.

Because this weekend I'm going to Petra and Wadi Rum with a bunch of teachers! Hooray! And now that I am an official resident of Jordan, it only costs me 1JD to get into Petra (for non-residents it's like 50, which is nearly $80). It feels like a good time to get away from it all; this week has really put everyone to the test and I think people are thrilled at the chance to spend an evening under the stars. Hopefully I will take amazing pictures and post them here soon.

A little photo gallery of my recent adventures:

1. A few of us went into Amman to visit Jordan's National Gallery the other weekend - a pretty little contemporary art gallery showcasing a lot of really thought-provoking art, much of it from Arab artists. This was part of an exhibit by a Brazilian guy who uses paper and paper products to make punny or otherwise whimsical pieces; here, a jacket made of jackets! Get it? I thought it was cute.

2. A pathway at the park/sculpture garden that was also part of the National Gallery. It was a gorgeous day (as usual), and the breeze was full of the smell of flowering plants and rosemary and other such herbs. I wish we'd spent a little more time relaxing there, but alas, we had to go eat pizza. The pizza was pretty good.

3. King's Academy in the morning, on my walk to the gym. As often as I remember, I stop to appreciate the beauty of the place in which I live and work. Especially at sunrise and sunset, King's always puts on a show.

4. One of my favorite activities since arriving here was this past weekend's International Dinner, when students and teachers got together to plan meals from countries around the world. Under the inspirational leadership of a Chinese-American PG student, a diligent team of cooks prepared several hundred dumplings, as well as a couple meat pies. It was absolutely delicious and the dinner was a great showcase of all the different Asian countries that our students call home. It really could have been called the Asian Dinner (I heard there was lasagna but it was long gone when I arrived), and I was perfectly content to sample cuisine from Singapore and various regions of China. And it made me want to cook more often, especially with company.

5. Yesterday I tagged along with a co-curricular called "Out and About in Madaba" to visit some Umayyad ruins not far from school. I'm not totally clear on who the Umayyads were, but if memory serves, they set up a fortress here around 700CE as they made their relentless way north, conquering whoever stood in their way. Among the sights here: some beautiful mosaic floors; the remains of what may be the oldest mosque in all of Islam; and this cool-looking hole in the wall.

A couple more visits from my superiors this week; all of them went well, and I'm continuing to receive encouraging feedback. I'm starting to get more comfortable with my classes, too - as I get to know them, it's easier and easier to know how to deal with their idiosyncrasies (both individually and collectively). Next week we start messing around with epistemology and skepticism, and I only have to plan three days because we're watching The Matrix on the last day of class. I have convinced myself that this is a valuable use of our time.

And then it's off to Cyprus for our first school break! A week of relaxation is fast approaching. Don't touch that dial.

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