Saturday, September 21, 2013

Stark Contrasts in Amman

I know it's been a long time since my last post but it's been a busy start to the school year.  Shanna and I are both hard at work, adjusting to a new school and new positions.  Ryker is hard at work playing with his fire truck and talking almost non-stop these days.  He says, "marhaba" which means hello in Arabic.      He continues to wow the local folks with his dashing good looks and friendly disposition.  In the last two weeks he has received free chocolate, a free cupcake, and a free brownie from places we have visited.  The Jordanian people love kids, which makes it much easier to go out with an almost 2 year old who runs around the entire restuarant at times.  Now, I know that isn't saying a whole lot about our choices of places to visit either, but every once in a while you need a taste of home.

Over the last few weeks, I have been thinking about all the contrasting elements that I see on a pretty frequent basis in Amman.  Just last night, I was driving, and saw a Lamborghini parked next to an empty lot full of trash where a man was searching for what I can only assume was aluminum or glass.    Jordan is considered a "developing" country, so you end up seeing a unique mix of first world opulence and third world poverty intermixed.

For instance, here is a picture of City Mall, one of the many gleaming, modern malls in the city.  It has all the major international brands along with nice restaurants to few Jordanians could afford.

Just outside of the mall, there are empty spaces.  On those empty spaces sit tents, housing the "homeless" people.  Homeless is debatable here, as many Jordanians believe these people are homeless by choice, not by circumstance.  Sounds like a similar argument between people in the States.  Anyways, here is a pic of what you might see as you leave the mall.

As a developing country, albeit, one with tons of history behind it, you also see modern vs. old.  Here is a great example of the skyline transforming from solely 4 to 5 story sand colored buildings that all look alike to the modern, "Western" skyscraper.  In all honesty, they look completely out of place and I get a disgusting feeling look at them.

Probably the largest contrast in my opinion, comes on a daily basis.  I pull into a parking space behind tall gates and head into a school for a day at work at a place that could fit with schools in the states.  I walk into my room and turn on my new iMac.  My kids have a class set of iPads coming.  Every student is speaking English.  I teach a similar curriculum to what I was teaching in the states.  I have pizza, sub sandwiches, or enchiladas at lunch.  I watch my kids play soccer, basketball, or four-square.  
I don't realize I am not in the states.  The stark contrast comes when I pull out of the gate and see I am not in the states anymore.  "We are not in Kansas anymore," is what I think daily.  You would think I would get used to this, but I get so used to the school setting and that familiarity, that I often forget where I am in the world.  Yes, I can still drive down the street and head to Starbucks, but most likely I will pass a man selling fruit out of the back of his truck to make a living, many Muslims heading to prayer at the mosque nearby, and plenty of garbage and trash laying everywhere.  It's like a comfort and a shock on a daily basis.  However; I'm beginning to like this place ...

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