Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Action Plan?

 I got my assignment at the Ministry. They gave me an "Action Plan" that includes four areas. 1- Knowledge Management. I don't really know what that means, but they explained that I will be doing research and such in Arabic and giving them reports so they can make decisions. We'll see how that goes! 2- Translate this packet of Arabic stuff into English. It's 50 pages and explains all of the services provided by the Ministry. They plan to translate most of the website into English and this is my portion. 3- IT support. There are some IT guys on our floor and I told them that I want to go around and fix servers and computers and stuff with them. They seem like cool guys, younger, that I can get along with and learn some good Arabic. 4- I forgot this one but maybe I'll remember it as I write.

I love my coworkers. Pictured below is Emad (standing), the essence of Arab manhood. He likes to smoke and drink coffee all day. I've only seen him eat food once the whole time I've worked here. He was a little shocked I took the picture because he was unbuttoning his pants to retuck his shirt in. Haha. Sorry dude. But he is a great guy and teaches me Arab things. Seated by his desk is Muhammad who just graduated with an MBA from NY University satellite campus here in Amman. He is cool too! This pic is taken from my little desk. It's nice. We have pics of the Royal family in the background, of course. Every room has these pictures. The dead King Hussein on right (allah yarhamu), then the living King Abdullah II center, and the future King, Prince Hussein on right. 

[Hello sunshine]

They are wanting me to spend about two weeks on each of the 4 areas so that I have a nice, well-rounded experience. I'm quite happy with the setup. Sometimes I don't feel very useful to others here, but they explained that this whole experience is just to help me progress in the areas that I want. So, I'm feeling good. I translate in the morning, talk with coworkers, then go to the cafeteria for a sandwich or something. I've made a bunch of cool friends in the cafeteria. Sometimes I try and eat quick, but people keep wanting to meet me and talk to me and I just have to stay. But I don't feel bad because one can only translate government documents in all their jargony fusha for so long... so then I get some good speaking time in at lunch. I also teach several people around me little English lessons. Very few people that work around can speak English, so I teach little English lessons sometimes for them. They get really excited about it. It's really fun and I feel like I'm at the MTC again... only a slightly different crowd (all the Sisters are veiled and all the Elders are smoking, for example. so I guess the only common thing is that I'm teaching stuff to people. I guess it's not actually as close as I was envisioning it to be).

One of my friends from lunch invited me to hang out with him yesterday. Oh but first I should tell about Saturday. Saturday was my long run day for marathon training. I got up nice and earlyish at like 6 or something and ran 14 miles. It was good for me and I felt good the whole way. When I came home, though, I got fatigued and so I took a short nap! Then we had a great day and relaxed. In the evening we went to Rainbow street, a cool place in the city. Then my buddies from work called me and asked me to go on a walk with them. They go a few times a week and walk from the First Circle to the Seventh Circle. Amman is set up in a series of Circles, meaning big traffic circles, numbered One through Eight. I said I'd like to go. So they met me at Rainbow street at 9ish and we started. We got coffees first and falafel, of course. I had some juice. Then we walked to the Second Circle, just chatting away. Well, it turns out we stopped at almost every circle to get more food and drink. It took us about two and a half hours to get to the Seventh Circle. Boy was I pooped. Like tired, you know? I had run that day a lot and then we walked for two and a half hours! Dang. So we all sat down and kept talking and smoking. I mostly talked though. I haven't picked up smoking yet, despite its popularity. So as we're talking, they ask me if I'm tired and I tell them yes, I ran a bit today and I'm feeling tired (it's 11:30 and we all have work at 8:30 in the morning). So I ask them where their car is or if I should get a taxi, etc. They just say, Oh yeah it's still down there at the First Circle. And then I realized... oh wow, we are still going to walk all the way back! Oh my. I might die. They ask me if I'll make it and I say Yeah I think so (cause I did think so). Well we keep talking and then Tha'er is like, Hey should we grab some donuts before we head back? So what the heck, we went and got donuts. Just the three of us—Me, Tha'er, and Ismail. We got donuts and coffee and chatted it up until about 12 and then started walking back. Needless to say, 12 kilometers and two hours later I got home and went to bed. It was quite a night. But that is just normal Arab social life. They love hanging out super late and talking and drinking coffee and smoking. It was fun! But I was a tired pup the next day at work. 

So yesterday we started our Jordanian Amiyya class at the Qasid Institute! That means that I have class twice a week from 4:30-7 with some friends. We are learning Jordanian colloquial. It's the way people talk here. I studied fusha(it's like the fancy language that they write newspapers in and is understood across the Arab world) and amiyya (this is the spoken language for each country and it can be extremely different from other dialects, sometimes even unintelligible to other Arabic speakers). But at BYU we studied mostly Egyptian colloquial and not Jordanian. Since I've been here, I feel like I've picked up most of the differences between the languages, but this class will certainly help fill in the gaps and give me time to ask specific questions and practice.

Then we all went out and had Yemeni food—big plates of rice and chicken and crazy delicious bread. Then my friend Abu Faisal from work wanted to hang out and so he picked me up and the two of us drove around Amman and got coffees and ice cream and smoked a bunch of cigarettes. I wasn't very hungry for coffee or tobacco that night, but the ice cream was to die for. We chewed the fat for a while and talked about the political problems that affect Abu Faisal and he showed me pics from his Honeymoon in Thailand that he took last month. He got married about two years ago and has a kid, but the Honeymoons are delayed sometimes. Then we met up with some of his Christian friends and drank more coffees and slushies and inhaled more burned tobacco. After another hour or two of that, I got tired again and Abu Faisal took me home, telling how much of a shame it was that I was tired when they were just about to have fun by going to a restaurant and movie (fast and furious 6, of course) to cap off the night. Well, it was 11:15 and I just had to pass this time. Shucks. But he said that we'll do it Thursday night because Friday is no work! 

This is how I spend a lot of my time. Translate and talk all day, then run home and eat some foods and listen to some Western music or a film in English to ease my brain parts, then hang our with intern friends or Arab friends, learning new things all the time. I feel like I'm writing down new words and phrases constantly no matter what I'm doing or who I'm talking to. So much to learn! I have over 250 words of government jargon just from the last week in translating.  There's just too much to absorb at once! I'm like a little baby in Arabic... Ha ha! But I'm learning quickly.

To wrap up, two items for your viewing pleasure. Item the first is this lovely picture of me demonstrating how I can lead a large group in stretching exercises, if ever needed.

Item the second is some translation excitement! I know that all people don't get stoked about translating stuff like I do, but this is just to literally give you a picture of what I do all day. Hurray! I don't have a digital copy of the Arabic, so all you get is English. Darn. 

[Whoops! I'm a creepy stretcher]

Name of Service: Issuing grants of a development project for charitable organizations:

Locations for Obtaining Services:
-Department of Productivity Enhancement and Poverty Reduction at the Directorate of Social Development / in the field.
-The Office of Social Development Satellite Directorate / in the field.

Necessary Existing Conditions to Obtain the Service:
-Be a registered organization under the Ministry of Social Development.
-Have completed the registration of the organization in a period of not less than one year.
-The project must line up with the goals of the organization.
-The location of the intended project must be within the workspace of the organization.
-The organization must have the technical and administrative abilities that will enable the management of the project, its location, and continuance.

-The organization must not have failed in the management or implementation of a project in the last five years.


Yeah, so if that didn't push your buttons, don't worry. It's not the most intriguing reading I've done. Whelp, I'm out. There is a baker up the block and I'm gonna go ask if I can come make breads with him a couple times a week... I'll be his apprentice and then open up my bakery in Brovo when I return. "Wealth" is just around the corner, it seems!


  1. you are living the life. really, it's so cool that you are living it up and having so many experiences. it makes me smile so big to read. happy birthday pauly bo. love you

  2. i've been out so i just read this. Wild social life! People tell me they read your blog and like it so we will read more:)