Time flies, things change, and yet they remain the same.
People say that you only get one chance at a first impression. A year ago, at this time, I was blown away by the city of Amman and the Jordanian people, who welcomed me with open arms into their country, their lives, their homes. In just two weeks’ time, Amman- and the entire Jordanian nation, for that matter- exceeded all of my wildest dreams. Now that I am back, I think my first impressions were accurate. I love it here, and I love that I had the opportunity to return here.
I had the privilege and honor of traveling with and working alongside a fantastic group of reporters who have become dear friends of mine since our journey to Jordan and Turkey ended in June of last year. Michele, Erin, Erin, Hanna, Ally, Fernanda, Emily, Rob, Ryan, Val, Catherine, Lauryn, Joe, Morgan, Kaileigh, Jessica, Katie, Charles and I developed a strong bond that means so much to me, still, to this day. I actually find myself yearning for their company, insight, and support this time around. It’s a strange feeling, to be back here in this amazing city, without them. They were such an intrinsic and central part of my experience last year that it’s almost incomplete without them here. But, alas, you never step in the same river twice, as Heraclitus of Ephesus once said. I’m excited about the adventure on the horizon, and I hope that the coming five weeks will prove as invaluable and worthwhile as last year.
This year, I came back to Jordan with a dose of hesitation. I applied to the program, way back in October of 2011, because it was life changing last year. I learned more about myself and my own limitations as a journalist, and more importantly, as a person. I was pushed to my limits, and beyond, forced to challenge myself and all I had learned to that point. My writing style developed more over the course of five weeks in Jordan and Turkey than it had over three years of “traditional” college courses. Carlene Hempel, a Northeastern professor with whom I have taken three courses, also played a big part in my decision to return on another journey to the Middle East. She has always pushed me, but not in an intimidating way. She’s been doing this for many years, and I am always eager to continue to learn from her. When I interviewed with her, in November I think, I remember her saying something along the lines of, “Aren’t you sick of me yet?” I’m not. I was always told by my mother to pick teachers’ brains, and learn as much from them as possible, no matter how mean or difficult they are. I came back to Jordan not only because I loved the experience, but also because I feel I still have more to learn about working as an international reporter in the Middle East.
On another, sort of related note, yesterday was Mother’s Day back in the good old U.S. of A. I miss my mother dearly, and always strive to continue to make her proud. I miss you, mom, and I love you. I always will.
And now, I’ll sign off with a quote that I love:
“You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world.” -William Hazlitt
And how about one more, for good measure:
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” -Lao-Tzu