Today we left school early because of some rain. It wasn’t a lot of rain, but since it’s the desert, the city isn’t super equipped to deal with rain and places can flood. So we went home early just in case. It actually was almost done raining when we left (only a small drizzle), but at least I got a half-day today. In Atlanta, school is cancelled if it gets cold. In Oman, school is cancelled for rain. I guess silly school cancelations happen everywhere!
This past Thursday we volunteered at a school that we have actually volunteered in before. This time, though, we held an English-language-type day event. When we first got there, we split the kids up into groups (there were maybe 30 of them participating) and played different games with them (like Simon Says and Red Light, Green Light). Then we hung around for a while before heading to the music room to teach them some songs in English. There was also a piano there, so Liz and I finally got to play piano after such a long time.
Right before leaving, the principal gave us each a small gift (I got a beautiful Oman table decoration). Everyone at the schools that we visit are so sweet! It is amazing how much each school has been so welcoming to us. Visiting schools is definitely one of the highlights of my week.
About 2 weeks ago (yeah, I’m super late), we did our weekly volunteer at a school activity, except this time it was in my neighborhood! Alhumdulillah, I did not have to ride an hour to get to school. In fact, I could have walked to the school in a matter of minutes.
It was one of the best school visits yet! I’m not sure if it was us volunteering, because I felt like they did so much for us; so much more than we did for them! We went to a middle school and they were really excited to have us and immediately sat us down to watch the morning performance (they have a performance every Thursday morning). The performance was by some guys who go to a college nearby and I am not really sure what it was about except that it had to do something with traffic, everyone was almost crying with laughter, and one of the guys was wearing a tie over his dishdasha, neon sunglasses, and a mullet-type wig… THAT was the funniest thing in my opinion. After the show, they ushered us into a sitting room to offer us coffee. We then attended an Arabic class for little kids (same level as us!) and we then went back to the sitting room where I think there were trying to make us each gain 5 pounds, because they brought so much food for us! We then went to another Arabic class (by the way, the layout of the building was similar to the other schools: rooms surrounding a covered outdoor courtyard) and when we returned, a bunch of the girls from the school were waiting for us and they gave a presentation of the history of the area that we were in, then gave a small fashion show on Omani clothing, and then showed us a table display they created highlighting Omani culture. It was so thoughtful and sweet of them to have done all that for us! They even gave us surveys at the end to rate our experience!
The best part was at the end, when some of the younger girls came to us and asked for goodbye hugs. Basically the cutest thing ever.
On Friday, I went to Liz and Anna’s house (they are living in the same host family) and we went to Muscat Grand Mall with their host sister. We wandered around for a while, ate dinner, and then saw the Divergent movie (not too impressed with the movie). Muscat is so small that we ran into Kirby in the bathroom– she was there to see Divergent too! The movie theater (which in this case, is in the mall), is quite similar to movie theaters in the US. The benefit here is that they sell boiled corn and caramel popcorn at really cheap prices (a big container of caramel popcorn is about 50 cents). There’s also a photo of Sultan Qaboos at the front of the room where you buy food, so that’s pretty cool.
Saturday morning I went to the beach with my host family and got to go swimming for a bit. The beach that we went to is a beach that I posted pictures of a while ago (it is near the area where a lot of people live who work in the oil industry). It was the first time that I’ve been to that beach (before, we just looked at it from above) and there were mostly expatriates at this beach. Though the water was a bit cold, it was so clear and it was great to go swimming!
In the evening, I went with my host mother and host brothers to my host cousin’s first birthday party. Most of our extended family from Al Hamra was in attendance (only women) and they played music and had small competitions (like blowing up the biggest balloon and musical chairs). I won one of the games and got a glass container, woot woot! They laid matts out on the ground outside, so everyone was sitting outside and watching as the kids played the games. Then we ate dinner (it was a potluck) and they brought out a huuuugggee cake. Afterwards, we went home and my host father’s father, brother, and sister came over to spend the night before going back to Bahla early the next morning.
Saturday not much happened. I caught up on some homework and reading.
The three exciting things about yesterday:
1. It rained, so of course that was exciting. It was only for a short time though, but it was nice to see some water!
2. After school a band called “AudioPharmacy” came to play and talk to us at AMIDEAST. They are on a tour in the Middle East (funded by the US government) so they stopped at our school. Their sound was pretty cool and I loved their message of positivity, global peace, and women’s empowerment.
3. In the evening my host father’s mother and two of her sisters came over from Bahla to spend the night. We sat around and talked in the living room and then ate dinner.