Published Authors?

To introduce this activity, I should probably explain a project that we have been working on for the past few months. In our language partners (we have this “class” twice a week in which an Omani comes and practices Arabic with us, helps us with any language problems we may have, and does language activities with us. We have two groups– my group consists of Liz, Miriam, and Anna). Each group has been working on writing and illustrating a children’s book in Arabic!

My group’s book is about a little boy named Ali who lives in Oman. His mother gives him a cat, but he doesn’t really want a cat (he would prefer a video game instead), so he is unhappy. He goes to the souk to do some shopping and the cat wanders away. Knowing his mother will be upset that he lost his new cat, he embarks on an adventure throughout Oman and talks to different animals to ask if they have seen his cat. None of them have and they each recommend his next location. He returns to his house empty-handed, but finds his cat there waiting for him. At the end, he realizes that he loves his cat and animals in general! Shout out to Anna for the amazing drawings!

This past Thursday, we volunteered at a hospital and went to the section for little children who have cancer. We read our stories to them (and then later donated our stories to their library) and then played with them for a bit. They were so adorable and I had a lot of fun playing with them! Some of them were really shy at first, but we finally got most of them out of their shells by the end and played lots of games with them. It was such an amazing experience.

Weekend Activities

Not a lot to report from this past weekend.

On Friday my host father and one of my host brother went to Bahla for the weekend (one of my host cousins just got engaged!). My host cousin came over and we hung out around the house during the day. In the evening, we went to the mall and then to a small carnival (it has some rides and small carnival games). It was my host mother’s birthday, so I surprised her by baking a cake. Surprise party!

Saturday was spent reading and catching up on homework. Yeah, I have a really exciting life :)

This Past Weekend

  • Thursday: To celebrate Kirby’s birthday, all the NSLI-Y girls got dropped off at one of my favorite places in Muscat (called Shati Al-Qurum), which is an area on the beach with some stores and restaurants. We hung out on the beach and then went to a restaurant that serves burgers (It’s called Slider Station, and it’s actually pretty good! They have a big lists of small sliders, so if you’re ever craving a burger in Muscat, check it out!). Then (since my host parents were out of town since they went to Bahla for the weekend), Liz and I went to Lydia’s house to spend the night.
  • Friday: We hung out at Lydia’s house in the morning and then after lunch, we were picked up to go to Clean Up Muscat Day! It was held in Boshar Dunes and I think it was held by the embassy, so there were about 100 people also volunteering there. We were handed FREE shirts and caps (woohoo!), gloves, garbage bags, and 2 hours to collect trash. Well, after 1 hour, everyone had returned (I guess people got bored?), and they gave out tea, water, and free ice cream, so that was a highlight. Even though everyone gave up halfway, we did collect a lot of trash! I’m surprised at the amount of bottles, ropes, and tires that we found.
  • I then went back to Miriam’s house to spend the night and in the evening, I got my hair cut! It was in a small salon near her house and I only cut two-ish inches off. She cut it straight across (I could have probably done it myself), but for only a rial (about $1.6), I guess that’s worth it.
  • Saturday: In the morning, Miriam and I went on a tour to the Muscat Grand Mosque (her host father works at the US Embassy and also gives tours, so he was giving a tour to some people visiting the embassy and invited us to come). This was my third visit, but I don’t think I could go there too many times; it is so gorgeous! It was also great to go on a tour because there was quite a lot of new information that I learned while there. Like did you know that in the women’s prayer building, the carpet design is rectangles side-by-side to designate a place to pray for each woman? So that’s how everyone is lined up so perfectly! We then went to the fish market (it’s part of the Souk) to buy some fish for lunch. It’s basically an outdoor covered area with individual vendors selling freshly caught fish that are laid out on matts (one of the men selling was keeping his money in his kuma!). Once you buy your fish, if you want, you take it to the stalls on the side, where you can pay a man to wash/cut your fish. I’ve got to say, I’m really not a fan of watching animals get cut open, and I found out that this includes fish. It was cool to see the whole process, though. I wonder how this works in the US, because all you see is the packaged product sold in the grocery store. In the afternoon, we went to the mall to get some birthday gifts for some of the NSLIY girls (yup, we have a small celebration for each girl), and then we hung out at Miriam’s house. At 9:30, we took part in “Earth Hour” and turned off our lights for an hour. Apparently lots of places in Muscat celebrated it too!

A busy but great weekend!

What Even Happened Today?

Today marked another odd moment.

Anna, Liz, and I were in our car on our way to AMIDEAST this morning and just as we were pulling into the parking lot, we stopped because at the entrance was a very tall man, leaning on a fancy car, holding a soccer ball. A small crowd was watching as he was being photographed. We waited for them to move so we could drive past. All I could think is, why on earth, of all the places to be photographed in Muscat, would you come to AMIDEAST to have pictures taken with construction sites in the background??

Anyway, we kind of forgot about this weird encounter until half an hour later, when Muniera rushed in and told us to hurry with her. We went in the elevator and she pressed the Basement level, a mysterious level which none of us have ever visited. Turns out it is a fancy photo studio! I feel like my whole time here has been a lie– little did I know what I have been walking over for the past 6 months.

Anyway, the man whom we had seen was down there and we were informed that he is none other than Ali Al-Habsi, the current captain of the Oman national football (or soccer) team. Craaazzzyyy! We all introduced ourselves and got to take some pictures with him with the white backdrop! We were rushed out because they had to continue his photoshoot. I’m still a bit confused about why/how this happened. But hey, here’s to meeting an Omani celebrity!

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Then to top off the day, we went to an art studio located in someone’s house to do some painting! Our task was to paint some place/something in Oman and to accompany that with a word in Arabic. Of course, I chose my addiction, coffee (in Arabic, pronounced “Kahooa”). It was so nice to relax and paint; I haven’t done that in so long and realized how much I missed it. By the way, in my picture, I added some red because I liked the color, but we can pretend it symbolizes the dates that are typically served with Omani coffee.

Opera!

This past week (on Wednesday, Feb 26) we went with our program to the Opera!

We went to see an Enana dance show and it was spectacular! Enana dance is named after Enana (surprise surprise), who is the ancient Syrian goddess of love, fertility, culture, art, literature and the moon. The story that we saw was of the Umayyad prince Abdul Rahman bin Mu’awiyah bin Hisham (he was the grandson of the last powerful Umayyad caliph). The dances showed his life as he was pursued across the Syrian, Naqab and Sahara deserts by his enemies. In the end, however, he lives and founds the Caliphate of Cordoba. The music was great and the costumes were wonderful!

It was really funny because during the first half of the show, we sat in the very back row in the top balcony, but then during the second half, due to some connections, we got to sit on the first floor near the front! Got to love those Omani connections.