Conversations on Culture


I have speaking appointments several times per week with a teacher named Ibrahim. We've gotten to know each other pretty well over the course of the past month or so, and my conversations with him are some of my favorites.

Last week we were talking about women and the hijab and I mentioned that I find it funny how some girls in Jordan wear a hijab, but super tight clothes. Granted, the do cover the skin . . . but clothes don't have to show skin to be revealing.

Ibrahim commented that this is a problem in Jordan, and that girls like this are not respected.

A joke popped into my head. "Hey . . . what's the word for 'neck?'"


"Okay. It's like above al-raqba they're Muslim, and below the neck they're . . . "

" . . . Christian!"

I burst into laughter while Ibrahim apologized profusely for his joke. Even though that's essentially what I had been planning on saying, he was worried that he'd offended me. After I'd thoroughly convinced him that he hadn't, I saw a twinkle in his eye. He was holding back a comment.

"Yes?" I said.

He smiled, but was still reluctant. I felt like I was waiting for a volcano to erupt.

"Did you want to say something?"

 . . . . "Mosque on the top, church on the bottom!"

The remainder of the speaking appointment was pretty much a waste since we couldn't stop laughing. I think it's a good sign of the times that a Muslim and Christian can poke fun at each other without drawing ire :) (Now if only the same could be said for Muslims and Jews!)

On a slightly unrelated note, I have another story pertaining to culture and religiousness. Every day on my way to school, I walk by a series of small shops--a barber, a convenience store, etc. Several girls from the program also live in my building, so there's a constant stream of college-aged American women passing by these shops on a daily basis.

My friend Weston was talking to one of the shopkeepers recently when the shopkeeper asked, "Oh, do you live in the same building as all the binaat mutadayineena min amreeka?"

"All the religious girls from America? Yeah, I guess that's what you'd call them, "answered Weston. "How do you know they're religious?"

"Because of the way they dress."


Glad people are noticing our efforts to respect the people, culture (and ourselves!) here.

I'm sure the fact that we live next to Ukrainian prostitutes provides for great juxtaposition.

One of my fleshier ensembles.


  1. Sometimes it's nice to find out people notice your efforts to be modest. =)


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