A few weeks ago we stayed the night in Abu Dhabi with some friends. We went the beach one day and to a museum the next. We had a great time! While at the beach I attempted to capture women in their traditional clothing, abayas and shelas. This attire is required during daily outings regardless of the event. Some women were swimming in their abayas and head coverings. It was, for sure, very interesting. Now I understand why a few of my Arabic co-teachers dislike going to the beach…I’m assuming that it’s just not same with a black robe on. However, kudos to those women that make lemonade or ,since we’re over here, leban (Middle Eastern drinkable yogurt).
Father’s Day fell on the same day as our fifth month appointment. This was great because Terrence and I were actually able to see defined features during the ultrasound! He was very excited! So the unexpected gift package, clear ultrasound, Father’s Day phone calls and emails, and chicken fried rice dinner all made for what he stated was a wonderful 1st Father’s Day 🙂
The UAE is a sex segregated society due to its religion. The Koran speaks against unrelated men and women socializing together, and therefore the culture of this society is very much so built upon that notion. I didn’t realize that I never shared this information until speaking with a friend recently about the feminization process that the Abu Dhabi’s government is attempting to undergo in our schools. I explained to her that Terrence and I may not commute to our current schools next year as they are combining the boys and girls school (although, the boys and girls will be in different wings) next year and it may cause a problem if men and women are in the same school together. This will be the first Arabic combined school in this emirate, maybe even country.
Below is a list of the different ways in which genders are separated within this culture:
1. As stated above, boys are girls attend separate schools after kindergarten. Boys and girls together after that point, even at some universities, are unheard of.
2. Some banks have separate branches for women.
3. Most business have separate lines and waiting areas for women. For example, today at the hospital Terrence sat on side of a wall with all men and I sat on the opposite side with women.
4. Most parks, beaches, and other family orientated places/businesses have woman and children only days. When speaking with a couple the other day the husband informed us that he, his mother, wife, and children went to a fun park only to find out upon arrival that it was “Ladies and Children Night.” He had to go home.
5. We have ladies only taxis. These taxis are driven by woman and have a pink flowery design on the outside of it.
6. Yesterday I attempted to book a study room at our local library in order host meetings for my colleagues and myself. The librarian was very helpful and informed me that meeting there wasn’t a problem as long as we came during the female times. Check out the time schedule below.
7. My final example is one based on an experience that I had related to my students and Arabic colleagues. My school scheduled a field trip for all of the 2nd graders to go to the neighborhood park. Upon our arrival we noticed young boys, maybe 1st or 2nd graders, walking in to the park. My Arabic co-workers were dismayed. They argued back and forth and pulled out cell phones one after another to call our principal to ask for guidance. We sat there for about 10 minutes while a bus full of girls screamed and steadily pushed towards the front. One of my co-workers looked at me and said, “Boys and girls together is just not right.” We did, eventually, go inside of the park but the girls were required to stay on the opposite side of where the boys were.
We work in a small village called Al Qua’a. It’s 75m/120km outside of Al Ain. I have been told that the village has a population of 15,000. Most of it’s inhabitants are members of the Al Darei family/tribe. They are originally from Yeman and Saudi Arabia, and they migrated to the UAE several thousand years ago in search of water. They have been settled in Al Qua’a for the past 30 something years after the late Sheik Zayed mandated that a village be constructed in Al Qua’s for the tribe. Amongst these tribes members are also families from Oman, Egypt, Sudan and Jordan. Some of them are teachers within community, while others are family waiting to receive citizenship. It was very interesting, for both of us, to work in a such a tight knit community. We learned a lot about the Arabic culture and Islamic belief systems. Below are pictures of my school and surrounding community.
**When conducting an interview with my friend’s father (which I am very grateful for as he could have refused to meet with me as I am a woman) I was able to learn so much about the history of the tribes people in Al Qua’a. He was able to tell me where separate sects of the tribe lived 1,000’s of years ago. I was thouroughly impressed. After sharing that information with me he looked at me and asked where was my family from. I told him the US as far back as I could trace but that I was aware of and acknowledge my family’s African roots. He looked so disappointed. While he understood and knew about the enslavement of Africans, he was still, very much so, disappointed in my inability to share my family’s history with him. I left the interview soberly reflecting on all I had learned.
As of May 30th Baby Lorick is knowingly mobile! I felt he or she move for the first time in the car on our way from work. It felt like a nudge. The first nudge confused me as it felt different than other bouts of gas that I have had during this wonderful pregnancy. The second nudge, directly after the first, caused me to sit up in amazement. The third nudge solidified what I thought the second time around and forced me to scream. Again, I was riding in the car with my husband, so this naturally was not the best time to scream as I startled him. After explaining my outburst, he understood and, with excitement, asked how the move felt. Since then I have come to realize that not only can I feel our baby move, I also know that they are able to hear us. I read that some babies develop their hearing by week 19. Well I was in week 19 when I felt them move so I wanted to test the babies hearing as well. So Wednesday morning, June 1, I hadn’t felt the baby move yet so I put on a Fred Hammond song and put my iPod on my stomach. The baby started to move immediately! The days following have proved my hypothesis to be correct as the baby moved one morning upon hearing the alarm, another time after hearing a blender, and now whenever I start to sing. This is, for sure, an amazing feeling.
**We’re trying to figure out a nickname for our baby prior to delivery as it’s not fun always saying “our baby,” “the baby,” “he or she,” and the occasional slips of “it.” We are considering “Mufaja’a,” which in Arabic means, “surprise.” Will it stick?
My Arabic co-teacher came by my classroom one day and asked if I liked her dresses (traditional dresses are referred to as Kindoras). I told her yes and that they are very nice. My telling her this was not solely based on of my desire to be nice; I really do think that their dresses are beautiful. They are long, flowing, colorful and often times speak to their differences in personality and tailors. Well, upon my saying yes she grabbed a pen and piece of paper from my desk and ask for my size and weight. I gave her my measurements and a few weeks later she brought a beautiful purple kindora to school for me. While it is not my style of dress for daily wear, it was an extremely thoughtful gesture, and it gives plenty of room for my growing tummy.