Life can be too short to hate and remember your mistakes and other people wrongs, yet at the same time it can also be too short to register all the happy moments in one period of your life. This is exactly what happened to me this summer with the CLS programme. I had an unprecedented amount of happiness and joy with the CLS tribe in Amman in my first summer with the programme. The programme was described as intensive, and so it was, very intensive indeed, in every sense of the word.
عرض الشرائح هذا يتطلب تفعيل جافاسكربت.
It all happened by cheer chance. I was a regular visitor to the library of the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR), and one of the staff there told me about an opportunity to work as a speaking partner in the CLS prgramme for the summer. I didn’t hesitate to apply, I sent my resumeَ, and I was interviewed by two wonderful people, Basma and Noel. They asked me to use Standard Arabic, and I kept going, talking about different topics in the language I love, they called two hours later, saying “Mabrouk, you will work with us this summer”.
I thought about it as an opportunity to work with new people and to make some money in the summer. I didn’t expect it to be that “intensive”, in the sense that I will have this degree of emotional attachment to this work and the people in the programme. I was practically living at ACOR, leaving after 12 and 1 am some nights. It was a memorable experience, every single day unfolded a new story.
Shortly after the beginning of the programme I was offered, and some colleagues, to work in a night shift, from 8 to 10, or 9 to 11, as tutors for the students. I didn’t hesitate to say yes, kaman, because I was looking for any opportunity to stay more with the students, and that was an official way to do it.
I used to start the SP sessions every week by asking the new students in my group to talk about their background, education, readings, friends and family, in order to enable them to talk about the topics of the SP session from a personal point of view, so that he/she would feel more engaged in the conversation. This strategy worked with me most of the time, and it also helped me alleviate the stress and keeping me awake during the sessions (although I failed to do that one day with one student, and I almost fell asleep while he was talking!)
At another point during the programme I was told by Dr. Ghassan, the academic director of the programme, to choose two books; a novel and a collection of short stories, to read with two advanced groups of the students. The novel was “The thief and the thugs” (Allis wa Alkilab) by Najib Mahfouz, and we chose a collection of short stories by Attayyeb Saleh (Dumat Wid Hamid). I liked the idea very much, especially that i had a good experience with book clubs and reading groups in Amman, and that helped a lot in running the meetings, yet it was a bit difficult to maintain a sufficient degree of interest among the students due to their already pressed schedule and their endless homework throughout the week. We managed to read three short stories, and 5 chapters of Mahfouz’ s novel.
Towards the 3rd week of the programme my colleague (now a very dear friend) Jamil, told me about a planned trip to Petra. At first, I wasn’t excited to go, but then he convinced me, and I told him ya, let’s do it. As a matter of fact, we thought about it as a personal opportunity to break away from the routine of Amman and ACOR. It was also an opportunity to spend some time with myself, to reflect on life and to ponder on some important issues regarding my education and career. Jamil will always remind now about the chance that I would have missed if I didn’t come with him. Going to Petra with the shabab, eating the best kinds of food in the 5-star hotel of the `Mövenpick and having all kind of conversations and jokes in the beautiful nights of Wadi Musa are moments that I will always remember.
It’s not my intention to write a very long post today, but I believe I still have lots to say about CLS 2011.
CLS 2011 was once described as musalsal (soap opera), and I’m really excited to participate in season II next summer.
I will write more, I have lots of stories to tell.
Thank you CLS tribe, and I hope we will meet soon inshallah.