White girl’s tabula rasa, not carte blanche

In trying to prepare for my upcoming travel to Amman, Jordan (and possibly to Ramallah, Palestine) I am trying to look more closely at the vast ignorance I know that I have about the politics and reality of this part of the world. I will try to be as honest as I can about where I’m coming from. At this point I feel like my exposure to life in the Middle East comes from a handful of comments from friends, and a few literary pieces like Persepolis, the graphic novel about Marjane Satrapi’s coming of age in Iran and her life in Paris. I don’t know how to piece together a sense, an opinion, or even a general competence in knowing the situation “over there.” In some ways, I hope this naivety will be a tool to understanding—I feel like I come with a blank slate—but I plan at least to learn some basic Arabic and read articles about Quaker and Mennonite activity (the former being my religion, and the latter being the host group to my travels) in the area.

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