June 22, 2003 - OSU: Volunteer Deborah Ann Currie experiences Muslim culture up close in Jordan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Jordan: Peace Corps Jordan : The Peace Corps in Jordan: June 22, 2003 - OSU: Volunteer Deborah Ann Currie experiences Muslim culture up close in Jordan

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, June 22, 2003 - 9:40 am: Edit Post

Volunteer Deborah Ann Currie experiences Muslim culture up close in Jordan

Volunteer Deborah Ann Currie experiences Muslim culture up close in Jordan

Volunteer experiences Muslim culture up close

By Jesse Garcia

Just a month before her departure to the states, Deborah Ann Currie, an English Teaching Volunteer, was making the most of her last days in Jordan. One day she will never forget was her 24th birthday. The day started early with a phone call from her boyfriend back home. After the call, she got dressed and prepared to spend the day celebrating with her landlord’s family, the Al-Hayeks.
She watched the kids play in the front yard all afternoon. Then nighttime came. As the family was ready to call it a night, children came running from inside the house calling Currie to the T.V.
Jordanian television announced two planes flew into the World Trade Center, and a third crashed into the Pentagon. Currie was in disbelief, forever marking her 24th birthday, Sept. 11, as a day of tragedy. “It seems so unreal,” said Currie, who is now back home in Edmond, Okla. “The family kept asking what was happening, but Arabic was being spoken over the English announcer.”
Currie, who was her group’s Emergency Evacuation Leader, was issued a cell phone for heightened security situations.
“Peace Corps kept in touch with me all day,” she said. “After careful review, our country office decided not to group us together, and our country staff asked us to keep a low profile and to stay alert.”
The days that followed had Currie experiencing what many Americans were not able to see up close and personal, the world mourning the death and disappearance of more than 3,000 Americans.

“Every night I was visited by people in the village,” Currie said. “They told me they were so sorry about what happened. The children in my school asked if my parents were okay. They have the impression America is a tiny nation, and they had met my parents back in June when they came to visit me.”

Jordanian families were often featured on nightly newscasts, since many lost relatives in the World Trade Center. Services were held in mosques throughout the country following the attacks, including at Currie’s Peace Corps site.

For the last two years Currie had taught English in Tura, a village of 15,000 in north Jordan, a few miles from the Syrian border.
Currie taught 4th, 5th and 8th grade girls, and during the summer she worked in youth camps. “I helped familiarize kids with computers and the internet, as well as drama, arts and crafts,” said the University of Central Oklahoma alumna.

While misinterpretations of Arabs and Muslims abound in the West, Currie paints a different picture. Not all Islamic cultures are alike.
“My experience of living with a Jordanian family and becoming an adopted member of the family has been one of my most treasured experiences,” said Currie. “Being taken in as a daughter and sister has been very rewarding and unexpected. Taking part in family functions such as olive picking has made this Peace Corps experience memorable.”

Of the more than 70 countries with Peace Corps programs in 2002, roughly 10 percent were Muslim nations, or nations with a significant Muslim population. Peace Corps programs are still operating in countries such as Kazakhstan, Morocco, Mali and Niger.

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Story Source: OSU

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