April 29, 2002 - Bowling Green Daily News: Jordan Volunteer Emily Hearn witnessed celebration of 911 terror attacks

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Jordan: Peace Corps Jordan : The Peace Corps in Jordan: April 29, 2002 - Bowling Green Daily News: Jordan Volunteer Emily Hearn witnessed celebration of 911 terror attacks

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-48-41.balt.east.verizon.net - on Monday, October 06, 2003 - 12:13 pm: Edit Post

Jordan Volunteer Emily Hearn witnessed celebration of 911 terror attacks

Jordan Volunteer Emily Hearn witnessed celebration of 911 terror attacks

Volunteer witnessed celebration of terror attacks

WKU graduate, Peace Corps worker was in Jordan as the events of Sept. 11 unfolded

By SCOTT SISCO The Daily News ssisco@bgdailynews.com/783-3256

Emily Hearn was in a hotel lobby in Jordan waiting for some friends who were getting ready to hit the town on Sept. 11. They were flipping through channels on the television when they landed on coverage of the terrorist attacks.

“We didn’t understand if it was a movie or what was going on,” said Hearn, a native of Morehead and graduate of Western Kentucky University.

Hearn joined the Peace Corps after she graduated from Western. She left the United States bound for Madaba, Jordan, on July 4 were she trained and learned to speak Arabic.

The group of seven Americans went to a downtown restaurant where they began watching CNN. They were on one side of the restaurant with a large group of Arabs on the other.

“We didn’t really understand what it meant,” Hearn said.

She saw some people cheering in the restaurant and on the street. The Peace Corps security came to the restaurant and brought them back to the hotel, where they stayed under armed guard.

“There were people in the streets giving high-fives,” she said.

The next day they were escorted to where they were sworn in. Hearn said it was a very emotional ceremony.

People weren’t sure what to say to Americans in the area after the attacks.

“We felt estranged as Americans outside America at the time,” Hearn said.

In October, she moved to the southern tip of Jordan, where she could see Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. She worked with a secondary school for girls and led a Girl Scout troop.

“Everybody was real friendly,” Hearn said.

Western government department head Saundra Ardrey said Hearn was active in the women’s studies program at Western, as well as with the Democratic party.

“It was only natural that she wanted to work with little girls when she got over there,” Ardrey said.

She also worked with Bedouins who moved along the Baghdad Highway, taking oral histories from them.

There was a large Palestinian population where she worked. When tensions grew between Palestinians and Israel, people wanted to demonstrate how they felt.

Hearn was on a camping trip with her Girl Scouts and when she came back to school, the teachers told her it wasn’t safe.

Hearn said there were riots in the school and a few in the streets as well, though they were quickly stamped out.

“The girls were really angry,” Hearn said. “It became bottled up frustration.”

Due to the hostility, Hearn had to stay in her house for a week. She said people there were watching the news 24 hours a day.

“People were watching to see if their families had been killed that day,” Hearn said. “You’re watching granny die on television.”

As the hostilities escalated, anti-American sentiment grew. After every speech by President Bush and after Secretary of State Colin Powell visited the area, that sentiment grew even more.

Hearn said people began to talk about America’s involvement in Vietnam, saying that she could be drafted to fight against the Palestinians.

“It wasn’t safe for me to stay in the country,” Hearn said.

Hearn visited Stephen Barnett’s American National Government class at Western last week. Barnett said the students were really interested and asked several questions about what she ate and the clothes she wore.

“It’s been interesting to hear all of her stories,” Barnett said.

People there had a love/hate relationship with America – they wanted to be here, but hated Americans. She said people grew up loving people like Osama bin Laden and Sadaam Hussein, yet they still love Americans.

She ate dinner in several houses where the people offered her everything they had, including the large poster of Hussein.

“It doesn’t seem like you can have both of these, but they do,” Hearn said.

She isn’t deterred from going back to the Peace Corps though. She’s already started her paperwork to go back to work.

Story Source: Bowling Green Daily News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Jordan; Safety and Security of Volunteers



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