A Safe Space

Team Middle East

Written by Jordan — Volunteering in the Middle East

I've been in the Middle East for eight days now and a lot has been going on! We're getting ready for all the summer activities that will be happening during June and July. There's a major book sale on June 10th to kick it off. We're also getting ready for kids' camp that’s happening in a few weeks. 
I've also been learning a lot about the library and how to operate the computer systems this week. 
I've also been learning about the culture this week from the missionaries and other people. 

Summer activities

I started this week off getting to know the staff of the library and learning about what activities will be going on in the library while I am here. Included are kids' camp, art sessions, blackout poetry, and many other crafts.
We spend most of the day on Thursday, June 1st, shopping for supplies. The van that we drove that day was absolutely packed with everything by the end of the day! 

There's also a summer reading challenge for every age group, from pre-school to adults. I helped sort, log, and mark books for the right groups to get them ready for the challenge to start. The theme this year is about making the world better, so we have books on recycling, inventions, ideas and changes, and other books along those lines. 

The Library

I'll start off with saying that I absolutely love being at the library. It's a great place in the community that anyone can come in and just be. It was described to me by the worker I'm with as being a 'safe space' for people.
There's multiple rooms with different types of books including: children's, youth, high school, adult fiction, science/art/history, and family books (raising kids, marriage, etc.). 
Throughout this past week I've been learning how to shelve books, how to return books and loan them out, how to process the returns, and edit book information. This gives the staff a chance to catch up on projects, run errands, and prepare for the upcoming summer!

Cultural Things

There have been a few things this week that I've learned!

  • Arabic reads right to left.

  • It's a late-night culture. 

  • Exposing the bottom of your foot to someone is considered an insult.

I had the opportunity to try authentic Middle Eastern food my first night here and let me say, authentic hummus and falafel is delicious. Fortunately for me, there's a small gluten free store nearby that I can go and get bread from to go with my hummus. I've also tried a few other dishes that were also delightful.

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