Sunday, November 16, 2008

Iraqis and Sororities

I had a very multi-cultural day on Thursday.  A girl had previously come to ask my Arabic teacher about how to write a note to their sorority house cleaning lady, who speaks only Arabic.  We found out that she was Jordanian, so on Thursday my Arabic teacher and I went over to have lunch at the sorority house.

My teacher and the woman spoke in Arabic, while I translated for the sorority girls.  We found out some amazing things about the woman who had been working for them for the past few months:

            She is Palestinian/Jordanian, meaning her parents are from Palestine, and though she has never been there, she still considers herself of that heritage.  She grew up in Jordan, and has citizenship there.  She is also a Sunni, as is most of the Muslim world, especially to the west side of the dividing line (right down the middle of Iraq.)  The man she married is Iraqi, and is a Shia.  (The plot thickens-Sunni and Shia=Capulet’s and Montague’s, especially in post invasion Iraq.)  They have 4 kids together, all named after the Jordanian royalty.  Her husband worked with the US Army as a translator.

            Both religious sects found out about what was going on and wanted them to divorce, as this was at the height of sectarian violence prior to the surge.  When it was learned who her husband was working for, her house received mortar and grenade attacks, crippling her leg.  Her husband received death threats, and her sixteen-year-old son received attempts of kidnapping.  Upon learning of this action the US Army picked them up and brought them to Jordan for her to receive medical help, and to get them out of the violence.  Then the embassy gave them refuge status so they could come here.  Now they are raising 4 kids in Iowa with limited English speaking ability, and she is working for a sorority.  And I thought my life got hard at times.  Needless to say it was a very interesting conversation.  The girls all absolutely love her and she loves them-which was fun to translate- so it seems like it is working out.  Chalk it up to Drake Greek life to have such an impact on someone’s life.  

1 comment:

One of the j2j Crew said...

Wow, Ian! It's great that you can translate now! I remember that you could barely say hello this summer. It's nice that you've made such progress and are getting so much face time!

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