Friday, August 04, 2006

My First Message out of Aleppo, Syria: Aug. 27, 2005

Mahalo everyone! Yes, I'm in Syria and it has been a long, long time since I have spoken to some of you. So first I'd like to say hello, how the heck are you?, and then sorry for not keeping in touch. But hey, such is life sometimes.
So, I'm in Aleppo, Syria now, typing away at an internet cafe, where you can even smoke a cigar if you wanted to and have the darkest, strongest coffee you've ever had (they usually serve coffee in Syria that'll keep you up for two days). In about two weeks I'm going to begin working at the National School of Aleppo (NSA), which is the reason I traveled to Syria for less than $15. All I spent during the long trip from Denver International Airport was, that amount, on food, most of it in Navaro, Italy on the layover to Damascus, Syria.
Anyhow, it's amazing what an employer will do if you speak english and have any kind of a college degree (I suggest to you all who are a little bored with the states and life in general to look up teaching abroad, because sometimes you need no experience at all, just some education and a willingness to live far, far away for at least a year). I literaly got hired before I technically applied through a connection from my friend Jon, whom some of you know and laugh at quite often.
Over some rueben sandwiches in a little known Denver restaurant, the director of the NSA hired Jon and I to teach young kids English, Math and Science. (Yah, I know, I suck at math, and I haven't opened a science text book since high school, but we're going to teach 2nd and 3rd graders so it's nothing we can't make up). So, realy fast, I got hired to travel to the Middle East, a place many of my family members and some friends misunderstand and fear. I have been interested in this area and Arab culture ever since I moved to Colorado last year, for many random reasons. I wanted a better look at a culture people fear or love.
So far, the arab world and Syria are fantastic. Honestly, everyone I've met here keeps proving to me things Hank (the director of the NSA) has been telling me. Mostly, people are friendly and hardly a day goes by that someone doesn't welcome you with a smile, apparently glad that someone from America decided to visit Syria. A number of people I have met in Aleppo have family in the states orwant to visit, they even watch the same tv shows since many of them have satelite tv. Jon watched the Family Guy last night, a rerun though).
The food is also great, and the weather, though really sunny and hot, is nothing like the humid days spent in Florida or Kentucky. Jon and I are making new friends every day and we even got some phone numbers from a few muslim girls and an arab-christian girl, who don't normally talk to any men they don't know, as is the custom. So you know we are doing something right. Because of the way global economics work, I've also been able to afford a realy nice place, in a part of town where all the highly paid professionals live. I even got an arab style haircut and I truly look funny, they even cut my nasty side burns really sharp, like all the players here in Aleppo. I look like a sheikh.
Well, this little message will have to do for now.
I hope all is well for you and that this hello finds you doing something other than work.
Take care,