Published: June 16th 2011June 16th 2011
A home in Baptouma, Old Damascus
Ahlan ya istidikai,
I now find myself in the warm bustling streets of Damascus. It was a long journey from Chicago, but I returned to an old a familiar place.
For the next ten weeks, I will be studying Arabic, visiting family, making friends, eating, exploring, writing, and eating some more. I have returned to a childhood home.
I was last in Damascus for a brief visit in 2008. I was astonished at how quickly the city modernized. Malls sprang up like flowers, and real estate, cars, apparel and jewelry became extremely expensive. New laws were put into place, and everything became so much livelier. There is no doubt that Damascus is a city that is plunging itself into the 21st Century.
I have returned to Syria for a number of reasons. After entering college, I noted the importance of Middle Eastern studies and realized that the power and influence of my culture on American society was much greater than I thought. I began to embrace and appreciate my heritage in a whole new way.
These entries come in an important time in my countrys’ histories- to create a bridge of understanding between the United States and the Arab world, in particular for Syria. Over the last forty years there has been a high level of mistrust between both societies, and for someone who calls both places home, it is important that I understand and love both places for exactly what they are.
Each account will be about some aspect of Arab culture, society, or history. I will try to provide a fair testimony that is true to Syria and relatable to my American friends.
I serve as both an observer and a descendant: a mediator between my homeland of America, and a member of the mother land in the Middle East. I will document, sample, learn, rediscover and grow in this trip along with my friends from around the world.
Ham Dasallameh and Welcome.