It’s been nearly a month and a half since I left Dhiban for two weeks of adventures around the Levant and then home. As I think back on the entire experience, the things I discovered both in the world outside of America and within myself continue to surprise me. Tapping into the surface of an entirely different culture and experiencing history from a fresh approach changed the lens through which I perceive American society, as well as the hopes and plans I have for my own future.
I found myself challenged in unexpected ways, and having come through such experiences, I feel like a more solidified and confident individual. As the youngest on the dig, I think I was more aware of the age difference because I felt as if my lack of years somehow implied a lack of intelligence, or perhaps capability is more appropriate. This was especially the case because I was among people whose opinions and ideas I valued understanding, as they were students of a field I was just beginning to unearth (Haha, I have a poor sense of humor). My experience was quite the contrary. The team was willing to share and teach, allowing the newbies to make mistakes and ask all sorts of questions. It was a fascinating and engaging learning environment. I keep thinking back to my first archaeology class at Knox, reading the section about the various soil types and yawning. It was of little use to me when I memorized the information from a text book, but when I was down on my hands and knees, with my face six inches from the ground, carefully scraping at the soil to reveal a tabun, what had seemed like vapid jargon made tangible sense.
My personal growth during those two months continues to surprise me. I learned that I can live in an environment that is completely foreign to me. I adapted to the heat, the rather strict code of dress and behavior, the language barrier, food variants, the insect issues, and the culture differences with a fluidity I would not have expected of myself. I had the privilege of making some fabulous friendships across different cultures that brought me such laughter and happiness.
I am very excited to return to Jordan next summer with an idea of what awaits me. I am already craving some delicious falafel and fatayer. I miss the beauty of the desert and the never ending adventures that go along with placing a bunch of Westerners into a small Jordanian town. I look forward to continuing my study of archaeology and beginning a new dig season in Dhiban!