Sunday, January 01, 2006

I *heart* Dubai!

Right...enough with the cliches, but in many ways that sums up most of my feelings about being back in Dubai after 5 years. Everything was familiar until we left the airport and then I got confused by all the new construction, it is incredible how much the city has grown since I left. Thankfully we landed late at night and the next day was Friday (Thursday and Friday are the weekend here) so there wasn't much traffic on the streets!

Other than the training, which I promise to get to in this post, it is wonderful showing the rest of the group the Dubai that I know. Although we've only made it a few places, it has been extremely heartwarming to see how much everyone is enjoying the experience of being in another culture. Who knows, maybe we can take another trip together so I can show them other parts of the Middle East (Egypt, Syria...) that are very different that Dubai and the Emirates.

Spending time with the Saunders family the other night brought home just how connected MHC students, faculty and staff are. How many times would a group of people fly halfway around the world and know people in the same city? The meal was amazing, home-cooked Persian food equals scrumptious in my book! And the children were adorable; Beth had to drag me and Katie away and even then we attempted to take them with us!

Now on to the training today (well, yesterday since it's now New Year's Day). I will admit that going into today's training I was a bit nervous since I realized the day before that I was leading a session that I hadn't had any time to prepare for-that was what I spent lunch doing. The women at Dubai Women's College are just as intelligent and engaged with their society and their roles within society as I expected and truly seemed to be absorbing what we were trying to convey about leadership. I especially appreciated how open and honest they were when we were talking about being a strong leader, particularly a female leader. They also wanted to be pushed to further examine their preconceptions and assumptions about leadership which as a Critical Social Thought major is a way of critically thinking that comes naturally to me but isn't always valued in other societies.

I feel very confident that the next three days of training will go by just as quickly as today did, that we will form even closer bonds with the women from DWC and that this entire experience will be a process of self-discovery that will challenge all of our notions about different cultures, leadership and people.

Happy New Year everyone! Be safe and we'll be back before you know it, probably much too soon for us...


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