Friday, January 13, 2006

Is it really over?

Well, having to go present and facilitate workshops in Dubai is over, but the entire experience is just a beginning for all of us, MHC and DWC students, faculty and staff. The week in Dubai was an amazing learning experience, one that I probably wouldn't have had if I weren't at a school like Mount Holyoke; for that I am extremely grateful. I know that I learned so much about myself, the other people involved, leadership and education on this trip that trying to process everything will happen every time I start thinking about our trip to Dubai.

Even back in Colorado catching up with friends who are starting to believe that I don't exist (I swear I'll come visit more!) I find myself talking about the people I met, the training we put together and the wonderful times we shared with our new friends--this is sort of like the camp songs I kept singing last summer, but much less annoying, I hope!

Just having the experience of interacting with Emiratis' and hearing their feelings about the state of the UAE, the Middle East and the role of women globally is so unique and very different from my other experiences in the Emirates where I was living a semi-expat lifestyle, British schools, no local friends, ect. This gave me an even greater understanding of the region and exposed me to a point of view that isn't often seen in academic writings, media or "normal" Western involvement in the Middle East. I'm already starting to think about how I can use what I learned last week in my classes next semester.

In addition to just interacting with the DWC students, I also got to meet educators from around the world at the WEW conference and hear their stories about working for female empowerment and advancement. Those are also some of the real role models but unfortunately, educators never get the recognition that they deserve. This whole trip and the people I've met along the way have in many ways solidified my future goals of being involved in development work, but now with a focus on the role of education on the development of a country. I guess I just can't get away from the family trade of teaching--I thought I was beating fate by going into economics!

As Beth said, these sorts of programs are incredibly valuable for everyone involved and if there are any future opportunities, count me in!


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