Online work

Over the past two weeks I have been discussing (among other projects) the possibility of linking up students to do online projects.

Places I have visited after leaving Karlsruhe, Germany, where we already have a strong exchange program with the University of Applied Sciences, include the German Jordanian University, Princess Sumaya University of Technology, both in Jordan, Dar al Kilima in Bethlehem, Bethlehem University in Bethlehem, and Birzeit University, near the village of Bir Zeit, just north of Ramallah in the West Bank.

In the past I have found initial interest, but that interest seems to decline after we get started with our online projects. This time I hope to have made enough FtF contacts that will yield some more online work for my students and students here in Jordan and the West Bank.

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Farming stony ground

Iowa farmers wouldn’t believe all the rocks in the fields here in Palestine. Today we were out and about and saw some work going on in the field. There are a lot of olive groves in the area but the farmers sometimes till in between the trees and seed small grain, either wheat or barley.

Farmers in this area of the world were the first to domesticate wheat and other grains and sheep.

In another area farther down nearly to the coastal plain, we found a 220 acre area that had many fewer rocks and was being worked by the women of the village. There was a Massey Ferguson 165 working the soil in one area and the women were hand planting garlic and onions today.


Massey Ferguson 165 (I think). The farmer is preparing the ground for barley seeding.

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Is it dangerous?

I often get asked if living or visiting Jordan or the West Bank is dangerous. What my friends are referring to, of course, is the political situation. My answer is almost always that the most dangerous thing I witness is the traffic. My experience yesterday confirmed my suspicion that the traffic is still more dangerous than other human activities in the the Middle East, including military or political activities. I spent the day with a friend of mine who has a taxi. He knows the area like the back of his hand so I was able to get a lot of errands done around Jerusalem.

So there are several problems with the traffic. One problem is the roads and another is the drivers. The roads are not all that great and the drivers are sometimes a little aggressive.

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You never know who you are going to meet on the street in Amman


Amman Santa Claus out for a stroll tonight.

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Presentations and a surprise at the university

Yesterday was interesting. I left the house early since I knew that rush hour in Amman is wicked difficult sometimes. It took me nearly an hour to get out to Princess Sumaya University of Technology in Jubeiha, which is a northern suburb of Amman. I found the office of Vice President Abdullah al-Zoubi and his able assistant Meena. Meena introduced me to the technology wizard (every university needs one) and we set up for my presentation which was to begin at 9 a.m.

The students were engaged and interested in my presentation and exercises about technical communication. I hope that I helped them to see the importance of technical communication in their STEM fields. (Many of them were engineering majors or business information majors.) In the 4 hours we had together we completed a worksheet on writing procedural instructions, we filled out a questionnaire on digital writing habits of students, and we discussed the importance of visualizing data in technical documents.

I was lucky enough to get to briefly meet Princess Sumaya herself while she was on a visit to the university.

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A day at German Jordanian University

GJU as it is known, is a 10-year old public Jordanian university located on a new campus on the road to Madaba. The university is modeled on the universities of applied sciences in Germany (Fach Hochschulen). A unique feature of this university is that both English and German language instruction are required as is one year at a sister university in Germany.

I met with a number of very competent friendly people there including the staff of the International Office, Dorothea and Jutta. Dean Nabil Ayoub and Assistant Dean Iman Shashaa were very helpful. We discussed three areas of potential cooperation: (1) university exchanges, (2) Internet-based work between groups of students, and (3) GJU’s summer language/culture program for overseas students.

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Medical care in Amman, Jordan

You never quite know what medical care will be like when you are away from home and the familiar patterns of making an appointment and paying for medical expenses. This morning I finally figured out that I needed excessive earwax cleaned out of my ears and that if I didn’t get it done soon, I would be sorry.

Through connections I got an appointment with a young doctor who has returned from the U.K. after 13 years of study and work. He has an office in a clinic office building close to the Jordan Hospital close to the 4th Circle, Jabal Amman. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect so I got there 30 minutes early. I was ushered in to the exam room 10 minutes before my appointment, explained my situation, and Dr. Osama knew just what to do. He uses a suction tool to extract the excess earwax.

Including 2 JOD for the taxi and the 20 JOD for the medical treatment, I spent all of $31.19 and about an hour of my time. I might have gotten in the same day at home, but it wouldn’t be guaranteed, but the price here is much lower for expert care.

Frankly, my medical care would be considered expensive, elite care for most Jordanians. For me, it seems a very good deal since at home my insurance would pay for most of it, I would most likely pay a co-pay and the total cost would easily be over $100.00.


My bill for 20 JOD today. This and the 2 JOD taxi fare comes to $31.19 USD.

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Making academic connections in Jordan

During the next week I have 2 appointments, one at German Jordanian University and the second at Princess Sumaya University of Technology. The main purpose of my sabbatical work is to continue to develop international connections for my university, Minnesota State University, Mankato. While the connection at the University of Applied Sciences in Karlsruhe, Germany (where I just spent 2 weeks)  is already a strong tie, we do not have formal connections here in Jordan. Building on my own extensive network of friends and family here in Jordan, I hope to explore some new possibilities.

I worked as an English teacher here in Amman from 1977 to 1980 and have continued to keep up my connections with this place.

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Down to the Dead Sea and back

The first adventure back in Jordan, unless you count my taxi ride in from the airport an adventure,  was a 24-hour trip to the Dead Sea. We stayed at one of the nice resorts along the Jordanian coast. While the Dead Sea water levels continue to drop due to human activity, the area remains a nice winter-time escape from the higher altitudes of Amman and the hill country to the east.


Gardens in the Dead Sea resort

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On to Amman

Lufthansa pilots decided to go back to work yesterday, which was a good thing for me since I had a 1:45 p.m. flight from Frankfurt to Amman, Jordan. We arrived 10 minutes early to a windy, rainy (very good for Jordan) evening. My entry visa cost 40 JOD (you have to pay in JOD in cash, but there is a convenient exchange office nearby, imagine!) and the taxi ride in to town cost 18 JOD (one dollar is about 71 piastres, or 3/4 of a dinar).

The current airport was built way out in the gravel desert to the south east of the capital city while I was working here in the late 70s as an English teacher. In fact, wearing my 2nd job hat at that time, as a feature story writer for the Jordan Times newpaper, I reported several times on the progress of the Queen Alia Airport construction.

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