The first thing they told us to prepare for when coming to Jordan was to be invited to parties or excursions by our host families. Whether a wedding, graduation, birthday, or just a fun get-together, Jordanian parties are a blast.
My host family invited us to the town of Salt, I had heard of the name but honestly knew nothing about it. Being from Pennsylvania I loved mountains, nature, land, trees, and peaceful destinations. After being in Amman and being used to its city vibe (and loudness much like Philly) I figured other parts of Jordan would be similar.
Yes, this is very naive and was a total generalization I made because I didn’t know anything else about other parts of Jordan. However soon I was put in my place by the beauty of Salt and realized it encapsulated everything I loved about the outdoors. Our family has what they call a farm and what we would call a mountain-house in Salt. The view was incredible, the air was crisp, and not a shout could be heard in the distance.
The day was hot, but the night was cooler than Amman at night and it felt like it was spring rather than summer. These kinds of events are not only a perfect way to bond and interact with your family and their extended family, but also to practice your Arabic speaking and listening skills.
It will be daunting to go to these events, and speaking Arabic will be tricky when you’re nervous and meeting new people for the first time, but they understand you’re from America and they themselves don’t feel the most confident in English so I think it is best to just let loose and speak as much as you can. Even a mix of Arabic and English is okay as long as you don’t hide behind your English.
The most incredible think about human interaction is that body language sometimes speaks better than verbal language. This proved itself to me when members of my host family got up and danced and pulled me up to dance with them. Rather than think about our language barrier I danced (rather badly) and the air was full of music, laughter, and munching on delicious Jordanian snacks.
At times the help translating will wane and there will be a point where you sit there and just enjoy the night, the moon, the stars, and hear conversation in the background. You may only know 70% of what is being said but take that in itself as a great accomplishment. My family included me in conversation as much as possible but there are some things where you just won’t interject and instead will listen, nod a little, and laugh.
My host family is a group of the most genuine humans I have met in my lifetime. Going on excursions and parties with them allowed me to know them on a deeper level and made me feel like a true part of the family.
Your initial reaction will be to say no thank you when invited to events out of fear that you’ll feel out of place, but take the leap, everytime I did I knew I’d remember it forever.