It's official. The plane ticket has been booked. In exactly one week I will be flying out to meet my friend, Wafa, and her family in their home town of Sana'a, Yemen. In the words of Chandler from friends, "I'm going to Yemen!"
Many of you are probably wondering: why are you going to Yemen? Are you going for Peace Corps? Vacation? It is for neither of the above. In May, I found out I was nominated to leave in September for Peace Corps. While I still don't know officially when or where, I knew I needed to utilize my time wisely between this May and September (a 5 month period of unemployment). I searched for jobs in Blacksburg and decided if nothing came up I would move back home with my family to find something and spend time with them.
At the end of May, Callie made a proposition. A friend of Callie's (who has now become a friend to me), Wafa, needed training on cameras and video editing equipment to make a brief documentary about her country. Callie suggested that I, instead of tutoring Wafa, should go with Wafa to Sana'a for the summer and make the documentary for her. She knew of a grant to cover airfare and Wafa and her family offered to take me into their home as their own once I got there for the summer. It seemed to good to be true.
At first, it was. Reality kicked in. I needed a visa in a short time frame, my family wasn't too thrilled to loose an entire summer's worth of quality time with me, and as of yesterday I still had not booked the flight. Today, however, I have passport, visa, and tickets ready! Thank God! I've reduced my time (still enough time to make a short doc for Wafa) to spend more time with my family before Peace Corps.
Nevertheless, my family (and some friends) is still a little concerned. I'm glad they are. It means they love me. It also means that they have been keeping up on the news in Yemen. I hesitate to put links up here about it, but more info is available on Al Jazzerah and BBC News about it. My whole graduate career has been examining how the media portrays other countries versus the reality of the countries. So far, it appears the leading new sources are only reporting what "bleeds and leads". Hopefully, for those of you who follow this blog, your world view will be expanded to see that there is so much more to Yemen then these news sources portray.
*This is not to say that, as a filmmaker in and visitor to this country I will not exercise precaution. I will be with Wafa and her family the entire time, taking cultural and other cues from them. I will be wearing a head scarf (hijab) during my stay and I hope to write more on that later.
For now, I would like to invite you to share this experience with me over the next two months. I will try my best to blog at least once a week and I invite you to make comments and questions. Let's see what we can learn together about Yemen, particularly Sana'a (the capital).
I hope this collective e-learning experience will continue beyond just Yemen, even into my time with Peace Corps.
So to give a short recap of my whereabout these next coming weeks:
June 16-June 20 DC Area (visiting extended family)
June 20-June 24 NYC (visiting friends)
June 24-June 26 In the air/Dubai
June 26-July 30 Sana'a (with Wafa and her Family)
July 30-July 31 In the air/Dubai
July 31-Aug 1 NYC
Aug 1-Aug 3 Air time
Aug 3-Aug 9 Blacksburg area
Aug 10-Sept Virginia Beach (with family)
Sept 2009 Leave for PC for 2 years
Let me know if you will be in any of the areas and would like to meet up! Would love to catch up with you before Peace Corps!