Monday, June 4, 2012

Going Native

We walk a line overseas. We work at the Embassy - little America. We shop at American stores online where possible. We look for American comfort foods when we can - mac n cheese for some, cheerios for others.

But we're not in America - not even close. On our bad days, we might try to pretend we're home again, while on the good days, we revel in the differences.

When we arrived in Amman, we chose the school with the American curriculum for our sons. We don't believe in immersing them in the local educational system if it means they'll fall behind in writing or reading or math. So even though we know they won't become fluent in Arabic with the 45 minutes a day of Arabic instruction offered - not even close! - this seems like the best option for them.

For the girls, we chose a local school. They were young enough when we arrived that we weren't worried about falling behind in core subjects. The local school option means that they study in Arabic half the day and in English the other half - with 30 minutes of French every day just for kicks.

Sounds great, right? And so we've dealt with the fact that the girls have different vacation days (no Christmas holidays for the local schools here in Jordan) and different philosophies (you have to reserve the "party room" in order to bring birthday cupcakes).

But now we've bumped up against something new and different. You see, Kyra is finishing up her kindergarten year at the local school, and she is having a kindergarten graduation. Apparently, here at our local school, kindergarten graduation is a big deal. A. Very. Big. Deal. For starters, the ceremony will be taking place at one of the fancy hotels here in town. And they have a dress rehearsal at the hotel a few nights before the actual event. Kids under three are not allowed to attend. No cameras are allowed, either - you have to buy the CD from the professional photographer. There is a dress code, too. Girls need to wear denim skirts, white socks and black shoes with their uniform shirts.

 A friend is lending Kyra the denim skirt, but she doesn't have any black shoes and it's too late to order from zappos. So I ventured into the tangled streets of Swefiyeh this afternoon, in search of a shoe store that was recommended to me by a Jordanian colleague. There, in the basement, I found children's shoes. Of course, the sizing was European, and I only know her size (kind of, sort of) in American. So I had to guess. The salesman said (I think, possibly) that I could return them if they didn't fit. So I bought a little pair of sandals for about $14.

And now we are ready for her fancy graduation ceremony from her local school. Next year, Ainsley will be all alone at the school, as Kyra will have moved on to first grade, American style.

When I pictured local school, I pictured Arabic books and Arabic numbers and Arabic songs. I did not picture myself, on a broiling day in a basement in Swefiyeh, trying to explain graduation shoes to a Jordanian salesman.

2 comments:

Popster said... [Reply]

So you had to buy her hithas for graduation.

Ioana-Carmen said... [Reply]

love it darling! Wanna follow each others blog?:X

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