Emmett Potts, an AMIDEAST scholarship winner, studied with the Intensive Arabic program in Oman over the summer of 2014. In his end of term scholarship essay, he reflects about some highlights from his time in Oman. All photo credit goes to Emmett Potts.
On the night of June 12th, I was about to land at Muscat International Airport on Gulf Air Flight 566 from Bahrain. Although the past day of travel was not much more than a blur, a blend of unsettled thoughts and diffuse excitement enveloped my mind as I looked down from my window at the scarcely outlined coast of the Persian Gulf. Did I bring everything the packing list recommended? Would I adjust to life in this new environment smoothly? Would I be able to communicate efficiently? Trying to maintain a façade of composure, I discreetly tried to review my Arabic vocabulary words, although in reality my behavior was probably more frantic than I realized.
The man sitting next to me on my flight, an Omani citizen, apparently noticed my internal tension and offered me a drink of his water. Without thought, I immediately responded (in Arabic) with “No, no thank you,” just as I was taught by my Arabic language professor in the United States; it was the proper, culturally sensitive response. I was, however, offered the water again by the man next to me: “My friend, please have a drink. I insist. It is good for you.” I relented, and with quivering hands graciously drank the water he had poured into my flimsy plastic cup. “Welcome to Oman, my friend,” he said, as the orange lights from coastal Muscat came into view below.