Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Six Months Later


Six months ago today, I got on an airplane from my home to come home.

Since I returned, everything has changed and everything is the same. When I left Oman, I was positive that I would spend my senior year hiding away, just biding my time until I could go off to college. I was determined to have a miserable time, to scrape by until I could go on to bigger and better things. Somehow, the opposite has happened. This year, I've developed relationships with my friends in Beloit that shock me by their depth. I was told that I would probably not relate with my old friends, but that has been entirely inaccurate.

I didn't plan for any of this to happen. But it did. This reminds me of my whole year abroad, the shock at the emotions, the joy and sorrow and stress. Oman was entirely unprecedented, but so has been my senior year. I came home expecting solitude, and have found incredible friendship, and with one special person, even romance. My return has shocked me in how absolutely wonderful it has been. I've found that my friends--old and new--are just like me. I had many of them over just a few nights ago for a night of heavy drinking--of tea, that is! My Senior year is thus far a roaring success socially. I'm still excited for college, but I'm also just loving my life in the moment. 

That's not to say that I don't miss Oman. It's on my mind constantly, and the lessons I've learned from it are continually with me. Some days there is nothing I want to do more than cry over the loss of my parallel life, that is continually slipping away from me. I'm losing my Arabic skills rapidly, I've lost the 30 pounds of excess "love" that I gained, and I find that the pain I feel over missing everything is less acute. It still hits in waves, but they rarely come.

I feel like I've reached a point in this readjustment process in which I can merge my Omani life with my American one. I wore my jalabiyya for one of my senior pictures and had an Eid party this fall. Little strands of my Omani life are most certainly still a part of who I am now. 

I will never forget, but it's my time to move on.

Salaam,

Emma

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Closure, If you want to call it that

Hi, everyone.

First, an apology. For not blogging at the end of my trip (I was quite busy with a trip to Dubai and my goodbyes), and for not blogging since I've returned home--which was one month ago today, June 19th.

I don't have the words to articulate how I'm feeling. Oman was such an exciting time for me. My preparations, travel, and time there thrilled me to the core. I expected that my return home would be anti-climactic, that I would go into a bit of a depressed stupor. But the truth is that the exact opposite has happened. So far, I've been thriving at home. I'm enjoying time with my family and friends, I'm enjoying all of my summer activities--college visits and applications, volunteer work on a political campaign, reconnecting with old friends from all over the region--I'm enjoying the little things I'd taken for granted. And so, no, I'm not particularly homesick for Oman. I had expected to go into a shell upon my return, and perhaps that expectancy is exactly what has thus far driven me to enjoy my return--and perhaps, a bit, to push away memories in order to avoid feeling too depressed. That's not to say that I don't miss Oman. I wouldn't say that I'm actively homesick, but perhaps I have a bit of an ache that wonders What if? What if I was still there? But in life we all have to face the truth, and because of that, I'm still just plugging away at life, moving forward.

Optimism is the best way for me to move on with my life. My life should not be apathetic. And so I've taken it upon myself to enjoy my life and to fill it with meaningful work. Oman meant so much to me, and that will not change. But there are other opportunities for me to undertake, and other things that will excite me. So here I go, rushing off into the future, prepared by all that I learned about myself in the past year.

So, here's to embracing the most amazing year of my life, and here's to all of the magnificent future events.

Cheers, and thanks to all of you for following my blog and accompanying me on this journey. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Step Up Oman

I went to a charity event yesterday called Step Up Oman. If you have seen the Step Up movies, it basically was a competition like that. Anyways, it was organized by a group associated with AMIDEAST so we went along to help/ enjoy.

It was a pretty neat event, and kudos to the girls who organized it! The money they gained was designated to helping to train a family of 12 to lift themselves from poverty. The family won't directly be given the funds, but will instead be given things like English classes.

In case you're not aware of exactly what Step Up is, it basically is a really hyped-up dance contest. There are a large number of teenagers (in this case all boys) who come to dance. They all do flips and jumps and occasionally slide for a few meters on their heads. The last one was especially impressive!

I've also been, unfortunately, saying many goodbyes to people. Yesterday was the end of school, so I said goodbye to many teachers and friends. Also, we had our YES Abroad end-of-the-year dinner, which was indeed bittersweet. 

Next week I'm off to Dubai for three days as long as I get my road permit on time! Very excited about that!


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Update


Greetings!

First, gah, I have posted far too little lately. That is for a fairly wide variety of reasons: studying for exams, trying to soak up the last 16 days in Oman (sob!), studying for exams, trying to be like Matilda and use my brainpower to kill the evil, noisy birds that enjoy roosting on my windowsill, studying for exams, saying goodbye to my classmates, studying for exams, wearing an abaya to the American school and my Arabic class (it’s great how people try to figure it out: Bailey usually can pull off being Omani but when I rock it I look like a white kid playing around, which I guess is what I am. It’s wicked fun though.), studying for exams, buying presents for all of you lovely people back in the States, surviving 50˚ C weather (122+ F!!) studying for exams, and so much more!

Oh, and did I mention that it’s exam week? Exams here are a lot different than back in the USA, because here they are a complete overview of everything that has been learned in the semester. In the States, that’s true for some of my classes, but not all. In fact, it’s more common in the USA for my final to be a vocab test followed by a party, because the majority of the summative grading happens in unit tests and projects. Here, it’s the opposite: quizzes, essays, and projects are cumulatively worth 30-40% of the grade and the other 60-70% is based solely on exam results, hence the need to study extensively. Rather than pacing throughout the year, school here is more based on cramming at the end. I’m unresolved as to which system I prefer.

As I said, I’ve got a mere 16 days and left here, which is near insanity, if you ask me. This year has zipped by, and I’ve said it a million times but I’ll say it again. THIS YEAR HAS GONE TOO QUICKLY!

In re the birds on my windowsill, they are killer. I’m fairly sure they have the same amount of decibels as a loud rock concert. There was first only one, but then he found a friend. I was talking to Bailey on the phone, and she could hear them through the phone very loudly!


My classmates, who are in grade 12, had their last day of school last Tuesday. They take their exams at the Ministry of Education as opposed to the school because they will get their diplomas this year. Because I’m not getting a diploma, I have to take mine at school. It was metaphorically heartbreaking to have to leave them, and I hope to see them again before I leave!

For our last day of Arabic class, Noah wore a dishdasha and Bailey and I wore abayas (Jaira was sick, meskina!). And then there was the adventure of Bailey and I at the American school, also in abayas, to return some books to the library there.

Not a group wedding, btw. 

And yes, it is indeed 50 degrees Celsius. I would have thought that what would surprise me was the fact that I could live in that and not die, but not so! It honestly does not bother me too much. Of course, it’s hot and I get sweaty and such, but it’s not totally unbearable. This is coming from a girl who feels overly warm when it hits 80 every year. I guess it’s the same as how I learn to deal with the frigid January weather of the upper Midwest.

Annnd, to close up and make up for the lack of blog posts, here are some more pictures from our trip to Salalah!







Monday, May 28, 2012

Magical Magnetic Road

While we were in Dhofar, we went up this road. It was by far the most bizarre thing that has ever happened to me. Watch the video and be as absolutely amazed as I was (am!)


Friday, May 25, 2012

Dhofar Trip

I just got back from three days in Dhofar, which is the southernmost region of Oman, near to Yemen. It was a great trip, full of both educational and touristy bits. We got to learn about frankincense trees, see the tomb of the Prophet Job (Ayub in Arabic), see a massive blowhole, chase some geese (well. I did.), see countless camels, eat a bit of the latter, shop for various kinds of incense, see a castle, visit the 5000 year old frankincense souq of the Queen of Sheba, celebrated (in a surprise!) the turn of my 17th year, and so much more. Here are some pictures from the trip:

Camel meat hanging

This is how goat meat is traditionally cooked in Salalah

Camels in the road are normal!

All of us getting ready to go to Job's tomb. We bought those scarves because we all forgot ours at the hotel room... and Noah is indeed wearing a wizar. 

Job's tomb


More camels in the road!

We bought coconuts from here.



This is a frankincense tree. And yours truly. 

Bet you didn't know that flamingos are white if they don't eat shrimp! Also they can fly!



At the castle



Surprise birthday party! 

Four lane highway? Definitely camel territory. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Most Awkward Question Ever...


I leave Oman in four weeks. In contrast, I have been here for nearly nine months. Those nine months have flown by in the blink of an eye.

I’ve been looking back through old pictures from the beginning of the year. I’ll open one and think how there is no way that this or that could have been back in October. Everything feels like it happened just yesterday. And I know that four weeks will zoom by and, before I know it, I’ll be back in the United States.

One of the most perplexing questions I’ve ever been asked—and it is actually a regular occurrence now—is ‘are you excited to go home?’ I guess I understand where people are coming with the question, but aside from creating some awkward moments, it is outrageously difficult to answer. Am I excited? Yes, undeniably. I miss my family and friends, and though I initially pushed those feelings back in the notion of living-the-Omani-life, the prospects of finally seeing the people I have missed for a year are joyful indeed. And truthfully, a bit of me is ready to move on with my life. Something we exchange students (in Oman) often discuss is how we don’t want to go back to our old lives per se, but how we are ready to move on with the adventures that are bound to fill the rest of our lives. So while I’m not 100% thrilled about going to another year of high school, I am thrilled with the prospect of college tours, volunteer opportunities, and other events that will fill me summer and next year.

While I am indeed excited about the going, I’m not excited about the leaving. The past few months especially have been so clarifying for me. The first 6-7 months here were merely formative ones in which I learned the ropes of my life here. They were often stressful. Now, here I am feeling absolutely comfortable at home, school, and just about everywhere that I go. In the past few months, I left the rocky pattern of adjustment and moved on to a state in which I was able to absorb so much more information. I’ve seen my Arabic understanding levels skyrocket; I can understand most of what people say, particularly my host family and close friends. I have to ask fewer questions because the inferences I make are usually right. My interpersonal relationships have grown exponentially, and I feel like my own intrapersonal relationship has grown as well.

A lot can happen in nine months. To use an analogy from another exchange blogger, in nine months, two tiny bits of genetic material can grow to a whole complex human being. While perhaps the changes I have seen in myself have been less dramatic and I don’t quite know how to articulate in what ways, I do feel changed. Oman has changed me.  

If the last year has been any indication, the next four weeks will fly by. I’m going to try to spend the remaining time being as Omani as possibly, soaking it all up, because I know that I will never again have an opportunity like this. For this reason, I will be blogging a bit less than I have in the past, but I do promise to try to update. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Omani Women's Clothing

Because I've had so many questions about this, here goes!

There are two categories of clothing here: modern and traditional.

Qamboua
In terms of modern, just about anything goes. Skinny jeans, t-shirts, Chanel head scarves, and the like. Qambouas are common. Essentially, they are giant bubbles of fabric attached to the head via clip in order to shape your hijab better. Before coming, we were warned against skinny jeans, but honestly they are fine here.

A more traditional modern dress (if that makes any sense) is the abaya. An abaya can be anything from a simple black robe to an extravagant concoction of colors and patterns. Abayas always come with matching scarves. They are worn all across the Arabian Peninsula, and I personally find them fabulous because it's totally possible and normal to wear pajamas under them.

More traditional Omani clothing really depends on the region. In Muscat, it is usually a short, embroidered dress with pants underneath. In Dhofar, clothing usually a dress with a long train in the back, that may or may not include pants. Also, gold headdresses are common for formal, traditional occasions, and they hook into the scarf that goes with the dress. 


Omani gold



Dhofari dress


Monday, May 14, 2012

College Applications


I like to plan ahead. I’m working on college plans already—planning tours, thinking of essay ideas, and stressing excessively over every little aspect of the application and selection processes.

My classmates here, however, have a much easier process for college applications! The Omani Ministry of Education provides full scholarships to colleges all over the world. All that my classmates have to do is get good grades and they can really get sent anywhere. A few weeks ago, they got a book full of all of the majors that they can select and countries to choose from. Basically, they register on a website and once their grade 12 results come out, if they are good enough, students are given a scholarship.

Some of the scholarships are to schools within Oman. Some of them are to outside of Oman. After they register, students pick up to thirty choices. They select the major they want to have and then the country, and the Ministry ends up assigning them to a particular university. Though they cannot pick the university or even necessarily gain admission to one country, I like the idea of this opportunity, particularly from a financial aspect! These scholarships provide for travel expenses and living expenses as well as tuition fees, and students are likely to secure jobs back in Oman once they graduate. Personally, I’m hoping that some of my friends end up in the USA so I can see them next year, because I’ll miss them! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy (American) Mother's Day!

Today is not Mother's Day in Oman ( 'twas a few months ago), but as it is in the USA I want to take a minute to thank my wonderful mother for everything she has done for me. Throughout my life, she has been there for me through thick and thin, and I'm so grateful for everything. You've supported me entirely on this journey to Oman even though it may not be exactly what you wanted for me to do all the time. Nonetheless, you stood behind me 1000%, and I'm so grateful. I love you so much!

Likewise, I want to make a shoutout to everyone who has ever been a host mom. I don't know if you know it, but you have impacted your exchange student's life in ways that no one else possibly could. Exchange students need and crave someone to be a mother figure--for most of us, it's our first time away from our own mothers-- and anyone who steps in to that role is someone to be admired. So from me, on behalf of every exchange student ever, thanks to the host moms for taking a (potentially) unruly teenager from thousands of miles away into your life! It means the world to us! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Update!


Some disconnected tidbits from my life over the past few weeks:

Last night my school had its graduation ceremony for the seniors, even though they still have to finish their coursework and exams. It was an awesome celebration, and fairly bittersweet. The kids who graduated are my best friends here. They’ve taken care of me all year, helped me when I’m confused, and laughed with me about a million things. I’m so proud of all of them for their hard work. I gave a speech about the YES program—half in Arabic! It was an awesome feeling to see applause after I spoke Arabic (mildly unrelated, but one of my friends told me “Emma, your Arabic sounds like an Omani’s! An Omani two year old!” I guess that’s a compliment). During one of the rehearsals, I totally fudged the English part but the Arabic part sounded awesome, so I skipped around happily for a few hours because of that.

The ceremony also is making me anticipate my own graduation, about a year from now. I’m excited for graduating and going on to more fabulous parts of my life.

I also gave a presentation with the other YES students about hosting exchange students in Oman. We talked about our experiences and they showed pictures of us. What they really need right now are families for boys, because all of the girls for next year are placed. In a conservative country like Oman, it’s difficult to place boys because the family either has to be very liberal or the women in the house have to make changes to their lifestyles (they basically have to remain covered at home all of the time, which is difficult!). Anyways, also Jaira did my hair and we ate some chicken lollipops. Yeah!



Some kittens were born in the plants in front of my house!



According to rumors, it reached 50 degrees Celsius the other day. That is really, really, really, really, really, really, really hot. It’s been over 40 every day for the past two weeks. At night if it goes down to 38 it’s cold. We spent two hours at a park to film something and all came back looking as if we’d been through an actual war, we were that sweat-drenched.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Home

I'd like to take a second to define home, as I see it now. This is not an officially recognized definition, but it certainly serves the purpose I have. Home, to me, is the place that drives you insane. It makes you bored, but when you leave, all you want is to go back. All of the memories are happy. Everything there glistens with nostalgia.

I felt that way a lot when I first arrived in Oman. My house, my town, my state, my country seemed to be the only place I would belong.

Over time I sensed a change in myself. Oman has become my home, and the first time I realized that was when I began to notice that I get bored here. It happens. Boredom is a part of life.

People say that home is where the heart is, and that is true for me. I have two homes because I have emotional ties in two places.

Short post, but I really do feel at home here now! I love Oman!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Say, How's the Weather?


I’ve always known weather to be one of those topics. The ones that conversations turn to as a last-ditch effort. The grand finale, except more of a grand whimper.  An attempt to quell an awkward silence.

Well, Oman has changed my views on that. Sometimes, the weather is all that there is to talk about because it affects every single bit of life here, especially in the summer—which is now.

Over the past few days, I’ve especially noticed how provocatively hot it is. Yesterday, the thermometer read 42˚ Celsius. In Fahrenheit? 108˚. ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT DEGREES. And it’s still “not very hot yet.” The hottest weather that I can ever remember is about 105, and it was so bad that several animals at the county fair died and most of us wanted to follow them, at least temporarily. Here, people keep on trucking, because this is normal. It’s not even June yet!

What interests me most about this is that it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as I thought it would. Because I’ve built up to it gradually, I’ve found that the heat is just something that I deal with. It’s hot, but it’s inevitable. Omanis complain about it in the same good-natured way that Wisconsinites complain about the winter cold.

The sun doesn’t help. It probably won’t rain again until October, and cloudy skies are a rarity in the summer. With the little vegetation, most everything is exposed. Even the walk from the car to the house generates sweat.

I did a bit of research in comparison on the internet. In Muscat, the average temperature in June is 104 degrees. In my town in Wisconsin, it’s 79. (On the flipside, next winter will be brutal for me and I’m not even going to look at statistics for that.) When I return home, I hope I don’t freeze in the frigid June temperatures!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Small Things

A wise man once told me that I should stop to notice the beauty in everything around me. Even the most ordinary things can be special in their own way.

Being introduced to the world of foreign exchange has helped me to realize that. Though at the time I brushed it off as silly and perhaps unnecessary, I remember the day that we picked up the exchange student my family hosted last year. She was fascinated by the houses, and took pictures of the homes of random people. It took me coming to Oman, when I took my own pictures of ordinary buildings, to realize why they were so enticing to her. Exotic things excite us. They draw us in. They fill us with wonder about the people's lives, which we think must be exotic and exciting. 

But I think it's wise to remember that to the people who live there, these exotic things are just parts of ordinary life. To use a common maxim, one man's trash is another man's treasure. While we don't view our homes as trash, they are ordinary and unremarkable. 

Over the past few months, Muscat has ceased to be the shiny new place that I once saw it as. It's no longer foreign to me; I know the streets and buildings and mosques. But I still try to retain just a little bit of that wonder at the existence of everything. It's all a little bit unique, and everything here is remarkable. 

Take, for example, the mountains in Muscat. Nothing grows on them. They are brown, and not particularly tall. My extremely literal personality tends to take them at that, face value. That being said, slowly but surely I am trying to notice that, while they are brown, they are a million colors of brown. Some parts of them look like massive slices of crumble cake. 

I've learned to appreciate the beauty of the torturous sun, of the sand that gets everywhere, of the dizzying roundabouts, of the towering white houses.

It's very strange to think that soon I will have to test these new found "skills" of noticing how ridiculously, completely amazing everything is with my journey back home. It will indeed be strange to finally be back in my normal, ordinary life, but I will strive to notice the little bits of American life that are so amazing as well.



Enjoy your day, everyone, and thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. Notice the small things, if you can. You'll be surprised at what you may find!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Recipe: Chicken Biryani

Though it isn't usually considered to be strictly Omani food, my host family eats a lot of biryani. This morning, I helped cook lunch and so here is the recipe!

First, you need your ingredients. To start, onions...

Garlic, potatoes,cilantro, and tomatoes, all cleaned and chopped. Also a whole chicken, split into pieces.

Fry the onions in oil..


To make the masala, mix together the garlic, some turmeric, cumin, and chili pepper using a mortar and pestle.


Once it's mixed, add some green chilis and grind again. 


And mix it in with the onions. 


Add the tomatoes...


And chicken...


And potatoes and cilantro and black pepper and salt and some cardamom pods and cumin seeds and some more whole green chilis, as well as biryani masala mix (which you can buy or make).


Sit and let it simmer for a while, until the chicken is cooked. 



While it's cooking, make the rice. Half-cook it. When it gets to that point, drain it. Then, put three-quarters of the rice in a pot, put the masala mix (what I just detailed) on top and finish off by covering it all with the remaining quarter of rice. Return it all to the stove and let the rice finish cooking. Then, stir it all and tada! 


To make a nice sauce for it, put mint and yogurt in the blender. Optional is red chili powder.  


Yummy!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Element of Surprise


Last week, I was at a party for a girl who had just married into my extended host family. An Iraqi woman was present. Towards the end of the party, she approached me and asked in Arabic where I was from, and why I was there. I explained to her that I was there to learn about Omani culture and Islam. This woman gave me a huge hug and told me that she had never met an American who was not in the military. I told her—truthfully—that I do not support the war in Iraq. She took pictures of me and kissed my cheeks many time.

It may seem a little bit strange that she took such a liking to me despite the fact that all that she knew about me was that I was an American who did not support the war in Iraq and who was living with an Omani family. Nonetheless, she wanted to be my friend.

The media here is the polar opposite of the American media in terms of content (however, general message is surprisingly exactly the same!) It portrays Americans as being unwelcome invaders, crusaders, and aggressors. The American media portrays the Middle East as being in dire need of someone to come bring democracy to a region of terrorism and oppression. I’ve discussed before on this blog what I interpret as inaccuracy on the American media’s part.

However, a common opinion here is that all Americans stand behind what a majority in Congress says, or what the military does.  Like anywhere, media is biased. For people, it can be strange to realize that “not all Americans are like that.” The fact that I’m opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan shocks some people. So does the fact that I tend to support a Palestinian state (although EVERYONE should read the book The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan because it is an absolutely amazing, objective book that is actually a really interesting, captivating read. Seriously. Read it now).

One of the most vital lessons that Oman has taught me is to look at all sides of a story before drawing a conclusion. More often than not, people surprise me. I’m sure I surprised the Iraqi woman I spoke of before, and I have surprised many others simply by being myself.

That’s what I love about humanity. It catches us unaware, takes our breath away sometimes. People defy our stereotypes all the time. All we have to do is look out our front doors, get to know our neighbors, either close-by or far-away, and be shocked by what people have to share with us. So many of the people I have met here have done that for me. I thought I was open-minded when I came, but I still found that I had pre-conceptions that sometimes were mind-numbingly inaccurate.

Oman has instilled a sense in me that I am right and wrong at the same time. It has taught me to get to know people. See what they can teach me. What they are really like. And they, again and again, blow my mind with who they are and what they do.


                                                                                  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's Almost the End...

I found this meme while skulking around the internet, and I love how accurate it is at describing Omani greetings. 

Except it usually goes on for longer. 

And this is my gift to the new exchange students who have now been picked and will be coming next September to--gasp!-- take our places. Learn it well. You will indeed need this. 

Which brings me to some other thoughts. I have 54 days left until I return home. Fifty-four. It sort of rolls of the tongue in a happy-sad way. It can be a bubbly number or a slowly fizzling out one. At any rate, I have fewer days remaining than I did last time I started a countdown, last summer, for my return date. If I recall, I made a paper chain last summer. It had ninety links when I began. This picture is the remnants, right before we left. And now here I am, anticipating the return with a sense of excitement and dread. I have my plane tickets. I can tell you the exact time I will see my family again (unless, of course, the Chicago airport is its normal slow process). It is indeed a strange feeling to be here in the brink of continuing my life. I have loved the past year. I have gone from the initial dramatic excitement of taking pictures of everything I see to rock bottom to a sense of being home in my life here. My Arabic is indeed improving. I feel so much at home in my family and school. The exchange students and I have reached a kind of friendship I have never felt before, based on both need for each other's support and other typical reasons for being friends (as adolescents, that is). I cannot put into words how much my exchange student friends have become my best friends in the world because of the weird understanding we have for one another. 

On the other hand, I am anticipating my return. Perhaps not so much returning to the mundane-ness of high school, but the aspect of moving on. I have learned so much this year, not just about Omani culture but about myself as well. I am eager to leap forward into the rest of my life and take more opportunities. I want to go on to college and get a job and grab life by its metaphorical horns. I'm excited for the future. 

Here I am, suspended in a state of confusion. I marvel at the past year of my life. Part of me wants to continue with this fabulous adventure but another part knows that now is the time for me to continue, for others to experience all that I have. Some of me is angry that there are others coming--to take my experience, my friends, my school, my Omani exchange. The other part of me is excited for them in a way I never could have comprehended before. A year ago, I was in their shoes, researching Oman like mad. Absolutely obsessed with the fabulous and exotic life I was sure to have. My views of this place have mellowed and strengthened since then. Oman has gone from fantasy to a reality. A reality that has more meaning than I ever could have imagined. And for that, I am excited for the new students. Now, as I was, they are naive. Their view of Oman is idealized. I hope that, like I did, they will soon come to appreciate an Oman with depth. The one that I think I know. Their Oman will likely be different from mine, but I hope that they discover their own truth. I know I have.