Category Archives: Life in the US

Americans are aware of the crises in the Middle East

Yesterday at 11 pm, I received an email from one of my employers. She is an American professor.

Hi Malik

I hope that your friends and family in Jordan are staying safe with all that is happening in nearby Syria.  The news just seems to get worse and worse from that corner of the world.    Just wanted you to know that I am thinking about you.


From her email, one might think she knows a lot about me. Actually, she does not. We meet once a semester and then continue our communication via emails. She is not on Facebook to read my status and I had never told her anything about my family. All what she knows about me which I mentioned only once is that I am from Jordan.

Back in 2005, another American professor, who I was her TA, stopped me in the department’s hall and asked me about my family in Jordan when she heard about the 2005 bombings in Amman. Many other Arab graduate students shared with me their American advisers’ concern about their family in Egypt or Syria or where ever that student is from.

These type of emails or the small kind gestures or words from the American professors might seem insignificant to some people but it has a huge effect on these foreign Arab students in the U.S. who are doing their best while being away from their families and friends. This is something modest that I wanted to share with the Arab readers about something they do not hear about from the media.


Picture America: Rest Area

Picture America: Rest Area

A rest area is a public facility, located next to a highway, expressway, or freeway at which drivers and passengers can rest, eat, or use relatively a clean public toilet. In this rest area in Arkansas there was even a security guard.

Picture America: Promoting Christianity on Campus

A woman on campus spreading the word about Jesus. This is something common here on my campus. A  Christian man sometimes hand students pocket size bibles for free. Some other Christians come to campus and talk passionately about controversial issues like homosexuality and abortion. Also they talk in general about sins, punishments and repentance.


Picture America: Bibles in hotel rooms

So far, I haven’t been in any hotel or motel room in the U.S. that doesn’t have a copy of the Bible placed near the bed.

A Bible near my bed in a motel room (2011)

Gideons International is an evangelical Christian organization dedicated to distributing copies of the Bible in over 94 languages and 194 countries of the world, most famously in hotel and motel rooms. The organization was founded in 1899 in Janesville, Wisconsin, as an early American organization dedicated to Christian evangelism. It began distributing free Bibles, the work for which it is chiefly known, in 1908, when the first Bibles were placed in the rooms of the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana. [Wiki]

Do people ever read the Bibles in their hotel rooms?
Yes! Each Bible placed in a hotel room has the potential to reach up to 2,300 people in its estimated six-year life span. Research from the hotel industry tells us that approximately 25% of travelers read the Bibles in their hotel rooms. [The Gideon Inernationals]

I am not sure if it is a good idea to place Bibles in hotel or motel rooms. When I worked as a hotel housekeeper many times I find the bible thrown on the floor or given to a child to doodle on it. On YouTube there are videos of people playing with the Bible, throwing it at each other. But really if you like a book you don’t want it to be in a hotel room especially if you believe this book is holy. Why place a holy book in a room that you KNOW is going to be used, sometimes, to commit adultery and other sinful acts?

A Muslim group in Chicago came to our mosque last year to collect donations to place copies of the translated Quran in hotels. I was shocked as many other Muslims. I don’t think it is a good idea.

Picture America: Open Campuses

Unlike universities in the Middle East and Malaysia, U.S. colleges and universities are not guarded by walls, gates or security. In Jordan for example, only students, staffs and faculties are allowed entrance to the university. Guests are allowed but they need permission.

I am not sure about campuses in South America or Europe. Does any reader know if campuses there have gates or not?

Parents on Campus

At Mizzou we recognize that families are in transition when students journey to college. Orientation to university life is important to help parents and other family members understand and support their new students. Therefore, a specially tailored parent/guest program will be provided for all parents and guests attending Winter Welcome. [Mizzou]

By far the most cheerful week on campus, in my opinion, is the week before the Fall semester starts. In this week, parents of freshman students accompany their son or daughter to help him or her learn about the new campus life for the next four years or so and help him or her settle in the new city.

Such process of transition starts months earlier. During the summer, prospective students and their parents come to campus for an orientation, in which they are toured around the big campus. My university has even a website dedicated to parents called Office of Parent Relations. Check it out

Prospective students with their families during an on campus tour

When a student choose to enroll in the university he or she comes one week before the Fall semester starts to settle down and move his or her stuff to the new dorm room.

Parents helping their daughter carry items they bought for her dorm room.

Now, what I like most about seeing parents and families on campus is the liveliness and joy on these people faces. The giggling of the younger brother and/or sister, the smile on the mother’s face, the playing it cool freshman, while full of excitement. But the best face impression comes from the father who while having a big smile on his face you sometime glance a moment of quietness, wandering through his mind, trying to punch some astronomical tuition fee numbers.

While visiting the campus, parents take memorable pictures of their newly enrolled college student son

Two weeks ago, I overheard a freshman tell her father to “stop asking questions.” She was embarrassed of her father asking for directions. The proud father who wants to make sure his daughter get everything she needs was asking a student on campus for some directions.  This incident reminded me of my two female cousins who saw me on campus on their first day on campus, 20 years ago, and asked me for direction to their class room. When I extended my arm and started pointing out how to go to their destination they both abruptly shouted on me to not point. I had to listen to them and give them directions without any physical gesture. Freshman are the same everywhere. No freshman wants to be seen asking for directions on campus 🙂

I can’t even imagine the status of happiness parents are experiencing when their child enters kindergarten, graduates from high school, admitted to a university, graduates from the university, gets a real job, marries and becomes a new parent. Being a parent got to be the best thing ever.

Picture America: Public Libraries

The public library building

The public library’s parking lot is full (This is on a weekday at about 4:30 pm)

New arrivals have easy access before they are shelved with other old books

First floor: Teens and children books

CDs and DVDs can also be checked out

Second floor

A convenient floor power outlets for the increasing usage of laptops

Neat floor power outlets near the coffee table

A view of the book shelves from the third floor

Lots of books

Beautiful and practical indoor architecture

Quiet reading room

A view from the third floor – the quiet reading room

Study room 7 in both English and braille signs

More books

Patrons scan their library ID at the big monitor to keep track of first come first serve queue for patrons who wish to use these computers

An easy way to find a book

I live on this same street. One block only from the public library

Old and young people reading

The Flag, Bill of Rights and 4th of July

Last week, Americans celebrated their, 4th of July, independence day. They treat this day with joy and pride. The 4th of July is a day Americans stop their common hard working ethics to celebrate their success. It is the day they pay tribute to their liberty and the Bill of Rights, “which guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government’s power in judicial and other proceedings, and reserve some powers to the states and the public.” [Wikipedia]

The 4th of July festivities include four main activities:

  1. A day off,
  2. Display American flags,
  3. Family outdoor activities including BBQ, and
  4. Fireworks display

Unlike Jordan and many other Arab countries business owners in the U.S. need not display the American flag if they don’t wish to. Also, I have never seen any picture of G. W. Bush or Barack Obama hanged on any public office’s wall. In Middle East, the picture of the king or president must be hanged in every faculty member’s office in all universities. And no faculty member dare to opt out. I remember in Jordan that cities’ municipalities force business owners to hang a sizable flag in front of their stores.

But what does the flag of a country mean or represent?

What happens to the flag physically, symbolically, it is always protected by bill of rights. So we are allowed legally to do this [burn the flag] and it is okay because even though the flag is gone, the bill of rights remains.

This was a statement from the following interesting Penn & Teller clip:

The clip raises an interesting point that showing patriotism is not by displaying the flag rather it is what we do to comply with the Bill of Rights. There is nothing wrong with displaying the flag but the flag comes second to the country’s constitution. Something that unfortunately we, Jordanians, fail to recognize.

Here are some pictures of this year 4th of July celebration in Columbia, MO.