November/December 2006 issue

Arabian Nights: Workshops in Jordan

by Suzanne Morrison, Branch Librarian, Fargo

The first two weeks of November found me spending my annual leave in Amman, Jordan, on another project for the American Bar Association’s Central and Eastern European Law Initiative (CEELI). They contacted me to assess ABA/Jordan partner university libraries and analyze the state of their legal collections. This provided a great opportunity to see the country of Jordan, meet the various law faculties and tour libraries.

Magistrate Judge Karen Klein was also in Amman to conduct seven days worth of mediation workshops and judicial ethics seminars. She proved a ready dinner companion after long days of work. Luckily, Jordanians tend to dine later, usually from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. Judge Klein left a week before I did, stopping briefly in Muscat, Oman, to make a presentation on mediation and communication skills to a group of women lawyers.

I toured campuses my first week and a half and then spent the last few days presenting three workshops: one for professors on legal research and two for students on legal research and writing. My last day in the country I was able to squeeze in a day at the office.

I spent my one day off visiting Petra, the “rose colored city” - a once forgotten Bedoin city that many consider to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. (Rent Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, as Petra is one of its featured locations.)

Joseph, our guide, ignored the tourist-track and spent the day leading us over rock piles to deserted caves striated with brilliant colorations. Toward the end of the day, we still wanted to climb the 850 steps to see the Monastery, but we rented donkeys to save time. Once on top, magic touched us as we listened to the sound of flute music floating from a ridge. We shared chai and stories with Joseph and other Bedouins in the tiny shop.

Eventually, dusk began to fall and we were the only people around. After trudging back down the 850 steps, we realized that we still had over 4 kilometers to hike out of the canyon in the dark. Under the Arabian star-studded night, we rode our donkeys and listened to Joseph sing age-old songs. Truly, we felt as if we had fallen into an Arabian Nights story.