Plenty of my friends will vouch for me when I say that, I was not in cool in college. Evidence for this is provided in black and white on my resume. There, you will discover that I was the Vice President of the International Business Council– an “elitist” organization within the Business department composed of … my four closest friends. We all elected ourselves to different roles and then mandated that entry into the “IBC” was by invite only. Neither cool, nor nice.
Because we were such a small group and our professor had amazing connections, we were able to take a two day field trip to Washington DC to personally meet the Jordanian ambassador at his embassy.
There is one important fact to keep in mind before I can proceed with the rest of this story: I, Meredith, am geographically challenged. It’s really rather impressive. If you ask me to find any Middle Eastern or Asian country on a world map, chances are I wouldn’t. My brother once asked me to point out the Hawaiian islands to him. I never found them… cause I was looking in the Atlantic ocean.
As my peers and I walked into the well guarded and gated embassy, we were welcomed with gifts, Jordanian flags, and ushered into a large conference room that was dimly lit and filled with customary foods and drinks.
The ambassador, whose name I can not recall, came in quietly and without pretension. Well dressed, handsome, and endlessly eloquent, he began to unpack for us the long history of Jordan, its people, it’s government, and it’s role in the world today. He also elaborated for us his role as the ambassador, what that looks like on a daily basis, and what he hoped to accomplish in the near future. He was truly brilliant. And he was royalty. Jordan is a monarchy, however their royals carry little influential weight in the creating or carrying out of policies.
After he finished speaking and answering some of our questions, he swiftly exited to attend more important meetings.
My roommate at the time, Sarah, and I decided to wander over to the finger food table. As we stood there nibbling on baklava (one of my all time favorite desserts) the ambassador’s daughter and niece came strolling up to us.
Now it should be stated that Sarah is Egyptian. As in… she looks like Cleopatra. She’s an incredible girl who loves the Lord, is crazy smart, extremely witty, and was one of the biggest blessings of my senior year of college. Spiritually wise beyond her years, she was a counselor to me in so many ways.
“Excuse me,” said the ambassador’s daughter. Sarah and I stopped chewing and turned. “Excuse me, may I ask where you are from?” Her question was directed at Sarah.
“I’m Egyptian,” Sarah replied softly. Suddenly, the ambassador’s daughter and niece began talking to Sarah in Aramaic. Now because Sarah is awesome, she knew Aramaic and was able to respond accordingly.
Thanks to my short attention span, while they spoke gibberish, my eyes wandered back to the baklava and I tried to strategize just how I could sneak some into my purse for the long walk back to our hotel. But my plotting was suddenly interrupted when the ambassador’s daughter and niece turned their attention to me and repeated their question, “So where are you from?”
“Uhh… Texas?” I replied.
“Really? That’s so interesting because we both thought you were Palestinian!”
Now remember, me and geography don’t mix. So instead of laughing and saying “Oh no, no, no. I’m not Palestinian,” I literally thought to myself “Crap… where is Palestine?”
My roommate, seeing my internal turmoil, gracefully stepped in and said “Oh no, she’s not. But I can see why you would think that. She does have darker features.”
Needless to say, I went home and did some serious Googling to determine where Palestine was and what their women looked like.
Turns out Palestine is not where I guessed it was and being thought Palestinian wasn’t a compliment.