Saher Al Khamash sends us the following reflection from Jordan, where she is finishing up her term-long exchange at King’s Academy. Check it out!
“I stepped out of the warm shower and into cool hallway of the girls’ dorm, Atair. On the complete opposite side of the hallway, a girl noticed my wet hair and towel and eagerly yelled, “naaeeman!” I turned to face her and then searched the rest of hall to see if she was speaking to someone else. I didn’t find anyone else.
“Um, what?” I asked.
“Naaeeman,” she said with a gentle smile and eyebrows raised high. She walked closer to me and explained, “It’s just something you say after someone takes a shower or gets a haircut.”
“Oh… Thank you.” I said, less confused. I later learned that the literal translation of “naaeeman” is “bliss.” By saying this to someone it is like granting him/her bliss.
There are many phrases in Arabic, like “naaeeman,” that communicate a great deal of politeness and respect. One phrase commonly used when you are served food is “yislamo Aideik,” which means, “bless your hands.” A common response to this is “no, your hands.” Many of the cordial expressions that characterize the Arabic language are reflective of the sentimentality with which people regard the wellbeing of the community. This great sense of care and concern for one’s fellow man and woman here in Jordan has made me closer to the people around me. Despite being here for only two months, I feel that I can call many people my brothers and sisters; except, unlike my brothers back home who pour cold water on me while I’m showering, people in Jordan pour blessings on me. Experiencing this form of courtesy has genuinely touched me and inspired me to continue this practice of respect and graciousness especially through language.”
We look forward to welcoming Saher back to campus in the fall and to hearing many more stories of her time abroad!