In 2004, Carolyn Han left her comfortable life and position as a lecturer in English at Hawaii Community College and went to live in one of the most remote and mysterious places in the Middle East—Yemen, known in the West primarily for providing a haven for terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda. The previous year, she had sold her gold jewelry to travel with Bedouin by camel from Marib to Shabwa, and the life-changing experience opened the path for her to become the first American English instructor in Yemen’s wild tribal area, Marib.Guided by fateful encounters and unfazed by warnings of danger, Han allowed her life to unfold as it might, with a sense of acceptance informed by the idea that whatever happens is meant to happen. Learning and understanding would come later. In this book, Han paints a vivid portrait of Yemeni customs, including their enjoyment of the stimulant qat and their proclivity for carrying AK-47s wherever they go, and she conveys what it was like to be a woman alone surrounded by a culture not her own. As the old saying goes, the teacher became the student, and through these pages Han allows readers a rare glimpse into a Bedouin culture that most will never encounter.
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