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From Kentucky to Qatar

Even though she dyed her hair brown before leaving the U.S., green-eyed Kentuckian Jennifer Krimm '06 still stands out from the crowd in Doha, Qatar. She lost her heart to the Gulf region in 2004, after spending her junior year at the American University of Kuwait (AUK), the first private coeducational liberal arts institution in that nation. Dartmouth provides expertise and advice to AUK, and students can spend a term there as interns. Now a Fulbright Fellow studying how information flows—or doesn't—between the Middle East and the Western world, Krimm hopes to understand how communication might improve mutual cultural and political understanding.

Jennifer Krimm '06
Jennifer Krimm '06 and falcons in a souq (market) in Doha, Qatar. The birds are popular for sport in the Gulf region.
Shop owner
A shop owner in Doha displays Jarror, a favorite falcon. (Photos courtesy Jennifer Krimm)

By day, she is a teaching assistant and student activities coordinator at Qatar University. But when not immersed in her scholarly pursuits, she continues to use her flair for crosscultural communications. Connecting her experiences on the other side of the world to the Dartmouth community and beyond via daily posts to an online journal , she has also gained notoriety as a chanteuse among Doha's jazz devotees.

Below are a few of her observations, slightly edited with the author's permission.

Reader Advisory: a visit to Krimm's blog can be habit-forming.

Falcons
Friday, January 5, 2007
I visited the souq and found the store that sells falcons. Falcons, not to be confused with hawks, are animals used in sport, like horses. They were once used as hunting birds by nomadic tribes, or "bedou," in the desert.

The shop owner asked me to come inside. "Taxidermied" animals decorated the wall, fake leather mice were in piles on the ground, and leather gloves and falcon-hats were being sold by the box.

"Would you like to hold one?" he asked. I smiled ear to ear.

"Are you sure I can? I know they're expensive," I said. He laughed, removed a leather glove from his wooden box, and picked a falcon for me. "They need a lot of attention," he said. "Without it, they go wild again...and fly back to the desert. Jarror (the falcon's name) is one of my favorites."

My hand started to shake...and the bird didn't like that much. Jarror got a little flustered and started flapping. "Don't worry, he'll calm down," said the shop owner.

Jarror's cap was replaced and he was set back on his perch. I began to walk out, thanking the shop owner the entire way. On my final "shukraan jazeelan" he placed one of the falcon caps in my hand, told me to keep it, and made me promise I'd come back.

I promised.

"Why were your students upset with the movie's representation of Islam?"
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
I mentioned a few posts ago about my students' reaction to the movie American Dreamz. They were appalled at the image that Americans see of Muslims and Arabs and surprised that such images exist—more surprised that they're mainstream enough to be incorporated into the mass media. They had no idea how the West portrayed their world. One Qatari woman was so angry she wanted to send a letter to Hollywood.

I told them about the problems I faced when my family learned of my desire to live in the Middle East. How friends sat me down and asked if I really was safe and would I come home.... The Qatari women gasped when I told them I dyed my hair to blend in. For the first time they realized how deep the misconceptions run.

Speak Arabic!
Saturday, December 2, 2006
Insha'Allah: "God willing" Used after many statements. "See you tomorrow, insha'Allah." "Your car will be here tomorrow, insha'Allah." Some take "insha'Allah" very seriously, while others use it as an excuse, like some of my students. "We will do the reading for tomorrow's class...insha'Allah."

Il-Hamdulillah: "Thanks be to God" or "all praise be to Allah" "I was paid today, il-Hamdulillah!" Or, "how are you doing? Il-Hamdulillah."

Enta Hiiwaan: "You (male) animal!" Used by the bus driver as he shakes his fist at cars who cut him off in the roundabouts.

Yullah: "Let's go" Used by children at the grocery store, "Momma, lets go to the candy, yullah!"

By LAUREL STAVIS

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 5/30/08