Due to previous stints abroad, I’ve had the opportunity to celebrate the 4th of July away from the patriotic enthusiasm of the United States before, but the 4th of July of 2018 was definitely a new experience for me. In Jordan, there are no fireworks stands by the roadside or American flags in the stores. It can be easy to forget about the holiday when you’re 6,695 miles away from the U.S.: there’s work at the dig site, pottery reading, and homework still to be done. But Americans can still have an amazing celebration wherever we are in the world!
While we all try to integrate into the Jordanian culture suitably—carefully observing dress codes and respecting religious and political differences—the 4th is a time to be proud of our identities as Americans, and also have some fun. A special opportunity to go to a local pool for the evening was a very welcome break, and while the baklava pastries and the dabke music and dancing may certainly be more Jordanian than American, it was a wonderful blend of cultures to remind me of the country I call home and the one that’s becoming dear to me.
The finale was fireworks in Area D of Abila: the fully excavated remnants of a Byzantine church. Looking up and seeing the bursts of red, green, and gold against the ancient stone columns and bright stars in the sky is definitely a sight I never want to forget. I couldn’t have asked for a better evening of celebrating American independence—Jordanian style!