Merry Christmas from the United Arab Emirates

[In our series of blogs from RPCVs around the world, we have this update from the United Arab Emirates and Darcy Munson Meijer (Gabon 1982-84) who lives now with her family in Abu Dhabi and teaches English at Zayed University. She recently published  Adventures in Gabon: Peace Corps Stories from the African Rainforest,  a collection of the best stories submitted by Gabon RPCVs to the quarterly “Gabon Letter.” We asked Darcy how the world looked from her side of the world this Holiday Season.]

IT’S WINTER NOW, so the weather is ideal: clear, sunny and in the mid-60s to 70s Fahrenheit. We are on winter break at Zayed University where I teach and at my children’s schools, and my

The Meijer family

l to r: Miriam, Jan, Jos, Hanlon, and Darcy Meijer

family and I will spend 2 of the 3 weeks in Greece! We’ll divide our time between Athens and Crete.

The abiity to travel in the region is one of the nicest parts of living in the UAE. We’ve been to India; Jordan, Turkey, Nepal, Egypt, Morocco, and our nearest neighbor, Oman. We also visited family in the Netherlands.

Let me go on a little more obnoxiously about how nice things are for us — after all, it’s a mass holiday card!

I think it’s a gift — no, I’m being patronizing — I think it takes independence and guts to live overseas.

What I miss most in the U.S. is the variety of breathtaking landscapes and the change of seasons. I miss Netflix and old black and white movies borrowed from the public library in Maryville, TN. I would love to drink a toast with my pals in the Bull Run in Shirley, MA on New Year’s Eve. I miss my grandparents and father, too, but they have died.

I loved Christmas growing up in Gardner, Massachusetts (once known as the Chair Capital of the World).

Now I’m glad to be away from the U.S. for the holidays. Here, it rests upon us as a family to make Christmas the way we want it. I don’t feel as though the holiday has been shoved down my throat, and there’s no need to tiptoe around in political correctness. A friend just told me how nice it was that her children were in Catholic schools because they could TALK about the nativity, Santa Claus and the Three Wise Guys. Those are lovely images that go way beyond religion. (By the way, we burn frankincense in our house. Emiratis traditionally hung their clothes over burning frankincense to give them a nice smell.)

Last weekend was the 40th anniversary of the Emirates. Forty years ago Sheikh Zayed unified the 7 emirates into one. The UAE’s a great place to live, and the country has done well in the short time since oil was found. The U.S. has got to get over its fear of Muslims and Arabs. It’s a shame and a waste of time.

Thanks very much to Marian and John for the PCWorldwide/Writers site!

It’s been a wonderful outlet for me, and I’ve learned so much about PC and PC writers.

Cheers, everyone!


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