Brent teaches Jamal to swim.

Dr. Lori and I were scheduled to go to Saudi Arabia to consult with a woman who is opening a preschool there in January. As a result, I had to change my weekly family session with Emad’s family from Tuesday to Sunday, which by chance was my birthday.

As we were nearing the end of my time at Emad’s house, the mother came out with a birthday cake, candles ablaze and all. It was a very thoughtful gesture. Apparently Dr. Lori told them about my birthday, and Emad’s mother secretly insisted we change our weekly meeting day so they could help celebrate with me.

As if the cake were not enough, they also had a beautiful Iranian hand-woven wall hanging imported especially for me as a present! I did not know what to say. The generosity of these Bahraini families has made me feel most welcome and comfortable here.

Now I just have to figure out how I am going to get this art work home along with my souvenirs and luggage.

Taking a Dive with Jamal

Jamal’s mother mentioned she wanted him to learn how to swim. Being that his family travels a lot and stay in hotels often, I figured this was a chance to help teach Jamal a skill that could help him become a more active participant in the family while they are enjoying hotel pools. Dr. Lori was unavailable to teach Jamal how to swim as she is on holiday in Canada. So I offered to help.

Since it is scorching hot in Bahrain during the summer days, the pool felt like the water in Hawaii. If we were in the pool any earlier than 4:30 p.m., it would not have been refreshing. Jamal was hesitant to get in the water with me at first, but once he settled into his flotation device, he was happy and rearing to go.

We worked on counting to three and holding our breath as our prerequisite skill to “dunking.” He enjoyed splashing me and dumping water on my head. I enjoyed getting even with him when I had the chance.

It was nice to have the opportunity to step out of a formal “consulting” role and have fun with some of the amazing people I have had the good fortune to interact with. Even if Jamal does not learn how to swim while I am here, I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to interact more with this touched young boy and his remarkable family.

For an intriguing slideshow of Brent’s photographs from Bahrain, Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates, go here.


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