Our monthly lecture was attended by 30 members and 6 visitors, including 4 for their first visit – a record in recent decades. The attraction was a talk by Joan Ward entitled ‘Living with Arabs’. Joan, a retired RAF Officer, subsequently became a teacher. As she approached the end of her teaching career in the UK she decided to continue her working life but in Amman as Head of English at the International Community School. Thus began a fascinating period in her career. On retirement in 2006 she remained in Jordan where she not only learnt Arabic, but also had to adapt to living in a village among the Arab community as a middle aged lady. Her experiences were remarkable and vividly demonstrated the profound differences in education given to boys when compared to that of girls; differences that set the tone for their subsequent lives.
Joan demonstrated the clothing she had worn during her six year period living in the village. Essentially, it comprised full length, mostly black, material which covered arms, legs and neck with a separate long scarf to cover the head. She decided that ‘when in Rome – do as the Romans do’ was the most suitable approach. On return to the UK she wrote a book about her time in Jordan which formed the basis of her talk. The lecture was superbly delivered and very well received.