Here at the House of Hope, all of the house parents are referred to as "Amu _" or "Auntie _" with "_" being the first name. For example I am Amu Jason. (Amu is a term of affection that literally means Uncle, but can be used by children for adults). My name has generated quite a bit of confusion for two reasons: First, it is unfamiliar to Arab people, the name that is Jason in English is Yusoon, in Arabic, not all that close. Second, there is already another volunteer here named Jesse. Half of the children simply think that I am named Jesse, as well as do many adults when I first introduce myself.
Because of this confusion, one of the first boys that I have met here, Aiman, has often resorted to calling me "Amu" without a name attached. When he did that yesterday afternoon, I started to try and get him to remember my name. He looked at me and shouted, "Amu Jesse!"
I said, "no, no, almost . . ."
Before I could finish describing how to pronounce my name, he started jumping up and down and shouting, "Amu Almost! Amu Almost!" A name which Kais also picked up and called me for the rest of the day. I am once again granted with a new name, Uncle Almost. Hopefully they excitement of yesterday's discover will have warn off this afternoon, and the boys will remember my real name. We'll see.
Ahhh yes, a hint about Arab culture has also been promised by the title. Here it is: When you have been invited over to someone's house for a meal, scoop a very small amount of food on your plate, so that when they offer you more, you can say "yes." If you refuse, many will look at you with shock and dismay, as if you had just announced your intention to convert to cannibalism . . . and that you were starting with their children.