I was recently invited to two book clubs in Amman. However, both of them only discussed Arabic books. No, I am not against Arabic books. I am just against one not doing the best to improve his/her knowledge of English! By reading in English, certainly, a person will dramatically improve his/her English. There are other less important reasons why I prefer the English language. I discussed them in this post: “Why is it a huge disadvantage to Blog in any language other than English?“Â And yes, am I traitor? “âMoaâbite, why are you using English not Arabic? You should be faithful to your mother languageâ Am I traitor?“
Therefore, I decided to search google for an English book club in Amman, Jordan. I have never participated in a book club in my life. After all, I do not think they are many here in Jordan. I searched google for “English book club in Amman” and “English book club in Jordan” and I was amazed not to arrive at only one club. This book club is called the JCI Amman Book Club. Is it possible that there are no more English Book Clubs in Amman? Or are they simply not appearing in google search results? This is highly unlikely as I think that my above search terms should lead me to any English book club in Amman.
Do you know of any English book clubs in Amman? If yes, can you make a comment on this post? Can I conclude thatÂ JCI Amman Book Club the only English book club in Amman?Â
The JCI Amman Book Club:
The info page of this Book Club says that this club was “founded” in “2012”. In addition, it provides some general information about this club. Howver, it does not answer the question of the origin of the acronym JCI. JCI Amman is part of an international organization calledÂ Junior Chamber International (JCI) which was founded in 1944. Wow! This is a very detailed Wikipedia article about JCI.
JCI Amman has a facebook group. I applied for membership yesterday and I am waiting to be accepted into it. You can find the group here.
In the past days, I read a post in JCI Amman’s facebook page announcing about a coming event. The event took place yesterday at 7 o’clock in Readers Bookshop, Cozmo’s 7th circle branch, Amman.
A friend of mine and I decided to go. We arrived approximately in time. About 10 people had already arrived. Â A young man and a young woman who are of the managing committee of the clubÂ welcomed us with big smiles. Before asking us who we are, the man asked, “How did you know about our club?” I answered very concisely, “From facebook“. The young woman was very happy about this method in which we came to know about their club. I then wanted to give more details. I told how I had googled for an English book club in Amman and only found their club. “You are the only English book club in Amman!” I said. A young man then quickly commented on my description of the club: “Well, we discuss English books. However, we discuss Arabic books too!“. After I had heard this answer, I was a little bit disappointed. Nonetheless, “something is better than nothing”. We then we sat down and waited for the event to begin.Â Gradually, the number of attending people increased to be between 25 and 30.
The event started. In turn, about 7-8 persons were given chances to speak for 10 minutes about any topic they chose. Some discussed books, others read poems, and quotes. I think that approximately half the speakers spoke in English. Nonetheless, this was mixed with a lot of Arabic. After each presentation, the floor was opened for very brief but very beautiful discussion. All the discussions took place in Arabic.
At another part of the event, a young man presented a short biography about the life of Martin Luther King (totally in Arabic). I understood at each meeting they choose a person to talk a little bit about his/her biography. Martin Luther King was chosen for this time because his birthday was a few days ago; his birth was on 15/01/1929 (you can read more at the Wikipedia article about him).
The last speaker, and this was the most beautiful part of the event, was a New Zealander-Iraqi author calledÂ Ali Sahkir. He was hosted to discuss a recent book that he had published. The book is called “A Muslim on the Bridge: On Being an Iraqi-Arab Muslim in the Twenty-First Century”. Â Although this part of the meeting lasted for less than 15 minutes, but I liked it very much. I discuss this important part in a separate post and I also explain how through it I won the most expensive gift in my life [A meeting with the author Ali Shakir about his book âA Muslim on the Bridge: On Being an Iraqi-Arab Muslim in the Twenty-First Centuryâ].
With Mr. Ali Shakir, the event became to an end. Later, I went and talked with the person who is the president of JCI Amman, Mr. Salih Al-Hanash. Mr. Al-Hanash welcomed me very friendly in the club. I asked him about the steps in which a person can become a member of JCI Amman. He told me that a person need to come for at least 2-3 times to show us his interest. After that, he can register in return for JD 59 annual subscription. Mr. Al-Hanash told me that there are benefits from this subscription. He talked about courses and reminded me of a discount that an employee from the Book Readers bookshop had announced earlier that night. However, I did not inquire more as it was already very late and every one wanted to leave.
All in all, it was an interesting event although English was not used more than third of the time. I would love to go again and try more. However, some of the events that JCI Amman holds are to discuss Arabic books. I will probably not attend these. But, for example, about one month from now, they nominated four English books and one Arabic book for the members to choose one of them. I think that an English book will be chosen. I will read it and most probably go. Will you go too?
It turned out that I had a misunderstanding. Yesterday, I attended the monthly book discussion in JCI Amman. Although the discussion was for an English book (The Happiness Project), I was surprised when I found out that more than 90% of the discussion was in Arabic. In other words, if a person who do know Arabic attended the meeting, he would not have understood anything. I talked with the president of JCI Jordan about my disappointment and that I had thought that the JCI Amman Book Club is an English Book Club. Or at least, when English books are chosen, then the conversation should be in English. He told me very friendly that the goal of JCI Amman Book Club is to increase knowledge and spread the culture of reading. This does not necessarily take place all in English. I showed understanding as I think that not all members of the club would love the discussion to be all in English (We are Arabs… we have our culture… our language…). Moreover, I am not sure how many of the members can understand and speak English very well. Because these members are afterall members of a Jordanian Arabic book club that also discusses Arabic books.
Finally, I thanked the president a lot for the two nice meetings that I had attended at JCI Amman. The board members are very intelligent, funny, and most important friendly. The discussion was very interesting. However, I do not have a lot of time and improving my English is a priority. I do not think that I will attend another book discussion by JCI Amman. Nonetheless, I highly recommend attending this book club as it is the only available option in Jordan when it comes to book clubs discussing English-written books.