Chapter 33. Landing in the Desert: Sharing Business with the Women of the Middle East

Looking out the compact airplane window to the ground below, all I could see was sand. Like an expansive capsule of brown stretched from north to south and east to west, only miniature-looking cinder-block buildings and national flags punctuated the terrain. Cars sped in rhythm below on streets reminiscent of the maple splints that fashion our baskets: long, lean, earthy. One question after another flashed in my mind, as—unbeknownst to me—I was embarking on a new adventure.

The sky allowed me only a partial snapshot of Jordan, a country I would come to love. In those early days, I beheld only a singular portion of the admiration and fondness that would grow in my heart. Now I've come to possess the whole: a heartfelt appreciation that's been carefully assembled in harmony by kindhearted people, delicious food, and the rich history of an ancient place. This connection is exceedingly precious to me, and as such, I choose to continue investing in its origin: The Middle East.

Two years ago, I was honored to receive a call from the White House inviting me to serve as chair on the Arab Women Leadership Institute—a Washington, D.C., based organization composed of nine women from Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia. The goal of our efforts is to witness more women stepping forward as civil servants, female parliament members, and university students in their respective countries. ...

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