My Year in Oman: An American Experience in Arabia During the War on Terror should be read by any who have an interest in Middle East culture and affairs in general, and terrorism and education in particular. It's that important, and comes from the perspective of an American teacher, ex-paratrooper and writer who taught in the U.S. before challenging himself by accepting a teaching job in Oman.
One of the delights here is Matthew Heines' exploration of his own pre-conceived notions about what Oman will be like, in contrast with its reality. Not only does the country little resemble his imagination, but his experience there is something he couldn't have prepared for. (In fact, before he left for his new job, he couldn't even definitively identify Oman on the map!)
How many teachers would travel to a land they didn't know in pursuit of money and a challenging new position? How many would rent their own cars at a strange airport in the middle of the night and head off into what looks like a desert when they are stranded at the airport? And how many would fall in love with a beautiful Indian girl while on a two-week vacation, only to run into the secrecy that often permeates Indian society and relationships?
Layers of intricacy and cultural encounters come to life in a story that is far more than a travelogue. In fact, readers who come to My Year in Oman might be disappointed in its lack of 'fluff': there are no insights on where to stay, what to eat, what to do. This is autobiography and cultural inspection at its best and, as such, is a recommendation not so much for the armchair traveler as it is for those passionate about other cultures, other worlds, and thinking outside the box of the familiar travel or work pursuit.
Any who pick up the book expecting an entertaining travelogue will be in for a treat: it's so much more, and packs in the depth and attention to detail that doesn't just entertain: it educates. And, after all, that's where Matthew Heines's passion really lies....Continua