“How does someone develop compassion for someone with a completely different set of values without reading something from their point of view? Books are one of the few ways in which we can truly get into the heads of people we would never meet in our ordinary lives and travel to countries we would otherwise never visit.
I suppose that the harsh existence of most Yemenis leaves little time to contemplate other ways of life. Perhaps it is only when our own lives are comfortable that we can afford to look out at the world beyond our personal borders” (p 177).
Jennifer Steil was initially invited to Yemen to give a 3 week crash course in journalism techniques to the reporters at the Yemen Observer. Little did she know, those three weeks would change the course of her entire life.
In a fascinating portrait of this Middle Eastern country, Steil painstakingly describes the challenges of running the Observer, as well paints a vivid picture of Yemeni culture and life. In a place where the sexes are severely segregated, Steil is surprisingly highly revered (due to the face that she is a foreigner). She is granted access to both the mens’ and womens’ intimate gatherings and pulls back the curtain on a society that is so vastly different from our Western ways. I’m a sucker for travel memoirs and Steil’s story delivered.