A little background may be in order for blog readers…
As part of building the case for the accreditation for the University of Tampa, those developing the most recent application materials included an international component (it was before I arrived, so I wasn’t involved). From what I’ve been told, the basic idea is that we will strongly emphasize international perspectives and international experiences for our students. From a practical standpoint that means we have an office dedicated to international study (International Programs Office). And we have money set aside just for faculty to travel around the world to increase their knowledge of and familiarity with countries other than the U.S. Our university works with a company called CIEE, which runs what are called International Faculty Development Seminars. These seminars or tours are only for college faculty. They take place around the world and have themes. Within the country, each seminar has a tour guide who takes them to the various sites, but the company also arranges for highly knowledgeable individuals within countries – often college professors – to present to the seminar participants on various topics.
While I was made aware of these seminars when I first arrived at the University of Tampa, I was busy with my research, the application process is somewhat competitive, and I hadn’t seen a seminar that aligned with my interests. When the call for applications came out in Fall 2011, I visited CIEE’s website and looked through the seminars. It wasn’t until I saw the very last one – a seminar to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that I thought to myself, “Now there is a seminar I’d do.” I ran it past Debi. She said it would be okay if I went. So I applied. While there were some hiccups in the application process (due to mismatching university and CIEE deadlines), I was selected to participate by CIEE and funded by my university. So, just a few days after returning to Tampa from a 9 day trip to Utah, I boarded the first of three flights to get me to Dubai. That should cover the background for the trip and why I was in the UAE.
Since it is pretty close to half way around the world, I was scheduled to be traveling about 24 hours. I started my trip in the afternoon on the 4th, flying to Newark. The only thing of note on the flight was that there was a rather picturesque moon outside my window, and since I had my good camera with me I took a picture. Of course it didn’t turn out very well, but that was about the extent of my excitement on the first day of my trip.