In the summer of 2009, Ms. Kathrin Wiehr turned to us with an unusual request. She was nearing completion of her master's degree in anthropology, Arabic studies and sociology at the University of Leipzig and wanted to perfect her knowledge of Arabic with a year of study in Oman.
"Thanks to the support of the German-Omani Association, especially that of Mr. Juma Al-Maskari, I was able to go a 10-month stay in Oman starting in November 2009. Without the personal contacts of Mr. Al-Maskari in his home country this would certainly not have been possible.
I had the great pleasure of being able to live with an Omani host family, who received me with great cordiality. For the trust placed in me I am still very grateful.
The hospitality I experienced has carried me through a year of discovery and learning, a year of language barriers and progress, a year of being a foreigner, but also of reaching new levels of understanding and self-awareness. It was a semester among Omani students, a year in the rhythm of Islam, following a life of other social rules and dress codes, a year of family cohesion, in a beautiful country, sometimes marked by extraordinary heat.
Saying goodbye does not come easily for me, and returning to my life here turned out to be harder than expected. But I did not come back empty-handed, but rich, full of experiences: a wealth of human encounters, a concrete picture of the life, culture and customs in Oman, a mature understanding of Islam, with Arabic language skills and especially some wonderful friendships. I'm very happy to have had this wonderful experience.
I think taking a genuine interest in people in other parts of the world is very important. But to truly understand their family life, their daily lives, to learn about their religion, it takes more than visiting other countries as a tourist.
It takes people who are committed to cultural exchange and who help establish contacts. It was exactly this kind of support that I found at the German-Omani Association.
In Mr. Al-Maskari I felt I had a contact person who could understand my feelings and thoughts, both during my stay in Oman and after my return. This interchange I have always considered to be very helpful and enriching."