“Welcome home,” said the porter as he brought our stored luggage into the hotel room in Amman upon our return. This simple greeting seemed to hold particular weight given the great questions of what is ‘home’ that arose on this trip. This term carries different meanings for the range of the individuals we met on our travels, many of whom have dealt with shifting home locations. This includes the American trip coordinator who had established a home in Jordan but now prepares to move to Egypt, the Palestinian driver expelled to a refugee camp in Jordan as a teenager, an Israeli guide born and raised in Jerusalem taking us to visits with Canadians and Americans who moved intentionally to settle in Israel and the West Bank area, Palestinians living in a refugee camp who still commemorate the village from where their family arrived, a shop owner in Bethlehem wearing a Brazil t-shirt while discussing family travels to and from Texas, and an incoming first year student we met with in Amman who next year will make Wooster his home.
Across the trip we also encountered a number of locations which are interpreted in different ways. This was particularly true in Jerusalem, which represents a competing physical as well as religious home for Christians, Jews, and Muslims – as well as hosting the Holocaust Museum which traces the loss of life and homes of millions of Jews in Europe.
As I write this on the plane returning to my own home in Wooster (and post a day later after an unplanned night in Chicago when a weather delay caused us to miss our connection to Cleveland!), I know that I will continue to think through various notions of home connected to the different places and individual perspectives that I experienced.