Natural-looking Lora Jason sits on the floor of an empty apartment with green walls. Near packed suitcases lie American flag T-shirts and a dozen Florida postcards.
“They say you should have small gifts for your host family,” she says of some of the items she will bring with her on her Peace Corps trip to Jordan.
The 50-year-old tries to contain her excitement, but she is clearly giddy.
“I’ve wanted to do something different for the past 10 years,” she says.
She has spent the past few years simplifying her life, and now her ducks are finally in a row. Both her son and daughter have graduated from college; she sold her home in Michigan in 2005; and she taught English in Korea from 2008 to 2009 to see if she could handle the experience. She has been working at the Longboat Key Club and Resort for the past two years and has lived on Lido Key since returning from Korea.
“When I came back (from Korea), I knew I could do it,” Jason says.
So, she applied for the Peace Corps, and Monday, Oct. 17, Jason left for Jordan, where she will work with mentally- and physically-challenged youth for two years and three months. It’s a job for which her background has prepared her; she taught for 20 years, and for most of that time she taught special education.
She found out only two months ago that she was going to Jordan, and since then she read as much as she could. She has checked-out books from the library, studied maps and even took a crash-course from a friend who speaks Arabic.
She will spend 11 weeks in Amman, the capital of Jordan, where she will live with a host family and undergo extensive training at a university there. In January, she will find out the Jordan city in which she will be stationed.
“I just want to learn about another culture,” she says. “I’ll teach the people, but I think they will teach me a lot, too.”
• Lora Jason can say “marhaba” and “assalamu alaikum” in Arabic. That means “hello” and “peace be upon you,” respectively.
• The adventuresome spirit extends throughout her family. Jason’s daughter went to St. Lucia with the Peace Corps, and her son has a degree in outdoor adventure education and wilderness training and spent eight weeks in Peru and Alaska.
• The only amenity from home that she is bringing is her iPod. “I’m ready to go with the flow and let go of control,” she says. “Whatever they ask me to do, and wherever they ask me to go, I’ll go.”
• In total, she’ll spend 27 months overseas.