Share your international story. Did you and your spouse grow up travelling or living abroad?
Paula: Marcus and I are both from Texas. We have been married for twenty-four years and have known each other since high school. We have a twenty-one year old son who is also traveling with us.
Growing up, I never really traveled outside of the state of Texas. Early in our marriage we started traveling on a small scale. We started to incorporate annual family vacations to different destinations within the US.
We were seriously looking for a place to live outside of the US. Spiritually, we knew God was calling us to move out in faith on a journey. Also, the racial climate and injustice in the US against African Americans was something we knew we needed to remove ourselves from.
Our first international trip was to Botswana in 2015. One year later we decided to permanently leave the US and move there. We lived in Botswana for three and a half years. After this time, we decided to move to Jordan where we have been since October of 2019.
What was the catalyst that took you to Jordan?
Marcus: Jordan, along with Botswana, is part of a quest to find out who my ancestors were as a people. Through divine inspiration and the study of history, the northern parts of Jordan, which was identified as Gilead in the bible, along with Egypt and Botswana, played a big role in the migration of our ancestors before they were taken to America as slaves. So I guess we would be considered more adventurers than expats depending on one’s views.
We chose to move here to view the land, and to see if we can live in peace and adapt to our surroundings. We have a son who is twenty-one. Because I never had a father, I believe it’s an important time now to show our new generation. It’s a road that’s not easy and paved with limitations, but it’s also a path for creating a new way of our own.
The main attraction the British saw in our ancestors was their innovative ability, which was a great contribution to the success of the US, and now after success has been achieved, that ability is highly suppressed today with our males. These are some of the reasons we chose Jordan.
What was your strategy or plan? How long did it take to accomplish?
Marcus: Because of the nature of our move, strategies and plans are hard to evaluate or determine what the outcome will be. So in this case faith through divine inspiration would be the driving factor. This is nothing new for many people who sought success by coming to the US over the years, it’s just there are very few cases of those leaving for success.
The time it took to prepare for Jordan wasn’t nearly as long as Botswana, because once you are an experienced expat some of the same things apply wherever you go.
What was your family’s reaction to the decision?
Marcus: My wife and son always knew this was something that needed to be done, because they were inspired the same way I was. My mother was also supportive, but others just saw it as a new source for conversation.
Paula: My family was pretty shocked at the idea of us moving abroad; however, I’ve always been different. I don’t think they truly understood why I decided to leave; and given my family dynamic, I did not feel the need to go into great lengths to seek their approval. It has been bittersweet, but I truly believe that every person is responsible for their own calling in life.
What are your professions or careers? How transferable were your skillsets in Jordan when it came to finding employment?
Paula: I worked as a graphic artist in the states before we left. I still use these skills living abroad as a freelance artist and contractor for a global artificial intelligence entity. All of my work is done online, so as long as I have good internet connectivity my work is relatively easy.
Marcus: I’ve worked in the information technology field for around ten years, before then I was working here and there averaging about two to three jobs a year for over fifteen years. But those nonprofessional jobs helped me the most as an expat. A few years ago professional jobs were in high demand, now everyone is an IT professional as long as their degree and resume say that they are. Because of this I found it better to do online jobs that are in demand, no matter how simple it is. It’s sad to say, but most of the time you are paid better than everyone else for just being a US citizen with native speaking English.
What are some of the benefits and challenges of living in Jordan ?
Marcus: So far so good. The biggest benefit now is that people are very nice and courteous, it’s still too early to tell. I’ve learned living as an expat in Botswana that time is a revealer of secrets. We will see more on how benefits/challenges affect our progress in the near future.
What do you like about being in Jordan? What is more difficult?
Marcus: What I like is that it’s affordable on all levels and there is not a big gap in classes. People seem to be satisfied, for the most part, of their living conditions. The difficult part is the language barrier.
Paula: Surprisingly, Jordan is very welcoming! Even more so that Botswana. Every time we go out people always say, “Welcome to Jordan!” I didn’t really know how we would be accepted here as African Americans or as Americans in general. The reception has been quite nice!
The most difficult thing about being in Jordan would be the language barrier. We do not speak Arabic and most of the people here do not speak English; or I should say conversational English. We just use language translation apps when we are out and it makes things a lot easier!
What’s one experience someone should have visiting the country for the first time?
Paula: Definitely experience the food of Jordan! The food here is amazing and surprisingly not expensive at all. Tasty things to try are turkish coffee, shawarma and lamb kebabs.
To follow their story in Jordan, you can follow the Browns on their YouTube Channel Glory in Gilead.