Last August, Dr. Bill Naugle arrived in Amman, Jordan, to begin a 10-month stay as a Fulbright “Teaching English as a Foreign Language” Scholar.
Similar to his position as coordinator of English as a Second Language at Clarion University, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in language pedagogy and technology, research in linguistics, and socio-linguistics in the University of Jordan’s Department of English and Literature.
In addition to interacting with Jordanians through teaching, he immersed himself in the history and culture by walking to explore the city of four million people.
“The energy of the city is exciting. During the day it’s warm and sunny; and, at night, it’s like Christmas: all of the buildings, restaurants, malls, streets and hotels light up,” Naugle said.
“The city has so many different neighborhoods that it would take years to explore all of them. My favorite neighborhoods, though, are near the oldest part of the city: Al Balad, where all of the soukhs (marketplaces) are; Jabal Al Qala, where you can find ruins of Roman temples; and Rainbow Street, which is filled with lots of restaurants and cultural venues.”
Those exploratory walks halted March 20 when the entire country of Jordan went into quarantine to inhibit the spread of coronavirus.
“We can go buy groceries at our local markets between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.,” Naugle said. “Being at home all the time means that we have to come up with creative ways to exercise.”
And he did. He started to walk all over the world.
“I love to walk, so I’ve been getting on YouTube and watching virtual walking tours from around the world as I walk, march or jog in place,” Naugle said. “The YouTube walks let me keep on dreaming and learning as I’m doing my daily walking routine.”
The walks are filmed from the perspective of the walker. Naugle said the YouTube series “Watched Walker” features videos with a similar format. Links to the walks are available at www.clarion.edu/thingstodo.
“There are myriad such videos on YouTube, so really, you can find any place and any environment in the world that you want to ‘walk’ and explore,” he said.
He has walked the streets of Barcelona, London, Paris and Cairo. He’s strolled on beaches in Thailand and France, along a riverfront in Portugal and through Roman ruins in Italy.
He’s explored the Swiss Alps, an Argentinian neighborhood and an unidentified wooded trail. Fascinated by archaeological sites, Naugle has visited Pompeii, Herculaneum, Petra, Giza, Angkor Wat, Tulum, Chichen Itza and more, all from his living room.
His palate, too, is getting an international workout.
“I love it when the videos focus on the food. I love to eat and I love to try new types of food and new preparations,” Naugle said. “Sometimes it will inspire me to look up a recipe for a particular country or region.”
Along with history and cuisine, the videos have given Naugle some lessons on humanity.
“What surprises me is how much we’re all alike. So often in social media or on the news, our differences are highlighted and exaggerated, which creates a sense of us and them,” Naugle said. “Therefore, I celebrate and I am thankful for all that we share.”