A couple of years ago — almost exactly — I got invited to visit a classroom of Emirti women who were studying young adult lit in Abu Dhabi. They were working on writing a children’s story, and the teacher wanted me to talk to them about creative writing and to walk them through some exercises. But I also found out they were reading Naomi Shihab Nye’s novel Habibi, and on a whim, I contacted the author. (She lives in San Antonio, near where I grew up. I liked to think we shared something.) To my great delight, she replied, and we swapped a few emails about writing and what the Emirati women were working on. I found Nye beautifully generous and encouraging.
You should read this poem, “A Well Traveled Woman,” that is going viral. You can see her generosity, and her beauty.