Thursday, March 02, 2006

See the world @ your library

We have two international themed displays this month. The Study Abroad program has a great display in the lobby case showcasing the study abroad programs planned for this summer. After contemplating your options for international learning, make sure you stop by the flat display case near the Circulation Desk to view Kara LaSota's, Coordinator of International Student Enrollment, collection of Bedouin jewelery.

Kara's great -grandparents Trace Welling (1898-1968) and Belle Welling (1897- 1978) worked in Jordan from 1951 to mid 1954. Trace was the Director of the American effort to help rebuild the world nations from WW II destruction. It was named the Point Four program, from the fourth point of an international improvement program set forth in President Truman's 1949 inaugural address.

Trace's program was evaluated several times as one of the most successful and productive. One of the efforts that drew great attention is the project where he and an assistant dammed up severe washes that occurred in the rare heavy rains and spread water over vast desert They demonstrated that the desert could be farmed and productive. The same success happened in the Medical clinics, and training schools he started. For a short period during this time, Trace was acting U. S. Ambassador to Jordan. He and Belle were involved in all the diplomatic functions and hosted many that included Jordan's King.

Their son, Gordon Welling, was there for 4 months in 1953 and experienced first-hand the mutual respect and friendship for his parents and the Palestinians and Jordanians. He was able to play tennis against the then young King Hussein, who was close to Gordon’s age. Trace and Belle traveled to Baghdad, Italy, Beirut, Greece, Turkey and other Arab mideast nations during Trace’s time with the Point IV program.

To the best of Kara's knowledge all of the jewelry on display was brought back by Belle from Jordan and the surrounding areas. Many of the pieces are traditional Bedouin jewelry. The dagger has a story attached to it: Belle had earned the respect of the Bedouin chieftains, and one night after a lavish dinner, a sheik pulled Belle aside and asked her ‘how many sons’ she had borne her husband. Belle told him three, and the sheik wrenched the dagger out of his belt, and told her that if Trace ever betrayed her or looked at another woman, she was to “use it”.