My time in Jordan has allowed me to grow culturally, academically, and emotionally. In my past few blogs, I focused on the positive parts of my experience, but on this last blog I would like to point out some of the things that I struggled with and talk about how I overcame them in the hope that anyone else who is planning on going to Jordan can be well equipped should they face any similar experiences. While I have fallen in love with Jordan’s hospitality, rich history, and warm culture, it is important to recognize the things that made it a little difficult to live here.
The culture is very family-focused and social and, as a person who’s lived in America’s hyper-individualistic society for some time, this can become a big change. Privacy is almost non-existent in my home stay, and I have felt as if I cannot be alone in my room because my host mom may think something is wrong with me. At first, I thought it was kind of her to want to spend so much time with me, but progressively I found myself needing “me time”. Therefore, I began to tell my host mom that I wanted to nap, enabling me to finally get some much-needed alone time.
Another challenge of everyday life is the sexual harassment and catcalling women in Jordan face on the streets. Because we are foreigners, don’t look like most Jordanian women, and are typically likely not wearing a veil, we experience harassment a bit more than Jordanians. This at times made me feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and very frustrated. However, I cannot provide a solution to this so my advice is to always travel in a group and to learn to ignore them. Just keep your head up high and move on with your day and remember that some men’s inappropriate behavior does not reflect the behavior of all Jordanian men.
The final challenge that I have been struggling with these past two weeks is facing the reality that I’m going back to the United States. I have loved my life in Jordan and there is so much more that I would like to see and do. The memories I’ve made, the people I’ve met, and the places I’ve fallen in love with are something I am not ready to give up. My time in Jordan flew by, and while I faced the difficulties mentioned above, it truly has taken a part of my heart and I do not have any advice on how to deal with leaving. So if you’re going to Jordan, take advantage of this opportunity, cherish all the memories and people you met, and remember to stop and take it all in, because time flies.
Maybe it doesn’t have water, but Jordan sure is rich in culture and history. In these past three months, I’ve had the honor of learning from Amman’s rich history, amazing sights, and from people’s stories of religious tolerance and cultural identity. Jordan is known around the world for its devotion to peace and humanitarian efforts as it takes in thousands of refugees every year and provides them with the safety and security they can’t find in their own countries. Because of this, Jordan has an incredibly diverse population filled with many different cultures, religions, and identities; yet, somehow, the spirit of unity and tolerance is preserved.
I was witness to this in what became one of my favorite experiences here in Jordan as I took a taxi to school one morning and met one of the kindest drivers in Amman. Immediately after I got in the car, my driver, Khaled, demonstrated genuine interest in who I was and where I came from. I shared that I was from Costa Rica, but I had migrated to the United States when I was younger and was completing my studies there. Enthusiastically, he told me he had moved to Jordan from Palestine when he was young and that Jordan had provided him with opportunities he wouldn’t have had if he had stayed. He shared that his parents had made the difficult decision to leave their home, because they wished to provide him and his brothers with a safe life and better opportunities. Curious, I asked him if he struggled to find an identity as a Palestinian in Jordan. He explained that because of Jordan’s diverse nature and continuous acceptance of refugees, he had been able to take on the Jordanian identity proudly while also identifying as Palestinian. He told me that his background would always be Palestinian, but that he also identified with the Jordanian national identity for the country had provided him with a safe home and great generosity. As traffic got worse and our time together lengthened, he pointed to the Qur’an sitting on the car’s dashboard and explained that he was Muslim and that he was also thankful to Jordan for allowing him to preserve and practice this identity safely. He then asked me what religion I practiced and I explained that I am Christian. Demonstrating, once again, great excitement, he proceeded to talk about how our religions were similar and how much he admired Jesus as a man of good deeds. He explained how our being able to have these conversations was what made the Jordanian identity so great for him. The genuine interest in learning about my identity, his life story and open-mindedness, and our being able to share our experiences is a reflection of the accepting and welcoming Jordanian society that I have grown to love during this time.
During this last month here, I hope to continue learning about this central part of Jordanian history and society. Even if I don’t get to learn in as much depth as I did with Khaled, I am eternally grateful for this experience for it gave me a more personal glance at this country’s diverse yet tolerant nature.
This cold, sunny day marks the end of my third week in Amman. Each day has brought new adventures, amazing views, new friends, and delicious food. From the moment I arrived, Amman has kept me busy with its beauty and incredible people. I have seen Jordan’s well-known hospitality in every corner, beginning with my first day in Amman as my host mom welcomed me home with a big hug and a warm meal. I live with a small family and have a new little sister. We’ve become close really fast and have little dance parties every day when she comes back from school. My mom’s cooking outshines any other and her mom instincts are to feed me three times as much as I usually eat. My family has definitely been one of the highlights of my time here thus far.
Traveling has been another highlight from this trip and Jordan offers countless places to explore. My favorite has been Jerash, a small city just North of Amman. Along with a great group of friends, I explored the Greco-Roman settlement of Gerasa and admired the arches and columns of the Temple of Artemis. After enjoying the city’s history, we headed further up into the mountains and stayed in a small villa. Here, I witnessed the most beautiful sunset and views of the city. This charming place allowed me to take a peek at Jordan’s rural, peaceful way of life.
Classes have already begun and I have enrolled in thought-provoking courses as well as extensive Arabic learning classes. The professors are all extremely qualified and passionate about their work, which creates an even more intriguing learning environment. My favorite class, thus far, is Islam in the Modern Context, where my professor has created an open-discussion learning setting and encourages us to open our minds to controversial topics. CIEE has truly impressed me with its selection of great courses and professors.
While my experience here has been mostly positive, there have been some challenges. The language barrier has definitely been something to get used to. However, even though I have only been here for a little bit, I can already feel my Arabic skills improving and feel more confident in my speaking. Another challenge has been getting around the city and knowing where I am. The first week, I got lost every time I took a taxi and that created lots of anxiety. However, I have overcome this and can now direct my driver without a problem. While it was complicated at first, I can already say that I feel at home here in Amman.
For my next blog, I hope to share more of my travels around Jordan and other countries in the Middle East. I also hope to begin my research and learning on immigration and identity in Jordan.
Welcome to my last post, friends! Thank you to everyone that has followed my study abroad journey in Amman, Jordan throughout the past three months. There are no words to describe how much I have enjoyed my time in Amman!
I have already discussed the volunteer project I completed in the United Arab Emirates with the Al Ihsan Charity (see blog 3). On Tuesday, I will complete my final volunteer endeavor. We’ll be working at an all-boys school about 45 minutes away from my program site and the overall theme of the day will be grounds beautification. We’ll have two main teams: one for gardening and one for trash pickup. The gardening projects will include soil preparation (mixing manure into their soil), planting things, and trimming trees and overgrown bushes. We’ll also be picking up trash and hopefully installing some permanent trash cans in the courtyard area. This is a mandatory day of service for SIT students. I am happy that this is a mandatory project. I don’t think there could be a better way to leave a positive impact in the country that has so generously hosted us for three months. To be in service to others is to be in service to oneself. We will also have the opportunity to work closely with local residents of the Badia as some students from the school will also be helping us with the work. With this upcoming community service project, I do believe that I will be making an impact on the community that we will be assisting. Our program director let us know that at the school we are going going to, there are many things we consider basic that they have simply forgone. For instance, there are no trash cans at the school. It is my desire that by supplying the school with trash cans and decorating them to look more attractive to grade-school aged boys, the students will then feel compelled to throw their trash in the bins and continue to keep their learning environment clean. As I stated before, I don’t participate in community service for a sense of gratification or to feel like I am making a difference. However, I know that the students and faculty will be appreciative of the work that we are doing because this is the Jordanian way. Jordanians are extremely appreciative people and this is embodied in the way they live their day to day lives. I take solace in knowing this and having seen this culture of appreciation and gratitude for the past three months.
As I described in my first post, completing an internship or an independent research project are the final components of SIT’s curriculum. I elected to participate in a month-long internship of my choosing. Through the help of my program’s academic director, I was able to secure an internship with Former Minister of State for Economic Affairs H.E. Dr. Yusuf Mansur. Dr. Mansur is the founder of an economics based consulting firm that provides a wide range of research and consultation services for independent, public, and private sector corporations throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa region. At EnConsult, I work primarily as a research intern. Throughout the internship, I conducted research for two projects pertaining to the Jordanian film industry and the decentralization of Jordanian environmental protection programs.
I am happy to report that I did not encounter any notable challenges, obstacles, or hindrances throughout the course of my research/internship period. This might sound unlikely, but it is the truth. Any challenges that I faced have been too miniscule for me to recall now. I can’t express my gratitude for the ease surrounding all elements of my research endeavors. For the challenges that I did encounter, I am confident that I employed the advice that I gave in an earlier blog post.
There are several things that I am extremely proud of myself for accomplishing while abroad. Last week, I had the opportunity to represent the United States as a delegate from the Young Democrats of America while I attended the 44th General Assembly of the International Federation of Liberal Youth in Barcelona, Spain. The most important things that I took away from this conference were the connections I made with individuals from all across the world. From Sweden, Germany, and Russia to Senegal, Lebanon, and Jordan, I am sure that the friendships that I developed during this conference will last a lifetime.
Another reason I came to Amman was to learn more about how Jordanian youth and youth around the world view certain principles like: democracy, liberalism, freedom, and equal justice/liberties etc. I have never been one to have an opinion about an idea, an individual, or a group of people, based solely on the opinions of someone else. I have always liked coming to my own conclusions. Therefore, I wanted to hear straight from the mouths of my peers, while I was amongst such incredible and beautiful diversity. I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with two Jordanian delegates. Long story short, these delegates were former students of my current boss, Dr. Mansur! It’s EXTREMELY funny how coincidences work. Things like this just make me realize how small the world can be. Fast forward a week, and I had the opportunity to attend the 13th Regional Conference on Economic Freedom of the Arab World this past Friday. This conference was hosted by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. The Jordanian delegates that I met in Spain work for this company and my boss was the keynote speaker for the conference. Like I said before, it’s crazy how connected things and people are to one another! Through this conference, I was able to meet politicians, scholars, and economists from Iraq, Tunisia, Oman, Algeria, Lebanon, Egypt, and several other nations.
Another recent example of one of my accomplishments is attending the art exhibition of Jordanian artist Mohanna Durra and meeting His Excellency Prime Minister Omar Razzaz. I must say I have a knack for meeting and speaking with politicians and political figures alike. So me thinking about approaching the Prime Minister was second nature. However, another unfamiliar consideration arose while I debated what I would say to him, if I got the chance to say something. Language. There has only been one other instance where I met a politician whose primary language was not English. Given that among the top reasons why I am studying abroad in Amman is to strengthen my Arabic language skills, I figured that there was no better place to flex Arabic with native speakers whom I had never met before. My confidence in this matter was at an all time high so why not, right? I approached the Prime Minister and semi-gracefully uttered “Masaa al khayr sa3adatak! Ya3tik al 3afya!” (Good Evening, Your Excellency! May God give you health!). This is all I had time to say before motioning to take a selfie (included below). Being Prime Minister, you can probably imagine how busy His Excellency is. Many people wished to speak with or take pictures with His Excellency. I am proud that I was able to articulate myself in Arabic and communicate with the foremost politician in the country. As I plan to continue in the international relations field, I presume that these encounters will eventually become commonplace. Therefore, I am so grateful to have opportunities to practice my demeanour in such instances now.
Overall, I am proud of the way that I branded myself and networked last week. To estimate, I met roughly 300 people. I hope to maintain contact with these individuals and broaden my professional network so that these connections are well developed past my graduation from GW and throughout my continued studies and career.
I could not have selected a better organization to work at and I definitely could not have picked a more experienced and accomplished individual to assist. I truly believe that working with Dr. Mansur enhanced my study abroad experience in ways that would not have been possible if I were at another institution or organization. Dr. Mansur is the one who encouraged my colleagues and I to accompany him to the art gallery where I met Prime Minister Omar Razzaz. However, this is just one example of the cool things I’ve been able to do because of him. I cannot thank Dr. Mansur enough for the wealth of knowledge he has provided me through his academic knowledge and personal life experiences. There is only one Yusuf Mansur, and I will miss him tremendously.
Upon my return to GW, I plan to continue to studying the Jordanian economy and the other political economies of the Middle East. I plan to do this through my formal coursework and through independent study. There are very capable and resourceful professors that I hope to consult to further assist me in this quest. Additionally, I plan to remain engaged in community services projects through my involvement in GW NCNW and The Pantry, just to name a few.
With this being said, I cannot be more grateful for the opportunity to speak with you all over the past three months. As cliche as it might sound, living in Amman has changed my life for the better. What I’ve encountered in Jordan, I could not and will not encounter anywhere else. Jordan is unique. Amman is rare. SIT Jordan’s Geopolitics program is a treasure that I am pleased to have found. With that being said, I am signing off for the last time. Thank you all for reading!
UPDATE: Crossing into month 2 of studying abroad in Amman, all is well and I have my research project solidified and ready to go! For the last month I will spend in Amman, I will be interning at Envision Consulting Group. The firm is headed by the former Minister for Economic Affairs, H.E. Dr. Yusuf Mansur. I will be examining the prospects for future economic stimulation, revitalization, and growth in Jordan. Before I go into detail about my research, let me first tell you all about a volunteer project that I was involved in last month! As I mentioned in the first blog post, a major component of SIT is experiential learning. One of the methods of experiential learning that sets SIT apart from most study abroad programs is its incorporation of international excursions into the program curriculum. My program traveled to the United Arab Emirates for a week, and as you all can probably imagine, it was a wonderful and action-packed adventure.
We arrived to Dubai on Saturday, October 13th and we had SO many activities planned for our time there. The most meaningful and impactful of these activities was the day we spent in Ajman. This day was the most impactful for me because we were given the opportunity to participate in a service learning or an act of community service in the Emirate. On Thursday of that week, we traveled to the Emirate of Ajman (which is about 45 minutes away from Dubai) to spend the day with Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali bin Rashid Al Nuaimi. The Sheikh is known internationally for being a global leader, an active and resilient environmentalist, and a social campaigner in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC), as well as throughout the Arab World. If you noticed the title “Sheikh” before his name, you’re on to something! His Highness is a member of the Ajman Royal Family (which is the ruling party of Ajman). His Highness is considered to be a change agent for Environmental Planning, and long-term strategist and contributor to sustainability efforts in the UAE. Due to his years of work in studying and advocating for sustainable energy and environmental policies, the Sheikh is also known around the world by his self-bestowed nickname, the Green Sheikh.
Our day was filled with a series of lectures, motivational speeches, activities, and a visit to Ajman Museum, which was the former housing complex of the royal family. It wasn’t until the second to last component of our day that the complete purpose of this trip was internally cemented. The purpose of our day with the Sheikh centered around service to others. Reflecting upon that day, I don’t believe that SIT could have established a better relationship with anyone else. I am confident in my saying that because the Sheikh also serves as the CEO of the Al Ihsan Charity Association. The goal of the organization is to lead effectively in the social work of the United Arab Emirates, but specifically Ajman, with compassion and effective actions. The vision and method of implementation are based on the integration of local-community efforts towards achieving a better life for the needy people and less fortunate families who look after them every day by the organization he oversees. My peers and I had the opportunity to serve the citizens of Ajman by participating in a food donation distribution. Al Ihsan routinely distributes packages of food containing: cereal, milk, juice, yogurt, cooking spices, and additional food items to members of the community who are in need. According to the organization, these individuals primarily tend to be widows, orphans, and low income families, in addition to any other members of the community that are in need. This food drive is just ONE of the twenty plus initiatives fueled by Al Ihsan.
Another area of the charity that I was touched by was the Al Ihsan Medical Complex. The center runs on donations given to the Al Ihsan Charity Association from international, regional, and local benefactors. The complex started in 2003 as one of the projects of Al Ihsan Charity Association to provide medical care and treatment for all society segments of the poor, needy, orphans and the widows, and more than 3000 families. Services offered at the center include: Clinics of Internal Medicine, Pediatric, Dental, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sonar, Cardiology, General Nursing, Laboratory, Pharmacy and Cupping. Upon touring the complex, it was invaluable to share a few laughs and conversations (in Arabic, of course) with some patients waiting to receive treatment. The Medical Complex is extremely efficient in its intake and management of monetary, medical, and miscellaneous donations. Therefore, the impact of organization is far-reaching and all-encompassing in one way or another.
If I was not able to derive anything from SIT Jordan: Geopolitics’ day with the Sheikh, the one thing that was made abundantly clear. The Sheikh, his family, the Al Ihsan volunteers, and the people of Ajman truly understand the impact that any given individual can have on someone’s life. A towering emphasis is placed upon service in this community. I truly believe that with service etched into the forefront of any community, the only direction that the community can go is forward. I am very proud and honored to have been able to interact with the citizens of Ajman for a day.
Fortunately, I did not encounter any international or domestic issues that hindered or affected my volunteer work in any way. As my internship and research work have been approved and are scheduled to begin in one week, I don’t anticipate running into any issues in researching and ultimately volunteering with any organization in Amman.
I don’t believe that my service efforts in Ajman were overshadowed. Similar to the people of Ajman, I understand the importance of person to person interactions from the most basic to the most meaningful of ways. Being able to shake the hands and looking into the eyes of the citizens who received food packages, I am confident that we made a lasting affect in their lives. For another week, these families don’t have to worry about where the next meal will come from. I don’t do community service projects for myself. I don’t do it for the recognition and I don’t do it to receive anything in return. With this clear mentality going into our day of service, I was able to surmise that our contributions were meaningful and will continue to be impactful because of our genuineness.
Well, this was a long post! Thank you all for sticking with me on this journey! Can’t wait to talk to you all next month for my final blog post!!! P.s. Please enjoy the pictures below!
اهلاً وسهلاً اساحبي، (Welcome my friends,)
كيفكم؟ (How are you all?)
I hope all is well! I’ve officially been in Amman for over a month and I am STILL in love! Holistically, SIT Jordan Geopolitics could not have been a better fit for my learning style and my current academic interests.
This month’s topic is about the research and volunteer work that I plan to participate in while I’m abroad. As I mentioned in the previous post, I will be pursuing a research project centered primarily around economic development throughout Jordan. My research/internship will be solidified by the next post. So get ready for A LOT of details next month! Before starting any research, I believe that by partnering with a Jordanian institution I will have the opportunity to contribute to the preexisting body of research about the future of Jordanian economic policy. I want to begin researching this topic with the prospect of offering a new or fresh perspective on the subject. If I am able to answer the questions I have, and pose new questions from them, or lead someone to think about something in a different way, I will feel like I am making a genuine difference.
Although, at this particular moment my research project is not finalized, (therefore I have been unable to start) I do anticipate running into a few challenges. For instance, the fact of the matter is although I have been taking Arabic for the past two years, I am still new to this language. Being a non-native Arabic speaker, I can anticipate running into some challenges translating and comprehending some of the high-level or more specialized Economics vocabulary. However, I have to keep in mind that any challenges that I might encounter are not unique to Joy. These challenges can stem from anywhere and it is my responsibility to be persistent and work towards overcoming them. Another challenge I anticipate running into is the time period for which I will be in Amman. Of the places I’ve reached out to, some establishments have expressed hesitation in offering research positions for someone who is only able to work for a limited period of time. Like any other obstacle I might encounter, I will work closely with SIT, determine the most feasible organizations moving forward, and develop and readjust my path of research as needed.
Another very important issue that I don’t believe is emphasized as much, is the importance of maintaining a realistic budget. Managing the weekly stipend that I am allotted has been difficult to maneuver around. Realistically, 50 dinars (approx. $70 USD) can last a week, but it can very easily last just one or two days. In order to not blow through all of the money that I saved up over the summer, I decided to assess how much I was spending in a week, what I was spending it on, and how many of these things were complete necessities. I was able to decide that I don’t need to buy a Mini Chicken Makers Meal from Burger Makers (think Jordanian Chick fil-A) every. single. day. After some trial and error, I realized that if I didn’t spend all of my money on monetary wants, I will have more money left for necessities. Then I could purchase my splurge items and not feel guilty about it! If you’re reading this and you may be considering studying abroad, don’t let this discourage you! During anytime in your life and throughout any situation, I’m positive that you will be able to find a solution that will work out in your favor! Even if it doesn’t seem that way at first! Keep pushing and keep fighting! I’ll be doing the same, only halfway across the world!
I hope you enjoyed reading this post! Take care and talk to you all next month!
Hello, peace be upon you and welcome! These are three widespread and standard greetings in the Arabic language. These, along with “my name is…”, were the first Arabic phrases I learned when I began studying the language over two years ago. I am currently enrolled in a study abroad program with the School for International Learning (SIT). The name of my program is called SIT Jordan: Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East. The primary focus of this program is for those enrolled to learn about the Middle East’s politics, shifting power configurations, and efforts to promote peace and global security from Jordan, a peace broker in the region. The program-led extracurricular activities are tailored to accompany the efforts within the classroom. This semester, the program accepted 30 students from universities across the United States.
There are four core components that make this program unique to SIT and particularly appealing to students of all academic backgrounds. It was these very components that constituted my decision to study abroad in Amman. The courses in the program couldn’t be a better fit for my specific course of study. I am currently a junior studying International Affairs with a concentration in Security Policy and a minor in Arabic Studies. The following classes are being offered in the Fall 2018 curriculum: Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East, The Psychology of Peace, Beginning, Intermediate, or Advanced Modern Standard Arabic or Colloquial Jordanian Dialect (3 or 6 credits), and Research Methods and Ethics. The number of Arabic credits that a student elects to take determines whether the student takes the Psychology of Peace course. This brings me to the most important reason why I decided to pick SIT. Transfer credits. I can transfer Geopolitics, Research Methods, and (potentially) Arabic. Because Arabic at GW is 4 credits, I have opted to take the 6 credit Arabic course so that I don’t run into any complications when transferring credit back. The courses encourage interaction with local Jordanian citizens to some degree. I can tell that these interactions will be an invaluable portion of the program from what I have already experienced.
My program will be traveling throughout the United Arab Emirates in order to learn more about the history of the Emirates, the expat work force, and geo-economics and international business in the Gulf. Additionally, we will visit upwards of 10 historically/culturally significant sites throughout Central and Southern Jordan. Both of these visits are a part of SIT’s efforts to provide diversified immersive experiences for participants.
The homestay is believed to be the most integral part of the SIT experience. Within the first two weeks of being in Amman I have become a member of a local Jordanian family of Palestinian descent. I have shared meals with them, joined them for special occasions/gatherings, spoken with them in completely in Arabic (emphasis on completely), and experiencing Amman as they do daily.
Students have the opportunity to either create and conduct their own research projects or participate in an internship with a local community organization, research organization, business, or international NGO for a four-week period. I have decided to do an internship, but the location is still undetermined. Once I finalize my internship site, you all will be the first to know!
While in Amman, I plan to engage in a series of volunteer/research efforts that involve economic development (economic stimulation efforts) that will uncover or contribute to strategies aimed at bolstering Jordan’s economy. Although I don’t know the exact organization that I will be interning at, I know that the research I plan partake in will be a part of my internship. If I choose to further my research or volunteer work outside of my internship, I am more than able to explore these avenues. With my specified yet broad area of research, I believe that I will be able to comply an equal amount of qualitative and quantitative results.
All in all, I am excited for what the future holds for me and my research in Amman! I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and I look forward to writing next month! Until then, please enjoy these photos of the Queen Alia International Airport, the Roman Theater, the Amman Citadel, me on a camel, and me attending a traditional Jordanian/Greek/Syrian wedding (on my birthday – September 12th) which by far has been the highlight of my trip!
مع السلامة ولك حقا، (Good-bye and yours truly)
جوي كيودي (Joy Kayode)
It's my last week here, this time. I know I will be back to Amman soon and I couldn't be more excited. Amman is a city full of smells that permeate your clothes and coughs from smoking as often as laughs. It's a special place and I'm lucky to have called it home for the last few months.
I turned in my independent study project last Thursday and I don't have much more on my plate until I leave. All of the students on SIT here present our research proposals to each other this week. It has been really cool to see just how much we accomplished in a month. The topics addressed in this month varied greatly between students, making the presentations even more interesting.
There have been some aspects of my program that I am not super-duper grateful for, but I am extremely grateful for the research component. I have learned so much about the writing process in the last month, and I have gained valuable research skills that I wouldn't have gained otherwise. I just found out that I will be continuing this research next year with the Elliott School next year, through the Elliott Undergraduate Scholars program. I am really looking forward to continuing this research under the Elliott School's guidance, and I hope to continue it after graduation as well.
This past weekend I got to go to Aqaba to complete my scuba open water course. I can't recommend the red sea more for water-lovers. It is out of this world in its beauty and inspiration. The water is so beautiful and clear at any point you can mistake the choral for plans and the fish for land animals because of the visibility. Going to Aqaba was the perfect trip after turning in my ISP!
I am excited to finally announce that I received a grant from the Elliott School to study Arabic in Amman this Summer. This means that while I will be leaving this May, I will be back in Amman soon enough! I cannot wait to be back and studying Arabic here again.
I haven't been doing much since I started my research (other than research) BUT I am happy to also announce that I will be turning my ISP in a few days early. I am really happy about this because I have worked on this project since February. Finishing the project early means that I will have a few extra days to relax because flying back to the states. So here's my advice for SIT students, I wish my program had placed a larger emphasis on planning and timing out our ISP, as many of my friends are in crunch time right now.
For those that don't know - a big part of SIT programs is the individual study project which is field research that is presented in a 30-40 page paper and in class seminar-presentation. It's a lot of work but a really great experience!
January: BEFORE (yes, crazy town, I know) you come on your program, have a clear idea of the general topic you want to research. So if you want to research radicalization in Jordan, do your research on theories of radicalization before you come here so you have some framework and context of your research.
The travel warning issued by the US Department of State last December has severely limited my travels in Jordan and my program had to cut our educational excursion to the Badia.
This was a huge disappointment, the homestay in the Badia was one of the big reasons I had chosen this program. The Badia region is where the Bedouin population in Jordan are from, this area is much more rural than the rest of Jordan. There are three regions of the Badia: the northern, southern and eastern Badia. Okay, so anyways - life in the Badia is very different than in Amman. There is a much larger emphasis on tribal connections, families are larger and even the Arabic there differs greatly from that of Amman!
My research in Jordan relies on qualitative interviews conducted in the northern Badia in Jordan. This meant a lot of coordination with my program to find interviews and spend time in the northern Badia. So with their help, I managed to get up to the Badia "capitol", Mafraq for interviews with youth and mothers in the Badia about masculinity in their community.
I was surprised by what a short trip it was to get to the Badia. Only an hour away from Amman, it really feels like a different world. I am always surprised to realize how small Jordan really is, there are so many things to see and they are all really close to each other (all the more reason to visit Jordan!).
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