By Joy Kayode
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!
شكرا كتير، يعطيكم العافية و مع سلامة يا شباب!