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    [post_content] => Like Michael-Ann, I too kept a travel blog for my students and school community.  Below is the link to that blog!

http://www.pdsblogs.org/hunterjordan/
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Travel Blog

Laura Hunter,Jordan Educator

Description

Like Michael-Ann, I too kept a travel blog for my students and school community.  Below is the link to that blog! http://www.pdsblogs.org/hunterjordan/

Posted On

03/29/16

Author

Laura Hunter

Category

Jordan Educator

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    [post_content] => When I travel, I keep a blog for family, students, and my own memories. If you would like to reflect back on our amazing journey that was Jordan 2016 (I'm picturing our inner-facing circle around the tree outside the restaurant), you can find my musings here:

https://316jordan.wordpress.com/
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Trip blog

Michael-Ann,Jordan Educator

Description

When I travel, I keep a blog for family, students, and my own memories. If you would like to reflect back on our amazing journey that was Jordan 2016 (I’m picturing our inner-facing circle around the tree outside the restaurant), you can find my musings here: https://316jordan.wordpress.com/

Posted On

03/28/16

Author

Michael-Ann

Category

Jordan Educator

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    [post_date] => 2016-03-27 11:31:28
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    [post_content] => After spending a couple of very busy days visiting a veritable alphabet soup of NGO’s we had some free time Tuesday evening to roam around downtown Amman and explore the souk. It was on this excursion to buy some dates and apricots for the bus ride south that I discovered that I had a 24 year old daughter who had a Jordanian vegetable seller suiter! Imagine my surprise as I walked with the group through the souk to hear a fishmonger yell out to Kristen and ask if she had brought her father to the market so that he could propose. Even more surprising was Kristen’s response of “Aiwah, huwa Abuyi.” So in an instant I went from buying dried fruit to gently declining this very generous offer for marriage. To recover from this shock we decided that it was best to retire to a nearby café for some shai and nargheila.

After our expedition to the souk we piled into our van and drove up the hill to Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). This visit started out as a typical NGO meeting with and information session followed by a Q&A, but was quickly transformed into one of our most memorable nights when our tour of the center brought us to the JRS classroom. The night course that we were supposed to observe with refuges from Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, and Eritrea was unexpectedly turned into a party to celebrate the mothers in the class in honor of international Mother’s Day. The two dozen or so adult students in the class had brought platters of food, tea, and presents for the mothers in the class. After a very heartfelt speech by one of the students from Darfur we were invited to eat with the students and hear their amazing stories of how they became a refugee, their struggles to survive in Jordan, and to pursue a post-secondary degree at the same time.

On our walk back to the hotel we decided to get “take out” and celebrate our last night in Amman together back at the hotel. After walking a bit we found a shawarma shop right next to a shop selling sfeeha and mwagenat (Jordan pastries filled with spinach, cheese, meat etc) and purchased a feast. In addition we found a store selling “It’s Party” banners and turned our dinner into a surprise party for Michael Ann who was not feeling well and who was missing her daughter’s birthday to be in Jordan. Word of caution for future party celebrations…birthday candles in Jordan resemble road flares when lit and should best be used outside and far away from people.

Wednesday we departed Amman and said goodbye to our base at Zamman ya Zamman Hotel and our gregarious host Ibrahim. Each morning in Amman we were treated to a wonderful Jordanian breakfast of zetune, lebna, khubaz, hummus and lots of shai. In between waiting on tables Ibrahim, the hotel owner, would pull up a chair and hold court as he offered impromptu Arabic lessons, and dispensed colorful advice on life in Amman. At 0730 our driver Abu Khalid gave the firm call to “Yalla” and we packed up the van and all squeezed in for the long ride down to Petra.

Wednesday was a whirlwind of a day as we arrived at Petra by 10:30 AM and by 8 PM we were dining outside under the stars at camp Selah in Disa! One of the surprises to the night was dinner. Selah had cooked a traditional Bedouin feast, under the sand. Akin to a New England clam bake, our dinner of chicken, meat and vegetables had been buried in the sand to slow cook all afternoon. After dinner Sarah and Alena arranged for us to be driven into Wadi Rum under a full moon to have a wonderful meditative experience in peaceful and beautiful place amongst the mountains and rocks of this unique landscape. Upon returning to camp Selah most of the group brought their sleeping mats outside and fell asleep under a full moon listening to the wind wandering across the desert.
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Jordan Educator

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Amman to Disa

Joshua Emmott,Jordan Educator

Description

After spending a couple of very busy days visiting a veritable alphabet soup of NGO’s we had some free time Tuesday evening to roam around downtown Amman and explore the souk. It was on this excursion to buy some dates and apricots for the bus ride south that I discovered that I had a 24 […]

Posted On

03/27/16

Author

Joshua Emmott

Category

Jordan Educator

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    [post_content] => A few photos from our opening days in Madaba and Amman.
    [post_title] => Educator group debriefing NGO visits in Jebel Alwebdeh, Amman
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Educator group debriefing NGO visits in Jebel Alwebdeh, Amman

Instructors,Jordan Educator

Description

A few photos from our opening days in Madaba and Amman.

Posted On

03/21/16

Author

Instructors

Category

Jordan Educator

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    [post_content] => 

While the eager Dragons Educator group eased into Jordan Friday and Saturday, on Sunday we jumped into the complexities surrounding the Syrian Refugee situation.  In the morning, after a wonderful breakfast at our hotel in downtown Amman, we visited Questscope, an organization founded by an American in conjunction with the Jordanian government. Our visit focused on the Non-Formal Education provided by Questscope to those youth out of school. While the NFE has centers all over Jordan and serves Jordanian youth, it also has been absorbing the influx of Syrian youth who need to return to school. Our hosts at Questscope gave us some sobering statistics about the number of Jordanian and Syrian youth who are in need and the numerous issues involved with placing them in Jordan’s Formal Education system. I won’t take up space here to describe the many challenges Jordan and NGO’s like Questscope face, but suffice it to say hearing the details of what the challenges are was enough to generate a lively conversation at lunch. Eating in the area of Dwar Paris, not too far from where one of our Dragons instructors lives, the group began an informal debriefing of what we had just learned, which morphed into turning our new-found knowledge into curriculum at home. I, for one, was feeling both inspired by those who throw themselves into making the lives of these young people better and overwhelmed by the various challenges faced by refugees currently residing here in Jordan.

From lunch, we all piled into our van once again to make our way across the city to the UN office that houses the FPA. More specifically, we met with those who are working to address a different set of needs among the refugee population: pre--, neo--, and post-natal care for women, psycho-social care for survivors of gender-based violence, and information on sexual health for young men and women. Again, sobering information and statistics detailing the challenges of creating the right channels through which these needs can be met.

We found ourselves back in the hipster neighborhood of Dwar Paris and ready to collapse onto the couches in Paul’s lovely house. At this point in the day, about 4:30 pm, all in the group were feeling tired, some of us still dealing with a little jetlag, and processing all that we had heard. Lest anyone reading this thinks we are only being shuffled from meeting to meeting, the rest of the evening consisted of snacks, drinks, and lively conversation with several of Paul’s colleagues from the NRC. So, yes, the Jordan Educators Group did some partying.

Highlights from this day from the group included what we had gleaned from our meetings with the two NGO’s, our lunch conversation, walks some of us had taken around Paul’s neighborhood, and informal conversations about various issues. Around 8:30 pm, we gathered our things for the walk back to downtown and our hotel.

We all arrived back at the hotel ready to hit the hay, as it were, but all members of the group were satisfied and happy with the day. I am feeling lucky that I am here, absorbing sights and sounds, and learning a heck of a lot more about Jordan, Jordanians, and the refugee situation than I could ever learn from newspaper articles in the States. I was in Jordan in 2005, my travel consisting of sightseeing—and definitely worth doing. But this trip is adding on layers and opening up my perspective even more. I am glad I have returned. Paul and Sarah have been wonderful helping all of us have the best experience possible, and at the same time showing us some of that experiential education pedagogy! So now it is early afternoon on Monday and while we all continue to be puzzled by the clear glass bathroom doors in our rooms, we are mostly doing well, spirits are high, and we are eagerly awaiting this evening’s dance lesson and dinner at Rosa Damascene. More about this morning and this evening later on…

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Jordan Educator

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Day 2 in Amman

Laura Rochette,Jordan Educator

Description

While the eager Dragons Educator group eased into Jordan Friday and Saturday, on Sunday we jumped into the complexities surrounding the Syrian Refugee situation.  In the morning, after a wonderful breakfast at our hotel in downtown Amman, we visited Questscope, an organization founded by an American in conjunction with the Jordanian government. Our visit focused […]

Posted On

03/21/16

Author

Laura Rochette

Category

Jordan Educator

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    [post_content] => Greetings from Madaba!

We've all arrived in this lovely and welcoming town.

We are so enjoying getting to know each other, exploring the vast amounts of knowledge and experience we share, and forming as a group.

We'll be sure to post more as our journey continues...

Paul & Sarah
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We have arrived!

Sarah & Paul,Jordan Educator

Description

Greetings from Madaba! We’ve all arrived in this lovely and welcoming town. We are so enjoying getting to know each other, exploring the vast amounts of knowledge and experience we share, and forming as a group. We’ll be sure to post more as our journey continues… Paul & Sarah

Posted On

03/19/16

Author

Sarah & Paul

Category

Jordan Educator

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    [post_date] => 2016-03-16 21:39:24
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    [post_content] => 

I realize this is one of those 11th hour posts (ironically, I’m not that far away from boarding a flight in 11 hours…), but I wanted to get some thoughts down, mostly as something for me to look back on upon returning.  I’m just leaving a few brief comments on each of the following issues.

On Religion

I am Catholic.  I was raised by a Catholic family, attended Catholic elementary and high schools, enrolled in a Catholic university and am now teaching at a Catholic high school.  Based on that background, one would expect that I have deliberately sought these institutions out; quite the contrary.  The religious affiliation of each of these was only very vaguely in my mind.  And the most moving spiritual experiences were not Catholic experiences – they were Greek Orthodox.  I had the opportunity to visit a Greek Orthodox monastery in northern Greece, and the amount of spirituality possessed there, the summons to prayer in the wee hours in the morning, the communal meals that focus on the simplicity of humans, and the devotion to work and reflection… all of these are things that religions should fulfill, in my mind.

As I read more about various religions, I am drawn to those traditions that are not the extravagant buildings or complex services.  I am drawn to the ones that create an atmosphere of reflection and caring.  I appreciate those faiths that put their beliefs into action.  In the article on progressive Islam, the author states that “Justice lies at the heart of Islamic social ethics. Time and again the Qur'an talks about providing for the marginalized members of society: the poor, the orphaned, the downtrodden, the wayfaring, the hungry, etc.”  This is not an Islamic issue, nor is it a Christian issue.  This is (or should be) a human issue, and the fact that so many faiths recognize this and strive to attain this speaks more to a human truth than it does any particular belief system.  Also quoted in the same article:  “Adherents of progressive Islam conceive of a way of being Muslim that engages and affirms the humanity of all human beings, that actively holds all of us responsible for a fair and just distribution of our God-given natural resources, and that seeks to live in harmony with the natural world.”  Again, this is comfortable to me.  It’s not a foreign idea or a strange organization.  It’s a human need being fulfilled in a way that billions of people recognize and identify with.

On Gender

The same article on progressive Islam highlighted the need for gender equality:  “Progressive Muslims begin with a simple yet radical stance: that the Muslim community as a whole cannot achieve justice unless justice is guaranteed for Muslim women. In short, there can be no progressive interpretation of Islam without gender justice.”  This was a fantastic quote for me, and it highlights a perceived tension between the choices women make in a culture and respect for a culture.  Just the other day, I had one of my students asking why a British journalist was forced to dress in hijab (my apologies if this is not the proper word for that garb).  Ultimately, it’s not always about what women are forced to do, but rather what they choose to embrace as part of their culture.  Sure, I recognize that some countries and cultures do a better job than others at empowering women, but for those women who choose to follow this, it is a matter of pride.  They are proud to be identified in that cultural heritage, and I don’t think it is our place to judge that decision.

 

Another quick comment without a whole lot of analysis… Islam seems like such a “foreign” religion to many Americans (or Christians, more broadly) because Islam is a culture of itself.  Christianity doesn’t have that same cultural identification, at least not to the same degree.

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Jordan Educator

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Last minute!

Evan,Jordan Educator

Description

I realize this is one of those 11th hour posts (ironically, I’m not that far away from boarding a flight in 11 hours…), but I wanted to get some thoughts down, mostly as something for me to look back on upon returning.  I’m just leaving a few brief comments on each of the following issues. […]

Posted On

03/16/16

Author

Evan

Category

Jordan Educator

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    [post_content] => As I approach departure on what I am anticipating to be a life changing experience, I am full of reflection and excitement about what led me to this point.  I am thrilled to immerse myself in the culture of Jordan and learn.  I hope to be able to bring back what I have learned about an often misunderstood and misrepresented area of our world to my students and colleagues.

When I think about what brought me to this trip, I have to credit my 5th grade class who are now too-cool 6th graders.  That class was a mini United Nations that consisted of kids who had lived in seven different countries and represented five different religions.  If Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims could coexist in the drama-filled world that is 5th grade peacefully....and be "besties"....then why can't the rest of the world?  That year, my Muslim student in particular struggled tremendously with the negative press surrounding the Middle East.  It was through helping her to deal with her struggle between what she knew to be true about her religion and culture, and the "truth" the outside world (through the media) was telling her, led me to this journey I start tonight.  I want to live, although for a short time, the Arab culture first hand, develop my own truths based on experience.  I cannot wait to get started!  Look forward to seeing everyone on Friday!

If anyone arriving early enough to visit the Dead Sea on Friday, let me know!  I would love to go :)

*Picture is from the island of Itsukushima, or Miyajima (northwest of Hiroshima, which you can see across the bay).  This was taken outside of the shrine.  The deer that roam freely around temples and shrines in Japan are considered sacred.  The killing of these deer is a capital offense in Japan.  Taken in 2014...my first trip outside of the country, this will be my second :)
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Religion and Living Culture

Laura Hunter,Jordan Educator

Description

As I approach departure on what I am anticipating to be a life changing experience, I am full of reflection and excitement about what led me to this point.  I am thrilled to immerse myself in the culture of Jordan and learn.  I hope to be able to bring back what I have learned about […]

Posted On

03/15/16

Author

Laura Hunter

Category

Jordan Educator

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    [post_content] => For women living inside the camps, they are likely adjusting to not having the duties that give many women their identity—cooking, shopping, children, and house.  While many women in Syria worked outside the home (and Asma al-Assad was an advocate of this, prior to the war), there is also a strong culture associated with gender roles.  For women to have these roles taken from their daily lives also leaves them with a gap in their activity that risks creating a void in their sense of self. When women can be brought together to accomplish tasks and earn money for their family to complete shopping and cooking, they have the opportunity to regain that identity and reinforce it among each other.

For families,when living outside of camps, this is further amplified for other members of the family, children and husbands.  Children may be kept out of schools and husbands are likely to be under- or unemployed.  Impermanency and instability of income and resources will put stress on a family living in temporary situations, who must be ready to move at any time.

My students just did a simulation on Syria and one of my students played the role of an advocate for civilians and refugees.  He shared that, this year, the refugee camps only received 41% of the needed funding.  While there is a temporary cease-fire now, this is when the money is needed to get aid to those in danger and at-risk, and those who are displaced will continue to need support to be resettled or help to rebuild.  Jordan and Turkey (and European countries) need support to integrate the refugees into their society successfully, as poor integration policies will hurt stability in the region, with regard to IS and recruiting.  I think that the US and other countries should open up to more refugees, while aid money should fund the camps and nations supporting the Syrian people.  Education— of the displaced and of the receiving citizens— should be a priority.

picture: Palestinian refugee camp outside Damascus, Syria, 2009
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Reflection #2: Refugees

Michael-Ann,Jordan Educator

Description

For women living inside the camps, they are likely adjusting to not having the duties that give many women their identity—cooking, shopping, children, and house.  While many women in Syria worked outside the home (and Asma al-Assad was an advocate of this, prior to the war), there is also a strong culture associated with gender […]

Posted On

03/13/16

Author

Michael-Ann

Category

Jordan Educator

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Marhabaan! We’ve had the pleasure of speaking to many of you this week. It’s been so nice to begin to connect voices with names!

Here are are a few thoughts in response to packing questions we’ve received:

Homestay gifts: The best homestay gifts serve as an icebreaker and are reflective of you as a person (ie: you're a teacher! Maybe books with pictures of animals from the states, or small toys for children.. think along those lines). These are optional gestures, no need to bring much. It’s can also be nice to have photos from home to share with your homestay hosts.

Sleeping sheets for desert camp sleeping. There are sleeping bag liners available at outdoor stores. These are great, but its also okay just to bring a sheet. Bonus points if you sew it in half!

Shoes and outfits appropriate for office visits in Amman. Acceptable attire is more or less what you would see in a non-profit environment in the States, e.g. long-sleeved shirts and pants for guys, or long sleeves and a skirt or pants for women.  We will spend three days in Amman, where we will likely transition back and forth from office visits to sightseeing and other activities.

 We will not be trekking really, so we don’t need hiking boots. But you will be walking for long distances through Petra, and possibly the desert landscape of Wadi Rum. Bring walking shoes for this.

It will be chilly at night, be sure to bring a jacket or a fleece.

We will spend one day exploring Petra and two days with a Bedouin community in Wadi Rum, so comfortable, light and loose-fitting clothing is advised.  Women in the Bedouin community wear skirts, not pants, and this is recommended for female participants.

 Some of you have asked about Electronics: This is up to you. We will have internet connection some of the time, but not all of the time. You will not need a computer or tablet for the purposes of the course, and may find that it feels cumbersome to have expensive electronics in tow. 

The Dead Sea is not included in the itinerary, but it is located close to Madaba, where the course starts and ends.  If you have an extra morning or afternoon before or after the trip, you could visit the Dead Sea.  Bring a swim suit just in case!

See you all soon!

Paul & Sarah

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Jordan Educator

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Get Packing!

Paul Fean & Sarah Hay,Jordan Educator

Description

Marhabaan! We’ve had the pleasure of speaking to many of you this week. It’s been so nice to begin to connect voices with names! Here are are a few thoughts in response to packing questions we’ve received: Homestay gifts: The best homestay gifts serve as an icebreaker and are reflective of you as a person […]

Posted On

03/13/16

Author

Paul Fean & Sarah Hay

Category

Jordan Educator

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