MILTON ITINERARY – JORDAN 2018
Our journey to Jordan will begin on Wednesday March 7th, as students board an evening flight from Boston to Amman. Dragons Course Instructors Elley and Cate will meet the students on the other end, ushering the group from Queen Alia Airport to the Zaman ya Zaman Hotel in downtown Amman. After quick introductions, we’ll head to bed and get some rest before our first full day.
Friday morning begins with a traditional breakfast at the Zaman ya Zaman Hotel and Course Orientation. In the morning, we’ll set group expectations for the trip, cover some basic cultural communication tips, delegate student roles and have our first Arabic lesson. Lunch will take us into the heart of the Balad, the city’s downtown district, where we’ll have a moment to relax and share a traditional Jordanian meal. In the evening, we’ll have an opening session with a group of Jordanian and Palestinian friends; we’ll have the opportunity to share a bit more about our personal stories and hear some of theirs.
On Saturday, we’ll dig deeper into the narratives of several refugee populations and explore the the question, ‘What does it mean to be Jordanian today?” After a morning Arabic lesson, we’ll visit Collateral Repair Project, a local NGO that works with Syrian and Iraqi refugees. We’ll meet with CRP staff and listen to a few personal testimonies that shed light on the life of Iraqis and Syrians living in Amman. In the afternoon, we’ll switch gears and attend a more formal panel, engaging with local development experts who serve Iraqi, Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Jordan. Students will gain firsthand insight into the ecosystem of humanitarian aid that has come to define one sub-culture of Amman ever since the outbreak of the Syrian War in 2011. The contrast between the refugee narrative and the humanitarian narrative will provide good food for thought, and the discussion will likely take us into the evening as we continue to unravel the complex interplay between regional pressures and Jordan’s refugee populations.
On Sunday, we’ll be doing a half-day site visit with Syrians living in Jordan. This will be a dynamic session, designed to highlight personal stories as well as the governmental policies that govern Syrian’s everyday realities in Jordan. In the evening, Elley will lead our third Arabic lesson and student leaders will guide a debrief of the day.
Monday is dedicated to exploration. We’ll break into small groups and visit the Roman ruins in downtown Amman, bargain at the souq, and meet some young artists who are part of Amman’s growing creative community. In the evening, we’ll go to Jadal Culture Center to learn the dabke, a traditional Jordanian dance, and enjoy an incredible meal prepared by local Syrian woman. We’ll close the evening with a simple ceremony, celebrating the end of our first four days in Amman and preparing for our journey down south.
Tuesday will be a full day — after checking out of the Zaman y Zaman, we’ll depart for EcoPeace to learn more about water management and environmental issues in Jordan. This will give us a great window into Jordan’s ecosystem before our visit to the Dead Sea, a sacred resource that is rapidly receding due to upstream damming, climate change and agricultural withdrawals. In the afternoon, we’ll have a chance to play in the salty waters of the Dead Sea and relax along the shore, eventually piling into a van towards Wadi Musa, the famed city of Petra. That night, we’ll settle in at the Tetra Tree Hotel and meet Ibrahim Nawafleh, the entrepreneurial owner of the hotel and a member of the largest tribe in the greater Petra region. Ibrahim will give us a little background on his tribe’s history and set us up for an incredible day of exploration on Wednesday.
Wednesday morning, we’ll wake up bright and early for breakfast on the roof of the Tetra Tree Hotel, enjoying a magnificent view of the crooked streets and dramatic hills that make Wadi Musa so memorable. After a short Arabic review, we’ll head to Petra for a full day of hiking and exploration. That evening, we’ll head even further south, joining our friend Salah for a traditional Jordanian feast at his desert camp in Wadi Rum. Likely too full to move, we’ll roll onto our sleeping mats in a circle of Bedouin tents, or if everyone is feeling brave, the group is welcome to grab extra blankets and sleep under the stars.
Thursday morning we’re apt to wake up with the sun. We’ll have breakfast together, practice Arabic and then Salah and your Course Instructors will provide a homestay briefing, preparing students to join their homestay families that afternoon. Homestays are an incredible opportunity to be fully immersed in Jordanian culture and all students are invited to truly embrace this unique opportunity to practice new language skills and gain greater cross-cultural understanding.
The next few days will be fluid, depending on the events in the towns of Desa and Tweisi. We’re likely to meet with a village elder to learn more about the history of the local tribe. We’re likely to visit a Women’s Cooperative and learn more about local gender dynamics and women-led initiatives. We may have the opportunity to meet with local youth and learn more about their hopes and aspirations. We’ll close our time in Desa and Tweisi with a very special dinner on Saturday night and have a chance to thank our homestay families for their incredible warmth and hospitality.
Sunday is a travel day as we head north to Madaba for a final dinner at the famed restaurant Haret Jdoudna and then say our goodbyes.
While the details of this week may shift as unexpected opportunities arise, the only thing that we can guarantee is that this will be an incredible opportunity to delve into Jordanian culture, get out of your comfort zones, practice Arabic and understand the complex tensions between refugee resettlement and resource management in Jordan. This country is at the heart of so many cross-cutting issues in the Middle East and Elley and I are very excited to explore it with you.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions and we can’t wait to meet you in Amman in just over one week!
Bashoofkum al-asboo3ah al jay! (See you all next week!)
Your Instructors Elley and Cate