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Theme 5: Living Culture

Hi,

It is great to see your introductions and responses to the posts on the Yak board. We look forward to taking these conversations further during the course. As you are traveling in the coming days, we would like to post a few thoughts and links on contemporary life in Jordan. Perhaps you will have time to view these while transiting in airports on the way!

The theme of ‘living culture’ runs through our experiential education programme. When I (Paul) look back at my first trip to the Middle East in 2001, when I worked as a volunteer teacher in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, I remember feeling that I was learning so much every day, because experiencing a new culture by living in it, embracing it and engaging with people brings profound understanding. I clearly remember one occasion on that first trip to the Middle East, while having lunch with a Palestinian student, when the sounds of the mosque’s call to prayer echoed across the district. My student sat back, looking very relaxed and commented, “Whenever I hear this sound, I feel that I am at home.” “That’s funny,” I replied, “because whenever I hear the call to prayer, it reminds me that I’m not at home!” So much has changed since then, whenever I return to the Middle East, I hear the call to prayer and I immediately feel at home!

Our itinerary includes visits and guest speaks on a range of topics, but by engaging in ‘living culture’ a lot of the learning will take place through our engagement with the society and the people we encounter. Whether by cooking with a homestay family member in the village or striking up conversation in the market in Amman, we will interact with Jordanian culture and build relationships.

Below, we have shared some resources about some cultural elements related to Jordanian life and society. We encourage you to spend some time looking at Arabic language resources, such as to become familiar with greetings, even YouTube is a suitable resource for this. We will also support you with learning essential Arabic during the course.

Arabic culture is diverse and rich, as shown in the different music from this region. Depending on our tastes, some popular artists are listed below for you to look up online. Finally, Jordanians are generally friendly with a good sense of humour, so we have included an Arabic comedy website (a parody news website, perhaps the Arab equivalent of ‘The Onion’).

We hope you enjoy these resources! Good luck with your preparations for the trip!

All the best,

Paul and Elley

Cultural Resources:

The Jordan Times (English language daily newspaper):

Tutorial on Arabic greetings by ‘The Arabic Student’ (as shared in the pre-arrival Yak):

There are lots of musical options! For a music video with portrayal of traditional gender norms (linked with our previous posts on gender), check out a video by Haifa Wehbe, called ‘Bokra Bafarjik’ (‘Tomorrow I’ll Show You’):

Some recommended artists are:
Alternative rock: Mashrou’ Leila (Lebanon), Autostrad (Jordan), El Morabba3 (Jordan)
Classical: Fayrouz (Lebanon), Um Kulthoum (Egypt), Abdel Halim Hafez (Egypt)
Pop: Nancy Ajram (Lebanon), Amr Diab (Egypt), Haifa Wehbe (Lebanon)

Arabic parody website (similar to the Onion):