Hello everyone, Rachel here.
Today was our last day in Amman and we are headed on our way to Petra, Dead Sea, and Wadi Rum next. It felt so bittersweet this being our last full day in Amman because we have all grown to love the city so much and I know that I will experience separation anxiety in the coming days. Thus, we made this day as memorable as possible.
Our first visit was to the UNWRA, a girls school for Palestinian refugees ranging from grades 1-10. We heard about the vision of the school, and seeing how energetic and motivated the girls really were. We stopped by an English classroom, and we had the opportunity to participate in many of the classroom activities. During the class session, it was amazing seeing the girls engage with their teacher and we felt welcomed in the classroom. Honestly, they were so adorable and were so willing to show us what a day in the life of a student at UNWRA really is like. Afterwards, we came to the school theater and got to talk with some of the members of their English club. We learned about what they liked to do, listen to, and read about. I found out that one of the girls and I had similar music taste, and it is so cool to share that despite differences. The conversation felt so short, and we had to be pulled apart to move on to the next activity. Also, we went on a tour of the classroom facilities and we again felt so welcomed and energized by the presence of the students and faculty at the school. We couldn’t have been happier to have had this transformative interaction. Visiting UNWRA definitely made me reflect my privileges as someone who attends a school like Milton.
After UNWRA, we ate Mansaf (traditional Jordanian dish) at al-quds, and many of us stepped outside of our comfort zone when trying the sauce. Then, we were given free time to roam around and afterwards we went to Rainbow Street. This organization is one that advocates and provides support for the LGBTQ community in Jordan. We talked with the founder of Rainbow Street. He shared his experience with us about being part of the LGBTQ community in Jordan, and we appreciated the fact that we are listening to someone’s experience. One of the goals of this trip is to listen to people’s stories and experiences, and being at Rainbow Street is a perfect example of that.
We ended our day by going to Jadal Community Center, a place where Jordanians come together to take classes, discuss topics, participate in arts, etc. We first danced the Dabke and we were all out of breath after doing so many steps. We met the founder of Jadal, who articulated that Jadal is a community space for conversations about pressing topics to happen. He was inspired to start this center after the Arab Spring, and has grown his space into a widely known location, the most memorable part of this meeting was when we got to ask the founder questions about politics in Jordan, democracy, and international politics overall. This conversation was memorable because we talked with someone who observed the political situation during the Arab Spring. We hear so much about what goes on in the Middle East from news sources and classroom readings, but talking to someone who witnessed the situation itself opened our minds to how people in the Middle East (Jordan in particular) view politics.
Overall, exploring Amman and meeting with different groups was an amazing experience, and we can’t wait to see what the next few days hold for us!!