Our students are beginning to settle into their roles, which they either chose or were nominated for by their peers. Youssef and Katherine were nominated to be our group leaders: they are tasked with carrying the medkit and taking the note of the general health and welfare of the group; they will communicate with the adults if there is anything they are noticing about the group (think of them like the team captains). Niy and Alina are in charge of food and water for the group, and when they notice that we are running low on water, or the group is hungry for a snack, they will procure these for the group (note: Dragons provides money for this and also coordinates and pays for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Chanjoo is our Timekeeper: he makes sure that we are following our daily schedule and adhering to our agreed upon break times. Matteo is our Shepherd: when the group leaves an area he makes sure that no mess or personal items have been left behind. Alli is our Sage: she will frame our discussions and reflections by providing us with inspirational words, silly questions, or anything else that will stimulate, motivate, or challenge us; in addition, Alli will buy a copy of the Jordan Times (the students’ only news source to the outside world–this was their decision) and debrief the group on major news events. Jean is our Navigator: she leads our group when we’re walking, and will be increasingly tasked with finding our way home, like she successfully did last night when she led us home from dinner! Last, but certainly not least, Dawit and Avery are sharing the roles of Documentarian and Hype Beast: as Documentarians they are tasked with taking photos throughout the trip (thanks for the camera, Dr. O’Brien!) and ensuring that at least one student posts to the Yakboard each day. As Hype Beasts, they will provide energy and encouragement to the group, especially when they notice that the group’s energy or enthusiasm is flagging. These roles are designed to ensure that students are taking care of themselves and each other. We want our students to have agency and responsibility because they are old enough to do so and this is their journey. That said, there are four adults who are with these students every step of the way, who will remind students of their roles and support them in every way that we can.
Yesterday was our first full day in Jordan; the theme was “Refugees and Identity in Modern Middle East” After enjoying our first breakfast in Amman, we set out to the Jadal center for a morning session on Jordanian customs followed by an Arabic lesson. Our students were engaged and thoroughly enjoyed learning from our capable (and patient!) Dragons instructor, Mohammad. We then ate lunch at the famous Hashem Restaurant, which specializes in Falafel. Niy, who assured me that she doesn’t like falafel, agreed to try some and was won over. Really, there’s no higher praise I could give this place. We spent the afternoon visited two organizations that work with refugee populations: Collateral Repair Project (CRP) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). It was very helpful for the students to compare and contrast these organizations and see how they are meeting the needs of their beneficiaries (this is how they refer to the refugees they are working with). Our students were engaged, respectful, and asked thoughtful questions. They listened, they processed, and for some, this lit a fire in their bellies. This is why we are on this trip–for experiences like these. Our students got to spend time with the people who work in these incredible organizations and better understand the challenges of supporting refugees, both in Jordan and around the world (CRP is a more local organization, while NRC has field offices around the world). I am bursting with pride when I reflect on how our students have handled this trip so far: they have opened up their hearts and minds and they are supporting each other every step of the way. I could not have asked for a better group and I feel immense gratitude that I am here with them.
Today our theme is “Culture, Art, and Tradition” and you’ll hear all about it tomorrow. On to breakfast and then we tackle the day!