Hi everyone – Thank you for posting your intro yaks! I’ve read through them and I’m so excited to meet each of you! We’re about a month out from your arrival to Jordan, so Mohammad and I wanted to give you an overview of our itinerary so you can start to picture yourself in Jordan.
Our journey in Jordan will begin on Thursday, March 12th when you all arrive on an evening flight. Mohammad and I will meet you at Queen Alia airport before heading downtown to Zaman ya Zaman, our hotel for the first stint of the trip. After quick introductions, we’ll head to bed and get some rest before our first full day.
Friday morning begins with a traditional Arab breakfast at the hotel and Course Orientation. In the morning, we’ll set group expectations for the trip, cover some basic cultural communication tips, delegate student roles for the trip and have our first Arabic lesson. We’ll spend the afternoon with guest speakers who work at different humanitarian organization in Amman to give us an introduction to aid work and the refugee crisis. In the evening, we’ll continue working on our Arabic and explore the areas around downtown, Jabal Amman and Jabal Luweibdeh, popular areas for shopping and nightlife.
For the next few days, we’ll be stationed in Amman. We’ll get a chance to speak with different organizations supporting refugees, women and children, LGBTQ+ identified folks, and even visit an UNRWA school for Palestinian girls. In our free time in the city, we’ll explore sites such as the majestic Citadel on top of one of the highest hills, the Roman amphitheater, multiple cultural centers and art exhibits, and various other key spots in Amman. You’ll have an Arabic lesson almost every day, so make sure to bring a notebook and an open mind! Also, get ready to learn a traditional Levantine dance called Dabke.
We’ll transition out of Amman on Monday, which will be a packed day. After checking out of the Zaman ya 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 unique natural phenomenon that is rapidly receding due to upstream damming, climate change and agricultural withdrawals. One of EcoPeace’s representatives will meet us near the Dead Sea to point out the sinkholes and the changes in topography due to water issues and climate change. 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 town adjacent to the famed city of Petra. That night, we’ll settle into our hotel for an early night before the full day in Petra.
Tuesday morning, we’ll wake up bright and early to spend the day exploring Petra, tth moment that many of you have been waiting for! 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 Mohammad and I 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. You’ll head to your families in time for a delicious lunch with your new host siblings.
The next few days will be fluid, depending on the opportunities in Tweisi and the interests of the student group. We may meet with a village elder to learn more about the history of the local tribe. We also have the option to visit a Women’s Cooperative and learn more about local gender dynamics and women-led initiatives. We may also have the opportunity to meet with local youth and learn more about their hopes and aspirations. We’ll close our time Tweisi with a very special activity on Friday night and have a chance to thank our homestay families for their incredible warmth and hospitality.
Saturday is a travel day as we head north to Madaba, where we’ll do our final activities to close out our time together. You’ll have time in the afternoon to explore the town, famous for its large population of Christians and its holy sites, before we convene for a final dinner at the famed restaurant Haret Jdoudna, rumored to be the best restaurant in Jordan. Eventually we’ll say our goodbyes late on Saturday night before you all head to the airport.
While the details of this week may shift as unexpected opportunities arise, we can guarantee that this will be an incredible opportunity to delve into Jordanian culture, get out of your comfort zones, practice Arabic, and begin to 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 Mohammad and I are very excited to explore it alongside 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!
Your Instructors Elley and Mohammad