My summer in Amman, Jordan

مرحبا! شو خبارك؟؟

I have just arrived home a couple weeks ago from my internship at the Near East Foundation in Jordan. I have already begun to miss eating copious amounts of food, including my favorite, Manakesh, along with Turkish coffee every morning at work. The office environment at Near East Foundation is beyond welcoming, and every member of the team is treated like family. From my first day in the office, to the very last I was constantly reminded by my coworkers that I was like a sister to them, and would always be welcome in their homes in Jordan. I have never experienced people more kind, hospitable, and welcoming than Jordanians, it is a part of the culture that I truly admire, and love.

The NEF team on my last day of work, we had Iraqi grill to celebrate my time there.
The view from my office at NEF overlooking the city.

During my stay in Amman I worked at the Near East Foundation on their project designed to Advance Livelihoods through Support to Agricultural Markets, specifically in Northeast Syria. The project is funded by USAID and works to empower farmers and processors to bolster economic development in the region, in the governorates of Hasaka and Raqqa. The NEF team coordinates daily with field staff in Syria to lead training sessions, and distribute grants to beneficiaries. My main role consisted of editing USAID reports, and writing success stories about the beneficiaries. I enjoyed writing success stories, as I was able to watch videos sent from the field staff in Syria, detailing how the project was able to transform the lives of deeply impoverished, war stricken communities and families. I didn’t always have a ton of work to do, so I tried to keep busy by volunteering and taking Arabic courses after work.

Volunteering at Squash Dreamers helping to teach refugee girls from around the region
My professor Hana’s birthday party

My professor Hana, allowed me to ask her any question I had about Jordan or the Arab world in general that we would discuss for most of the class. This gave me the freedom to ask issues I have been curious about, while learning directly from a Jordanian. We discussed things like the significance of tribes in Jordan, Palestinians, the Jordan economy, and the treatment of refugees. Often before class I would stop at a Turkish coffee stand, to make sure I was fully awake and ready to go for class, otherwise Hana would repeatedly scream “صباح الخير” (Good morning) to me if she knew I seemed sleepy. It was empowering to try my best to have these conversations in Arabic, and I am grateful that my professor challenged me to use the language skills I acquired to talk about these topics. On the days I did not have class, I volunteered at Squash Dreamers, an organization that works to support refugee girls. At Sports City the girls had an hour of Squash class, followed by an hour English lesson. The refugee girls came from all across the region, including, Syria, Palestine, Iraq. They came to class everyday energetic and so eager to learn. Teaching English proved to be difficult sometimes since the grammatical structure of Arabic and English is so different, and the verb “is” does not even exist. Every class I was continually inspired by these young girls, who told me of their passions and dreams to grow up some day to become soccer players, teachers, doctors, and many other professions.

In my free time I explored Amman with some of my family friends, and my roommate from Germany, who is a journalist working for the Jordan Times. We lived with three cats, and three newborn kittens, along with many other stray cats that would decide to make themselves part of our home for the day. The pictures below are from my apartment, and events I went to around Amman.

While in Amman I also had the opportunity to met up with CISLA alum Merry Byrne, and Conn alum Max Nichols. I have been working with Max on research that will hopefully be useful for my SIP, relating to the refugee economy in Jordan. It was very helpful to talk to them about future career plans, and connect with them! Below are some more pictures from my travels around Jordan! !!! بشوفكم Yalla bye!!

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What a fantastic time you had in Jordan. Lucky you. We want you to help us cook a meal with some of that yummy looking food. We can’t wait to see you all in a few short weeks. Mary

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