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10/05/2017

Fall 2017 Amman Language and Culture

NewsletterBannerAmman

Beit sitti

Intercultural Communication Session I: Our Cultural Lens

CIEE organizes many cultural events to ensure students have opportunities to learn about Jordanian culture. One event I really appreciated was “Intercultural Communication Session I,” which was led by Zeina Alkaraki. This session focused on the cultural lens that we all see through. Cultural lens refers to the various, overlapping identities that shape the way we perceive the world around us. For example, I identify as a Chinese American, a democrat, a woman, a global citizen, etc. These identities influence the way I understand different social and cultural situations.

It is important to be aware of the cultural lens we have. When we first arrived in Jordan, many of us experienced culture shock to varying degrees. In turn, we subconsciously tried to compare the new culture to our own cultural norms. We do this to understand our relationship with our new environment, however, the way we perceive our new environment can be very different depending on how we approach understanding it. We have a tendency to use our own culture as the standard by which we gauge other cultures.  It is often too easily to dismiss new cultures and traditions as “archaic” or “weird.” But what is considered “modern” or “normal” is completely subjective.

We are in Jordan to learn, not to confirm our biases. If we truly want to learn as much as possible, we need to limit our expectations and try to peer through others’ cultural lenses. I have heard too many people say Jordan is “so modern!” Yes, Jordan is modern. It’s existing in the 21st century, is it not? Who gets to decide what is considered modern and what is not? People live differently. This does not make one group superior or inferior to another.

We are acutely aware differences. It is likely that we will all have some negative experiences due to cultural differences. It is important to remember that not every negative experience has to become a bad memory. We are all capable of taking what makes us uncomfortable and learning from it. If we recognize our biases, we can ask ourselves why we are feeling uncomfortable. We can also ask others questions about the situation to better understand it.

There is no need for us to like everything about a culture, but we can at least try to look through someone else’s lens and learn a thing or two. That is why we are studying abroad, right? I will leave you with a quote:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” –Mark Twain

Stephanie Yim 

University of California Davis 

Wadi Rum

Wadi rum 1

Wadi Rum 

When we were initially told that we would be riding camels that morning I was skeptical.  I assumed that we would take turns mounting one or two camels, then we would pose for pictures while being led around in a circle, and then we would clamber down so that the next person could have their experience on a camel.  But there we were, trekking through the desert perched atop our trusty steads with a gorgeous view of the golden desert sand and the towering limestone cliffs that dominated the horizon.  The entire journey through Wadi Rum felt like a dream because I could not believe that I was actually there, in Jordan, in the desert, riding a camel as a member of a seventy-person caravan.  Laughing and talking with my new friends along the way made the experience feel more real, and strengthened the friendships that were sparked on the trip.  It finally felt as if the waves of homesickness that had plagued me since my arrival in Jordan were banished to the past, and the rest of my time in Jordan felt open with possibilities, just like the vast expanse of the desert.  

Nicholas Ogrinc

Providence College

Aseel

Favorite Places in Amman

After spending a month in Amman, I decided I want to write my first journal entry about some of my favorite places in the city, where I choose to spend my time in this chaotic, intricate city. Although I might do similar things when I am back home in California, there is a difference with these settings in Amman.

               My favorite segment of the city by far has to be the cute, quaint district of Weibde, characterized to me by its relatively peaceful streets (in comparison to the rest of Amman) and coffee shops where I spend the majority of my time.  I’ve basically become a regular at Fann w Shai, where they know Hannah and I by name, and I spend sometimes hours playing backgammon and studying with my friends. Rumi Café, a little bit down the street, is also a favorite of mine, (I’m actually sitting there right now and typing this away!) where their ‘Iranian Tea’ makes me reminisce about the shai my grandma makes. I’ve generally noticed that while these cafes are more westernized, people are much more relaxed and taking their time to smoke cigarettes and enjoy moments with friends, rather than working the day away in attempt to reach maximum productivity under the capitalistic American lifestyle. I enjoy watching the people trickle in and out of these coffee shops and walking around enjoying some of the street art and little artistic stores that remind me of my mom.

               Besides Weibde, I enjoy walking through the bustle of Rainbow Street, stopping by Turtle Green Tea house to catch a moment by myself before returning to the noisy scene on the street below. Rainbow Street is just so fun, I’m laughing to myself right now thinking about walking down it while all the cars honk and the men on the street smoke cigarettes and laugh with each other. After a month I still get happy when I see groups of friends, old and new, meeting up and sharing so much affection and warmth with each other. I over hear the “forsa saida’s” and think that if I didn’t know any Arabic I would think these people had known each other their whole lives. This is something that one would definitely not see in America, I think it can be attributed to the differences between an individualist based society vs. a collectivist one. In America, one wouldn’t give the time of day to others they pass along the streets and treat new acquaintances with a forced cordiality, whereas here I see a genuine friendliness and affection between people, that I attribute to the perspective of seeing yourself as part of a societal collective rather than as an individual soul in a sea of others.

               The American Center for Oriental Research (ACOR) has also made my list of favorite spots in Amman, despite the slightly brutal hike it takes to climb up to the building. Although there’s not much to do there except drink their free coffee and abuse their free Wi-Fi (which is truly incredible) I really enjoy spending my time on their breezy balcony, studying, reading books, smoking cigarettes, or chatting away with new friends. I’ve noticed that here in Amman I spend most of my time relaxing in cafes and enjoying a chill time with friends through lighthearted conversations, rather than actually taking the time to go out and do something like in America. This internal need of always “doing” something, being productive, accomplishing a task, is not as present in Amman, Jordan as back home. Here I feel that I can allow myself to just be rather than do.

Romteen Borhani 

University of California 

Santa Barbra 

Horse

She Fighter 

Every Monday and Wednesday, I have the privilege of seeing the strength and beauty of the young women in Amman. I go to the She Fighter gym, an all-women’s gym that teaches women how to defend themselves. Though the fighting style is based primarily on boxing, the self-defense techniques draw from a wide variety of martial arts. The first day I went, all the young women were very welcoming. They asked about what I was studying and what America was like. Since then, they have helped me improve my Arabic and have taught me what being it is like to be a young woman in Amman. I am constantly inspired by their strength and appreciate the warmth with which they welcome me into their place of safety. 

Priscila Lopez

Georgetown University

 

05/11/2017

Spring 2017 Amman Language and Culture Newsletter III

NewsletterBannerAmman

Paint

Adopt a School Project 

Service has always been something that has been important to me. In high school service was a required part of my classes, and while freshman year it felt like a burden, by senior year it was something I looked forward to. I no longer worked for the bare minimum, but strived to accomplish all I could. Once I entered college finding service was harder. I wanted to volunteer for an organization that had volunteers for the benefit of the organization not just my own ego.

When I saw the sign up sheet for our service in Jordan I was skeptical. I wanted to participate in a project that actually gave back to the wonderful community that I have been living in these past few months. But you never know unless you go for it. I was excited to learn that the service we would be doing would have a direct impact on an all girls school, in one of the poorer areas of Amman. We were covering up offensive graffiti, building a garden, and providing appliances for the neglected special needs school attacked. We had the opportunity to do the service while the girls were in school so we got to work with and get to know some, very energetic, young women. At one point, during their break, we were more or less swarmed by hundreds of excited students wanting to ask our name, age, where we were from, etc. They were so excited to meet us, and we had a cool opportunity to practice our Arabic with them. After our service we had a chance to play a rather competitive game of basketball and share a meal.

I was very excited that I chose to participate in this service opportunity and I am looking forward to following the continued progression of work on the school.

Emily Pellegrino 

Ohio State University 

Game

Basket

Jordan Trail 

The Jordan Trail spans around 300miles from Umm Qais in the North to Aqaba in the South. While it would be a dream to thru-hike the entire trail, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a four-day section from Wadi Dana to Petra. Our group of twelve set out on what would unknowingly be quite a windy adventure. On the second night, we had finished our hiking for the day and were camped up on a plateau. By the time we wanted to fall asleep, seasonal winds from the Red Sea had started to ransack our campsite. Tents flattened to the ground with broken poles and people’s belongings were flying away. We had decided to sleep under the stars that night, and my friend next to me shouted over the howling wind, “I think my shoes blew away!” I looked down to see that mine actually had. Moments later, another woman started screaming with laughter as her tent ripped apart. Scrambling in the dark trying not to lose everything and still get a night of sleep, we tossed rocks on our packs and all huddled together on the mats behind the truck. There is a brief moment of peace, and I look up at the stars, who are somehow undisturbed by the earthly commotion.

Claire Dumont 

University of Vermont 

Claire 1

P4221537

Ajloun-Wadi Rayyan 

We started the hike after a short bus ride to a small mountain with a view of a sprawling valley. Not knowing what to expect or what we would see; we were excited, because sometimes Jordan’s surprises have been the best part of these trips. We followed our guide and his young son who proudly sported an oversized Indiana Jones shirt, up a considerable hill full of bushes and rocks with no clear trail, making the experience feel all the more real and fun. After some time ascending we arrived to the other side of the elevation to overlook a long, flat field and were soon told that at one time it was an old Roman Sport’s ground that was intentionally and well preserved. We took pictures and ran around excitedly until it was time to move on. We walked up and down small jumps in the mountain’s terrain, marching through a lush environment that we thought a hike in Greece must look like. Olive trees lined fields tilted on the side of mountains, remaining on these hills since they were first brought there several centuries before. We hiked further and stumbled upon many Jordanians, some only visiting while some lived in the forest in hand-built houses along streams and creeks. Many were friendly and were by no means afraid of throwing greetings as we walked by.

            Although the day was hot, water presented itself in several forms on our excursion. The first encounter was earlier in our hike when we happened upon a small pool to rinse our feet and splash water, some happier to be splashed than others. The second however was a much more interactive experience. With the creek turning into small pools from dams, several of us jumped in to the waist deep water and swam until we were too cold to carry on but also too happy to care. And finally, we finished the tiring but refreshing day with a cold soda, an abundance of chicken and rice, and some fresh kunafah for lunch. All of which was cooked over a fire that crackled just ten feet from out shaded tables. By the end of our day were were tired, wet, and full. But also happy for the surprising beauty and amusement Wadi Al Rayyan had shown us.

Jonathan Pezzi 

Washington and Lee University 

Rayan 2

Rayan

Rayan2

Azraq Trip 

On CIEE’s recent trip to Azraq I saw a side of Jordan that one does not experience when living their daily life in Amman. As we entered Azraq Nature Preserve we immediately started a jeep safari tour where we left the concrete overcrowded jungle of Amman and traded it for the dusty desert savannah. On our adventure we learned about animals such as the wild Onniger, a desert hawk, which I discovered had very soft feathers, and a delicious tasting plant  that I put in my water bottle. After our safari,  my group ventured out to the once prosperous Azraq wetlands. Upon arrival we learned that illegal pumping left this once luscious preserve in the shadow of its previous glory. Despite this sad news, there are still many pools of water and amazing wildlife, such as water buffalo. Additionally, I learned that 4 out of every 10 glasses of water come from this preserve. To finish the trip off, we visited two desert castles. One, called Qasr Amra,  is a UNESCO world heritage site due to its well preserved Ummayad fresco’s. The second, named Qasr Al-kharanah,  was a beautiful desert castle where we could explore several rooms that contained doorways that opened to the interior courtyard  (I have pictures included for a clearer description). Overall, it was an amazing trip that I will never forget!

Nina Reininger 

Earlham College 

04/19/2017

Spring 17 Language and Culture Amman Newsletter II

NewsletterBannerAmman

Shomari

Arabian Oryx in Shomari Wildlife Reserve 

Shomari and Azraq Trip

On CIEE’s recent trip to Azraq and Shomari I saw a side of Jordan that one does not experience when living their daily life in Amman. As we entered Shomari Wildlife Reserve we immediately started a jeep safari tour where we left the concrete overcrowded jungle of Amman and traded it for the dusty desert savannah. On our adventure we learned about animals such as the wild onniger, Arabian Oryx, a desert hawk, which I discovered had very soft feathers, and a delicious tasting plant  that I put in my water bottle. After our safari, my group ventured out to the once prosperous Azraq wetlands Reserve. Upon arrival we learned that illegal pumping left this once luscious preserve in the shadow of its previous glory. Despite this sad news, there are still many pools of water and amazing wildlife, such as water buffalo. Additionally, I learned that 4 out of every 10 glasses of water come from this preserve. To finish the trip off, we visited two desert castles. One, called Qasr Amra,  is a UNESCO world heritage site due to its well preserved Ummayad fresco’s. The second, named Qasr Al-kharanah, was a beautiful desert castle where we could explore several rooms that contained doorways that opened to the interior courtyard. Overall, it was an amazing trip that I will never forget!

Nina Reininger 

Earlham College 

Azraq wetland

Azraq Wetland Reserve 

17547017_10158584798370106_6135077190045851436_o

 

Dana 

I found myself sitting in a tent sipping tea while my friend asked religious advice from the Bedouin Sheikh with a master’s degree. I stared into my tea and wondered how all the little moments in my life brought me here. This morning, I piled into a car with a group of rowdy Jordanians who were all ready to get out of the city. We drove nearly three hours to hike 20km through Wadi Dana. We eased ourselves down the road unnavigable by vehicles. At the wadi floor, we heard a Bedouin man playing a flute. My companions demanded that I take out my flute and “battle” him. Back and forth, we attempted to repeat each other’s melodies that echoed through the breathtaking canyon. The sheep he was herding soon took him away from his music, and we played leap-frog over the day. After a stunning couple of hours hiking, his livestock army stampeded into our little circle. We invited him to join us and in turn were invited into his home -- Jordanian hospitality. The stop resulted in 4km of night hiking under the desert stars and a late return. I will continue to be grateful for and wonder about all those little moments.

Claire Dumont 

University of Vermont 

Dana

Dana2

 

 

Mosaic Workshop 

A few weeks ago, we had a mosaic workshop here in the study center. Even though it wasn’t exactly what I expected, it was a lot of fun and a really great cultural experience! The group of us who had signed up, about a dozen students, walked into the staff office to see the table covered with innumerable stone sticks, and quite a few tools we weren’t quite sure how we would use. All of us were given a template, and off we went! As it turns out, making mosaics is actually a lot of work. Each tile has to be cut from those stone sticks and carefully placed onto the template with some glue, and tiles for the central letter (we were working off letter templates) has to be cut down to size and shape properly. This all requires a lot of focus, and before you know it an entire afternoon has gone by! However, all that effort pays off, because our finished mosaics looked good enough to go on any wall. All in all, an afternoon well spent!

Jacob Noble 

Earlham College 

Mosaic

03/07/2017

Spring 2017 Language and Culture Amman Newsletter I

NewsletterBannerAmman

Bib

Bib2

Biblical Jordan Trip 

            Close your eyes and picture your favorite childhood novel. Was it Harry Potter? The Chronicles of Narnia? Lord of the Rings? How badly did you want to visit Hogwarts? Narnia? Middle Earth? I know they were all places I would have given almost anything to visit. Now imagine that you get to visit the ruins of what remains of those forbidden lands. It would be surreal, awesome, and overall incredibly exciting. This past week I had a similar, and yet subdued experience. Our CIEE program took a weekend trip to visit Biblical Jordan. As someone who was raised Catholic and still practices today it was surreal to get to visit such infamous places as Mount Nebo, Mkawar, and the Baptism Site of Jesus. These are all places that I have grown up hearing about in Sunday School as a child and through High School. They were spoken of as places of long ago, so I never really considered that people could visit them. That is until I began looking into things to do in Jordan.

            The site that was most surreal and significant for me was visiting the Baptism Site. It was where over 2000 years ago Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. It is significant to Christians because it signifies the beginning of Jesus’ ministry work (preforming miracles), and initiates the rite of Baptism. For me, though, it is momentous because it is one of the few places that it is known, that Jesus actually was. What made the visit really special was that I could tell that the rest of my fellow CIEE peers understood the significance of the location regardless of their own faith or spirituality. It was nice to have a pensive moment and let the reality of where we were sink in.

Beyond the religious significance of the trip for me personally I really enjoyed being able to relax and get to know the other students in CIEE better and not in our typical classroom setting. As well as, the absolutely stunning views that are Jordan.

 

Emily Pellegrino

Ohio State University

IMG_4181

King Abdullah I Mosque visit 

It was one of those funny moments in which two different parts of life overlap. Last week in Islam in the Modern Context, we talked about Islamic art. Coincidentally, two days later I got to experience Islamic art with fresh knowledge of its theories, meaning, and design when we visited the King Abdullah I Mosque. It reminded me of the reason why I am here. Two months ago, I was comfortably listening to lectures on Middle Eastern history in my California classroom and now I'm hailing taxis on the busy streets of the capital of Jordan. There's value in learning about a culture in a classroom, but so much value is added to that knowledge when you go out and experience that culture. Looking up at the dome of the main prayer room, I thought about a quote from my readings for class by Seyyed Hossein Nasr: "the spiritual world was reflected in the sensible world not through various iconic forms but through geometry and rhythm through arabesques and calligraphy which reflect directly the worlds above and ultimately the supernal sun of Divine Unity."

Sarah Wise-Leach

Point Loma Nazarene University

Mosque 2

Salt City Visit 

On February 18th, Elena’s Modern History of the Middle East class as well as Mjriam’s Seminar on Israel-Palestine’s class came together for a trip to As-Salt, Jordan’s first capital. Although Salt is only about 45 minutes from Amman, the trip started early, around 8:45am, in front of Gloria Jean’s. Fortunately, we were given falafel and juice as a consolation for the early start. Our first stop happened to be former Prime Minister Wasfi Eltall’s house, halfway between Amman and Salt. We were first greeted by a path leading to the house lined with grass, the first sign of nature that many of us hadn’t seen in a while. The path lead to a “Car House” in which housed a beautiful, old Jaguar that belonged to the former Prime Minister.  The tour comprised of Wasfi Eltall’s house and the many accomplishments he had whilst he was in office. With the tour completed, we hauled onto the bus for Salt.

Once in Salt, we met our guide, an architect named Baian who works in Salt, in an old house converted into an office. Our first stop was Khader church, or St. George’s church, where both Muslims and Christians are welcome to pray. A small cave at the back of the church allows one to write down wishes and prayers and throw them into the cave. Each church we visited was unique and beautifully constructed. For some, it was comforting to have a piece of home in a still new and relatively foreign country. Time was taken to light candles, bow one’s head in a quick prayer, or silently take in the stained glass windows and various representations. After our church tour, we were taken to an old house that had been converted into a museum that conveyed what life was like in Salt during that time. Our trip ended with a filling lunch and a quick nap on the bus on our way back to Amman.

Ayesha Ghorpade

Colgate University

Salt

16807137_10158400463290106_9079043802586031207_n

Spring 2017 Language and Culture Amman Newsletter I

NewsletterBannerAmman

Bib

Bib2

Biblical Jordan Trip 

            Close your eyes and picture your favorite childhood novel. Was it Harry Potter? The Chronicles of Narnia? Lord of the Rings? How badly did you want to visit Hogwarts? Narnia? Middle Earth? I know they were all places I would have given almost anything to visit. Now imagine that you get to visit the ruins of what remains of those forbidden lands. It would be surreal, awesome, and overall incredibly exciting. This past week I had a similar, and yet subdued experience. Our CIEE program took a weekend trip to visit Biblical Jordan. As someone who was raised Catholic and still practices today it was surreal to get to visit such infamous places as Mount Nebo, Mkawar, and the Baptism Site of Jesus. These are all places that I have grown up hearing about in Sunday School as a child and through High School. They were spoken of as places of long ago, so I never really considered that people could visit them. That is until I began looking into things to do in Jordan.

            The site that was most surreal and significant for me was visiting the Baptism Site. It was where over 2000 years ago Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. It is significant to Christians because it signifies the beginning of Jesus’ ministry work (preforming miracles), and initiates the rite of Baptism. For me, though, it is momentous because it is one of the few places that it is known, that Jesus actually was. What made the visit really special was that I could tell that the rest of my fellow CIEE peers understood the significance of the location regardless of their own faith or spirituality. It was nice to have a pensive moment and let the reality of where we were sink in.

Beyond the religious significance of the trip for me personally I really enjoyed being able to relax and get to know the other students in CIEE better and not in our typical classroom setting. As well as, the absolutely stunning views that are Jordan.

 

Emily Pellegrino

Ohio State University

IMG_4181

King Abdullah I Mosque visit 

It was one of those funny moments in which two different parts of life overlap. Last week in Islam in the Modern Context, we talked about Islamic art. Coincidentally, two days later I got to experience Islamic art with fresh knowledge of its theories, meaning, and design when we visited the King Abdullah I Mosque. It reminded me of the reason why I am here. Two months ago, I was comfortably listening to lectures on Middle Eastern history in my California classroom and now I'm hailing taxis on the busy streets of the capital of Jordan. There's value in learning about a culture in a classroom, but so much value is added to that knowledge when you go out and experience that culture. Looking up at the dome of the main prayer room, I thought about a quote from my readings for class by Seyyed Hossein Nasr: "the spiritual world was reflected in the sensible world not through various iconic forms but through geometry and rhythm through arabesques and calligraphy which reflect directly the worlds above and ultimately the supernal sun of Divine Unity."

Sarah Wise-Leach

Point Loma Nazarene University

Mosque 2

Salt City Visit 

On February 18th, Elena’s Modern History of the Middle East class as well as Mjriam’s Seminar on Israel-Palestine’s class came together for a trip to As-Salt, Jordan’s first capital. Although Salt is only about 45 minutes from Amman, the trip started early, around 8:45am, in front of Gloria Jean’s. Fortunately, we were given falafel and juice as a consolation for the early start. Our first stop happened to be former Prime Minister Wasfi Eltall’s house, halfway between Amman and Salt. We were first greeted by a path leading to the house lined with grass, the first sign of nature that many of us hadn’t seen in a while. The path lead to a “Car House” in which housed a beautiful, old Jaguar that belonged to the former Prime Minister.  The tour comprised of Wasfi Eltall’s house and the many accomplishments he had whilst he was in office. With the tour completed, we hauled onto the bus for Salt.

Once in Salt, we met our guide, an architect named Baian who works in Salt, in an old house converted into an office. Our first stop was Khader church, or St. George’s church, where both Muslims and Christians are welcome to pray. A small cave at the back of the church allows one to write down wishes and prayers and throw them into the cave. Each church we visited was unique and beautifully constructed. For some, it was comforting to have a piece of home in a still new and relatively foreign country. Time was taken to light candles, bow one’s head in a quick prayer, or silently take in the stained glass windows and various representations. After our church tour, we were taken to an old house that had been converted into a museum that conveyed what life was like in Salt during that time. Our trip ended with a filling lunch and a quick nap on the bus on our way back to Amman.

Ayesha Ghorpade

Colgate University

Salt

16807137_10158400463290106_9079043802586031207_n

12/13/2016

Fall 16 Language and Culture Amman Newsletter II

NewsletterBannerAmman 14947830_1221394154596440_6001799364078344153_n

Desert Cycling Trip 

On a rare rainy day in Amman, CIEE students gathered to partake in a desert cycling trip on the 28th of October.  While there were quite a few ‘bumps along the road’, the trip was an absolute success and one of my personal favorites. 

As the buses pulled up to the first stop, Qasr Al-Kharanah, it was a bit of an eerie sight.  The massive stone walls contrasted with the gray stormy desert sky, we nearly thought the trip would have to be canceled with the unexpected rain.  Here we waited out the weather and enjoyed Bedouin tea and za’atar sandwiches. 

Our next stop was, Qaser Amra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting incredible frescoes dating back to the 8th century.  Just as we stepped out of the castle, the sun came out and we embarked on our cycling journey. 

Along the ride we came across a flock of sheep grazing in the desert and a galloping caravan of camels.  We traveled a total distance of 35 km, with multiple stops along the way.  Finally we ended the trip with a delicious meal at the Azraq Wetland Reserve.  It was incredible experience to see historic castles and the dynamic landscapes of Jordan. 

Megan Toussau

University of California Riverside 

Group pic

Fav

Favorite Neighborhood in Amman 

Of all the different neighborhoods in Amman, Weibdeh sticks out as my personal favorite. Art galleries, cafes, and restaurants are all abundant in what is considered by some Jordanians as the ‘hipster’ neighborhood of Amman. Fenn wu Chai (Art and Teahouse) is one such unique café that specializes in tea with a unique aesthetics such as a 1980’s TV turned fishbowl. Another more traditional café would be Rakwet Café, which includes some great Jordanian food and amazing argileh

Not only does it play host to quiet coffee houses and western restaurants, Weibdeh has some of the best street art in Amman. Ranging from classic stencils of Umm Kalthum to extravagant murals like the one pictured. Also coming from the US, Weibdeh is also one of the few neighborhoods in Amman where one can truly feel at ease walking around. The sidewalks are many and with the majority of traffic being in narrow one-way lanes it actually feels designed for pedestrians. I’d highly recommend Weidbeh as a place for food, entertainment, or studying.

Peter Atwill

University of Puget Sound

14925673_1221393957929793_4992009763676399331_n

Olive Picking 

I was walking through familiar streets the other day and heard the pop of olives hitting a tarp. I looked over to see two legs perched on a ladder and a torso hidden in the branches. I imagined what I must have looked like doing the same, only a few weeks earlier. I had traveled to Ajloun to help with the olive harvest, and integral part of rural and urban agriculture. I learned how to comb the branches with my fingers and let the olives drop. From under the umbrella of leaves, the falling olives sounded like the pitter-patter of a rain that crescendoes into thunder. I climbed into the tree to reach the olives closer to the sun. It’s warmth shone on my back as I wiggled my feet into the knots in the wood. I sent the olives raining down.

Best,

Claire Dumont

University of Vermont

Olive

Olive 1

10/09/2016

FALL 2016 LANGUAGE AND CULTURE I

 


NewsletterBannerAmman
Umbrellas

Exploring Downtown Amman

Amman is known for its hills and circles, but what about its secrets? There is so much more to Amman than meets the eye, despite nearly every place overlooking a sliver of the city. During my short time in Amman, I have come to see the city as one of stairs, street art, and surprises. It is so easy to turn a corner and go down the wrong street, but when I stop following the map, I discover new places, faster short cuts, and fantastic views of the city and its scattered art installations. I’ve realized that I have to let myself be open to the possibilities the city presents me with. It is more about where the city takes me than where I plan to go- flexibility is key. Downtown is a place to socialize, meet new people, observe the atmosphere, and be in the moment. The more time you spend there, the more secrets the city will share with you!

Monika Ford 

Claremont Mckenna College 

Souk

Intercultural Communication Learning 

On Tuesday, September 25th, students shuffled into the cool air-conditioned CIEE classroom, far above the chaotic, bustling streets of Amman.  Professor Zeina Alkaraki led the first of five, Intercultural Learning Sessions.  While embarking on this study abroad journey and learning about the culture of Jordan, this session was designed to help students decipher what culture is and how we go about experiencing it.  To understand another culture, we must also seek to understand our own.  Awareness of the lens in which we observe the world, contributes to a fuller understanding.  Most interesting was a comment from a student who expressed experiencing more culture shock from the perspective of students from the mid-west and the southern states, than in Jordan.  We were told about the culture shock that we should expect to experience living in a new environment. However, we were not advised of the reflective perspective we would gain on our own American culture from home.  It is here that we have the opportunity to ignore clichés and look at life through our own eyes.  What a wonderful adventure we are embarking on!

Megan Toussau 

University of California-Riverside 

Flower

Election Day 

Having spent about a month in Amman one of the personal highlights was the Jordanian parliamentary election. Having just started as intern at Amman Center for Human Rights Studies, I was informed that one of my first responsibilities was to be an international observer to the elections. This involved two training sessions beforehand one logistics, violations to look out for, as well as the basics to how parliament is separated.

One key difference between US and Jordanian elections is the here in Jordan, people have the day off to get to the polls. In the United States this has been in contention before, with critics saying that it prevents a subset of the population to vote. Another neat quirk in Jordan, is that the method to prevent voter fraud is that voters dip their finger in ink to prevent them from voting multiple times.

After sitting in on a dozen or so voting areas, the key issue that we found was that like many places in Jordan the locations for voting were highly in accessible to handicapped Jordanians. Most of the voting stations were in schools sometimes 3 floors up with only stairs. Otherwise I felt quite lucky to be seeing my first election outside of the US.

Peter Atwill 

University of Puget Sound 

Petra

Christianity and Islam 

 

A Tunisian man in Paris said to me, “You are Christian and I am Muslim. We are different in what we believe, but we can help each other in life.” A few hours later I was flying above the green minarets of Amman.

The America public discourse on Islam, whether for or against the religion, is too shallow. So I came to Jordan, and I have loved it.

Both of my area studies electives are related to Islam, taught by Muslims, and they are not shallow! During each class session I find something electric in the air:  there is something in human spirituality which newscasters have not adequately expressed. The man in Paris was right; between Christianity and Islam there are significant differences. Studying in Jordan will put constructive names to those differences, and to illuminate the things that these two religions share.

 

Clay Bahl 

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign  

05/29/2016

Spring 2016 Amman Language and Culture III

NewsletterBannerAmman Mosque

The “Highs” and “Lows” of Culture in Amman

With my goal of exploring Amman more and be uninhibited about exploring by myself in mind, I hit the ground running checking for Facebook events that sounded interesting. I was so presently surprised by the wealth of free lectures and budget friendly unique activities available in Amman. The most striking thing about my time on Facebook hunting for events was how close Amman is to Jerusalem and Ramallah. When I searched for nearby events, a solid 60% majority of events were in Jerusalem and Ramallah. I was also extremely surprised at the range of events available; from coding classes to talks in art galleries, Amman has it all.

On one hand, I seem to always forget that Amman is urban and the capital city. While on the other hand, I have to remind myself that culture is everything… Which is why this post is called The “Highs” and “Lows” of Culture in Amman. Get it? Tehehehehe I think I am super punny and clever.

Anyways, this new grand search for culture led me to five absolutely fascinating experiences:

  1. The Future of a Different Museum | Chris Dercon in conversation with Vassilis Oikonomopoulos // Darat Al-Funun دارة الفنون
  2. Troubling the Political: Women in the Jordanian Day-Waged Labor Movement // Sinjal Institute for Arabic Language and Culture.

3.  Madaba

I ended my school week with a field trip to the town of Madaba for a cultural dinner with some locals. We learned how to Dabke and had dinner at the Catholic Church in Madaba, belonging to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, more infamously known as the Shrine of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. We also had Knafeh for dessert. I had a big realization this night also… I am not in shape enough to properly Dabke. I wish we were given the opportunity to explore the town of Madaba just because of its importance in Christianity and as a model place where Christians and Muslims live peacefully

4. Souk Al-Jooml3a or Abdali Market (aka Friday Market)

 

Theresa Pham 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Farewell dinner

Food in Jordan 

I read so much about how important food is in Jordan and how it is sign of hospitality.  However, I was not prepared for just how serious it was!  All three women in my host family are amazing cooks and seem to really like it.  I am always offered food when I walk in the door and my Auntie wanted me to write down my schedule so she would know when to have my dinner ready.  There is also more to food then just the eating.  My family also cleans up from the meals and despite me offering to help multiple times, they won’t let me clean up.  However, they are going to teach me how to cook certain dishes!  I always eat breakfast alone and sometimes I eat dinner alone but other times Gloria will eat with me.

            Sometimes when I am not hungry/full and my Auntie asks me if I am hungry and I say just a little she will still pile my plate full of food! Also I never serve my own food, my family always serves me.  Yesterday, my host mom worried that I didn’t like the food because I was chatting a lot and didn’t say that the food was delicious.  Also she said that I didn’t see to be as into the food as usual. I was really into the food but I wasn’t super hungry.  I wonder if conversation isn’t that normal during dinner? 

            I am also surprised at how much people eat! Also yesterday, after I had dinner I was sitting on the couch watching TV when family friends came over and brought food! So I ended up eating a second dinner! I also feel rude when I turn down food because of everything I have read about the importance of food.  However, last night Gloria told me it’s ok to turn down food so hopefully I can tell her that I am too full to eat.

            At home, my “real” parents have a very different style when it comes to food.  My parents (mostly my mom) always cooked dinner but for other meals I was on my own.  Also dinner was always a family meal, which was difficult with three kids all in different sports and clubs so we would end up eating at 8 or 9 but it was always as a family!  Also I always had chores around meal times.  For example I would have to set the table and load the dishwasher, clear the table and unload the dishwasher, or do the dishes.  Also lately my parents have expected me to contribute more either by cooking for the family or leaving me to fend for myself when they go out.

            I think this importance of food comes from the family centered mentality that Jordanians have.  Food is a way to nurture and thus by always giving me food they are showing that they care about me and want me to enjoy the food and be happy!  Also I liked that Gloria used a more low context style of communication when she told me its ok to turn down food because that is my style of communication and I was 100% sure of what she was saying (there was little room for me to misunderstand her).

 

Kayla Solis 

Stonehill College 

Zoglab

 

Jordanian (Arab) Time 

            I’ve been embracing Jordanian time (or, as my Jordanian friends are quick to correct me, Arab time) recently and it’s given me a new perspective of the cultural values time can reflect. In America, generally, people are expected to be on time, if not early, to their meetings and gatherings. Perhaps it was just a theatre influence but my theatre teacher in middle school instilled in us that “to be early was to be on time, to be on time was to be late, and to be late was to be dead.” If this doesn’t promulgate the importance of punctuality, especially to drill it into us at such a young age, I don’t know what does. Jordanian society, on the other hand, tends to run predictably late. People stop to chat with one another even if one or both party is in a rush. Sometimes, they don’t even show that they are rushing or late. My cultural partner and I went to breakfast today to catch up after spring break and work on our assignment. We both had class at 9:30 and we agree to meet at 8 to give us enough time to fit everything in before heading to class. However, our food came late and we ended up catching a taxi fifteen minutes later than our original plan; we were definitely going to be late to our classes.

            Throughout this time, Mahmoud didn’t show haste or worry about our being late once. He checked his phone once, mentioned at we should have already left, and continued to eat and talk to me. You could blame this on his being a student and not caring about class but our conversation had turned to this class being his favorite and so I knew how much it meant to him to be there. His actions and reactions, or lack thereof, are an example of Jordanian time as a whole.

            These two stories show very different value systems surrounding time. While both countries clearly value relationships, citizen’s reactions manifest in opposing ways: Americans seem to value future relationships and Jordanians value the relationships in the here and now. Whether meeting a potential client, a new business partner, old friends, etc. Americans are always rushing to their next meeting – in effect worrying about the relationships they are going to create in the future by getting to their meeting on time or showing a responsible face by being there when agreed upon. This is not to say that Jordanians don’t share this feeling, to a certain extent. However, the actions of Jordanians show that they are more concerned with the relationships right in front of them. They don’t often run by a friend without saying hi and probably stopping to chat. They aren’t shoving food into their mouths because they are late for something else when they are already having a discussion with a friend. Relationships in the here and now matter in a way that can’t be penciled into a calendar (mostly because Jordanians don’t seem to use them!) and I feel I have learned a lot about the need to balance those two relationship models in my own life. InSha’allah I can bring some of that home with me and work on being present with those I see face to face while also keeping to my documented meetings.

 

Jennie Wilbur 

Hamilton College 

Paintball

In a paintball game 

Theresa

All photos in this issue are taken by Theresa Pham 

05/17/2016

SPRING 2016 AMMAN LANGUAGE AND CULTURE II

NewsletterBannerAmman Abigayle

Studying in Jordan 

When contemplating where to study abroad last year, initially, Jordan did not even cross my mind. Most of my friends were going to places like England, Ireland, Spain, and let's just say, I was less than enthused about those prospects. Until, one day, my Arabic teacher at Notre Dame asked me why I was not considering studying in Amman. I felt like a complete idiot. Studying for an entire semester in Jordan would be such an opportunity to better my Arabic and have a really culturally immersive experience. My family was hesitant at first, but eventually our Syrian roots won out, and they fully supported me in my decision to spend a semester in Jordan.

Being here is so different from what I imagined. It's hard to even put into words. As far as my studies go, all of my classes have been so enriching. For me, Amiyah has been particularly difficult, this being the first time I've studied the colloquial language. However, operating in a day to day environment where I use my Arabic in most situations has helped me so much in speaking and listening. In addition to improving my language skills, the places we've been able to visit through the program, such as Petra, Wadi Rum, Jordan River, Mount Nebo, etc, have been absolutely breathtaking and rife with historical significance. Finally, the locals I have had the chance to get to know have been so welcoming and helpful in navigating this crazy city. Finally, I am so thankful to be able to give back by participating in the service weekends where we will be renovating a rural Jordanian school and getting to know the students who attend it. Deciding to study in Amman was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made but has definitely been one of the most fruitful and rewarding experiences of my life.

Abigayle Rhode-Pausina 

University of Notre Dame 

 

Jeanni

I Actually Attended PSUT

This semester, CIEE implemented a new program, offering exchange students the option to shadow a PSUT student for a day. As we take classes in the PSUT buildings but don’t take classes with PSUT students, I thought it would be an interesting window into the life of a student of PSUT rather than a student at PSUT. While CIEE had given us a talk during orientation about the differences in classroom conduct between the United States and Jordan, I wasn’t quite ready for what I perceived as I sat next to my new friend, Alaa.  

            Alaa had three classes the day I was paired with her: Discrete Math, History of the Region, and Computer Science: C++. Classes were generally in English with the exception of her history course and all three professors spoke to their students sometimes in colloquial Arabic, I assume to ensure that the right conclusion was come to by the students. I can’t say that I understood a whole lot of any of the classes, although I was still able to follow along with the concepts in math and C++, but I did notice a lot about the dynamic of the classroom that was interesting to me.

            Mainly it was the interaction between the professor and students that caught my attention: I didn’t see more than three hands raised in the entirety of the three classes combined. The professor lectured and it seemed to me that student participation was limited to filling in the blanks that professors strategically left in the lesson. As long as that was happening, the professors didn’t seem to particularly care about the student who answered. This resulted in less hesitancy by students to answer the questions right away; they literally fill in the blank as quickly as possible to complete the lesson. I found this in high contrast to my own classrooms. In my experience (i.e. smaller class sizes at a liberal arts college), students are often hesitant to pipe up immediately after the professor asks a question or leaves a blank in the information. I attribute this to the nature of my classes being more discussion based, leaving room for interpretation, potential wrongness to the answer, and an internal pressure to be right, leaving my fellow students and I silent even when we think we know the answer. Neither of these approaches are good or bad – the important thing is to observe the differences and learn about how other people are taught.

            Hands down the best part about shadowing a PSUT student was the personal connection to the school and the best friend I happened to make. Meeting students at PSUT and maintaining friendships with them can be hard – combining schedules, traversing new cultural norms based on the gender mix of the friend group, and the sad fact that we are only here for a semester or a year at best makes it difficult to reach out and form lasting relationships. However, being paired with a Jordanian student willing to lug me around for a full day who also happened to love my favorite band gave me an easy path to navigate. In free periods between classes, Alaa and I discussed our passions, hobbies, music, and Alaa introduced me to some of her friends. Finding that we both enjoyed talking about religion, American politics, and listening to the Wailin’ Jenny’s (among many shared music interests), we became almost instant friends and continue to meet up to chat in the jungle, as well as attend PSUT events together. Alaa has opened a new world to me – one where I definitely need a guide who speaks not only the local language but also Jennie’s language (and I don’t just mean English). Because of Alaa and the CIEE Shadowing Program, I have been able to attend amazing events that I normally would have overlooked because they didn’t have a readily available English translation. Alaa knows what events would interest me and has encouraged me to attend, even if they may or may not have English subtitles. This program has benefitted my language skills, my integration into the PSUT culture, and helped me make a friend for life.

Thanks CIEE Shadowing Program!

Jennie Wilbur 

Hamilton College

Wadi rum

Lifelong Friends 

I arrived in Amman, Jordan in August 2015. I was beyond nervous being in a different country not knowing anyone. I never thought that I would make such amazing friends and share our experience together. At first most of us kept to ourselves as we did not know each other but it was our trip to Petra and Wadi Rum that brought us close; this is what started a life long friendship. We had some ups and downs on this trip but once we made it to Wadi Rum and got to see how beautiful it was to see the sunset up close and to actually see stars; this made our trip worth it. I never thought that I would have friends from other states and other countries but I do and I must say it is a great feeling. I have friends who I do not have to see every day but we still keep in touch and check up on each other. We all started off wanting to learn Arabic and study in a foreign country, and now we are friends from all over who had a common interest and expanded on our experiences. I am very grateful for the people I meet while my first semester abroad as I am still studying in Amman, and I am looking forward to us all meeting again. This is not goodbye but farewell until we meet again. Take advantage while you are studying abroad, the friendships you make here will last a lifetime inshallah.

 

Shantel Moniz 

Fitchburg State University

03/14/2016

Spring 2016 Amman Language and Culture

NewsletterBannerAmman 

Amer

Salam from Amman ! We are excited to share with you the first issue of Spring 2016 Language and Culture Program Newsletter. Our newsletter is written by the students to share with you their Ammani experience, their thoughts and some interesting photos they captured in Jordan. 

Enjoy the read and the photos ! 

Zeina Alkaraki 

Student Services Manager 

Traffic in Amman 

There is a loose understanding of traffic laws in Amman. The best way I can describe driving is through the use of the word inshallah. In an approximate English understanding of the word, inshallah means “if God wills it”. Most of the time traffic seems to follow this simple rule: let's see if we can do this crazy thing and make it out alive, inshallah. During orientation we were told that traffic is the biggest danger we will face in Amman, and so far nothing has indicated that this statement is a lie. Even though this system is foreign to my notion of traffic, there's a special kind of beauty to it. I've been in multiple taxis where you'll spend one second maliciously cutting people off, and the next second the driver will politely stop to allow another car to pull in front of them. Even though there seems to be more fluidity in the understanding of what a lane is and what's appropriate to do while driving, there is some sort of understanding between Jordanians that allow them to pull out inches away from each other into traffic without ever batting an eye. This is a constant reminders that I'm just settling into a new culture that I can't completely understand yet, but it's exciting to think that I may be able to learn a piece of it, even though I will definitely not learn how to drive here.

Wesley McDonald

Susquehanna University 

Paris_Circle,_Amman_4

Life on Paris Circle

Before studying abroad, I was told three things by a friend who had previously done a CIEE program in Amman.

#1. Rainbow Street and specifically Books@Cafe will turn into the default café

#2. Taxis are either the most incredible welcoming people on Earth, or will take advantage of you and ruin your day
#3. Jabal Weibdeh will be your favorite place to hangout

Surprisingly, my friend was 100% right. I am lucky enough to be in a home-stay right off Paris Circle in Weibdeh. Jabal al-Weibdeh is one of Amman’s most pleasant old districts, with its pine trees, restaurants, galleries and parks. Weibdeh is the perfect place to retreat to from the noise and chaos of Amman. My favorite is waking up early on Friday, picking up a Shawarma sandwich, eating it while exploring the empty streets, and then ending my walk either with a nice book at a local café or at Paris circle itself. Culturally speaking, being in Weibdeh is an adventure itself. The numerous languages heard and different types of people you meet just walking around is wonderful. Sometimes I forget that I am even in Amman, let alone the Middle East.

Here are some of my favorite spots in Weibdeh that is worth the trek:
Fann Wa Chai – Art Gallery/Tea shop with the best balcony to get some work or reading done on. They also have the best Friday brunch!

Oliva – Best Pasta and Pizza restaurant in Amman (and these are coming from my super difficult Chicago standards!)

Abu Mahjoob – One of the best falafel sandwiches in Jordan. Will definitely give Al-Quds on Rainbow Street a run for its money.

Rakwet Arab – old, traditional shisha spot with good local food and some of the best Hummus with Laham.

Jo Bedu –  A funky T-Shirt shop with the funniest designs; think the Threadless of Amman.  Also one of the best places to buy Yislamoo cards

Darat Al Funun – An art gallery that takes a holistic approach to foster the creation of art in today’s world. The gardens are stunning and the view will melt your heart. They also have some of the most interesting lectures in Amman. Check their Facebook page for more information!

Theresa Pham 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Sheep (2)

Surprises in Amman

The best thing about studying abroad is that you never know what to expect while staying in another country. I have been in Amman for about 6 months now and I must say that even though I have been here for sometime, I still get surprised at what I see in Amman. The other day I was on my way to the dentist when I saw a herd of sheep in the middle of my street. At first I thought I was seeing things, maybe I was tired or hungry, but no it was real. There were about a thousand of sheep just passing through my neighborhood like nothing was wrong. I was starstrucked but I laughed because that is not something you would see in the states. I even began asking locals if that was normal or was it just a one time thing, but not many people have seen that out here while others see it everyday. It was interesting to me to see a herd of sheep just following their owner in the city, when normally I see sheep in herds restrained in a certain area. I will say never underestimate what you will see in another country, anything is possible.

Shantel Moniz

Fitchburg State University 

Rum

Hannah in Amman

My name is Hannah Rosenwinkel, and I’m originally from Madison Lake, Minnesota. I decided to study in Jordan because I wanted a study abroad experience that would immerse me in the Arabic language, culture, and continuously put me outside of my comfort zone. I was drawn to Jordan because I want to learn more about the way of life in a region that is misunderstood by many people. This semester, my classes consist of Advanced I Modern Standard Arabic, Advanced I Colloquial Arabic, Introduction to Islam, and Contemporary Arab Women Writers. Each class exposes me to a different aspect of life in Jordan: Standard Arabic exposes me to formal language, Colloquial Arabic exposes me to local culture through language, Islam exposes me to religion, and Contemporary Arab Women Writers exposes me to what it is like to be a woman in an Arab society. I’m hoping that my experience in Jordan will help me develop intercultural communication skills that I can apply to a future career in international business.

So far, my experience has been wonderful! I have formed relationships with my Jordanian host family, fellow CIEE students and Arab students at my university. Amman is a mixture of western and traditional culture, which is something I love. Each day is a learning experience for me and I am constantly learning new words and traditions. Even when I have bad days, I know that I will always come home to my loving and generous host family. They are always eager to ask me how my day was, and enjoy cooking me new Jordanian meals. I’m excited to see what the rest of the semester brings!

Hannah Rosenwinkel

University of Minnesota

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Studying Abroad in Amman 

The CIEE Language & Culture program is an exceptional learning institute! The program offers a unique combination of both Formal and Jordanian Colloquial Arabic, mixed with an enriching curriculum of area studies involving regional dynamics and cultural aspects of the Middle East.From my experience living in Jordan this past semester, I can honestly say that the program has provided me with the proper skills and language instruction necessary in understanding local Jordanian customs. Learning from both traditional works and understanding how to deal with marketplace negotiations, have all served as value in understanding such a rich culture. Studying the local Jordanian dialect allowed me to develop a strong understanding of Arab values. For instance, Jordanians value respect and politeness. They are so appreciative, and have certainly shown such a warm welcoming to foreigners who wish to pursue Arabic and learn more about the region and its culture. After the completion of my study abroad program in Amman, I plan to further my passion for Arabic, and dedicate my time to teaching the traditions and cultural nuances of the Arab World. My experience in Jordan has truly been rewarding. I’d like to recognize my Arabic instructors, Kholoud Nasser, Muhammad Khabass, and Balsam alOmari, for pushing me beyond my boundaries and helping me grow personally and professionally into aculture which I am more than proud to be a part of.

Daniel Regan 

Salve Regina University 

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