FALL 2015 ISSUE 1
Greetings from Amman!
The Study Abroad staff members in the Office of CIEE Amman are pleased to bring you the first issue of the Fall 2015 Language and Culture Program Blog! We hope you find this newsletter informative and fun.
How Jordan has welcomed a Mexican
My Mexican friend from the States messaged me to ask me how Mexicans are treated in Jordan and what my experience as a Latina in a Middle Eastern Country has been so far. I decided to give him the following account of my experience here so far: Mexicans are loved here in Jordan! I have never in my life before coming to Jordan felt so welcomed and accepted. All of the Jordanian Women, Men, and Children who I have had the chance to speak to in Taxis, on the street, at the gym, at cafe shops, and at school are beyond excited when they find out that I am Mexican. Most tend to confuse me for Indian, Middle Eastern, and sometimes from some European countries. I immediately let them know that I am Mexican from Mexico, but that I live and study in the States. Their eyes open up even bigger (keep in mind they have big beautiful eyes) and then they proceed to fill me with greetings like "Ahlan Wasahlan" "Marhaban" "Fursa Saeeda" "Welcome." They immediately proceed to tell me that they LOVE MEXICO and MEXICANS, and keep in mind that most of them haven't been to Mexico or have met a Mexican before. But they know that we exist because of films and soap operas (Rubi the Mexican soap opera is quite famous in the middle east).
I have had local Jordanian men and women invite me to dinner with their families. People go out of their way to to help me with anything. I feel very safe and protected. Taxis, students, professors have provided me with their phone numbers and they make it very clear in English and Arabic, that if I ever am in any trouble to call them and they will help. They also love feeding me! The beautiful family that I live with is always asking me how I feel, if I am hungry, how my day was. I have never before met such a beautiful race of people. I believe that the Muslim religion, culture and traditions have influenced this great hospitality.
Janeth Ledezma Sanchez, University of California-EAP
A Rare Experience
The CIEE program in Amman is truly an experience like no other. From all the programs in the middle east I feel that Jordan has the most to offer for me. The Arabic language that is taught here is as close to fusha as possible and students are also given the chance to pick up the colloquial Arabic easily. The program offers many area studies to choose from some in Arabic and others in English giving students the ability to focus on whatever they please. Instructors in Amman are very sympathetic and encouraging of each student’s individual needs. They are also present in any way they can aid and offer many services and guidance to students day to day. What is also amazing about the program in Amman is that students get to interact with local peers from the University very easily. The gym, cafeteria, and hallways are all filled with kind students ready to make friends at any moment.
Rashad Kayed, University of California-EAP
Admiring the Ayyubids in Ajloun
Last Saturday, I was privileged enough to visit the medieval Ayyubid castle in Ajloun with my fellow CIEE students. This was my first trip to the north of Jordan. By the time our bus had left the outskirts of Amman, I could not help but stare out the bus window, mesmerized at what I saw. We passed by picturesque small villages perched on mountain terraces, with the thick groves of olives trees and natural forests below them covering the hills and valleys of Northern Jordan. The extensive forests and green vegetation in the North contrasted with the sparsity and aridness of the deserts of Wadi Rum and Azraq, reminding me of the diversity in climate and geography that Jordan is blessed with. By the time our bus started the winding road up to the castle I could already see the strategic value of this place. Known as Qala’at ar-Rabad, the castle was built by ‘Izz ad-Din Usama, nephew of the magnanimous and legendary Salah ad-Din (known as Saladin in the West), in the 12th century to guard against Crusader invasions of the Jordan Valley. One of the few medieval castles in the modern-Levant that was built by Islamic forces and not the Crusaders, this fortress guarded the valuable iron mines of Ajloun as well as several strategic passages leading to and from the Holy Land. After hopping off the bus and climbing up a steep hill, we were rewarded with incomparable views of the countryside. We eagerly explored the massive fortress, passing through hidden passages and grand halls with imposing stone arches. Standing from the top of one of the towers, I stood in silence and marveled at beauty and history of this place. As we prepared to leave, I immediately promised myself that I would have to return and grudgingly descended the hill and boarded the bus for home. I knew that Ajloun, its castle, and its countryside were an experience that I would never forget.
Richard Sacco, University of California-EAP
We should go to lunch for our a’amiyaa class on food, I half-jokingly suggested to my professor. “Oh, of course! Next Monday, ok?” was my professor’s immediate response. This hasn’t been an isolated incident; this week my fusha professor asked us if we had ever been to Sweileh (the area of Amman to the north of the university), and when most of us shook our heads no, she told us to remind her to take us on a tour in her car (it’s nice to have a class of four students!). Everyone in Amman has been incredibly hospitable and welcoming to all of the students – between taxi drivers who return forgotten iPhones, to store owners insisting on giving me a free candy as a welcome, to the constant “ahlan wa sahlans” we receive from all Jordanians – but the professors in particular have been spectacular. My favorite part of the CIEE program has been hearing from each of my professors about life in Jordan and also celebrating with them. For example, during Eid, two of my professors brought in mamoul cookies, Arabic coffee, dates, and chocolate to celebrate before and after break. One professor actually brought in treats for two days leading up to Eid break and then for the day when we came back! My fusha teacher has also been especially great in answering all of my random questions on how Jordanians dress, the differences I see between interactions on campus and off, and side notes on Jordanian traditions. All in all, even though I have learned a ton from the coursework at CIEE (shout out to a’amiyaa, since I had never learned it before!), the best part of the program and the most educative aspect has been interacting with the teachers in the same way we would as friends – questioning, discussing, listening – and learning through real life experiences outside of the classroom.
Rosa Cuppari, Georgetown University