Jordan (written last week but posted now)

I was privileged enough to meet some amazing individuals in Jordan. Without going into too much detail, I have met some amazing people who are dedicated to young people, to reading, to seeing them grow, and build a better future than they were afforded. It’s funny that despite language, culture, religion, age, color, or any other factor that can be used to divide a people, has been completely surpassed, and, embraced by us in order to ensure that young people can learn.
Two days ago we went to the Za’atari Refugee Camp for Syrian refugees. Most of the time I think that I’m not penetrable. I’ve been many places, seen a lot of extreme things (obviously not anything too extreme) but I feel like I’ve been exposed to a lot. The camp was different, completely different. We met with some folks who have been trained in a program and now are leaders in their society. We met people who were professionals, students, folks who had comprehensive lives before they were in the camp. Now they dedicate their time to young people. They are the ones who will lead Syria in the future, so they must be educated. They told us their stories, what their hopes are for themselves and their children, what they would like to return to when they can. The camp has expanded to almost 300,000 when it was made for 20,000 (the figures are approximate) and there are more people coming in every day. There are a lot of organizations, IRC, UNICEF, IRD, and Save the Children, to name a few, that are providing services inside the camp. People are there to support them.
Sometimes, even as someone who likes to write to express their feelings or emotions, I don’t have words. We met a man who was a radiologist who started his own NGO within the camp to support the Syrian youth. We met a woman who didn’t believe you needed school to be educated and who does fascinating work with the children in her community. We met a group of children who were silent as a storyteller read them a book. These individuals have given themselves and their youth purpose and tools to help them build their future, even in a place where either of those things are not so apparent on a day to day basis. I don’t think I can do it justice in my description. On the way back from the camp I cried in the van. I was overwhelmed with emotions and the only way it came out was with tears and I’m still not sure why. I haven’t been shocked, or overwhelmed like that in a very long time.
To decompress I usually have capoeira, and luckily there is a capoeira group in Jordan. It’s a young group, but they are all passionate about capoeira. It was a new experience again, the style of game is slightly different, and the style of teaching was much different than I’m used to. It was truly a day of new experiences. There was one guy in the group who was American and had come to Jordan for rock climbing. He intended to stay for 2 months, and 7 months and a job with the WHO he’s thinking about leaving. The rest of the guys in the group are young Jordanians. They were lovely.
After the class, when one of them asked me how I liked Jordan, I said that I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did, that I had been to Israel before and… but he interrupted me very abruptly to say, “Palestine.” I responded that I didn’t make it to that side of the border, and he said Palestine again, saying that it is all their land and was stolen from them. Not wanting to get into a political debate with a new friend, who obviously had very strong opinions, I said yes and said that the British gave it to them and that there was much to discuss about that but for another time and place. He let it go, thankfully. I wonder what would have happened had we continued the conversation. I’m sure we would agree on many issues, but just by that glimpse of a reaction, I’m sure it would be very emotionally driven and we would come with two very different and at some points similar perspectives. I’m not willing to go into it most of the times because I feel like those conversations fragment more than build understanding. I wish that wasn’t the case. The rest of dinner was lovely. We discussed capoeira, watched videos, and talked about the next time we would meet, inshallah.
Yesterday consisted of an all day training with some amazing women. Sometimes things just click; sometimes you just meet the right people. We all said that this trip is the beginning of a new and beautiful relationship that will result in some great work in the future, inshallah. We forged such a strong bond with our new friends that when we went out to dinner we spoke about the next time we meet and the things that we hope to accomplish by then, and the wonderful journeys we will take together. There are many plans in the works. I love it when this happens! We could have sat and talked for hours on end. We are now friends.
There were other work commitments but we also get to enjoy a bit of Jordan and are on our way to Petra. It’s great that we are able to experience not only the culture and people on a professional and personal level but we also get to see one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. A wonder it will be! Pictures will come later.

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