October 18, 2019 0

The Experiment in Jordan: Arabic Language & The Middle East

My Jordan experience is probably one of
the best experiences I’ve ever had. I feel like I definitely became a more open minded person over the course of this program. I really sort of had those wow moments of thinking that “I’m right in the middle of the Middle East.” If you’re looking to try something a little outside the box then I would definitely say to come to Jordan. The Experiment Program to Jordan is one that challenges you and it’s one where you will go back home not necessarily being the same person. The Experiment Program to Jordan is a
four-week program that’s focused on history, politics, and language. The idea is that students learn best
when they’re immersed in a culture. So they have a Jordanian host family and every day they speak in Arabic with their host family. I love my homestay family. They remind me so much of my own family. I feel like I actually have brothers and sisters. I feel like I have a Jordanian mom and dad. The really important thing about the homestay is that it allows me to sort of see the real Jordan. You know, you can study about a culture, you can learn a language, but the true test of it is when you’re in the home stay. When you can
speak and say… or if I can sit here. That’s when it becomes important. When you can kind of get an idea of what it’s like to live in the Middle East. Coming to Jordan I knew zero Arabic. Not even how to say hello or goodbye. I mean at the beginning I didn’t know a word in Arabic. All I knew was who was… I’m amazed that in the course of three and a half weeks they have come from knowing no Arabic and really struggling with the word thank
you, to being able to hold conversations. My teachers were very engaging. They all
had their different methods. For our spoken Arabic we used a lot of song, dance, and games. Each day we focus on something. Say, numbers or how to give a cab driver directions. I learned probably as much from talking to taxi drivers as I learned in the classroom. The Arabic
courses are pretty intense, but you will come out of here at learning how to read,
speak, and write most basic phrases. The Southern excursion is like my favorite part of the trip. We went to Petra, the Wadi Rum Desert, and Akbar. Petra is one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s really quite extraordinary. My favorite part of the program was going to Wadi Rum. I think it really just brought the group closer together and we all got to experience the deserts of Jordan in a beautiful way. I really got the whole Lawrence of Arabia feeling. And then we continue to Akbar, which is the town by the Red Sea. And there we were able to actually get on a boat, snorkel, and see the second largest coral
reef in the world. The best thing for me was the captain of the ship pointed out, Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, all which were in sight. And again, this sort of just placed me right in the middle of Middle East. You can’t be in Jordan without talking about the refugee issues. Some people they call Jordan a kingdom of refugee. And now we have more than three million Syrian refugees in Jordan. What we saw, it was very hard to watch. A lot of these people lost their homes, lost their family members, in all a matter of years they’ve lost some of their entire lives. The refugees aren’t allowed to work. They get their $21 a month for food. They have nothing constructive to do. And that really struck me as tragic. Um how many – approximately how many children live here? And how many women are pregnant? So it’s like 350 to 400 persons. 10, 12, 13 pregnant women. Seeing the kids especially was hard, because they look so happy and care-free but you know that
they’ve been through so much. One of the shocking things for our students was that the Syrian kids they don’t have that ability to go to school. He’s saying, “I don’t… send me to Syria, because I want to study, because education is important, or let me go to school and study here in Jordan.” It’s just something that I don’t think a lot of us have ever really experienced anything like and it really makes the wars and Syria and other
places seem a lot more real. When you’re living far away from all this conflict in the Middle East you have like a tendency to separate yourself from it, but being so
close to it, it opens your eyes up and it makes you more empathetic. I’ve definitely matured on this program and through the course of the month I figured out more and more what I want to get out of life. Its realizing that they’re not the same person when they started and now they’ll be going home with Arabic skills and a newfound knowledge of the Middle East. I would definitely recommend The Experiment. I would recommend Jordan specifically. I like The Experiment, because of the focus on real immersion. I don’t feel like a guest in this country I felt like I belonged here.

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