The programme was called Changing Lives, but instead of me changing their life, I felt they changed mine.
Working in Jordan with children was an eye-opening experience. As a Literature student at the time, I was excited to get to know people in Jordan and to immerse myself into the culture as much as possible, even if language was going to be a barrier. Jordan in itself is a beautiful country. On our first few days there we travelled from Amman to other nearby cities, taking in the sun and enjoying the copious amounts of amphitheatres. This exceeded any of my expectations prior to going. I was exposed to a lot of media coverage on the Middle East last year and before going on the trip I was a bit dubious on what to expect there. Jordan is neighboured by countries who are currently at war, and speaking to Jordanians gave me an insight into what it is like living so near to war. This was fascinating and everyone had their own opinions on the matter. Before our ventures into different schools across Jordan, as a team, we planned lessons and made sure different age groups had suitable material.
Prior to the trip, we bought different classroom materials that included books, paper, pens, colouring books, and interesting objects to create games. On a beautiful, sunny morning we packed our materials and were ready to start teaching children of all different ages some English. We split the day into two and went to two different places. Our first stop was in a school in Kerak, a city an hour away from Amman. The school were very welcoming, providing us with lunch and giving us some time to get to know everybody. After lunch it was time to learn and we all got our different groups.
I led a group of twenty students and my aim was to go around the group and introduce our selves first and then play a few English games. As Jordanian Arabic was a different dialect to my Algerian preferred dialect, it was a little hard at times to understand the students, so we communicated using flashcards I had made or by acting out. This was a great way to find out about the students’ characteristics. I made the game even more interesting by making students throw a ball to the student they wanted to speak next. This encouraged laughter and a happy environment for everyone.
After a few games, I set a task for students that they had already prepared for. They all had to write a paragraph about themselves and what they enjoy most about living in Jordan. Their teacher encouraged all of them to present their paragraph by coming up to the front of the classroom. This was great because they were all excited to share their paragraphs and try to impress us all. Cheers, Jordanian dances, and lots of food. All the volunteers had come back together at the end of the session and we all shared our experiences and enjoyed the company of the school. This was one of my greatest experiences on the trip because the students were so grateful for the opportunity to learn. Many were grateful that we visited Jordan and said that a lot of people are not visiting due to the news on Syria and the increase in refugees into Jordan.
Packed and ready to set off to a new destination, we grab our stuff and head off to a charity called Madrasati.
I absolutely loved this experience because I learnt so much. The charity takes in mothers and children. There is a children’s centre and then a maternal section. The children’s centre consisted of different classrooms and a few courtyards for outdoor activities, such as basketball, fun games, and outdoor reading. In classes, it was learning based where students would sit on small chairs and learn different topics each day. When we were there, they were learning about different countries and we gave them the task to draw maps of the world, labelling each country with touristic attractions and what you can do there. All in English. We helped them with their English by giving them flashcards of the countries’ names, some starter sentences, and some words to get them started.
Despite loving the teaching aspect of the charity, I enjoyed my time there more speaking with the women. The charity helps women who have been domestically abused, giving them a community to be apart of as well as teaching them basic survival skills. The company had just started a new project that aimed in teaching women how to stay safe in Jordan. As this topic currently in Jordan is a taboo, the company are trying to speak out and give these women a voice. Overall my experience in Jordan has burst my western bubble and given me a real insight into the lives of Jordanians. The country is beautiful, and the people are friendly and kind. Despite what the media may say about Jordan, the country is safe, and I felt comfortable walking around the streets.