"Two Months in Jordan" by Elizabeth Russ
When I look back at my arrival in Jordan, I see myself in awe of the size and dense traffic of Amman, eager to read the Arabic letters on street signs, and simply happy to have been given the opportunity to travel to the Arab world. I remember taking pictures of everything, even a random advertisement, simply because I had not seen Arabic written commercially before; even after studying the language for two years, it was still so new.
I spent the first month in Amman studying Peace and Conflict Management with former Jordanian Ambassador to Israel, Dr. Omar Rifai. As an aspiring diplomat, I highly value Dr. Rifai’s instruction, insight into the ongoing conflict between the Arab World and Israel, and especially his stories of his time as Ambassador. Although brief, the time spent with Dr. Rifai has further sparked my interest in the politics of the region and inspired me to pay more attention to my country’s (USA) policy choices in Jordan—and the Jordanian public’s reaction to these decisions.
Following Dr. Rifai’s course on Conflict Management, I dove into my Arabic classes head first. When I decided to participate in the program, I am not sure I truly understood what “Intensive Arabic” meant. Now, with only three days left in the program, after 3 full weeks of Arabic, 5-hours a day, 5-days a week, I can say the program—although draining—has been worth every second of exhaustion. My professors, Ustad Osama, Dr. Ali, and Ustada Salam have taught me more in three weeks than I learned in the past year at school in the States. The days have truly flown by.
Outside of class, I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to the Dead Sea, Madaba, Jerash, Petra, Wadi Rum, Mount Nebo, and Aqaba. These trips and the people I traveled with have shaped my experience in Jordan--my host family with their hospitality, my local friends with their willingness to include us foreigners, and my American friends with their open-mindedness. I strongly believe the local people and the experiences you have with them, not the physical geography, is what makes a country special. For me, this is what makes me want to return.
As my time in Jordan comes to an end, I find difficulty in saying good-bye. Inshallah, I will be able to return to Amman to continue my Arabic and regional studies. Next time however, I plan to spend more than 6 months in-country. So, when I take off from Princess Alia airport in less than a week, it will not be goodbye, but rather a goodbye-for-now.