Keeping busy around Jordan

Since my last blog post, I have been keeping busy all day at the office and there always seems to be some event or activity after work. I have not had much downtime since I moved into my new apartment, located in the neighborhood called Jebel el Weibdeh.

I have observed five Non-Formal (NFE) and three Informal (IFE) education centers, and am conducting informal interviews with facilitators, Questscope staff, and students. Most students in the NFE program are Jordanian: the program follows a set curriculum and students eventually take an exam that, if passed, will give them 10th grade equivalency. The vast majority of students enrolled in the IFE program, however, are Syrians. The IFE sessions don’t follow a set curriculum, and don’t offer any type of accreditation. Its value lies in its ability to provide children with the opportunity to get out of house (girls especially are often confined to the home), make friends, engage in structured activities, and regain some sense of normalcy with a schedule and routine.

I’ve been able to see a lot of East Amman and cities in the north through these visits, including Mafraq, Irbid, and Ramtha. (The IFE site in Ramtha was just a mile or two from the Syrian border). This Thursday, if all goes smoothly, I will be observing an IFE session and speaking with young adults and children involved in Questscope’s mentoring program in the Za’atari refugee camp, situated just outside of Mafraq.

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Outside of work, I’ve been meeting up with friends:

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Hamza, Arez, Me, and Amanda: We all met last April at the AMENDS conference at Stanford, and were able to catch up over Jordanian kofta (ground beef with tahini sauce) and salads downtown Amman.

Going to festivals and concerts:

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I saw traditional Circassian dancing AND Nancy Ajram at the Jerash festival.

Exploring the outdoors:

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Danice and I at the Dead Sea after doing a river hike in the Wadi Mujib gorge

And doing a little solo tourism:

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At Mt. Nebo, where apparently Moses looked upon the promised land, then died. He is buried up there somewhere.

Tomorrow begins Ramadan here in Jordan. I’ve been convinced by my co-workers to give fasting a try, at least for a few days, so I’m giving it a shot, for solidarity’s sake.

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About Laura McAdams

Laura McAdams is a Master’s student at University of Pennsylvania studying International Educational Development. Her experience in the MENA region includes 15 months as a Fulbright student researcher to Fez and Ifrane, Morocco in 2010 and 2011. Her project was interested in understanding the disconnect between the policies of technology usage in education and the reality of how these policies unfold in the classroom. Summer 2012 she returned to the Middle Atlas mountains of Morocco to work with a women’s weaving cooperative. She is excited to learn more about other countries in the MENA region and issues involving education policy and reform, technology usage in curriculums and gender equality in education. One of Laura’s lifelong goals is to one day be able to sit down and leisurely read a newspaper in Arabic.
This entry was posted in International Educational Development Program at UPenn, 2012-2013 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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