Amazing week in Amman - and now, Ramadan Karim!

Today is the first day of Ramadan.  It's also the end of a very busy, beautiful week for our students and our team. I'll try to capture some of it with words and the rest with pictures.

Monday - pretty much "all Arabic, all day", including Language Partners for all students.Tuesday - after 4 hours of Arabic, and some Arabic dancing (see picture), we went to the ILO (International Labor Organization) here in Amman.  ILO is a UN organization that focuses on workers' rights and labor laws, but once the Syrian refugee crisis developed and intensified, the ILO here had little choice but to also start working with Syrians on issues related to work. And once the Government of Jordan agreed to allow Syrian refugees to get work permits (which is a very rare event, for refugees anywhere to join another country's labor force), then the ILO became more involved in that effort also. Our own Maisam alAhmad, NU graduate of 2016, is currently working for ILO here in Amman. O…

Jordan Dialogue & Project GO 2017

Nearing the end of Week 1 of the Dialogue/Project GO program, all students are well, in their appropriate Arabic classes, settled into their apartments, and have already started their history, politics, and foreign policy lectures as well.

Below are some pictures from some of the above activities; first 5 pics are from Mt. Nebo ("Mount of the Prophet" [Moses], where Moses saw the Promised Land) and the last 2 are from today's lecture with Dr. Badr Al-Madi, University of Jordan and formerly with the Royal Court.

AND BELOW IS MY FAVORITE "BARBERSHOP QUARTET", the Shabaab of the Dialogue: Raed (our faithful bus driver), Nidal (the "Big Boss" and Brains of Bright Star Travel), Charles (the peripatetic Baron of BCARS), and my new brother Rami (driver extraordinaire and otherwise caretaker of us all in his Hybrid Toyota):


Reminds me of Alexandria Egypt. And there's a great reason for that, since Alex was founded by the hero of this part of Greece especially! -- Alexander the Great. (We visited his father's and his son's royal tombs today in Vergina) 

And yesterday we toured the major highlights of the City. 

Below, the Rotunda: a Roman temple for a time, which later served as a mosque during the Ottoman period. Now back to serving as a church with regular services on Sunday's. 

Above: Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) home - he lived here around 12-13 years. 
Below: Constantinos, our beloved guide around Thessaloniki. 

Belgrade - so much to catch up on!

It's been over a week since I've posted anything; so much to write about, but too damned busy to do so!  instead, i'll put up as many pics as possible.

Today, we had a tour of the Serbian parliament plus a lecture by a Political Economist at U-Belgrade, Dušan Pavlović, who is also a member of Parliament (and a harsh critic of the ruling party as well as the corruption and unfairness rampant in the political and economic system of his great country).

And here's our guide for the morning explaining the national Crest/Coat of Arms of Serbia 

Srebrenica - connecting Anne Frank (1945) to Srebrenica (1995)

Enroute from Sarajevo to Belgrade, we made the most important visit of our program thus far, to Potocari Memorial of the Srebrenica massacre/genocide of July 1995.  Our visit occurred 21 years almost to the exact day when the killing fields of Srebrenica ended.

Haggadah and National Museum

Our last day in Sarajevo. I gave students the day to explore on their own, with a "scavenger hunt" as a guide. Many went up to the 1984 Olympics Bobsled "chute". Others went to the Srebrenica photo exhibit (before we go to the Potocari memorial tomorrow). 
And others of us went to the National Museum where the highlight is the Haggadah. 

PSOTC and Parliament visit in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Yesterday (Thursday 14 July), we were hosted by the Commandant of the Peace Support Operations Training Center (PSOTC) in Sarajevo.  PSOTC is very proud to have received a quality assurance accreditation by NATO.  We visited PSOTC last year as well, and we're very happy to have added this Bosnian military education and training center to our regular Balkans Dialogue itinerary.

And today (Friday), we had a very busy day in Sarajevo.  We started at the World Bank's office in BiH and received an absolutely brilliant economic briefing by the Country Manager for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ms. Tatiana Proskuryakova.  (Praying for her power point!)

Then, we walked one block over to the BiH Parliament and had an equally brilliant political analysis by Mr. Senad Šepić, a self-described "dissident" within the dominant Bosniak party, the SDA (the Party of Democratic Action), led by Bosniak president Bakir Izetbegović.  Here we are at the entrance to Parliament (with a couple of US A…