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. Our speaker was her boss, Maha Kattaa, Syrian response coordinator for ILO.
- Wednesday - again, "all Arabic all the time", plus a banquet of Arabic food, in anticipation of Ramadan
- Thursday - Jordanian Independence Day! so no Arabic classes. Instead, Charles and I led a session on the Syrian crisis generally, the refugee crisis specifically, and how the crisis in the region also became a "crisis" (in the eyes of most Europeans) for the EU, the Balkans, and beyond.
- Friday - wow, a near-perfect day! and a 13- or 14-hour day also. We started our day "north" by stopping at the Jabbok River, where Jacob "struggled" with an Angel, and then Jacob's name was change to Israel, "he who struggles with God". From here, we went to Um Qais for lunch and a tour of this Greek-Roman-Ottoman city (ruins thereof). We are not allowed within 10 KM of the Syrian-Jordanian border, but still, we were within a few KMs of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. From Um Qais, we could see the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias) and Golan. Then, a drive along the Jordan Valley/Jordan River, and within just a few hundred yards of the Israeli border. Our destination for that drive was the Cave of Jesus, where Jesus is said to have rested with 72 followers and the 12 Apostles.
- Friday night (deserves a "bullet point" of its own!) - the home of my brother Nidal, meaning the home of his mother and father, who together bore 12 children, of whom Nidal is the oldest. This was the night of nights in my 24 years of Dialogue history! Amazing food, amazing music and dancing, and a "tribe" of love -- quite literally, the Ben Issa Tribe, the "Sons of Jesus" Tribe, which Nidal and his family belong to. These Muslim sons and daughters of Jesus, "Issa", are so full of love for one another and for all of us ... our students and all of us were so moved by their generosity, their love for one another, their traditions, their talents as musicians, and so much more.
- Saturday - a short day, an optional visit to a center for Syrian refugee children suffering from psycho-social trauma. The center is called Happiness ... Again and they focus on children ages 6 through 12 who have been physically or psychologically traumatized, directly or indirectly, by the Syrian crisis. The Center also works with teenagers and women, to help the whole family, and especially the youngest and most vulnerable.