I am leaving Jordan early tomorrow morning. I have mixed feelings about this. I cannot wait to eat my mom’s Korean food and enjoy watching the sunset on the Temple Green at our college. At the same time, I know I will be missing the wonderful time I had in Jordan with my host family and friends.
For my CISLA internship, I worked with Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development-Legal Aid (ARDD-Legal Aid), a local NGO that aims to actively contribute to a just and stable society, free of inequality and conflict. Its primary role involves the provision of legal aid services to the most vulnerable members of society who cannot access or afford legal protection. Although Jordan’s summer was sometimes brutal, my time at the internship eased the stress and helped me forget about the heat.
I still vividly remember my first day at ARDD-Legal Aid. As I came close to the Third Traffic Circle, I constantly checked the GPS on my phone to see I was going to the right location. I made sure I arrived at the organization at nine sharp. After singing my internship agreement with her, my internship coordinator gave me a tour of the office. Everyone smiled at me and said “Welcome aboard.” From that first day, I definitely knew I was going to enjoy my time and work with heartwarming people.
Although my research unit team members were not actually expecting me to arrive on that date, they quickly welcomed me and assigned me tasks to do. It seemed like the research unit had a lot of projects going on simultaneously (And they always do!). They always made sure that I was kept very busy. The moment I met my team, I was asked to make data entries and write an annotated bibliography for coming projects. I was also given the responsibility to write reports.
One of the most memorable tasks I was in charge of was writing an UN-funded toolkit (i.e. guidelines) on how legislators, educators and journalists can address and combat violence against women and girls. Although it was my first time writing a paper like that, my research team trusted me. I will never forget the countless meetings we had to complete the toolkit. I would not have able to complete the paper successfully without the constant encouragement and feedback from my research unit team.
In addition to my internship, I kept myself busy because I wanted to make the most of my time in Jordan. My day usually started with my CrossFit class at CrossFit Quicksand, which was just across the street from my apartment. Before leaving for my internship site at 8:30 am, I would go to my class at 6:00 am. I actually started CrossFit in Jordan and surprisingly fell in love with it. I have to find a way to continue my CrossFit once I return to New London. Somehow, I unexpectedly found my new hobby in Jordan.
I also volunteered twice a week at a local organization called the Collateral Repair Project that provides humanitarian assistance to urban refugees in East Amman. After my day working at the internship, I taught English to urban refugees in the late afternoons. It was bit difficult to find transportation to East Amman, so it would always take me at least one hour to get to my volunteering site. Nevertheless, I was happy that I was able to use my knowledge and practice my Arabic.
After the holy month of Ramadan, I invited Jordanian friends and my host family (from the study abroad semester) to my CISLA apartment. I often cooked Korean food for them and they brought Arab desserts in exchange. Some of my Jordanian friends also cooked Arab dishes like maqluba at home. Sometimes the cooking did not go as planned, but it was nice to catch up with each other in the air-conditioned apartment. (It makes a big difference in summer here).
I also spent a lot of my time with my Jordanian friends whom I met at the University of Jordan while I was studying abroad. They asked me last semester if I could help them with their YouTube channel called Jordan’s Korean Dream. This YouTube channel aims to introduce the Middle Eastern culture, especially Jordanian culture, and teach basic Arabic conversation to the target audience of interested Koreans.
I was only able to help them twice during the academic semester because we did not have enough time for it. So, I concentrated all my efforts on producing more videos during my last two weeks here in Jordan. We made videos on public transportation, cooking popular Jordanian/Palestinian foods, and mini trips to tourist areas. This video-making process helped me organize my thoughts and reflect on my time in Jordan.
Jordan will always remain deep in my heart and I look forward to coming back again if the opportunity arises. The invaluable experiences I have gained in Jordan could not have been possible without the help of our CISLA program. My time in Jordan has helped me to become a more independent person and given me opportunities to think carefully about my post-graduation life.
As I write this blog entry, I ask myself several questions and I wonder if I have been really fulfilling our CISLA mission of becoming a “global citizen who is culturally sensitive, politically and socially motivated and intellectually engaged.” Honestly, I think I will carry this question to my graduation ceremony.