The eighth Changing Lives program was the first in our expansion beyond the UK. December 2016 saw 11 undergraduate students from The Australian National University travel to Jordan for the first time to study Arab culture and Arabic language.
The program featured activities in Greater Amman and Jerash. Students from the Australian National University went to the Jaber bin Hayyan Boys School under the Madrasati Initiative. The Australian students shared their English language skills through sports, art and heritage lessons. The highlight of the day was when the Jordanian students taught the visiting students the famous Dabke dance.
“The program helped me understand the extent Jordanians have gone to to welcome refugees into their community. It also allowed me to talk to people I otherwise would not have gotten the chance to speak to. I really enjoyed a lot of the organisations we went to and it was very touching to hear people’s stories and dedication to helping others.” – Lara Wedding, ANU Student, Changing Lives program #8.
Students participated in engaging activities with the Princess Taghrid Institute for Training and Development and participated in handicraft activities and undertook a meet and great language exchange with some of the beneficiaries of PTI’s care and training.
ANU students also visited the Roman ruins at Jerash with PTI in glorious winter sunshine before moving to nearby Souf village. At Souf the students ate lunch at one of PTI’s community empowerment projects – a productive kitchen bringing together the skills of local women with fantastic local ingredients. This kitchen is set in a 19th century Church that has been converted to a kitchen, meeting place and sales centre for local women’s products. The students also met local high school students and learn about their lives in the village – again helping them with English and practicing the Australian’s Arabic.
Australian National University students enjoyed a memorable Christmas period this year with a return visit to the Princess Taghrid Institute community centre at Jerash. Over 120 children and their mothers attended to learn about each other through face painting, drawing and lots of games. PTI and the Changing Lives students delivered many gift packages to the students at this special time of year. It warmed all of our hearts and brought out lots of smiles in the cold weather.
“I thought the program was wonderful as it really allowed us access to communities that we otherwise would not have engaged with, such as the children at the school in Rusayfah or the ladies from PTI. It’s important to learn about the shortcomings and difficulties a community faces, but it’s also important to know how these issues are being addressed and how we can help. The whole program was also set out in an engaging way where we were allowed freedom in our interactions with everyone, which made it really easy to just talk to others and get a glimpse into their life, while practising our Arabic language skills.” – Tooba Faridi, ANU student, Changing Lives Program #8.