The inaugural program with students from the University of Westminster London ran from the 16th to 25th of September, 2016. Students took part in activities designed to enhance the lives of school children and refugees in Jordan. This included visiting the Madrasati Alkindi Boys School in Ruseifeh, the Gaza Refugee camp in Jerash and the Pricess Taghrid Institute, a foundation which provides disadvantaged young people with training.
Although the Westminster students were confronted with an unexpected week of public holidays for public school students and an empty school they set to work with their planned upgrades. Within no time word had spread throughout the neighborhood and dozens of local students came to school on their days off to play and learn from the Westminster Students.
The Westminster students helped clean up the garden at AlKindi Boy’s School and inspired the school to plan their own garden upgrades including a herb garden, seats underneath the now-accessible shady trees and an upgraded wall. A visit to the spectacular Jerash ruins on the day of Jordan’s parliamentary elections was a great example of the program’s multiple characteristics including exposure to Jordanian history and its social and political landscape. The students also had a chance to meet alumni of the University at a special networking reception in Amman.
Westminster student Rianne Shlebak said: “We visited the Gaza refugee camp in Jerash [and]… learned a lot about how the people of the camp lived and how they were born into it generation after generation. When meeting the children they were all asked to state what they wished to be when they were older and many of them said careers such as doctors, engineers etc. This was something that made me very happy because it showed that despite the situation they were born into they still have hopes and dreams outside the camp and for their future.”