The School of Oriental and African Studies returned to Jordan in April 2018 to take part in the ever-growing Changing Lives program. This round featured a new aspect to program in the form of Iraqi student counterparts from the universities of Babel, Mustansiriya and Baghdad.
The SOAS students, of diverse multinational backgrounds shared the entirety of the program with their Iraqi counterparts, exchanging insights into life as university students in both countries, improving their English and Arabic and creating lasting connections with never-before experienced cultures.
The two groups were also joined by Jordanian students from Middle East University, who were generous guides to many different areas of Amman and Jordan. A stand-out was our visit to the Um-Kulthoum Girls School in Zarqa, where all three student groups worked together to experience cultural exchanges with local school students through English lessons, theatre, dance, soap making and face painting.
The students were also generously welcomed to the program by HRH Princess Rajwa bint Ali, H.E. Ambassador Edward Oakden and Dr Majid AlSadi at the National Gallery for fine arts. Visiting the gallery was an unexpected joy for the students and a chance to learn about the efforts of fellow SOAS Alumni HRH Princess Wijdan in supporting the arts in Jordan.
SOAS student Sarah Jeffries said “Everyone in the group learned many new things and developed their knowledge and understanding of the Middle East. Many students in the group have expressed interest in returning and I have already made plans to return this summer. The programme offered many insights that are exclusive to those who partake in such programmes.“
The tripartite cooperation in this program marks Changing Lives’ commitment to helping our students overcome preconceived differences between communities and to create long-lasting connections across cultures through personal experience and hands-on interaction.
We look forward to continuing our growth in this direction.