Supporting the efforts of local organizations in and around Amman, Jordan focused on educational, environmental, economic, health, refugee, and social issues.
, Academic/Program Director
Ms. Jumana Al Mahamid, Student Affairs
Ms. Dema Al Oun, Homestay Coordinator
Mr. Ahmad Rawajfeh, Administrative Assistant
, Custom Program Manager, SIT Study Abroad
Students will examine crucial issues in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a moderate Arab state coming to terms with political responsibility, social change, and the effects of regional conflict. Jordan has made enormous strides recently in health care, literacy, and democratic and economic reform, an discussions on women's and children's rights. However, it remains challenged by a lack of natural resources, environmental concerns, economic and social issues, and the impact of Palestinian immigrants and refugees, who now make up more than half of the nation’s population. More recently, large influxes of Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Jordan are changing the demographic and physical landscapes of the capital. With revolutions occurring all around the region, Jordan has also become a haven for yet more visitors.
Jordan’s unique characteristics make it an ideal location to allow students to make tangible contributions to the communities in which they will volunteer. There are many organizations who dedicate themselves to bettering the communities they serve, whether it is at a grassroots level or from an administrative government body. Students will be engaged in a variety of tasks, but all students will have the same basic program:
1. Orientation and foundation building – Students will spend a week getting to know the city of Amman, participating in language courses, and learning about the social, political, and religious environment in which they will be living. Each lecture will focus on a different theme, examples of which include the women’s movement in Jordan, environmental concerns and efforts, or economic reform. A prominent figure in the respective field will provide each lecture as a guest instructor. For example, this past semester the former prime minister, Dr. Jawad Anani, held a lecture regarding the political system in Jordan.
2. Field Work – students will be assigned to various organizations either as individuals or small groups. The main focus of this particular module is cooperation and association for community development. Therefore, projects will range from teaching English and writing proposals, to working on conservation efforts in rural areas. More information can be found in the Service Opportunities section.
3. Re-entry and evaluation – At the end of the program students will participate in a final wrap-up of the program and go through SIT Study Abroad’s re-entry program. This program helps students identify ways in which to process their experience and apply it in their lives (inside and outside the classroom) when they return. However, students will also be evaluated while the program is running and will be visited at their work place weekly by an assistant academic director from SIT.
There are multiple opportunities for student projects in Jordan. Some students may be working on women’s empowerment; community development; environmental and conservation issues; or support to refugees, orphans and foster children. These are examples of organizations in which students have worked in the past and may expect to work in during future programs:
1. Jordan River Foundation: non-profit, non-governmental organization chaired by Her Majesty Queen Rania. This type of organization’s mission is to foster the development of sustainable social, economic, and cultural programs that empower Jordanian communities and individuals with a focus on supporting women and children.
2. Higher Council for Science and Technology (Water and Food program): independent governmental institution involved in several community development and environmental conservation programs within Jordan. Volunteers with this program will help write proposals and reports as well as assist in developing environmental awareness programs and marketing materials, or work with the local agricultural cooperative, or teach English.
3. Institution of Diplomacy: an organization that provides training and research regarding politics and international relations within Jordan. The institute organizes conferences, seminars, and workshops in order to promote and enrich positive national dialogue on foreign policy.
4. Women’s Federation for Peace: a humanitarian non-governmental organization operating in many countries around the world. NGOs have established several centers and projects in Jordan ranging from microfinance projects for Jordanian women to English classes and food distribution for Iraqi refugees.
5. Royal Botanic Garden: a non-profit organization, founded in 2005, covering 44 acres of land. The mission of the RBG is to conserve native biodiversity at the habitat level, establish a center for scientific research and environmental education, serve as a demonstration site for sustainable development, and provide a unique ecotourism destination. Moreover, the RBG aims to be internationally recognized as a leader in research on arid-land ecosystems and the challenges associated with desertification.
6. Centre for Strategical Studies at Jordan University: provides government bodies and organizations in the public and private sectors with high-impact studies of politics, foreign policy, economy and society of countries in the Middle East region. The center also performs high accuracy polls.
7. King Hussein Foundation; National Centre for Culture and Arts: internationally recognized institution that promotes social development, human rights, and cross-cultural understanding through the performing arts. The NCCA works in the community to develop talents in the performing arts and to explore issues related to a better quality of life. It coordinates a rich variety of activities and educational programs.
8. Edama: A Jordanian business association that seeks sustainable solutions for energy and water independence while moving Jordan towards a green economy. The association also drives applied research, development, and commercialization of green technologies while advocating policies that will help make Jordan a model of energy efficiency, water conservation, and environmental stewardship.
9. The Jordan Media Institute: An educational institution that seeks to promote higher standards for journalistic education both regionally and locally by providing educational opportunities and advanced media training.
10. The Amman Chamber of Industry: Works to promote the interests of industry and meet the needs of the growing industrial sector in Jordan through technological and administrative marketing; making Jordan more competitive in regional and global markets.
11.The Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies: Established in 1994, RIIFS is a non-profit NGO that provides a venue for the interdisciplinary study of cross-cultural and religious issues with a goal of diffusing tensions and promoting peace.
Program Requirements & Logistics
Language/Other Prerequisites: There are no language prerequisites for this program. Students will all participate in 20-30 hours of language training prior to starting their volunteer work. For students who have studied Arabic, this program may provide an opportunity to practice the language.
Additional Expectations: At SIT it is of paramount importance that students always commit themselves to honest and ethical behavior, as they are a reflection of our institution while in Amman. Their ability to manage stress in a foreign environment will be key to their success, as will their self-awareness, charisma, and confidence.
Course Requirements: We prefer students who have experience with grant writing, group proposals, and statistical analysis, but do not require any specific coursework to be completed for a student to apply.
Other Technical Skills & Requirements: Our community partners value students with computer skills specifically for web design and social media outreach. However, any experience with office software like excel is also highly sought after. Our programs tend to be very heavy in research and writing so students should be prepared to employ analytical and writing skills.
Reflection Sessions: Students are required to check in with the program director frequently. There will be scheduled sessions each week for students to discuss their work, what they are learning, and any other questions that may arise. Our program director and assistant director will also be visiting students weekly at their work sites.
Neighborhood: Students will have the opportunity to experience many types of neighborhoods in Jordan. They will be able to contrast both rural and urban living. Most homestays will be located in East or West Amman which represent the middle class areas and are located within 10-15 minutes from SIT. All students will live near at least one other student so that they may travel together.
Housing and Accommodations: Students will live in homestays, though there may be a few nights in hotels/hostels based on group travel. In addition, students experience a five-day rural homestay in the Badia area of Jordan, living with a Bedouin family who is either nomadic or semi-nomadic. This excursion provides students with the opportunity to experience firsthand the daily life, culture, and traditions of a Bedouin community, one of Jordan's most distinct and well known groups. Students travel on their own to visit their carefully selected Bedouin family. In conjunction with the Badia excursion, students also take part in a “Southern Excursion” in which they visit Petra, the Wadi Rum, Aqaba, and the Dana nature reserve. Housing varies from hotel accommodation to group camping depending on location. During this time students are exposed to life outside of Amman, and therefore are able to paint a larger picture of Jordanian culture through their experiences and travels in the south.
Meals: Food is an important aspect of daily cultural life. Students will take their breakfast and dinners with their homestay families. Each week a stipend will be provided for lunch at the volunteer organization. During orientation and excursions some meals will be taken as a group and therefore covered by SIT.
Communication: Students will be provided cell phones to ensure ease of communication within the country. The phone will come with some calling credit, and students will have to charge their phone with credit as the program progresses. Cell phone costs are extremely manageable, and many people in Jordan maintain two or more phones. Cell phone carriers and wireless providers are readily accessible and easy to find should a problem arise. Students and parents will have access to the 24/7 emergency on-call system based in the US and run through our professional Student Affairs department. Internet is extremely accessible in Jordan. SIT Study Abroad has a computer center and some homestay families have internet at home. Hot spot USBs are easily obtained should a homestay family not have an internet connection. There are also many places in Amman that provide free Wi-Fi.
Transportation: Students will be given a stipend in order to use public transportation during their field work; taxis are safe and easy to use. SIT will provide transportation in a private bus when the group is traveling together.
Volunteer Placement Logistics: Students will be placed into programs depending on their own interests and the community’s needs.
Opportunities for Autonomy/Private Space: Students will be able to find time to pursue their own interests or have a moment alone throughout the program. Most free time will be on the weekends and after dinner students will have their evenings free. Students will have their own room or private space in the homestay should they wish to spend time alone.
• Warwick Knowles (2005) Jordan since 1989: A Study in Political Economy, I.B. Tauris
• London and New York (Chapter 5 and 7)
• Bint al-Talal, Basma (2004) Rethinking an NGO: Development, Donors, and Civil Society in Jordan. London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN-13: 978-1860649257 (pages 41-97).
• Antoun, Richard T. (2000) “Civil Society, Tribal Process, and Change in Jordan: An Anthropological View” in International Journal of Middle East Studies 32 (4): 441-463
• Muasher, Marwan (2008). The Arab Center: The Promise of Moderation. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN: 978-0300123005 (pages 10-32).
Suggested Coursework: Coursework on statistical analysis, graphics design, social media and writing grants or proposals are recommended.
Miscellaneous: While conservative, Jordanian society is experiencing some rapid social changes, especially in Amman. These changes, however, are happening more at a consumerist level than at a level deep enough to affect society’s values, social attitudes and cultural norms. It is important that students respect the country’s cultural choices, some of which might be different from what students are used to in the U.S. Once aware and mindful of these attributes, Jordan is comfortable and welcoming. SIT maintains precautions and requires students to abide by certain guidelines in order to avoid problems.