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Jonathan & Sofia Morgan

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Category: Jordan (page 1 of 2)

Links: The Refugee Crisis

We thought we’d follow up on our last post on the refugee crisis and what we can do about it by highlighting some thought provoking articles and projects…

  • First off, this excellent video giving an overview of the crisis:
  • We Should All Be Competing To Take In Refugees, by Daniel Altman. We don’t think the hospitality we offer refugees should be conditional on it making good business sense, but since there’s been a lot of negativity in the media about refugees causing economic strain, we thought we’d share this. It talks about the economic benefit of welcoming refugees.
  • Queen Rania Calls For Unity On Refugees. A great interview with Jordan’s Queen about the reasons we can’t expect Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to be the only ones caring for refugees.
  • The True Samaritans, by Steffen Huck. Another post about the hospitality that Jordan is offering to refugees right now, despite being in the midst of a water crisis.
  • The Icelandic government initially offered to house 50 refugees. Thankfully their population responded by offering space in 11,000 of their homes. Read about it here.
  • Hans Rosling is a very entertaining Swedish statistician who is trying to get the world, and the media in particular, to take statistics seriously. Here’s his short video about the distribution of Syrian refugees:
    If you like this, you should check out his TED Talk: How Not To Be Ignorant About The World
  • Speer’s daughter and the Syrian refugees, by Abby d’Arcy. The story of one lady, the daughter of Hitler’s architect, who has taken two refugees into her home. She talks about what a joy it is to have them stay with her.
  • Germany’s Refugees Welcome has been dubbed “Airbnb for Refugees”. People can offer a room in their house or apartment to a refugee, and the project will assist them with finding funding towards their rent. The concept is spreading to other countries in Europe too!

Do you have links you think we should know about? Add a comment below!

What is Eid Al-Adha?

Today Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid Al-Adha. The festival centres around the story of Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son. 

In the story, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience, to show that he is truly submitted to God. Abraham begins preparing the sacrifice, but just before he goes ahead with it, God stops him. Instead of sacrificing his son, God provides a lamb for him to sacrifice. 

Early in the morning on the first day of Eid Al-Adha, after prayers, families sacrifice a sheep to God. One third of the meat is given to family members, one third to the poor, and one third to the person doing the slaughtering. For the rest of the day, and the next three days, people visit family members and friends. 

Tonight we have the privilege of celebrating with some friends who have invited us over for Syrian food.

To all our Muslim friends, Happy Eid!

كل عام وانتم بئلف خير

In the Early Days

We began our penultimate semester at language school today!

Coming back to Amman and getting reacquainted with everything that’s different from our homelands has got me thinking a lot about about how challenging it was the first time around. We didn’t know anyone. We couldn’t speak Arabic. We didn’t know how to do the simplest of things (order drinking water, get connected to the internet, etc.)

Usually when you think about moving countries, you expect to be challenged by logistics and homesickness. But when you move somewhere with a completely different culture, there are some unexpected surprises.

For one thing, Amman is about 20 degrees (celsius) hotter than our home countries during summer. We come from places where, when the sun’s out, people are outside sunbathing, swimming, or just enjoying the outdoors. But in Jordan, the sun is so hot that most people don’t spend extended amounts of time outside until the evening. There are nights when it’s too hot to sleep without a fan.

Then there’s the unexpected tiredness. When you’re new in a country and interacting with the outside world predominantly using a language you don’t know very well, you get really worn out. You might expect to have the same energy levels as you do back home, but we found that by 3 or 4 PM, we felt ready for bed!

This tiredness gets exacerbated if you’re a sleep walker like me. When I have a lot to process, I wander the apartment at night.

Add to that the heightened emotions that come from being permanently out of your comfort zone. If someone’s mean to you, you get more upset than usual. From moment to moment you oscillate between extreme optimism and cold feet at your decision to be here.

Thankfully, as the weeks go by, these feelings start to fade. They get replaced with a sense of familiarity. You start sleeping better. Normal life takes less energy, and you start to understand how the world around you works.

Have you had similar experiences when you’ve moved to a new place, with a new culture? 

The Sounds of Our Street

One part of acclimatising to life in Jordan has been getting used all the new sounds that we hear every day on our street. We’ve lived in built up areas before, so traffic sounds are familiar, as are voices, but the streets of Amman have some unique sounds of their own…

7:45am – The National Anthem

Each morning, just before we leave for school, we hear the children at our local primary school singing the Jordanian National Anthem, accompanied by a backing tape. It sounds a little something like this:

The Call to Prayer

This is one of the most familiar sounds to anyone who’s lived or travelled in the Middle East. We hear the call to pray at our local mosque 5 times a day (starting at 5am and finishing at 6:30pm).

The Gas Man

Most people in our neighbourhood heat their homes and run their cookers on gas. It isn’t piped into homes like in the UK, but is delivered in canisters on the back of lorries or by men who use small trollies. As they’re walking down the street, they tap the side of their trolly with the spanner that they use to connect the gas.

Lunch Time: Fruit and Veg

It’s common for families here to eat lunch together, so just as Mums are preparing lunch for their families, the fruit and veg van comes around. It sounds like this…

The first time we heard it we weren’t sure what to think! Was there some kind of protest happening outside?

The Candy Floss Man

There’s a guy who sells candy floss (cotton candy) and other sweets who walks up and down the street blowing a strange sounding whistle. It took me weeks to figure out what this particular sound was.

Tyre Screeches without collisions

Driving in Jordan is of a totally different variety to that of the UK. It’s a far more fluid, high-speed activity. Every available gap is filled by a car and lane changing and U-turning are the norm.

It’s common to hear the screech of tyres as a driver spots an impending collision. The most amazing thing for my ears is that these sudden squeals are usually followed by silence, not the sound of a crash.

There are certainly other new sounds that I haven’t mentioned here, but those are the most notable.

Snow Day

When we arrived back in Jordan we discovered that the government had declared Wednesday a public holiday because of the impending snowstorm. We were cynical at first – “how could they be sure that the storm would arrive on Wednesday?” – but it did.

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By the time we went out for a walk this afternoon, the snow had begun to melt.

Unlike countries that receive regular snow, Jordan’s 2-3 days of snow per year bring the whole place to a standstill. Very few have central heating, so there are queues to buy gas and the supermarkets were packed with customers.

Yesterday and today have extremely peaceful, with most people staying at home (as advised by the government!) and catching up on sleep.

We’ve had the joy of visiting some neighbours who we hadn’t seen for a while.

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Our local park

There’s an old Arabic proverb, roughly translated “choose your neighbours before you choose your home”. It emphasises that it’s more important to have good neighbours than that your house is in perfect condition.

We’ve been blessed with very good neighbours who are always ready to offer us hospitality, or help us with any questions or needs we have.

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