I went to Amman, Jordan for my 2018 summer study abroad session. I went on an School for International Training (SIT) program about Counseling and Humanitarian aid, focusing mainly on the Syrian Refugee crisis and its effect on Jordan. I got to live with a host family while I was there, which was a wonderful experience. I had a host mum, dad, and two sisters. I got to learn the language, Arabic, largely due to them and got to taste authentic Jordanian and Egyptian food. I went to classes for lectures, an internship to work at, and excursions to different sites and organizations for learning and fun.
My internship was at SIGI, a women’s empowerment organization in Amman. It is international, but I was at the local site. I did research about women’s empowerment through sports in the Middle East. I also got to teach the staff about health and fitness when I was over there. It was interesting to see how the workforce operates at an international NGO run by women in a culture where women are not given as much power as we are used to back in the States.
To learn about the refugee crisis, we attended lectures given by professors, psychologists, politicians, and doctors. We also went to organizations around Jordan that focus on refugee crises. We traveled to UNHCR, UNICEF, DRC, ICRC, and many others. We also went to places that hosted summer camps or after school care for children that were refugees as well as children living in underdeveloped parts of the city.
Overall, my experience was one I will never forget. One of my favorite memories was in Wadi Rum, a desert about seven hours away from the city. We had been living in tents in the middle of this desert. Each tent had three beds and a fan, and that was it. There were two showers for all of the camp to use and to get to a toilet you had to walk. I woke up around five a.m. that day and climbed a mountain nearby to see the sunrise. It was amazing to see how beautiful it was. To realize that everyone around the world can see this sunrise no matter how bad or good their life is going at the moment, but for everyone it would be different based on their circumstance and viewpoint on life. It made me want to travel the rest of the world and see the sunrise in as many places as I can.
Rhiannon Ong-Halleron is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Communication. She spent Summer, 2018 participating in a Counseling and Humanitarian Action Internship in Amman, Jordan through SIT Study Abroad. Rhiannon had the following to say about her time abroad, “Studying abroad is the best experience you can have in college, and you should take the chance now. Why not open your eyes to the rest of the world? Why not see how similar people can really be? Why not take the chance to see beauty in the most unthinkable places? Just open your eyes and really see the world.”
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