What they brought back from abroad: Part One

Finding a second home in Jordan

Our "What They Brought Back" series will look at eight students and the mementos they keep as reminders of the people, places, and experiences from their study abroad programs all over the world. 

Name: Maeve Campbell
Class of: 2013
Major: International Studies and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Location: Amman, Jordan
Program: Boren Scholarship for International Study
Best part of your trip in five words: Turkish soap operas in Arabic

Until her trip to Jordan, Campbell had never left the 48 contiguous United States. Now, the inside of her passport is filled with stamps that prove her passion for foreign service, the Arabic language, and the Middle East. While in Jordan, she grew to appreciate a rather surprising yet beautiful attribute of Jordanian culture: the family-based support system, which, she found, is much less prevalent in Western society. “In Jordan it seems like if something’s a problem, it’s the whole family’s problem,” she said. “You’re not on your own to figure it out. It’s a higher level of responsibility.”

What she brought back:

Photo of mementos from Jordan

  • A decorative plate bought in the older, less modernized part of downtown Iman. The plate is inscribed with an Arabic prayer from the Qur’an.
  • Coke bottles with labels in Hebrew, Italian, and Arabic. Why Coke bottles? “Since I plan on traveling in the future, I should start collecting something that’s universal from each country I’ve been to,” Campbell said.
  • A rally towel from a soccer match between the two most popular teams in Jordan, one from the country’s largest Palestinian refugee camp and one comprised of native Jordanians. The towel was enthusiastically offered by surrounding Arabs in the stands. “There are more people of Palestinian descent in Jordan than there are native Jordanians, which causes an internal conflict that people don’t really talk about,” she said. “It plays out in things like soccer, not just the political or economic spheres.”
  • The key to the home of her host family. “They really became my second family, honestly,” she said. Campbell was even included in the Jordanian tradition of evaluating the host aunt’s potential groom. Her host family included two younger sisters, Tina and Leen.
  • 1 dinar (approximately $1.41) and some coins. “It’s really important to have very small denominations like 1 dinars and then a ton of coins at all times. You’re always jangling everywhere you go but people won’t give you change,” she said.
  • Passport; no longer empty.

Posted on Friday, February 15, 2013

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