"Hercules Fingers" - Remnant of a statue of Hercules
I recently visited Amman, Jordan to attend a board of trustees meeting of the European Council of International Schools (ECIS) in my capacity as board chair and Director of the International School of Prague.
It was the first time I had visited Jordan and having read and heard so much about the “Arab Spring” and upheaval throughout the region, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I am happy to report that upon my arrival and during my entire stay, I encountered a peaceful, open and welcoming people and society. I found everyone I met to be friendly, warm and happy to discuss any topic, from art to politics.
During the visit, the ECIS board had the opportunity to tour Amman, which was fascinating. It is an ancient city dating back to 10,000 BCE, with many remarkable treasures. We visited the Roman Theater, built over 2,000 years ago and in immaculate condition. Below is a short video I took after making my way to the top of the amphitheater.
We also visited the Citadel which contains many archeological treasures and offers a great view of the city.
View from the Citadel with the Roman Theater below
Citadel Ruins and Mosque
While the tour of Amman was spectacular, our visit to the Aliyah School for Girls (ASG) was inspiring and moving. The Ahliyyah School for Girls is primarily for Jordanian girls from kindergarten through high school. The ECIS board was treated to a very warm welcome during an assembly in which ASG high school girls spoke with pride about their school, danced in traditional costumes, presented a theatrical performance and soulfully sang for the audience. After the performances, former graduates of the school spoke about their unforgettable experiences as students at ASG and how the school prepared them well to enter the world as confident women and leaders.
Another striking aspect of the assembly was a powerful presentation of the school’s philosophy. While the school has a mission statement, the following can best be described as a poetic rendering of the schools mission:
Like the olive, our land is the ever-living memory
Our Sky, the daring question
Our leaves, knowledge
Our branches, the wide expanse of hope and dreams
Our harvest, the pure truth
We sail in life’s boat
to reach virgin shores
Driven by a tide of silk and dreams
Governed by hope
Hearalding new beginnings
We come together from different paths
and create new roads
All that is probable
It is not enough to know
It is more important to change
Fanaticism is also a road
but to the abyss
Wisdom is imparted in a handful of words
To dwell in the pure heart
We are born and we learn to speak
but we forget the value of silence
When the old is dying
the New has not been born yet
We lose direction
And only a courageous heart and a wise man
can see Poetry and Music
A heart of void
Lacks spirit and beauty
We stand tall to see
What has never been seen before
When we learn on the shoulders
of those that have come before us
This inspirational poem presented in English and Arabic at the assembly, was written by ASG Superintendent, Haifa Najjar. I like to call Haifa a philosopher educator because she has the ability to poetically articulate educational ideas in visionary terms. I thank her for her infinite hospitality and soaring spirit.
Throughout our stay in Jordan, the ECIS board was welcomed with opened arms into this wonderful community. The time spent in Amman and at ASG was a moving experience personally and professionally that I will always remember. While my stay was short, I promised our hosts that I would return one day, to fully experience this special part of the Middle East.