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  • Writer's picturearniebieber

Journey to Jordan

"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

to unite

and create new roads

All that is probable

is inevitable

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.



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