I don't have all of the details of my trip, but am heading back over to Jordan in two weeks. I will be working with an NGO in Amman to help a women's entrepreneurial group write a proposal to the European Union. Since most of my professional experience has been in start-ups and venture capital this should be an interesting experience. Especially, as a male working with women in the Middle East. I will be living and working in Amman for a month and will be doing something in Ajloun once a week as well.
Initially it looked like I would be in Ajloun the entire time which could have been interesting from a total immersion point of view, but am glad that the NGO was able to find a suitable opportunity in Amman. Ajloun is only about thirty miles from Amman, but can take almost two hours by bus. I have a few friends in Amman and I will be able to take a few Arabic classes at the school where I studied before.
I don't have all of the details on where I will be staying yet, but will be living with a family in Amman. My first order of business will be to eat at Hashim's downtown and I will probably fast on the trip over so I can also get a falafel sandwich at the Jerusalem Cafeteria on Rainbow Street, and maybe a Schwerma at Rheem's at the 2nd Circle. Then I will have to surprise my friend who runs a great restaurant in Abdoun near the US Embassy. So being in Amman is a definite plus.
The other cool aspect about this trip is that it is all tax deductible. So if you are looking for creative ways to learn Arabic or another CNL for the State Department this is a pretty cost effective way to do it. The program I am doing also includes some basic Arabic classes, but since I am beyond that not sure what that will entail. Having studied Arabic in both Amman and Cairo, I think Amman is the better place since you can actually speak Arabic. The most disappointing aspect of my time in Cairo was that you didn't really need to speak Arabic, and most people preferred to speak English if you were not fluent in Egyptian colloquial. That definitely was not my experience in Jordan.
Since I passed the SCNL for Arabic last year I am good for four more years if I am able to get back to the OA and pass it, but since I don't have any NGO experience this will be a great experience in a lot of different ways.