Addie Pazzynski traveled to Amman, Jordan, where she took classes in Arab studies and Arabic language for four weeks. Addie spent most of her time in classes at Princess Sumaya University of Technology where she also interacted with Jordanian students, learned from other Arabic language students, and read about Arabic studies themes such as Orientalism, the “clash of civilizations,” and Arab monarchies. In order to grasp these concepts further, Addie participated in cultural excursions such as trips to Wadi Rum, Biblical sites in the country, and a cultural comparative learning experience in Dubai. In her free time, she culturally complimented her studies and partook in local iftar dinners, visited a mosque, took a calligraphy class, and joined an evening of baking traditional sweets. She lived in a Christian homestay with a Jordanian family and practiced her basic Arabic skills with them, in taxis, and in local shops and markets. Addie joined her host family for outings to visit their extended family where she experienced Holy Day traditions, Christian church services, and holiday nighttime activities during Ramadan. Lastly, she took time to explore downtown Amman where she bartered with shopkeepers and tried various types of Arabic cuisine. She felt very comfortable practicing Arabic and navigating the expansive city by the end of her trip, and she made connections with her religious studies major as she encountered Biblical sites and both Christian and Muslim traditions.
CEE Title: Exploring Voluntourism
Our CEE, entitled “Exploring Voluntourism,” was a two hour presentation and discussion of the dangers of unsustainable volunteer work. Within our community, we identified a strong interest in topics relating to sustainable missions, volunteering partnerships, and proactive citizenship but could find few local resources. We prepared for our event by researching the effects of various types of volunteer work, collecting interview information about positive service sites around the world, and talking to our institution’s faculty and staff about their ideas to share at the event. In order to market for our event, we contacted religious groups in the area and spread the word through local contacts. On campus, we marketed through fliers, faculty and staff contacts, and communication with Service Learning classes. The event consisted of sharing our research through a multimedia presentation in an interactive lecture. We defined the problems that experts see with specific types of service that creates unsustainable communities, offered examples of local and international service partnerships, and facilitated a conversation about how to apply this new information to our service. We invited local coffee distributors who have sustainable business relationships with farmers in Guatemala and Costa Rica to donate their coffee and share their healthy partnership stories. In order to encourage discussion, we prepared questions and mixed up the groups sitting at each table to relate sustainable volunteering to our mission work, service, and traveling abroad. In order to supply our community with resources and further educational materials, we compiled a packet of research, further reading suggestions, and cultural rubrics. The rubrics, which we created based upon our research, are resources to help travelers and volunteers become more cognizant of the geography and cultural climates of the countries to which they travel. After we gave those in attendance the resource packet, we concluded our event by casually gathering feedback. We answered questions, and gathered that our participants felt empowered, educated, and more interested in the topic at hand.