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The Milton Measure

Milton Students Embark on First Spring Break Trip to Jordan

by on Thursday, March 9th, 2017

This morning, Thursday March 9th, eight Milton students, accompanied by Middle Eastern Studies teacher Mr. Emmott and Upper School Principal Mr. Ball, will board a plane to the other side of the world. In the first ever Milton Academy trip to the Middle East, a group of upperclassmen and their chaperones will be living and studying in Jordan for the next ten days.

Mr. Emmott has been the driving force behind orchestrating this incredible opportunity for Milton students. Mr. Emmott teaches Advanced History electives History of the Middle East and Globalization and Islam, and he also lived in Jordan before becoming a teacher. Mr. Emmott explains, “I was part of the first Peace Corps group to Jordan in 1997, and it is where I met my wife (a fellow volunteer). I have been back a couple of times since leaving the Peace Corps in 1999, but never with students.”

Milton is fortunate to have Mr. Emmott, who has extensively studied and personally experienced cultures of the Middle East, but he could not plan this Jordan trip alone. The trip of course required approval from Milton’s administration, as well as collaboration with Where There Be Dragons, an organization which arranges summer and study abroad programs for students and educators in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

After participating in “a Dragons trip for teachers,” Mr. Emmott says, “I thought how great would it be if I could connect what we study in the classroom in Globalization and Islam to students actually going to Jordan to grapple with these ‘academic” issues in real life. I think that it is very hard for Milton students to actually grasp what it is like to live in a modern Middle Eastern country, and going to Jordan seemed to me to ultimate way teach students about the Middle East.”

Initially open only to students in Mr. Emmott’s Globalization and Islam class, the trip was broadened to include any interested students. The students participating in the trip include myself (Mollie Ames), Te Palandjian (I), JP Schuster (I), James Dunn (I), Matt Magann (I), Vijay Ramkissoon (I), Zhenfeng Qiu (I), and Jonathan WuWong (II). Speaking for all of us, we look forward to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be exposed to a completely new, and potentially shocking, culture and traditions.

The group leaves for Dubai today, and after a connecting flight, will arrive in Amman, Jordan’s capital, by 3 pm on Friday. For the next week-and-a-half, we will immerse ourselves in everything Jordan, learning about its cultural and artistic identity, environmental issues, and the refugee crisis. Activities include Arabic language lessons, visiting the Dead Sea, visiting Desa Women’s Center, Dabke dance classes, and more. Students will have the chance to learn from and converse with important activists in Jordan, as well as attend panels with these leaders. Notably, we will also live with a host family for the end portion of the stay.

James Dunn says, “I’m most excited to talk with people from the NGOs working on refugees and clean water, because we talk about these things from a distance most of the time so it will be interesting to hear the experience of people that these issues impact every day.”

Meanwhile, Te Palandjian looks forward to the trip because “[She is] hoping to come back less sheltered, with a life altering experience.” She remarks, “I don’t know what specifically will change in my mindset once I return, but my guess is that it will be important and fundamental to my thinking going forward.”

And Vijay Ramkissoon is excited for the trip as continuation of his previous studies of the Middle East, reporting, “I decided to go to Jordan because I want to continue my study of the Middle East when I go to college, so gaining some firsthand experience with the region would certainly be valuable.”

No matter what students are most interested in about the trip, however, the consensus is clear: this opportunity to travel to a country in the Middle East may never be presented again and should be taken full advantage of. In today’s political climate, where issues in the Middle East are critical to understand, all participating students are ready to be curious and burst their proverbial American bubble.

As for any safety concerns, Mr. Emmott put it best: “After a year of lobbying, planning, and working on this trip I am excited to get to Jordan and introduce 8 students to a new culture, and a different way of looking at the world. I do not have any concerns about safety, if I did we would not go to Jordan.”

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Posted by on Mar 9 2017. Filed under More News, News, Recent News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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