Westminster Students were joined by students from Iraq for the first time, enriching the experience and cultural exchange between the UK and the Middle East.

From 16-25 April, 12 students from the University of Westminster took part in activities and volunteering opportunities at partner organisations in Jordan as well as enjoying cultural tours to deepen their knowledge of the country. This trip was the first time Westminster students had been joined by a group of students from Iraq to encourage further exchange of dialogue and knowledge to learn more about the Middle East.

Among the activities, Westminster students worked with counterparts from Iraq to put together activities and lessons for secondary school children in Kerak to teach English in an interactive and engaging way, and to learn more about the education system in Jordan. Students interacted with local children through games, planting and painting.

In addition to this, students visited Greening the Camps, a non-profit organisation in Downtown Amman that designs, develops, builds and maintains rooftop gardens in Palestinian refugee camps, project sites and attended a presentation on its work by staff members and volunteers. There, students also prepared and cooked food as part of the Ezwitti initiative which provides free cooked meals to the most vulnerable.

Westminster students also had the opportunity to visit and work with young people at the Queen Rania Family and Child Centre which provides a services which work to combat child abuse, strengthen family units and promote child safety, and the Princess Taghrid Institute who provide vocational training programs primarily for orphaned and disadvantaged youth.  

Cultural tours included a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens, whose ethos is to practice and advocate plant diversity conservation at the whole-systems level, and students received a presentation about the Garden’s projects. Visits to the Dead Sea, the Jaresh Roman Ruins and Amman’s Citadel, helped to provide a deeper understanding of the country and its important history.

The trip concluded with a visit to Middle East University where students gave a tour of their campus and facilities and hosted Westminster students to a farewell lunch where everyone reflected on what they had learnt during this transformational experience.

Julia Lemcke, a student on the trip said: "Participating in the AlSadi Changing Lives Programme and going on this trip to Jordan, gave me the opportunity to achieve my personal goal to 'pop my Western bubble' and experience life beyond the Western, Eurocentric environment in which I was raised in. Jordan has surprised me in many ways as I got to know the beauty of its culture and heritage, the welcoming and heart-warming Jordanian people, as well as the mind blowing landscapes of the country. The programme was a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience that has been made unforgettable through the amazing work of our supervisors. I would recommend participation to anyone who is looking to widen their horizons and grow personally."

Jordan Scammell, Development Manager and trip supervisor said: “It’s been great to see our students engage so enthusiastically with this year’s programme. Their genuine interest in learning more about the issues affecting life in the Middle East helped to deepen their understanding of the important initiatives happening across the country; from projects to provide free cooked meals to the most vulnerable, through to learning about programmes tackling the high rate of child abuse in the country. They have returned to the UK more open-minded and as ambassadors for the country and the amazing work they’ve seen being delivered on the ground.”

Alex Ray, the coordinator for the programme said: “The students’ level of engagement on this trip was exceptional. Many of the representatives from the organisations we visited were impressed by the students’ attentiveness and genuine curiosity in the work they were doing. One particular visit to The Princess Basma Centre in Karek gave students the chance to teach English and exchange knowledge about life in their respective countries. It was the first time foreigners had visited the school and the teachers fed back explaining how much of a lasting impression the students made on them and their pupils.”

This trip was made possible with the generous support of Dr Majid AlSadi, Chairman and CEO of Eastern Holding, a major philanthropist who promotes a commitment to humanitarian work, social justice and cross-cultural exchange as well as the Quintin Hogg Trust.

With students from 165 countries, staff from across the world and a highly international alumni community, the University of Westminster embraces global engagement in all its forms. We have a rich mix of international partnerships in over 20 countries worldwide, and place particular emphasis on providing international opportunities for our students. Our research addresses global themes and is sustained by international collaborations. We are an international institution, located in the heart of London.

Learn more about the AlSadi Changing Lives Programme. 

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