#HowladerAbroad – Interning & Volunteering in Jordan

By: Howlader Nashara

I’m Howlader, a third year Arabic Studies major studying at the American University in Washington D.C, and I am spending my fall semester taking classes and interning in the beautiful country of Jordan. Through GoEnnounce, I will be sharing stories, insights, and advice about my time here. Feel free to follow along with my posts on Twitter using the hashtag #HowladerAbroad.

If you have been following along with my previous blog posts, then you will recall that I’m interning for a non-profit named WeekdayRx Consulting. This is a business consulting company co-founded by Dr. Nadia Al-Alawi and it is based in Seattle, Washington, with an additional humanitarian office in Amman. For this semester, myself and one other intern are running two Girl Scout troops for Syrian, Iraqi, and Palestinian refugee girls aged 9-13 in collaboration with another non-profit named Collateral Repair Project.

So far, my experience this semester has been hectic, to say the least. Although being a professional Troop Leader sounds like a blast, it’s actually a decent amount of work. Along with planning, obtaining supplies, and learning how to deal with traumatized children, there is the additional language barrier. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love working with the Girl Scouts and feel that we are making a difference because we’re working directly with the girls, but it’s hard to feel like four months is enough time to impact these girls’ lives. I had heard that non-profit work often does this to you and then suddenly, you can never leave. It is not a bad thing to get invested in this project, but I definitely wish I had more time.

In an effort to expand our efforts, my coworker and I are pursuing two projects. First, there is a grant given by my coworker’s host institution that is strictly for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) related social projects. My coworker is trying to get this funding in order to have our girls work on Raspberry Pi’s! They are small computer systems that can be programmed to complete basic computer functions. The second project is expanding the Girl Scout program to Za’atari Refugee Camp. WeekdayRx used to hold the program there, but there were issues with sustainability, security, and cultural perceptions of women’s empowerment. Before we leave Jordan, we will try to create a program that can be implemented in the long-term at Za’atari and hopefully future interns will be able to replicate it in order to keep Girl Scouts alive at Za’atari.

A lot of other people in my program are working in offices and having, by all definitions, a much more traditional internship experience. Even so, they’re learning so much about Jordan and getting an inside look into Jordanian society. Having abroad work experience looks excellent on resumes, is a huge talking point for cover letters and interviews, and is great for networking. I would definitely recommend interning or volunteering abroad because it’s a great way to get to know the country you’re living in. It is really easy to get caught up in how much fun study abroad is, but that is definitely a one-sided experience. By interning or volunteering, you get to work with a problem in the local community or learn about the day-to-day functions of a culture.

In order to get funding for the Za’atari Girl Scouts project, we have started a new fundraiser! Check it out here, share, and please donate if you can.

Stay tuned for my next post and follow #HowladerAbroad on GoEnnounce and Twitter! Until the next time!

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