Journey to Jordan
- Oct 09, 2012
Suza Scalora recalls her extraordinary Virgin Unite Connection Trip to Jordan and the impact the visit has had on her life.
How can we contribute our unique gifts to impact the world in a positive and loving way? Individually, each of us possesses an immense power and when we come together with a vision for the greater good we generate an unstoppable momentum. I was reminded of this on a recent trip to the ancient land of Jordan, often referred to as the Fertile Crescent.
I had the good fortune of joining some remarkable people who are activists for a variety of wonderful causes on an extraordinary Virgin Unite Connection Trip to Jordan, hosted by The King Hussein Foundation with Her Majesty Queen Noor.
When I learned I would be traveling to the Middle East and meeting Queen Noor, I read her informative and insightful book, “A Leap of Faith.” The book provides an insider’s view of the dynamics and history of Jordan and the Middle East. Queen Noor’s journey from a young American woman working in the Middle East to becoming the Queen of Jordan at 27 years of age is an extraordinary tale of transformation and love. The story illustrates the power of an individual choosing to create real change for the better through compassion coupled with activism.
Virgin Unite is the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group that brings people together for the greater good by connecting them to issues, people and opportunities to help. Queen Noor founded the King Hussein Foundation in 1999 after her husband’s death to build upon King Hussein’s lifelong dedication to education, cross-cultural understanding and the empowerment of girls and women. Our group had the opportunity to visit several of the programs pioneered by KHF, including: the Jubilee school founded in 1993, a coeducational secondary institution; Tamweelcom, a Jordan micro-credit company; WAGE Women and Girls Empowerment and the Aqaba Micro Business Incubator (AMBI).
We met several Jordanians who were the beneficiaries of the Tamweelcom micro loans. In each small business and home we visited, the men and women offered us tea, food, and crafts they had made. I was struck by the generosity and openhearted smiles of people who have so little compared to our standards. While visiting the Jubilee School I photographed many of the students who had just competed in The Formula One Technology Challenge. Their enthusiasm and pride in their innovations and ideas was palpable.
The trip was a whirlwind adventure taking us to the ancient Roman ruins of Jerash, to the Red Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum, Amman and the Dead Sea. A four-wheel drive through the breath-taking red desert of Wadi Rum delivered us to a Bedouin camp. Under the crescent moon in the silence of the falling stars we sat by a golden fire in awe of the stillness. The immensity of the sky, coupled with the surroundings of this ancient land reminded me of the preciousness of each moment. At sunrise we piled into a hot air balloon for an unforgettable ride over the breathtaking scenery of the ancient terrain. From a birds eye view it is easy to see how this now dry and sandy landscape was once the ocean floor. We visited the awe-inspiring rose-red city of Petra, possibly built as early as 312BC. The inhabitants of this ancient place created a spectacular site by carving their hopes and dreams into the pink sandstone cliffs.
When we travel to new places and meet new people we have a chance to broaden our horizons and expand our perspective of the world. The nightly news gives us a limited perspective of the Middle East. My impression was one of warmth and kindness. Historically, Jordan is a peaceful land in the middle of a hotbed of violence. Jordan has continually opened their borders to refugees seeking safety from oppression. The Syrian conflict is the most recent example of Jordan’s benevolence and openhearted policy.
As I traveled back home, I reflected on my journey and the amazing people I met, an immense feeling of gratitude for the experience arose within me. The word that kept coming to me was “Connection.” As a Virgin Unite Connection Trip the idea is to cross cultural borders and connect in a meaningful way to unite as a global community. When we allow ourselves to open our eyes and hearts to connect, and look for how we can help others, we truly feel our own humanity and compassion. In so doing, the physical borders and our prejudices melt away and we understand the commonality we all share of being human.
by Suza Scalora