The GoGlobal Blog

Author: Reem Elshafei

Hi! I am studying social work and I am in my third year. I chose to do the Refugees, Health, and Humanitarian Action program in Jordan because it is an incredible opportunity to learn about this refugee crisis and help in any way we can. My wishes for this semester are to understand better what I can do to help, to learn all about the Jordanian culture, and to eat good food. (:
I promise I’m learning (:

I promise I’m learning (:

Salaam (:

The first few times I called home, when I told my family everything we have been doing, it didn’t sound like we were really in school and I know they worried about whether I was really learning or not. So, after after being in Amman for a little more than one month, these are the few things I have learned. (:

Go adventure! Meet people!

Be strong. And Aware. And find the balance of keeping my guard up while also remaining soft and kind.

Try all the new foods.

Do the things I can’t do at home — prioritize spending time & money on experiences not things.

REFLECT REFLECT REFLECT — It is what slows things down and puts me where I am or else everything will just blur by faster than it already does.

Say thank you (:

Drink all the tea!

Listen to people. Get lost in listening to them. Don’t worry so much about the time. Ask them about their life here and what they love about their life!

Pay attention to those around me who make me feel good, appreciate them, and focus on making them feel good too.

Allow people to do nice things for me — then reciprocate!

Contact my family often!!! — Everything for me here is new but for them, life is mostly the same just without me there — so call them and tell them I love them all the time (:

Look up the facebook events in my city so I can do many things!

Find ways to pick myself up when I’m feelin down — music, movies, books, exercise, going outside, dancing, sunsets, climb trees, swim!!

*** Be sure to sincerely thank those who have helped me to have these opportunities & those who have helped me feel welcomed. Then GIVE BACK to the community that has welcomed me!

“Few things in this world are worth feeling like an unwelcomed guest” – Nujeen Mustafa

Remember what it felt like to be a guest so that when I go back home I can warmly welcome others and go out of my way to help them the way countless people have done for me here.

(and of course I am learning arabic and tons of things about humanitarian aid also!!)



Is this the Alps???

Is this the Alps???

Bonjour & Salaam!

Today was our 10th day in Switzerland and in 2 days we will fly back to Amman. So quickly, we switched from conscious showers and laundry days in the 3rd most water stressed country to being steps away from a huge lake where it also rains nearly every other day. We are so lucky to experience two extremely different cultures and landscapes it’s incredible. The only common thing we have experienced in both Amman and Switzerland has been the food. Our stomaches expanded for the frequency of eating in Amman and that did not have to change when we came here! I have never eaten so much ice cream, chocolate, and cheese in my entire life!

It has been such a happy time here for all of us! We all immediately felt excited, safe, and comfortable right when we arrived. We are so lucky because we got to be here during the fall season which has been SO beautiful with so many colors! I’ve gone swimming twice and I got to rent a bike for 4 hours for free!! And I rode it to see the country side! Within the towns we have visited, everything seems so convenient and close — within each town we could walk anywhere we wanted to go. We first stayed in Geneva, then Nyon, and now we are in Montreux. I think we all loved Geneva the most. Everyone here is so beautiful and they all look so effortlessly cool!!! Most people ride their bikes, rollerblades, or scooters. Scooters have been SO common.

We have gotten to visit the United Nations, the Red Cross and their museum, the OHCHR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights), WHO (World Health Organization), UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). Wow writing that out reminds me how much we have gotten to do in just this short trip! So we had lectures from each of these organizations about what they do, their personal experiences, and challenges they have had. Everyone in our program wants to have some sort of career in humanitarian aid or international relations so this has been a dream to visit these places. It has been so inspiring and helpful to imagine all the different things we are capable of doing with our future!


And while visiting all these organizations and meeting such inspiring people, we have also gotten to explore around so much! Today some of us got to take these cool trains up to this beautiful mountain and we got to hike for over 4 hours! It was such an unbelievable experience with so many beautiful colors, such nice people, and the freshest air!!! We hiked up so high that we could see clouds below us even and we also saw so many people paragliding! It’s so hard to share how beautiful it was I wish I could transport whoever is reading this there for just a few seconds!! Anyways, we got to a point where we climbing vertically kind of haha and then we ate our braided bread up there which we bought in a town down below from the happiest woman (:

Tomorrow we are taking a train to Bern which is the capital and then we will go back to Jordan soon after that! Although we all love it here so much I think it was the perfect amount of time and I am happy we are going back to Amman because we all already feel so comfortable here and at times it reminds us of home in some ways. I think the point of study abroad, or at least the program we chose, is to travel outside of our comfort zone and to experience and learn about things we are not so familiar with. It was so refreshing to be here but it is definitely time soon to go back and challenge ourselves again! We will be starting our independent study projects soon when we get back and I am really looking forward to it. My idea right now is to study and document the struggles of refugee women and girls with disabilities because there are no special services or resources for their needs. So I’m interested to document what they are going through and what would best nurture their mental and physical health. I will write more about it when I develop it further!

Au revoir & Ma salamah!



My ricebowl

My ricebowl


This is our 3rd week in Amman– koolshi mumtaz (everything is excellent)!!!!

Abigail’s host baba (who lives in the same apartment building as us) took me to the masjid for friday prayer and it was incredible. We parked pretty much in the middle of the street and when we came out after the prayer, cars covered the whole street, parts of the sidewalk too. And there was a truck selling grapes and shampoo haha. It’s seriously so beautiful to see the strength of faith in people. Any faith, it is just beautiful to see it in someone’s eyes that they really feel faith in their heart. Seeing the street covered with cars and people made me so happy because it shows how much love there is for faith and how good it makes people feel. Even at home I am always happy on fridays to watch all the people coming from such different places to pray together. It reminds me of Ramadan when so many Muslims go to the masjid to pray late at night and then we wake up again before the sun even rises because the love and feeling of faith and peace in our hearts is so strong.

Classes are amazing. We are taking arabic, refugees and displaced populations seminar, refugees health and humanitarian action seminar, and a research and methods class. We have arabic for three hours twice per week and it’s so much fun! Majority of people in Amman can speak english so we have to try our best to talk in Arabic with each other and anyone else we meet here! For our refugees health and humanitarian action seminar, every week guest speakers from NGOs, health providers, and universities come to tell us about what they do and the history of current refugee crisis and so much information about issues/risks facing refugees and the host countries that they are coming into. We also have many field visits to the offices and centers of these providers every week!

A professor that visited us last week taught us about the challenges and stress that is put on Jordan for hosting so many Syrian refugees. We talked about how limited the resources are because right now Jordan is the third most water stressed country in the world. And while the basic needs of refugees are far from being met, Jordanians are rapidly running low on their own basic human needs. She left us with this, “The cost of three tanks can feed 600,000 refugees for six months.” Crazy to think about the constrasting effects and costs of violence vs peace.

But yeah we are learning so much and we are also so lucky to be with the families that are hosting us! Geri (my and Hannah’s host mama) has been taking us to her friend’s pound class which is an all girls cardio class where we use drum sticks it’s the most fun gym class I have ever done and it makes me feel so strong!!

Geri also took us to her friend’s son’s engagement party the other day and I didn’t have anything fancy to wear so I went to the mall to buy a dress (I found the most beautiful green turkish style dress) bought it and then when I was riding the taxi home, the driver ripped me off and I forgot the dress in the taxi… lol it’s all good. Hopefully someone really nice and cool has it now <3 But I did learn so much after that. My baba, mama, and my friend Sawsan told me before I left to stay really alert and guarded while I am here and I think I got to comfortable. It helped me realize that a lot of people here are in poverty now because there is not that many good paying jobs and sometimes people can get desperate and take advantage of others. So anyways I learned that even though it is good to allow myself to trust and feel comfortable, I really have to protect myself and stay alert. Safety first :))

Anyways anyways sometimes it is really easy to feel too confident or too comfortable and of course its good to have that feeling but also I have to always remember that I am still learning, I will always be learning, and I definitely do not know everything so its best to listen to my parents and all the other people who love me <3

“And hold out your empty ‘ricebowl,’ as it were, and see how the universe and love fills it to overflowing, time after time!” -Ms Penny



Habibi Amman

Habibi Amman

Salaam alaykum 🙂
This is my 2nd full day here. It’s midnight and Im sitting on a roof terrace at my homestay. I can see all of Amman from up here and all the far away city lights look like freckles I guess. Here’s a picture:


 it was taken by Hannah 🙂
because I am not good at remembering to take pictures yet. And I’m listening to What’s up? From 4 Non Blondes. Ok so now that I’m have written about how awesome this is, I want to make sure I write about how scared I was the week before I came and the first day I was here so that I never forget it.
m not

I feel uncool for admitting it but I WAS SO SCARED… The day before I came I was crying so much and I came two days late because my program started the same day my brother and sister-law had their wedding <3 so since I was two days late I felt like everyone was already friends and I felt saddddd. But that only lasted for less than a day because the other students in this program are so funny and awesome and welcoming, it’s sweet.

I didn’t want to forget about it because I want to remember to just have faith because things pretty much always work out. No need to stress. As long as I am doing my best things will work out 🙂
So far we have eaten good! We have eaten fool, hummus, cheese manoushe, chicken, kefta, chicken maklobah, and falafel.
Yesterday we went to a center where they try to teach others about and preserve Palestinian culture so they fed us and showed us these beautiful handmade traditional Palestinian dresses— they said they take about 2 months to finish each because the embroidery is hand-stitched!! The woman who told us about the dresses was so inspiring, she talked about the importance of having pride in who we are and where we are from! She talked about how there is not much expression of tradition and culture anymore and she showed us her wedding dress which was a really beautiful traditional Palestinian dress. Then they took us upstairs to watch the debke dancers practice!! So cool!
Today we got our host families and it was such a happy moment to see everyone connect with their host family for the first time!! My host mama is this absolutely inspiring woman from England who moved here over 30 years ago! She speaks beautiful arabic and she is sososo funny! She is a gym instructor! I’m also living with one other girl from the program- Hannah- the one that took the picture!! Our host mama has already made us feel so comfortable and welcome within just a few hours 🙂
I also talked to my real mama and baba a few hours ago :))
My dad flew with me here to Jordan and now he is in Palestine and I’m so happy he is there and I am so happy he came here with me for the first 2 days… Alhamdulilah I am so fortunate to have the family and home that I do <3
Habibi habibi habibi