THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2022
The weather feels similar to the one I experienced in Miami last year and the energy is similar since we spent yesterday at the beach and out at sea on a boat. I snorkeled for the first time yesterday in the Gulf of Aqaba close to our hotel and saw the landscapes of four different countries at varying degrees of clarity from a distance. We are now on the bus ride back to our homestays in Amman from our south excursion where we visited Wadi Rum, Petra, and Aqaba. I probably got a fourth of the Vitamin D I usually get during a regular summer for me back home while on this excursion. As we continue to drive, I am looking out the bus window at the imposing mountains of what seems to be compressed and hardened tan sand with stripes of black stone. The mountains of sedimentary rock at Wadi Rum were more orange and separated by vast pools of sand that were scattered with humans, trucks, and camels. Petra had similar stones that included swirls of other colors, including blue, red, and purple. We had a tour guide with 15 years of experience during our visit to Petra who led us on a 4-hour hike throughout the area. An experienced and knowledgeable tour guide usually makes a dramatic difference in the way I understand, appreciate, and respect the land and space that I am getting to know. We had another vastly experienced guide lead us throughout Jerash, a historical site my cohort and I planned to go to last Saturday with the logistical assistance of our program staff. I was also chosen as the group leader by my peers, and I was initially confused about it since all I had heard was everyone saying my name without context. Once I understood that they wanted me to be the group leader in charge of our logistics, organization, scheduling, and interactions with external assistance, I accepted with an attentive attitude and heightened sense of responsibility. Being a leader requires guiding and providing advice to people you are sharing an experience with to collectively direct the group, contrasting with what I used to believe growing up. I used to think that being an elected leader means you make executive decisions for everyone you lead because they trust in you to make the right ones. As we learned about the international influences and cultural motifs present in the structures remaining at the site, I focused on maximizing our time, enjoyment, and educational experience as a group while keeping to our timeline. At the end of our experience, one of my peers took initiative to handle the finance calculations since we ended up having to pay each other for expenses. Seeing everyone work together to make the trip to Jerash possible for us outside of school hours as well as our itinerary for the South excursion made me view leadership as a role meant to initiate and produce communal action as well as to inspire other stakeholders to take charge of tasks to distribute responsibility and motivate consistent participation stemming from individual will to create group benefit. Our program is ending in a week and two days and I will continue to lead when the opportunity comes up or when I create the chance to try a new idea that could improve our experiential learning, wellness, and connectedness before we part ways.