Jordan: History, Politics, and Arabic Language

Spend your summer abroad studying Arabic language while exploring Jordan's social, political, and environmental landscapes.

Immediately begin practicing Arabic and experiencing Jordanian history, culture, and contemporary day-to-day life as you explore Jordan’s capital city, Amman, with other members of your group during an interactive orientation. Quickly deepen your immersion in Jordanian culture as you commence your Amman homestay experience—for four weeks, gain tremendous insights into Jordan’s culture and daily life, and take advantage of around-the-clock opportunities and real-world situations to practice, with your host family and neighbors, the language you’re learning in the classroom. Receive a total of 46 hours of formal Arabic language instruction in small classes composed of Experiment participants only.

Expand your understanding and knowledge of present-day Jordan through thematic workshops and discussions on Jordanian politics, Islam, democracy, human rights, the role of refugees, and multiculturalism. Experience firsthand ongoing debates surrounding Jordan’s environmental and natural resource challenges. Through cultural activities, such as tea nights and cooking classes, take part in Jordan’s culinary culture. Complete eight hours of community service, partnering on a local development project.

Continue advancing your Arabic while exploring Jordan’s ancient history and present-day resources, cultures, and communities outside of Amman. Spend time with a Bedouin community, one of Jordan’s most distinct and well-known groups. Visit the Dead Sea, the most spectacular natural landscape in Jordan. Explore Petra, a treasure of the ancient world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visit the Rocky Mountains of Wadi Rum. This immersive high school summer abroad program begins and concludes in Amman.

At the conclusion of this program, each participant will earn a language certificate noting how many hours of language classes s/he completed.

US citizens require a visa for this program; students will purchase the visa on arrival in Jordan.

Orientation: Amman, 2–3 days
Homestay: Amman,* 22 days; rural Bedouin community,* 2–3 days
Other Accommodations: Hotels and one night camping at Wadi Rum

* Homestay locations can vary.

Days 1–2

Orientation in Amman

  • Learn about Jordan’s history and culture from experts
  • Get to know other members of your group during activities
  • Start learning and practicing Arabic

During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

Days 3–22

AmmanUrban Stay in Amman (Thematic Focus)

  • Become immersed in the daily life of a family and community in Amman
  • Do activities with your host family
  • Attend Arabic language classes
  • Learn about Jordanian history and culture from guest speakers
  • Attend cooking classes and sample traditional Jordanian cuisine
  • Visit ancient locations and ruins
  • Explore the city of Amman

During this period, you will stay in the home of a family.

Days 23–25

Rural Homestay in Badia (Thematic Focus)

  • Become immersed in the daily life of a Bedouin community in Badia
  • Do activities with your host family
  • Assist your host family with field work and food preparation
  • Go on nature walks with your family

During this period, you will stay in the home of a family.

Days 26–28

Excursion to Sites throughout Jordan (Thematic Focus)

  • Visit Petra, one of the ancient wonders of the world
  • Visit the Dead Sea
  • Visit the rocky mountains of Wadi Rum

During this period, you and your group will stay in hotels and a camp.

Day 29

Wrap-up and Reflection in Amman

  • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program
  • Go water hiking in Wadi Al Mujed

During the reflection period, you will stay in with your Amman host family.

Day 30


Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience — including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above.

These are leader bios from summer 2015.

Emily Robbins

Emily Robbins first began her international travels as an Experimenter to France in 2001. On that trip, she learned a love of language and culture that has shaped much of her life. Now a writer and translator in Chicago, Emily speaks Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese, and has lived in much of the Middle East and South America. Her professional adventures include serving as an English literature and drama teacher with Teach for America, as a research assistant with American University in Lebanon, and as an artist in residence at the Maumau Art Center in Istanbul, Turkey. In 2008, as a Fulbright fellow, Emily lived with the family of one of Syria's leading intellectuals while she conducted research on the use of technology in women's sacred spaces. Her experiences in Syria were the inspiration for her first novel, A Word for Love, which is forthcoming from Penguin/Riverhead Books in 2016.

Emily holds a BA from Swarthmore College, a certificate of education from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to writing and translating, Emily’s other jobs include teaching and anthropology, and other loves include reading new fiction and swimming in lakes. A veteran Experiment leader, Emily has led four programs in Morocco and Spain, and she was thrilled to lead The Experiment’s new Jordan program in 2015.

 Cortez Alexander

Born and raised in Chicago, Cortez Alexander recently graduated from DePaul University with a major in international studies and a minor in Arabic studies. Cortez first had the opportunity to travel abroad while in middle school when he participated on a program to Jordan, and he was thrilled for the chance to share his love of Jordan with an Experiment group in summer 2015. His first trip abroad ignited Cortez’s passion for experiential education and cross-cultural exchange, and he has since pursued opportunities to live and travel throughout the Middle East and North Africa—from a summer of intensive Arabic language practice as a US State Department Critical Language Scholar in Morocco to an academic year volunteering and studying at Koc University in Istanbul, Turkey.

Cortez also brings a breadth of experience working with youth from around the world, including from East Timor, Liberia, Yemen, Bangladesh, England, Mexico, Iraq, Serbia, and the US. He has worked as a program assistant with WorldChicago for the past four years, and as a peer leader for World Learning’s Iraqi Youth Leadership Exchange Program. Cortez has also served on the board of directors of the Chicago nonprofit Dreams for Kids, where he engaged with at-risk youth through service projects and leadership workshops. Cortez hopes to one day start his own youth program to further support the youth of Chicago.