Written by Shahd Al Soud
It was dawn and adrenaline was already rushing abundantly through our veins, we said goodbye to our dear Amman while heading to Queen Alia airport.
Arriving to Heathrow airport in London, we made our way to Edinburgh via another flight. And then the moment came: everything was green; it was what I’ve always dreamed of!
I was in too much awe that I couldn’t close my mouth; it was literally a shock although I already had an idea of what Edinburgh would be like, but experiencing ultimate greenery of the countryside and outstanding architecture on real is much more fascinating and meaningful.
Within those 6 days we experienced much; meeting Durham students, which wasn’t only about a scheduled activity in the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms project to bridge cultures between the two countries, but also it was an unforgettable memory that is imprinted in our minds and will never fade away.
For me, the opportunity was life-changing. And in a way, this change was quite noticeable in everyone’s personality and behavior, as if it opened our shells, emancipated us from only being national citizens and helping us into winding our way through global citizenry.
For at the start of our trip, we found it slightly difficult to blend in with the UK students – we were just like two clusters – one from Jordan and the other from Durham, looking at each other with distant looks as if these would help us discover each one another’s personality.
However, soon everything between us was a bit more like we’d been friends for years. We started approaching each other with small talk, like names, ages and interests and then things developed into some of the Durham students teaching us the Geordie accent and, in return, us teaching them some Arabic! And what helped us more to create this international dimension is the bunch of activities we shared from working, shopping, staying up late, treasure hunting and even rowing, which was most enjoyable though we were on the edge of capsizing all the time and bumping into the bank of the River Wear in Durham!
As if this wasn’t enough, one of the most memorable parts of the trip was meeting His Majesty after the Royal Military Tattoo. Overall, the tattoo added its glamour on our day by the tantalizing performances and its music that kept teasing our nerves every second we approached the long-awaited moment, that even we had to jump together before meeting His Majesty to ward off all the extra dosage of enthusiasm that made our muscles tremble and gave us goose bumps for a whole hour although that was a feeling we will never forget!
As for the city of Edinburgh, everything was perfect, and we went on a majestic bus tour. Not to forget the Royal Miles’ street that was fascinating at a time when the fringe festival’s performances reached its highest rates and varieties from musicians and singers to extraordinary talent and magic shows!
And at the end of this stream of magnificent performances, lies Edinburgh Castle “the castle of castles” whose ancient walls spoke volumes of its history. Frankly speaking, standing at the top of this castle and watching whole of Edinburgh in front of me was truly inspiring because it gave me a feeling of the ultimate strength a person could have.
It is crucial to me to say that the connecting classrooms programme has helped us build international partnerships, and what is even more important is the opportunity we seized to help our peers know more about our culture and just correct the misconception they might have about the Arab world because that’s what the connecting classrooms project is all about – sharing cultures and understanding them.
From my own perspective, the visit had such a great mission. Previously, we were all caught in our own shells and this visit has helped us all develop an inner capacity to strike up a conversation and engage with others. It hasn’t just been an educational experience, it has also opened our shells.