Allyson Hawkins (Jordan)

Allyson is a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where she is pursuing a master's in Human Security and Gender in the Middle East. Prior to Fletcher, Allyson spent two years in Tunisia teaching English with AMIDEAST, learning Arabic at the Bourguiba Institute for Modern Languages, and travelling. She also worked for Layalina Productions, Inc., a DC based nonprofit that produces award winning films and television series that aim to bridge the divide between the Arab world and the United States. At Layalina, Allyson served as Coordinating Producer and Production Supervisor for "Yemeniettes," a documentary that follows a team of teenage girls as they strive to break barriers of traditional Yemeni society through entrepreneurship. She is incredibly excited to return to Jordan, where she first studied abroad in 2010, and learn more about the issues facing Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Amman through working with the Collateral Repair Project. Allyson is originally from New Hampshire, and holds a BA in Government from Smith College in 2011. After her fellowship, Allyson wrote: "The training I received from AP ensured that I would be able to contribute to my host's efforts in a meaningful way. Knowing that I was able to build capacity and contribute to sustainable programs made my fellowship experience not only useful for my host, but rewarding for me."



Microblog: A Confrontation

29 Jun

I exit the minibus, the “servees,” and examine the nondescript street corner that is, apparently, the last stop. My friend and I know that we must use our negotiating skills to somehow wrangle a taxi to get from here to Um Qais, our intended destination. Within seconds, our fellow passengers have scattered and vanished. We find ourselves surrounded by several men, drivers, all offering competing prices. The prices sound high. My friend and I exchange a look. Perhaps trying to take public transport on a summer Friday during Ramadan was not the best laid plan.

We hem and haw, attempting to negotiate a lower price, Arabic numbers and emphatic no’s rolling off my tongue. Suddenly, we are no longer a part of the conversation, the drivers jostling to get closer together, arguing over who was here first. Shoulders tense, words become louder, and they begin pushing and shoving each other as the argument continues. I remain glued to my place on the sidewalk, dumbfounded that this is even happening at all. My friend breaks my trance. “We should walk away,” she says.

We locate a woman walking down a nearby street. She tells us a good price, and insists on talking to the drivers to help us secure it. “Mashallah,” she says, when we tell her we’re from America. “You girls are beautiful. I love Americans. Welcome.”

 

_DSC1031

We had the ruins all to ourselves.

 

Days later, my emotions are still roiling over this whole event. The mixture of gratitude,  (for that kind woman’s help) ire, (at the taxi drivers for the never-ending price run-around), and residual embarrassment all have me questioning my presence here in one way or another. All that hustle and bustle over my friend and I, just trying to get from point A to point B. However, I can’t help but feel like part of the problem. When I’m referred to as an “expat” instead of a “foreigner.” When taxi drivers try to squeeze an extra dinar out of me, not because they want to rip me off, but because they might need it more than I do. When I accept so much hospitality and help and there’s so little I can do in return. I absorb generosity like a sponge here. Saturated. So full of love, kindness, and delicious food that when tense moments like these happen, they contrast so starkly with everything else I know and love about Jordan. These moments make up a small minority. A few tiles of a mosaic. This is what I know, and what I hope I can convey to others.

 

With love from Amman,

 

Ally

 

In addition to my weekly blogs, I will publish occasional “microblogs” highlighting particular moments or experiences of my time in Amman. 

Posted By Allyson Hawkins (Jordan)

Posted Jun 29th, 2016

10 Comments

  • Kay Scanlan

    June 29, 2016

     

    Very reflective post, Ally! I really like your comment that they aren’t necessarily trying to rip you off, but that they are in more need. Looking forward to your next microblog!

  • Laura Stateler

    June 29, 2016

     

    Allyson this was such a grounding post. It is beautiful that you are absorbing all that is around you and letting the love and support you feel guide you. I was surprised when the women you met said “I love Americans”, but that just shows how many misconceptions I have and the power of people like you revealing what people in Jordan (and other countries) actually think about America! Keep up the great work!

  • Amy Gillespie (Uganda)

    June 29, 2016

     

    Really great and honest post Ally! I totally feel you on all of those mixed emotions and questioning of purpose. Just know that you aren’t alone in that and I’m a fb message away if you ever need to decompress. You are smart and strong and will get through it!

  • 蒂欧娜

    June 29, 2016

     

    我就是随便看看!

  • Sayre Nyce

    July 7, 2016

     

    Dear Ally,
    Thanks for sharing powerful stories from your experiences in Jordan. We also really appreciated the news bulletin on urban refugees. Best regards,
    Sayre with Talent Beyond Boundaries

  • Rita

    July 7, 2016

     

    Nice reflection Allyson, this is a very thoughtful post. I can tell how much you love Jordan from the blogs you have written, and it’s great to hear that you feel loved in that country as well.

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