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 Meditation

22 Jun

First day nerves have taken hold of my body. My shoulders are tense, I’m hyper-aware and self conscious as I climb the stairs for my first day at CRP. I try to practice some Arabic in my head, but it all goes out the window as I’m greeted by friendly staff members who quickly show me around. I start conversations with several people, small talk and introductions. Shadha stands up as I’m mid-sentence. “We have a training now,” she says. “Are you coming?”

I follow her over to the adjacent room, where everyone is sitting in bright red plastic chairs, arranged in a circle. Danya, a Mercy Corps Adviser, is here, and she explains that as part of a staff development training series at CRP, she’s going to lead us in a mediation practice. She starts off in Arabic, and I’m instantly impressed by her language skills, which slowly fade away as she starts using words that have no direct translation. Mindfulness. Mental silence. Sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.

Saddam jumps in, and as we close our eyes, their words dance back and forth. English and Arabic. My mind wanders, resisting the objective, as I try to match Saddam’s translations with Danya’s directions. I feel the Amman heat creep in and settle. The “gas man” breaks the silence. Tinny music playing from the delivery truck and his amplified voice intrude on the minimal meditating I’m managing. Danya continues. Saddam’s words fade away as even more time passes. I cheat and open my eyes slightly to see he has fallen asleep, the combination of the heat, fasting, and mediation overpowering him. Silence descends and I feel wind from the open window behind me play across my neck.

Clarity finds me, and my nerves dissipate. The call to prayer begins, and I feel certain that, thankfully, I’m in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.


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 22nd, 2016


  • Kay Scanlan

    June 22, 2016


    Very thoughtful piece, Amy! Hope your first week has gone well, looking forward to reading more of your blogs!

  • Laura Stateler

    June 22, 2016


    It is great to hear from you! Thanks for sharing this moment. I am curious to read more about the month of Ramadan!

  • Rachael Hughen

    June 22, 2016


    Love the microblog idea- it is easy to detail big weekly events, but showing these more nuanced moments really gives a glimpse into what work there is like. Hope you’re doing well and let us know if you need anything.

  • Rita

    July 7, 2016


    Great blog Allyson, enjoy your time in Amman!

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