Hello! My name is Ally Hawkins and I’ll be serving as a Peace Fellow for the Advocacy Project this summer. I plan to use this space to reflect on the work I’ll be doing through AP with The Collateral Repair Project in Jordan. CRP is a grassroots organization bringing much-needed assistance to refugees and other victims of war and conflict living in Amman. I’ll be working closely with their Hope Workshop, a cooperative craft group led entirely by Iraqi and Syrian refugee women, to not only produce sellable handicrafts, but to create a long-term, income generation program that can be sustained by Workshop members after my departure.
On Monday, the Advocacy Project’s 2016 Peace Fellows traveled to Washington, D.C. for a week of training prior to the start of our various fellowship assignments. We’ve received training on managing social media for non-profits, podcasting, videography, and photography. We’ve discussed the challenges and rewards of working with community-based organizations. We’ve developed work plans for our individual fellowships and discussed ways we can best serve our host organizations. It’s been a week full of helpful information, practical skill-building, and lots of reflection.
However, on my meandering, sunny walks to and from our meetings each day, my mind settles and centers on what I’ve learned this week from the other fellows. Sharing stories, exchanging ideas, and benefiting from each other’s expertise has been a true highlight of this weeks’ training for me. Having dedicated time to contemplate the work I will do this summer, how best to approach and build relationships with members of CRP, and setting clear goals has been incredibly valuable. Not often do we slow down and critically examine our intentions and objectives before diving right into work. As someone who is used to just hitting the ground running, I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to take pause and thoughtfully prepare for what I’m sure will be a challenging summer of learning and listening.
On a more personal note, my connection to CRP dates all the way back to 2010. During a semester studying Arabic abroad at the University of Jordan, a dear friend and classmate of mine introduced me to CRP. It was my first true exposure to non-profit work, and the experience sparked my interest in refugee issues, women’s economic self-sufficiency, and international education. Having the opportunity to volunteer with CRP again is a true piece of good fortune, and an opportunity to learn more from the community members that they serve.
Jordan is the first place I ever traveled outside of the United States and holds a special place in my heart. It’s a place that has taught me the meaning of hospitality, demonstrated the true tolerance and resilience of Jordanians, Palestinians, Iraqis, and Syrians, and challenged me to listen and learn from the experiences of those around me. I’m excited to travel back again and continue to develop my relationship with such a special place, collaborate with an amazing group of people at CRP, and inshallah, enjoy some delicious mansaf and lemon mint juice!
Posted By Allyson Hawkins (Jordan)
Posted May 27th, 2016