This year, WHS is offering a new June Academy trip to Jordan in hopes of working with Syrian refugees through the Helping Hands For Relief and Development program. The trip will take place in June 2020 and be led by history teacher of 22 years Angela Lee.
According to Lee, the motivation for the Jordan trip was based on the ninth grade curriculum.
“The inspiration for this trip was partly going back to the ninth grade curriculum and doing what we call the Global Inquiry Project, but this year we have changed the name to the Global Citizenship Project,” Lee said. “We always struggled with taking action. The Jordan trip was sort of a dream [and] is the action element to get students hands-on and involved with their learning.”
Besides the ninth grade curriculum, a teacher’s trip to Jordan helped inspire this year’s trip.
“I went to Jordan abroad in 2014 with other teachers [and] I saw how it was an intersection of modern-day current events as the Syrian refugee crisis was starting to escalate,” history teacher Kimberly Young said. “Since it was around the time we were thinking about making changes to the World History curriculum, it was a great place to go to engage with different time periods of history and a great introduction for students to the Middle East and to a society that is predominantly Muslim that may not look like the stereotypes they see in American media.”
Although Young is not attending the trip, she explained how the Qureshi family helped this trip become a reality.
“From the beginning, the Qureshi’s have been involved. We have collaborated and worked together for a long time, hosting symposiums and larger events because of their connections and interconnections to the Boston community,” Young stated. “[Their] personal experiences as a family has helped us find experts, identify speakers and they have been essential partners in pursuing this work.”
Now that the trip is a reality, Lee elaborated on the students’ planned agenda in Jordan.
“This is a service project and we want to work with Syrian refugees. There are NGOs that work in Jordan who we are hoping to meet. In particular, we want to work with Helping Hands for Relief and Development,” Lee said.
Sophomore Maya Shamari, one of the 15 students going on the trip, expressed her motivations for wanting to go to Jordan.
“Mrs. Lee explained the trip to me and it sounded super interesting. Also, I thought it would be a cool opportunity to try something new and help others,” Shamari said.
Not only is the Jordan trip an opportunity to help out a community, but it allows exposure to new cultures and ideas.
“The power of cross-cultural learning is immense when you actually go to a place and experience the culture and learn from people there. It can really expand your perspective on the world and help you think differently when you return home,” Young said.