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27/11/2013

Pride and prejudice

Syrious Mission - Day 4

What is your name?

That is the English phrase that EVERYBODY knows here in Jordan. It is also the question that everybody asks. Many renditions of my not-so-very-arab-sounding name have been uttered. Somebody found a rather peculiar way of remembering it by associating me with the Arab equivalent of Fanta: Mirinda. Whatever works for them, I suppose. BeRRandEn is close enough.

Today I also experienced a fine example of Jordanian bureaucratic negotiation. On our final day tomorrow we are organising a concert for the 250 refugee kids that we worked with. Although we know that three weeks ago they knew that the others knew (…)  that there would be a performance, some institutions came to the conclusion that permission from the parents had not yet been asked. There is certainly a traditional sense of hierarchy in the educational sector here. It functions, but in Europe we would not call it functional. 

In the institute where I was working (UNRWA) there was a lively discussion between various heads of different departments. Conclusion: there is no problem. I am nevertheless very pleased to see that – contrary to the prejudice of many Westerners – women have quite an impact in society and are treated with great respect. You should have seen how the female department head persuaded the others to go for it; smartly passionate with a hint of the impossible.

Back to the kids. Tomorrow my 80-odd phenomena will share the stage and try to get the audience, probably and hopefully filled with parents, brothers, sisters and the occasional bureaucrat. They will sing a traditional Jordanian song and the worldwide children’s hit: Frère Jacques in the form of do-re-mi-do with the audience as our drum machine. They might even do a little dance!

I am pretty impressed how much those children have learned in such a ridiculously short space of time: looking each other in the eye, singing a song for somebody else, dancing together (albeit not quite coordinated), taking the lead and being quiet for over thirty seconds as part of the ‘Big International Competition of Silence’. They think they beat the Netherlands by two seconds. I’d appreciate it if we can leave them under that impression! 

So ssssst…. and WATCH (youtube)

(My name is Brendan. What is yours?)

Comments (1)

28/11/2013
Hallo Berranden. It must have been amazing to have such an experience with children specially when they speak another language. Can't wait to see the performance

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