Erin Hudson (’18) reflects on the power of place, the impact of her travel experience and the evolution of her thought processes since being on the trip.
You know those moments that happen, every now and then, where you can feel your life changing? That’s how this trip has been for me. This place is beautiful – just everything about it is beautiful. The rolling land and jagged desert rocks, the kind people, the way I feel, the freedom, the release, the warm sunshine, the towers jutting out from the jumbled and white mountain cities, the rising and falling dust, the friendships, the clay and silky water, the presence of the sacred and the historically divine, the foreign symbols, the flowers and the color, the spices and scent of lemon, the allure of languages not yet learned, the way the horizon is often hidden by dust and the sun’s rays. It has me enthralled, captured in one of those eternal but also everlasting moments where the heart could nearly burst because it’s so full of awe and of questions and of life.
Before I came here, Jordan meant very little to me. In my mind, it was the name of a region that existed in a place I knew as the Middle East. To me, that meant conflict – I didn’t understand what the conflict was but I had been given, through the media and the culture of my home, a single story that encapsulated all that existed or could exist on this side of the globe. I thought of the Middle East as an area of perpetual turmoil – before signing up for this trip my very first question was, “is it safe?”
That single story left out so much of the truth. But in better words, that single story left out everything. Jordan is a place that exists in a region where conflict and tensions exist, but it is not unlike the rest of the world. Humanity exists here – there are children growing up here, there is a day-to-day life here that includes markets and school and laundry and prayer and dinner with family, there are special holidays, and there are fears. This region is beautiful and it has so much to offer – so many stories that don’t deserve to be buried by superstitions or stereotypes or insecurities. These stories, these sunsets, these songs, these flavors – they deserve to be understood and passed on.
The truth is, through my interactions with King’s students and with the places we’ve seen, I’ve come to see that there are so many ways to live the human experience. Like the image of our trip – the mosaic – would imply, the human story is a mosaic that is incomplete unless all things are understood, appreciated and represented truthfully.
I am so excited for our next few days in this country and am very grateful for the chance to get to know Jordan and the place that it truly is. We have left King’s Academy and will head to Petra and Wadi Rum next. This a really great group (I love you guys!) and I encourage you to keep up with us as we continue this crazy and inspiring journey.