Declan Kelley ’24, Mary O’Shea ’25, and Melanie Sabino ’25, reflect on a special moment shared with friends.
The third day of our Jordan trip was full of surprises and exceeded expectations. Though my hopes were set high for our day in Wadi Rum, I was somehow still blown away by how spectacular it was. I felt more present and in the moment today than any other day yet which was a really surreal experience. Even though our day ended extravagantly, we spent a fair amount of the day away from the natural beauty of the place we were in. However this mid-length bus ride did not feel so bad for us and rather brought some of us closer together. With this group I think approaching new experiences with a growth mindset is becoming easier and easier and I can’t wait to see what comes in the next few days. A big takeaway I’ve had personally is that there is so much, not only that I don’t know, but that I wasn’t even aware there was to know. I can’t wait to bring the growth mindset and curiosity I’ve found back home with me.
-Declan Kelley ’24
Trekking to the top of a large hill in the middle of Wadi Rum, all I could focus on was not falling. With uneven or steep steps, my eyes stayed glued to the yellow stone, watching every step my sand filled sneakers took. My hands stayed out in front of me acting as my safety net in case my footwork betrayed me, while my stomach filled with butterflies the higher up I got. When I finally felt like I could let go and lift my head, my eyes were blinded by the bright, setting sun. It beautifully illuminated the tops of the surrounding stone mountains and sand, making the desert too beautiful to be true. As I looked around, I could see the similar looks of awe on everyone else’s faces. Some were braver than others and hiked to the very top of the mountains, while others stayed a little lower. But, no matter where we were standing on the mountain, all of us capturing the same outstanding view to memory. And most importantly, we were all doing it together.
While the journey to the top may have been a bit scary for some, including myself, the view at the end was well worthwhile. I learned that sometimes you have to lower your safety net and take a chance in order to make these amazing memories. For most of us, traveling to Jordan was a bit out of our comfort zones, as we were entering unknown territory. But, the amazing bonds and memories we have made on this trip wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t hadn’t taken this chance and stepped outside our comfort zone, which is an important lesson I think these trips teach us.
-Mary O’Shea ’25
The drive to Wadi Rum was a painstaking five hours, filled with less-than-ideal rest stops and complicated games meant to pass the time. Everyone was so ready to just finally get there- , feet tapping, bumbling around the area, taking pictures before the main event. We got there, where we were meant to step on yet another car. The trucks were white 4-by-4s with a little wear and tear, sand staining the wheels and the sides.
The bed was lined with two benches on either side, adorned with colorful fabric seating that had been dulled by many trips back and forth in the desert- thin yet comfortable, homey. Six people sat in one truck. To the left of me was Justin, to my right was Mary, and in front we had Natania, Thomas, and Ishaan. The truck rumbled and moved, signifying the beginning of our journey. As we brought our phones out to capture the beauty of Wadi Rum, it became really noticeable that the jeep ride forced us not only to look at the beauty around us, but also at the people in front of us. I can’t take a picture of the strata without getting the top of Ishaan’s turban, or Mary’s hair in the wind, or a hand, or without laughing from another joke made by the group. Laughter trailed behind the truck like smoke from an exhaust pipe, and I don’t think the experience would have been as beautiful if we were not sharing it with each other.
As we stopped to smell the roses- or run up the sand dunes- I was again reminded of the importance of community. Plenty of people could tell you how beautiful Wadi Rum is, how gorgeous the sunset looks when it reflects off the rock, how smooth the sand is. But not everyone can tell you about the photo ops, seeing who can climb the farthest, what it’s like to stand at the top of the mountain with your friends laughing around you and making silly poses. Not everyone can indulge in shaking the sand out of your shoes when you get back in the truck, the driver asking if you all want a picture because you guys just seem like you want a picture to remember this sunny feeling.
You can look at pictures of Jordan, take Arabic in class- or from a book, like Tunkles- but you can’t race your buds down a sand dune every day. What’s important is experiencing things in the present, with others, and I think that’s what the Jordan trip is all about.
-Melanie Sabino ’25