How to Prepare for A CET Excursion

Written by Margaret Stoner, (Franklin & Marshall College) Student Correspondent CET Jordan, Summer 2017

After about a week’s break from classes due to Eid al-Fitr, CET re-started regular classes with a trip to Jerash, Ajloun and Um Qais. Located in Northern Jordan, these historical sites host Roman ruins and an Ayyubid fortress commissioned by Salah al-Din. In addition to the history, these sites host fantastic views that were well worth the hours spent on a bus. From Um Qais, there is a fantastic view of the Golan Heights, Lake Tiberias, and Syria.  Here’s how to prepare to optimize your time on a CET excursion:

  1. Pack sunscreen. Wear sunscreen. The second point is important; I made the mistake of leaving the sunscreen, unapplied, in my backpack on the bus. The temperature was easily in the 100s and shade was scarce. My skin will recover eventually.
  2. Hydrate. Drink plenty of water the day before and bring a big water bottle. Even if you visit on a colder day. In order to explore the sites you’ll be doing a lot of walking.
  3. Do some background research on the places that you’ll be visiting. While Jerash and Ajloun have clear signs in Arabic and English, Um Qais is not well marked and if you want to know what’s what, it would behoove you to check out the history online before going.
  4. The bus is a great place to get to know students from other classes and interact with other teachers. We spent a lot of time on a bus travelling between the locations. Prepare a great Arabic playlist. Of course you could sleep if you want to, but it’s not nearly as fun as dancing around in the back of the bus.
  5. Study your vocab! Of course this is a must all the time at CET, but if you don’t know the words for the sites and artifacts that you’re seeing, you’ll be very lost. Plus, it will make your video assignment for the trip a whole lot better.

6.  Work up an appetite. After a long day, the CET staff took us to a favorite restaurant and we ate incredible food.

This excursion was one of my favorite parts of CET so far for several reasons! First, it gathered all the students together for the first time in a while and it was exciting to see how people’s Arabic had improved since the first weeks. Additionally, while in class most of our vocabulary is focused on practical words and structures, this trip complemented that by focusing on historical and archaeological information. This trip also has piqued my interest in further investigating the more ancient history of the region.