Although Jordan is a small country, there are always events and activities going on for people to enjoy. Since Facebook is one of the most popular social media sites in Jordan, I find it to be the easiest way to discover upcoming events in Amman.
The area of Zghairon café (left) and the inside of Zghairon café on the first floor (right)
Recently I discovered a popular volunteer organization called Bla Bla Jordan, which focuses on providing language exchange opportunities for locals and expatriates. When I attended my first session, it was located at Zghairon café, a small, cozy café located on the hipster side of Downtown Amman. When I arrived, I was greeted immediately by friendly café staff and several volunteers from Bla Bla Jordan. The café was decorated with many Arab figures and was three stories high, including a rooftop. After meeting with the volunteers, they asked me what my native language was and what was my target language for today. Then, all the guests were divided into groups of five to ten (there were 100 of us total) with each group including one expatriate.
Thus, my group consisted of me plus seven Jordanian men and women interested in learning English and willing to help me learn Arabic in return. We also had a bilingual Jordanian moderator to help facilitate the exchange and select the topic of discussion for the day. In each session, there is a different topic of discussion. Some previous topics have been self-care and mental health, music, fashion, and travel.
Group photo with my language exchange group
Once the session begins, we all order our coffees and introduce ourselves to the group. It was so interesting to meet different types of Jordanians, from college students to retired professors; it was amazing hearing different perspectives and stories. Then, since our group was for an English-Arabic exchange, we spent the first hour speaking in English and the second hour speaking in Arabic. Everyone in my group was extremely supportive and respectfully corrected any errors I made in Arabic while encouraging me to continue studying.
At the end of the session, my group and I all exchanged numbers, and they even wrote down for me the Arabic words that I didn’t know! Attending the Bla Bla Language Exchange taught me the importance and value of exchanging cultures and languages. I treasure the new friends I met both from Jordan and other countries through this event and encourage others to also search for local events going on to integrate within Jordanian society!
Me in front of graffiti in the area