Saturday, December 1, 2007

Prep Day in Jordan

We had a fine day today, with a scenic ride to Ma’en across the plains and then down the steep and windy road to this resort, the Janna Spa, at about 800 feet below sea level. Janna means paradise, and it sure is beautiful (though I don’t believe they provide the virgins). The hot springs pour out water that comes tumbling down three different waterfalls, one of which is designated “The Ladies Waterfall,” for those women who prefer not to get wet in the presence of men. I haven’t been in the water yet, but my colleagues tell me it’s very hot – around 50 degrees C. Too bad I forgot my bathing suit. If I can find the time, though, I’ll get in anyway, wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

It’s fun to be surrounded by Palestinian/Jordanian Arabic, which I consider "my dialect," having learned most of my spoken Arabic when living in the West Bank (1982-84) and Gaza (1987-89). I have a lot of recapturing of vocabulary to do (“I know I used to know that word”), but will likely not have the full opportunity this visit, as we are operating the workshop in English. It’s especially important to be fully inclusive of the Eurasia folks, who are from Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan and speak no Arabic, except for one Tajik.

The preparation for Day 1 has gone well. We re-arranged the training room, reviewed the overall agenda, developed the detailed agenda for tomorrow, and assigned tasks and roles. We (mostly I) still have a couple of things to get done before we start at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, but they will not take long, so we’re in good shape.

This is a very fancy hotel and in some respects, not great for an emergency response simulation. There’s no hardship, what with the beautiful setting, very nice, clean rooms, and delicious food and drink. I think we’ll also have a steady electrical supply and around-the-clock Internet access. Maybe we’ll have to ask the hotel to cut the electricity during the simulation one afternoon…?

For the simulation, the compound offers quite a few locations where we can hold meetings, set up safe spaces for children, and conduct a distribution of goods. We’re thinking that even though we only have 4 days instead of the 5 we had in Africa and Asia, we’ll still conduct a scavenger hunt with the GPS equipment – sending them all around, including out to the entry gate, which is probably one kilometer up the wadi (valley) from the hotel.

The training team seems good and I'm feeling very upbeat. Right now, though, I'm getting hit with jetlag, so I'll sign off here and hit the sack.


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