MUSCATINE, Iowa — Studying abroad can open college students’ eyes to new possibilities for how their lives might play out.
Besides being educational, a spring break trip studying in Jordan can be flat-out fun, too — especially when the hotel maid provides you a slice of cheesecake each day.
That was just one of the many acts of kindness six Muscatine Community College students experienced on their study abroad trip March 9-18.
Students Korey Kreimeyer, 23, of Wilton, who’s studying business finance, and Kristie Miller, 24, of Muscatine, a business student who already has a degree in interior design, said they were struck by the kindness and hospitality of the Jordanian people and by the pleasure of learning about a culture a long way from home.
Iowans are known for their niceness, Kreimeyer said, “but (the Jordanians) took it to the next level.”
The two students joined Maria Barajas, Sean Beaudette, Jordan James and Jacki McNamara on a trip led by John Dabeet, coordinator of the MCC Business Department and a professor of economics and statistics.
Not only was it a bonus for students to receive three credits for their efforts, it was nice to be led by someone who knew both the lay of the land and about Jordanian culture, Miller said of Dabeet, a native of Palestine who studied in Jordan.
“It seemed like everywhere we went, John had a cousin he hadn’t seen in years,” she said.
Students paid $1,800 each for the trip. Dabeet secured additional funding amounting to $1,500 per student.
Dabeet said he wanted the six students — four studying business, one biology and one history — to rub shoulders with students and faculty at Al-Quds University in Amman, Jordan’s capital, a college which MCC established a partnership last year.
He also said it’s good for students to get out of the classroom — even out of the country — every now
“Traveling abroad can change how students view the world and deal with people,” Dabeet said. “I believe travel is vital to our students’ growth.”
“Every day there changed my life,” Miller said. “One day we’d be talking to students, the next day we’d visit with government officials (including Mostafa al-Edwan, Jordan’s deputy minister of higher education and a friend of Dabeet) and the day after that we were talking with the people at the Jordan Chamber of Commerce. It was worth every penny.”
Most of the women she met wore Western-style clothing, Miller said. Most cover their heads.
“They felt more free being covered,” she said. “If your hair’s mussed, so what?”
At Al-Quds, students saw the $3 million video mixer that James Cameron used for his film, “Avatar.”
Students had some time for sight-seeing, too. At Mount Nebo (Jabal Nibu) they stood at the place where, according to the first chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses first got a view of the promised land. They swam in the Dead Sea, the world’s saltiest body of water — so salty one can float without trying.
They saw the Treasury (Al Khazneh) at Petra, which Indiana Jones famously
rode out of during his last crusade.
They even paused to shop at a place called Mecca Mall, which wasn’t unlike malls one might find in Iowa, the travelers said.
Before she left for Jordan, Miller said she heard warnings from family and friends concerned for her safety. Those concerns couldn’t have been more unfounded, she said.
“They told me, ‘Don’t get kidnapped,’” she said. “It gave me goosebumps just to witness how wrong they were. I felt safer there than I do here.”
“I had never been to another country,” Kreimeyer added. “John told us this would be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Being exposed to a Middle East culture I didn’t know much about was an eye-opening experience.”