A Rekindled Connection

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By: Costanza Maio
(’16 Fall, ’17 Winter, ’17 Spring, ’17 Summer)


As Ramadan comes to a close, I am reminded once again of my favorite memories from my travels in the MENA region: preparing iftar with my host family in Tangier; waltzing around Amman at night with my host sisters; stuffing my face with ma’amoul; watching Ramez every night; taking in the beauty of this holy month.

I hold on to these memories dearly, as I have not had the opportunity to return to the MENA region since graduating college. Before finding Banaat Connect, Ramadan continuously served as a reminder of my distance from this world I love so deeply.

But Banaat Connect changed all of that. With this wonderful program, not only can I keep practicing my spoken Arabic, but I can continue to make friends in this beautiful part of the world. I can keep connected with Arab culture and learn about a native’s perspective on issues in the region. I can gain insight into the experiences of women in the Jerash refugee camp, the many injustices challenging their lives, and, most importantly, the ways in which they find empowerment in the face of these obstacles.

I am in awe of these women, who generously invite me into their lives and, despite the distance, lovingly care about mine.

I cannot speak highly enough about Banaat Connect, which has rekindled my relationship with the Arabic language and the Arab World. I plan on continuing with the program for a long time, and I cannot wait to return to Jordan someday and finally meet my incredible speaking partners in person, inshallah.

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