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Connecting Across Cultures: Running Jordan with RC

On March 18, Reclaim Childhood (RC) brought together 15 coaches, 11 Americans, and almost 100 RC participants from Amman, Mafraq, and Zarqa for a day of activity, cultural exchanges, and fun! This event served as the culmination of RC’s 2022-23 grant project with the US Embassy in Amman and the organization’s annual March trip to Jordan for American supporters.

In previous years, a key highlight of the RC trip to Jordan was the legendary Dead2Red race, in which participants competed in a 150-mile overnight relay race from the lowest point on earth (the Dead Sea) to the city of Aqaba on the shores of the Red Sea. With the race canceled this year, the group instead created the “Run Jordan Challenge,” which included a running activity during each day of the trip as the group aimed to surpass the distance from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea. They also visited two RC practices, heard from the women who run the organization, and played alongside the girls and coaches.

The absence of the Dead2Red relay also gave RC the opportunity to design an event that would allow RC participants to interact more deeply with the American visitors. The group joined girls and coaches in running and playing sports together. The girls rounded the track, passing their batons off to Americans as their friends cheered them on. With the help of the RC participants, the Run Jordan mileage total officially surpassed 500 miles - more than three times the distance from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea!

Upon reflecting on the event and her week in Jordan with RC, supporter Nini Hamrick shared, “This week was the first time I got to see, hear, and feel RC’s impact for myself. The ‘right to play’ means seeing these girls play hard - sprinting around a track or hustling to make a pass.”

Several American Fulbright fellows also joined the event, including Yamit Netter-Sweet who volunteers with Reclaim Childhood in Jordan. “For the past six 6 months, I have had an amazing time at basketball and soccer practice with the Reclaim Childhood coaches and girls,” said Yamit. “Every practice, we learn important technical skills about the sports, while also having an absolute blast!”

Fulbright fellow Stratton Marsh also enjoyed the event. “I loved playing soccer and other games with the girls,” said Stratton. “We had a great time running around and chatting about their favorite sports and favorite subjects in school.”

The day concluded with a race between the coaches and the visitors, a full group RC cheer, and conversations (and selfies) over ice cream. Meanwhile, RC participants are already ready to get back on the track, with Fahemah telling her coach on the bus ride home: “I loved the race. It was my first time to participate in this kind of activity, and I would love to do it again and see how far I can run!”

Thank you to the US Embassy in Amman’s Public Affairs Section for their support of this event and the entire “Empowering Girls and Women in Jordan Through Sport” project!

This blog was written by Zoe H. Robbin in partnership with RC staff. Zoe is a Fulbright research fellow in Jordan and Reclaim Childhood Junior Board member.


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