Monday, July 28, 2008

Amman 7/28/08

Today is my last day in Jordan and tonight I’ll be flying to Ethiopia. We have been in Jordan for exactly one month. We have done outreach performances in Jiza, Sahab, Mafraq, Salt, Na’ur, Zarqa, and Kerak. Last week we did public performances as a part of the Circus Festival. Without exaggeration we have already performed for about 15,000 people here in the Middle East. Millions have seen us on Television and heard us on the Radio. Today a TV station in Cairo interviewed us. When we go to the markets here in old Amman someone normally recognizes us and says a warm hello. In addition to the performances we have been teaching three classes a day for six days a week. Classes include unicycle with Mr. Mike, gymnastics with Miss. Beth, costumes with Miss. Rachel, aerials with Miss Erin, clowning with Mr. Jeff, and prop manipulation with Mr. Ben I can’t believe it but each of us individually has taught 81 classes. Seventy percent of our students are underprivileged. Having a program that teaches children and mixes economic backgrounds is unheard of here in Jordan… It is a huge accomplishment.

Journal Entry 7/28/09 I have been working at the Children’s Museum of Jordan for a month. A week ago I was asked by the executive director of the children’s museum of Jordan to give a lecture to all educators on how I teach and work with children. 3:30 rolls around and all the educators file in. There is tea and cookies waiting and I’m frantically stitching together the last pieces of my outline. Two topics came to life during our muddled translations. The first was the difference between teaching someone in the traditional sense vs. having a common experience with the child. All of us agreed that a great strategy is to go on an educational adventure with the child. You really honor the moment, build history with the child, and lesson becomes unforgettable. “Do you remember the time the two of us did this”… The second topic that came to life is the idea of love languages. Every child is an expert in some given field. They have information that they are just dying to share. Here in Jordan I have talked with kinds in depth about the normal trains, cars, etc. Some have told me about their grandmother’s house, and sometimes the just want to show me a bug crawling along the ground. These topics are their love language. Just listening to these stories does so much. I think of it as a secret key that can be used to help them learn more and to build a relationship of trust with a child. The lecture comes to an end and wow, I think that I got as much out of it as they did. Having roundtable discussions are always a favorite. Getting to have a roundtable discussion half way around the world with a group of intelligent educators from the middle east it just downright exciting.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Amman 7/21/08

Dear Friends of the Circus I wanted to get back into sending e-mails from our projects. For the last three weeks we have been performing and teaching in Amman Jordan. Already we have performed for hundreds of thousands and some highlights project include a performance at a wedding, the US. Embassy, an outreach performance 60 miles from Iraq, getting to teach kids from different backgrounds circus, and a 20-minute live TV performance on Jordan TV. ( There are way too many stories to share and I guess I’ll just have to pick one…

Journal entry for 7/17/08 It’s Friday and all of Jordan is asleep taking the day off. The official workweek is six days long and Friday is a chance to take it easy. Many of the folks here in Jordan start off their Friday morning by tuning into Yesaad Sabahik- translates to (good morning everyone). In less then a week we will be performing in a 3,000-person amphitheater in Al Hussein Gardens and we have been invited onto the show to promote our upcomming performance series. Performances are on July 24th, 25th, 26th, and 27th starting at 7:30pm- (tell anyone you know in the middle east to come and check us out.) We are only a 1hr. drive from Jerusalem plus time allotted for customs. (No comment on how long that could take…) Anyways, I’m pretty tired and my blood sugar levels are at dangerous levels. Not a good way to start off the day, not a good way to get ready for live TV. I eat a few almonds and dates and I feel a bit better, the day begins to feel a little more palatable. Then I remember, Live TV! Pre-recorded TV doesn’t scare me but live television scares me really badly. Its on the same level as sharks or a costume malfunction during a show. (Nobody tells you this until its too late but the downside of being a performer is performance gone wrong nightmares.) Well… we expected a five-minute interview and a five-minute performance. We find out that we will be on-air for 18 minutes and that we need to do a 12-minute performance! TV is a bit different then live theater. I oftentimes think of all the quick cuts and changes as theater that does not require as much attention. Our goal is to perform all super cool moments from the show as quickly as possible. This means that stilts will be flying on and off our feet in 10 seconds and we will be doing a relay race styled performance. Oh yeah... all of this is going to be dangerously un-rehearsed! Well time to get out of the green room and see if we can pull it off… The live television show went well and perhaps I will post it on You Tube sometime down the road. The English Arabic interview before the performance was particularly funny… Captions for the pictures Photo 1 is from one of our outreach performances. Photo 2 is of a new Zany Umbrella fan. Photo 3 is of one of the coolest Arabic DJ’s in the Middle East! While traveling I'm going to try and send these e-mail out on a regular basis. In a few weeks I will be traveling directly from Amman Jordan to Awassa Ethiopia to teach circus at an orphanage and tour with the One Love Theater. Please feel free to share these e-mail to friends. Many thanks- Ben