(MENAFN - Jordan Times) AMMAN — Driven by the belief that 'people-to-people relationships' are the most important aspect of bilateral ties, the US embassy in Amman recently launched the US Alumni Mentorship Programme, a six-month initiative that seeks to encourage the exchange of expertise and experience among Jordanian US alumni.
'Through our various academic, professional and cultural programmes, we have around 160 Jordanians going to the United States each year, both on a short-term and a long-term basis. This constitutes a very large network of US alumni living in Jordan and we wanted to help them support and encourage each other in their endeavours back in the Kingdom,' said Kim Scrivner, assistant of cultural affairs officer at the US embassy.
Launched by the US Chargé d'Affaires Paul Malik with funding from the US State Department, the new pilot programme will span over six months, targeting some 140 Jordanians and Syrians aged between 16 and 50 years old.
'Since it is a brand new project, we were not sure of the reaction it would trigger, but we were really pleased with the tremendous interest shown by the 200 people who showed up at the inaugural ceremony,' Scrivner told The Jordan Times on Tuesday, stressing that 'this was really more than we imagined and it clearly demonstrates the demand from our alumni's part'.
Through a variety of trainings on mentorship and professional development, the programme will give pairs of mentors and mentees a platform to exchange guidance and experiences in the professional and civic service fields, with monthly activities being organised such as school beautification projects, mural paintings and soft skills trainings, according to the cultural affairs officer.
'It is really important to keep those alumni together and make sure that their experience does not end when they come back to Jordan,' said Nancy Abaza, cultural and professional exchanges alumni coordinator at the embassy.
For Hamza Arsbi, a 27-year-old Jordanian who went on the Youth Exchange and Study programme at 15 and to the International Visitors Leadership Programme at 23, 'the programme is a great idea as the alumni network is rich with many great Jordanians who embody the entrepreneurial spirit and have the passion to develop their country'.
'It is a great opportunity for the alumni to connect and learn from each other, making the Jordanian community stronger,' he told The Jordan Times, noting that 'the US embassy has always focused on the exchange of culture, business, and ideas between Jordan and the US'.
'By empowering younger alumni and making it easier for them to launch their own initiatives, we hope that this programme will contribute to benefitting the Jordanian society and encourage solidarity among former students,' Abaza told The Jordan Times over the phone, underlining, 'this is the vision behind our range of exchange programmes, which open opportunities for these young people to become future leaders in their communities, and we truly hope this will give way to great Jordanian success stories'.
Abdallah Alrababah, a 24-year-old civil engineer who went on three exchanges to the US, recalled the difficult time he faced when switching jobs a few years ago. 'I wanted someone who is in the field to ask him/her for advice. Not a relative, not a colleague, but someone who could provide me with a judgment-free, honest opinion which could help me to have a clearer perspective in making life decisions,' he explained.
Arsbi said he is now 'looking forward to giving back the experience he accumulated over the years, both in the education sector and business management', adding that he also cannot wait to 'learn from other alumni and open his own mind to new points of view'.
Having started in Amman on October 10, the programme will soon be established in the Kingdom's other governorates, with the next launching ceremony expected to take place in Maan and Aqaba by the beginning of next month, according to Scrivner.