From Peers to Family: The Jordan Experience

Teagan Nine '23 is a College of Hospitality Management student and is also currently in JWU's accelerated master's program to pursue her MBA — Hospitality Concentration degree. During the fall semester, she traveled to Jordan as part of a JWU Familiarization (FAM) tour, an experience that students majoring in Hospitality Management (and specializing in Sustainable Tourism) and students majoring in Adventure, Sport and Sustainable Tourism Management embark on as part of the Tour Management Operations course. Students on the JWU FAM tour plan and execute the entire trip and take turns acting as tour guides each day to lead the group on various activities. Teagan shared her experience traveling to Jordan — and why it's one she will never forget.

Two photos of JWU students overlooking a vista in Jordan(L) ME AND MY GROUP ON OUR TOUR DAY. (R) ME IN MY TOUR GUIDE SHIRT READY TO LEAD OUR CLASS!

Since I was young, I have had a passion for traveling. I loved going to new places and trying new things. I was taught at a young age that we, as humans, learn more through traveling and experience than we do in a classroom. To an extent, I agree with this quote. I feel that I receive a great education at Johnson & Wales, but I think that this is an experience I would have never had anywhere else.

On August 29th at 9:30am, I walked into a classroom in the Xavier Academic Complex with so much excitement and nerves. I was about to find out where we were going on our FAM tour. After some time, our original plan of traveling to Bolivia turned into a trip to Jordan. I admit that I was nervous at first, but I was about to have the best experience of my life.

On November 6th, I arrived at Gaebe commons with 14 of my peers and we set off on what would turn out to be an adventure of a lifetime. We arrived at Boston Logan Airport and buckled in for a nine-hour flight to Istanbul followed by a two-hour flight to Amman, Jordan.

We spent our first day experiencing the sites of Amman, the capital of Jordan. We started to adapt to the Jordanian culture and tried new foods, saw unbelievable ancient sites and even experienced being in a mosque for the first time. It is honestly the most incredible feeling when people welcome you with warm arms into their culture. I was never worried I was doing something wrong or offending anyone because they would be so kind as to explain to us the proper way to cover ourselves in the mosque, wear a headwrap or eat certain foods. On the first night, we even had the chance to experience the Jordan Heritage Museum, which was also a restaurant. They served us several courses of traditional Jordanian cuisine, so we were able to try new foods right off the bat!

The mountains of Jordan with a blue skyWADI RUM

After we departed Amman, we headed to one of the most exquisite places I have ever seen in my life, Wadi Rum. Many will recognize Wadi Rum, as it is in many films such as "The Martian" and "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." One of the most influential parts of Wadi Rum though was the fact that we were without any cell service or Wifi for eighteen hours. We got to experience the true desert with a Jeep tour of many terrific rock formations. We ended our tour at the Bedouin tribe campsite that was hosting us for the night. They took us up the side of a rock formation to watch the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my entire life.

After the movie-like sunset over the desert, the tribe cooked us an authentic Bedouin dinner. We spent the rest of our night together as a group drinking tea by fire for hours. The way we can connect without devices is incredible. All we had was ourselves and the gorgeous desert around us. We decided as a group to face our fears and ride camels the next morning.

JWU student Teagan Nine in front of camels in JordanCATCHING MY RIDE TO PETRA!

The next morning, we woke up at 6am, packed our bags, and took a short Jeep ride to meet our camels. We had an hour-long ride on camels to exit the beautiful Wadi Rum and head off to one of the seven wonders of the world, Petra. 

Petra truly is one of the seven wonders of the world. It is not only rich in history, but it is absolutely beautiful. There are many lessons I learned in Petra, such as why we have to focus on being responsible tourists. Areas were shut down due to tourists disrespecting sites and even going as far as to spray paint or write their names. We also had the opportunity to learn about how we need to act and what we should and should not support when traveling. One of the biggest eye-openers was seeing animal abuse, child labor and more firsthand. As tourists, we need to make sure we are conscious of how we treat the environment and the people around us. 

Two  images of tomb entrances in Jordan with JWU students in front (L) OUR CLASS IN FRONT OF A TREASURY IN PETRA. (R) A TOMB IN PETRA. 

After two days of exploration in Petra, we headed to the Dead Sea. By this point in our journey together, we had truly bonded and become a family. We looked out for and took care of one another. This made all of our adventures even more fun. We all took the opportunity to do an authentic Dead Sea mud scrub, and we experienced the feeling of floating in the gorgeous water. We also learned how the Dead Sea is withering away and how we need to try to save it. After our fun at the beach, we went to a mosaic store where we watched a group of people hand-making mosaics right in front of us! They even went around the shop to tell us which pieces each of them made. After that, we checked into our final hotel for the week.


For our final day, we headed up to Mount Nebo, the spot where Moses first saw the promised land. The view from the top was stunning! Afterward, we went to Jerash, a city full of ruins. We were able to see many Greek and Roman-style ruins while exploring the city from temples to town centers. We then went to a nearby church where we learned about many historic sites in the area and ended up experiencing the only rain we had the entire trip! We spent our last few hours in Jordan simply being together and hanging out with one another. The next morning, we woke up early and headed to the airport home.

This trip was unlike any other I have ever been on. Not only was it a tour in another country, but one we as students were able to lead. We saw our peers in tour guide roles and really helped one another be our best selves. We all signed up for this class not knowing where we were going, or who we were going with. We ended this trip as a family. There is no other experience that can compare to this trip. Everything that we have learned in the classroom was put into practical use. I am so lucky and grateful that Johnson & Wales gave me this opportunity. I know I will never forget it.

A sunset in the mountains of Jordan

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