Sorry for this late update, we were at the King's Academy yesterday and internet access was a challenge.
Yesterday we checked out of the Amman Marriot hotel and headed to the King's Academy for a full day of fun. Upon arrival, we were greeted warmly by student counselors from the King's Academy Summer Enrichment Program (SEP). SEP brings under-privileged and over-achieving 6th, 7th, and 8th graders from throughout Jordan to the King's Academy for a two week summer program designed to allow these students to further their knowledge to an extent further than possible at their regular schools. The program combines academic and extra-curricular classes, allowing the students to have a good time while cultivating a love of learning.
After a tour of the King's Academy's stunning campus, we had the joy of eating lunch in small groups with kids from SEP who were all incredibly kind and friendly. Everyone really enjoyed getting to know the SEP kids and learning about their culture. After lunch and a meeting in the auditorium, BCC and SEP students were broken into small groups and assigned topics to discuss and create a presentation about. After nearly an hour of conversation and preparation, 12 wonderful presentations were made discussing the similarities and differences in American and Jordanian culture, which was eye opening for all involved.
Following break time and a wonderful dinner, BCC gathered for a much needed reflection on the trip thus far. From the comments made by nearly the entire choir and staff, its clear that everyone is having a enjoyable and life-changing experience here. Its been incredible for us to see what is really going on in the middle east and singers are eager to share their new found understanding.
Today we woke up bright and early for a tasty breakfast (King's Academy food is WAY better than regular food) and then headed over to the auditorium to perform for the King's Academy graduation recital for the 8th graders. The performance was one of our best so far. The audience was really enthusiastic and very into some of our music, especially the song "Zikr", an Islamic celebration song. After an outpouring of audience members exclaiming, "again!", YME actually reprised the song, which they found exciting and uplifting.
After performing, we said goodbye to our King's Academy friends and headed to Kerak to sight-see. Wandering through the fort at Kerak was really cool, it is really well preserved and their is historical reasoning behind the design, which was interesting for us to learn about.
Following our explorations, we enjoyed a buffet lunch in Kerak and then headed to the Al Hussein Cultural Center to rehearse and perform for the Jordan Festival. This concert, which was our final definite one for this tour, was a tremendous experience. We've never had such an enthusiastic and vocal audience; the applause and cheering after each song was overwhelmingly strong. Singers truly had a great time.
After the concert, we headed to dinner and then boarded the bus for a two-hour ride to the Marriot Dead Sea Resort and Spa, which is where we are now. Everyone is settled into their rooms and we're looking forward to getting a good night's sleep for our day of relaxation by the Dead Sea tomorrow.