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Is soccer here the same as soccer back at home?

Alex Johnson - DukeImmerse JordanTwo things that I love are soccer and kids. So it wasn’t surprising that Ryan and I recently found ourselves running through the grass with a bunch of elementary school children at the Citadel. Impressed with our Arabic and desire to play with them, the children immediately took us in as teammates, passing the soccer ball to us, yelling “yallah!”, and running up to us for high-fives after scoring a goal

For me this was just a fun moment. Yet I noticed how playing soccer here is different than my experiences with soccer in America. These boys carried soccer balls in their bookbags and were not afraid to have a full game on the sidewalk outside of a mall or at Roman ruins filled with tourists. It doesn’t matter the condition of the ground, all they need is a ball, people, and  space. Unlike this, when I played soccer at home, it was an organized practice for a club team.

I began to notice while looking for differences between Jordan and my home, they’re not that hard to find. The differences people are able to find between new and old places show something we all have in common: a love for the place that we call home. In one interview that Ryan and I conducted with an Iraqi woman, she noted fondly of her home, “…even the breathing back there [in Iraq] is different than here.” For refugees, the differences between a new place like Jordan and the home from which they fled must be even more pronounced, especially when they remember home as the place where they experienced the happiest times of their lives.

In all of the interviews I have done so far, I have heard refugees briefly mention things that make them happy in Jordan. Yet, when talking about what truly makes them happy, they all talk about their homes, the places they had to leave. A home is a place that should be safe; however, these peoples’ homes have lost that sense of security. Most are now hoping to find a new, secure place to call home. I hope that they do because even the small things, like soccer, are different here when compared to soccer at home.