Friday, December 19, 2008

Baba, I lost my dream, can you help me find it?

My reflections on the Zarqa Camp got me thinking about dreams. Specifically, what do the young people who live there dream of for their futures? When you are surrounded by so much hopelessness and poverty, what do you dream about? What do you expect to find in life? JuniorBean and JujuBean both recently said some very appropriate things about dreams.

Late one night, Junior Bean woke up crying. When El 3atal went in to see what was wrong, JuniorBean said, "Baba, I lost my dream. Can you help me find it?" Hmmm. How appropriate. The second related thing we heard recently also from the mouths of babes (from whence came the with wisdom of ages). JujuBean is currently going through the overactive-imagination-brings-on-bad-dreams stage. As a result, each night we go over what we're going to dream about (Mommy's attempt to introduce happy thoughts into their subconscious). Recently, JujuBean decided that the initial attempt Mommy had wouldn't stick in her mind and asked, "Mommy, can you give me another dream?"

Both of these cute little Bean-isms highlight something that is a challenge not just at the camp, but I think throughout Jordan as a whole. Part of my role as a Mommy is to help free my kids to dream. One of the reasons that I want them to develop awesome creativity and great imaginations is because that has the potential to open new worlds to them. In short, I want them to be able to dream of soaring through the skies while keeping their feet firmly planted on the ground. In America, as was brought home most forcefully by our most recent Presidential election, kids can really dream the impossible. Every kid dreams of being an astronaut, a movie star, a firefighter, a doctor, a veterinarian, a President, a [fill in the blank with any awesome profession].

Not every kid decides to do that when the time comes, but every kid believes that it is possible. Bu then, as they get older, they begin to find new dreams. They find their areas of talent, they determine what they enjoy, and they create a new dream of where they'd like to go and what they'd like to be. Call it a 5 year plan or a 10 year plan. The bottom line is that it's their new dream. And, while every kid doesn't become a firefighter or a doctor or a President, every kid could and every kid can dream about it with the expectation that it could happen.

I wonder if Jordanian youth suffer from a lack of scope for dreams? In Jordan, what you will be isn't determined by a dream, some luck, and a lot of hard work. It's determined by your score on a single test at the end of your academic career. If you do really, really well, you can be a doctor. Now, you might really hate blood, find medicine totally uninspiring and wish you could be an astronaut, but most likely you'll be a doctor. The there are the Engineers. Again, their place in college is determined not by the dream of designing a new Jordan or the challenge of creating glorious structures. These guys weren't necessarily the geeks with unbelievable erector set skills (yes the nerdy high school I went to had chess competitions and erector set challenges). They were the guys who score second highest (or third highest whatever it is) on the test. They could hate engineering (and I've met a number who do), but that's their major because that was their score.

Somehow the most energizing part of the process has been removed. Parents challenge their kids to be the best in their class for bragging rights or to get a slot in the higher echelons of Jordan University. They don't seem to challenge their kids to find their areas of skill and interest and dream about how they can use them. And while everyone in the US (probably even most people) may never realize their dreams, everyone dreams them as a child. Everyone has the opportunity to work towards them. And, as a parent, everyone I've ever known feels the responsibility to challenge their children to dream. It leaves me wondering, would Jordanians smile more if they learned to dream more?

Happy dreams!


At 3:40 AM , Blogger kinzi said...

Great post, I believe in dreaming!

For Jordan, isn't part of the problem that there are too many dream-stealers?

Or the lack influential mentors who give them permission to dream?

At 6:04 AM , Blogger UmmFarouq said...

Sometimes I think that many Jordanians feel that fulfilling dreams means physically leaving the country to pursue them. I can see why they feel this, but if we focused hard enough on making people want to stay, and giving incentives, I think the number of dream-snuffers would diminish.

At 6:12 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Kinz and Umm Farouq, I think you are both correct. I also think that the limitations to what it is possible to achieve depending on your family, etc., etc. make it harder to dream. But I absolutely agree that we need to find dreams that include staying in/returning to Jordan.

At 8:15 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

I think the whole country suffers when you have men and women who become doctors or engineers or pharmacists, etc. and who really don't feel a calling for that profession. Who wants a heart surgeon who can't stand the sight of blood? We need to get realistic here and let our dreams build the future for our children. Every child needs the chance to be what they dream or at the very least choose the education that they desire.

At 11:54 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Indeed, Nicole. My sentiments eactly.

At 11:45 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget the wastah! It's kind of like the driver's exam. You can completely flunk it and know the right people and still get it. Keep the dream alive!!!!!

Haven't you been encouraged, too, by all these great (since we're on a medical theme) people who have followed their dreams of med school abroad and have come back to ply their trade here in Jordan. Hats off to them! They are at times sacrificing life in a better country to lend expertise here. They help me dream for a better Jordan.

Merry Christmas, MamaB.

At 3:33 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Anon, I agree wasta can be terribly demoralizing on those who are trying to dream. I am encouraged by all of the people who have studied, learned, and worked abroad and then brought those skills home. I'm afraid that many of them get less credit for their years abroad than they should, but hats off indeed!

Merry Christmas to you too!


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