Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sweden and the EcoPark

Someone here in Jordan told me: Swedish people are so nice. And they are so intelligent. Everyone there speaks two or three languages.

Then another time we weren't even talking about Sweden. We were talking about Iran. She said: Iranian women are so beautiful, and it's just really unfair for the rest of us. Iranians and Swedes! They are all so beautiful! What about the rest of us?

Today I met a man who sells postcards in Jerash. Jerash is a city in Jordan full of Roman ruins! At first, the man was just advertising all his inflated prices. Then he asked where I was from, so I defaulted to Sweden. So he said, oh, from Europe? Oh-ho! Oh, my big boss here, he is Swedish. He lives here in Jordan. Now, after you're done looking at the ruins come back here and I will sell you everything at the best prices.

Did you know that you will find people here who rave about the comfort of the shoes produced by the Swedish company Ecco?

Last week, I went to a conference on protecting groundwater here along the Jordan River, and a man from Sweden's embassy in Jordan was there! It was so wonderful!

The only other embassy representative came from the Spanish embassy - and that was because a big Spanish delegation from Malaga was at the conference. Sweden was the only embassy that attended just for the sake of showing support. 

There were lots of people at the conference, and one of them - a Jordanian - started talking of his own free will about how wonderful Sweden is, and how much support Sweden gives to different environmental projects around the Middle East. I didn't prompt him, he just started talking himself!

A Palestinian mayor at the conference said: ah, just a few weeks ago, a whole group of Swedish and Norwegian kids of Palestinian descent visited my town, and did activities with the kids.

Then we took a bus to an EcoPark in Jordan. The EcoPark has signs from Sweden's aid agency (SIDA) everywhere, because they helped to provide the money for the EcoPark. The EcoPark is like a wildlife refuge. They protect the land and the streams and water sources around it, they have swings and a zipline strung from trees, and the first recycling bins for aluminum and plastic bottles which I've seen in Jordan. Also, they have excellent food. They have wetlands sustained from recycled greywater (the water coming from sinks and showers) and schoolkids come from all over Jordan to learn about smart water management.

And, Sweden's SIDA symbol is all over this park!!!

But, the SIDA symbol doesn't say 'Sweden' anywhere on it. Maybe none of the visitors know that SIDA has anything to do with Sweden. Maybe Sweden's is the only aid agency in the world that doesn't loudly splash about what country is behind the effort. They are probably the only ones who don't want to shove their name down everyone's throat.

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