Anticipating Abila

This summer 40+ volunteers, staff members, JBU students and alumni will spend four weeks in Northern Jordan at the Abila Archaeological Project. The team will be excavating, conserving, restoring and publishing the archaeological site of Abila of the Decapolis. Several team members will be sharing their journey here on the blog.

By Gabrielle Marcy ’17 (Graphic Design)

In 2016, I studied abroad in Jordan. That summer changed me as I uncovered history, developed cross-cultural friendships, experienced deep hospitality and wrestled with complex questions. This summer, I’m thrilled to return for another dig season. In preparation for the trip, I reached out to several JBU students and alumni to ask their thoughts on the upcoming adventure. Here’s what they said.

Why did you decide to go to Jordan?

Lexie: “I’ve been to the Middle East before, and I fell in love with its culture. I knew this study abroad opportunity was the perfect chance to revisit and participate in something that I wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to do: archaeology.”

Olivia: “I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was little. While I’m not pursuing archaeology or history as a serious study or career possibility, the interest is definitely still there. The Jordan trip seems like a great opportunity. I’ve attended a lot of the Abila lectures in the past, and so I’ve gotten to hear about and see their work there. I’ve wanted to go on this trip for a long time!”

Abagaile: “I’ve always been interested in archaeology and completed my biology degree with a history minor to further pursue bioarcheology. I thought this trip would give me the experience I wanted.”

Daniel: “Jordan is a unique place. Not long after leaving you find yourself craving it again. There are few other places where you reconnect with the past like in Jordan.”

Marissa: “I am excited to go back to Jordan because the local people have the sweetest hearts. I want to visit all the friends I made last time. I can’t wait to see how much the kids have grown!”

Anyelca: “I had seen some advertisements for the trip on Eaglenet and some posters around Walker. I became more interested when I met Marissa, a previous dig volunteer, and heard stories from her trip.”

Elizabeth: “Ever since I returned from Jordan two years ago, I wanted to go back. I didn’t know what life would look like now, so I couldn’t decide for sure. When the time came around to apply this year, I realized that it would be possible for me to go. I was thrilled.”

Rachel: “It wasn’t until last semester when I took a New Testament class with Dr. Vila that something changed. In class, he talked about past trips multiple times and mentioned that there were still spots open for this summer. I realized that this trip was something I wanted to do and something I felt like I should do. I think God played a huge part in that. He was massive in influencing my decision.”

What do you hope to learn on this trip?

Daniel: “I want to parse out the intersection between the Christian faith and world religions more. Also, I really want to cook mansaf.”

Elizabeth: “First, I hope to learn more Arabic. Second, I really want to learn more about the people there. By this, I mean I want to try and have more meaningful conversations with the friends from last dig season.”

Lexie: “I hope to learn a lot about the history of Jordan and the importance of archaeology.”

Denver: “I hope to learn more about the Middle East, its culture and how to love people where they’re at.”

Anyelca: “I hope to learn the truth behind everything I learn from textbooks and the news. I want to meet and learn the stories of the people in the places we’ll be traveling to.”

Olivia: “Everything! I’m excited to learn about the culture, the religion, the food and my classes. I’m very excited to learn more about international travel in general and how the experience as a whole goes.”

Stay tuned for updates from Abila in the upcoming weeks! 

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