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Project teaches children ‘historical empathy’

By Saeb Rawashdeh - Sep 21,2019 - Last updated at Sep 21,2019

Children in Petra are seen performing a play about the history of Jordan (Photo courtesy of Sela)

AMMAN — The educational “Tales of Stones” included two summer camps for unprivileged children between ages six and 14 years for raising awareness about archaeology and local cultural heritage.

The camps were based in two areas, Hesban and Petra (Wadi Musa), targeting underprivileged communities living near the archaeological sites, Maria Elena Ronza of Sela for Vocational Training and Protection of Cultural Heritage, has told The Jordan Times.

 “The one in Hesban gathered 63 participants, boys and girls of different ages. In Petra we had 20 participants, of which there were 18 girls and two boys,” Ronza said.

In both communities, organisers received positive feedback, Ronza noted, adding that at the end of both summer camps, children performed a play at the archaeological site. Several families attended the theatrical production.

The summer camps were held by local teachers while the hands-on activities were implemented with Sela’s technicians’ assistance, Ronza said. She continued saying that there will be another camp in Amman in September.

“The children that are participating there will join the other two groups for a final performance at Amman Citadel on October 6, at 4pm. [The play marks] the opening occasion of Heritage Days in Jordan,” she explained.

“Tales of Stones” was implemented by the Italian cultural association Dante Alighieri Society in Amman, Sela for Vocational Training and Protection of Cultural Heritage and Laboratori Archeologici San Gallo, with the support of various local and international institutions. It was also financially supported by the Italian Embassy in Jordan, according to a statement issued by said embassy.

The project’s aim is to turn ancient history into “tools” of historical empathy, which means understanding the time’s conditions and the perspectives of historical personages, their decisions and behaviours, Ronza stated.

“Looking back at the history of Jordan and its relations with European civilisations, this project aims at enhancing the continuity of history into the present while [learning about] ... the resilience of local populations throughout the centuries,” she pointed out. 

She concluded, saying that the project combines tourism, culture and education by creating a new tool to present archaeological and heritage sites.

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