Amman, Jordan–Little mounds of dirt pushed one against the other. Small circular rocks outline each mound while small green bushes sit atop creating a make-shift hill. Rugged pebbles between each hill create a pathway, but the green underbush hides the pebbles, making it near impossible to see the pathway. The weeds, so tall, tell me no one comes here anymore. Benches outline the park. A large wooden door frame, an entrance. The bustling world of students and professors, of security guards and cars driving by on the street side only a few feet away from where I stand. The old wooden benches with paint peeling off, where names have been drawn, signatures, proclamations of love, all evidence that this park, although deserted now, had once been at the heart of all those lovers wishing to sit and talk, all those students who wished to rest in the comfort of their books, all those friends whose laughter once made car engines seem distant. Today the park is empty. The fence of benches awaiting to be remembered, but ignored by the continuous stream of students. Some are forgiven as they hustle late to a morning class. Others stroll by, oblivious to the world of freedom steps away. Dozens of boys sit right outside the logs that create the entrance. I look up, hopeful. Perhaps they will enter. They remain outside, seated on the blocks of cement left over from times gone by. They are so close, yet they choose to remain outside.
The most prestigious University in Jordan, as some will pledge. A flowering garden of youth, of energy, of will, and yet when one questions the politics, the student clubs, groups and activities, the movements, one is met with silence. A community of over twenty thousand students and I am shot down and told student voices are futile attempts. Is this no longer of importance to these minds, I wonder to myself. Am I in the wrong place, I ask myself as I choose a bench with the names Shareef and Noor sprawled in large letters across the seat? Have the demonstrations, the movements been washed away by the lies of those above?
The park, like the movements that came to Jordan in November, no longer exists in the minds of these students. It seems the boys outside prefer the gravel sidewalk over the greenery of the park. It seems the massive wooden doorway has hidden from them the freedom behind its frame. If they would only take a step, they would see. They are blinded into enjoying the gravel, not knowing that were they to simply turn around, a world of change awaits. As I close my notebook and retrieve my bag from the soil ground, I look up and see the shadow of a man lying beneath one of the hills. My lips flex into a smile. Perhaps, I think, perhaps there is hope.