Day 7 – Amman (August 19)

Amman is a city I can’t connect with. It’s my third visit – still I hardly feel any vibes. The city has no real center, it’s widely spread and it feels so “disconnected” to the rest of Jordan.

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I am sure there are some hidden treasuries like this wonderful coffeehouse and restaurant close to Paris Square – we had an outstanding lunch – enjoying fresh Jordanian cuisine.

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We’ve met George Ramsey in Amman, on of the co-founders of 7iber.com in his cozy office.

7iber7iber began in 2007 as a citizen media platform with the initial costs of the website covered by its founding members. Since 2009, it has grown into a media organization with the goals to inform, inspire, and engage communities to foster a more open society. They create original informative content, provide a platform for critical conversation, conduct trainings and research in the field of digital media, and bring people together. Besides this virtual meeting spot they will open a “real” café in the next few weeks.

7iber is known for its values: universal human rights, freedom of expression and access to information. We asked Ramsey if he is facing any difficulties from the government side because he is dealing with these “tricky issues”. He said not personally, but once in a while their server is shut down for unknown reason, Internet access isn’t working properly and sometimes the website is blocked. Bureaucratic processes might be retarded – but no personal hostilities. Even though he admitted, one could feel that within the last year the situation has tightened. Yet the chances for an uprising in Jordan are low. Ramsey said that people are afraid to “revolt” because they see what is happening around them in Egypt and Syria. They’d rather choose to stay “peaceful” and accept the conditions they live in than to see their country falling into civil war. So changes will only be achieved gradually – and this is what 7iber is working on.

Seven years ago Ramsey came to Jordan because he wanted to be close to his family. He was born in Saudi Arabia and spent most of his life in the US – but never felt at home there. With his American passport and US education he left for Amman. “If you look like I do”, he said, “you aren’t really appreciated in the little towns of Minnesota.” He came to Amman with no high expectation. “This is why I am not so frustrated and demoralized as some of my colleagues at Global Voices. Their expectations to drive change were much higher than mine …” he said. Together with his Serbian wife he is a kind of outsider in Amman as well, but the community here Ramsey said, tolerates it. When you walk with him through Amman and when you hear him talk about Amman you see and feel how wholeheartedly he has embraced his home and how much he enjoys living here.

Besides 7iber he has plans together with his wife to set up a school – a school very close to our ideas of the we_labs and we_school … 😉

Ramsey will contribute an article about the various “WEs” in Amman to our Middle East magazine.

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