Building Bridges

By Saana Sarpo (Spring 2016)

Country Origin: Finland

Age: 25 - 27

Travel Destination: Amman, Jordan

Reason: Community Volunteer

Hi everyone!! 

I'm Saana, a girl from Finland with a dream of exploring the world and learning whatever I can about people, places and phenomena. I think open-mindedness and curiosity will take you far, and who knows, maybe you will find yourself in an adventure! 

I am also a Master’s student at the University of Helsinki, taking a major in World Politics, specializing in Peace and Conflict studies, while also studying Middle Eastern Studies.

I love taking photos and documenting what I see. I want to tell stories of my journeys near and far, of themes big and small. There's no mountain too big to climb or a pebble too small to admire.

I am currently in Amman, Jordan to learn, live and explore for the next 6 months...doing my European Voluntary Service (EVS), volunteering in a local organization called I-Dare...a Jordanian NGO working for empowering youth to become transforming influences in their communities and Jordanian society. 

...In I-Dare I will be working alongside other volunteers from around the world, on a project focused on preventing violent extremism (PVE)

The organization also offers youth training as well as a platform for social entrepreneurship and activism. Main projects are related to online love speech and activism through art. 

...I believe in building bridges, and is why I feel so strongly on promoting compassion toward our fellow humans...and this I do through my most recent project of building an online campaign that offers an alternative narrative to violent extremist views.

 Whenever I travel to the Middle East, the first questions I face sound like:

"Are you not afraid?"

"Are you not worried about your security?"

"Isn't it dangerous?"

 YES, it's hard to ignore that Jordan is surrounded by conflict...and sure its not the most stable place on the planet...but it also embodies so much greatness! 


Above: ruins of old Greco-Roman city, Gerasa

...And aside from working here, I look forward to embrace it's wonderful history, art, culture, people and society...because I am not afraid. I refuse to become afraid. I wont allow myself to narrow my vision...and so I will climb mountains, walk the streets, learn Arabic and speak to the locals by the end of my volunteering period. 

Below: Friday prayers at mosque in Amman, Jordan


Below: Old Jordanian movie theater


Above left: "Kanafah", a Middle Eastern cheese pastry typical to the former Ottoman Empire

Below: Skyline of Amman, Jordan


Below: The Dead Sea

...And I am lucky to be here, to see, learn, share, and most of be inspired! 

I look forward to contribute with you my new stories...but until then, follow me on my blog "Franklyhabibi" by clicking the icon below :) 

 ~ Saana


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