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Gannon Embraces Service in Middle East

Students in JordanPosted: July 11, 2012

Three Gannon University students and Dr. Jeff Bloodworth, associate professor of history at Gannon, embraced the University’s mission of service on a recent trip to Madaba, Jordan.

Bloodworth and the students -- Chaztina Keyes, James Power and Ian Van Dyke -- left for Jordan in May and returned in June. Service was the focus of their trip, which also reflected another key goal of Gannon University President Dr. Keith Taylor: globalization.

Bloodworth and the students taught English at Catholic schools in Madaba and at The Sharaka Center for Democracy. “Sharaka” is Arabic for “together.”

In the schools, Keyes, Power and Van Dyke assisted the teachers with helping their students learn English, which is widely spoken in Jordan. “English is part of the curriculum in their schools,” Bloodworth said. “Tourism is very important in Jordan, and for Jordanians, the key to being able to work in the tourism industry is being fluent in English.

“Our students really rose to the occasion in terms of how hard they worked during the trip and how dedicated they were,” Bloodworth added. “They represented Gannon University extremely well.”

Bloodworth and the students also were able to see the sights, including Wadi Rum, which is similar to the Grand Canyon, Jerusalem and Petra, a historical city famous for its rock cut architecture. The Gannon group also enjoyed sharing a meal with a local family.

The trip, in keeping with Gannon’s mission of service and globalization, made a lasting impact on the students. “An experience that exposes students to another culture and another way of life is very beneficial in terms of broadening their horizons,” Bloodworth said. “They are definitely richer for the time we spent in Jordan.”

This marked the third consecutive year Bloodworth and Gannon students have traveled to Jordan. He estimates that over the course of the three years, Gannon students have helped some 1,500 people learn English.

Gannon University is a Catholic, Diocesan university offering nearly 100 academic programs, including doctoral programs in physical therapy and organizational learning and leadership. Gannon enrolls more than 4,000 academically talented and diverse students. Learn more at