AMMONNEWS - The Australian Foreign Correspondent study tour, organised for journalism students from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Swinburne University in Melbourne, chose only Jordan as the destination for its 2016 programme.
“Jordan is rich with stories. The extraordinary history, strategic location and range of complex and wonderful issues make Jordan the perfect place for students to hone their skills as reporters,” Andrew Dodd, assistant tour leader and professor at Swinburne University, told The Jordan Times earlier this week.
The project director and study tour leader, Saba Bebawi, said the visit gives students a closer look at the region.
“As a former Jordanian journalist I wanted my students to really understand what I was talking about in lectures when discussing journalism in the Middle East,” the professor said in an interview through e-mail.
Bebawi added that Jordan has always been a major hub for journalists due to its strategic location, stressing that it is the closest place where students can report on the region in a safe and friendly environment.
She noted that Jordan is a suitable and relevant destination in line with the aims of the study tour, which focuses on scholarly interaction with local host universities, industry visits, journalism training seminars and meetings with experts in the field.
The study tour offers a practical application of the students’ theoretical studies as part of their degree, Bebawi added.
As the aim of this programme is to develop Australian-Arab cooperation and understanding, all the students selected for this study tour are Australians.
The tour is funded by the Council for Arab-Australian Relations, part of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s media intern programme, according to Bebawi.
Matthew Abotomy, an MA student at the UTS, said that when he was preparing for the tour, he read an article about a Jordanian sculptor on The Jordan Times’ website and he decided to interview him.
“Stereotypically, journalists wouldn’t think of writing about art, as opposed to war, when it comes to the Middle East those days,” Abotomy said.
After reading a book written by an Australian archaeologist who worked in Wadi Rum, 300km south of Amman, the MA student became more interested in visiting the Middle East.
“I read his book and he had a much different story about being in the Middle East,” Abotomy added.
“What the study is about is sort of breaking down stereotypes and trying to disrupt unhelpful narratives that journalists often seem to perpetuate about the Middle East in the West,” he noted.