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Jordanian, Syrian youth join hands to preserve cultural heritage

By JT - Aug 08,2019 - Last updated at Aug 08,2019

Jordanian and Syrian youth gather in Petra for a UNESCO training in heritage conservation under the guidance of conservator Franco Sciorilli (Photo courtesy of UNESCO)

AMMAN — Cultural heritage plays a critical role as a source of resilience and identity at a time when the people of Jordan are facing new challenges.

Over the course of 10 days, starting July 20, Jordanian and Syrian youth have gathered in Petra to undertake a UNESCO training in Heritage Conservation under the guidance of conservator Franco Sciorilli, a UNESCO statement said. 

“Our region has a very rich history and it is reflected on the large quantity of historical sites that we have,” Nidhal Jarrar, a Jordanian architect, said. 

“We should improve our skills and abilities at preserving our heritage, as they have in Europe. For too long we have been shy about learning from others outside the Region; we should have exchanged our knowledge to improve each other,” Jarrar said.

Kenan Belal, 29, came to Jordan from Syria during the crisis and feels strongly about the importance of cultural heritage preservation. 

“This represents our memory. It is not only about monuments; it is about human heritage and it is vital for our future. In Syria, we lost some parts of this heritage and many of them are seriously damaged. We must take care of our heritage now and in the future,” Belal said.

“When I came to the training, I had no idea that I would actually practise everything we have been learning,” Raneen Naimi, an archaeologist from Amman, was quoted as saying. 

“I now know how to create mortar by myself. Preserving and documenting heritage will help us to understand our history and our present, and facilitate us to transfer heritage to the future generation, enhancing our identity”.

Capitalising on the achievements of the “Siq Stability” project implemented from 2012-2018, the training was offered through a UNESCO initiative financed by and implemented in partnership with the government of Italy.

The “Youth for Heritage Conservation and Risk Prevention in Petra” project aims to enhance the capacities of and provide employment opportunities for youth, focusing on cultural heritage preservation and risk prevention by contributing to the implementation of priority landslide risk mitigation works in Petra.

 “I have never had an experience like this one during my career, and this is shifting my expectations and the choices that I will make soon. I will probably apply for a master’s degree in heritage conservation,” said Anas Kordi, 21.

As an architect, Anas said he is passionate about conservation. 

“Heritage is what old populations gave to us. It is more than objects: It is an opportunity for us to learn how to behave in the future. Thanks to heritage and to this experience I am learning how to carry out my profession and I am convinced that contemporary architecture is always inspired, in one way or another, by past examples”. 

The training course came to a close on July 31. Participants presented their group work and dispersed to their respective universities to continue their studies. 

Those interested in furthering their practical conservation skills, will be invited back to similar cultural preservation focused training as part of future initiatives, the statement said. 

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