Through the Eyes of a Comms Intern: Reflecting on my Journey at UNDP Accelerator Lab Jordan

By Nadia Al-Kabariti

November 23, 2022



Starting from the beginning 

4 months ago, I started my internship at the UNDP Jordan Accelerator Lab, and I can say that the first month for me was like an art student attending a science class.

I was briefed on the Accelerator Lab Jordan, their projects, and their methodologies. At first, I was puzzled as I needed to take a step back and view the lab from a wider angle in order to better understand it. The first 2 weeks were very eye-opening, as I learned about the current challenges Jordan is facing and the crucial and urgent need to take action and find solutions.


But there was also a lot more to discover

I learned that it’s best to speak up, ask questions, and voice my interest in projects. And the best part about working within the Accelerator Lab is that it gives me space to think outside the box and work within a creative team that encourages letting our innate curiosity lead us. Creativity is more than simply a cliché at work. It involves approaching challenges in innovative ways, developing new perspectives on them, and being aware of where we stand regarding any given scenario. Even if our work is challenging, looking at them from other people’s perspective is how we find solutions.


A hidden gem 

One of the first steps to meeting people who are working on solutions to tackle local challenges was a visit to Madaba. Madaba, with its beautiful landscapes, mosaics, rich culture, and religious significance, has been designated as the Arab Tourism Capital for the year 2022 –no surprise! Madaba has the vibe of a huge market town rather than a city as it has a relatively small population. It is colorful, steeped in history, and adorned with mosaics. After a lot of research and consultations with the government of Jordan, the Accelerator Lab team members decided to tackle the challenges of water harvesting, tourism, and agriculture in Madaba governorate. In order to gain in-depth knowledge of those challenges, Ayah Younis, Head of Exploration, Ru’a Al-Abweh, Head of Solutions Mapping, Abdelmalek Al Issa, Programme Field Coordinator with the Governance and Peace pillar, and I engaged with locals in Madaba to understand better the aforementioned challenges. One person we met was Ghaith Bahdousheh, the owner of Kawon – a local café and bookshop in Madaba, who took us on a hike in the forests of Faisaliah subdistrict near Mababa city. We also toured around the city, saw some incredible Byzantine mosaics, and had lunch in his café.


Immersing ourselves with the locals


During our hike and while listening to Ghaith talking about the problems locals face in Madaba governorate, it was shocking to know that Madaba has the highest unemployment rates in Jordan, which is a sad reality of a governorate that has a huge potential to be one of the main tourist destinations not only in Jordan but also the Middle East. We also met Mohammed Al-Hajaya, who showed us the beautiful Byzantine mosaic in The Church of Saints Lot & Procopius. Each mosaic tile had its own place as they were all crucial to the final picture that they formed. Mohammed told us that his family has been living next to the church for a long time and tourists no longer visit the church. Therefore, he suggested ways to improve the diversity of tourism to attract more people to the city. 


Governorate with economic potential

We concluded our trip with a light traditional Jordanian food at Kawon to take a break as folks went about their day and the kittens ran around the backyard of the café while we were sitting under the shade enjoying June’s fresh breeze.  Even though I have been to Madaba before, immersing myself with the locals this time made me reflect on how it has its own ambiance and soul, a kind that bonded the people of the city into their vibe. During our time there, we developed a connection with the locals and came to love and appreciate all that the city and the surrounding countryside had to offer. Tourism and agriculture are undoubtedly important to Madaba considering the significance of its historical and religious sites and breathtaking landscapes. This charm is what makes it one of the most important governorates in Jordan with a strong economic potential if we collectively work on it to improve its infrastructure and economy.


The privilege of being a part of the Accelerator Lab

There is nothing mundane about being a part of the Accelerator Lab team. We don’t only learn from each other, but we also get to experience places with the locals and engage with them on a personal level, therefore, forming a deeper connection to understand their needs. An open mind that is constantly searching for new possibilities, be it from deliberateness or serendipity, is the ideal place for these new seeds of ideas to flourish in pursuit of answers and solutions.

Thus, being an intern at Accelerator Lab requires creativity, flexibility, and enjoying the unpredictabilities - now that's the real flex.