Jordanian and Syrian youth get serious about cultural heritage preservation

Petra, Jordan
11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

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

Nidhal Jarrar, a Jordanian architect, is pleased to be sharing experiences with a variety of peers. “Our region has a very rich history and it is reflected on the large quantity of historical sites that we have. 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”.

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”.

When I came to the training, I had no idea that I would actually practice everything we have been learning. 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.

Raneen Naimi, archaeologist from Amman

Capitalizing on the achievements of the "Siq Stability" project implemented from 2012 - 2018, the training is being 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 to youth, focusing on cultural heritage preservation and risk prevention by contributing to the implementation of priority landslide risk mitigation works in Petra.

Anas Kordi, 21, feels inspired by what he has been learning. “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”.

As an architect, Anas, 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”.

In this spirit, the training 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.