As a part of the Art knows no borders team May Garces collaborated with local Jordanian artists in activities for the purpose of strengthening the arts scene and practice in the city of Amman.

The worked that was done, consisted on developing close relationships in order to achieve the objectives of the project. This aspect was difficult but necessary given the conditions we were facing as a team, and given the influence of the larger Israeli-Palestine conflict and our own support from an Israeli organization. Included below are details regarding the results of the collaboration and the impact in each of the activities that was developed:

Partners in Jordan:

Studio 8 dance studio

Profile: A local dance space founded by two brothers who are among the first generation of breakdancers in Jordan. The studio frequently participates in and wins competitions abroad. They additionally participate internationally by attending conferences and giving workshops abroad. Locally, they teach many dance classes and host arts events. The studio also grants scholarships to children that otherwise can not afford their classes and opens the space of the studio everyday after 8pm for the breakdancers to practice for free.

Story: Dancing opened the doors to travel and study abroad for the Nahleh brothers; currently one of the brothers is in Uganda following a Dance Heritage academic program from a Norwegian university. In the words of Anas Nahleh one of the founders: “I love to dance and that is all I want to do. I know I can do it anywhere in the world so I don’t need to have this dance space… but Jordan needs this! …these kids need it” “Dancing changed my life and it has the power to open people’s minds. It is dangerous for us to just exist as a dance studio in this country because many times people see it as indecent and we have had to move many times because of this”.

Way of collaboration:

  1. a) Class participation and connections: May Garces participated in many of the classes at the dance studio, assisted the salsa teacher during lessons, and connected the studio with a German organization called Breakanatomy who gathers scientists and breakdancers to explore the possibilities of human movement and improve treatment for injuries.
  2. b) Latin dance session: This Latin Lady Style dance session, focused on latin technique, turns, and timing. In addition to step and technique, we discussed the interaction between man and woman on the dance floor (and outside). This topic holds relevant everywhere, and in Jordan, a country where the majority of education is segregated by gender, doubly so. Important concepts discussed were self -care, confidence, respect, and kindness towards each other. A link was established with Feeling good dance studio in Temuco, Chile where May had danced previously and afterwards was able to share her experience of the workshop.
  3. c) Grant writing: May assisted the studio director Anas Nahle in an application for the Pina Bausch scholarship for a dance residency of 6 months, that would help him gain expertise and improve his craft. On December 2016 they will announce the winners.


  • Studio 8 was our planned collaborator for the event in Amman which, after modifications, was envisioned as a day of workshop on arts and topics such as global citizenship, environmental sustainability, and peace-building at the Studio, as well as a flash mob at Paris circle. We planned to record it professionally and distribute through social media.  Sadly, two days before the event Studio 8 withdrew; stating by email that any collaboration was too risky for them because of our connection and funding by israeli organization and the fear that they could potentially lose students or face social backlash, if our collaboration became public.

2) Christian NGO from the Christian and Missionary Alliance

Profile: Mexican family that works with about 40 Sudanese, Iraqi and Egyptian refugee families and persons in prison.  The refugee situation is very overwhelming, so the government allows Christian churches to take care of Christian refugees. They are supported by a Sudanese Church, from the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination.

Way of Collaboration:

  1. a) Singing classes at the music school for sudanese and Syrian refugees: May did classes for sudanese adults and children that attend the music school run by this small christian organisation that takes care of 50 refugee families. The classes focused on singing as a way to build confidence, curiosity and awareness about themselves and their instrument, the voice.

May was able to link this organization with a christian group in Temuco that donated money to support the breakfast that they give to the students.

3) International Medical Corps

Profile: International Medical Corps is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization established by volunteer doctors and nurses. The organization provides disaster relief, delivers health-care to underserved regions, builds clinics, and trains local health care workers with the goal of creating self-reliant, self-sustaining medical services and infrastructure in places where that had previously been lacking. In Jordan, International Medical Corps provides primary health care, mental health and psychosocial support services at static and mobile clinics to Iraqi and Syrian refugees as well as vulnerable host populations. In response to the dramatic influx of refugees into Jordan, they have been working to expand mental health and psychosocial support services throughout the country. They have mobilized additional medical and psychosocial support teams to provide services and their programs had been present within Northern, Middle, and Southern Governorates.

Way of Collaboration

Thanks to Michele Shachar’s suggestion, May contacted Hashim Taani, an Arava alumni from Jordan. They started to talk about this workshop in June through Skype.

May did a full day workshop (7 hours) on the topic “Self -care & Creativity” for the staff from International Medical Corps in Irbid.

The focus of the workshop was on creative processes and their role in the design of self-care strategies. Material from the Community Association for Psychosocial Services (CAPS) was adapted to this group. This material contained activities that deal with secondary trauma and that were complemented with relevant research on resiliency and psychological states of flow.

  • Review of the Self Care & Creativity workshop for the staff of International Medical Corps in the north of Jordan: All the case managers from the protection and psychosocial departments in Irbid actively participated and took advantage of the full day workshop.

It was an intense day and we got to share and learn a lot together. I am deeply happy for having the opportunity of making these workshops for free for this and other social leaders; validating these topics by discussing them in a group setting.

The daily stress these young people go through (most of them were just 25- 27 years old) it’s incredible and most NGO’s don’t have budget for training their staff to deal with the personal effects of dealing with these cases in healthy ways so most of them suffer from Secondary Trauma.

It was exciting to provide this space for the staff to reflect on their daily strategies of self-care and how we can improve them.