While we’ve been getting tons of emails from women following the NY Post article…Jason has missed out so far, but for a good reason!
He’s been in Jordan with the charity Right To Play working with under-privledged children teaching them sports and life lessons.
Below is Jason’s journal entry from his trip:
First of all, Good Morning from Aqaba!!!! It’s 5:50 am, and the invisible hand that we otherwise know as “jet lag” has awoken me a bit on the early side. However, there is one consolation to beginning you day this early: looking out the window and watching the sun go up over the Red Sea is quite a site for sleepless eyes.
I am extremely excited to report that I am currently on an outreach trip with our favorite non-profit humanitarian group Right To Play (See link about our New Year’s fundraiser (http://timmorehouse.wordpress.com/2009/01/05/open-09-with-olympians-raises-4000-for-right-to-play/)!!
Right To Play is a fabulous international humanitarian organization founded by 4-time Olympic Gold Medalist speed skater, Johan Olav Koss that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills, and foster peace for children and communities in the most disadvantaged areas of the world (for more info see www.righttoplayusa.com or my website www.jasonrogersusa.com).
I was invited along with 3 other athletes to spend 9 days in Jordan helping to educate local staff in Jordan as well as experience first-hand the ways that RTP implements their programs (which are fairly new in Jordan; began 2006) in youth centers and schools. The three other fabulous athletes joining me are Emily Cook (’06 Olympian and 3 time National Champion in Aerial Skiing), Michelle Guerrette (2- time Olympian and Olympic Silver Medalist in Rowing) and John Zimmerman (’02 Olympian and 3-time National Champion in figure skating).
The first couple days have been a whirlwind of travelling, introductions, RTP Games and Arabic 101, but we are now settled in our base city of Aqaba which is in the southwest of Jordan and sits right on the Red Sea across from Israel. From here we will spend about 6 days travel to local schools and youth centers to shall our experiences as Olympians with coaches, learn more about the RTP programs from the coaches in the field that are actually implementing them with the youth, and most importantly meeting and playing with the kids for whom this whole program exists.
So what has happened so far? We spent the first night in Amman so that we could get acquainted with all of Jordan’s RTP staff (who are all absolutely amazing) and to conduct a press conference with many of Amman’s major media outlets (Al Jeezera was there…wow!).
We then travel down to Aqaba got an amazing sample of Jordan’s landscape which is mostly mountainous desert (beautiful nevertheless). Once we arrived in Aqaba, we settled in and prepared ourselves for some jetlagged sleep before our trip to Petra, one of the 7 wonders of the modern world, the next day.
In order to get to the actual edifice that most people picture when you talk about Petra is actually about 4-5 kilometers in from where you arrive, so you spend about an hour weaving through some of the most breathtaking stone ravines in order to get there.
I think I must have taken about a thousand pictures on the way, but when we actually arrived at face of the “vault” (this ancient community would store their treasures inside the stone face of this wall), my jaw literally hit the floor. Like the pyramids it is really hard to imagine how a group of people that lived 2500 years ago could build something on this scale with that type of attention to detail and perspective.
All I could think was, “what could inspire a group of people to perform such backbreaking work for so many years when a simply cave would have sufficed?” Perhaps that king was thinking something along the lines of “Go big or go home” (so we can credit him for this inspirational gem that high school football coaches around the nation have co-opted for their own use).
There was brief moment when I wanted to have an Indiana Jones moment (Part 3 was filmed in Petra) and go jumping from rock to rock trying to spell out “Iehovah” (Last Crusade fans I am sad to report that I did not find the Holy Grail and will have to live a mortal life like the rest of us).
In another strange crossing, we came across a film crew, only to discover that they were filming a “Bollywood” flick! I asked them if they needed a fencing hero, but unfortunately their roster was full L
After you reach the “vault,” we continued on to have lunch down by the area where the people of this community actually built their homes into the walls of the canyon. It was something like a modern day Co-Opt building but in a wall of stone!!! I wonder if potential owners had to pass the same arduous interview process that you do in New York City…hmm, food for thought…
I also took the opportunity to deliver the message to “Set Big Goals” to a stadium of no one. Nevertheless I think the lingering spirits were inspired J
Anyway, we returned to the hotel, exhausted but happy after walking something like 10 kilometers! Anyway, that’s all I have for you now, but tomorrow we have our first master class during which we will be actually teaching the coaches and learning the RTP programs from the youth leaders themselves! More to come….