Prince Pitches In


Jordanian Ambassador, Staff Volunteer to Help Spruce Up Local D.C. School

Most embassies use the occasion of important national anniversaries to throw parties, whether big or small. But the Jordanian Embassy recently put a twist on the usual diplomatic celebrations to commemorate two historic milestones for Jordan — the 10th anniversary King Abdullah II’s accession to the throne and 60 years of diplomatic relations with the United States.

Instead of hosting a lavish reception, Jordanian Ambassador Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al Hussein personally led his embassy in a day of volunteering to beautify Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School in Washington on Aug. 21, donating ,000 toward much-needed playground equipment for the students and a landscaping plan for the school.

Prince Zeid, along with the embassy’s diplomats and staff, joined Ludlow-Taylor’s teachers, school administrators and staff in volunteering for various beautification tasks from basic clean-up to painting walls to creating bulletin boards to gardening the elementary school’s grounds.

“This is the same amount of money we spent last year on a big National Day luncheon,” said the ambassador, wearing an embassy T-shirt made specifically for the occasion. He originally got the idea from a U.S. ambassador who did a similar program in Jordan. Zeid approached D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee about the idea and she then selected the school.

“Inspired by both His Majesty King Abdullah II and Her Majesty Queen Rania’s leadership in promoting education, empowering the youth, and encouraging the spirit of volunteerism in Jordan and beyond,” Zeid said, “we chose to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their majesties’ accession to the throne by lending a hand to our American friends here in Washington at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary. This is only a modest token of appreciation for the friendship our two countries has enjoyed over the past 60 years.”

The embassy partnered with the D.C. Public Education Fund to coordinate August’s neighborhood volunteer activities at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary. Rhee said she loved the idea and hopes more embassies will follow Jordan’s lead.

“Since becoming chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, I’ve had the honor of meeting with the ambassador, as well as His Majesty King Abdullah II,” said Rhee (also profiled in the September 2009 issue of The Washington Diplomat). “Their commitment to education in the U.S. and abroad should be commended — and we’re grateful that the ambassador and his colleagues have chosen to support one of our schools in such a positive way.”

“Partnerships like this one with the embassy of Jordan are essential to our success in transforming D.C. public schools,” added Cate Swinburn, president of D.C. Public Education Fund. “We thank the embassy for its support of the Ludlow-Taylor community and for its dedication to supporting the students of Washington, D.C.”

At the end of the clean-up on a hot Washington summer day, Prince Zeid, a new father for the third time, presented the embassy’s check for ,000 to Ludlow-Taylor’s Principal Carolyn Cobbs with everyone gathered on the concrete playground, which will one day become a beautiful green space for the students and the surrounding Capitol Hill neighborhood.

About the Author

Gail Scott is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat and lifestyle columnist for the Diplomatic Pouch.