Monday, June 20, 2005

Star Academy 

On June 16th my company iJordan brought the Star Academy Tour Concert to Jordan. Star Academy is basically a cross between American Idol and the Real World. Eight aspiring stars from all over the Middle East live together in a house for a few months and put on concerts while being broadcast live out of Lebanon 24-hours a day on a satellite cable channel. This is actually the second season of the show and it has endured a lot of controversy (think single Middle Eastern women and men living together in the same house and it's not hard to figure out why there was controversy). They say many people of all ages are addicted to the channel but the main audience for the concerts (just like American Idol concerts) are teenage girls age 10-16.

So my company put on the production last week and it was really well done actually. It was in this huge theater with amazing sets and lighting. They also had about 10 incredibly talented backup dancers from the Ukraine (Shane and I personally thought they outperformed the stars).

A scene from Star Academy

Also, the cool thing about the concert is that we paired up with the Jordan River Foundation, an important charity in Jordan, to give part of the profits to their Child Abuse Prevention Program. We also provided tickets to the show worth $40 each and transportation for over 200 children from the Displaced Children Centers.

So there I was, running through the arena, navigating the hordes of teenage girls, my all-access iJordan pass dangling around my neck, trying to make sure sure Crest Toothpaste was happy with their sponsor booth and Leyalina Magazine bandanas were being properly distributed, when it dawned on me how completely random my life is right now.

If in 1998 when I graduated high school someone had come up to me and had me rank the likelyhood of 1000 options for my first five years out of college, the preceding scenario would have been maybe 992 on the list (and only that low if 8 options included criminal acts).

But I guess that is what makes this experience so fulfilling. That I have had to completely step out of my comfort zone to live in a random place and try to assimilate in a totally different culture for no real reason except the adventure of it.

Just as a side note--and talk about being out of my comfort zone--at the VIP reception, the winner of the show--this charismatic Saudi Arabian kid--found out I was American and starting telling me how he used to like going to Miami and New York on vacations, but after 9-11 he just didn't feel welcome in the states anymore. Hard to imagine Kelly Clarkson or any of the American Idol stars having similar concerns. It certainly is a different world over here.


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