The topic I’m going to talk about is something I’m sure every Jordanian has experienced at some point in their life; this topic is “ واسطات ” also known as favoritism. For those who don’t have knowledge in this word, it means “to be evaluated based on who you know and not on your abilities.” It can either happen throughout your academic life, occupational structure or even through your everyday life. It’s the ugly truth in our society and it’s something hard to run from.

First, I will discuss favoritism in academia. Personally, I grew up in a small town in Kansas—I know, little Dorothy in her red sparkling shoes in the middle of the country comes to mind—and I was young when I came to Jordan and my parents put me in the school. Little did I know then; if you want to get to the top school you have to know the top people. I was too young at the time to understand why that was, and when I eventually encountered it I was a little confused and furious.

Years went by while more of these situations came my way, where the student with the high-profiled parents would get a better treatment than I was getting. I didn’t mind, I dusted my shoulders and proved to myself that I would be able to get by without anyone’s help, and instead accomplish things because of my own abilities and potentials. I’ll be honest; I was a little too confident yet also ignorant because I didn’t know that if you want to get somewhere, you also need to know the game.

Another few years went by after surviving the battle, I had graduated from school, and now I was starting University.

University is maybe one of the main things that negatively affected my confidence and self-esteem. I had discovered that some courses you can do your best in and get the grade you deserve, yet in other courses if you have the ideal connections you will get the ideal grades. You notice other incompetent people getting an unearned grade because of who they know and not what they know and how hard they worked. The major problem with this is that it ruins a person’s self confidence and self belief that they can work hard and earn what they deserve in life, which in this case is a good career.

My personal experience in life made me notice that obtaining a job in Jordan is extremely difficult even if you’re the top of your class. Jordan should be a credentialed country, where a person is evaluated on the basis of educational degrees, and not a country where your rights are handed to less qualified citizens. When a person who had worked so hard to get through University, to remain top of their class, to be on the honor roll at the end of each semester, graduate with high expectations, then find themselves still unemployed seven months later.

Now where is the justice in that?

” واسطات ”  are also found in our everyday life, whether it’s at your local supermarket, or even at your local carpenter. The person with the highest rank and more connections gets the best quality product and in a shorter time. This also makes it more complicating for women in our country, due to the fact that we live in an androcentric society, a male-dominated society, where women have fewer connections than men.

So favoritism, also “ واسطات ” is something that has become part of our culture through early educational stages, occupational structure and daily routines. I don’t expect this article to make a major change in our society, because

I have come to understand that “ واسطة ” is an indivisible part of our culture, cemented in the core of Jordan. But one thing I am hoping to accomplish with this article, that is spreading awareness and hope that it will start a dialogue in the minds of the current and upcoming generations. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole stair case.”


Contributed by – Reema Nawasreh