Nineteen-year-old Ahmad stood at the brink of a waterfall, eyes closed, fists clenched as he counted to 10. He wore a harness to steady himself as he rappelled over the edge, but first he needed to breathe.

That is how he had been taught to calm down during a youth training session the day before in Salt, the western Jordanian city where he lives, a 90-minute drive away.

There were 15 young men in the program run by Mercy Corps, an international nonprofit aid group headquartered in Oregon. The 12-week course provides, among other things, leadership training, local job placement, rock-climbing instruction — and lessons on controlling one’s emotions.

Ahmad had signed up with his friend Omar, also 19, whom he had met in a fight. “He was beating someone up because of a card game, and I took his side,” Ahmad said. Fighting was no big deal to him, he said. What scared him was how he sometimes lost control and would cut himself.