Dr. Ben Carson at a news conference in Henderson, Nev. on Nov. 16, 2015.
John Locher—AP
By Tara John
November 27, 2015

Ben Carson is traveling to Jordan on Friday to visit a Syrian refugee camp, after facing heavy scrutiny of his awareness of foreign policy.

The retired neurosurgeon is to visit Azraq refugee camp in northern Jordan during his surprise trip, reports the New York Times. There he will drop by a hospital, clinics, an “adolescent-friendly space” and a women’s and girls’ center, bringing soccer balls and Beanie babies to distribute among children.

“I find when you have firsthand knowledge of things as opposed to secondhand, it makes a much stronger impression,” Carson told the Times before his departure on a chartered flight.

Carson’s advisors have framed the trip as an effort to improve his knowledge on the refugee crisis. Although he is still near the front of the pack of Republican presidential candidates, he has faltered in the past when faced with foreign policy questions.

“I want to hear some of their stories, I want to hear from some of the officials what their perspective is,” Carson told the Times. “All of that is extraordinarily useful in terms of formulating an opinion of how to actually solve the problem.”

He was set to return to the U.S. on Sunday.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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