Sharing Our Cultures at Al-Bustan Camp 2017

Posted On:
04 August, 2017
Al-Bustan CampNews

They were very happy and went to sleep early waiting for tomorrow to come so they could go to camp again…I thank you very, very much. You have made joy on the faces of my children and I am very grateful to you.

From July 5 to 14, 2017, youth ages 5-14 from Philadelphia and beyond traveled to The Philadelphia School to meet new friends, have fun, and learn Arabic. The camp theme this year was Tabadul: Exchanging Our Seeds of Culture. Divided into three groups — Funun, Baladi, and Awraq — campers learned the value of cross cultural exchange through dance, storytelling, music, printmaking, photography, and of course language.  Half of the participants in our camp were of Arab heritage,  while the other half were of diverse backgrounds, which made exploring Tabadul all the more interesting.  It was amazing to see the campers turn into artists, musicians, and even translators in less than two weeks!

In Lisa Volta’s Science class, campers learned about the the uses of herbs such as na’na’ (mint), karkadeh (hibiscus), and zenjabil (ginger), and their significance in different cultures. Students used these herbs to make functional products like lip balm, healing spritzes, and fabric dye. Later on in the day, during Volta’s Art classes, campers made radial monoprint designs and photo collages based on the work of artists Wafa Bint Hasher Al Maktoum and Bouchra Benhalima.

In Arabic, Yassine Benzinane led campers through an engaging curriculum to learn the Arabic alphabet, basic Arabic words, and fund songs to apply their new vocabulary.

Every morning, the campers were empowered to share their personal stories of peace and victory with three amazing storytellers: Nashid Ali, Momma Sandi, and Kala Jojo.  On the last day they guided the campers in a call and answer and featured camper Yasmin telling a beautiful story about her grandfather, a famous poet in Syria, and how she feels when reading his poems translated by her father. Click here to see the storytelling video!

We also introduced debkeh folk dance with a demonstration by Palestinian group Diyar Dance Theatre, which the campers practiced to perform on the last day of camp.

The program ended with incredible drumming performances by all the campers led by Percussion Director Hafez Kotain. He composed percussion solos for the campers, while teaching them basic percussion sounds like dum, tak, and tika.  Watch this video of their performance which has reached more than 10,000 views!

Click here to read blogpost by Adam Bdeir, an amazing counselor and longtime camper!

Shukran for the support of the entire Al-Bustan community for making Al-Bustan Camp 2017 such a successful, gratifying experience!  We cannot have this program without the dedication and support of all the counselors, teachers, youth, and their families.

As another parent told us:

We had an amazing time, everything was great. My son already talks about coming back next year. You guys are really killing it, the camp was extremely impressive. The amount of time and thought you put into it really shows. Shukran!!

Lastly, take a look at this video to see what campers did in Storytelling:

Al-Bustan Camp is supported by Aramco Service Company, John K. and Elizabeth W. Knorr Charitable Foundation, University of Pennsylvania Middle East Center, and individual donors. AlF SHUKR / A Thousand Thanks for making this program possible!