Stories and Trade along the Silk Route at Al-Bustan Camp 2018

Posted On:
07 August, 2018
Al-Bustan CampNews

I wanted my grandson to have a deeper understanding of Arab culture and to know children different from himself. This year especially he was able to articulate how much the camp experience interested him and was so much fun for him.
My child most enjoyed meeting new friends, art, dancing, drums, and Arabic!

Camp T-Shirt
Camp T-Shirt

From July 9 to 20, 2018, an awesome group of campers ages 5-14 participated in a jam-packed two-week program held at Friends Select School.  This year’s theme was Souks of the Silk Route.  Campers learned about some of the art, science, stories, dance, music and the many cross-cultural exchanges that occurred along this historic trade network!  They also learned a variety of words in Arabic related to this theme.  Our campers were of diverse backgrounds, of Arab heritage and various ethnic backgrounds, some born in the US and some in other countries — that made learning about global trade all the more interesting!

In Lisa Volta-Zalloum’s Science Class, campers learned about travel and trade, water and farming, navigation and astronomy, archaeology, anthropology, and medicine. Activities included a National Geographic trading game, an irrigation project, plotting star maps, creating coins out of clay, and making ginger syrup from scratch.

Lisa Volta-Zalloum also taught Art Class, where campers learned the history of silk and silk painting, paper-making, and weaving. Activities included painting silk handkerchiefs using motifs from the silk route, and creating small tapestries with weaving looms.

In Hafez Kotain’s Percussion Class, campers learned the basics of Arab drumming, and each group learned a solo piece using Arab rhythms which they performed beautifully at the end-of-camp showcase.

In Farnaz Perry’s Arabic Class, campers had an immersive type experience in Arabic as they learned about objects and key  vocabulary related to the Silk Route, using Arabic dialogue to trade at the mini-souk that was created in the classroom. The older group performed skits in Arabic acting as merchants buying and selling goods on the road. They also learned two Arabic songs, Tik Tik Yam Slaiman, and Fil-Bustan, to kick off the end-of-camp showcase.

In Nashid Ali’s Storytelling Classes, campers learned and shared stories of peace on the Silk Route. They took a trip to Reading Terminal Market to understand how souks have adapted to modern times. Nashid encouraged the students to create their own stories based on the trip. During the camp celebration, a group of older girls narrated and acted out a story about getting to know a homeless man on their way to the market.

In Dance Class, campers spent the first week learning debkeh, a Levantine folk dance, from Ghafran Samakie. In the second week they learned Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance, from Three Aksha Dance Company’s Viji Rao. Each group performed a solo dance at the end-of-camp howcase.

Our 2018 Campers & Staff!
Our 2018 Campers & Staff!

There were so many fun moments at camp this year. SHUKRAN to all of the counselors, staff, families and children who support and participate in Al-Bustan programs! We could not do this without you.

Click here to read this blogpost by Hannah Erdogan, a senior counselor and longtime camper!

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