Immigrant & Refugee Students Experience a Month of Arts

Posted On:
28 August, 2018
News, School PartnershipsTeaching
Our Teaching Team
Our Teaching Team

In July, 2018 Al-Bustan organized and implemented an afternoon arts enrichment program, as part of the School District of Philadelphia’s English Learner Summer Program, held at Gilbert Spruance Elementary School in the Northeast. We had the privilege of providing various artistic media that reinforced language learning while providing a safe space for self-expression to 120 middle school students who are recent immigrants or refugees. Al-Bustan is grateful to the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Multilingual Curriculum and Programs for selecting us to offer this program. Our team remains inspired by the students’ personalities, stories, talents, and perseverance.

Working with our team of teaching artists, Hafez Kotain (percussion), Javvieaus Stewart (choir), Jim Victor (art), and Yannick Trapman-O’Brien (drama), students selected two arts classes during the four week program and showcased their artistry at the end of each two-week session.

In Hafez Kotain’s percussion class, students learned the basics of Arab drumming, and each group learned a solo piece using Arab rhythms which they performed enthusiastically at the end-of-program performance. They also engaged in team building activities and wrote reflections inspired by An Immigrant Alphabet and poetry with teaching assistant/poet Afaq Mahmoud.

In Javvieaus Stewart’s choir class, students explored rhythm, movement, and facets of singing in a choir. They learned songs in Chinese, Spanish, Arabic and English, improvised over the 12-bar-blues, echoed rhythms on bucket drums, and mastered the cup-based choreography from “When I’m Gone,” also known as “The Cup Song” which they performed for everyone.

In Jim Victor’s art class, students learned how to work with various mediums such as pencil, charcoal, watercolor, paint, collage, clay, and plaster. They made individual pieces inspired by still life objects and prompts, and collaborated to create a beautiful mosaic rendering of the Al-Bustan tree logo.

In Yannick Trapman-O’Brien’s drama class, aspiring actors and playwrights learned about the structure of stories through games, improvisation, and writing. They created fictional and autobiographical scenes and performed them on the last day of the program.

Read more about Afaq, Yannick, and Elias ‘experiences on our blog!