A blog by the staff and participants of Al-Bustan, which is dedicated to teaching and presenting Arab culture through the arts and language. This provides a forum for us to regularly share the happenings and reflections on all things Al-Bustan-related.
It's hard to believe that today is my last day of the
semester at Al-Bustan. A number of snow days at school, the adjustment of being
back at university in America, and a job I really enjoyed all made the time go
by way too fast—it’s shocking to me that my blog posts reflecting on my time in
Amman and the food were written 3 months ago! But it seems like now, as I leave
for the summer, is a good time to reflect on the past four months.
My favorite piece of tatreez--I wish I knew how to do this!
I came to
Al-Bustan after seeing a posting on the Student Employment Office website while
I was abroad. It was perfect: a work-study job that was also relevant to my
interests, and with an organization that I had heard about before, from
performing with the Philadelphia Arab Music Ensemble during my sophomore year.
The first days of the semester found me getting my feet wet at Al-Bustan:
learning my way around the office computer drive, which seems to hold more
files than Google, and beginning to recognize the names of the many people that
the organization works with when implementing its programs. I prepared song
sheets and recorded attendance for PAME’s nearly 30-person choir and heard from
Lisa, our Education Coordinator at that time, about the many in-school programs
that we ran. I even saw samples of the artwork she helped with, like the tatreez, or Arabic needlepoint, that she
made with a class at Northeast High School.
With the first concert of the fall
on the horizon, I helped Morgan, our Marketing and Development Director, with
advertising, and was even lucky enough to meet the Narcicyst while he was here.
I helped Al-Bustan roll out this year’s annual summer camp, mailing out
information about it and recording registrations as they came in. I also
learned from Hazami, the Executive Director, about the many long grant
processes we go through to get funding for these programs. By the time Fathy
Salama came for his residence just two weeks ago, I was entirely overwhelmed by
my classes, but did get to attend his engagement at the Penn Museum--although unfortunately
this time, I didn’t get to meet the artist!
Mixing henna for a Al-Bustan project
Overall, it was a busy but
productive semester for both me and for Al-Bustan.
The biggest thing I learned from my
time at Al-Bustan was the incredible effort that goes into all the programs
that this organization puts on. For being just a few employees--granted, with
an awesome coalition of volunteers—the number of things that Al-Bustan is
involved with is truly impressive. From educational programs in school to the
seasonal concert series to an online music education tool (Try it here! It’s fun!) that combines the two, the staff does so much to promote the mission
of Al-Bustan, and they provide a warm and welcoming environment to anyone
interested in learning about or participating in Arab arts, culture, and
language. I encourage all of our readers to attend our events, check out our
Facebook and Twitter, and even volunteer if you have the time, so you can more
fully understand the important work that Al-Bustan is doing within the
Philadelphia community and become more engaged with such a dynamic
organization. I’ve truly enjoyed my time here and hope to be writing to you all
again in the fall!