Al-Bustan Featured in Grid Magazine

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Building Bridges, Planting Seeds

An Arab cultural center uses art as a common language

March, 2017 | Grid Magazine | Nancy Chen

When asked about his work with Al-Bustan, Kotain spoke passionately about the impact of teaching. He believes music is a form of therapy that brings people of all ages and backgrounds out of their shells—no matter how shy they may be and no matter what emotional baggage they may have brought to the lesson. Reflecting on the social and political climate at home and abroad, he said, “When some people think of the Middle East, all they think of is war, and—I don’t even want to say it—terrorism… What I do, with percussion and music, is to show the opposite—to show that there is a rich culture behind it. When I teach, I see over and over that people who don’t understand each other’s language can come together through the music. We don’t know what’s outside the door, with all this mess going on worldwide, but in the classroom we keep things positive. When we are together in music class, I see everyone come together in a kind of union. We call this sagrado [teamwork] in Venezuela.”

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