Planting the Seeds of Arab American Culture
October 26, 2016 | CAAP Blog | Grantee Spotlight
As part of a new blog series, the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP) would like to shine the spotlight on our awesome grant partners, starting with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture. Al-Bustan is a Philadelphia-based arts and culture organization dedicated to presenting and teaching the Arab culture through the arts and language. We recently spoke with Hazami Sayed, Al-Bustan’s Executive Director and are excited to share the organization’s mission and recent achievements!
CAAP: What is your organization’s role in empowering the Arab American community?
Al-Bustan: Celebration of the many articulations of Arab culture is woven through all of Al-Bustan’s programs. By working with cutting-edge artists and educators we strive to enable production of new cultural forms that incorporate and transform the world around us, while being grounded in an understanding of our cultural traditions and history. We also strive to offer Arab Americans a connection with their language and cultural heritage, which is evident in how students glow with the opportunity to show off their Arabic language skills.
Moreover, our programs provide a space for Arab Americans to come together and celebrate, across national/religious affiliations and immigrant status, and demonstrate to a broader public the richness and nuances of Arab culture and people — as exemplified in our second annual Ahlan open house.
CAAP: Please share a story of an individual or family that has benefitted from your work.
Al-Bustan: Since the beginning of Al-Bustan’s partnership with Moffet Elementary School nine years ago, at least one member of the extended Barakat family has participated each year in our program. Dalal was the first, followed by Aya, then Hamda, and now we have Dana, Ahmad, Ali, their step-brother Brahim, and their cousins Bayan, Rayed, Yahya, and Salah. As we have grown to offer an expanded three days per week after-school program, known as the Moffet Arab Arts After-School Program, Alia, one of the aunts, now works with us in assisting to manage the program and liaise with the community.
As the Barakat children graduate from elementary school, the impact of their engagement with Al-Bustan programs becomes increasingly apparent. The oldest cousins, Dalal and Aya, regularly return to mentor younger drummers and help lead the ensemble during performances. Dalal, now a senior at Kensington Creative Arts and Performing High School, chose to go to a performing arts school largely driven by her interest in music since she joined the Moffet Drummers in 3rd grade. Their little niece Dana is now our most advanced percussionist, often leading the ensemble or demonstrating percussion techniques in class and in public performances. With the Barakat family members’ enthusiasm and dedication, we are excited to continue deepening our relationship with the family and the Moffet School community.
CLICK HERE to read full interview on CAAP’s Blog.