Reflections on Neighborhood Forum 4: Year-End Celebration

Posted On:
15 June, 2017
NewsSchool Partnerships

“I feel so lucky to participate in the Tabadul events. I really love getting to know new people and new cultures and ideas.” -Kayla

The in-school portion of the Tabadul Project culminated with a celebration on June 8, 2017 when more than 80 students, faculty and local community members from Northeast High School and the U School gathered at Northeast High School for Al-Bustan’s fourth cross-city, cross-cultural Neighborhood Forum. The event was the last in a series of of seven gatherings that are a part of our Tabadul project, bringing people together to collectively share and reflect on the vibrant cultures and identities present in Philadelphia through photography installations, videos, and arts presentations by students.


Our biggest Tabadul event of the year, included 12 performances and presentations from NEHS students, U School students, Mural Arts Program and our teaching artists. The performances started full force with two percussion pieces led by Al-Bustan instructors: Kwasi Burgee and Hafez Kotain. Hafez led the Al-Amal Percussion Ensemble in their third public performance playing Arabic beats and rhythms. Kwasi joined the NEHS choir led by Dr. Jay Fluellen in a Haitian tribute song. Hafez and Kwasi took the stage together, filling the auditorium with a playful yet complicated call-and-response rhythm that was both mesmerizing and captivating.  

Changing gears, we reflected on the accomplishments of the Tabadul Project in the first half of the year watching the video created by our Project Assistant Josh Graupera.

Jacob Winterstein, poetry teaching artist, passionately performed a series of poems written by students in the Tabadul class. Playa Azul by Javier Rosado, Untitled by Sam Roman and Street Hood by Jody Nyugen each offered a glimpse into the life of a Northeast High School student, many of whom have ties to different cultures, communities and countries.

“Watching my uncle and aunt dancing bachata, their foot going up and down like grades during the school year.” -Javier Rosado, Playa Azul

“There’s always a lot of smoke from burnouts while the smell of burnt rubber lingers like the smell of my mother’s cooking throughout the house.” -Sam Roman, Untitled

“Gonna have a nursing degree. Carefree. Gonna go on a shopping spree, might even travel across the sea. I’m growing up and now, I’m free.” -Jody Nyugen, Street Hood

Shifting back to music Quincy Wiley performed his original hit song Chadwick  with music composed and performed by Dr. Jay Fluellen. Quincy’s song was originally written for NEHS’ famed talent show, Extravadanza hosted each year by actor and educator Tony Danza, where he won first place. Chadwick was performed at our last Neighborhood Forum at the U School, ending with a standing ovation. His performance this time around was even tighter, filling the auditorium with soulful sounds and catchy melodies. NEHS student Kayla Hunt performed her ballad Shade’s Confinement accompanied by Dr. Jay Fluellen, a mature and thoughtful piece on the difficulties of growing up as a mixed race woman and the breaking the stereotypes that come with it. Lastly, Tyquil Griffin performed his song Philly Life that he created in the Tabadul class about his experiences growing up as a young black man in the city.

Part of the Tabadul Project’s core mission was simple: to bring people together across an array of socio-economic, cultural and historical backgrounds. Throughout the year we worked with individuals and organizations in and around the NEHS community to uplift and highlight each other’s’ work. Mural Arts presented the mural they designed and painted called Bienvenidos at one of the entrances to the cafeteria welcoming the uniquely diverse student body. The U School brought a group of students to showcase their program, (re)New You Fashion Design. Lastly, students from our Wendy Ewald residency reflected on their participation on the Immigrant Alphabet, an upcoming photo series expanding the narratives of immigrant experiences that will become public artworks at the Municipal Services Building in Center City.

While songs and poetry were common mediums in our Neighborhood Forums, we also had a dance from Northeast High School’s Multicultural Club called Dancing For Haiti with accompanying music from the country’s various genres of music. The performances came to a close with our youngest Al-Amal Percussion Ensemble member, second grader Kenda Salman who performed a solo with Hafez. Each performance ended in an uproar of cheering and thunderous applause, creating a supportive and energetic atmosphere for some of Philly’s up-and-coming artists.


To enable cross-cultural conversations, participants came up to the library for an overview exhibition of all the visual art that was created throughout the school year. Works from our Tabadul class, Community Workshops and Neighborhood Forums were on display, along with pens and paper for viewers to leave thoughts and impressions of the work. We also set up a photobooth for our students to capture the last event of a wonderful year-long bonding experience.


In typical Tabadul fashion, everyone shared a multicultural meal together from local restaurants in the Northeast. A big thank you to On Charcoal, Picanha Brazilian Grill and Steakhouse, and Mural Arts Program for their generous food donations and discounted catering from Al-Sham, Zaika, and El Balconcito II.

Learn more about what happened with the Tabadul Project this year at NEHS!

Want to hear some of the amazing work the Tabadul class and friends created this year? Click on this Soundcloud link and get blown away by 11 incredible tracks from the Music and Technology class led by Dr. Jay Fluellen!

“It doesn’t matter what culture you are, you should treat everybody the same.” -Tatyana