On April 3, 2016, longtime Al-Bustan families and newcomers gathered at Smith Memorial Playground for Hikayat Wa Fan — an afternoon filled with storytelling in Arabic and English, art activities, and music making. Storytelling is an important oral tradition in Arab culture and permeats throughout everyday life, in homes and in public gatherings. Hakawati is the storyteller who weaves embellished tales, often improvising in response to an attentive audience.
Local hakawati shared tales from Arab, Arab-American, and West African traditions. Susan Fayad guided children through her book, My Grandfather’s Masbaha, about the relationship between a young boy, his heritage, and his Lebanese grandfather. Nashid Ali brilliantly presented his signature combination of West African storytelling and djembe playing. Eliane Markus integrated an Arabic tale with movement and repetition of key Arabic words.
Participants created their own geometric patterns with Maya Culbertson, learned to write their name in Arabic, and made a 33-bead masbaha — enjoying the fan (art) and fun at the playground.
Members of Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble, Hanna Khoury on violin and Hafez Kotain on percussion, led a lively music demonstration, complete with audience interaction, sing-a-longs, and, of course, a breathtaking percussion solo led by Hafez.
Despite the cold weather, youth and adults came and left with an expanded Arabic vocabulary, an introduction to Arab music, and their own artwork. Thanks to all our participants and teaching artists and to Smith Memorial Playground for providing such a great space!
Photos by Chip Colson