As part of (DIS)PLACED project, Al-Bustan welcomed Syrian and Iraqi refugee families for our third Meet & Greet event held at the Friends Center. In efforts to foster community and provide necessary cultural and material resources to recent refugees, the event was planned in partnership with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), PA Refugee Task Force and Penn Arab Student Society.
Attended by nearly 160 refugees, with 50 Al-Bustan staff, artists, and volunteers, the event began with families and volunteers engaging in conversation and getting to know each other, while a group joined family counselor Rabab Ulama for a discussion on ways of coping in their transition to life in America. Volunteers also led an arts and crafts session for children. Lunch was generously donated by Renata’s Kitchen, and included delicious plates of mjaddara, roasted chicken, wedding rice, baklava, and other Arab dishes. Music Director Hanna Khoury and percussionist Hafez Kotain performed a few favorites folk songs which got the kids dancing and everyone clapping, leading into what the kids were waiting for all afternoon, playing the tableh with Hafez! An endearing moment occurred when two attendees were inspired to recite their poems remembering their home city of Damascus, and another attendee played the nay (reed-like flute).
Photos by Tony Heriza:
Each family left with a selection of goods, staple foods and kitchenware, thanks to a donated goods drive hosted by the sponsors, as well as the Greenfield Intercultural Center, Pan-Asian American Community House and Germantown Mennonite Church.