As part of (DIS)PLACED project and our efforts to foster community and provide necessary cultural and material resources to recent Syrian and Iraqi refugees to Philadelphia, Al-Bustan partnered with a coalition of socially-oriented organizations to host a series of Meet & Greet events. With the help of co-sponsors Nationalities Service Center, University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Arab Student Society and Greenfield Intercultural Center, Germantown Friends School’s Human Rights Club, and many dedicated volunteers, we collected and distributed donated goods, hosted arts and music activities, and welcomed the families to the city.
The first Meet-and-Greet took place on November 5th in the ARCH Building of the University of Pennsylvania. Attended by nearly 100 refugees, with 40 Al-Bustan staff, teaching-artists, and volunteers, the event began with a delicious lunch of Lebanese food from Saad’s Halal Restaurant, funded by Penn Arab Student Society and Greenfield Intercultural Center, with desserts provided by Germantown Friends School’s Human Rights Club. Attendees then chose between a variety of activities to participate in, namely group discussion led by family therapist Rabab Alma, family portraits by photographer Dave Tavani, art activities led by Afaq Mahmoud, Zein Hassanein and volunteers, and skills tables led by Penn students, culminating with a percussion workshop led by Master Percussionist Hafez Kotain for a very eager group of boys and girls.
Each of the families left with a bundle of donated warm bedding and food staples, such as pasta, lentils, and cooking oil. This was made possible due to a well-supported donated goods drive hosted by the sponsors and Pan-Asian American Community House. The generous donations provided much-needed material goods to the new Philadelphians as they acclimate to their new home. We hope that the gathering sparked relationships that will continue to flourish.
Stay up-to-date on the numerous (DIS)PLACED events upcoming in 2017 by following the project website and #displacedPHL.