Reflections on Tabadul Neighborhood Forum 3

Posted On:
16 May, 2017

We need more of these opportunities to bring our youth together to learn about each other. This is exactly in line with the values and principles of our school. -Neil Geyette, U School Founder + Principal

On May 5, 2017 more than 70 students, faculty and local community members from Northeast High School, the U School and Germantown Friends School came together at the U School for Al-Bustan’s second cross-city, cross-cultural Neighborhood Forum. The event was one in a series of 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 musical performances by students.

This neighborhood forum began with participants taking self-portraits that were printed and used in the Tabadul activity.

Photos by Ricky Yanas:


The first act really set the tone for audience engagement as Percussion Director Hafez Kotain introduced the tabla and led the NEHS Al-Amal Percussion Ensemble in their first public performance. The Northeast High School performances were all original songs written by the students with new music composed and accompanied by their mentor Dr. Jay Fluellen. 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. Quincy Wylie, stunned the crowd with his beautiful voice singing his original song, Chadwick. Audience couldn’t help but sway, dance, clap, and snap to the music. Kayla closed the afternoon performances with a heartfelt performance of her original song, Seven Letter Love. U School students presented powerful original monologues. Alayah Purnell created and performed Blue Bell, about the troubles of growing up, seen through the eyes of a bird. Her classmate, Diamond Thompson made her presence known as she walked into the space performing The Mask. Maya Rabinowitz from Germantown Friends School also performed her spoken word poetry Introduction to the Limits of the Metaphor.

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 were divided into 15 small groups to create a collective collage about their families, experiences and traditions. Participants were to find their printed self-portraits on the tables to find their group. Each table had magazines, photocopies, newspapers and drawing materials. The groups worked together to create a collective collage about their notions of family, who made up their families and the stories that surround them. In the center of the collage, the group cut pieces of their own self-portrait to collage together into a new group portrait. One face, features from each. This symbolized the vast similarities and differences that not only define us as individuals, but bind us as a community.

Dr. Fluellen is my family. He taught me to believe in myself. If it wasn’t for him… -Overheard from NEHS participant as he shared about who is family to him.


Afterwards, everyone shared a multicultural meal together from local Kensington restaurants. A big thank you to the following restaurants for donating food to support this event! Tandoor, Liberty Choice, Abyssinia, Que Chula Es Puebla, Alamodak, and Cousins’ Supermarket!!

Learn more about what happened with the Tabadul Project so far at NEHS this year! Don’t forget to mark your calendar for our final Neighborhood Forum of the season on Thursday, June 8 @NEHS 4-6pm.  Use #TabadulPHL on social media to stay up to date on Al-Bustan’s Tabadul Project and keep up to-date on Tabadul events through our website!