Tabadul: Second Neighborhood Forum Reflections

Posted On:
17 March, 2017

We are learning about immigration in class, both historically and in contemporary contexts, which has inevitably touched on questions about Syrian refugee experiences. Our students came to us excited that they had a chance to meet Syrian students from NEHS who recently came to the US. It allowed them to put a face to the issues and helped them realize how similar they are as youth. – U School teachers, Josh Kleiman and Charlie McGeehan

On March 3, 2017 more than 80 students, faculty and local community members from Northeast High School, the U School and Germantown Friends School came together at Germantown Friends 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.

Selected photos from Emily Ganser, Scott Foley, and Edwin Einbender-Luks.


The student performances began with Kayla Hunt’s original song reflecting on Black History Month called Shades Confinement. She wrote the lyrics and her mentor, educator, and master pianist/musician, Dr. Jay Fluellen composed new piano music that he performed with her. NEHS student Tatiana Malebranche shared the NEHS Communal Poem that was created by 30 NEHS students led by Jacob Winterstein in a community workshop. Anthony Rivera, student at the U School, presented his short film, Property of No One, to raise awareness about what being Muslim means today for some young people.

Different from our other neighborhood forums, guest photographer/educator and artist-in-residence, Wendy Ewald, presented her process, work, and shared stories of young people she has worked with internationally. Known for her methodology of literacy through photography, she also introduced her latest and first project in Philadelphia with NEHS students that will be an “Immigrants’ Alphabet”. Stay tuned to the process of this residency and get ready for their public display as large format banners in Center City.  


To enable cross-cultural conversations, participants were divided into 20 small groups to create a collective collages about participants’ neighborhoods, experiences and personal histories. Each group was given a neighborhood map of Philadelphia, magazines, photocopies of student photographs, and drawing materials, They were given the task to create an image that embraced the varied and collective history of Philadelphians, through the lens of their own stories and memories.

Language proved not to be a major barrier. Between having technology and making art together, students pulled out their phones and used the art materials to translate what they wanted to say to each other.  – Community Participant commenting on students interacting.

Afterwards, everyone shared a multicultural meal together from local Germantown restaurants. A big thank you to the following restaurants for donating food to support this event! Pizzeria Nonna, Linda’s Vegetarian, Newman’s Grill, K+J Caribbean Diner, Tymeka’s Soul Food, Jyoti’s Indian Cuisine, Malelani Cafe, and Frosted Fox Cake Shop!!

Learn more about what happened in our first Neighborhood Forum at Palumbo Academy here and the rest of the great work of the Tabadul Project that has happened so far at NEHS this year!

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!