Center News

Introduction to Islam with the Rabbinical Reconstructionist College in Wyncote, PA

The Middle East Center has partnered with the Rabbinical Reconstructionist College to offer the College's students an introduction to Islam in spring 2008.  The course includes both an academic and a service learning component. The emphasis in both is on preparing rabbis to function as Jewish leaders in dialogue, community activism, and education in partnership with Muslims. 

For the service learning component, the Center recruited Muslim graduate students to partner with the rabbinical students, who will participate in a number of joint activities together, including: a get-to-know-each other dinner to beheld at the University of Pennsylvania on March 5th; engaging each other in religious text study and discussion; visiting  a religious service or other Muslim event of the Muslim student’s choice; and preparing a presentation to a Jewish audience on some aspect of Islam or Muslim-Jewish Relations.

"Cruise the Nile through History: Explore Ancient and Modern Egypt"
A Workshop for K-12 Teachers at the Penn Museum

On November 10th, the Education Department at the University Museum, the Middle East Center, and Camden County College sponsored a workshop,"Cruise the Nile through History: Explore Ancient and Modern Egypt," for 49 teachers from Philadelphia and New Jersey. Dr. Kate Liszka, one of the University Museum's Egyptologists, covered many of the cultural aspects of the Old, Middle, and New Kingdom in Egypt. Her presentation included discussions of the sites of the Giza Plateau, Memphis, Luxor, Alexandria, and Abu Simbel, and explored aspects of the ancient society such as love, poetry, worship, humor, business, education, and hobbies. After the talk, the teachers enjoyed a guided tour of Penn Museum’s magnificent Egyptian collection. After a sumptuous Middle Eastern buffet lunch, Manar Darwish, a native of Cairo and professor of Islamic Art, gave a lively presentation on Modern day Egyptian art, religion, education, and tourism. The teachers learned how the legacy of ancient Egypt is integrated into the current culture. Following the lecture, Manar lead the group through Penn Museum’s Islam gallery.

“Teaching About Islam and Politics in the Middle East: A Comparative Overview of Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia "


A Workshop for the 2007 PACIE Annual Conference in Harrisburg

The Middle East Center was once again asked by the Pennsylvania Council for International Education to organize a workshop on the Middle East for K-12 and college educators and administrators as part of PACIE’s annual state-wide conference, which was held on September 29 at the Pennsylvania Department of Education in Harrisburg.  In 2005, we organized, along with the South Asia Center and International Classroom, a workshop on “Islam: Reality and (Mis)Perceptions ” for PACIE’s annual conference held in Philadelphia. Click here for more information.

Y PHILLY / Y TURKEY - Youth Identity Murals - Each year, MYX invites all Philadelphians between the ages of 9 – 24 (Philadelphia's Youth Generation) to capture the spirit of their city and youth culture in two youth identity murals. Once completed, the murals are presented to a pre-selected community abroad as a gift from our city.

This year, for the first time, MYX, in partnership with the Middle East Center and Arts for Anyone facilitated a full exchange of murals, creating the Y PHILLY murals for schools in Istanbul and Adana, Turkey, where Turkish students simultaneously created their own youth identity murals for Philadelphia.

Come out and see these murals together for the last time before the Philadelphia murals are presented to their permanent homes in Turkey. Join us for a reception on Wednesday, September 26, 5-8 PM at International House (3701 Chestnut St.).

The Whirling Dervishes of Istanbul

The Philadelphia Society for Art, Literature and Music (PSALM) presented the first phase of their "Full Circle Project," a multi-year cultural dialogue, with an event entitled "One House –Many Doors." The Whirling Dervishes of Istanbul with special guest Coleman Barks performed at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, preceded by two afternoon colloquia on the life and philosophy of Rumi.

The gala performance was a celebration of the UNESCO 2007 International Year of Rumi, which marked the 800th anniversary of the ancient ceremony of the Sema, a visually stunning meditation in motion by the Whirling Dervishes, accompanied by an ensemble of Turkish master musicians playing traditional instruments. The turning ceremony originated with the 13th century poet, scholar and Sufi mystic Jelaladdin Rumi, as a means to demonstrate and affirm the intimate relationship between the human being and the divine source of life.The afternoon colloquia were free and open to the public, and featured a number of noted Sufi scholars and the actress, TAMIR.

The event was supported by the Philadelphia Dialogue Forum, Penn Presents, the Middle East Center, the Global Dialogue Institute of Haverford College, and the Turkish American Friends Society of the US.

Lesson Plans from Our K-12 Summer Institutes

The Middle East Center and the other National Resource Centers at Penn - the Center for East Asian Studies, South Asia Center and the African Studies Center - joined resources and expertise to organize an annual summer institute for K-12 teachers and administrators on a theme common to all our regions, as a way to show the interconnectedness as well as the diversity of the people and cultures of our respective regions. Our institute, which balances in-depth content with pedagogy on best teacher practices, has attracted participants from all parts of the Delaware Valley and even beyond. Click here to view some of the many lesson plans developed by them.

On August 1st, the Middle East Center and Camden County College co-sponsored a Teachers' Workshop at the Penn Museum, "Religion, Deities and Power Hungry Queens in Ancient Egypt". The workshop included a tour of the new exhibit Amrana: Ancient Egypt's Place in Sun, and was followed by a Middle Eastern lunch.

"The Arts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East: An Exploration of Art, Music, and Film" was a Summer Institute for K-12 teachers June 25 - 29, 2007. K-12 teachers from Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey participated in the week-long Summer 2007 Institute. The Institute was organized by Penn’s four Title VI National Resource Centers.

As film has become an increasingly popular medium for understanding and appreciating the diversity and human issues of the peoples and cultures of the Middle East, we are proud to partner with International House to bring the latest in Middle Eastern film to Penn’s campus and to the wider community.  The Middle East Center has been a co-sponsor of  Middle East Week at IHouse, with a special series of films from Syria featured in 2007, and shorter film festivals featuring films from Turkey and animation from Iran in previous years.

On March 25, the Middle East Center, the Education Department of the Penn Museum, and the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia held a day long workshop on “Iran: Ancient and Modern” for 30 middle and high school teachers from the Delaware Valley.