Center News

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.

On March 3, the Middle East Center co-sponsored with the Penn Museum’s Education Department a special workshop for the Center for Talented Youth Program of Johns Hopkins University. Middle Schoolers and their families from as far away as Washington, D.C., Connecticut, and New York came to the Museum to hear a variety of speakers on modern and ancient Egypt, including the Center’s Research Assistant, Ed Webb, Ph.D. candidate in the Political Science Department.

In partnership with the Painted Bride Art Center, the Middle East Center sponsored this academic year two well attended workshop/performances at the Community College of Philadelphia, as part of the Center’s ongoing initiative with faculty at CCP to strengthen and integrate Middle East subjects into their curricula. Over 375 students and faculty total attended “Odessa to Istanbul: The Fermentation of European Klezmer with Classical Arabic Music” and Hip-Hop artist and human beatbox Yuri Lane’s “From Tel Aviv to Ramallah,” which was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award in 2004.

Teach-In and Discussion - The February 11 War on Gaza: Teach-In is one in a series of discussion panels co-sponsored by the Middle East Center and aimed at educating the public and discussing the issues surrounding the recent invasion of Gaza by the Israeli Army. The teach-in features both student and faculty voices. The second installation of the series is taking place on March 23.

Media Conference - On Friday, January 23, the Middle East Center will be a proud co-sponsor of the one-day Iran Media Conference taking place at the Annenberg School for Communication. The workshop is entitled "Iran's Media Thirty Years After the Revolution: The State, New Spaces, and Identity in the Islamic Republic" and the event features a large group of renowned interdisciplinary speakers to examine the role of new media in Iran's socio-political context.