MEC Administrative Assistant James Ryan makes semi-regular visits to area schools to guest lecture on topics related to the Middle East. On December 18, visited Central Bucks High School West to discuss the Islamic Republic of Iran to a 12th grade AP Comparative Government Class. On Friday November 7, he visited Central Buck High School South to guest lecture in the 12th Grade International Relations classes. Mr. Ryan addressed the political and social problems of Iran and Iraq, both from the American and Middle Eastern Perspective. He also addressed the Sunni-Shi'i divide, helping the students better to undersand exactly what role religion plays in the ethnic and social cleavages in the region. International Relations is part of the standard Social Studies Curriculum for 12th graders in Central Bucks Schools and has significantly increased focus on the Middle East in recent years. The Middle East Center looks forward to greater participation in the curriculum, with the students and with the faculty in this and other area school districts.
The Center has been commended by the Department of Education for its Outreach Program, which works with schools and colleges, community and religious groups, government and military institutions, and the general public to raise awareness and understanding of issues in the Middle East and their importance to our communities.
Dance Workshop for 7th Graders
One of the Center's fellows and dance instructor Habiba held two workshops at the Independence Charter School on December 17th and 18th, 2008. The two workshops were part of the seventh grade level Arabic language and culture training and they focused on the traditional dance of Egypt. The goal of the workshop was to teach students how to dance in the context of an Egyptian village festival. Some of the topics discussed in the festival setting included language, clothing, agriculture, climate, customs, henna, music, and dance.
Drumming Workshops for Beginning and Intermediate Students, 3rd-12th grades (Other workshops for adults possible)
Ten Saturday workshops from September through December were held at the Rotunda (4012 Walnut St., Philadelphia) by Lebanese-American Master Percussionist Joseph Tayoun. The workshops ran from 12:45-1:45 PM for beginners, and from 1:50-2:50 PM for intermediate, and focused on Middle Eastern rhythms and techniques. Future programs of this sort are likely. For more information, call Al-Bustan at (267) 809-3668. You can also send them email. Some scholarships are available. If you are interested in adult percussion workshops, let them know, as they are considering opening an adult section on Saturdays from 3-4 PM.
Arabic and Drama Workshops for 3rd-5th Graders
Ten Saturday workshops from September through December were held at the Rotunda (4012 Walnut St., Philadelphia) by Nehad Khader and Nahid Elgadi. The workshops ran from 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM, and focused on study of conversational and written Arabic, integrated with acting and writing an Arab fairy tale, ending with a performance-in-progress. For more information, call Al-Bustan at (267) 809-3668. You can also send them email. Some scholarships are available.
Al-Bustan's percussion instruction and music appreciation program, featuring Simon Shaheen
On November 19, 2008, the Middle East Center, in partnership with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, co-sponsored a teacher's workshop with internationally renowned 'ud and violin virtuoso Simon Shaheen. The workshop was held from 1-3 PM at the Kimmel Center at 260 S. Broad St. This event was followed by a series of master workshops with several youth ensembles in January 2009. For more information on Al-Bustan's music program, click here to visit their website.
PaCIE Conference - on Oct. 2-4, 2008, the Middle East Center co-sponsored the Pennsylvania Council for International Education (PaCIE) annual conference in State College PA. The center's staff attended and participated in panels on the Globalizing the K-12 Classroom and Building an International Education. PaCIE has provided vital professional development and networking opportunities to the state's international educators and has been a constant voice to advocate for international education in the Commonwealth for 40 years. For more information please visit www.pacie.org.
“City Year Training Day " at The Mastery Charter School-Shoemaker Campus
On September 23, 2008, the Middle East Center, in partnership with three other National Resource Centers at Penn (African Studies Center, Center for East Asian Studies, and South Asian Studies Center) offered a teacher's training day for 230 City Year staff members. The training focused on the significance of global education and its impact on solidarity. The training also provided members with resources to use in their own classrooms and after-school programs. This half-day program was partially funded by the Schol of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.
“The New Mediterranean" at Dickinson College
The Middle East Center continues to expand its circle of outreach partners in the state of Pennsylvania. In April 2008, the Center co-sponsored Dickinson College’s Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues a day-long symposium on “The New Mediterranean.” This special event addressed new ways of understanding diaspora identity, cultural, political boundaries and exchanges between Europe and North Africa through critical discussions and performances by writers, cultural critics, and musicians. The discussions concluded with an improvisational and participatory Culture Jam and concert by the world music and Afro-Nord group, Cafe Mira. Click here for more information.
World-renowned Arab Ethnomusicologist Dr. Ali Jihad Racy and Mideast Ensemble Perform
In March 2008 the Middle East Center's Outreach Program co-sponsored with its partner, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, and Swarthmore College a free public concert featuring a collaboration between the world-renowned Arab ethnomusicologist Dr. Ali Jihad Racy and Philadelphia's own Middle East Ensemble, featuring Joseph Tayoun, Roger Mgrdichian, Adeeb Refela, Hafez El Ali, and William Tayoun at the Lang Performing Arts Center at Swarthmore College, in Media, Pennsylvania.
The concert, "Music and Memory: Legacy in a New World" featured a repertoire of traditional, folk, and popular Arab music as well as original compositions. It also incorporated improvisations on a variety of instruments, including the nay (reed flute), buzuq (long-necked lute), and 'ud (short-necked lute). This concert showcased the exquisite musicianship of Dr. Racy (on nay, buzuq, and ‘ud) and members of MidEast Ensemble: Joseph Tayoun (percussion), Roger Mgrdichian (‘ud), Adeeb Refela (violin), Hafez El Ali (percussion/vocals), and William Tayoun (percussion).
The Middle East Center and Al-Bustan will also co-sponsor a free Arab music demonstration workshop by Dr. Racy in West Philadelphia while in our great city.
Professional Development Training for Executives from Telecom Egypt
The Center’s outreach program was instrumental in arranging a unique professional development training for 30 executives from Telecom Egypt, to take place at the new international headquarters of COMCAST in downtown Philadelphia in February 2008. The group is being sponsored by MEC's partner in the business community, the Global Interdependence Center, and will receive extensive training in best practices in business and personnel management from top managers and executives at COMCAST. A reception will be held at the Pyramid Club following the training, and will feature Dr. Ashraf El Rabiey, Minister Plenipotentiary and Head of the Economic and Commercial Bureau of the Embassy of Egypt and other diplomatic and commercial representatives from the Middle East. The reception is co-sponsored by the Center, the African Studies Center and the Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies at Penn.
Research in Community Arts Course with Temple University
This spring the Middle East Center partnered with Dr. Billy Yalowitz, co-director of the cross-disciplinary Arts in Community Program at Temple University, to sponsor an innovative new course, "Research in Community Arts." In this community-based arts course, students will work in partnership with two community organizations, the Jewish Dialogue Group and Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, to help create Un/Settled, two separate but linked community-based art works that examine conflicts within the Arab American and American Jewish and communities in Philadelphia. Students will conduct community-based research, gathering stories on each community’s history of immigration, and their development in the contemporary U.S context. The history of Arab and Jewish of co-existence in medieval Spain will serve as another point of reference in the creation of the project. This course will serve as a common forum between the two communities, engaging artists and community leaders through field trips, guest speakers, and community cultural events.