Reflections from Camp

Good evening Al-Bustan followers, I hope this blog finds you all at peace. Since camp, I have been busy planning some new things for Al-Bustan as well as moving onto the next stage of my life. Now that I have caught my breath, I wanted to share with you my reflections of camp this past summer.


The beginning of camp was hectic as I was coming back into the country from practicing my own writing as well as placing myself into the position that I was going to be asking the campers. This position was to ask the group of teen campers to share with me what in their lives do they define as broken and how as a community of people, do we rebuild. And of course, through the use of poetry. The range of responses were amazing and the level of trust that these amazing young adults placed in me is a gift that I will protect in my heart forever.

Here are some lines from two of our poets:

“Love surrounds the air

even at night when you raise your hands to say the prayer
prayers carries by angels to God Almighty “

by: Ayesha Haroon

and

I sat on beauty’s shoulder

And she cried
Her tears slid down her down her soft pink cheeks
I climb inside.
What did I see?
A broken heart
Left not to trust again.
Being sold the same beautiful lie of being called the apple of an eye.
Or they’ll always be there
Rain…Sleet…Hail
But instead they leave you with a broken heart”

by: Amira Dublin

Can you see why I believed in them?


After battling their way through confidence issues regarding their actual writing, our next obstacle was having the teens prepare for the performance. Because of the limited time I had with them, we had a total of 2 hours to prepare for the actual performance night. I felt like I was a character in a video game that keeps running into a wall because I don’t know what direction to go next. Once the teens began to believe in their pieces, they began to doubt their ability to perform for such a large audience and then back again to not believing in themselves.

I know as an adult, a parent, we tend to see things in our youth that they can’t even begin to imagine seeing in themselves, if they ever do. But when these teens provided me with the lines they did for their poems, I had no choice to believe in their ability to rise above. This all sounds anti-climatic but I promise you that this performance meant as much to them as anything I have ever done. It was their “American Idol” type of moment. They came together in amazing ways to work on peer-editing their performance pieces as well as offering each other some pointers for their actual performance. They worked on body stance, pace, pause, eye contact and word emphasis. From here we did what this group liked to do the most… chill out and make fun of each other.

Three hours later, as the performance began and their time to go on stage approached, we took a break and headed out into the hallway outside of the performance room and did the “Al-Bustan” poetic chant. “Ew, I feel so good I, I knew I would, ew, I feel so good.” It might be silly in print but after 3 minutes they begin to hear the rhythm and we all can feel the confidence rise in the circle. Finally, we all knew they were ready.

Here is the link to the video for a portion of Ayesha’s performance (from 2:29 to 3:10 in the video), just copy and paste the link into your browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZL3L6rmYHM&feature=related

Overall, the noises from the audience, followed up by their applause made this moment incredibly special for the teens. It made it special for me to see them develop and grow over a few short days. I hope and pray that we all have the opportunity to work together again, if not next year at camp, then maybe somewhere in between.

Thank you for lending me your time and ear and have a great weekend!

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