Don’t waste your summer!

Teens in drama at Al-Bustan Camp 2012
Summer is just around the corner; it’s a time when the living is easy, a time to relax and enjoy the sun. But after a few weeks, I realize that I’ve done everything I wanted and doing nothing all day doesn’t sound as intriguing as it did initially. The days get longer and my house has nothing new to offer.
Al-Bustan’s Arabic Language and Culture Day Camp is an ideal program for children and teens to attend during the summer. The kids will be able to meet new people and learn many new things while parents get to enjoy the daytime doing as they please. Al-Bustan’s summer camp has been increasing in size since its first summer in 2002. Beginning with only 18 campers, Al-Bustan has blossomed and evolved its curriculum to be fun and educational, ranging in activities from Arabic and science to arts, music and more. The camp is held at the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Northeast Philadelphia. The Lower School serves as the base with spacious classrooms, gym, cafeteria, outdoor patio, playgrounds and athletic fields, along with access to the adjacent Wissahickon Creek Valley in Fairmount Park. For those in the Northeast and West Kensington, we have arranged transportation to the camp, making it more convenient for working parents.
As an Arab American, I wish I had participated when I was a teenager. Now as an intern at Al-Bustan, I cannot wait for camp to begin! I hope to see you there! …learn more about Al-Bustan Camp


Zeanah Rumman-Obeid, Drexel student interning at Al-Bustan

Search for Arab Identity

Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I did not have a strong connection with my Arab roots.  I knew I was Arab because the majority of my extended family lived in Palestine.  I felt I did not have a community to belong to.  Although I had the support of my family as I searched for self-identity, I struggled to find my place in the world. My father has supported Al-Bustan for some time now, and I remember attending some music performances growing up.  Initially, I felt these performances were a link to my heritage; they provided me with a comfortable, enjoyable outlet for my cultural interests in music and the arts.  However, I was still yearning to learn more about my roots and myself. At the time, my main connection was the Arabic language, which I began studying on the weekends while in elementary school.

Zeanah helping prepare desserts trays for 
Al-Bustan’s 10th Anniversary Gala held on April 20, 2013

For my undergraduate studies, I had to find an internship that relates to my course of study.  Given my interests in business administration and the Arabic language, my father suggested I look into working for Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, which I did and fortunately, there was a place for me!  Two weeks ago, I began interning at Al-Bustan, and since then, I’ve had a “crash course” in both the management of the organization and in gaining a better understanding of my Arab culture. A few days into my internship, I sat in on an interview by a reporter with Hazami, founder and executive director of Al-Bustan, and Hanna Khoury, music director.  I was astonished to find out how quickly Al-Bustan was established.  Hazami had the idea for the organization early in 2002 and within a few months Al-Bustan Camp was up and running with 18 campers for two weeks in July.  During the interview, I also observed Hazami’s and Hanna’s passion for Arab arts, culture and language.  I realized the high quality of programming that Al-Bustan has achieved and maintained since its establishment. The Resident Takht Ensemble, which performs a range of Arab classical music led by Hanna, is an example of this quality.   

Since meeting Hazami and becoming familiar with Al-Bustan, I have started to better understand my heritage and gain confidence in defining myself as an Arab American.  I see how this organization has served as an ongoing support group for many – ready to assist, educate, and entertain those who are interested in what Al-Bustan has to offer.  The professional approach of the staff and teaching artists of Al-Bustan encourages me to challenge myself to achieve the same level of leadership and respect in my endeavors.  The richness of the Arab culture illuminates through the programs of Al-Bustan and its staff.  I feel privileged to have this opportunity to work with Al-Bustan this summer and I hope to positively contribute to this organization and to the community of Arabs and non-Arabs. 

Zeanah helping with the food buffet for 
Al-Bustan’s 10th Anniversary Gala held on April 20, 2013

– Zeanah is a sophomore at Drexel University, pursuing a major in accounting with a minor in Arabic.  She will be writing her Arabic thesis on Palestinian history in Arabic.