"Alif" is for Umm Kulthum at Al-Bustan’s Camp

Arabic is a rich and lyrical language. Here at Al-Bustan’s Camp, we integrate language and culture into every aspect of the summer camp. Teachers and counselors strive to use Arabic as frequently as possible in order to challenge the campers and to enforce their lessons. Brahim El Guabli, the Arabic language instructor,  and Alia Benammar, teaching assistant, are teaching the children with age-appropriate vocabulary, alphabet letters, and common daily expressions. Their immersive lessons introduce Arabic to the beginners and challenges them through practicing use of the language. Arabic lessons consist of familiarizing the campers with the alphabet and numbers while also identifying inanimate versus animate objects. Also, Brahim and Alia have introduced grammar through pronouns and possessives.

The youngest group of campers learning the Arabic alphabet.


The youngest campers traced and colored the letters while aslo playing games incorporating the Arabic. Older campers with previous knowledge of the language are challenged to immerse themselves into the culture and work through Arabic media and literature. The teen campers are writing in Arabic an original story about Umm Kulthum’s life. In addition, they are working on translating Umm Kulthum’s famous song, “Anta Omri,” into English. Similarly, the experienced middle school campers are making a poster depicting Umm Kulthum’s life and songs.


Besides Arabic class, the language is integrated throughout the day. The campers are learning to sing verses from Umm Kulthum’s songs. In art, campers are creating another Arabic alphabet quilt.  Today, campers learned food-related vocabulary as they sampled kushari, a most popular Egyptian dish, during a food demonstration by Egyptian community member, Nevan Hamid.


Language is the foundation of every culture; it is imperative to learn a language in order to truly understand a culture. Returning teen camper Adam acknowledges this and says, “I love learning Arabic because I’m actually doing something to understand my culture.”



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

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