Born in Palestine, Mokhtar Bdeir moved to America at a young age. As he reflects on his experience navigating his place in American society, he notes “To me, the journey to discover an identity that could coherently fuse the two halves of my being – the assimilating immigrant and the proud Palestinian – has always been within the crucible of Al-Bustan.”
In 2002, Mokhtar was introduced to Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture and participated in its first summer camp. Since then, Mokhtar has been involved in various capacities with Al-Bustan Camp, while also engaged in other programs, like Al-Bustan’s Arab Percussion Ensemble. Although Mokhtar graduated this spring from Temple University and looks forward to a professional career in medicine, he continues to enjoy being a part of Al-Bustan Camp.
Mokhtar has excelled throughout his journey. Al-Bustan planted a seed of culture and they watched it blossom into a highly motivated, intelligent young man. He expresses his appreciation in writing, “I had the great privilege to work at Al-Bustan Camp with kids, who like me over 10 years ago, showed tremendous passion, innovation, and motivation at our summer program as they explored Arabic music, literature, art, and language. The youngest of them truly reminded me of the importance of our work here: they struggled to mold their mouths to form Arabic words, laughed at Arabic children’s books, toiled with an amazing curiosity over their artistic renderings of the Lebanese countryside, and sang, drummed, and danced in class and through the halls. Yet, the most inspiring moments took place outside the classroom when I saw the determination these kids had to understand one another and their backgrounds. They played, ran, and ate in solidarity. Al-Bustan’s programs have real potential to change lives and perception: it is not just music for the sake of music, rather it is a vessel for expression, development, and solidarity, a vessel which I have much gratitude for.”