Drama at Al-Bustan Camp, Where Everyone Has a Story

Umm Kulthum and her father visit camp and share their stories.

First week of camp is almost over, and what a great week it has been!

The campers began the week with  a chance to “meet” the world-renown singer Umm Kulthum, played by our lovely counselor Rose Daraz. Campers asked her questions in order to learn more about her life. Mokhtar Bdeir played the part of Umm Kulthum’s father, who guided her and supported her through her career.  Surprisingly, many of the campers already knew something about Umm Kulthum’s life or at least had heard their parents listening to her songs.

In drama, Justin Poole encourages the campers to come up with their own skits depicting the life of Umm Kulthum. The campers piece together their rendition of the story through creative improv and other theater-based brainstorming activities. As they compare the life of Umm Kulthum to their own lives, they notice the differences and similarities of her time and place. 
The campers are using their own experiences to relate to the theme and create original skits.  For example, the youngest group of campers have come up with a more adventurous rendition of Umm Kulthum’s life where she faces bandits and only her singing can save her! Other campers are focusing on Umm Kulthum’s earlier years, portraying the time when she dressed as a boy in order to publicly recite the Quran. The middle school campers choose to use themes of Umm Kulthum’s life for their skit, exploring how Umm Kulthum was born in the countryside and moved to the city, where initially she was not accepted and had to adapt to a new environment.  Regardless, Umm Kulthum became a real voice in mainstream culture for people of her social class; she held on to her roots through her journey.  Another group of campers chose to portray a Lebanese who moves to America, demonstrating similar obstacles that Umm Kulthum faced when she moved into the big city.  For the teens, they are reflecting on current events, especially the Egyptian revolution. Their story is about a father whose two sons decide to emigrate to American to escape the unrest in Egypt, expecting things to be better; however, they still face troubles in their new home. 
As Hannah, a returning camper, said “I cannot wait to perform. It’s gonna be exciting!”

We can’t wait to see YOU there for Al-Bustan’s End-of-Camp performance: Juy 12, 6-7:30pm. Don’t be late!

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

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Off to a Great Start at Al-Bustan Camp 2013!

Summer camp is the highlight of a child’s summer. It is what they look forward to that last day of class and it is what they will miss the most that first day of the new school year. It is a place to make new friends, learn more about yourself, and have a great time.  Al-Bustan’s Language and Culture Day camp does just that!
From my first day at camp, I was able to notice the uniqueness about our program. Al-Bustan’s thematically integrated approach provides an enjoyable experience for the campers.  A new camper, Youssef, exclaims that it is “a fun version of school – kind of like a recreation center with learning!”
Al-Bustan’s camp environment is positively influenced by its staff and participants. As Nadia Awad, filmmaker and media educator, noted ” I like teaching video to youth because, often, they are not given the opportunity to tell their own stories through media, even though they are most saturated through media. It’s empowering.” The thematic approach is great especially when working with kids. 
Justin Poole, the drama instructor, notes that “[he] provides the material; however, the children filter it through their minds and interpret their understanding through drama.” The teachers and counselors enjoy watching the campers as they go through their creative process. 
Both the students and the teachers share a mutual respect for each other; this sense of community that is fostered at camp makes Al-Bustan’s program especially enjoyable.  As counselor Eman noted, she enjoys “the diversity of people here at the camp, yet the strong sense of community. The relationships developed with the campers are exciting and familiar.” Overall, Al-Bustan Camp provides an exquisite experience rich in culture and great times for everyone involved.
Teen campers making art.

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