Reflections on the Power of Intercultural Exchange

On the last day of Al-Bustan’s Arab Arts & Culture Course for Educators, we prepared for and performed our recital. Through the teaching of Hanna Khoury and Hafez Kotain, and the direction of Nora Elmarzouky and Max Dugan we pulled off an incredible performance that really demonstrated what we learned from the course.

We performed pieces that showed our skills in Arabic percussion, ensemble instruments, and singing. The pieces were selected to emphasize Andalusia; so, we sang poems from that time, as well as instrumental music.

Participants with Hanna Khoury, Kinan Abou-afach, and Hafez Kotain at the final performance.

 After the culminating recital, I was able to reflect on my experiences during this Professional Development course, and what knowledge and growth I obtained from these experiences. While interning during the week-long course, I was not only able to learn about Arab music but its history and culture as well.

I left the recital feeling like we all accomplished something great and that I had a better understanding and appreciation of other people and cultures.

Participants and faculty in Al-Bustan’s professional development course

Throughout this course, I was able to expand my knowledge in music and gained a powerful insight into another culture through music. It also gave me more of an understanding of what it means to be a music teacher, and how to incorporate other cultures and styles of music into a classroom.

This is powerful because we live in a world where there is so much hate and violence merely because we are unable to truly understand the virtues of our differences. The teachers that participated in this course now have the ability to try and take a step towards fostering more appreciation for one another by using music as a method of connection among cultures and education.

Ashley Geisler
Summer Intern


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