In my freshman year at Motivation High School, I was exposed to something that would be instrumental in shaping my future and career goals. I had the opportunity to study the Arabic language, which is unique and rarely taught in American secondary educational institutions.
As I continued my academic journey, I had the great privilege of traveling to Morocco in North Africa, where Arabic is one of the primary languages. This experience allowed me to gain a better understanding of different cultural traditions and even develop friendships that will last a lifetime. As my passion for the Arabic language grew, I was able to further my studies at Middlebury Monterey Language Academy, and now at West Chester University.
Arab culture and the Arabic language have opened an abundance of doors for me and will continue to pry open more doors of opportunity for me in the future. Through my participation in Arab cultural traditions and institutions, I was able to gain a broader perspective on life. The language has also given me a wonderful opportunity to intern this summer for Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, an arts-based non-profit organization in West Philadelphia.
Interning for Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture over the years has been an eye-opener for me on many levels. I never realized how big of an impact one organization has on an entire cultural community. During my internship, I had the opportunity to meet immigrants and refugees from Syria and Iraq, who sought sanctuary in the city of Philadelphia. Just interacting with the families and hearing their stories made me realize that I will be continuing my career as a humanitarian domestically and internationally far into the future.
As Al-Bustan continues to be very supportive of immigrants and refugees in the community, I am glad to be a part of an organization that tries to improve the lives of others through altruistic deeds. Al-Bustan’s mission is not just to expose Philadelphia to Arab culture, but to develop better relationships in our city regardless of ethnicities, religion, and political affiliation.
One of Al-Bustan’s key contributions to the Philadelphia community focuses on helping people understand Arab culture through initiating conversation and through the arts. That’s huge to me because the Arabic language and culture helped me reach certain heights. These heights are reachable for anyone, you just need to be open to experiencing new things.
Through this internship program, I was able to see first hand the day-to-day operations in running a successful art-based non-profit organization in a major city. I also learned certain aspects and the amount of diligence that goes into running a non-profit organization. Thanks to Executive Director, Hazami Sayed, for establishing Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, as it truly taught me how to use my knowledge of the Arabic language to benefit my community.
West Chester University, Class of 2019