A Camper’s Perspective: Why You Should Sign Up for Al-Bustan Camp 2020

My name is Sylvia Hopkins and I am a 7th grade student at the Field School.

I live in DC and love art. My father was raised in Egypt and has an Iraqi mother. Last year I attended Al-Bustan camp, and really enjoyed my time there. Now I am in the midst of an internship with Al-Bustan, during which I am writing this blog post. I will also be attending camp next year and I am looking forward to it! 

My parents wanted me to have more Arabic speaking experience, and found Al-Bustan online. At first, I didn’t want to go to camp. I had expected the environment to be more strict and academic than playful and fun. I also didn’t want to leave my friends back in DC. But once I was there, I really enjoyed it. It made me view Arab culture in a more artistic and less academic light. I soon stopped viewing Al-Bustan as a summer school and more as a summer camp where I could be with friends and have fun. 

Everyday was fun-packed, starting as soon as we walked through the doors.

Arabic Class at Al-Bustan Camp 2019

We would begin with Science, which ranged from acoustics in Andalusian gardens to patterns and other fun experiments. Then, we headed to Percussion, where we worked together to drum beats in sync. Next, we would head to Arabic, in which we would sing Arabic songs, learn vocabulary, and read books. Then we would either go to dance or improv, and even though many people were uninterested in or nervous about performing, and even they seemed to have had a good time. Next, we would go outside for lunch, during which time we ate and talked together about our families and the dishes they cooked and which countries we were from. After lunch and recess, we returned to the classroom for our final class, art. This also happened to be my favorite class. We made many things from drawings to tiles. Overall, every single day of camp was worth traveling to Philly.

The most memorable part of my camp experience was, for me, when we made rosewater during science class.

We used dried rose petals and boiled them. The lid had a tube attached to the top that siphoned the steam created out of the air, through the tube and a bucket of ice, and into a bucket. This reminded me of all the times my grandmother used rosewater in her dishes, and how all of those times, I had never stopped to wonder how it was made. Realizing this made me wonder what else there was I had been exposed to and never questioned or wondered about.

Learning about rose water distillation in Science class

My camp experience last year was one of the highlights of my summer, and I look forward to returning next year. I learned a lot about Arab culture, but even more so about my friends, and about how we all had different backgrounds and back stories. As we discovered each other over the course of camp, we learned as much about and from each other as we did from our courses.

Sylvia Hopkins
Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture

More info & registration for Al-Bustan Camp 2020, click here

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