On the other side of an ELL Program

I was an English Language Learner (ELL) when my family moved to the United States when I was six years old. I had English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers that I worked with for years, and to this day I am thankful for what they did for me. I would not have been able…

On the Importance of Family

Al-Bustan Camp went by in an instant, one brief and sweltering moment of drumming, Arabic, geometric patterns and soccer in 100-degree heat. Now, a few days after the final performance, I’ve had the time to reflect more deeply on what these two weeks, and this past year, have taught me.

Syrian Awareness Week: Raising Knowledge and Money

Last month Penn for Syrian Refugees and Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture organized “Syria Awareness Week” on Penn’s campus (Sept 23-27) — and I, in my dual role as a board member for PSR and Al-Bustan staff member, took a big part in organizing it. Our goal, which we conceived last spring before the many changes…

Abstract themes in Ethereal spaces; Thoughts on The Deserted Station

Director: Alireza Raisian Writers: Abbas Kiarostami (story), Kambuzia Partovi Stars: Leila Hatami, Nezam Manouchehri, Mehran Rajabi The Deserted Station (2002), an Iranian masterpiece by director Alireza Raissian, stayed at the peripheries of transnational cinema even after critical and audience success. Leslie Camhi of the Village Voice (amongst other critics) praised its delicate direction and Leila…

Interview with Mohsen Namjoo: Making Music and Memory

In the next chapter of his career, Mohsen Namjoo is dedicated to breaking new ground. Dubbed by the New York Times as “Bob Dylan of Iran”, Namjoo strives for musical excellence, not only for his fans, but also because of his reverence for traditional Persian music and literature. During his visit to Philadelphia, I had…