Tracing Roots of (DIS)PLACEment in Philadelphia

The term “melting pot” has itself melted into a vaguely generic notion of people arriving from different places to a location where they all coexist when the reality is that the term is misleading because, oftentimes, there is an institutional and societal hierarchy still embedded within.

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…

Why Can’t Adults Be As Kind As These Kids?

On the first Thursday of camp, I saw a few of the students display such compassion and benevolence that my heart metaphorically melted. To set the scene: one of the female campers who is visiting the U.S. for the summer is a native Arabic speaker but does not know a word of English, and over…

Search for Arab Identity

Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I did not have a strong connection with my Arab roots.  I knew I was Arab because the majority of my extended family lived in Palestine.  I felt I did not have a community to belong to.  Although I had the support of my family as I searched for self-identity, I struggled to find my place…

Presenting at Moffet Elementary

On Thursday, I had the great opportunity to share a travel experience with an inquisitive group of youngsters. A few weeks ago, I sat in on Ms. Fredericks’ class at Moffet Elementary while they held conversations via Skype with a classroom full of children in Baghdad. It just so happened that the next day, I…