Lyndale School Students Explore Arabic Culture

This guest post is by Rita Farah, Arabic teacher and project coordinator of the Arabic Project at Lyndale Community School in Minneapolis, MN.

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I’d always dreamed of starting an Arabic project in my school and introducing the Arabic culture to my students in its different aspects, so I was super excited when I heard that we won a Sharing the Dream grant to get underway.

The first project I organized was an Arabic Showcase that was held November 30, 2012. I have 64 students, and each of them were involved in presenting five different Arabic countries to all the students at Lyndale Community School as well as to parents and staff who came and watched the showcase.

At the showcase, students sang a song all in Arabic and encouraged the audience to sing and clap along. After that, the students spoke to each other in Arabic to demonstrate their knowledge of the language. Audience members were amazed at how well my students knew Arabic, and how much they must have practiced to greet each other so confidently. Next, 28 students came on stage to sing the Arabic alphabet letter song holding the letters in their hands.

The showcase focused on five major Arabic countries–Sudan, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia–but flags from all 22 Arab countries were displayed on stage. As students lifted each flag, and Arabic music played, other students dressed in traditional costumes came on stage, and a narrator introduced each country, its traditions and celebrations. The showcase was incredibly successful. Everyone really enjoyed the presentations.

On March 28, 2013 we had our International Night where students and families were invited to “roam” around the world by visiting booths featuring different countries. My booth focused on Arabic countries, and I had an Arabic calligrapher and a henna artist there.

Decorative writing–calligraphy–is one of the highest art forms of the Arab world and uses intricate designs, special ink and a unique brush. For two hours people waited in line to learn how to write in calligraphy, and to see their names written in Arabic.

Our henna artist did a great job. All the students and their parents were excited to have pretty henna flower and leaf designs on their hands. Also, Arabic drummers performed on stage and taught our families traditional Arabic dances and how to play the drums.

All those who came to International Night enjoyed visiting the Arabic booth, and expressed how happy they were in learning about other cultures, music, art and dance.

I believe the Arabic Project has increased the awareness of the Arabic language and culture among my students and their parents, as well as among other students, families and teachers at Lyndale School.

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Sharing the Dream

Grants for pre-K-8 school projects that create global classrooms where children—and families—can safely connect, exchange ideas and learn together.

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