It was great to see twenty six participants attending the August Arabic conversation session on 4/08. To ALCASA Committee’s delight, almost all stayed to participate in an open forum after the session to discuss future activities and to choose the Association’s logo.
As scheduled, the three conversation groups (Beginners, Advanced and Family/Children) worked separately in the first hour of the session, and then we all listened to the graphic designer, illustrator and artist Ahmed el Khalidi who kindly offered an insight into his beautiful art work and shared his artistic journey and inspiration. Twenty one adults and four children remained until about 5 pm discussing as a group, tidying the place and catching up with new friends they met in previous Arabic conversation meetings. It was hard to believe that most of the participants did not know each other a couple of sessions earlier in 2013. It was really rewarding to feel the participants’ support to ALCASA’s course of action. Indeed, there was a need to create a network of people with a shared interest in the Arabic Language and Culture and we have just started a successful one!
Personally I was very touched when I saw the four children enjoying singing together in Arabic and presenting the Arabic words they have just learnt. Many thanks to all for valuing the children’s effort in learning Arabic and special thanks to the parents and friends who are helping in the children’s group (Hassan, Jodie, Rana and Rua). Listening and showing interest in their performance helps children to become more confident in learning a language that is so different from English. Even though, the participating children have each at least one parent who speaks Arabic, it may be hard to justify sometimes the use of Arabic at home when almost no one other than mum or dad speaks it in the immediate environment. We congratulate the parents for their determination to teach their children valuable skills by learning other languages.
The Advanced group had a slightly different routine than usual. We all listened and discussed thoroughly Hassan’s creative description of his late mother in a letter he wrote to his sister, and we also practiced describing people. The much appreciated presence of Hamdi and Ahmed helped in forming three discussion groups and it sounds like we will be able to do the same in future sessions. An interest in starting an Intermediate group was confirmed, and hopefully we will be able to form such a group in the near future.
The Beginners’ group learned new words and expressions to speak about city places and to ask for/describe directions. Many thanks to Hayan for his continuous generous contribution and support and well done to the participants for their persistence in studying Arabic! The monthly conversation sessions can only complement the participants’ efforts in learning at their own pace. Also, very special thanks to Nicole who is not in the photo as she was the photographer!
Each time the cultural presentation is allowing us to explore a new aspect of the Arabic culture. Ahmed’s artistic journey was an insightful reflection on a complex identity as an uprooted Palestinian, a migrant and a world traveller. Growing up in Kuwait, living in Jordan, traveling around the world to study and work, living in Sydney and now in Adelaide, Ahmed presented a dense experience that shaped his exceptional visual memory and artistic expression. His warm colours, rich collage, mixture of text and visuals make us look deep inside in a search for our own identity. Many thanks Ahmed for your presentation and for the terrific logo design you have offered to ALCASA.
All the above were brightened with a casual friendly atmosphere, paced with a generous afternoon tea put together spontaneously with a number of members bringing in something to go with a warm cuppa. Each time we discover new popular Middle Eastern flavours introducing some to Arabic homemade snacks and in a way helping others to confirm a belonging to a world-wide homeland with an ever expanding identity.
We hope the group will continue to attract new participants and to earn the interest of more local native speakers of Arabic to help in sharing the rich heritage of the Arabic language, literature, movies, music, arts and social practices. To join in and for more details about upcoming sessions, please write to ALCASA Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.