The ALCASA Music Workshop with Julian Ferraretto (Nexus Arts – Creative Cohesion) was an active and engaging experience for all, which was filled with ongoing laughter, listening and learning!
Not only did the kids put their musical talents to the test, but also the adults were tapping and clapping to the rhythmic nature of the diverse Middle Eastern instrumental beats that were produced.
The grand finale was the highlight for most, whereby the audience (adults and children) incorporated Arabic lyrics and tailored them to Ferraretto’s original piece depicting the typical sounds that one would find in a local Souk market. Thus, the scene that followed could only be described as an authentic, musical masterpiece.
We had a most enjoyable “dardasha” session on Sunday 18 March, with much laughter and fun. There were five native Arabic speakers and six others with varying degrees of Arabic fluency.
We were very lucky to have the company of Lur, a young Iraqi writer, newly established in Adelaide. Five years in Australia, honours degree in writing from Adelaide University. She has written a book, hosted conferences, written for magazines and made videos, a very positive role model for women of any persuasion.
Next, another newcomer, Najwa, who came to Australia from Lebanon two years ago, showed us a Triz game which uses a board with shapes drawn on and a white and black pawn.
It was then time for a few of us to talk about a book we have read. Alison commenced with an outline of Juha and his Donkey جحا وحماره. This is a famous Arabic fable wherein Juha is travelling with his son and his donkey. Juha is constantly criticised along the road by various people he meets. He is accused of being cruel or stupid whether he rides the donkey, his son rides the donkey, they both ride the donkey, or they walk alongside the donkey. Eventually he and his son carry the donkey, in an attempt to please everyone. But they are ridiculed for this too. The moral of the story is that you cannot please everyone all the time.
While I did not understand all what Alison said as I am still very much a learner of the Arabic language, it did prompt me to look up the story further on the internet when I got home. There are various YouTube videos of this story and I particularly liked the one by a group of children as part of the “Hands up project”. The video was obviously taken by another young student and it was not a professional video, but it was heart-warming to watch. From my internet searches, I now see that Juha has lots of adventures, all with a moral. Thanks Alison, for introducing me to this character.
Next, Alice spoke about her time in Lebanon as a university student there. She thought it was amusing that one of her subjects in Lebanon happened to be English literature. However, she had an excellent professor and particularly appreciated books about memories of war and the sense of emotion these evoked.
We moved on to Mary, a teacher of Japanese and student of Arabic, who showed a colourful, A3, laminated production of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” الدودة الجائعة جداً. This is a favourite book for young children as the caterpillar eats its way through various fruits and vegetables and ends up becoming a beautiful butterfly فراشة. Mary spoke in Arabic about the book and explained that she had translated it into Japanese and a friend had prepared the pictures from the original book. How’s that – from English, to Japanese and then to explain it in Arabic – fantastic, Mary!
Andrew, displayed a fun book which his young grandson loves – all about cars, trains, planes, buses and trucks السّيّارات والقطارات والطّائرات والباصات والشّاحنات. It was most enjoyable to hear Andrew speak in Arabic about this book and he did an excellent job of describing the various means of transport and stations, along with the colours. He was not sure how to describe the “forty flaps” which his grandson delights in opening, but I believe we settled on “أربعين صورة” in Arabic.
Bruno chose a more serious subject to talk about and he spoke fluently. Bruno enticed us to watch the movie and to read the book بناية يعقوبيان.
It was then my turn to speak and I had chosen a book by a Japanese lady, Marie Kondo, called “The life-changing magic of tidying”. I confess that I had to use Google Translate to find out how to say that in Arabic سحر تغيير الحياة بالتّرتيب. A book on tidying seems rather trivial in a world with daily news of wars and other terrible events, but it seems that many of us are struggling under the weight of too many material things in our homes. The author believes we should only keep items that “spark joy” and this entails holding each item in our hands to decide. She advocates throwing out or recycling everything else that is not essential to our daily lives. It was interesting to learn about the widespread Japanese belief that material things have feelings and they should be thanked for their help in our lives. This book prompted a discussion about the minimalist movement around the world and we discussed expressions like الزهد والتنسك، التقشف
Japanese seems to have come up rather a lot in this article, but we were speaking in Arabic – no matter how basic – and it felt like a very joyful meeting.
We were then joined by the children’s group for afternoon tea where everyone was happy to keep chatting for well over the half-hour allotted time. A big thank you to all involved.
ALCASA Children’s Group held their first session of 2018 on Sunday 18/02. It was a very productive start, with a song to learn, an Arabic story to read and movie making time.
Learning the song, the children were very creative with making dance moves to go with it. I guess it was very challenging for the parents to follow, but lots of fun and laughter.
We also had a book to read, Around the World حول العالم. One of the children was happy to present the story to the group and the parents helped with reading the words and exploring the sounds. The children even managed to write many words on their new scrapbooks dedicated to all the Arabic they will learn in 2018!
ALCASA Children’s Group
Movie making was the hit of the day. The children formed teams, made props from plasticine, small toy animals and Lego pieces. They created their movie story using the vocabulary from the book we read, then they took pictures and recorded their voices to make their movie!
Being at the new location and all what it offers from space, music instruments, a playground, and even an Table Tennis room, made the event a full fun day. As every event in ALCASA ends with delicious shared bites, what a good end that was for those tired, hungry happy kids!
On Sunday afternoon (18/02/2018), we held our first Arabic dardasha meetup. A keen group of Arabic speakers came together for dardasha – an informal chat in Arabic دَرْدَشَة. We usually meet once a month to have some fun, share our ideas and relate our experiences. The February meetup’s focus was recipes. The best part was that these recipes were accompanied by the dishes themselves! We had to describe the recipe in Arabic of course. If we reverted to English, we were given the ‘evil eye’. We learnt so many new words, and remembered ones we hadn’t used for a while.
Arabic dardasha February 2018
As I have a fig tree in my garden, I made fig jam with ginger مُرَبّى النين بالزَّنجبيل. Bruno shared about a poppy seed-cake كَعْك ببّذور الخَشْخاش, Sue about scones كعكات الشاي, Sudas about dates or walnuts filled pastries الكليجة بالتّمر أو الجوز and Fayrouz about shortbread biscuits غرَيْبة. I learnt some new words such as the words and expressions for ‘egg yolk’ صَفار البيَيْض, ‘a pinch of salt’ رَشَّة مِلْح, ‘cover’ غَطّي and ‘jars’ مَراطبين. There was a lot of joking and then we enjoyed the sampling!! Doris served us delicious Lebanese coffee to accompany it all. Sometimes the English words slipped out, but the holder of the ‘evil eye’ was on the lookout.
The afternoon was an excellent opportunity to practise Arabic while enjoying each other’s company. I am looking forward to our next dardasha on Sunday 18/03/2018!
On Saturday 18/11/2017, I attended the ALCASA 2017 AGM with the election of the ALCASA 2018 Committee.
During the AGM discussion, I discovered a very passionate team, all keen in promoting and supporting the Arabic heritage in South Australia. The AGM was followed by a shared dinner before watching the Palestinian documentary “A Wedding In Ramallah” (English and Arabic, 90 minutes, supplied by the National Film and Sound Archive).
Wedding in Ramallah was a touching film which depicts the harsh realities of domestic life in Palestine during war. The protagonist Bassam, agrees to an arranged marriage, with a woman named Mariam who struggles to adjust to the living circumstances of her husband’s overseas work, family, as well as in discovering her own identity. Overall, I highly recommend this to viewers who want to be engrossed in a film with a cultural twist!