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 Sunday 17/12/2017, we held an exceptional end-of-year celebration and hosted a music workshop with the accomplished Syrian violinist Abdul Nanou. Abdul played some well known popular Arabic songs to the delight of the amazing audience who enjoyed singing along during the whole workshop.
During 2017, ALCASA continued to thrive, thanks to the talented and dedicated members and friends who regularly attend the monthly meetings and occasional cultural events.
We are very proud of the young members of the ALCASA Children’s Group who held their 2017 graduation ceremony on Sunday. The Children enjoyed decorating their Arabic names and received their 2017 reports, as well as an Arabic book to read on their own at home. Some of the children have been attending with their dedicated parents since 2013. The devoted parents participants plan and organise the program of the children’s monthly sessions. Many thanks to Hassan, Nadia, Ahmed, Rua, Zain, Dalal and Grace for their highly appreciated contribution.
A scrumptious afternoon tea was provided by members and their guests during the end-of-year celebration. الضيافة (diyafa), hospitality is a well entrenched practice in the Arabic culture and we do enjoy putting in practice this tradition during the ALCASA social gatherings. In addition, the regular ALCASA events provide opportunities for adult learners of Arabic to meet native speakers, to read together in-house produced simple Arabic text (‘aamiyya and fus’ha) and to speak in the Arabic language. Heartfelt thanks to all regular participants with special thanks to the native speaker volunteers: Doris, Hanaa, Leyla, Sudas, Hayan, Ahmed, Dany and his mother Muna during her stay in Adelaide.
Since 2013, ALCASA have been hosting occasional cultural events and workshops aiming to enhance intercultural understanding among South Australian communities. Our events rely on local artists and presenters. We are grateful to benefit from the continuous support of the local artists Ahmed Alkhalidi, Charlie Yarak, Rabih Aintarazi, Nayima Hassan and Zaffit SA. Additionally, we have been very lucky to enjoy in 2017 the talents of the calligrapher Safaa Alkhazraji and the musicians Alex Hadchiti, Zuhir Naji and Abdul Nanou.
Whereas we rely on membership fees to fund our main activities, we do acknowledge the continuous support of Multicultural SA, enabling ALCASA to hold certain cultural events. Sometimes local businesses contribute to our events either by holding cultural demonstration or in providing in kind donations, gifts and prizes. We are very thankful to such generosity and we do acknowledge donors during the related events, also on our social online media and in our website posts. Most ALCASA events have been held so far in various Adelaide city based venues, thanks to the gracious hospitality of the City Of Adelaide Community Centres and to Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia.
ALCASA events will remain open to anyone with interest in Arabic and we are always delighted to meet new members and friends. To explore ALCASA’s past events, please refer to earlier posts here. For a quick overview, check below a selection of photos taken during the ALCASA monthly meetings held for the last few years.
The ALCASA monthly meetings will continue to be held on the third Sunday of the month in 2018. Many exciting activities and events are currently in the planning stage. We look forward to continue providing a fun environment to communicate in Arabic and to share interesting aspects of the Arabic culture with the South Australian community.
What a great afternoon we had during the ALCASA meetings on Sunday 21/5/2017. About 50 people attended the sessions for Arabic story reading, “dabke” workshop and Arabic informal conversation.
We started with the Children’s Group and Arabic story reading. The children listened and enacted a story about a “scary” hedgehog قنفذ who was desperate to make friends with other animals. The story allowed exploring the theme of friendship and helped to learn plural forms for certain Arabic words. The story reading session was complemented by fun craft activities in making hedgehogs قنافذ then by some group games providing opportunities to hear and use again the new words learnt during reading time. There were also hedgehogs قنافذ on the afternoon tea menu! Many thanks to the talented and creative Nadia who organised and led the reading session.
The highlight of the day was, of course, with the ALCASA Dabke Cultural Workshop provided by the local group Zaffit SA. The group dance dabke or dabka is quite popular throughout the Middle East. Usually, it is performed by men and women as a line dance at weddings, parties and community celebrations. Dancers hold hands and move in a rotating circle. It is a proud, energetic and joyful group dance enjoyed by all ages.
During the workshop, four amazing performers from Zaffit SA, helped us, the budding dabke dancers, to learn sophisticated steps and to practice more simple familiar ones. It was lots of fun and we finished the session wanting to learn and practice more.
Watch this amazing video capturing the spirit of the workshop!
As usual, we ended the afternoon by the Arabic conversation time in the ALCASA Language Exchange group. Many thanks to Doris, Hanaa and Leila who helped to support the conversation in Arabic.
We were very “busy beavers” at our sessions on Sunday 19 February 2017.
I arrived for the last 15 minutes of the children’s group and witnessed the relaxed and happy atmosphere, with a dozen or more children of various ages, along with their parents and helpers. Clay creations of fruit in a variety of forms were lined up on the table ready for the next step of firing, and the children were sitting quietly in a group while listening to Zain and Hassan.
As more adults arrived for the next session, we had the opportunity to chat and introduce ourselves to newcomers while enjoying refreshments.
As usual, I indicated that my name is Susan but most people just call me Sue. While Susan is a name in Arabic-speaking countries, I gather it is not generally shortened to Sue. Recently, I found a word in my Arabic dictionary which appeared similar in sound to “Sue” –it gives the sound “soo” but with a “hamza” at the end, giving it a staccato ending. Unfortunately, this word means “evil” so I was a bit worried. Thankfully, I was reassured with a smile by first-time visitors to ALCASA, Roseanne and her husband – Syrians who have spent the last 13 years in Dubai. Evidently, if the “Sue” is said with a smooth ending, it is not a problem. Phew…that’s a relief!
After our chats, we all got down to work in our conversation sessions, splitting into small groups of one or two non-Arabic speakers with one or two native Arabic speakers. We talked about what we do in the holidays.
Hafiz and I learnt a new expression in our conversation session with native Levant speakers Mona and Hanaa. After we said “thank you” to them both for their patience in listening to our stumbling efforts at speaking in Arabic in the role play, Hanaa said:
!لا شكر على واجب
(“la shukr ‘alaa waajib” – for those who can’t read Arabic)
It is like saying “My pleasure” but its literal meaning is more like “No need for thanks as it is my duty to assist.”
Learning new idioms and sayings in Arabic is interesting. In my opening sentence, I used the English term “busy beavers” – I could have said “busy bees” and no doubt there is a different idiom for this in Arabic which I haven’t learnt yet.
Perhaps we could look at comparing some idioms at one of our monthly sessions? We have a multicultural group of people attending, various ages and backgrounds – including an Iraqi who lived in Denmark for many years, married a Dutchman and lived in Holland for some years as well; a young Singaporean who came to Australia nine years ago and is studying to become a high school teacher of maths and science; but he loves languages too. We have a young Italian who works on The Ghan train and I understand he speaks five languages; a Frenchman who has lived in Australia for years now, and I came from the south of England as a teenager – I won’t say when, but it’s been a long time. There are some second and third generation Australians attending as well, but many are migrants in some form.
Of course, being an Arabic language and culture association, we have people from various Arabic backgrounds – Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt and Iraq, to name a few.
We all lead busy lives beyond ALCASA, some cannot make every session, and some move on to other places, but it continues to grow and develop each year. There will be more cultural workshops throughout the year at some of our monthly sessions, and these will be promoted on the “Arabic in Adelaide” Facebook page as usual. Newcomers are always welcomed.
The year ALCASA 2016 has ended with an amazing Sahra ( “سهرة” an entertaining evening in Arabic). Around 125 people, from Arabic and non-Arabic speaking background, have come to enjoy a true Arabic celebration.
If you know anything about Arabic celebrations, you would know this must include delicious food, music and dance! However, ALCASA is always keen to present the best and more.
The 2016 Sahra was preceded by a graduation ceremony for ALCASA Children’s group, with acting a story, playing games and handing in their folders of the whole year. The children were delighted and were showing pride of their achievements.
The 2016 Sahra opened with the amazing Zaffit SA, offering a dabke workshop (traditional dance), engaging adults and children to dance hand in hand. The workshop has attracted the children to go on stage and learn the dabke moves.
The awesome Arabic speaking artists, Rabih Aintarazi, Charlie Yarak, Raja Jamal Eddine, Raniah Daou and Nouha Raslan, have kindly performed well known Arabic songs to share their love to music and to Arabic culture.
Thanks to ALCASA long standing partners the Lebanese Film Festival (LFF Sydney, Australia), ALCASA was very pleased to be able to show two highly recommended and award winning short movies, Congratulations (Cynthia Sawma) and A Time In A Life (George Barbari). Both movies have been the talk of the night! Bringing great movies to Adelaide in association with LFF Sydney, has been a great success in past ALCASA events, and this time was no difference.
As any Arabic celebration, there have been many shared plates which by itself was a fest! With food comes Arabic coffee, mint tea, sweets and good chats!
This year, has definitely been a great year for ALCASA, engaging more audience and bringing in more art, food workshops, dance and culture celebrations to the community. Not only the ALCASA 2016 Sahra was a good end-of-the-year event, but also it was a promise for a more entertaining programme in the near future!
We wish you a happy new year and hope to see you again in our upcoming events resuming in February 2017.
Photos courtesy of ALCASA members and friends including Darren Williams Photography
ALCASA offers the Monthly Conversation Sessions where this year members have had the opportunity to practise conversing around various topics with native speaker volunteers.
These sessions were facilitated in small groups according to participants’ proficiency level and choice of language (Fusha or ‘Ammiya). This year, the topic of conversation was often related to the themes in the Cultural Workshops which were conducted beforehand.
ALCASA’s Monthly Conversation Sessions support ALCASA’s mission to share the Arabic language and promote cultural awareness. It creates an opportunity for South Australians of Arabic and non-Arabic speaking backgrounds to come together and build bridges for respect and harmony.
ALCASA also hopes that these sessions sustain the interest of Arabic language learners to continue developing their language proficiency.
Sue, a long-time member of ALCASA says that these sessions are useful. “The Arabic conversation sessions are beneficial for learners to practise speaking out loud in front of others. The native Arabic speakers can correct our pronunciation and give an insight into the differences in pronunciation.”
July 2016 Monthly Conversation Session
“As a learner, I always get a little nervous and feel out of my comfort zone but it is something that must be done in order to eventually become more proficient at speaking the language,” she added.
In addition to the Monthly Conversation Sessions, ALCASA hosts Arabic classes for adults.
Alison, an advanced learner of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) says the lessons are taught in a challenging and tailored way using a variety of topics. Jackie, another advanced learner of MSA learner says the instruction is quite thorough and finds it useful that the lessons are targeted for each student.
“I have had Arabic instruction in the Middle East and in universities and privately but this class in Adelaide is excellent in comparison. It covers all the important aspects, listening, writing, and speaking, and reinforcing those skills through practice,” says Jackie.
But for learners of the Arabic language, Sue who is also an intermediate learner of the Levantine dialect, has some advice for learning the language: “I love listening to Arabic but just listening does not help me become fluent – all areas have to be given equal time – listening, reading, writing and, most of all, speaking and working it out yourself.”