A Weekend Reconnecting Communities: Lebanese Movies in Adelaide, September 2022

It has been two years since the Lebanese Film Festival was here in Adelaide. We were thrilled to finally showcase Lebanese art and culture to South Australian communities that we have been preparing from back in July 2022. In partnership with the Lebanese Film Festival, we supported the screening of three movies, Memory Box, C-Section, and Costa Brava, Lebanon, at HOYTS Norwood across the weekend. In particular, ALCASA held the screening of Costa Brava, Lebanon on Sunday, 25 September 2022, as part of a fundraising for ALCASA’s future activities and events for children.

Due to the pandemic, we missed having face-to-face events and gatherings in the last two years. This event allowed us to reconnect with people we have not seen from events before COVID, while making new connections who came to celebrate Arabic-speaking culture with an open mind. Despite the rainy and drizzly weather outside, the connections we’ve had made the afternoon warm and cozy. The relaxing ambience and comfortable seating in the cinema allowed us to lay back and wind down after a hectic week, with soul-soothing Lebanese snacks like Maamoul, Baklava, and gluten-free Ghraybeh.

The realistic portrayal of Lebanon in the films evoked a swirl of emotions: nostalgia, longing, and homesickness among the audience, reminding the Lebanese community members of their beloved home country. The three movies provided critical insight into the reality of Lebanese society, each tackling different social issues such as the aftermath of the civil war, social inequality, and garbage crisis. It was a great opportunity to educate and raise awareness of the wider South Australian public about the severity of issues faced in Lebanon, and a crucial time to bring these topics to the table.

Fayrouz Four smiling people in front of the ALCASA banner

Fayrouz Ajaka, ALCASA Chairperson with project’s key-partner team members from UniSA: Justice & Society

As international students in South Australia, watching Costa Brava, Lebanon is eye-opening as a compelling domestic drama and an exquisite political allegory. Starring the two magnificent actors Saleh Bakri and Nadine Labaki, Mounia Akl tells a metaphorical story of individual people and their hopes, fears and desires, on the search for happiness in a tortured country among its existential struggle. By portraying the family dynamics and structure of the Badri family, it reflects the fissures in Lebanese society. It sheds light on the chronic garbage crisis and waste management in Lebanon that continues to haunt the country, who produces more than 2 million tons of trash per year with 94% buried in landfills and around 6% recycled.

However, Lebanon is not the only country that is suffering from environmental injustice and political corruption. Around the world, millions of vulnerable people are bearing the disproportionate and unequal burdens inflicted by self-serving elites. It is more than an environmental issue, but a political and social justice struggle.

You may ask, then, what can we do in the face of climate injustice? It is a wicked problem, and the biggest threat to the very survival of modern humanity. As individuals, it is more than normal to feel helpless and discouraged as we are all up to our necks in this. However, as shown in the movie, the individual action of Walid in the form of passive resistance has called upon collective action of the wider community to address the very trash and political corruption that is happening next to their house. These issues are to be tackled at the macro level by the community, and it all starts with one individual. Both individually and collectively, in the form of adaptation and mitigation strategies, we are building our capacity to respond to these issues. We, as the audience, are part of a bigger community, and there is a hope for us to be part of the systemic change.

Costa Brava, Lebanon is still around us. As social work students, we uphold the values of human rights and social justice, and this affects humanity as a whole. By nature, social issues are complicated in that we all play a part in contributing to them. Now more than ever, the result impacts all of us, especially the most disadvantaged and oppressed population. We believe in the power of community in resolving social issues, by promoting awareness, having hope and undertaking collective action underpinned by individuals.

To quote Greta Thunberg, “Hope is not passive. Hope is telling the truth. Hope is taking action. And hope always comes from the people.”

By Ann Miao Ng and Soyoo Park, Master of Social Work, University of South Australia: Justice & Society 

Movie screeningt supported by the Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia (MCCSA) through the Community Connections Program.

 

 

Objects Tell Our Stories: ALCASA Community Workshop on 28 August 2022

On the 28th of August, we successfully held ‘Objects Tell Our Stories’ workshop at Campbelltown Arthouse, as part of our planning process for the upcoming exhibition at the History Trust of SA Migration Museum in 2023.

As warm as the sunshine we got to enjoy, the warmth of Arabic hospitality welcomed all 24 participants who were enthusiastic about bringing our ambitious project together. The participants represented many parts of the world: Australia, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Germany, China, South Korea and Malaysia. All brought with them their curiosity and unique perspectives on the ‘hospitality’ aspect of Arabic culture.

The workshop was facilitated by Fayrouz Ajaka, Chairperson of ALCASA, and Dr Birgit Heilmann, curator at the History Trust of SA Migration Museum. Following the two presentations about making cinnamon tea by Sahar from Sahar’s Cooking School and Yemeni coffee by Dalal, people shared their fascinating and intimate stories accompanied by the traditional Arabic objects which held sentimental values. An Arabic afternoon tea was also served to provide a holistic experience of Arabic hospitality.

The ideas and passion from the participants inspired and concretised the development of the exhibition, bringing our vision to life. This will continue in our next workshop in near future for shaping the successful exhibition next year.

Below is the reflection from Tania Zebian, an ALCASA member who particpated in the session:

The session not only began with a figurative discussion around what Arabic Hospitality ‘looks, feels, smells and tastes like’, but also ended with guests literally tapping into their senses by tasting different traditional drinks—cinnamon teas and an assortment of Arab coffees— and sweets, including Maamoul, Baklava and Ka’ak
  
This was the first discussion of many that sparked ideas for the exhibition, and we are looking forward to bringing it alive by exploring why these objects of Arabic hospitality are important to us to identify commonalities and differences in our experiences.

Event in partnership with the History Trust of SA Migration Museum
Project supported by the Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia (MCCSA) through the Community Connections Program.

By Ann Miao Ng and Soyoo Park, Master of Social Work, University of South Australia: Justice & Society 

“Objects tell our stories” in World Arabic Language Day in SA 2021

We are very excited while getting ready to celebrate the World Arabic Language Day in South Australia for the first time on Saturday 11/12/2021, at the Migration Museum, 4:30 to 7:30pm. The event has been sold out and a waiting list is now open.  We are considering very carefully the current health situation and, finger crossed, all will be ok to hold the event as planned.

With help from the Migration Museum staff, we will be holding a One Day Pop-up exhibition to share stories about migration experiences and cultural identities through personal objects. ALCASA and the Migration Museum extended the invitation to participate in the exhibition to all  members to the South Australian Arabic speaking community groups and we received a relatively good response considering the extent and the duration of the event. A workshop took place on 10/10/2021 to explore what may be added to the exhibition. Valued members of SA Arabic speaking communities joined the ALCASA members in an interactive session where we shared stories and items from the homeland. It was a fun session that helped us to enhance social connections and to reflect on migration, belonging and identity. We look forward to set up and enjoy the exhibition during the World Arabic Language Day in SA 2021.

 

Inaugural World Arabic Language Day in South Australia 2021

اليوم العالمي للّغة العربية في جنوب أستراليا 2021

Join us as we celebrate World Arabic Language Day in SA 2021. The event will offer a range of interactive activities such as a brief history of the Arabic language, Arabic music and songs by local community members, “dabke” performances (folkloric line dancing) and a collaborative exhibition to represent migration stories by SA Arabic speaking communities.

دعوة عامة للإحتفال باليوم العالمي للغة العربية في جنوب أستراليا. يتضمن برنامج الإحتفال تقديم نبذة عن تاريخ اللغة العربية وعروض موسيقية وغنائية ورقص الدبكة من قبل أفراد من الجالية العربية . وسيقام أيضاً معرضاً رمزياً ينقل صوراً عن هجرة متكلمي اللغة العربية من بلاد مختلفة وعن استقرارهم في جنوب أستراليا

نرجو أن تحفظوا تاريخ الإحتفال وسنقدم معلومات أكثر تفصيلاً قريبًا

Please save the date and we will be providing more detailed information shortly. (Time to be confirmed)

Event hosted by ALCASA in partnership with the History Trust of South Australia’s Migration Museum

Supported by SA Multicultural Affairs, Department of the Premier and Cabinet