Alrowwad Tour Report in Vermont (28 June to 4 July)2005
Tuesday, June 28:
Fabulous potluck at my house with Connecticut drivers and all our support team from Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel. After supper kids went swimming.
Wednesday June 29:
Great soccer game with penpals from Aida and low-income students from Lawrence Barnes school. Press conference with writer from Seven Days, our alternative weekly, and Burlington Free Press. Mayor gave out frisbees and maple syrup. Photos in both papers next day. Picnic and swim at beach. Potluck at beautiful house of Sister-Cities (Burlington-Bethlehem-Arad) friend. Kids were fabulous - served, helped cook and clean-up.
Thursday June 30:
Pick strawberries. Echo Museum (beautiful museum of life in the lake). Picnic in park. Abed and two children radio interview for public radio. Abed and technicians to theater, kids came a little later. Performance (more than 150 people).
Friday July 1:
Abed radio interview in Waterbury with Mark Johnson, our liberal voice in Central Vermont. Kids to Ben and Jerry's factory in Waterbury, then to pool in Montpelier. Picnic in park, hosted by WILPF. 4:00 all to theater, 6:00 performance - maybe 50 people. (Beginning of holiday weekend.) After performance, bag suppers prepared by Women in Black. One and a half hour drive to farm in Wheelock.
Saturday July 2:
Fabulous Palestinian breakfast prepared by S'ra. Swim at Willoughby cancelled because it was too cold.On to Bread and Puppet in Glover, for rehearsal and dinner with puppeteers. Nancy back to Burlington during the day. (Exhausted) Troupe back to farm to spend night.
Sunday July 3:
Performance with Bread and Puppet and performance of play as well. Theatre is full. Vans return to Burlington at 10 p.m. for a late meal.
Monday morning July 4:
Early departure for flight to Louisville-Kentucky. Our team of five was assisted by probably 75 volunteers in one capacity or other. We mixed with refugee children at Lawrence Barnes and Jewishchildren in Montpelier. We had four photo-stories in newspapers. No TV coverage. We tried too hard to give the troupe the Vermont experience. We succeeded in that, but we didn't make enough money.
Burlington - Vermont
Alrowwad Tour Report in Louisville - Kentucky (4 July to 10 July)2005
Dear Friend of Al-Rowwad Children's Tour,
What an amazing experience in creativity, community, and relationship building you helped to make happen in the recent work on the Palestine to Louisville Friendship Tour: Building Friendships, Strengthening Community!
Whether you gave your time, your talent, your leadership, or your financial support, without your part in the incredible work we have done together, this project would never have been what in the words of so many who were involved was a "LIFE CHANGING" experience.
As one of the coordinators, Bob Cunningham said after the tearful good bye to our new family, the Al-Rowwad theatre troupe at the airport on Sunday, "The Palestinian children and their teachers are now a part of all of us. But you know, we here are now more a part of one another as well."
For all who wish to celebrate, there will be a pot luck and viewing of some of the film footage taken by the hard working, creative crew of KyDigital Media on Tuesday, July 26 at 7pm at West Broadway United Methodist Church, 3620 West Broadway. Please pass the word to all the "Buddies" so that the youth can be with us to share in the affirmations.
From the very beginning the leadership that was engaged in forming the project and carrying it out, knew we wanted to do this in a way that truly built community here, that had at its core the relationship between the oppression too many face here in this country, and the violence and struggle our visitors face under Occupation and war in Palestine. This was about reaching one another as equals, and knowing that the growing and learning and support would be a two way process. The project focuses on communities sharing the way culture, and non violent-expression through the arts, is one of the most powerful weapon for peace and for justice, and in particular, that the participation of local youth with each and every event organized was central.Highlights:
*tremendous community building, with special appreciation to West Broadway Community Center, Chickasaw Park team, the River City Drum Corps, Squallis Puppeteers, UrbanSpirit, Americana Community Center, Stage One, Muhammad Ali Institute, Ramallah Club, Louisville Arts Council and Genesis. Thank you all for your part in building relationships and friendship across lines of race, nationality, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexuality, gender and age.
*diverse, affirming and visionary leadership team: Bob Cunningham, Nadia David, Pat Geier, Ibrahim Imam, Cyd Iyun, Zambia Nkrumah, Marsha Schneider, and Carla Wallace, assisted by an amazing support team including Nana Yaa Asentewaa, Stephon Barbour, Loey Basyouni, Robin Bensinger, Keith Bertrand, Kathleen Campisano, Milton Carpentier, Deb Conrad, Sonja De Vries, Nancy DeMartra, Logan Dooley, Chris Doerflinger, Teresa Dunson, Jean and George Edwards and FORsooth, Dan Farrell, Aletha Fields, Phyllis Free, Jessica George, Heaven and Earth, Al Herring, Holly and Darcy, David and Mary Horvath, Airin Hutchings, Iyman Imayreh, Dawn Jenkins, Darnell Johnson, Martha Johnson, Peggy Kidwell, Carol Kraemer, Mary Ann Lambert, Ed Lassiter, Gracie Lewis, Edgardo Mansilla, Ben Mays, Pam McMichael, Terry Mickler, Ken Nevitt, Lisa Osanka, Howard Owens, Kirk Owens, Omar Ayyash, Kristi Papailler, Shamika Parrish, Christine Payne, Kris Phillips, Beth Harrison Prado, Natalie Reteneller, Ann Reynolds, Angelyn and Marcos Rudd, Scheldorf Family, Janene Shakir, Erika Stith, Chetan Talwalkar, Ms Taylor, Sara Todd, Russ Vandenbrouke, Alice Wade, Melanie Walker, Holly Wallace, Lorena Wallace,Naomi Wallace, Sharon Wallace, Joyce Ware, Ed White, Pamala Wiley, the UrbanSpirit crew's Claire, the kitchen team, and the Avon Church group, and many others who volunteered for events, helped make and serve food, decorate, make banners, sell and buy tickets, raise and give donations, get the word out and involve others, bring their children (or bring their parent(s)), send e-mails, serve as Peace Marshals, give rides, make flyers and on and on and on.....over 325 volunteers and financial supporters.
*Thanks to the "Buddy Program" developed by Cyd Iyun, local youth made friends with our Palestinian visitors and participated in the events throughout the week. T-shirts bore Arabic names scribbled in marker, and young people spoke often about what it meant to learn about one another's lives and challenges, hopes and dreams. Appreciation to all the "Buddies" including Ajourney, Ashley, Christopher, Devlin, DJ, Lorena, Luka, River City Drum Corps youth, Shenee and all the others.
*tens of thousands reached through the media with coverage on all TV channels, two live interview pieces with Abed and live dance performances by the youth, two great articles with photos in The Louisville Courier-Journal, a full page article in LEO, and extensive interview pieces on the local NPR affiliate, WFPL.A Review of the Week's Events:*JULY 4:
Over 40 people participated in the Airport Welcome on Monday, July 4. The Al-Rowwad children and teachers arrived to balloons, banners in Arabic and English, and smiles and hugs. Afterwards, at the headquarters of the River City Drum Corps, Al-Rowwad was welcomed by RCDC's Zambia Nkrumah and Ed White in words of solidarity and a delicious meal donated by Ramsi's Restaurant. The children of RCDC had made beautiful gift bags celebrating the struggles and history of Black people in the United States.Later at the Welcome Dinner, Zambia Nkrumah of the River City Drum Corps youth drum training group shared a moving testimony on how our struggles for justice are connected, and then, her husband and co-creator, Ed White reminded us all, "None of us are Free Until we are all Free".*JULY 5:
The Palestinian youth spent a day at the Americana Community Center and performed in two dance sessions for other youth from war torn lands like Somalia, Sudan, and Rawanda.
A beautiful dinner was hosted by the Ramallah Club at the cozy home of Coordinating Team member Nadia David. The Al-Rowwad youth met members of Louisville's Arab American community and enjoyed the food of their homeland. Dabka dancing on the sidewalk afterwards carried cheers and smiles through the neighborhood.*JULY 6:
Over 50 people filled the West Broadway United Methodist Church for workshops in drum and puppet making lead by the River City Drum Corps and Squallis Puppeteers. Palestinian youth learned about the "spirit of the drum", beautifully creating designs in colors of the rainbow. They made new friends in the youth from River City Drum who assisted them and listened to a brilliant display of drumming in the performance that preceded lunch. Spontaneous lessons in Arabic or English broke out, and many figured out ways to communicate without words. A "puppet bus" was chosen as the subject of the puppet making because, in the words of Palestinian youth Hamada, "a bus can fit many people". Indeed, despite getting disconnected from its cab during the Peace Parade to Chickasaw Park, at least ten small boys and girls made a valiant effort "walking the bus" in the July swelter. In the park, a wonderful meal was waiting with time for soccer, relaxing and a game of "Parachute World".*JULY 7:
The morning hosted by the Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution included a chance for our quests and local youth and adults to enjoy the University of Louisville Planetarium and lunch at the Red Barn. Aletha Fields and her class of teachers brought dessert and the youth got UL gift bags and a juggling lesson.
Later, the group was able to see the technology behind film making at Kentucky Digital Media and view some of the footage they had helped to shoot the day before. A tremendous applause for Aaron, Sonja, Terry, Shannon, Brad and Shadwick for their work filming the entire week's events!
Then the CHILDREN of AL-ROWWAD THEATER perform their "beautiful resistance" theater, "We are the Children of the Camp" and the community embraced Al-Rowwad as family, and honoring the young artists with over 300 in attendance at the University of Louisville's Playhouse theatre. In what for many was the most moving moment in the play, technical difficulties cut the music sound just as the youth were dancing. Without missing a single step, the children kept dancing and the audience clapped to the silent music's beat.
After the extended ovation at the end of the play, an audience member said of the technical problem moment, "Perhaps we helped carry them, but they were also carrying us."*July 8:
The morning was filled with laughter and encouragement as Al-Rowwad joined over 15 local youth in the "Master Class" led by Stage One Children's Theatre's J Herron with assistance by Kristi Papailler who arranged the opportunity for the theatre skills workshop.
The afternoon was arranged by Janene Shakir and hosted by the Islamic School. Local "buddies" and adults participated in with our Palestinian sisters and brothers in Muslim prayer services and shared lunch and conversation together. Teens who are part of Janene's group Pride without Prejudice participated in dialogue about Palestinians struggle, and the civil rights srtuggles here.
That evening the fabulous "Festival of Arts and Community Building" drew a large and enthusiastic crowd in Portland's UrbanSpirit for food, friendship, dancing, mural making and poetry.*July 9:
All day at Moncada Farms for a train tour of Henry's Ark, swimming, horse back riding, food, and relaxing over looking the beautiful river view. Buddies played with their Palesintian friends and community was shared by many who had joined in the week's events. DJ dived for her first time ever, and Amal touched an animal (the horse she rode) for the first time in her life. People wrote their messages and created beautiful drawings, in some cases inserting their photo, for the Al-Rowwad group to take back to Palestine with them in two books, and a card for Pat who was in the hospital (she's out and doing well now).*July 10:
Tearful goodbyes and a hug line sent our friends back to Palestine. A little piece of each of our hearts goes with them.We were all left ready for more wonderful activities to keep the spirit alive! Carla WallaceCity Coordinator, Louisville – Kentucky