Education and Outreach
Music helped me to overcome the hardships of political turmoil and upheaval I experienced at the hands of oppressive regimes, and because of that I have never been able to separate my creative work from my educational work, nor my educational work from my activism. They will always be inextricably linked, and I will always strive to help my students strengthen those links for a future of peace building and community empowerment.
Music Bridges West Bank, Italy and France
While working at the non-profit organization of Al-Kamandjati in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), I served as the music education, workshop and pedagogical coordinator, where I designed and implemented music theory workshops on how to use music to teach mainstream subjects within mixed abilities classes at eight different United Nations Relief Works Agency Schools, including in Qalandia, Jalazon and Al-Ammari refugee camps. The project, “Music Bridges West Bank, Italy and France,” was funded by the European Union and aimed at strengthening the access and musical resources available to Palestinian refugee children. I also taught music education and appreciation classes to the students, and mentored the classroom teachers throughout their workshops, providing guidance for them while they strived to include music in the curriculum. I was also in charge of the after school program, where I organized performances of the childrens’ choirs and taught private lessons to students from within the community, providing a space for the children and their families to engage with the arts on a monthly basis. We also traveled outside the camps to Ramallah city to perform for a wider community and to expose the students to the contemporary music scene and performers.
The Importance of Social Media as a Tool and Resource for Marginalized Communities
I promote the use of social media as a tool for students in my classrooms. I encourage them to find their subjects of interest and tweet out or Facebook them with questions in order to highlight the importance social media has in international connections. Students should be aware of the great lengths other people their age go through in order to be able to engage in artistic mediums, and they should in turn make every effort to reach out to their peers who do not have the same access to resources as they do. I bring examples of my own research into the classroom to illustrate the potential for online collaboration. The chamber opera I composed was based on Yasmeen El-Khoudary’s “The Last Queen of the Night” about Gaza. Her writing moved me and I immediately started setting her words to music. I also use this example to highlight the composer’s role in society and how we can use our community and resources available to us artists to bring exposure to voices and narratives that are otherwise unheard.