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Tag: Arab

August 7, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

Voter Registration: A Perspective from a Youth Community Organizer

Since I became a volunteer at the Arab American Association, I have gained many valuable skills, including community organizing. The most important part of my job as a community organizer is registering voters. One of the Association’s many goals is to register members of the Bay Ridge community, especially Arabs, to vote. We want to empower our community and register people to vote because we believe everyone’s voices should be heard.

As community organizers, we meet at the Association almost everyday, except for the weekends and usually we canvas the area at least a few times a week. We go out into the community in groups of two or three or sometimes even eight. As teams we establish an objective for the number of forms we want completed that day. In addition to canvassing the neighborhood, we travel to Manhattan and meet other organizations that are working against practices such as Stop and Frisk, deportation, and racial profiling. Our meetings there help us learn how to organize communities by hosting events that encourage others to come and listen to issues that affect the community. One of these events was the 2nd Annual Iftar held at the Association on Friday, July 27th where we provided food and games for everyone to take part in, while informing them about our efforts in the community. The Arab American Association is now establishing a connection between diverse groups of voters in Brooklyn and Staten Island as part of our goal to achieve over 3,500 newly registered voters between the two boroughs. I am proud to be a part of this effort.

I was surprised to discover how simple it was to fill out voter registration forms. All I have to do is ask people if they are registered to vote, and if they are not, I encourage them to fill out a form. I establish trust between the potential voter and the Association and allow them to fill out the information required. I will walk in any weather to any street in Bay Ridge to find new voters, but alas, the weather is not the hardest part of my job. As it turns out, most people in the Bay Ridge community seem like they do not want to vote. They avoid registering despite the positive change their voice could make.

Though this month of Ramadan should be a time when the Arab community amplifies their voices, many still do not recognize the importance of voting. I noticed that many people are too busy with their daily routine and do not realize the change they could make by simply filling out a short form. Though many might complain that they are tired or cranky from fasting all day, or simply too tired from their daily activities in this hot weather, there is really no excuse not to register. I am also fasting for Ramadan, and yet I am still out working to register voters.

Even though this job has been tough and we are not always successful in our canvassing efforts, I think we can still register about more than 1,000 people in the future. I know that if we become more persistent, develop our spoken Arabic and connect to our community, we can reach our goal. We are a strong Arab American community and we need to show our local politicians that we are a powerful force. If we raise our voices as registered voters, we can choose who we want to represent us on a political level. I feel that this is important because the politicians, who currently represent this district, don’t reflect the true nature of our community. We need to inform people about the importance of voting because our voices are important. We need to show people that this hits home.

RAMA ALHERISH, 15, Student at Brooklyn Technical High School, Youth Community Organizer
March 27, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

Arab Americans Got Talent! Tickets on sale now

The Arab American Association Of New York welcomes you to our 1st Annual Arab Americans Got Talent Show, at downtown Brooklyn's Roulette Theater! Come out on Wednesday, April 4th at 6pm for a night of music, singing and dancing by local performers as well as special guests.

Now is your chance to meet FouseyTUBE! YouTube star Yousef Erakat AKA FouseyTUBE will be coming all the way from California to EMCEE the show! He will be joined by one of our most amazing hip-hop artists and activists, Omar Offendum.

There will also be a special performance by rising talent Activist, AKA Sami Fanik, who uses the power of hip-hop music to push forth the message of coexistence.

We have an exciting lineup of local young performers who will present a wide range of talent, including music, hip-hop and pop-locking dancing, songs in both Arabic and English, and much more. Our AAANY youth organizers have been hard at work planning the night!

Come out April 4th to support AAANY and celebrate the talent of the Arab American community.

Online tickets are still available online for $30 (general) and $25 (student). General admission will be $40 at the door, if available. Buy your tickets in advance here!  

-Katherine Kusiak Carey
March 5, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

South Brooklyn Comes Through on Community Survey

  Thanks to some amazing hustle by our community, we have completed our survey collection for our Community Needs Assessment! This needs assessment is the first ever to be conducted in the Arab American community in New York City, and AAANY is proud to be working with New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. AAANY’s grassroots credibility and outreach, coupled with NYU Wagner’s technical skill, analysis, and dedication, are moving us forward in capturing demographic and needs data for the Arab American community.

Our high school students made the survey a competition among themselves, using a big poster to track how many surveys they had filled out with community members. Youth Community Organizer Kareem Meawad won, with 60 surveys – nice work, Kimo! We collected 415 surveys in total, in three weeks.

The surveys are currently being analyzed by our team at NYU Wagner, who will present a report of their findings in April 2012. They are running regressions to identify possible trends among the community, and to study what community members identify as their greatest needs. We look forward to this data on language access, experience with government offices, employment status, household size, and much more! Creating a clearer picture of the Arab American community will help AAANY and our partners do a better job of providing the services and programs our community needs to become independent, productive members of society.

-Jennie Goldstein


More than just a summer volunteer experience

Dylan Okabe-Jawdat spent several weeks with AAANY this summer as a volunteer, and ended up as youth community organizer, building community and immersing himself into the culture. He shares his experiences here:

After spending a month at an Arabic immersion program this summer, I was inspired not only to apply what I had learned, but also to continue to be immersed in Arabic upon my return to New York. With a little research I found the Arab American Association of New York, an organization located in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, serving a predominantly Arab-American community. I soon found that language-learning was not going to be central to my volunteer work. While one side of the organization was dominated by social work, I joined a group of high school volunteers highly motivated to break down the racial boundaries that they observed between youth had in the neighborhood. While I can't say that goal was entirely accomplished, for the duration of my volunteer work I had the opportunity to facilitate activities and discussions about race and identity, in an attempt to understand the tensions within the community. We also had the opportunity to meet with a few organizations in order to better understand how to stimulate interest in community projects. During the period that I worked at the Arab American Association, we launched what is now an online youth-run editorial, as a platform for high school students to share their perspectives called TheAmplifYer. After my experience this summer, I was surprised by the confidence as well as the range of skills that I acquired. I hope that others actively seek out similar opportunities and can enjoy the same rewards that I did.    

Kitaab Club Showing Love

Hanging out with kids on Valentine’s Day can be a great way to get back to the true meaning of the holiday. That was certainly our experience this week in Kitaab Club, AAANY’s afterschool literacy class for kids ages 5 – 13. As part of our continuing lessons on “exploring identity,” we talked with our class about words associated with this day: love, heart, caring, holiday, happy, friends and so on. Our main focus of the day, however, was family. Not only did the class teach each other important vocabulary for talking about their families, but they also made beautiful cards for their moms and dads showing their love and appreciation for their parents. As kid designed and created own their cards, it was particularly heartening to see them helping each other with spelling. After a month of Kitaab Club, this lesson really showed the progress our talented kids have made already both in their language skills and their creative self-expression. Stay tuned for reports on our upcoming classes where we will be making family trees and other fun activities!

- Emma Alpert

Creating Love on Eid el Hub

This week, the students of AAANY’s ESL program got together during their winter break to celebrate Valentine’s Day with volunteer art therapist Julia Kristeller.  As plates of basbusa, baklava and chocolate went around, students wrote Valentine’s Day cards (in English!) for loved ones and chatted with friends from class. Advanced students helped others jot down holiday wishes, and mothers with young children supervised the artistic endeavors of their very enthusiastic toddlers.  Women left the holiday workshop relaxed and ready for the new term of English classes, which begins January 27 at 9:30 am.

And don't forget, February is Love Your AAANY Month! Please donate, by clicking this link. Any amount you give will be doubled!

By Katie McCulloch

Who's behind the desk at AAANY?

There are many faces, many services, and many programs at the Arab American Association of New York. We are a staff of eight, three being part-time. But working with our family of volunteers, interns, and professionals, we are able to provide a service and an exponential capacity. So as a kick-off to our blog, let’s answer the question, who are some of the people who sitting behind the desks at AAANY beyond our staff?

Liz has been with us since December as a Learning Leader Volunteer, and she brings her expertise in helping students apply to college -- from how to fill out the FAFSA to think about choices of where to go --and is a great addition to the AAANY family. She’s here every Wednesday 3:30-6, taking walk-ins and scheduled appointments.

We are also thankful for pro bono legal assistance. Tahani will stay late with clients on Wednesday nights even after we put the gate down. As a Lawyer, she sees cases from racial profiling to immigration. She is also an activist for the Arab and Muslim community, helping and supporting the stop NYPD surveillance campaign. Feras, an immigration lawyer, also comes on Tuesdays.

Kathy Khatari, Elizabeth, and Mary are all representatives for the District Attorney’s office. Kathy is a staple of and strong advocate for the Arab, Muslim, and Brooklyn community. On Wednesdays, she and Elizabeth assist clients with legal concerns and provide sound advice. Mary comes on Friday, and adds to the dynamic wealth of experience these women have to offer.

Every day of the week there is a native Arabic speaker available for providing access to health insurance. Their compassion for helping people is great. Noha is with Americhoice on Mondays and Tuesdays. Zeinab is here on Wednesdays, seeing clients for Health Plus. Manal, also with Health Plus, comes on Thursdays and Fridays. Together they help over 100 clients a week.

And this is just a slice of what we do! One of many reasons why to support the Arab American Association of New York. With only 18 days left for the month of February -- also known as Love Your AAANY month -- where we have a challenge grant that matches every donation, now is the perfect time to give. It’s online, simple, and we’re far short from our $15000 goal. If not, spread the love by subscribing to this new blog with AAANY and sharing this.

  By Christophe Jospe