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Tag: Volunteer

January 25, 2013 Posted by admin in Blog

English through music

“Why does everyone like music?” asked Katie, AAANY’s Adult Education Coordinator, to the class of adults who had just listened to songs by Fairuz and Cheb Khaled. “Because music always makes you feel happy,” answered one of the students. A discussion ensued about whether or not music always makes you feel happy, which concluded in the idea that whether the resulting feeling may or may not necessarily be “happiness,” listening to music definitely triggers some sort of emotional response, regardless of what language the listener might be accustomed to. Music is the language that goes beyond linguistic barriers.

By using music as the medium through which to teach English, Daro Behroozi, a new volunteer, is revolutionizing the Adult Education classes offered at the Arab American Association of New York. In the first class, he taught vocabulary related to music, such as names of instruments, elements of music like rhythm and melody, and different ways of describing songs. After this vocabulary lesson, the students listened to Arabic songs and were asked to discuss what the instrumentation was and what they liked about each song. Daro’s goal is to simultaneously teach English and improve the students’ close listening skills. In future classes, Daro plans to play English songs for the students to enhance their listening ability and make the conversations more challenging. Eventually, as a final project, the students will be given the opportunity to write their own songs in English.

Daro Behroozi grew up in Brooklyn, NY. He began taking piano lessons at the age of 5. He attended LaGuardia Arts High School where he studied music. As an undergrad at Columbia University, Daro studied Anthropology with a focus on Music and graduated in May of 2012. In addition to working on various music-related projects at Columbia, he was an organizer in Students for Justice in Palestine. He is currently pursuing various musical endeavors as a performer, composer, teacher, and researcher.

We are all very excited to have Daro Behroozi working with us to offer such a fun and educational class.

-Chelsea Estevez

Kitaab Club Kicks Off!

The beginning of a new school year means the start of a new session of Kitaab Club, AAANY’s afterschool English literacy and homework class!

This year at Kitaab Club we have our largest ever group of students! 26 children, ages 5 to 13, join us twice a week to receive homework assistance and English language lessons.

Kitaab Club provides tailored academic assistance so that we can meet the needs of every individual student, regardless of subject matter. Our primary focus is enhancing literacy amongst students who are English Language Learners, offering additional English Language assistance in a venue that caters specifically to students struggling with literacy. As part of the Arab American Family Education Initiative (AAFEI), we also aim to serve as the link to foster communication between parents, teachers, and students. Our goal is for Kitaab Club students to achieve a level of English fluency and comfort with the school system that equals that of their peers and endows them with the same opportunities.

At the core of AAFEI are our bilingual high school volunteers who employ their Arabic fluency in order to give back to their community by acting as mentors and tutors to younger students in Kitaab Club.

The students in Kitaab Club represent a variety of different backgrounds, coming from Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Tunisia, Pakistan, and Spain. This provides an ideal learning opportunity for our students, exposing them to new cultures, and allowing them to develop a global perspective.

With the help of our capable and passionate full-time interns, Nashwa Lylah El-Sayed and Ania Ouldamara, and thanks to the inestimable efforts of our Youth Program Manager, Mohamad Ismail, we are able to cultivate an energetic, productive, and educational learning environment.

Kitaab Club meets at every Thursday and Friday from 3:30 to 5:30 pm at PS 170.

For more information, contact Mohamad Ismail at

-Maya Shoukri
July 17, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

Celebrating Culture and Building Political Power at the 6th Annual Arab American Bazaar

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On Sunday July 8th, over 4,000 people flocked to Brooklyn’s Shore Road Park to enjoy a day of live music, food, dancing and celebration at the 6th Annual Bay Ridge Arab American Bazaar. For the past six years, the Arab American Association of New York has hosted a summer festival celebrating Arab culture. This year we had beautiful summer day for our biggest bazaar yet. Click here to see a video of one of the debkeh performances or look through our photo album from the day.

The main stage drew enormous crowds as Bazaar attendees danced to music by local singers representing an array of countries across the Arab world and two debkeh (palestinian folk dance) performances. Food and craft vendors formed the perimeter of the bazaar, allowing people to enjoy the show while receiving a henna tattoo or indulging in a falafel sandwich. In between performances, politicians were given the opportunity to speak to the community, including Congressman Michael Grimm, Senator Marty Golden, Assemblywoman Nicole Maliotakis, City Council members Vincent Gentile, and Leticia James, as well as NYC Comptroller John Liu and Candidate for State Senate Andrew Gounardes.

This year we had an impressive number of volunteers help out at the event. Many of them set up kids activities, painting faces and helping children make paper flags, while others concentrated their efforts towards registering new voters. With the guidance of our voter registration staff, volunteers stressed the importance of giving political voice to the Arab American community. Members of our female empowerment group, Brooklynat were responsible for running our voter registration table, while AAANY’s Street Team interns, Omar Al Khalili and Nora AbuSha’ban worked tirelessly to stress the importance of mobilization. By the end of the day they helped to register over 100 new voters! The bazaar was a great opportunity for us as an organization to reach out to our community and supporters and reiterate the importance of voting .

Undoubtedly, civic engagement was an overarching theme of the day. Along with voter registration, crowds of youth showed up to represent their cultural pride. Two AAANY youth volunteers raised over $700 for Syria in cupcake sales and donations. Read a write-up about their efforts in the Brooklyn Daily. As a community we demonstrated our growing political presence and goal to represent the Arab and Muslim community on both a local and national level. Each year our Bazaar is an opportunity to mobilize and celebrate our community.

***AAANY is working to build community power though voter registration. We hope to register over 1,000 voters by the November elections. In addition to registration, we are striving to provide newly registered voters with the resources to lead them to become more informed voters. If you are a U.S. citizen and would like to register to vote, please stop by the Association to see our voter registration fellows, Aber Kawas and Zayd Sifri. We here at AANY believe that voting is power. It is a way for our community to demand respect, appreciation, and attention which will provide future generations with more opportunities.***

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.