Capacity Building Workshop
There is always a story that started a journey
February, 2012
Francais ÚÑÈí

In This issue

New members of the General Committee of the Arab Education Forum - Palestine
A presentation about the Safar programme at a meeting of the networks supporting young artists in the Mediterranean region, held during the Carthage Theatre Daysnew
Participation of the Arab Education Forum and the Hakaya Program in the first MENA Regional Meeting of the International coalition of Sites of Conscience, Casablanca/ Morocco
The New Dates for the meeting: Tales of an Arab Spring: Who Writes people's history(ies)
The international Layali Al-Haki festival in Beni Milal, Morocco
The Hakaya festival in Sfax, Tunisian
There is always a story that started a journey 

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About AEF

The Arab Education Forum is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization active in the Arab World in the field of community and youth work . The mission of AEF is to contribute to an Arab cultural regeneration project that springs out of the inherent knowledge and experiences within the Arab societies

Safar Grant

Grant applications for the Safar/Istikshaf programme are accepted throughout the month. The grant selection committee looks at the submitted applications in the first week of every month, provided that the application is submitted at least one month before the date of travel. For more information mailto:info@safarfund.org

Opportunities

The Roberto Cimetta Fund is launching the second 2012 open call for travel grants
Women Entrepreneurs: Cartier Women's Initiative Award 2012
Call for Artists: "Between the Seas" Festival
The FEDERATION FOR EUROPEAN STORYTELLING, FEST 2012 Conference
PUMA Creative Catalyst Award (for young filmmakers!)

We want to hear from you

This bulletin provides the latest news of the Arab Education Forum and contains a number of short news items on upcoming activities. We would be more than happy for you to share your news and activities with us. You can send them to us at the following email address: suad@almoultaqa.com.

A series of informal meetings – The Hakaya program

Representatives of the Arab Education Forum and the National Theatre met the Hakaya program partners in the Tunisian city of Sfax. Present at the meeting were Mr Abdil Razzaq Kammoun and Mr Wahid Al-Hintiti from the Dunya Al-Hikaya Association to discuss the collaboration plan and program for the current year.

Representatives of the Arab Education Forum's Hakaya program met Ms Fatima Al-Zahraa and Ms Wafaa Al-Nusayri in Beni Milal in Morocco to discuss the partnership in the Hakaya programme and the collaboration frameworks for the international festival of Layali Al-Haki (Nights of Talk) in Beni Milal.

The Other Arabia  Program

The Other Arabia is a website for the promotion and marketing of non-commercial cultural production by individuals, organizations, or educational and cultural initiatives in the Arab world or in the Arabic language. The website is a genuine attempt to promote these cultural products as well as the individuals, organizations and initiatives that contributed to their production. "The Other Arabia" is dedicated to show the creative, original, contemporary, and inspiring side of the Arab world. "The Other Arabia " has been developed by the Arab Education Forum. It has developed a partnership with the Azkadunya Company www.azkadunya.com for the sale and distribution of products listed on "The Other Arabia" website.

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Contact Us

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New members of the General Committee of the Arab Education Forum - Palestine  

Seven new young male and female members have joined the General Committee of the Arab Education Forum – Palestine. They are all in their early twenties and are active in social work. Starting this year, they will take on leading and implementing the Forum's programs in Palestine, informed by their own perspective on the work. The new members are: Shahd beni 'Odah, Al-Hareth Rayyan, Muhammed Hamdan, Amal Nazzal, Hasan Karajeh, Anas Abu Rahmah, Ansam Abu Tayeh.

The General Committee held its annual meeting on 26 February 2012 at the new headquarters of the Forum in Baladiyyet Al-Bira Street, on the fourth floor of the Qatamesh Building, where the new members were welcomed. The executive and financial reports for the years 2010 and 2011 were also approved and a date was set to elect the new Executive Committee – Monday, 12 March 2012.

The first activity of the new members was to launch a campaign to furnish the Forum's office. The campaign springs from the new members' conviction that their funding should be as local as possible, and in collaboration with friends and society.

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A presentation about the Safar Istikshaf program at a meeting of the networks supporting young artists in the Mediterranean region, held during the Carthage Theatre Daysnew

Serene huleileh from the Arab Education Forum took part in a presentation about the Safar / Istikshaf program given at a meeting of the networks supporting young artists in the Mediterranean region, held during the Carthage Theatre Days in Tunisia in January 2012. This meeting was organised to highlight the importance of these cultural networks, which have taken shape in Europe, Africa and the Arab World over the years. These networks are made up of groups and NGOs whose aim is to fill the moral and material gap that can often be observed in the existing official structures, and that impede creative young people from presenting their visions. So these networks represent a new structure that defends creativity, without any links to the authorities, thereby overcoming all frontiers. The meeting also reviewed the activities of these networks and their role in forming a strong relationship the global north and south, vice versa or in many other diverse and enriching directions.

Participation of the Arab Education Forum and the Hakaya Program in the first MENA Regional Meeting of the International coalition of Sites of Conscience, Casablanca/ Morocco
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During January 18-20, the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience launched the first MENA Sites of Conscience regional network meeting in Casablanca, Morocco. It brought together a number of organizations from the MENA region, all engaged in some form of memory work. The Arab Education Forum along with its Hakaya Program was represented in the meeting alongside organizations from Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco.  It was both inspiring and humbling to hear of the various struggles and initiatives emerging in the MENA region.

Sites of Conscience is a worldwide network of historic sites, museums, memorials, historic sites, and memory initiatives dedicated to transforming places that remember the past into spaces that promote civic action. The work within the Sites of Conscience network is dedicated to remembering the past struggles and addressing their contemporary legacies. The hallmark of the work of Sites of Conscience is to ensure a conscious effort to connect past to present and memory to action.

For the Arab Education Forum and Hakaya, this was an important meeting connecting a number of initiatives currently being addressed in our work. Throughout 2011, Hakaya and its partner organizations, focused their efforts on connecting artists, scholars and activists in forums geared at stimulating discussions, networking opportunities , and initiatives exploring the impact of memories, and personal narratives, in shaping the stories told and pushing for the production of cultural and learning materials. The work has supported the documentation of oral history, capturing memories, and integrating the past into a process of growth.  The Arab Education Forum is excited to join the MENA network for the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. 

The New Dates for the meeting: Tales of an Arab Spring: Who Writes people's history(ies)

Following a number of challenging issues that arose in early February and in direct consultation and guidance from our Egyptian partners, the Hakaya meeting on Tales of an Arab Spring: Who Writes people's history(ies), scheduled to have taken place March 6-8,2012, was postponed. We are happy to announce the new dates and location. The meeting has now been scheduled for April 23-26, 2012 and we remain unwavering in our commitment to convene in Alexandria, Egypt despite the difficult situation, encouraged by the commitment and enthusiasm of our partners there.

The international Layali Al-Haki festival in Beni Milal, Morocco

The events of the seventh edition of the international Layali Al-Haki festival, which is organised by the Kalam arts centre in  Beni Milal will begin on 22 March 2012 and run until 24 March 2012.

The Hakaya festival in Sfax, Tunisia
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The Dunya Al-Hikaya Association is organising the Hikaya Children's Festival in the Tunisian city of Sfax between 14 April and 12 May 2012. The festival's program includes presentations, exhibitions, workshops and lectures about the art of story telling in a number of cultural and educational spaces in the city of Sfax, its inner-city neighbourhoods and rural suburbs.

The festival aims to celebrate and honour the important role of both the story and the story-teller in transmitting the experiences, knowledge and values of society from generation to generation. Stories and story-tellers are also to be credited with entertaining children and making them happy, developing their reading habits, their imagination and intellectual and linguistic capabilities, and their communication skills. Participants in the festival will include 28 story-tellers from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Kuwait, Yemen, Algeria, Morocco, Palestine, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Burkina Faso.

There is always a story that started a journey 

During my last year in high school, I had a firsthand experience that taught me the difference between polished prose and heartfelt stories. Only then I realized that it is my duty to capture the stories of our journeys without distorting them.

While preparing for the graduation speech, I felt an overwhelming desire to reflect on my journey and revisit some pieces of paper, pictures, letters and small details that I had treasured in a box over the years. As soon as I started exploring the box, I became overwhelmed with a genuine sense of warmth that would not be conveyed in a speech no matter how eloquent.

In a truly enjoyable experience, I wrote and performed a theatrical piece that told all of those tales and moments on the stage of my school. I felt that a speech would have assassinated these tales, while I wanted to set them free. Overwhelmed with the success of my experience, at least through my lens, I pledged to take a break and reflect on my journey again in the future.

From that moment on, I developed a disaffection towards speeches and polished prose and an affinity with personal stories. Nine years later, my first encounter with community organizing began and I was taking part in a community organizing workshop for the residents of Jabal al Nadtheef. Embarking on a campaign to promote literacy, known as 6-minutes campaign, the first question that attendants reluctantly asked was: what's your story? What brought you here to join the group and the trainers?

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I realized time and again that it was not a speech that made us who we are; it is rather the "story" of individuals and societies that shapes them. In this field of community organizing, we re-discover the power of stories and benefit from their ability to inspire, empower and urge the masses to take action.

We collectively experience transforming stories of pain into stories of hope, creating the momentum and reminding people that the world needs the change. We rely on countless stories of pain, hope and success to motivate individuals and communities. Thus, we always start our work with a simple question: what's your story?

Based on these stories, our common values are shaped and our collective shared story is created to remind us that one of the values is being threatened and needs our collective action. This is when the story of NOW is born. All of these stories are not static, they evolve in tandem with the developments in the campaign and the changes that people face.

Using storytelling to ring a bell and call for action has succeeded in our campaigns. The reason is simple: people cannot always identify with embellished prose and find a common value, but they always have a story and can easily find common ground with a storyteller, making a larger number of individuals feel concerned.

I invite all of you to share your values through narrating your stories, as they can awaken humanity in our depths. I hope that these stories can form a step towards a genuine collective story of change whereby our values are closer to our humanity.

Mais irqsusi - co-founder of Ahel Social enterprise, empowering people  to lead change for justice, rights and freedom through training communities in organizing campaigns in the Middle East.

Irqsusi is also a board member of the Arab Education Forum and Raneen.

This project is funded by the EU.

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