Capacity Building Workshop
Itinerant in the land and language
June 2012
Francais ÚÑÈí

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Itinerant in the land and language
Mobility Operators meeting
Safar/ Istikshaf Travel Grants
Hakaya program provides travel grants
A stop in Bilzen by Reem AbuKishek

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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 program 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

Mobility Operators meetings

See the collection of photos.


Call for Participation
REGIONAL TRAINING PROGRAMME I-act organizes Backstreet Festival “Towards Art in non-traditional spaces” 1st edition 23-29 September 2012 Alexandria, Egypt For interested applicants, please fill in the attached application form and send it along with your CV to The applications should be filled in electronically as handwritten applications will not be considered. Deadline for application is 10 August at 12:00 midnight.

Call for Partners Culture of Peace Campaign.

Contact Us

6 Fares ALKhouri street- Shmesani
P.O Box 940286 11194 Amman Jordan
Tel: +96265687557


Itinerant in the land and language

“Journey through the land to reclaim it” is a slogan raised and lived by several young men and women members of the Arab Education Forum in Ramallah – El Bireh. However, this principle is missing the other side of the coin: “journey through language to reclaim it”. The relationship between the two journeys is remarkable, and the complementarities amazing: each complements and enriches the other and neither one can stand alone. The importance of both journeys is the fact that the usurpation of the land was preceded by the usurpation of language, and the latter is more profound and dangerous because it is less obvious and apparent. Both usurpations remained concurrent and became engrained over the years.

It is worth noting that it was the relationship and complementarities between both kinds of journeys which marked the voluntary work movement during the seventies (40 years ago) which included travels in the land doing voluntary work activities involving both students and residents, as well as discussions at the Ramallah and El Bireh public libraries. This principle corresponds with the spirit of the Palestinian educator of the early 20th century Khalil Sakakini who urged his students to “get to know Palestine on foot”, a principle that the principal of our school, Khalil Abu Rayya, himself a student of Sakakini, applied on us.

“Journey within the language to own it” is what I’m currently doing with two groups through what I termed “House of Wisdom”: a weekly meeting with the participants of the “university in a refugee camp” [official name: Campus-in-Camps] project (connected to Al Quds University) at Dheisheh camp, and a monthly meeting with the young members of the Arab Education Forum. I meet with the participants of “University in a refugee camp” project and we journey together in the world of language, meaning, and perception through experiences and insight. This goes hand in hand with journeys in the land which have so far included Wadi Qelt (Jericho area), Nis Jbeil (Jenin area), and Battir village (Bethlehem area). As for the journeys with the Arab Education Forum youth they have included the village of Saffa (Ramallah area), Hebron, Jenin, Jericho, and Wadi Qana/Deir Istya (Salfit area).

I see both journeys going hand in hand; they enrich and complement each other. Journeying through language, thought, meaning, and perceptions complements and enriches the journey with people in the land and history. The most important outcome of both journeys is the weaving of a living texture on the levels of perception, thought, society, spirit, and passion, all crucial to the well-being of the individual and society – a well-being that is not complete without nature, our collective melting pot which we need to handle responsibly and place it at the center of knowledge.

Palestine, as usual, resembles a prism through which we see a lot of what is happening in the world. When you travel in the land of Palestine you can notice two things: the first is the wisdom of creation and the beauty of nature exemplified by the beautiful countryside and the spirit of hospitality and generosity of its people. The second thing you will notice is the sabotage that has been inflicted, and continues to be inflicted, by alien constructions constituting deep wounds in the Palestinian body: the colonial settlements. Just like the land, so happened to language. When we journey through language we notice two things: the beauty of the Arabic language and the wisdom inherent in it, at the same time as we see the vandalism that occured and continues to occur as a result of alien destructive elements: colonial knowledge settlements that are spread by schools, universities, the media, and research centers. These knowledge settlements are represented by the institutional professional terminology and academic categories that constitute a deeper and more dangerous kind of occupation because it nestles inside us and defeats us from within, hence paving the way for the military, political and economic occupation. These institutional terms and academic classifications include: nation- state, identity, strategy, higher education, scientific and art streams, PhD, success and failure, advancement and backwardness, and general fields of specializations that reflect a much worse apartheid system than the one experienced on the land. The separation wall and the Apartheid system on the land started in knowledge and perception and words such as neutrality, objectivity, and universality, with the separation between those who passed and those who failed (in the Tawjihi exam about 40% of the students are declared failures on an annual basis). Another form of apartheid follows with the words “advancement” and “backwardness”. A wall that we cannot see with our own bare eyes but that nevertheless nests within us in a more deep and dangerous way than the visible wall. At the end of the day, the tangible separation wall will be removed, but the destruction inflicted by the wall of perception represented by academic classifications will be more difficult to remove. There is a difference between the colonization of words and meanings that defeat us from within (a colonization that we are not aware of and even assimilate), and the colonization of the land that we are aware of and resist. Finally, as is the case for the bypass roads that serve the settlements so that the settlers can avoid seeing the real owners of the land, there are other bypass roads that serve the colonies of knowledge so that the learners avoid seeing life and knowledge that is inherent to and useful for it.

Residential and knowledge colonies have no roots, neither in the land nor history nor society nor civilization. Words like failure and backwardness are connected to measuring the value of the individual and society on a linear vertical scale, and they too are rootless. This rootless-ness is supplemented by the commodification of human beings and knowledge by modern ideologies. On the other hand, villages, mountains, hills, valleys, plants, all have roots, just like words such as hospitality, generosity, wisdom, health, neighboring, and friendship. It is worth noting here that every word in the Arabic language has a root, and every root is a verb (an action).

Journeying through the land requires that we reclaim our feet and move, and journeying through language requires that we reclaim our mental capacity to be partners in the formulation of meanings. Munir Fasheh, Ramallah

Mobility Operators meetings

In the framework of the Istikshaf collaboration platform between the the Arab Education Forum/ Safar youth mobility program, The Roberto Cimetta Fund (France), and I-Act (Egypt), a meeting of Mobility Operators around the Mediterranean was organized at the Swedish Institute in Alexandria-Egypt on 24 and 25 June 2012. The meeting brought together over 40 local and regional organizations as well as individual activists from France, Belgium, UK, Syria, Kuwait, Egypt, Iraq, Mauritania, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Bahrain, and Sudan involved in promoting artistic and social mobility. The meeting is the stepping stone for the launch of the Istikshaf collaboration and advocacy platform to enhance the network of supporters, find common actions and tools, and develop the complementarities amongst various groups involved in promoting mobility in the Euro-Mediterranean region to become more efficient in advocating with policy makers for the advancement of mobility as a crucial prerequisite for lifelong learning, artistic growth, and cultural exchange.

The mobility operators meeting followed by a one day meeting on 26 June for the coordinators of the local Safar mobility funds from ten different Arab countries to develop a country specific as well as a regional action plan to facilitate the implementation of local mobility initiatives as a crucial advocacy tool for the promotion of the culture of mobility and strengthening the support network for mobility.


Safar/ Istikshaf Ttavel grants

Abu Bakr Hamzeh from Algeria received a travel grant to apprentice with Firas Taybeh and Alaa Younes in Jordan.
Hamzeh is a filmmaker and actor living in Wahran, Algeria. His first documentary, “Al Barrany” was filmed in his home town along with rap musicians and visual artists who are friends wavering between remaining in their home country or emigrating. Finally they decide to follow the “Harraqa” path of illegal migration by sea. His visit/apprenticeship will focus on the art of filmmaking and its role in interpreting and representing history in light of recent developments in the Arab world. Firas Taybeh is a film director and actor living in Amman. He studied sculpture before moving into filmmaking in 1997. Artist Alaa Younes is an independent curator who uses exhibitions, films, and publications to research the state of individuals in a world moved by politics, and in light of historical developments that eventually become personal.

Hakaya program provides travel grants

Hakaya program provides travel grants for Arab participants at the meeting of the Federation of European Storytellers 2012.

The network of storytellers in the Mediterranean (Hakaya) provides its members with the opportunity to network and connect with groups and organizations active in the field of storytelling around the world, and with storytellers who share similar interests. Membership in the network is meant to advocate for wider recognition of storytelling as a multi-faceted performing art and as a central component in learning, art, and life. In this effort one of the benefits of membership in the network is the opportunity to receive travel grants to take part in festivals and relevant events.

In June, two Hakaya network members, Jawad Aqtash (Palestine), and Cozette Qazzi (Sabeel organization - Lebanon), received travel grants to take part in the meeting of the Federation of European Storytellers in Bilzen, Belgium. Jawad is an actor and storyteller since 5 years, and Cozette is the librarian in charge of Sabeel Library in Beirut, Lebanon.

A stop in Bilzen..

In a beautifully scenic Castle in Bilzen, Belgium, the Grand Commandery Alden Biesen, the Federation of European Storytellers (FEST) held its annual meeting attended by over 52 storytellers from various organizations. The 4-day event provided a rich opportunity for theme based plenary discussions, as well as varied workshops and storytelling performances.

Alden Biesen proved to be a magical space for the meeting as it opened its gates to a vast sharing of personal and traditional stories, music, silence and rhythm and the weaving of numerous languages into a multilayered tapestry. The annual gathering seeks to tackle issues of importance to FEST members as well as other attendees interested in the realm of storytelling. Numerous discussions emerged during the plenary sessions, some focusing on good practices of participants and others looking into an issue that impacts many, namely training and professional development. This latter point resonated with me as the Hakaya Program manager, as we too are in the midst of working on a research that highlights the work of many regional storytellers and the trainings they offer and assessing how meaning is created in the transmission of knowledge.

On our last evening and in line with the passion of this group, a story walk was organized and ten storytellers were chosen to lead us on a walk deep into the woods surrounding the Castle. Each in turn chose a location and spun a tale, as we, the listeners, were taken on journeys from Ireland to Greece, and from Quebec to Palestine, and from France to Sweden. While the meeting offered good networking opportunities, for HAKAYA we walked away having connected with an international community, exchanged challenges and opportunities in this field of creative work but most importantly we made new friendships from amongst this wonderful community of storytellers. Hearing each other’s stories, both the personal and professional, opened our eyes and ears to the vast possibilities of re-creating meaning in the work we do.
Reem AbuKishek

This year HAKAYA supported the participation of three people from the region in the meeting of the Federation of European Storytellers: Reem AbuKishk, Hakaya Program Manager, as well as two up-and-coming storytellers. Ms. Cosette Al-Azzi (Lebanon),is a librarian working with Assabil- Public Libraries Association of Lebanon, and is actively engaged with children’s storytelling programs, and Mr. Jawad Al-Aqtash (Palestine), is a staff member of Tomorrow’s Youth Organization-Nablus, and a storyteller-in-training.

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