Posts Tagged ‘Arabic’

Seattle Arab Festival 2011 ~ Photos by A Crafty Arab

October 31st, 2011 3 comments

The Seattle Arab Festival took place in early October at the Seattle Center. I was unable to attend, but I’m sharing photos from the event, thanks to Koloud ‘Kay’ Tarapolsi, who attended as a vendor, blog photographer and member of the Seattle  Arab community.

Koloud is a Libyan American who developed her brand A Crafty Arab to promote a positive image of Arab culture by creating jewelry, crafts, and handmade educational tools that are fun and colorful. She sells her items online, at local stores in the Pacific Northwest and at festivals such as the Seattle Arab Festival. (To find out more about A Crafty Arab, keep reading.)

Here are a few of Koloud’s photos from the Seattle Arab Festival 2011.

First is Koloud selling her crafts. 

The performance stage (below). So sad I missed this!

A Morocan-themed booth

A few of the food booths

Cafe Palestine

Booth with educational resources from AmidEast

Booth for the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice … A topic close to my heart.

One of the booths for kids. Yay!

Finally, a glimpse of the jewelry from A Crafty Arab.

More about A Crafty Arab

Kholoud created the brand A Crafty Arab in 2008 to strengthen Arab American heritage and language. She sells her handmade Arabic crafts and cards at A Crafty Arab. Below are a few examples of her crafts.

Blue Hamsa Earrings ~ Hand of Fatima

 Um Kulthuum pin (!!)

 Arabic “Ramadan Kareem” greeting card

 Arabic-themed light switch cover. So crafty!

Poster featuring the Arabic alphabet. A must-have for young Arabic-speaking kids.

More about Koloud ‘Kay’ Tarapolsi

Koloud left Libya with her family when she was 7 years old. Shortly afterwards, her parents were granted political asylum and allowed to live in the US. She grew up in Oklahoma, but moved to Seattle in 1992 after a friend sent her a postcard of Mt. Rainer. She started making handmade Arabic greeting cards when she couldn’t find any to give to friends. Soon she was getting requests and now also makes Farsi and Urdu cards. Trying to stay unique, she started adding humor to her cards and crafts. Koloud lives in Redmond, Washington, with her husband, 3 young daughters and a cat named Shems (Arabic for sunshine). Here is a 4-minute video of a TV show featuring Koloud. (It’s mostly in Arabic, but easy to get get the gist.)

Kholoud has A Crafty Arab Blog. You can also find A Crafty Arab on Facebook. In the Seattle area, you can find Koloud’s crafts at: Seattle Public Library Friend Shop (Downtown Seattle), Ventures (Pike Place Market), Al-Andalus (Greenwood), and Happy Delusions (Renton).



Raising Arabic-Speaking Children in our Free Time (Part 1)

April 10th, 2011 14 comments

When our oldest son was three and speaking English and Arabic without mixing the two, our suburban Seattle neighbors were impressed.

Our mission was to have a bilingual family, with English as the first language and my husband’s native Arabic as the second. With my language teaching background and my husband’s hands-on approach, we were super-confident. We followed the One Parent/One Language method, each of us speaking our own language. Meanwhile, we inundated our son with Arabic storybooks, software, music and videos. Because he identified with his father, our son naturally wanted to speak Arabic like Baba.

And so, our bilingual journey began in Seattle with great success. We were proud parents—annoyingly smug.

Then our second child was born. We tried the same methods that had worked with our first, but by the age of two, our daughter still showed no interest in Arabic. (Perhaps she sensed how important it was to us.) It was as though the language had nothing to do with her.

Little by little, English become the dominant language in the home. Our son started kindergarten and developed a preference for English while our daughter refused to even acknowledge Arabic. They began to reject the Arabic Disney movies and Arabic Sesame Street we had so carefully selected. It became a constant challenge for my husband to spend “quality Arabic time” with each child. Our bilingual goals were starting to crumble.

We tried different things to jumpstart our children’s Arabic. With two other families we hired an Arabic teacher and set up a weekly Arabic playgroup. We socialized with other Arabic-speaking families. Relatives from the Middle East visited us in Seattle. Day after day, my husband trudged on, reading Arabic storybooks to our children.

Yet none of this was enough.

During this time, I was studying Arabic myself. For a while, I tried speaking it with the children. Once I was in the supermarket with my son, who was about six at the time. I asked him something in Arabic, something harmless like, “Do you want bananas?”

He stopped cold in his tracks, clenched his fists and screamed at the top of his lungs, “DON’T SPEAK ARABIC!”

Right. Of course. I was violating our own One Parent/One Language policy—which wasn’t working anymore anyway. I could feel all of our bilingual progress slipping away.

Soon our third child was born, and our family life grew exponentially more chaotic. By this time, my husband’s Arabic had become mere background noise.

Meanwhile, he was seeking a job in the Middle East. When my husband was offered a position in Dubai, we jumped at the chance. Our children were still little—ages 6, 3 and 2 months. They would surely learn Arabic in Dubai, we thought. We had renewed hope!

As we imagined our new life in the United Arab Emirates, we assumed all of our bilingual problems would be solved….           

Find out what happens in Part II, Raising Arab-Speaking Children in Dubai.

Sharing My Zeal

April 6th, 2011 58 comments

Hello Friends!

I was nineteen, a young American living in Paris, supposedly living my dream. Yet what was my fantasy?

I daydreamed about traveling in the Middle East. So, after a year of discovering that France was not for me, I took a bus from Paris to Athens and a boat from Athens to Haifa. Soon, I was walking the cobblestone alleys of the Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem.

My twenty-year old self wrote in a letter to my family (dated 21 October, 1986) about my first visit to Jerusalem:

I just had a morning I’ll never forget. I went to the Arab market inside the Old City of Jerusalem. . . Coming here is like stepping onto another planet. The ancient walls of the Old City–I don’t have the words to describe them–at night, they’re lit up. It’s breathtaking. . . . Inside, the Arab quarter is a huge maze of tiny streets, winding alleys and stone courtyards. I love walking these streets. . . . Everything is new here: the smells, the food, the climate, the people, the sights. . .

After two years spent exploring Palestine, as well as traveling to Egypt, Jordan and Iraq, I returned to my home in Bellingham, Washington. My fate was sealed because with me was my new Palestinian husband, whom I had met in Bethlehem and married in Jerusalem.

Newly arrived in the US, we had big goals. We needed to finish university, start our lives, establish our careers and begin a family. But first–he had to learn English.

Now flash forward to the present. It’s 2011. We’re raising our three children (ages 15, 12 and 9). We live in Dubai, where we’ve lived for ten years, striving and struggling to create the bilingual, bicultural family that we had always imagined.

Meanwhile, over the years I’ve asked myself: Who am I? Where do I fit in? At times I’ve become obsessed with cultural identity–my own and everyone else’s. I even wrote a novel exploring those themes.

So, why the blog, you ask?

In my own small way, I hope to bring down barriers between Arabs and non-Arabs. I hope to connect with other writers, readers, expats, foreign spouses and anyone else who shares my zeal for the region. I plan to discuss relevant books and share photos and recipes. Naturally, I’ll blog about Palestine and Dubai, but also Morocco (my current fixation) and other Arabic countries.

However, before I launch into a detailed blog post on the tradition of Palestinian cross-stitch, I’d like to hear from you. Tell me your connection to the region and what you’d like to know. Where do your cultural interests lie?

Please tell me by leaving me a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Bye for now & Salam,