Friday, June 01, 2007

"Open Tent" In Amherst, New Hampshire

The picture's caption reads as follows:
Second-grader Lucas Bellipanni tries on the traditional thobe, gutra and igal during the ‘Open Tent’ night at the Amherst Middle School.
The following is the full May 31, 2007 article:
‘Open tent’ at Amherst Middle School

AMHERST— For one night, on May 9, the quaint colonial town of Amherst, New Hampshire, was transformed into a Saudi Arabian Bedouin tent community, with the help of 80 seventh-graders at the Amherst Middle School. The weather cooperated, providing 85 degree temperatures to give an authentic Saudi feel to the evening.

More than 250 guests arrived at the open tent and were welcomed with an Arabic greeting of “Marhaba” by students at a Saudi customs desk.

During the check-in, guests selected a traditional Arabic name for their name badge and completed an actual Saudi customs form, which warned in bold letters “Death for Drug Trafficking ” at the top.

Once inside, guests were encouraged to circulate among 14 different stations created by the students.

The Arabic food-tasting station offered four entrées, curried chicken, lamb, tomato chicken with cardomom, and Moroccan chicken, served with pita breads, hummus, and couscous. Fresh fruits, cardomom coffees, and spice teas were also served.

Flowing fabrics hung from the ceiling separated the family and men-only dining sections. The tables were set on large rugs and lowered so that the diners sat on the floor.

Only the seventh-grade boys were allowed to host the food stations and the Arabic dancing, as the traditions of Saudi Arabia at this time prevent women from participating in these public roles.

Dressed in traditional Arabic wear—long plaid kilts, white shirts and turbans—the boys offered food and entertained guests. The Arabic dancers enthusiastically performed to music and encouraged male visitors to join their dance.

Seventh-grade girls hosted the hijab and veil stations, where other female guests learned how to wear the required head covering and veils. An antique trunk full of black abayas worn by women, and white thobes worn by the men, were available for guests to try on.

Cultural items displayed throughout the room included Arabic books, games, food, and newspapers and magazines.

An Islamic religion station included a Muslim prayer rug with a compass imbedded in it to locate Mecca, readings on the Islamic faith, call to prayer items and prayer beads.

Younger visitors gravitated to the Arabic listening station, the Arabic coloring book stations and the mural, while visitors of all ages found the slide shows of Saudi Arabia to be captivating.

The “open tent” was created to encourage participants to reach out and learn from people around the world, and to promote curiosity and cultural understanding.
Are any such events, complete with prayer stations, being held for other cultures in public schools throughout America?

Well, at least the event didn't include dressing up as suicide bombers in order to promote a sympathetic understanding of jihad. Maybe the textbooks already take care of that.

[Hat-tip to GM, who sent me the above information]

[PDF file which Raven sent me]

Addendum: Don't miss GM's take on this story!

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posted by Always On Watch @ 6/01/2007 05:34:00 PM