At Al-Waha, you will be with other kids your own age who also have an interest in making new friends, trying new things and learning Arabic. Your Arabic immersion experience will be different from every classroom you’ve ever been in. You will learn by doing in a fun, supportive environment, led by native speakers who will encourage you as you play sports and games, explore your artistic side and even learn how to belly dance!
Make bracelets or recreate ancient artifacts. Act out an Arabic soap opera with other villagers. Compose sand art--or even learn a new craft like wood-burning or embroidery!
In our Celebrations, you’ll gain an appreciation for some unique aspects of Middle Eastern culture as we learn about Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. Ramadan is a month in the Islamic calendar when Muslims fast from sunup to sundown, and is an important cultural touchstone in Middle Eastern societies; much like Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States, Ramadan and its holidays are times of family gathering, increased devotion for those practicing their faith, and special food. To “celebrate,” we’ll recreate visits to colorful markets, cafes where you can dine on heaping trays of dates and figs and kahk (special cookies) and meals served to you on authentic rugs.
Al-Waha’s location on the shores of Turtle River Lake, near many of our other programs, allows us to see how Arabic interacts with other languages and societies. Past years’ exchange topics have focused on Lebanese refugees in Sweden during the Lebanese Civil War, as well as the Maghrib (Northern Africa) with our Francophone counterparts at Lac du Bois.
An ancient art developed by Islamic societies to glorify the written words of the Qur’an, calligraphy (khat) turns the already beautiful Arabic script into beautiful patterns and figurative drawings, relying on special rules, customs, and tools. There are over one hundred styles, though six major ones prevail, and the great joy of learning how to draw Arabic calligraphy is being able to decipher its arabesques when you find them on buildings, in manuscripts, and in art!
Calligraphy الخط العربي
Villagers can use pictures and patterns of calligraphy to copy, while others attempt to create their own designs freehand. On the first day of the activity, most practice writing in Arabic with chalk on blacktop, which helps familiarize with forms and letter manipulation. You can also learn about hieroglyphics--a very important part of ancient Egyptian culture—one of the very popular activities at Al-Waha..
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to choose from a wide variety of sports and games. You can try soccer, volleyball, canoeing, backgammon, chess and many more games.
Al-Wāḥa is truly a learning oasis complete with a swimming beach for hot summer days and plenty of cool shady forests for hikes with friends.