Reflections on Syria: event with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, featuring guest speakers, music and refreshments

Register online

Saturday, September 8, 2pm–4pm

Slought, 4017 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104

To coincide with ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury in the 2018 Fringe Festival, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture partners with Bryn Mawr College to offer a free event with guest speakers, music and food. Featured are political science professor Samer Abboud, refugee resettlement worker Mohammed Al-Juboori, live artist Tania El Khoury and collaborator Kinana Issa, and musicians Hafez Kotain and Jay Fluellen with Hazami Sayed as moderator.

Syrian light fare served.

Samer Abboud is Associate Professor of Global Interdisciplinary Studies at Villanova University. He has published extensively on contemporary Syria, including a widely read book on the conflict entitled Syria (Polity, 2018). His current research is interested in how war economies propel the Syrian conflict and negatively affect the prospects for peace. In addition to publishing in a number of academic outlets, Samer has written regular essays for al-Jazeera and Middle East Eye.

Mohammed Al Juboori is a former Iraqi refugee. He worked as an air traffic control officer in Iraq. After working as an interpreter with the US government, he and his family were forced to leave their home country for safety. Shortly after arriving in the US in 2008, he volunteered for JEVS Human Services, helping refugees to learn English and build their resumes. Mohammed took on full-time employment at JEVS as Employment Counselor/Job Developer since November 2015, helping refugees from Syria, Ukraine, Congo, and other countries as they resettle in Philadelphia. Mohammed is currently pursuing studies in biology at the Community College of Philadelphia.

Tania El Khoury’s work focuses on audience interactivity and is concerned with the ethical and political potential of such encounters. She creates installations and performances in which the audience is an active collaborator. Her solo work has toured internationally and has been awarded the Anti Festival’s International Prize for Live Art, the Total Theatre Innovation Award, and the Arches Brick Award. She holds a PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research and publications focus on the political potential of interactive live art. El Khoury is associated with Forest Fringe collective of artists in the UK and is a co-founder of Dictaphone Group in Lebanon, a research and performance collective aiming at questioning our relationship to the city and its public space.

Jay Fluellen, D. M. A. is a Philadelphia born musician known as a composer, college professor, educator, accompanist, pianist, singer, and organist/choir director. He has a doctorate in music composition from Temple University in addition to his certification in music from Eastern University. Dr. Fluellen is currently a teacher with the School District of Philadelphia at Northeast High School. He has taught college level courses in the fields of music composition, written and aural theory, music history, piano, and conducting at various local institutions. Since 1997, he has been an organist/choir director at the historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas.

Kinana Issa’s writing and artwork revolves around questions of identity, feminism, transformation and revolution. She is an honorary fellow of the International Writing Program at Iowa University.Kinana has produced over ten experimental audio-visual works, authored two short films, and scripts including the acclaimed performance Gardens Speak on ten people who were buried in Syrian gardens. She leads creative writing and multi-media workshops, and acted as a committee member for the Syrian Film Festival in Toronto. She regularly speaks on art and revolution, most recently in The Creative Time Summit in 2017 to talk about art and revolution. Issa is an honorary fellow of the International Writing Program at Iowa University.

Kotain Kotain is a percussionist fluent in both Arab and Latin rhythms—a fluency he honed in his native countries of Syria and Venezuela. He is a recipient of the prestigious 2013 Pew Fellowship in the Arts. He began studying the doumbek in Syria at the age of seven, first performed on stage at age nine, and went on to study with master Syrian percussionist Hady Jazan, winning the national percussion competitions in Syria for five consecutive years. In Venezuela he studied percussion at the TMV Institute for Music in Valencia. As Percussion Director, Kotain teaches with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture throughout the year at schools and in the community. He also teaches a course at the University of Pennsylvania.

Hazami Sayed, an Arab-American, grew up in the Arab region and came to the U.S. to pursue higher education. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Stanford University and Master of Architecture from Columbia University. She has worked in the fields of architecture and urban development in Philadelphia and New York City. In 2002 she founded Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture with the launch of a language and cultural day camp. The mission-driven organization has steadily grown to include year-round arts programming serving a diverse constituency of youth, families, educators and the general public. Sayed is a recipient of the Leeway Foundation’s 2012 Transformation Award given to Philadelphia-area women artists committed to art-making for social change.


Learn about Slought and their upcoming online exhibition, Abounaddara. The Right to the Image, which provokes new thinking about media representation and the contemporary conditions of the Syrian revolution at