Sunday, February 8, 2009

Celebrate Egypt - 2009

The kids' school had a celebration of Egypt culture this past week. They both go to Egyptian culture classes, and Brian is in Arabic foreign language class as well. This is elementary school level, of course, but I think the kids are blessed to have such exposure to our host country's rich past, and present, culture. The kids have studied history, day to day life, art, and music - in classes, school events, and field trips. I was very impressed with how much they are learning when I accompanied Brian's 3rd grade class to the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo recently. Each student had an artifact to give a short presentation about - and they did well too, despite the crowding and noise. But what I really liked was how well they answered the teacher's on the spot questions about different items throughout the museum. You can tell they'd been studying, had heard the stories and histories, and had retained the knowledge.

Last week's event was a concert and dance presentation. This year's theme was "Names". Ancient Egyptians had strong beliefs surrounding the significance of names and the meaning of names given are interesting to study. Here's a good link about why the country itself is known by different names! The elementary classes learned Egyptian songs, and the Folk Dance Group (made up of elementary students) presented a number of dances. They did a wonderful job. As one of the presenters said, what better way to say thank you, than with a celebration.

The first dance was "Nur", or "Noor" as Jordan's Queen Noor which means light, and is a common girl's name:

Doesn't this look like a fun dance activity? All we ever got to do in school was some rather clumsy square dance junk...It was mandatory, and I hated it at the time. I guess it all depends on the teachers. You could tell that this group had put a lot of time and effort into this show - it looked like they were having fun.

After the first dance, the 3rd grader's sang their song. Actually, they sang three songs. One was the same that the kindergartners sang (below), the second one (in the video here next) I did not catch the name of, but I thought they sounded very good, and the 3rd was "Ya Mustafa" which Brian told us was about a man separated from his loved ones who missed him and sung to him - they sounded good in that one too, but the photographer wasn't as steady. Fortunately Brian was standing on the end of the group where I could see him well - parents were seated waaaaaaay up in the back of the theatre. Thank goodness for the zoom on the camera! He wore his blue-striped galebeya - made even trendier with a Batman logo on the back - over the red shirt of his PE uniform. A lot of kids did the same.
And they sang very nicely too:

Then there was another dance. From the pipes, I assume it was a Sa'idi traditional dance. Unfortunately I did not get a program and do not remember all that the narrators said of each performance! I have to say, the pipes can destroy your ears when indoors, but when you hear them in an outdoor performance, you don't have the pain and can actually enjoy the music!

The last dance number was a very catchy tune that spoke of various regions in Egypt, and the dancers wore different galebyas and performed a bit of dancing traditional to each area. I wish they'd provided a program with the translation at the show, but later on I was able to find the lyrics and translation here.
" the moon with brown eyes wearing necklaces of jasmine
and the Nil is laughing and singing, remembering me and asking about me, I go to it and I find it waiting for me with nicest people next to it..."
This was a scene for Suhaj...
and I believe this was Isma'iliyah...

Here is an Egyptian cell phone provider company's commercial, if you want to listen to the whole song:

And then Honor's class, along with all the other kindergartners, prepared for their song. There was actually two performances - one with the older children, one with the younger. Brian and Honor were in separate shows this year and did not get to watch each other. Unfortunately, they had to be split up because the theatre could only hold so many people! Honor is on the middle-right of the group, at the end. They sang a song about a famous Egyptian queen called Hatshepsut.
Tell me this isn't darned cute, I dare ya!

After singing, the kindergartners take their seat in the audience. Honor imitates an Impressionist painting.
(ok, I know it is just a blurry photo, but I love the colors!) Here's a clear one of her outside after the performance wearing her musical galebeya. No, I couldn't get a photo of Brian... he's too fast and got away from mom and the camera.
Thank you Egypt, for sharing so much with our family.


LiLu said...

Awwww! I've ALWAYS wanted to visit Egypt, and I have an Aunt in Madrid... I just might have to make it happen. Too cute!

Tanya said...

Schools ARE much cooler nowadays. What fun! We were in Egypt the christmas before last and both my boys enjoyed all the history and culture too. Sadly we didnt get to see any dances!!!

Expat Mom said...

That is too cool. I definitely have to get over to Egypt someday. I love that your kids are learning about the country and culture, that`s an invaluable experience.

Christine said...

Wow--- what an awesome post! Your kids are learning a different culture, one thing I would love to give my kids but probably won't have the chance.

Connie said...

I am thrilled that we get to give this gift to our children - I love the school and the opportunity. I know we are blessed! I am also glad I can post pictures and stories to share with others - particularly with family, read: especially my nieces and nephews! :-) - the internet is also a true blessing. My family can bring us home to them (Thanks Christine!) and we can bring our home to them.