Bridges of Understanding is a non-profit organization that engages in educational, outreach, and special events programming to bridge the divide between the people of the United States and the Middle East.
Bridges at School is a topical curriculum developed for American middle school classrooms. Contextualizing the Arab World and providing a unique series of both critical thinking and creative exercises that shed light on the rich historical, scientific, mathematical, religious, and cultural legacy of the region, this program focuses on the themes of global citizenship and identity through a series of analysis-based activities. Bridges at School highlights poetry and values-based paired texts; fashion and style; visual art; food and spice; drama; music; language; medicine and science; and media. Activities are available free of charge via the online platform NextLesson. Development funding for Bridges at School is courtesy of Donna Pearson Chapman and The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation.
Bridges of Knowledge fills the gap for American educators seeking to empower their students with a more nuanced understanding of the Arab World than Western media representations often allow. For communities keen on discussing pertinent issues of the day, Bridges of Knowledge provides a series of turnkey, hour-long activities on such subjects as the origins of Islam, the Arab Spring and Syrian conflict, and ISIS and the rise of regional terrorism. Activities are available free of charge via the online platform NextLesson.
Places of Pilgrimage is a video and podcast series that provides a platform for the stories of and relating to young Arabs living in marginalized communities. Developed through theatrical writing workshops, these pieces provide a startling and frank look at the journeys several individuals have taken and the bravery required to talk about them. Most importantly, they use their own words — words that never fail to resonate across cultures and regions. In the series, student writers and their pieces have been paired with prominent Arab American artists across all types of media – theatre artists, film and television actors, and composers. The artist reads the piece aloud, then sits down with the student playwright to have a frank discussion about their shared experiences, what it’s like to make the move to America today, and whatever else comes to mind.
The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations‘ student programs provide rich, experiential learning opportunities for middle school through graduate students to become immersed in the Arab world. NCUSAR is an American non-profit, non-governmental, educational organization dedicated to improving American knowledge and understanding of the Arab world.
Model Arab League is the flagship student leadership development program of NCUSAR. Models are similar in organization and format to the older and more widely-recognized Model United Nations, with its 193 member states. An important difference between the two is that the MAL focuses only on the 22 member states that comprise the League of Arab States.
Through participation in the National Council’s MAL program students learn about the politics and history of the Arab world, and the arts of diplomacy and public speech. MAL helps prepare students to be knowledgeable, well-trained, and effective citizens as well as civic and public affairs leaders. As the National Council’s mission is educational, universities and high schools from across the United States are invited to participate. Visit the link above to learn how to get your students involved.
In additional, NCUSAR runs an intensive summer internship program for university students and recent graduates in Washington, D.C.; facilitates study visits to the Arab region; and collaborates with a number of Arabic language study programs. There are also opportunities for educators to travel.
The Arab-American Institute is a non-profit, nonpartisan national leadership organization aimed at increasing the political and civic participation of Arab-Americans in the United States. AAI focuses on policy formation and research, as well as campaign participation.
Yalla Vote is a grassroots voter mobilization and education campaign. It consolidates voting information for states and regions with high Arab-American concentrations, and provides election news roundups each week detailing foreign and domestic developments relevant to the Middle East.
AAI has several leadership development initiatives that have regular events for networking, representing a myriad of Arab-American perspectives, and cross-cultural education. This year they are implementing a program for public servants, called the Arab American Leadership Council Study Tour.
The Institution for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) is an independent, nonpartisan research organization specializing in addressing the most pressing challenges facing the American Muslim community and in bridging the information gap between the American Muslim community and wider society. Through objective, empirical applied research ISPU supports the American Muslim community to develop, contribute and innovate, offering actionable recommendations to inform community change agents, the media, the general public and policy makers alike. In addition to building in-house capacity, ISPU has assembled leading experts across multiple disciplines, building a solid reputation as a trusted source for information for and about American Muslims.
For more information, please visit:www.ispu.org.
Soliya uses new media technologies to facilitate dialogue and communication between societies.
Their flagship virtual exchange, the Connect Program, is an online cross-cultural education program integrated into curriculum. It links students from more than 100 universities in 27 countries through videoconferencing, where they are able to engage in substantive dialogue and build respectful relationships. The Connect Program is facilitated by trained students and professionals.
Public Squares, online, facilitated, small-group dialogues between cultures, are hosted as part of Soliya’s work in civil media. These are supported by blog posts and social media, and hosted by young leaders who have been chosen as Soliya Fellows.