The CAMES Arabic summer programs give students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the diverse language and culture environment of the city of Beirut, one of the most dynamic and vibrant cities in the Arab world. The rigorous academic programs are complemented by a rich extracurricular and cultural program featuring lectures, films, clubs, trips, and volunteer activities in some of Beirut's NGO's. Below are some of the cultural activities that students took part in during the summer of 2018. A similar cultural program is planned for summer 2019.
Commitment to Speaking Arabic throughout the Program
“I hereby commit myself to use Arabic as fully as possible throughout the summer program at the American University in Beirut, in all classes and activities, with all participants in the program. In doing so, I aspire to maximize my learning this summer and help my colleagues maximize theirs as well.”
- The first field trip was to North Lebanon and featured the ancient port city of Byblos with its ruins, souks and historical sites. The trip also included the Jeita Grotto, a stunning underground cave system. Students also visited Our Lady of Lebanon in the village of Harissa, with its panoramic views over the Bay of Jounieh.
- The second field trip was to the Shouf mountain area southeast of Beirut to visit the picturesque historical towns of Deir al-Qamar and Beiteddine, as well as the Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve in Barouk.
- The third field trip was to the Bekaa valley towns of Saadnayel and Majdel Anjar to participate in community service activities at schools for underprivileged children in collaboration with AUB’s Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS). The trip also included a stop in the town of Taanayel to visit the ecological and agricultural projects funded and run by "Arcenciel", a Lebanese based non-profit NGO, which supports Lebanon’s most underprivileged and marginalized communities.
- The fourth field trip was to South Lebanon where students visited the old port city of Saida with its various historical and archaeological sites ranging from Phoenician times until the present. The trip also included visits the scenic towns of Maghdoucheh and Jezzine, in the hills east of Saida.
As part of the curriculum, students in summer 2018 watched the following movies from Lebanon and the region: Caramel (سكّر بنات); Where Do We Go Now? (وهلأ لوين); Solitaire (محبس); The Trials of Spring (عواصف الربيع); Wadjda (وجدة); Salt of this Sea (ملح هذا البحر). These movies are fully integrated into the curriculum. Students complete in-class activities about the movies beforehand, and assignments about the movies afterwards.
Language Exchange - Jusoor
An integral part of the CAMES summer Arabic program is the language exchange in collaboration with AUB’s Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS)
and the NGO Jusoor, which supports educational opportunities for underprivileged Syrian youth. In summer 2018, CAMES students were able to spend up to six sessions speaking Arabic with a language partner during the program, with the possibility of continuing the language collaboration via Skype with their language partners after the program was over.
Senior Citizens - Oral History
CAMES organized a trip to al-Omr al-Madeed, a home for senior citizens, where students spent several hours conversing with the residents in Arabic. CAMES also organized an activity in collaboration with AUB’s life-long learning initiative, the University for Seniors (UfS)
program. On AUB campus, students were able to spend time chatting in Arabic with members of the UfS program and learned much about Lebanese culture in the process.
One of the most popular extracurricular activities in the summer Arabic programs is the Dabke Club. Dabke is an Arab folk dance native to the Levant, with each country and region in the area boasting its own variation of Dabke. CAMES students received weekly lessons in Lebanese Dabke from a professional Dabke instructor. At the end of the program, students who attended the workshop presented a choreographed Dabke dance at the closing ceremony talent show.
The Calligraphy Club is a workshop to teach students the art of Arabic Calligraphy. During the workshop, students were introduced to the history of Arabic Calligraphy and the aesthetic value of words in Islamic Art. Students also learned about the different kinds of Arabic scripts and practiced them using the traditional calligraphy tools (reed pen or bamboo and ink). By the end of the workshop, students were familiar with various kinds of scripts, calligraphy techniques and tools.
Meshwar wa Akhbar - weekly field trips
A central component of the CAMES summer Arabic program is the weekly class field trip we call “Meshwar wa Akhbar”, which translates roughly as “Outing and Chitchat”. The students and teachers of each class go on weekly field trips to various locations around or outside Beirut. The purpose of these outings is to introduce students to historical, religious and archaeological sites; a variety of neighborhoods, handicraft workshops and different cuisines; local museums, art galleries, cafes, and shops. Because the outings take place in a small intimate group, students have the opportunity to interact and chat in Arabic with the people they meet on these excursions. These trips are fully integrated into the curriculum so there are in-class activities about the trips beforehand, and assignments about the trips afterwards.
Haki wa Akhbar - conversation sessions
The "Haki wa Akhbar" conversation sessions are an important way for students to practice their Arabic conversational skills in a small group, led by the class instructors or the teaching assistants. The topics of conversation may be decided by the students in subjects that interest them. Students must attend these sessions twice a week.