by Nate Scholz
It's a strange story how this whole plan materialized.
My artistic daughter, Naomi, started by voicing her desire to work cross-culturally with marginalized people. I'd like to think that I'm proactive about helping my kids realize their dreams, so I volunteered, "would you want to try it out and take a trip to Lebanon to do something with Syrian refugees?"
This isn't as out of the blue as you might initially think. My wife and I lived in Tyre, Lebanon for almost 7 years at the beginning of the century, before we were evacuated during the 33-Day War in 2006. Naomi and her brother, Gideon, were born there. We all experienced our own mild refugee experience when they were toddlers, but of course they have no recollection of it.
Naomi was eager and Gideon also wanted to go. They are so interested in experiencing their shared exotic birthplace. That started my mental wheels turning and I began to make plans.
"Hey, we should check with Aaron Wagner at Voices of the Children to see if they would want to work together on a project. They're already doing some really cool things in Jordan." I also started reconnecting with some of our Lebanese friends from back in the day. When I checked Mervat's Facebook page, I was surprised to learn that she was working with a relief agency partnering with the United Nations High Council for Refugees (UNHCR). Sure enough, both Aaron and Mervat were interested in putting a small-scale project together where Naomi and Gideon could test out their leadership skills.
We'll be doing an art project similar to one that Voices of The Children has already done in the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan. It will involve simple black and white portrait photography, oil pastel drawing, and poetry expressing personal identity superimposed over the top.
Naomi and Gideon will lead their classmates at the Skagit Academy in this creative project, and then we'll repeat it in Bourj Rahal, South Lebanon. Photographs of the completed artwork will be uploaded on to Instagram with the hashtag #hellohowareyoufine, which is a common phrase that most Arabic speakers know in English. As much of the poetry as possible will be copied in the comment and translated into both English and Arabic to provide students on both sides of the world to exchange viewpoints, culture, and personality.
So, now we're on a grand adventure to prepare for this trip and connect cultures. We hope you'll check back in on this blog to chart our progress and cheer us on. 🔹
The Scholz Family Team and some examples of the artwork and poetry they'll see exchanged between kids in Mount Vernon, WA USA and Bourj Rahal, South Lebanon.
Naomi Scholz is an artful American teenager who is passionate about multi-cultural people. She identifies herself as a xenophile. She also loves to write, so she will share her travel experience here with you. Her dad, Nate, and brother Gideon, may also jump in from time to time.