Bridges of Understanding is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, nonpolitical organization driven by the mission to foster a personal understanding between the American people and people of the Arab World through original education and outreach initiatives. As tensions between regions intensify and the refugee crisis escalates, thought-provoking lessons and dialogues at the desk, in the field, and online serve to humanize ‘the other’ — so that the very notion may soon cease to exist. For more information, please visit bridgesofunderstanding.org
“The Refugee Crisis: Syria and Beyond,” created by Bridges of Understanding, provides an overview, appropriate for adults and teens, of the current global humanitarian emergency. Through statistics, historical context and comparison and question prompts, students in and out of the classroom are equipped with the baseline information necessary for a deeper understanding — facts and figures that will catalyze dialogue in their communities.
Places of Pilgrimage
Places of Pilgrimage, a Bridges of Understanding initiative, was originally created by Heather Raffo and developed with the Epic Theatre Ensemble through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. This video and podcast series provides a platform for the stories of and relating to Arabs living in marginalized communities, providing a startling and frank look at the life-altering journeys that trailblazing 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 this series, individuals and their stories have been paired with prominent Arab artists across all types of media – theatre creatives, film and television actors, and composers. The artist reads the piece aloud, then sits down with author to have a frank discussion about their shared human experience and issues of identity as peoples of the (Middle) East and West collide.
CHERIEN AND NOURA
Actor/writer/director Cherien Dabis (Quantico (ABC), The L Word (Showtime); writer/director, Amreeka) lends her voice to share the story of Noura, a young Egyptian American woman who demands religious freedoms and liberties.
NADIA AND RUBA
Film, television, and stage actor Nadia Dajani (2 Broke Girls; Sex and the City; The Carrie Diaries) lends her voice to share the story of Ruba, a young Saudi Arabian woman who boldly fought for her right to education in the United States over marriage.
HEATHER AND ALAA
Writer/actor Heather Raffo (9 Parts of Desire), who conceived and led the Places of Pilgrimage workshops, lends her voice to the story of Alaa, a young Egyptian woman reclaiming her personal power after a history of domestic violence and abuse.
MOHAMMED AND ALYAA
Composer Mohammed Fairouz, one of the most exciting new talents working in the classical world today, lends his voice to share the story of Alyaa, a young woman who seeks refuge and peace in the UK after a life marked by war and turmoil on the soils of Iraq.
LAMEECE AND ALEXANDRIA
Lameece Issaq, founding Artistic Director of Noor Theatre (NYC’s premiere theatre company giving voice to Middle Eastern artists), lends her voice to the story of Alexandria, a young Egyptian Puerto Rican American woman on a quest to understand, make peace with, and embrace her Arab roots.
MONA AND NASHWA
Mona Eltahawy, award-winning columnist and international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues and global feminism, lends her voice to the story of Nashwa, a young woman struggling to come to terms with her identity, her family’s perception, and how she bridges the worlds she inhabits.