TURATH: Teaching Understanding and Representing Arabs Through History:
TURATH is a project of the AROC’s Arab Youth Organization (AYO)
- AYO participants launched an educational reform campaign entitled TURATH (meaning heritage in Arabic) Teaching, Understanding, and Representing Arabs Through History. This campaign seeks to address the extensive problems discovered through AYO’s youth led survey completed in 2009-2010 by over 350 youth about the lack of understanding and education in high schools about Arab communities. The findings were synthesized and published in our TURATH report in 2012. You can pick up a copy of the report at our office. Or email us to get one mailed to you.
- In one finding, 71% of students surveyed responded that they have spent “no time” that year learning about Arab people, history or culture, and an additional 21% only studied about Arabs for one class or one unit. For non-Arab youth, this lack of knowledge accentuates the broader racial prejudice directed at Arabs in this historical moment, while for Arab youth it creates a severe feeling of isolation impacting students’ abilities to learn, integrate into their schools, and receive services that are linguistically or culturally competent.
- AROC has been steadily working on our goals related to curriculum change in Bay Area school districts. We are distributing the TURATH report to local stakeholders and policy makers. We are working to integrate Arab history and curriculum into local school systems while simultaneously collaborating with other organizations and communities of color on broader ethnic studies initiatives.
- Arab Youth Organization (AYO) members and staff have presented workshops or conducted outreach at the following locations: Oakland Tech, Skyline, and Fremont High Schools (Oakland); Urban Promises Middle School (San Leandro); Mission, International, and John O’Connell High Schools, Cesar Chavez Elementary, Teachers for Social Justice, and City College (SF); and other locations including Pacifica, San Mateo, Davis, and Santa Cruz. These workshops are an opportunity to share curriculum with teachers, outreach to Arab students, and introduce Arab topics to students who have never been exposed.
- We served on the coordinating committee with San Francisco and Oakland ethnic studies collaborations including Youth Together planning for their annual conference in 2012. AROC, in collaboration with the Arab Culture and Community Center also held a weeklong political education and leadership development intensive session for youth members in Summer 2012.
- Currently, AROC is engaged in meetings and conversations with local ethnic studies program leaders to incorporate Arab history into existing curriculum at Oakland and San Francisco school districts. We are also collaborating with Arab educators to collect and develop relevant curriculum to make accessible to teachers throughout the Bay Area. An AYO committee made up of advisory board members, educators and staff has now been formed to build on all these exciting efforts.
Language Access Campaign
AROC Membership is building a campaign to ensure the right to services and basic necessities regardless of immigration status and language. We are asking Arab community members what barriers they have faced in city agencies, locations, or existing translation procedures (hospitals, housing, schools, Language Line, 311, forms, etc). Ways to plug in include research, site visits, community outreach, attending meetings, etc.
- The Problem: We have identified a target location as being the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). Arab immigrant parents don’t have access to their children’s programs and development at school because oflanguage, and SFUSD does not provide adequate language resources for the Arab community. Although there may be various translated documents on the website, more must be done to ensure access to these existing resources.
- The Work: We have communicated to SFUSD as well as City Agencies, that it is their responsibility, fiscally and structurally to provide these equal services. SFUSD Translation and Interpretation Department and AROC are working closely together in hiring two on-call Arabic interpreters. The positions are called ‘Parent & Community Involvement Coordinator’, and it is seen as a liaison position that goes beyond just interpretation. However, as these are sub-contracted, on-call positions, there is still an issue of funding and overall commitment to providing sufficient infrastructure for Arab-speaking families.
Coalition to Stop FBI Repression
The Coalition to Stop FBI Repression is a Bay Area coalition organizing to stop FBI repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists. This local coalition is in solidarity with the Minneapolis-based Committee to Stop FBI Repression, online at stopfbi.net.
The Coalition meets every other Tuesday at 6:30pm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to get involved.