16.06.2017 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

UNESCO Beirut closes a series of artistic workshops in public schools: art in the service of intercultural dialogue between Lebanese and Syrian youth

“I drew my home, back in Syria. I miss home”. With these words, Ahmad, the 10-year-old refugee child, explains what he painted on a cardboard box. With emotion, he describes every detail of his house, and, pointing to the cardboard box, he rejoices: “This is it!”

Ahmad is one of the 400 students who took part in a series of workshops organized by UNESCO Beirut, under the title: “Shared World Heritage Values for Common Grounds: An artistic Approach”. This project, initiated by the Culture unit at UNESCO Beirut, in partnership with the Lebanese Ministry of Education and the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO, aims at promoting a culture of peace, living together and mutual understanding among youth from Lebanon and Syria by highlighting the shared values and common cultural heritage of both countries. It also aims at providing refugee children with tools of self-expression through art. The activity is carried out within the framework of the Lebanon Municipal Services Emergency Project, a project implemented by the Lebanese Government- Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR), and funded by the World Bank.

132 art workshops were organized in 22 public schools of 11 Union of Municipalities in Lebanon. Students were divided into two groups according to age categories: elementary school students aged between 7 to 10 years were asked to describe their daily activities in their homelands and were given cardboard boxes to draw “homes”. High school students aged between 15 to 17 years were asked to write stories in which characters from different backgrounds work together to reach a common goal and achieve unity in the face of diversity. They were then asked to paint canvases that illustrate these stories. The workshops were animated by teachers and facilitators. The workshops offered a platform where children learnt to work collectively, and explore and understand each other’s culture and heritage.

Bana, a 15-year old Lebanese kid, holds a canvas and tells the story of her artwork: “I tried to imagine what there is in common between my country, Lebanon, and Syria. I painted tarbush [traditional male hats], traditional houses… After all, we belong to the same region and we have similar cultures”. As to Rania, her painting features “Lebanese and Syrian kids playing together in the garden and in the backyard of their houses”. She says: “Me and my Syrian friends gathered memories from our childhood and we wrote a story together, then painted it on canvas together”. Rami, another student who participated in the workshops, described what he learnt in these words: “This experience was particularly useful: it taught us teamwork, it gave us an opportunity to express ourselves through art, but most importantly, it gave us the chance to get to know each other. Now I have Syrian friends”.

The students’ artworks and stories will be presented in an exhibition organized by the CDR in collaboration with the World Bank Group. The exhibition will take place in Beirut in September 2017 and in Washington-DC in October 2017.

The participating schools are : Kfarshouba Mixed Intermediate Public School/ Hady Kasab, Shebaa Secondary Public School, Minyara Mixed High School, Jdaidet Al Joumeh Mixed Public School, Baalbek El Jdideh first mixed intermediate public school, Doures - Baalbek II for Girls high school, Bar Elias Intermediate public school, Kab Elias High School, Jeb Jannine intermediate public school for boys, Jeb Jannine High School, Taalbaya High School, Taalbaya intermediate public school, Kawkaba Intermediate Public School, Rashaya secondary public school, El Rfaid Intermediate Public School, Hosh Al Harima Intermediate Public School, El Marej High School, Ghazza High School, Tyre Public High School- Mixed, Al Aabbasiyeh Intermediate Public School, Al Bazouriya High School, Barqayel Mixed Public School.

<- Back to: UNESCO Office in Beirut
Back to top