Art project seeks to bridge cultures
April 01 2013 12:20 AM
The participating students: a unique opportunity
The participating students: a unique opportunity

A group of 60 youth from Doha, Portland and Los Angeles featured their collaborative, cross-cultural art project during the recently-held closing celebration of ‘Tea with Nefertiti’ at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art.
The youth were part of an educational exchange programme titled: ‘Aber: Expressions of Culture, Identity and Language’ that was organised by Qatar Foundation International (QFI).
During the seven-day exchange of language and experience, the youth engaged in discussions about culture, identity, misconceptions and intersections.
In the final days of their exchange, the young artists, working in teams of six, created 10 graffiti art panels visualising their experiences during their time together in Qatar, from exploring Souq Waqif to touring the Tea with Nefertiti exhibit at Mathaf, and more.
They used photography, Arabic calligraphy, stencils and graffiti on each of the canvasses to depict their time shifting from place to place in Qatar and sharing their unique perspectives and cultural heritage.
“This project creates a space for dialogue about language, identity and culture among youth. The hope is that through youth collaboration, we will be able to represent not only culture and community, but also create lasting ties,” artist photographer and the art project director Cynthia Herrera said.
Inspired by how the Tea with Nefertiti exhibit highlights the travels of the bust of Nefertiti, the art panels will also travel and be seen at galleries in Washington DC, Portland and Los Angeles.
The QFI-organised ‘Aber’ trip offered a unique opportunity for some 32 US public and public-charter high school students and a total of 27 students from two independent schools in Qatar to meet, participate in an Arabic language curriculum and work on a collaborative, cross-cultural art work.
The participating US-based schools - Bell High School, New Tech High School, Granada Hills Charter School and Lincoln High School in Portland - are part of QFI’s Arabic Language and Culture Initiative (ALCI).  
The ALCI programme provides new opportunities for students to acquire basic Arabic, learn more broadly about the Arab world’s history and culture, and meet their peers - both virtually and in person.
The participating Qatar-based schools - Ahmed bin Mohamed al-Thani Independent Secondary School for Boys and Al-Resala Secondary School for Girls - are part of QFI’s Global Schools Network.
“At QFI, we believe that learning critical languages and engaging cross-culturally provides students with life-long learning opportunities. We chose the Arabic word Áber for this programme as it perfectly reflects our mission to bridge cultures and provide students with the skills they need to express themselves and become global citizens,” QFI executive director Maggie Mitchell Salem said.

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