A workshop on Syrian culture in São Paulo

18 de junho de 2016

Regulars of the city’s cultural venue Sesc Vila Mariana will participate in a musical performance and learn Arabic calligraphy at an event featuring refugees and designed to introduce the country’s culture in Brazil.

São Paulo – Next July will see the activity “Refúgios culturais: Síria” (Cultural refuges: Syria) at São Paulo’s Sesc Vila Mariana (the Vila Mariana district branch of the Social Service of Commerce, a nationwide culture- and sports-oriented organization maintained by private businesses). Refugees from the Arab country will show a bit of their culture in a musical presentation with folk instruments such as the acoustic guitar-like lute and the darbuka, a percussion instrument. The audience will interact with the artists in a dabke circle, which is how Arab music performances often end – with everyone dancing in a circle.

Also available will be an open class in Arabic calligraphy and a workshop on henna, a colorant used as hair dye and temporary tattoo ink in the East and Africa. Participants will get their own tattoos.

According to the technician in charge of programming of Sesc Vila Mariana’s Social-Educational Department, Aloisio Milani, the attraction is part of a project whereby Brazilians and refugees can exchange experiences. This particular activity relies on support from the South America-Arab Countries Library and Research Center (BibliASPA), which does work with the refugees who will be featured in the event at Sesc.

“We are not looking to make this a professional spectacle or performance; we are looking to offer an experience focusing on dialogue and on knowing the other. The richness of Arab and Syrian culture also spans cuisine, dancing, painting, film and so many other fields. For the activity at Sesc Vila Mariana, we have chosen calligraphy, tattoos and the dabke circle because these are famous Syrian manifestations, and therefore those who have come to Brazil are familiar with them,” Milani told ANBA.

Sesc is sponsoring several activities involving refugees, and not only from Syria. Sesc São Paulo’s technical assistant for Social Programs Management, Denise Collus, who’s in charge of the work with refugees, notes that the organization has been carrying out projects with refugees since 1995 as a result of a partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and with the Archdiocesan Caritas of São Paulo, an organization of the Catholic Church that provides assistance to refugees. “Sesc takes advantage of its facilities and of its background doing cultural work to bring up the issue of asylum in its actions,” she said.

Quick facts

Refúgios Culturais: Síria (Cultural Refuges: Syria)
July 30, 3pm to 6pm, free of charge
Sesc Vila Mariana, Rua Pelotas, 141, São Paulo - SP
Arabic calligraphy workshop: 60 seats
Henna workshop: 30 seats
Find out more: (in Portuguese)

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum