US cultural officer in Damascus: cultural and educational exchanges are the best way forward
Syria-USA, Culture, 3/18/2002
In a statement to Arabic News (ArabicNews.com), Cultural affairs officer at the US cultural center in Damascus Mr. Mark Schapiro said that Syria and the US have considered that the cultural and educational programs and the exchange programs are now more important more than ever before, in the context of after September 11th and the desire that all share for a peaceful safe world.
He added that the best hope for the future is greater contact and a greater understanding between " our two countries."
He continued that these cultural programs like the recent Jazz program ( Jazz ambassadors)) are part of this value that both countries place upon contact and co-operation.
He said that in all, activities are increasing right now. Exchange programs, English Language programs; educational and cultural programs both ways are in creasing. He also said that the reason is that these programs are increasing is that the Syrian sides concerned, especially ministries of cultures, education and higher education, have been and continue to be extremely open and full of new ideas.
He emphasized:" I am convinced that these Syrian ministries believe in the value of engagement. And on other side back in Washington, we have also realized that in challenging time we need to increase our friendships and activities in Syria," noting that " I am happy to be part of this process together with my Syrian friends because I really believe that cultural and educational exchanges are the best way forward." Noting the numerous activities conducted by the American center in Damascus Mr. Schapiro said we had the opening of the art exhibition for five Syrian artists under the title:" From D.C. to Damascus, 2000- 2002 Introducing this exhibition the Director of the American Cultural Center Mr. Steve Seche said that, art, like music speaks to us in a universal language that bridges cultural and political differences. It is a language that unites rather than divides, that reminds us of the humanity we share rather then geo- political distinctions that would separate us.
He said that the five artists whose work we exhibit at the American Cultural center on March 6th through 19th are fluent in this language- the idiom of those gifted with the ability to convey powerful messages without need of words- on canvas or wood, using brushes or sculpting tools. They brought this special language of theirs to the United State in September 2000 and, though their work, spoke to Americans about the timeless themes that their art encapsulates.
Mr. Seche added that this exhibit completes the creative exchange that began with that visit 18 months ago. That visit was the result of the energy and vision of Anne Bodine, former economic counselor at the US embassy in Damascus, and the generosity of several business leaders, among them Bassam Ghraoui, Saab Nahas, Sakher al-Toun and Ahmed Yazigi.
He added, the echoes of that Washington exhibit have been heard in the American Cultural Center, as these five artists display their work once again.
Mr. Schapiro also indicated a very important event which will be held at the American cultural center in Damascus on March 19. He explained that under the title " the dialogue of civilizations," a lecture will be delivered by Dr. Abdul Aziz Said, a Professor of International Relations at American University in Washington. He said that Said will discuss how to turn the " clash of civilizations " into the " dialogue of civilizations.
On the Jazz concerts recently performed in Damascus, Schapiro said that the Jazz ambassadors " Aaron Thurston Trio" featured the music of Louis Armstrong, honoring the centennial of his birth in 1901. The groups features Aaron Thurston on drums, Adam Ascione on the organ and Kevin Louis on trumpet. The trio stopped in Syria as part of a regional tour.
He also indicated another important lecture to be read by Miriam Cooke on March 17 under the title " Hayati: My life ." Cooke is a professor of Modern Arabic literature and Culture at Duke University. She will read on March 17 at the Damascus cultural center, and also read from her novel, a vivid and fiercely tender story of three generations of Palestinian women whose voices tell of loss and sorrow.
First American participation at the Damascus film festival
Celebration in Damascus on the 224th anniversary of the US National Day
Two American travelers visit Palmyra
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