Meet This Year's Superstar Summer Camp Team!
Updated: Nov 16, 2021
Camp staff and counselors this year:
Layali has been teaching Arabic at colleges and kids’ programs for more than six years. She is the Founder and President of Kalimah Programs for Arabic Language, Culture, and Arts Education. Kalimah offers Arabic immersion after school, weekend, and summer programs for elementary age children in Maryland and Washington, DC. Through her work and research, she is exploring the power of art, music, and play in language acquisition. She strives to bring the world into the classroom so students can take the classroom out into the world.
Halema is a mother of four active, bilingual kids. She has five years of experience teaching at, and coordinating, weekend and summer children’s programs and community events for kids. She likes using effective, learner-centered teaching strategies. Halema has been part of Kalimah Programs since 2016 and has contributed immensely to its success.
Shatha Ismael studied in Iraq majoring in education. She also worked as a teacher in Iraqi schools. She moved to the United States in 2010. She is a mother and educator who loves to work with young kids. Through Kalimah Programs' summer camp, she hopes to gain more experience in early childhood education.
Khulud Khudur (the name means Eternal Green) is passionate, driven, and tenacious with a strong interest in education. She is originally from Sudan but lives in the US since she was 7 years old. She is a Library and Media Specialist at an elementary school in Washington, DC. She earned a Master’s in Public Health and is currently working on a second Master's degree in Library and Information Sciences. She will be starting her Doctorate degree this Fall. For this summer, she's looking forward to good times with Arabic learners at Kalimah Programs.
Meï graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a B.A. in Global Studies, International Relations, and a minor in Political Science. Prior to joining Kalimah, Meï worked as a program coordinator at Center Sidi Bou Saïd De Langues et d’Informatique located in Tunis, managing cultural and educational events that familiarize students with Arabic language, culture & history. Meï also worked as a French and Arabic language instructor to individuals and small group classes.
And our Specials Providers and Guest Speakers:
Farah Bekdash began practicing yoga in her early teens after discovering it on daytime TV during a school break. Farah continued to practice yoga throughout university, her Master's degree in Biology and while teaching preschool. Her love for yoga spread to her family, motivating her to train as a kid's Budding Yogis yoga and mindfulness teacher at Circle Yoga in Washington DC. A mom to three, certified labor doula and childbirth educator and amateur anything crafty, Farah tries to incorporate mindfulness and good intentions in all aspects of her life. Her teaching experience ranges from toddlers to middle school ages at yoga studios, public and private schools and exclusive sessions at specialty programs. Bilingual, Farah also teaches classes in Arabic. She combines storytelling, music, imagination and movement allowing even the youngest of yogis to blossom and grow.
Born in Venezuela to a Syrian family and growing up in Miami, Tony Tahhan draws inspiration from a variety of cultures. Tony pursued degrees in Math, Economics, and Spanish Literature from Cornell University. As an elective course, he explored food anthropology and became fascinated by its stories, traditions, and taboos. In 2010, Tony was awarded a Fulbright Research grant to Syria, where he studied the midday meal in three contexts: at homes, in restaurants, and in the streets. From cooking to eating, food was a natural vehicle for cultural exchange and one that he continues to explore. From his current home in Baltimore, Tony documents recipes and stories from Aleppo and his many travels, bringing people together online and in person around the love of food.
Michael Kahwajy-Hyland is a dabke performer and instructor based out of Richmond, VA, who is known for his energy, jumping ability, and spreading excitement to those around him. He specializes in Lebanese-style dabke and is one of very few dabke performers who showcase in solo or duo dabke shows, as well as performing with a group.
Michael has performed at many different events including weddings, festivals, and other cultural events. He is also the creator and host of cultural events such as “Natalie’s Dabke Night,” a dinner and dance event in Short Pump, VA.
When he’s not dancing, Michael enjoys spreading excitement through motivational speaking engagements as well as his company, Turning Point Pen Co., where he is the founder and pen designer.
Also, Our Great Volunteers:
Hello, My name is Yusuf Mahmoud. I am 12 years old, and I enjoy Math, Science, Computers, and of course the Bus Ride Home. When I get older I would like to be a Mechanical Engineer. I enjoy playing Soccer, Basketball, Ice Skating, Coding, and Swimming. I am currently a volunteer for the young children’s camp at Kalimah. My experiences at Kalimah have taught me a great deal of responsibility skills. Overall, I believe that Kalimah is a great camp for kids who want to learn Arabic in a fun way.
Hi, my name is Yusef Tayeh and I am 12 years old. I enjoy playing sports like soccer and basketball and reading books of all different kinds. In school, my favorite subjects are French, English, and History. This is my first year volunteering and I hope it will be a good one. I am already enjoying my time here at the Kalimah Programs summer camps and the students and teachers are making that time even better.
Ahmed Abu Nasser
Hello, my name is Ahmed Abu Nasser and I am 13 years old. I like Math and History, and I desire to be a lawyer when I grow up. I enjoy the sport of hockey and I prefer to read realistic fiction books. The experience at Kalimah Programs that I am undergoing as a volunteer for the younger kids, has shown me that this is a fabulous place to be and that the teachers are hard-working.
Hi! My name’s Sujood Tayeh and I’m 15 years old. I like reading, writing, and photography. I’m doing an internship at Kalimah Programs this year and my main responsibility is to create lesson plans for daily and field trip games. I also write the newsletter and take photos. I like Kalimah because it brings people together through culture and language.
Hi, my name is Zain Abuhatab and I am 12. In school I enjoy PE and science. When I grow up I would like to be a software engineer. I enjoy soccer and Xbox as well as almost any video game. I enjoy being at Kalimah Programs because it isn’t just a class but a way to bring people together while learning. I currently serve as Tech Support for the summer camp. I very much enjoy working with different technologies and troubleshooting because when I do, I’m learning things as well.
Majdal El Shawahin
My name is Majdal El Shawahin. I am 15 years old and love to read, swim, play field hockey, and sing. I would like to major in pediatric psychiatry. This year I am helping write the newsletter for Kalimah and taking pictures. I also volunteer at the field trips. Kalimah is a great way for kids to learn the Arabic language and the culture of those who speak it.
Hi! My name is Aleeza Sadiq. I am 12 years old. I enjoy reading, drawing, painting, writing, and communicating with younger children. I am going into eighth grade and I am in middle school. This summer I have decided to join the Kalimah Academy summer camp. This was my first year coming and it is so much fun. Currently I am a volunteer helping my teacher. I am helping with things such as preparing materials before class, assisting students when they need help, and anything else they need help with. This camp is very fun and makes time go by so fast. I can’t wait to continue coming.
Hi! My name is Yanny Boi. I am a fourteen year old student currently attending Poolesville High School. Growing up in our diverse and constantly shifting society, I devised a goal to immerse myself in as many experiences and ideologies that I could, so that I could become more culturally aware and personally diverse. I take great pleasure in working with young children, and working to make them the best members of society they can be. This camp has been a great immersion experience and I’m glad I was given the opportunity to participate.