A. M. Qattan Foundation participates in the 9th International Drama in Education Research Institute, New Zealand
Wasim Al-Kurdi, Director of the Educational Research and Development Programme (ERDP) / A. M. Qattan Foundation, made a keynote presentation at the 9th International Drama in Education Research Institute (IDIERI 9). Titled Tyranny of Distance, IDIERI 9 was organised between 2-9 July 2018 in New Zealand.
In his presentation, Kurdi presented a research paper, titled “Yearnings of Immigration and Its Agony”. The paper presents texts written by Kurdi as well as school teachers and students, with whom he worked over the past years. In the paper, Kurdi recounts his personal story with immigration. This theme has engrossed Kurdi since he was a school teacher and after he started his career as teacher of teachers in the context of his work at the ERDP.
Years ago, Kurdi taught Sharq al-Mutawasset [East Mediterranean], a novel in which the main character, Rajab, voices his dreams and fears through an intimate discourse with the Achilleus ship, on board of which he is immigrating. Students composed textual improvisations, including monologues with Achilleus. Kurdi quoted some of these texts in his paper. According to one quote: “I wish you, Achilleus, take me to the end of the world, to the edge of the sea, and hurl me outside this world. Perhaps, I may fall on another planet, free of evil. Yes, Achilleus, do it… please.”
In his paper, Kurdi relied on applied experiences in creative writing, using drama as a context. With his students, Kurdi addressed narratives of the Nakba and forced displacement of Palestinians, prominent literary works, and other experiences. In these, Kurdi explored the meaning of identity as a “cultural and historical definition of the individual or group of people”, and as an individual’s identification card (passport) and the relation between both.
The paper discusses entity formulation through experiencing: “distances by traveling” and “distances by departing”. It is based on early waves of immigration, which were driven by tyranny, famine, and mass immigration. These have continued to date. Approaches to drama could have taken up their space within this complex and multifaceted historical context. A subject that influences and is influenced by people’s lives. Traveling between different geographies has changed our perception of identity through deconstructing and re-examining it.
In light of this, Kurdi used drama with teachers in various professional development tracks of the ERDP. Drama was able to explore the concepts of place, distance, the Other, in their relation to people’s fate.