King’s Academy marked World Arabic Language Day on Wednesday with a series of events celebrating Arabic language and culture. It was also a day of both remembrance and tribute to a champion of the Arabic language, the late Atef Abu Sarris, who was in 2007 the first head of the Arabic section of the Department of Communication, Rhetoric and Literary Arts (CRLA) at King’s and a beloved, long-time faculty member who passed away in 2020.
The King’s community gathered in the Abdul Majeed Shoman Auditorium for a memorial service for Abu Sarris, where students and faculty paid him tribute and recalled fond memories of their cherished teacher whose loss is still keenly felt. Following the memorial, the Arabic Department presented awards to the winners of the Arabic Creative Competition, a new initiative launched this year in memory of Abu Sarris.
The competition was the brainchild of Alumnus Ali Shajrawi ’11, who came up with the idea in light of the impact Abu Sarris had upon him as a student at King’s, helping him to develop a deep appreciation of the Arabic language. Shajrawi attended the memorial and the competition award ceremony, where he took to the stage to say a few words in remembrance of Abu Sarris as well as to explain why the competition is a fitting tribute to him, before awarding the prizes, which he also generously donated, to the winners.
The Arabic Creative Competition provides students with a platform to express themselves and demonstrate their skills and creativity in the Arabic language in a myriad of forms, including poetry, short stories, short films, mobile applications, literary articles and speeches.
The competition was open to all King’s students from Grade 7 to Grade 12 and resulted in a total of 82 submissions in six different categories. The submissions were judged by a student committee and the Arabic department, followed by an external panel of judges. Twenty-two winners across all grades and categories were awarded prizes for their creative submissions.
The community also marked World Arabic Language Day with a number of other activities including the annual Arab/International Cultural Festival during which 12 countries representing King’s students’ nationalities are selected to highlight their culture through food, music, traditional dress and dance — this year, countries included Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Syria, Lebanon, India, China, Korea and Circassia.
Later that evening, the Arabic department also presented two plays in the auditorium performed by freshman Arabic students who showcased their impressive language and acting skills. Written by the Syrian playwright Saadallah Wannous, Ras Al Mamlook Jaber depicts the downfall and ultimate demise of the central protagonist, Al Mamlook Jaber, who literally “loses his head” due to his own self-interest and betrayal of his people. The second play, Tiger on the Third Day, was inspired by the play written by Zakaria Tamer, Tiger on the 10th Day, adapted by the late Atef Abu Sarris.