Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture Introduces New Additions to Board of Directors

By Jessica Barber

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture has recently added five new board members to its Board of Directors, bringing its total number to eleven. These talented and diverse cohort of directors have varied experiences and areas of expertise that are certain to enhance Al-Bustan's cultural reach throughout Philadelphia.

The newly appointed members of the board are Dr. Alexa Firat, Dr. John Ghazvinian, Dr. Ikram Masmoudi, Dr. Betsy Mesard, and Dr. Emily Neumeier.

As an Assistant Professor at Temple University, Alexa Firat is a talented Arabic, modern Arabic literature, Arab cinema, and culture and dissent educator with a broad range of experience in the Arab world. A fluent speaker of the Syrian Shaami dialect, Firat is a dedicated and knowledgeable addition to Al-Bustan's board. She is also a literary translator. 

John Ghazvinian is the Executive Director of the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a well-established author, historian, and former journalist with a focus on U.S.-Iran relations. 

Ikram Masmoudi is an Associate Professor of Arabic, a writer, and a literary translator. She teaches at the University of Delaware with a focus on Iraqi culture and history.

Betsy Mesard of Philadelphia is a visiting Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Bryn Mawr College. 

Emily Neumeier is an Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture at Temple University's Tyler School of Art. With an intensive focus on the Ottoman Empire, Dr. Neumeier discusses issues of architecture, cultural heritage, the history of archaeology, and nationalist discourses through art. 

These new additions to the board add an array of invaluable perspectives that seek to further Al-Bustan's core values of emphasizing the importance of language, elevating the role of art in society, valuing artistic quality, and celebrating cultural production as a means to honor Arab heritage and cultural traditions. To stay up to date with the work of Al-Bustan, visit their website for updates on events, programs, and projects throughout the city.